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When the team car arrived, he wasn't able to loosen his grip on the handlebar: it was clearly impossible to continue.

Photo: Sirotti




08.09.2013 @ 10:29 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

“A foot in heaven and a foot in hell” that was how Cannondale Pro Cycling described their experience at the Vuelta a España yesterday. Daniele Ratto carried out a great feat with 150km in a breakaway (and 45 alone) in stage 14, one of the hardest in the mountains and a stage that was made even more difficult by the heavy rain and cold.


The counterbalance to Ratto’s win was the sudden withdrawal of team leader Ivan Basso, who suffered of an acute crisis of hypothermia during the first descent from Puerto de Envalira.


For Ratto, yesterday's victory was the second in his career after the one he took in 2010 at the GP of Larciano. "Usually my chance to win a race came from a bunch sprint, not on a mountain stage" said the winner. "I was in the breakaway to take advantage on the peloton and be able to help Ivan after the descents. Then the weather changed the development of the stage and became unpredictable. I felt good and I tried. I rode on my own too early but I was confident to maintain the gap thanks to the descents. Sometimes I risked a lot but I had to do. The hardest moment was just before the final climb. I was tired and I also had cramps. Thanks also to the help from my DS Mariuzzo from team car I was able to manage the last energies and to take this solo win. I'm really happy but, on the other hand, it's just a cold comfort after Ivan's withdrawal. I only learned about it after I crossed the line. It’s a pity because it’s been a while since I’ve seen him ride so strongly.”


The withdrawal of Basso from the Vuelta came like a bolt from the blue for the team. During the descent, Basso began to shudder and was unable to ride his bike because of the weather. 4 km from the finish of the descent, he stopped at the side of the road, thanks also the support of his teammates who even helped him to brake, and was noticeably confused. When the team car arrived, he wasn't able to loosen his grip on the handlebar: it was clearly impossible to continue.


"It's the saddest day of my career" said Basso. "I feel really, really disappointed. I was feeling good and I was confident about the next stages. This withdrawal is real blow. I don't know if it's destiny or what else, but this season has been awful for me. I'm happy for the win of Daniele because it's a boost of morale for my teammates. They did a great job for me until today and they deserve this success. Even today they didn't leave me alone.”$



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