Fireworks on Montasio

Tue 14 May 2013

The first summit finish of the Giro d’Italia promised fireworks amongst the overall contenders. Montasio delivered on that promise. Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) jumped from a group of favourites to take a solo stage victory on stage ten as the overall contenders traded blows in his wake. Several big names lost time today, including defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) who fell away from the main bunch on the first categorised climb of the day. Jens Keukeleire and Pieter Weening matched the tempo set by the ‘Hesjedal group’ to cross the line in 83rd place and 96th place respectively, 20’53 behind Uran.

Lacking an overall contender or a true mountain goat in their midst, ORICA-GreenEDGE has two options in the high mountains of Northern Italy. The team can rest its riders for upcoming targets or look to get into breaks in the hope of making an opportunistic move later in the stage. Today, the team opted for the latter option.

“We had planned to put Jens Keukeleire, Pieter Weening or Christian Meier into the early breakaway,” noted Sport Director Lionel Marie. “It was not an easy task today because it was a very, very fast start. We averaged 50 kilometres/hour during the first hour of racing. All three riders tried to get into a move, but they missed the one that eventually got away from the bunch.”

Thirteen riders made it off the front after the opening 20 kilometres of the stage. The escape group stretched their advantage to just over nine minutes before Astana and Sky gave chase in earnest.

When the peloton hit the category one Passo Cason di Lanza, Sky took control on the front. Their blistering pace shredded the peloton and quickly reduced the gap to the shattered breakaway.

“After we passed the first mountain, we had four riders already in the gruppetto,” said Marie. “Riders know when they fall out of the main group, they should save their energy as much as possible for other days. Of course, they need to make the time cut, so they can’t rest completely.”

“We had three riders in the second big group on the road,” Marie continued. “Pieter and Jens Keukeleire followed the group with Hesjedal.”

Keukeleire and Weening matched pace of their chosen group down the twisty descent that followed the first categorised climb and up the Montasio.

“There were so many people out today,” he said. “There were amazing crowds on the top of Montasio. They were treated to a great bike race on the very steep climb.”

The peloton heads to the medium mountains tomorrow. Marie said the team has a better chance of being amongst the action on Wednesday.

“Everyone is doing okay after the first rest day,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a shock to the body to race again after one day away from the race, but no one was in any trouble. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow. Thursday and Friday are better suited to our qualities, so we’ll definitely try something later in the week.”