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Italian drops his companions from an early breakaway to solo across the finish line while the race favourites were unable to make a real difference due to a strong headwind

Photo: Movistar Team






19.05.2013 @ 18:05 Posted by Henriette Brandt

Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) came out triumphant at the top of the Col du Galibier at the end of the hugely anticipated 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia. Having escaped over the top of the day's first climb, he dropped his companions on the Col de Telegraphe and took a solo win while behind the race favourites mostly finished together as a strong headwind made it difficult to make a real selection.


Not known as a man for the high mountains, Giovanni Visconti may at first have been a little disappointed to see that the gruel 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia would after all be held almost unchanged despite the bad weather but at the end of the day he has probably changed his mind. Soloing off the front from an early escapee he was the only one able to keep the race favourites at bay and secured Movistar their second stage win in this year's Giro.


At the bottom of the Col de Telegraphe with 30km to go, the Italian was part of an early 7-man move containing Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), KOM leader Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni), Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani) and Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini). As soon as they hit the lower slopes of the climb Bongiorno hit the front to set up Pirazzi for the win and that spelled the end of Rubiano's chances.


Behind the Lotto-Belisol and Ag2r teams had set a hard tempo as they approached the day's final doubleheader of a climb and at the bottom they were only 2 minutes behind. Almost immediately the first attacks went off the front, with Peter Stetina (Garmin), Francis De Greef (Lotto) and Robert Gesink (Blanco) the first to try their hand.


Stetina was quickly back in the Astana-led peloton while Gesink dropped De Greef. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) joined the Dutchman from behind and later Sergio Henao (Sky) and Robert Kiserlovski (Radioshack) also gained contact. A lone chase even saw Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) bridge the gap to form a very strong 5-rider move.


Up ahead Weening and Pirazzi had both attacked and at some point both Visconti and Rabottini were off the back but both were able to claw their way back to the front. Rubiano and Chalapud were now back in the Gesink group in which the Dutchman did almost all of the work. Bongiorno was now passed by the peloton.


Pirazzi and Weening could not agree and Visconti used a moment of hesitation to attack with 23km to go and he quickly managed to build up a gap to his three chasers. He crested the top of the Col de Telegraphe 45 seconds ahead of the trio while the Gesink group kept losing time despite the Dutchman's best efforts.


On the descent Jose Herrada - who had made a bold move from the peloton - managed to join the Gesink group which now consisted of 8 riders. Behind Astana was now joined by Lampre at the front but the a strong headwind meant that the group of favourites was still rather big.


Visconti still appeared to have some power left when he started the Galibier climb while Rabottini wanted to get rid of Weening and Pirazzi who could not agree at all. He attacked twice before he finally dropped his companions.


The Gesink group got nowhere and with 9km to go they were back in the peloton which was still led by Astana and Lampre. The Saxo-Tinkoff duo of Evgeni Petrov and Rafal Majka had a small dig off the front but white jersey rival Carlos Betancur was quick to respond and that saw it brought back immediately.


Petrov started to set a hard pace at the front while at the back Pozzovivo was clearly on a bad day and found it hard to stay in contact with the group. Meanwhile, Blanco continued their offensive as they sent Juan Manuel Garate on the attack and when the Spaniard was brought back, it was time for young Wilco Kelderman to try his hand.


The young Dutchman caught Weening and Pirazzi who kept losing ground to both Rabottini and Visconti. Meanwhile, a resurgent Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) tried that today was the day to chase his stage win ambitions and he was joined by Damiano Caruso. Fabio Duarte (Colombia) attacked a little later to join up with the duo.


Pirazzi had now given up and he fell all the way back through the groups to end up behind the peloton which was still being led by the Astana duo of Valerio Agnoli and Fabio Aru, the Italians having been doing most of the work. With 2km to go it was time for Michele Scarponi (Lampre) to take revenge and he soloed off the front in pursuit of the Sanchez group.


Nibali now played his final card and put Tanel Kangert on the front and that saw the group splinter to pieces. He quickly picked up all the groups ahead with the notable exception of the lone warrior Visconti.


Nibali decided to see if any of his nearest rivals were on a bad day and decided to put in a small dig. Scarponi and Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini) responded immediately and Cadel Evans clawed the remaining favourites back to the front.


With 1km to go Majka tried his hands once again and he was joined by the Colombian duo of Betancur and Duarte. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre) rushed out of the maglia rosa group to join the move to form a rare Polish-Colombian quartet.


Up ahead, nobody was able to catch the lone Visconti who held off the chasers by 42 seconds to take the biggest win of his career in one of the most prestigious stages of the entire Giro. Behind, Betancur won the sprint for second ahead of Niemiec and Majka and the bonus seconds moved him into the white jersey. Duarte followed a further 5 seconds behind.


7 seconds later Scarponi led most of the race favourites across the line on a day where the climatic conditions made it difficult to make any real difference. The only notable absentees from the main group were Pozzovivo and Benat Intxausti who lost around 1 minute and 30 seconds respectively, but saved their provisional top 10 places.


After two hard days in the Alps the riders will enjoy a well-deserved rest tomorrow before this dramatic Giro continues on Tuesday when the peloton leaves the Alps to head towards the Dolomites and the final tough stages.


Starting at 14.15 you can follow Tuesday's stage on



Dry weather conditions for an almost unaltered stage

After much debate the highly anticipated stage to the Col du Galibier was allowed to go ahead almost as planned as the organizers only had to cancel the final 4,25km to the top of the mighty French climb. Despite late snow falling on the top of the giant, the riders were even allowed to cover most of the route in dry conditions.


As soon as the flag came down, the attacks started to go off and once again Taylor Phinney (BMC) was one of the first to put in a dig. Bert De Backer (Argos -Shimano) was the one able to build up the biggest gap in the opening part of the race but when they started the day's first climb, the Mont-Cenis, after a little more than 30km of racing, it was still all together.


A neutralized climb

That was when the riders took the rather unusual decision to neutralize the climb. While spectators and a worldwide tv audience struggled to find a reason for the peloton's strange behaviour, rumours circulated that the decision was taken to help the peloton's weakest climbers finish inside the time limit. The entire climb was tackled at a modest pace while the riders had plenty of time to enjoy each other.


However, there were still KOM points up for grabs at the top of the French giant and so the battle for the blue jersey started a few kilometres from the top. Unsurprisingly, the man to start the action was current leader of the competition Pirazzi who was joined by Visconti and Jackson Rodriguez (Androni) when he accelerated off the front.


Battle for KOM points

Chalapud came flying past the trio but Pirazzi managed to drop his companions and catch back up to the Colombian. Behind a group with Rodriguez, Rubiano, Weening, Bongiorno, Visconti and Rabottini formed.


Just as the chasers were about to catch the front duo, Pirazzi attacked again and this time no one was able to respond to the Italian's acceleration. He took maximum points in a convincing fashion while his teammate Bongiorno did what he could to protect the lead by being second over the top of the climb.


The winning break is formed

Weening decided to go off alone on the descent while a group consisting of Pirazzi, Bongiorno, Rabottini, Visconti, Rubiano and Chalapud formed behind. Behind Luca Paolini (Katusha) led the peloton safely down the descent.


Weening continued on his own for a number of kilometres but when he hit some flatter roads midway down the descent, he decided to wait for his chasers. Hence, a 7-rider group was created at the front and the trio started to open some daylight between themselves and the peloton.


The peloton was in no hurry and it took some time before Astana decided to put Dmitry Gruzdev on the front to at least control the gap. Nonetheless, the advantage kept growing and reached almost 6 minutes.


Lotto starts to chase

That was when Lotto took the highly unexpected decision to start the chase and the Belgian team put no less than 4 riders on the front. Ag2r was on home soil and had two of the day's biggest favourites Betancur and Pozzovivo and so it was less strange for them to add sprinter Manuel Belletti to the team of chasers.


The gap came down rapidly as a consequence of Lotto's hard efforts and at the bottom of the Telegraphe climb, the break was only 2 minutes ahead of the peloton. On the lower slopes the front group splintered while Lotto showed their intentions by sending De Greef up the road, thus starting the grand final that saw Giovanni Visconti emerge as the king of the Galibier



1. Giovanni Visconti 4.40.48

2. Carlos Betancur +0.42

3. Przemyslaw Niemiec

4. Rafal Majka

5. Fabio Duarte +0.47

6. Michele Scarponi +0.54

7. Vincenzo Nibali

8. Cadel Evans

9. Mauro Santambrogio

10. Rigoberto Uran


General classification:

1. Vincenzo Nibali 62.02.34

2. Cadel Evans +1.26

3. Rigoberto Uran +2.46

4. Mauro Santambrogio +2.47

5. Michele Scarponi +3.53

6. Przemyslaw Niemiec +4.55

7. Carlos Betancur +5.15

8. Rafal Majka +5.20

9. Domenico Pozzovivo +5.57

10. Benat Intxausti +6.21


Points classification:

1. Mark Cavendish 109

2. Cadel Evans 91

3. Mauro Santambrogio 84

4. Carlos Betancur 79

5. Vincenzo Nibali 74


Mountains classification:

1. Stefano Pirazzi 65

2. Giovanni Visconti 42

3. Robinson Chalapud 28

4. Jackson Rodriguez 26

5. Carlos Betancur 23


Youth classification:

1. Carlos Betancur 62.07.49

2. Rafal Majka +0.05

3. Wilco Kelderman +8.14

4. Darwin Atapuma +11.40

5. Diego Rosa +25.30


Teams classification:

1. Team Sky 185.45.06

2. Blanco +5.45

3. Lampre +5.56

4. Movistar +8.18

5. Astana +9.01



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