Giro d'Italia: The 14th stage heralded the hot phase in the battle for the Magila Rosa today. Oropa, the place where Marco Pantani achieved one of his last impressive victories in 1999. Today, of course, this is seen in a different light. With today's stage, the organizers wanted to honor the Italian who died ten years ago. And the ascent to the finish line was always a spectacle.
The stage began as expected. With the Alpe Noveis and the Bielmonte, two decent calibers of climbs awaited the riders before a nearly thirty-kilometer descent spat them into the ten-kilometer final climb. The group, which also included a German with Danilo Hondo (Trek), was able to get onto the field around the more than eight minutes pink Drive out Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Enough time to have tactical considerations in the final.
The Irishman Nicholas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), who lost all chances of a good overall ranking due to an early fall, then attacked on the climb. At first his attack looked promising. However, on the descent he was caught by ALebrt Timmer (Giant-Shimano) and Manuel Quinzato (BMC). These quickly left him behind on the climb, with Timmer's increased pace ending in a defect for Quinzato.
In the field, almost four kilometers before the Bielmonte pass, Björn Thurau (Europcar) was gripped by the situation. He was followed in tow by his team captain, Pierre Rolland. Later, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Sharp) and Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) also joined the duo. Under Thurau's pace dictate, they quickly reduced the gap to the frontrunners by more than a minute. The man from Fulda had done his job in the finish climb and Rolland broke away with Hesjedal. Together they were able to work their way closer and closer to the front runners, but they were no longer able to catch them.
Timmer made sure of that. The Dutchman put in a brilliant performance but was caught two kilometers from the finish by Dario Cataldo (Sky) and Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia). The duo let him stand shortly after as Cataldo pushed the pace again. A few hundred meters later, Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida) caught up with the two leaders. And Timmer came close again with 800 meters to go.
Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) proved to have the best timing. The Italian caught up with the leaders with 400 meters to go. There Cataldo forced the sprint. With 100 meters to go, it was Pantano who put his nose into the wind. Cataldo countered. But in the last 75 meters it was Battaglin who, with a strong finish, clinched the second win of the day for his team.
In the group of favorites, it was Julian Arredondo (Trek) who pushed the pace five kilometers from the finish. However, he was no match for Domenico Pozzovivo's (Ag2R La Mondiale) counterattack. The little Italian set a pace that only Nairo Quintana (Movistar) could match. Together they even put pressure on Uranium. Cadel Evans (BMC) was also unable to follow him in the final and lost a few seconds to the Australian. The Pink sweater he still takes it with him to tomorrow's section, which again has it all.