Ulissi Takes Second Stage Win of Giro; Evans Dons Maglia Rosa
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) has garnered his, his team’s, and his country’s second stage win of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Ulissi took a two-up sprint to win the first high mountain stage of this year’s Giro, a, 179-km ride from Foligno to Monte Copiolo, in 4:47:47. Robert Kiserlovski (Trek) finished second, and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) outsprinted Nairo Quintana (Movistar) for third at 0:06. Cadel Evans (BMC), who finished fifth at 0:08, has taken the maglia rosa from Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge).
For a change, sunshine greeted the riders. After a number of abortive sallies, Julian Arredondo (Trek), Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Julien Bérard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida), Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF), Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), and Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) got clear at about 30 km. Within 10 km, the escapees led the field by 8:30. BMC began the pursuit, and eventually Movistar took over for the Swiss squad.
At the base of the Category 1 Cippo di Carpegna, the break led the bunch by six minutes. Pirazzi began to pace the fugitives, and his aggression reduced the break to three riders—himself, Arredondo, and Quemeneur. When the peloton began ascending, Matthews dropped out of the main group. He would finish 180th at 34:19.
Movistar and BMC led the peloton up the climb, and Ag2r-La Mondiale joined them. The three squads’ pacemaking shelled scores of riders and narrowed the gap between bunch and break. At the summit, the reduced peloton was 1:57 behind the leaders.
Arredondo attacked 1.2 km from the summit. Quemeneur and Pirazzi were dropped. The Trek man breasted the climb 0:36 ahead of Pirazzi. He tackled a technical descent before ascending the Category 2 Villagio del Lago.
On the descent from the Cippo di Carpegna, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked from the peloton. The Frenchman joined forces with teammate Quemeneur, who assisted his leader for a time, and set out after Arredondo. At the base of the Villagio del Lago, Rolland trailed the Colombian by 1:10 and led the peloton by 1:30.
Arredondo led Rolland by one minute with 10 km remaining. Rolland gained on the Trek man, and the bunch gained on the Europcar man. In the last three km, Rolland caught Arrendondo, and the Colombian fell off of the pace with less than two km left. At this point, the lead group was within 0:30 of Rolland.
Daniel Moreno (Katusha) attacked and caught Rolland with 350 m to go. Kiserlovski countered and took Ulissi with him. The Italian burst past the Croatian road champion to take the win.
Ulissi’s victory was one of perseverance. “What an effort on the final climb,” Ulissi said, “but I managed to do my best because last evening I studied the last km with my directeur sportif. The course was demanding, Cippo di Carnegna weakened the stamina of many riders, but despite this, we approached the climb at a very high speed.
“I was suffering, but I tried to hold on, having on my mind the 13 percent sector of road close to the finish that could be so suitable for me.
“I was afraid that Rolland could complete his attack, but then I preferred to wait when Moreno escaped from the favorites’ group, but I understood that it was time to react when Kiserlovski made such a powerful attack. My legs were aching, but they allowed me to win anyway.”
In the overall, Evans leads Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 0:57 and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) by 1:10. Stage 9 will not change this state of affairs, although it could result in some contenders gaining seconds on others. The 172-km ride from Lugo to Sestola will feature a Category 2 climb to the finish. Who will win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!