For a long time it looked as if Lampre’s new flying machine, Diego Ulissi was going to take his third stage of the race – but the stocky ex-track rider from the high altitude of Colombia was the man with the most watts on a grey day through the glorious vineyards of Piemonte.
Maglia Rosa, Evans was third and despite riding on the ragged edge in the closing stages it wasn’t enough and it’s Uran in pink for the start of stage 13, tomorrow.
Stage 12 of the 2014 Giro d’Italia with 41.9 kilometres from Barbaresco to Barolo in lovely Piemonte through the heart of ‘wine country’ with a rolling profile which whilst favouring the specialists isn’t a total nightmare for the climbers with the first climb actually carrying king of the mountains points as a fourth category.
The finish is uphill for the last two K coming off a rapid descent and means pace judgement is paramount.
The Gazzetta dello Sport gives the stage a four star degree of difficulty.
Rain slick tarmac today – for the early starters, at least – may reduce the rolling resistance of the tyres on the road surface but it also makes for taking care on the descents and corners. The ‘race of truth’ the French call the time trial; ‘alone and unpaced’ the English Road Time Trials Council regulations used to say.
No peloton to shelter in, no team mates to help, just you, the bike, the parcours and an electronic timing system with which there can be no negotiation.
The Race Begins
The first man under the hour was AG2R’s Patrick Gretsch before QuickStep’s Thomas de Gendt took five seconds off his time to go top in 59:41 – and that was how it stood as the Big Guns began to fire.
Two favourites who will not win today are former World U23 TT Champion, Luke Durbridge (GreenEDGE) out yesterday with a crash – and Movistar’s chrono man Adriano Malori, also a former U23 rainbow TT winner but another to come down heavily in yesterday’s unexpectedly tough stage. Malori did a fair impersonation of the Swamp Thing after his crash – covered in mud and looking positively scary.
It’s three minute intervals for the big names as Quintana rolls down the ramp and heads off out on the course for his one hour effort.
Diego Ulissi is going well out on the now drying tarmac, despite tasting tar yesterday.
Pozzovivo starts – it’s so hard for the little guys to get a good position on the TT bike now that there’s the UCi rule that both wheels must be the same size – a 24” front wheel enables a small rider to get lower at the front end.
Ulissi blasts De Gendt back to the Stone Age – he carves 50 seconds off the best time. His time flashes up just as Evans launches, the Aussie knows his target, now.
Evans has won the Commonwealth Games Time Trial title in his time and when he won le Tour was just a single second behind stage winner Tony Martin in the crucial Grenoble time trial. The road is drying nicely and Quintana’s time at the top of the first climb isn’t so far down on Ulissi – and neither is Belkin’s Wilco Kelderman.
Astana’s young Fabio Aru rips over the first climb and he’s one second up on Ulissi – we knew he was quality but this is special. Pozzovivo looks hideous on the first climb; the position is horrible, so upright – but he puts me right in my box with fastest on that first climb.
We have a race here as Ulissi’s eyebrows raise when he sees Pozzovivo’s time, whilst the Lampre man sits in the hot seat as stage leader. Evans is blasting the climb, in and out of the saddle – he knows this is an opportunity to put time into the climbers. Quintana goes eighth at the second check – it’s not going to be a great day for him.
Oleg Tinkov will be pleased as his man Majka bests Quintana’s time at check one; Cadel seems to be slogging the climb and the watch confirms that he hasn’t flown – 53 seconds down on Aru.
Meanwhile the young Sardinian is eating up the road on the flat part of the course, looking very stylish indeed on that Specialized. Ryder Hesjedal comes home, 12th @ two minutes – it’s not going to haul him too much up the classement.
Uran is riding well, third at the first check as Aru goes through the second check back in ninth – Ulissi beams from the hot seat; ‘bene!’
QuickStep have three in top four at the moment; good news for team Capo, Uran – his boys are in shape. Pozzovivo goes through time check two and he’s also slipped back – another shot of a smiling Ulissi in the hot seat. Majka goes third at check two – impressive.
Quintana is fighting the bike, out of the saddle, dropping time as behind him compatriot Uran drops a bomb on the second check – 27 seconds up on Ulissi. There’s a different smile from Ulissi, this time – I think you call it ‘rueful.’ Basso spins home for Cannondale – three minutes down; as the Scottish football commentators might say; ‘sore one!’ (we’d hear later that he crashed in the closing kilometres)
Evans goes eighth at check two – it looks as if it may be an average day for him and it’s possible Uran could take the jersey if this trend continues.
Trek’s man Kiselovski isn’t having fun either – around Basso’s time, three minutes back. Quintana comes home next – two minutes down, not a disaster but not great. A nice ride from Kelderman though, fourth place cements his spot in the top 10.
Pozzovivo rocks and rolls towards the finish; Aru is much more stylish and cavalier as he sprints for the line and a top 12 placing – not bad at all for a young, skinny climber. Uran looks good, strong, smooth, focussed – every inch the chrono man and possibly riding in to pink.
Cadel’s ‘chugging’ the gear on the second climb – it doesn’t look great to me. Pozovivo’s ride is by no means a disaster, despite that horrific position he goes sixth on the stage. Uran’s flying, he has three minutes to ride the last kilometre and win the stage.
Majka produces a real cracker; second on the stage thus far – wow. Uran grimaces and pounds his way home up the last rise; even Ulissi applauds as the Colombian puts 1:17 into the man in the hot seat.
Evans is desperate, running out of road on the last descent but managing to stay upright. He’s ridden the last part of the course like a demon; taken third on the stage but still lost the jersey. Terrific rides by Uran, Ulissi and Majka and a good ride by the maglia rosa – but not good enough.
And with four QuickSteps in the stage top ten – it all looks good for Uran.
Stage 12 Results:
1 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:57:34
2 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:01:17
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:34
4 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:39
5 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:53
6 Wouter Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:00
7 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:03
8 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:07
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:09
10 Patrick Gretsch (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:12
General Classification After Stage 12:
1 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 49:37:35
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:37
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:52
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:32
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:50
6 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:29
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:37
8 WoutPoels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:04:06
9 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:04:20
10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing 0:04:41