Stage 14: Aglie to Oropa, 164km
Enrico Battaglin gave Bardiani-CSF their second win in succession as he overtook the leading threesome to claim victory in the final metres of the first category summit finish at Oropa.
Let the party begin!
The antipasti is over and now, with the first real mountain stage, it’s time for the primo piatto – typically starchy. But with only eight stages remaining, and many teams yet to score in this race, we expected fireworks – and we got them. There wasn’t anything remotely stodgy about today’s stage. A 21-man break disappeared up the road early on and gained just over ten minutes with 80km remaining before those few teams without a rider up front plus the team of the race leader started working to pull them back.
The advantage was slowly eroded but, with 50km to go, riders started to attack off the front of the peloton, most notably Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) followed by Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF), hoping no doubt to rescue something from the race. Meanwhile, the break itself had splintered after an attack from Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) before the summit of the penultimate climb.
Cannondale led the peloton down the 30km descent back into Biella where the final climb began 11km from the finish. There were groups of riders all over the road and at times it was hard to keep track of who was where while still keeping one eye on the leading contenders who were themselves keeping a close eye on one another. Up front lone escapee Albert Timmer (Giant-Shimano) was pedalling squares and was overhauled by his break-mates Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia) and Dario Cataldo (Sky). These three looked set to contest the stage victory before being caught by Battaglin’s late and well-timed charge..
Meanwhile, back in the bunch with less than 4km to go, the diminutive Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale), much to the delight of the massed Italian supporters, launched the first salvo and only Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was able to go with him. They soon distanced the other favourites and put time into the race leader, though not as much as they hoped. Rest assured, they’ll try again tomorrow.
The battle for the jerseys
Julian Arredondo (Trek) still holds the blue mountains jersey with 75 points but he didn’t manage to get into today’s break. Instead young Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) and Jonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo) garnered 57 and 39 points respectively and laid bare their intentions.
Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) retained the overall lead but saw his rivals take back precious time. He looked shattered at the end of the stage. Questions were asked of the race leader and I’m not sure he answered all of them.
VeloVoices rider of the day
It was a cheeky win from 24-year-old Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF), his second in the Giro after last year’s victory on stage four (his only win of 2013). Breaking their duck yesterday has boosted the confidence of the fluorescent lime-green team.
Battaglin popped up behind the leading trio just as they were looking to duke it out. While the others were zigzagging across the cobbles, Battaglin launched his attack and sailed past them to take his team’s second consecutive victory.
After the stage, Battaglin confirmed:
The last kilometre, I was really suffering, It was a hard pace all day long. I thought I had lost it. I saw Cataldo leading out the Colombian, and I just felt a final surge, and decided to give it all in the final 100m. It’s a huge victory for me and for my team.
Stage 14 result
1. Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) 4:34:41
2. Dario Cataldo (Sky) same time
3. Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia) +0:07
4. Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida) +0:17
5. Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:22
1. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 57:52:51
2. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:32
3. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) +1:35
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +2:11
5. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) +2:33
6. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:04
7. Fabio Aru (Astana) +3:16
8. Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +4:01
9. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) +5:07
10. Robert Kiserlovski (Trek) +5:13
Points leader: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).
Mountains classification: Julian Arredondo (Trek).
Best young rider: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Team classification: Omega Pharma-Quick Step.