Stage 12: Barbaresco to Barolo, 41.9km individual time trial
Rigoberto Uran staked his claim to the pink jersey with a dominant time trial performance that moved him ahead of Cadel Evans and into the race lead on a day when pre-race favourite Nairo Quintana just – but only just – clung on to his hopes of overall victory.
He’s got the moves like Jagger
As in the opening team time trial in Belfast nearly two weeks ago, it rained – as it seems to have done almost constantly throughout this Giro so far. However, today the conditions weren’t as variable, and with the riders setting off in reverse GC order they were to all intents and purposes identical for the top riders.
In the space of one hour, the complexion of this year’s Giro changed completely. With most pundits declaring that the race was Cadel Evans‘ (BMC) to lose, Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) not only rode to his first career individual time trial victory but also overturned his 57-second deficit to Evans to end the day 37 seconds ahead of the Australian and the proud recipient of the maglia rosa.
Uran is no mug when it comes to time trials. Last year he showed he had upped his game against the clock, finishing 12th and sixth in the two Giro time trials. He followed that up with 17th at the Vuelta a Espana’s time trial, a stage with a profile similar to today’s.
How much has he improved over the off-season? Today he finished 2:09 ahead of Ag2r La Mondiale’s GC man Domenico Pozzovivo, to whom he conceded 1:18 to at the Vuelta. Similarly, he enjoyed a swing of 1:43 over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) compared with the Vuelta. Impressive.
In addition, OPQS proved their depth and underlined why they lead the team classification, with Gianluca Brambilla, Wout Poels and Thomas de Gendt combining to give the Belgian team four of the top eight finishers. They may lack a true top-level pure climber to protect Uran in the final kilometres in the high mountains, but they’re strong enough to ensure he gets into position safely.
As for the main man himself, the rider with the proud mane of hair frequently compared to Mick Jagger by Kitty (and also former teammate Geraint Thomas), has thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals on a day where the number of realistic contenders was whittled down to just seven.
Incidentally, four of those top seven – Majka, Wilco Kelderman (Belkin), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Fabio Aru (Astana) are aged 23 or 24 and therefore eligible for the best young rider competition. Remember the intense battle for the white jersey between Majka and Carlos Betancur last year? This year really could be the race of the next generation.
Winners and losers
Obviously Uran was the big winner today but another white jersey contender, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) supplemented his burgeoning reputation, adding a surprising second place to his two victories last week and jumping from 21st to 14th overall.
It’s tempting to say Cadel Evans is the day’s big loser, but actually he rode well to a third place finish which, discounting Uran’s exceptional winning performance, saw him put more time into all his other GC rivals. He may no longer be the favourite to win, but he’s still very much in contention.
That’s more than can be said for Ivan Basso (Cannondale), who dropped out of the top ten after crashing on the downhill section 4km from the finish, Evans also survived a scary off-road moment when he ran wide on the damp road but was able to recover, reminding us of the handling skills he possesses as a former mountain biker.
Nairo Quintana retains to his Giro hopes, but only just. Having lost 1½ minutes in the team time trial, he would have expected to lose time today – finishing 2:41 down in 13th was about as good as he could have reasonably expected. That was enough to move him up from eighth to sixth overall, but he now trails his compatriot Uran by 3:29. If he still harbours hopes of overall victory, he will have to attack and attack hard on at least one of this weekend’s two summit finishes.
Finally, Giant-Shimano’s Tobias Ludvigsson was one of the fastest men through the first checkpoint early on, but his race came to an abrupt end when he flipped over a roadside barrier and landed in a driveway. He was taken to hospital, but the team later reported his injuries weren’t serious.
VeloVoices rider of the day
Rigoberto Uran. Enough said, really.
Stage 12 result
1. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 57:34
2. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) +1:17
3. Cadel Evans BMC) +1:34
4. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) +1:39
5. Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +1:53
1. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 49:37:35
2. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:37
3. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) +1:52
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +2:32
5. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) +2:50
6. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:29
7. Fabio Aru (Astana) +3:37
8. Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +4:06
9. Steve Morabito (BMC) +4:20
10. Robert Kiserlovski (Trek) +4:41
Points leader: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).
Mountains classification: Julian Arredondo (Trek).
Best young rider: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Team classification: Omega Pharma-QuickStep.