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.
Today’s relatively flat stage featured a tricky uphill finish. Those who had done their homework, researching the stage, knew that two hairpin turn close to the finish would be a place to win or lose the stage. Oscar Gatto (Farnese Fini) had clearly done this homework, and a perfectly timed attack after the hairpins was only able to be followed by Alberto Contador, who had to settle for second place.
The break got away within the first couple of kilometers, with two Italians, Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Leonardo Giordani (Farnese Vini), taking to the front for the majority of the race. Their gap was only allowed to get to 11 minutes, and was quickly brought down to 7 minutes, where they stayed to the 50km to go mark.
By this time, the peloton started to work in earnest to bring back the two in front. Caught with only 7km to go, teams, especially those with sprinting hopes, started to jockey for position in the front of the group, as they knew they would need good positioning going into the narrow hairpin turns near the finish. Unfortunately, all the fighting for position was for naught, as Gatto had perfect positioning and legs good enough to attack and make it stick. Only Contador followed, a surprising move for a favorite. After taking the 12 second time bonus that came with second, Contador moved into 5th place on the GC. Afterwards, Contador said the attack wasn’t planned, but he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, with the legs to follow, so he did.
Tomorrow stage, with a double climb of Mt. Etna will either be a real corker, with lots of attacks and destroyed riders, or a real stinker, with no one taking any risks this early in the race.
Top 5 Stage results
- Oscar Gatto ITA (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli)
- Alberto Contador SPA (Saxo Bank Sungard)
- Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
- Alexander Kristoff NOR (BMC)
- Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli)
- Pieter Weening NED (Rabobank)
- Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
- Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
- Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 5 sec
- Alberto Contador