Santambrogio Wins Stage 14 of Giro; Nibali Extends Overall Lead
Nibali finished second, and Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) won the sprint for third at 0:09. Nibali's maglia rosa has further extended his overall lead.
In addition to the mountains, the weather defined this stage. One hour before the start, heavy rainfall and fog forced the organizers to remove the Col di Sestriere from the start. The riders rode the Val di Susa, thus adding an additional 12 km to the course.
Forty km into the stage, Luca Paolini (Katusha), Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Daniel Pietropolli (Lampre-Merida), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Peter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), and Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp) attacked. Stetina, Martinez, and Weening crashed and fell back to the bunch, but the others pressed on and forged a 10-minute lead.
Behind, a crash was the most important thing that happened early in the stage. Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Alessandro Vanoti (Astana), and Robinson Chalapud (Colombia) hit the deck, with Battaglin abandoning with rib injuries and Vanoti doing the same with a broken collarbone.
Cannondale, Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela, and Sky led the pursuit, but without much success until the last 50 km. At that point, the British squad pressed the pace. The gap narrowed dramatically. With 20 km remaining, 5:35 separated bunch and break. Trentin suffered a mechanical and was dropped, while behind, Sky's pacemaking reduced the maglia rosa group to between 30 and 40 riders.
With seven km left, the break led the peloton by four minutes. Colbrelli attacked, but Paolini caught him. Pietropolli was dropped but clawed his way back to the pair.
Four km later, the break led the maglia rosa group by 3:20. Sergio Henao (Sky) and Diego Rosa (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela) attacked from the maglia rosa group, and Rosa's teammate Franco Pellizotti followed suit. All were caught. Pietropolli was dropped. Paolini dropped Colbrelli. With 1.5 km remaining, the Katusha man led the maglia rosa group by 0:43.
The maglia rosa group overtook Paolini. Nibali attacked, and Santambrogio and Betancur caught him. Santambrogio accelerated, and Betancur was dropped. Santambrogio led the pair to the finish, where Nibali sat up and allowed the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia man to take his first Grand Tour stage win.
Santambrogio had set winning a stage of the Giro as a goal. "I came here with the main goal of winning a stage," the Italian said. "The general classification was a secondary thing for me. This win is recompense for the hard training and sacrifices I've been through since November. But now that I'm lying fourth in the general classification, I can't say I'm not thinking about it, although, after all I've been through so far during this Giro, I'm going to take it day by day."
Santambrogio was asked how he felt dropping Cadel Evans, for whom he had ridden at BMC. "It gives me great confidence," he said. "although I have to thank Cadel because I learned a lot when I rode alongside him. With Cadel, I learned how to prepare for a three-week tour. Now, as a captain on a team, I can really make the most of what I have learned."
In the overall, Nibali leads Evans by 1:26 and Rigoberto Uran (Sky) by 2:46. Stage 15 will be another standing shaker. The stage, which was originally scheduled to be 144 km long and to end of the summit of the Col du Galibier in France, is now scheduled to conclude 4.25 km from the summit because of the weather. As matters stand, the riders will take on the Category 1 Col du Mont Cenis and the Category 2 Col du Telegraphe before ending the stage on the Galibier. Will Nibali take more time out of his competition? Will his competition narrow the gap between him and them? Will weather further alter the course? For the answers to these questions and others, check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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