This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. I am sharing recap writing duties with the other writers of both the Giro and the Tour of California.
Stage 13 of the Giro was the first real mountain stage, with plenty of climbing. The climbing, however, was situated more as a long climbing slogs as opposed to any steep ramps. This stage perfectly suited Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard), and his defense of the pink jersey. And defend it he did, with a repeat of how stage 9 played out, as Contador rode away from the competition with Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) to seal his lead. Rujano and Contador worked well together the last 9km, with Rujano ultimately taking the stage.
As expected many of the sprinters abandoned after yesterday’s stage, as the mountains loomed. Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw (HTC-Columbia), Danilo Hondo and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD), Manuel Belletti (Colnago) and FransicoVentoso (Movistar) all abandoned before the stage started.
A big break of 16 got away relatively soon in the stage. The break included: Pablo Lastras and Branislau Samoilau (Movistar), Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Robert Kiserlovski and Cayetano Sarmiento (Astana), Rafael Valls (Geox), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Angel Vicioso (Androni Giocattoli), Craig Lewis (HTC-Columbia), Lars Petter (Sky), Andrea Noe (Farnese-Vini), Johnny Hoogerland (Vaconsoliel), Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondial), Kristof Vandewalle (Quickstep), Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo), Alessandro Spezialetti (Lampre-ISD). Their biggest gap was 4:50, but the peloton was never content to sit up and let the break go. Euskatel-Euskadi was the most prominent on the front, working to keep the break in check to give their man Igor Anton a chance.
With the penultimate climb looming, the break was working well together, but the peloton was chasing hard behind. As the break started on the Iselsbergpass climb, Kiserlovski attacked. While there was no immediate reaction from the break, soon others tried to follow. This put the hurt on the break, and riders started to drop. Kiserlovski was able to get a lead of almost 1 minute on the chase group, but as soon as Sarmiento, Losada, Lastras, Weening, and Nordhaug caught up to him, Sarmiento and Weening attacked and the rest were dropped, soon to be swallowed up.
With the group back together, at 10km the fireworks really started to fly. Rujano got away, joined by Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Anton and soon passed Saarmiento and Weening, but Contador brought them back, and soon set off on his own. Only Rujano was able to hold Contador’s wheel, the two were off, and it was a repeat of stage 9.
Behind the two leaders, the remaining chase group of about 12 attacked each other back and forth. John Gadret (AG2R-La Mondiale) attacked, soon overtaking his teammate Hubert Dupont, who had attacked earlier. With 2.5km to go, Anton launched his attack and joined up with Dupont. While Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) tried to bridge across from the small chase group, Nibali and Scarponi seemed unable to make any big efforts.
In the last kilometer, the two leaders were still together and as the two approached the line, Contador made no attempt to sprint and Rujano took the stage.
Contador has well and truly put his mark on this Giro. With this stage, Nibali moved into second, but he is 3 minutes down, and with the way Contador has been climbing so far, that 3 minutes could be insurmountable. After the stage, Nibali seemed defeated, saying “We’ve got to try and come up with something but what?” It seems it has become a race for 2nd place.
Top 5 Stage results
- Jose Rujano VEN (Androni Giocattoli)
- Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
- John Gadret FRA (AG2R La Mondiale)
- Hubert Dupont FRA (AG2R La Mondiale)
- Igor Anton SPA (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
- Alberto Contador
- Vincenzo Nibali ITA (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 3:09
- Michele Scarponi ITA (Lampre-ISD) at 3:16
- David Arroyo SPA (Moviestar) at 3:25
- Roman Kreuziger CZE (Astana) at 3:29
- Photo: Graham Watson/CyclingWeekly.co.uk