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AFP / Yuzuru Sunada
Italy’s Enrico Battaglin of the Bardiani team snatched victory in the 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, a 164km mountain run from Aglie to Oropa. Race leader Colombian Rigoberto Uran of Omega Pharma lost ground in the gruelling final 11.8km climb but managed to hold the pink jersey ahead of Australian Cadel Evans. It was the first stage in the mountains, ending in the Oropa sanctuary where the late Italian climber Marco Pantani, who died in 2004, produced a memorable performance after being held up with a chain problem on his way to victory in the 1998 edition. Battaglin, 24, led a long breakaway group to finish ahead of fellow Italian Dario Cataldo with Colombian Jarlison Pantano 0.07sec off the pace in third.
“I didn’t believe it until the final kilometer. I had used up a lot of energy in the breakaway which started early,” explained Battaglin, who also won a stage at Serra San Bruno in Calabria last year. But I saw that ahead the others were having problems so I gave it everything I had to come back. It’s a great win!”
Battaglin was among a group of 21 riders who had made an early break including BMC Racing’s Manuel Quinziato building up a lead of 9min 15sec, before attacking the final climb with a four-minute advantage. Quinziato pushed the pace onto the final climb, but with less than 10km to go, the Italian suffered gear problems. Uran holds a 32 second lead in the overall standings on Evans, who sprinted ahead of his rival at the end of Saturday’s mountain-top finish to take five seconds back. BMC rider Evans finished 21st on the stage that included four climbs, but it was the final 50 metres where he made the biggest move, reducing his deficit to Uran to 32 seconds with one week of the race to go.
“It might have been a few more seconds, but there was a bit of a wave (other riders) in front of me,” Evans said. “Someone set a really hard tempo at the start of the climb. “That eliminated a lot of riders who might have ridden tempo – Samuel
Sanchez or Steve Morabito – who could have been by my side later in the climb. So all the leaders were isolated quite early,” added the Australian.
Pre-race favorite Nairo Quintana of Colombia, who has been hit by a series of health problems in the past week, also clawed back 25 seconds on his compatriot to sit sixth. Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal, the 2012 Giro winner, remains over six minutes behind Uran in 12th. The riders are set for back-to-back summit finishes with Sunday’s 15th stage over 225km to the difficult Montecampione climb where Pantani duelled with Russian Pavel Tonkov on the final 19.4km summit finish in 1998.
Giro d’Itala Stage 14
1. Enrico Battaglin (ITA/BAR) 4:34:41
2. Dario Cataldo (ITA/SKY) @ s.t.
3. Jarlinson Pantano (COL/COL) @ :07
4. Jan Polanc (SLO/LAM) @ :17
5. Nicolas Roche (IRL/TIN) @ :22
6. Albert Timmer (NED/GIA) @ :26
7. Emanuele Sella (ITA/AND) @ :28
8. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA/LAM) @ :33
9. Tim Wellens (BEL/LTB) @ :39
10. Ivan Santaromita (ITA/ORI) @ :54
General Classification After Stage 14
1. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ) 57:52:51
2. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) @ 0:32
3. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) @ 1:35
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) @ 2:11
5. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) @ 2:33
6. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) @ 3:04
7. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) @ 3:16
8. Wout Poels (NED/OPQ) @ 4:01
9. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) @ 5:07
10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TRE) @ 5:13