Rabottini Wins Sprint to Take Stage 15; Rodriguez Reclaims Maglia Rosa
Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) has won Stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia in dramatic fashion.
Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) has won Stage 15 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia in dramatic fashion. The Italian, the sole survivor of a daylong break, appeared beaten when Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) overtook him with 400 m remaining in the mountainous, 169-km ride from Busto Arsizio to Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli. Rabottini, however, fought his way back to the Spaniard's wheel and forced his way into the lead to win the stage in 5:15:30. Rodriguez's teammate Alberto Losada finished third at 0:23, and Rodriguez has reclaimed the maglia rosa.
Rain was a problem throughout the stage. At 18 km, Rabottini escaped and took Guillaume Bonnefond (Ag2r-La Mondiale) with him. The pair led the field by more than 9 minutes at 50 km. At 33 km, Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), who was viewed as a possible contender for overall victory, abandoned. He injured his shoulder in a Stage 11 collision with Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda).
On the day's first climb, the Category 1 Valico di Valcava, Rabottini dropped Bonnefond. At the summit, the Italian led the Frenchman by 5 minutes and the peloton by another minute. Behind, Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF Inox) attacked his companions in the chase group, and Txurruka, Amador, Cunego, and Losada joined him.
At 92 km, Emanuele Sella (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela) and Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacked from the peloton. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD), Losada, Marco Pinotti (BMC), and Marzio Bruseghin and Andrey Amador (both from Movistar) joined the move, which gained enough time to make Cunego the virtual maglia rosa. At the summit of the Category 3 Culmmie de San Pietro, the day's penultimate climb, Rabottini led the chasers by a little under 3 minutes and the peloton by nearly 6 minutes.
On the descent, the rain gave Rabottini and the spectators a scare. Rabottini's wheel slid out from under him on wet road markings. With a spectator's help, the Farnese Vini man mounted his undamaged bike immediately, but he lost precious seconds. At the base of the day's final climb, the Italian led the Cunego group by a little more than 2 minutes, with the maglia rosa group not far behind.
When the maglia rosa group reached the climb, the gauntlets were thrown down. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) made the first move, but the defending champion could not stay away. Rodriguez countered, and no one could follow him. The Katusha man overtook the chase group and set out after Rabottini, whom he caught with 400 m to go.
Rodriguez jumped in front of the Italian and appeared ready to win the stage. Rabottini, however, clawed his way onto the Spaniard's wheel and forced his way into the lead for the win.
In the overall, Rodriguez leads Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) by 0:30 and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) by 1:22. Tomorrow will be the Giro's second rest day. The race will resume on Tuesday with a 173-km medium mountain stage from Limone sul Garde to Falzes. The stage will end with an uphill run to the finish. Will Rodriguez keep the maglia rosa? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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