Battaglin Wins Stage 14 of Giro d'Italia
Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) has won his team’s second consecutive stage of the Giro d’Italia 2014. Battaglin sprinted past Dario Cataldo (Sky) and Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia) in the last 50 m to win the mountainous, 164-km ride from Aglie to Oropa in 4:34:41. Cataldo took second, and Pantano finished third. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) remains the maglia rosa, but by a reduced margin.
The break of the day formed shortly after the start, as 21 riders got clear. Among the escapees were Battaglin, Pantano, Cataldo and Edvald Boasson Hagen (both from Sky), Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Marco Frapporti and Emanuele Sella (both from Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela), Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Ivan Santamorita (Orica-GreenEdge), Manuel Quinziato (BMC), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), Albert Timmer (Giant-Shimano), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), and Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida). The gaggle breasted the day’s first climb, the Category 3 La Serra, four minutes ahead of the peloton.
A crash occurred that took Kanstantin Siutsiu (Sky) and Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) out of the race. Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which led the pursuit, throttled back to allow riders who were caught up in the crash to rejoin the bunch. This allowed the break to extend its advantage to 11 minutes by 75 km.
At the summit of the Category 1 Alpe Noveis, the gap had narrowed to eight minutes. Roche attacked at the summit of the next ascent, the Category 2 Belmonte. Behind, Bjorn Thurau and Pierre Rolland (both from Europcar) attacked, and Garmin-Sharp followed suit with Nathan Haas and Ryder Hesjedal. The Garmin-Sharp pair joined forces with the Europcar men, and Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) bridged up to the quartet.
The break reeled in Roche on the descent, but Quinziato and Timmer went clear. The pair led their erstwhile companions by a minute at the base of the Category 1 climb to the finish. Quinziato had a mechanical, and Timmer proceeded alone. The Dutchman held on until Cataldo and Pantano caught and dropped him in the last three km.
Timmer clawed his way back to the leading pair in the last km. Polanc joined the lead group and attacked with 700 m left. Timmer was dropped, but Battaglin joined the lead group. Cataldo made his move, but the Bardiani-CSF man caught the Sky man and nudged ahead of him in the final m.
Behind, the battle for the maglia rosa heated up. With four km left, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) attacked the maglia rosa, and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) joined him. This sparked a flurry of attacks that saw Uran lose time to all of his rivals. Quintana took 0:29 out of Uran, while Pozzovivo took 0:25. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) gained 0:17 on the race leader, while Fabio Aru (Astana) is 0:21 closer to the overall lead. Race runner-up Cadel Evans (BMC) gained 0:05 on Uran.
From the beginning, Battaglin felt that the break could succeed. “After yesterday’s win, our morale is sky high,” he said. “I didn’t attack in jest. I believed in the breakaway, and it was always my intention to go all the way. I wasn’t our team’s designated rider in the breakaway. There are better climbers in the team than me, like [Edoardo] Zardini. But the situation looked good, and I felt sure that the breakaway would make it.
“I suffered on the climb, and on the hardest section, I couldn’t keep up. I had to go full gas in the last 500 m and, when I got across to Cataldo and Pantano, I had to breathe for a second because I’d had to ride at 100 percent to catch them. Thankfully, they lost speed, and I did a great sprint and managed to get past them in the final 30 m. I looked around to make sure I had really won and to see if anyone else was coming from behind.”
In the overall, Uran leads Evans by 0:32 and Majka by 1:35. Stage 15 will be another test for the maglia rosa. The 225-km ride from Valdengo to Plan di Montecampione will feature one categorized climb, but it will be a Category 1 ascent to the finish. Will Uran keep his race lead? Will one of the other contenders seize it from him? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!