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Giro’15: Kiriyienka Wins Long TT, Bert Back in Pink!
Stage 14 Race report: On another miserable, dangerous day in the Pink Race, Alberto Contador (Spain & Saxo-Tinkoff) reminded everyone why he’s the best stage race rider of his generation, wresting the maglia rosa from Fabio Aru (Italy & Astana) and opening up a 2:28 buffer.

 

But let’s not forget the man who won this tough 59.4 K chrono, harder than hard Belarusian, Vasili Kiryienka; is there any connection between Skynet, who made The Terminator and Team Sky – perhaps?  When the first of the ‘Bigs’ took to the wet tarmac it was Sky’s early starting automaton and former Worlds medalist against the watch, Kiryienka leading from Germany’s Patrick Gretsch (AG2R), both taking advantage of more favorable wind than the late starters.

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Much had been expected of Aussie time trial champion, Richie Porte (Sky) but all that bad luck has blasted his morale and he’s losing time on Kiryienka from the start.  There’ll be no recovery today and rocketing back up the GC, this day.

Colombia’s national TT champion Rigoberto Uran (QuickStep) rolls off the ramp; he’s had a rough ride in this Giro but has limited his losses through a tough first two weeks and a ride here could put him well back in the frame for the podium.

giro15st14-contador620Alberto Contador (Spain & Tinkoff-Saxo) was going to be last man off on this stage right up until 3,200 metres to go in yesterday’s stage when he tasted tar – again.  Today he’s second to last off the ramp.  He’ll be out to wrest back pink from another man in the same mould as himself, light and skinny; the first man from Sardinia ever to wear the maglia rosa, Fabio Aru (Astana) who's last starter on this horrible day.

 

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Let’s look at the parcours as ‘The Bigs’ settle in; the RCS tells us;

A very long, demanding 59.4 kilometre time trial through the vineyards of Prosecco.  The stage’s 59.4km are in two distinct parts.  The first 30km, from Treviso to Conegliano, are on flat, wide, straight roads punctuated by a few roundabouts.  The final 29.4km are very demanding, with a 3km categorised climb at 7% just the other side of Conegliano, and then rolling, winding roads through the hills on narrow, well-surfaced roads.”

And a very hard race to judge; go out too hard and blow on the hills or save it and lose too much time to make it back up.

 

Uran goes through the first split, he’s well down – maybe we’ve had a change in the wind ?  But let’s wait ‘til Bert goes through the same check.  Although the fact is that Uran looks very good on the bike – but them stop watches are like Pinocchio, they just can’t tell a lie.

Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic & Saxo-Tinkoff) was fourth this morning but he’s another man not setting the time check tongues wagging as Contador is solid at the first check, not threatening Kiryienka’s comfy-looking slouch in the hot seat – the way it’s looking, 'Kiri' may be able to exchange mineral water for Prosecco before this day is out.
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Another wet day on the Giro made for slippery turns and some cautious riding.

Aru comes through check one; three quarters of a minute down on Contador – ouch !  Contador’s back is flat, he’s solid on the bike and the cadence is higher than the pure chrono men who stroke the big ones at a much lower rpm.  Uran’s bad day at the office continues, despite the fact that he looks good on his Specialized, time is slipping away for the man who won the big Giro chrono in 2014.

The top ten is going to have a massive reshuffle today as men who have been at home in the mano a mano, cut and thrust of the first two weeks find it hard out there all alone in the rain.  The French call it; ‘the race of truth’ – Astana’s Spanish climber Mikel Landa is reminded of this as Bert catches him for three minutes with ne’er a sideways glance.

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Aru is ragged on the bike, his shoulders rock and when he’s out of the saddle he’s all over the road as the team car horn blasts in frustration.  Kreuziger isn’t having a good day but may be under instructions not to leave it all on the road – it’s a big day tomorrow and Contador will need amigos to defend him from the Astana gunmen.

Contador looks good, composed, focused, no wasted energy as he dances the rises through the vineyards, keeping that cadence high.  And there’s an unusual sight; a Kiryienka smile, the mop could well flop his way this day – and he knows it.  But maybe he should pay attention to those images of Contador – he’s motoring.

The tifosi are doing their best for Aru but that bobbing head tells it’s own story – he’s dying out there; with no Astana henchmen to turn to.  He changes up but he’s not on top of the gear as Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium & Lotto) finishes with a solid time; he’ll move up today for sure – remember that he was World Junior Time Trial Champion, once upon a time.

Aru is 1:45 down on Contador at the most recent check as the rain continues to add to the misery.  Giovanni Visconti (Italy & Movistar) has tried hard but will drop down that CG like a brick.  It’s not happening for Uran, those crashes must have taken more out of him that we thought – poker faces don’t help in a chrono as he chugs a climb.

Contador is one hour in and looking the business, no signs of weakness – people forget that this skinny little man is as hard as nails and one of best stage race riders the world has ever seen.  Aru is cautious on the bends but forgets to change down the cassette into them; he has to stamp on those pedals hard to wind it back up.

Kiryienka has stopped smiling in the hot seat as he watches Contador snarls his way through the last check, on the TV monitor.  Uran comes home, he’s not made the top 20 on the stage with riders still to come – ouch !

Contador dances through the fans; they’re going crazy for him as we cut back to Aru rocking and rolling and looking over-geared.  The Spaniard sits down, changes up then stamps on it again – this is his day as far as GC goes; 2:21 he’s up on Aru.

Dario Cataldo (Italy & Astana) isn’t ‘on it’ either; more was expected from a former Italian TT Champion as he slumps across the line.  The tifosi are willing Aru onwards, upwards but he’s not at one with that bike, up and down the gears – meanwhile Kreuziger finishes, he’s out of it too.

Contador storms into the last bends, it’s going to be close – but the Belarusian holds on; Spain’s LL Sanchez is second for Astana; and Contador is third on the stage, brilliant ! Contador will be warm in the tent by now as Aru still battles through the spray and grime – and that looks awfully like relief on Kiryienka’s face.  The beautiful Specialized machine feels like a farm gate to Aru as he finally ends the suffering and crosses the line.

Kiryienka smiles; ‘I never doubted I’d win today for a moment, well maybe just for a minute or two . .

A great ride by Kiryienka – but the in answer to the question; ‘who’s The Man ?’

Bert !

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Giro d'Italia 2015 Stage 14 Results:
1. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky in 1:17:52
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana at 0:12
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:14
4. Patrick Gretsch (Ger) AG2R-La Mondiale 00:23
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:09
6. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 1:17
7. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:25
8. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek at 1:26
9. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Giant-Alpecin at 1:27
10. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE at 1:36
11. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 1:41
12. Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Trek
13. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 1:44
14. Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling at 1:45
15. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 1:48
16. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin at 1:58
17. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 2:08
18. Martijn Keizer (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:16
19. Chad Haga (USA) Giant-Alpecin at 2:28
20. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 2:37
21. Nikolay Mihaylov (Bul) CCC Sprandi Polkowice at 2:40
22. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling at 2:43
23. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step at 2:45
24. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha at 2:47
25. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky at 2:49.

General classification after stage 14:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo in 55:39:00
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 2:28
3. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 3:36
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step at 4:14
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 4:17
6. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana at 4:50
7. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana at 4:55
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 4:56
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 4:57
10. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 5:35
11. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 6:01
12. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar at 6:04
13. Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha at 7:01
14. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini at 7:47
15. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin at 8:05
16. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr at 8:13
17. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 8:52
18. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 8:55
19. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 9:05
20. Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC at 10:52
21. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 11:03
22. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky at 11:21
23. Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC at 12:45
24. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 15:51
25. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 20:05.

 


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