Duarte, Atapuma, Chalapud: Colombia can’t stop attacking!
Sometimes it doesn’t need huge altitudes to make a great stage, and Giro d’Italia stage 16, 238 km from Valloire to Ivrea, showed just that. Two categorized climbs, one in the early going and one peaking with little less than 20 km to go proved enough to see another exciting display by Team Colombia’s Escarabajos, who took every single chance to try to go for the big goal on Tuesday, May 21st. Spaniard Benat Intxausti (Movistar) was the fastest of a three-man break who moved away of the Maglia Rosa group in the final two kilometres, beating Estonian Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Polish Przemislaw Niemec (Lampre). Fabio Duarte was 16th to the line after enduring a huge effort into the final 30 km of the race, in which he was arguably the greatest and most exciting protagonist, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had no big troubles in defending his pink jersey.
But Duarte was not the only Team Colombia rider to show up on the day: previously, Darwin Atapuma and Robinson Chalapud had strongly worked their way into a 22-man group went on the way into the first 50 km of the stage. It was not an easy task though, as Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi explained: “We were extremely determined for this stage, and we showed it very soon, riding in the sharp end of the bunch through all the early going. Unfortunately though, a first group went away with no guys of ours, and Leonardo Duque did an outstanding job to keep them within reach until Puma and Chala attacked to bridge back on the leaders.”
The group included a number of GC riders, the most dangerous being Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), less than 10 minutes down from Nibali. That meant the pack could not leave too much room for the action, and the chase by Katusha and RadioShack frustrated the escapees action after the group had splintered due to lack of cooperation.
Nevertheless, all the survivors of the break were quickly caught and surpassed by another stunning acceleration by Fabio Duarte: the former Under 23 World Champion moved away on the early slopes of the final climb, and was caught by the Maglia Rosa group with 500 metres to the top, when he was leading along with Pirazzi. “The Bardiani rider seemed not to have the strength to fuel the action, but he had it to attack and try to drop me. He could not, but we definitely would have had more chance to distance the bunch if we cooperated,” Duarte said afterwards.
Several attacks happened on the final, technical descent, where Fabio got slightly distanced due to a wrong bend, but once again he managed to get back on the group and found the energy to try a long sprint with 800 metres to go. “It is the final week of the race, and we want to win a stage. We will not hold back, and I feel we are getting very, very close. We could not have done anything more on a day like this, trying repeatedly and giving our hearts out. We haven’t got many stages left, but as far as we work like this, we will be at the sharp end again,” Duarte continued.
Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi was once again delighted with a strong team display: “We are just missing a little luck. We rode a great race, battling back when we got on the back foot at the beginning, and taking our chances both in the break and in the finale. We know there’s just a handful of stages left, but you really can’t complain with a performance like this. Our guys are showing excellent condition despite being in the third week – even Chala went on the attack once again despite suffering pain in his ribs – and won’t stop battling until we get what we want.”
Tomorrow, the riders will face the 17th stage, 214 km from Caravaggio to Vicenza: will the Crosara climb, peaking with 17 km to go, enough to see the Escarabajos at the front again?