Pieter Weening Animates Giro d'Italia Col du Galibier Stage

Sun 19 May 2013

He crashed out of the early break at the Giro d’Italia yesterday, and his team wasn’t sure how he would feel for stage 15 today. Pieter Weening defied the odds. Sore but spritely, the Dutchman attacked on Mont Cenis around the mid-point of the stage. Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) and Robinson Chalapud (Colombia) had already gone clear. Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini – Selle Italia), Paolo Longo Borghini (Cannondale) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) joined forces with Weening in pursuit of the lead duo. The six rider breakaway had established a six minute advantage by the base of the Col du Télégraphe.

“Pieter was obviously disappointed yesterday,” said Assistant Sport Director Julian Dean. “As much as we wanted to encourage him to have another crack today, we had to see how he was holding up after his crash. He certainly was a bit sore this morning, so we left it up to him to decide how he felt on that first climb. He obviously was going good. He followed an attack, established a small chase group and was in the race lead until nearly the end of the stage.”

The second week of racing came to a close on the slopes of the Col du Galibier next to the Marco Pantani monument. Although the finish was moved four kilometres below the originally planned finish due to snowy conditions, the peloton faced another difficult day in the saddle.

“The guys have had a hard few days,” noted Dean. “It’s impossible to race full gas every day on every stage of a Grand Tour. There are often days where the starts are easier, and today was clearly one of them. The conditions yesterday took a lot of the riders. That they started so easy today shows how exhausting and hard this Giro has been.”

“While we left Pieter with the option to make a move, the other guys were survival mode,” added Dean. “Their job was simply to make it through another brutal day with three difficult climbs and more terrible weather.”

Weening’s breakaway group marked the first and only significant aggression in the stage. Fully committed to chasing the win, Weening attacked the breakaway several times up the Télégraph. Visconti countered one of Weening’s attempts and slipped away, pushing his lead out to nearly one minute.

The Italian hit the base of the Galibier with a 42” advantage over Weening's group. Weening led the pursuit but, like all of the chasers, eventually fell back into the reduced main peloton. Attacks from the elite bunch proved Weening’s undoing, and he lost contact with the maglia rosa break in the final five kilometres. In results that belie the effort, Weening slotted into 44th placed on the stage, 3’55 behind his breakmate turned stage winner.

“What Pieter did today is the mark of a class athlete,” said Dean. “We admire someone that can take their misfortune and channel it into something positive. He definitely did that well today.”