Kreuziger Soloes to Win in Stage 19 of Giro d'Italia
What a difference a day makes!
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, Roman Kreuziger (Astana), his team's GC hope for the Giro d'Italia, lost 11:26 to drop out of overall contention. His directeur sportif, Giuseppe Martinelli, criticized him publicly. Today, however, Kreuziger climbed out of the doghouse. The Czech rider powered away from the field in the last 25 km to win Stage 18, a mountainous, 198-km ride from Treviso to Alpe di Pampeago in 6:18:03. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) finished second at 0:19, and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) took third at 0:32. Rodriguez remains the maglia rosa.
With only 15 km ridden, 17 men sallied off of the front. Among them were Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat), Emanuele Sella (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF Inox). The fugitives led the peloton by more than 7 minutes when they reached the Category 2 Sella di Roa at about 70 km. During the climb, the bunch shaved about a minute off of the break's advantage, but the escapees had a 9-minute lead when they reached the Category 1 Passo Manchen.
Attrition took its toll. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) was dropped, and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) followed. On the descent, Pirazzi and Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack-Nissan) attacked, but their companions reeled them in with 60 km left.
On the first ascent of the Passo di Pampeago, Casar, Pirazzi, and Rohregger attacked. With 40 km left, Rohregger was dropped, and a 5-man chase group formed behind him. On the Category 2 Passo Lavaze, Sella and Rohregger joined forces and attempted to catch the leaders. With 25 km left, on the Passo Lavaze, Kreuziger attacked.
With 11 km left, Sella and Rohregger reached Casar and Pirazzi. Kreuziger, along with Serge Pauwels and Dario Cataldo (both from Omega Pharma-Quick Step), were at 1:20, and the maglia rosa group was a little more than 2 minutes behind the leading quartet.
On the second and final ascent of th Pampeago, Kreuziger reeled in the leaders. The Czech caught Casar with 4 km left and Pirazzi 1 km later. Behind, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) attacked repeatedly and shattered the maglia rosa group. Hesjedal was the only rider who could respond to the Italian's moves. The Canadian set out after Kreuziger, who struggled during the last 2 km. The Astana man was able to hold off the Garmin-Barracuda rider for the win.
In the overall, Rodriguez leads Hesjedal by 0:17 and Scarponi by 1:39. Stage 20 will be another standing shaker. The 219-km ride from Caldes/Val di Sole to Passo dello Stelvio will take the riders over 5 categorized climbs, the most important of which will be the Category 1 Mortirolo and the Hors Categorie ascent to the finish. This will be the last chance for the climbers to use their skills to take a stage win or to better position themselves on GC. Will Rodriguez keep the maglia rosa? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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