24-year old Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) lit up today’s stage in his mud-spattered dayglo kit as he took his maiden Giro win atop Pian dei Resinelli. He’d ridden on his own – having dropped initial fellow escapee Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale) on the first climb – for most of the cold, wet and foggy stage. To maintain his hard-fought advantage over the chasing group, he’d indulged in some harum-scarum descending on the penultimate climb, slid off on a treacherous curve, remounted and soldiered on. More importantly, he delighted the home crowd and every single television viewer when he dug deep into his surely extinguished reserves to find the grit, determination and strength of mind to beat off Joaquim Rodriguez‘s (Katusha) last-minute challenge in the final few hundred metres to the summit.
Having completed the majority of the final climb on the first big mountain stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia on his own, Movistar’s Andrey Amador was not going to be denied with the finish line in sight. As NetApp’s Jan Barta sprinted past him in the last 150 metres, he tapped energy reserves which perhaps even he did not realise he possessed to find a second kick which propelled him to a richly deserved victory. Meanwhile a late attack by Ryder Hesjedal saw him reclaim the maglia rosa from Joaquim Rodriguez as the favourites rode a surprisingly conservative race.
Stage profile: The first 30km or so of this short stage are uncomfortably steep for the sprinters, but thereafter it should all come back together for a bunch sprint.
Top three: 1. Mark Cavendish (Sky), 2. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), 3. Mark Renshaw (Rabobank).