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Giro d'Italia
Giro’15 St.7: Ulissi’s Redemption!
Race Report: After a suspension for a salbutamol positive following last year's Giro, Lampre-Merida's Diego Ulissi returned to the winner's circle with a perfectly-executed sprint finish in Fiuggi. It's not a result that will cheer everyone, but that's the way it is. The still-young Italian got a perfect lead-out from Sasha Modolo to score the win.


Behind him, it was all about the shoulder. Would race leader Alberto Contador start? And, if he did, would he even make it to the finish? The most eagerly awaited opening of a bus door since the GTOs waited for Led Zeppelin to roll up to the Hyatt Inn in their 1970s heyday confirmed what we all really hoped for. Yep, the pink jersey was present and correct. Let the calmness descend... hopefully.

In theory, stage seven of this year's Giro should be a long, fairly uneventful day. That's what we're all hoping for, especially anyone who came home in time to see the highlights last night; Daniele Colli marooned in the middle of the road like a crash-landed space traveller. “Why is my arm bent the wrong way? Where am I?”

It's an image that doesn't really sit well when you're about to have your meal, but hopefully things will be calmer today. With race leader Alberto Contador nursing a joint that's been in-out-in-out, like a beef roast in the oven of the world's most pedantically impatient chef, just maybe a mutual respect might see things taken more gently today.

T15_MadonnaDC_2_alt

The break of the day
It's the longest stage the Giro has inflicted in over a quarter of a century taking the riders from Grosseto to Fiuggi for a Classics-esque 264 kilometers. The lunatics taking over the breakaway asylum are Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi), and Pier Paolo De Negri (Nippo-Vini Fantini). If ever there was a long day out, it was today.

They teased a lead out to eleven minutes on the flat opening stretch, but with still 200kms to race, you just know they knew it would hurt. The stage profile bumped along with a couple of nasty little finishing rollers and an uphill dash to the line – perfect for a rider like BMC's Philippe Gilbert.

The race head-butted a strong wind, which knocked the schedule and saw the field tootling along around 25 minutes slower than the road-book expected. It was all nice and serene as the break did their job and the field did theirs, just keeping things in check.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 7The long break to Fiuggi was bound to fail

Under 100K to Fiuggi
70kms to go and the lead is now under seven minutes: it's still achievable for the break, but with Movistar joining BMC on the front, there survival is not a gamble you'd be advised to make. The headwind has been a killer for the break: the magic 'one minute for every ten kilometers' formula is being turned on its head. The peloton is picking up the pace too quickly.

44 to go: Alberto Contador, damaged shoulder and all, sits behind a string of Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates. In the break, Mihaylov and De Negri are starting to rock and roll a little bit.

Contador's squadra come to the front to monitor the pace: they want to make their leader as comfortable as possible, but also keep the break at a decent distance. Reeling them in too fast equals the risk of the attacking kicking off.

25 to go
25 kilometers remain and Contador is trying to move up the outside of the peloton, dancing on the pedals, out of the saddle. Rogers and Juul-Jensen come through and drop into place in front of him.

As the peloton loomed, Mihaylov jumped away alone. Bandiera just watched him go as the break capitulated, but the Bulgarian champion only managed another few hundred meters before he too was toasted.

Tinkoff-Saxo took over again at the front; Contador still looking OK after 'shoulder-gate' yesterday. It's Ivan Basso setting his super-class engine on cruise control as he skims along, keeping the pace high.

Giro d'Italia 2015 stage - 7The Tinkoff-Saxo team again tried to Keep Contador safe at the front

The finalé
Five-and-a-half kilometers left, the field enters a long tunnel, and Contador in third wheel is grimacing for the first time as Basso continues with his searing pace-setting.

Four kilometers left and the trains of those sprinters still in with a shot come through: Bardiani, Orica-GreenEDGE, Lotto Soudal, plus all the main contenders and their helpers. Kiriyenka, for Sky, drives it on at maddening speed.

Lotto-Soudal hit the front too early with Henderson and Hansen towing Greipel before they even reach the red kite. Orica-GreenEDGE look to set up Simon Gerrans, Southeast have riders there but suddenly Lampre-Merida appear and Sasha Modolo puts Diego Ulissi in position to take a huge sprint win.

giro15st7-ulissi-win-620Diego Ulissi put his past problems behind him... and the peloton

Just under seven-and-a-half hours in the saddle, and a winner that might not necessarily be to everyone's tastes, but he finished it off perfectly. After his suspension problems of the last year, Ulissi prostrates himself pope-like on the tarmac before a hug-in with his buddies. Two stage wins from seven for Lampre make it a very good Giro already for them.

giro15st7-contador-podium-620Contador managed to put the pink jersey on today

Contador hung in safely to finish with the front group, gripping the maglia rosa for another day, but it remains to be seen how he handles a tough mountain stage tomorrow. How will he fare? Stay tuned to Pez to find out.

Giro d'Italia Stage 7 Result:
1. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 7:22:21
2. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar
3. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast
5. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek
8. Grega Bole (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
9. Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr
10. Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Katusha
11. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
12. Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr
13. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC
14. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast
15. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 0:03
16. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC
17. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
18. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar
19. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin
20. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar
21. Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling
22. Branislau Samoilau (Blr) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
23. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R-La Mondiale
24. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana
25. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky.

Giro d'Italia Overall After Stage 7:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 27:42:00
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:02
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:20
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:22
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 0:28
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:37
7. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 0:56
8. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 1:01
9. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 1:15
10. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 1:18
11. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 1:22
12. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step
13. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 1:24
14. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky
15. Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC at 1:46
16. Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC at 1:49
17. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini at 2:12
18. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:27
19. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr at 2:33
20. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:36
21. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky at 2:42
22. Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE at 3:23
23. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana at 3:31
24. Jonathan Monsalve (Ven) Southeast at 3:42
25. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 4:46.

 


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