Uran extends lead over Evans and Majka, Aru shows talent with win

by Shane Stokes

Bouncing back after a faltering showing on Saturday, Rigoberto Uran reminded his rivals that he has no intention of relinquishing his Maglia Rosa with a stronger performance on Sunday’s fifteenth stage.

The Colombian rider placed sixth on the mountain stage to Montecampione, crossing the line 42 seconds behind the solo winner Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team). While the time gained by the latter saw him move up to fourth overall and Nairo Quintana took another twenty seconds off his previous three minute deficit to Uran, the latter extended his advantage over his two closest rivals.

He finished ten seconds clear of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff Saxo) and 31 seconds up on Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), the riders who are third and second overall.

As a result he is now one minute and three seconds clear of Evans and one minute 50 ahead of Majka. While he accepts that Aru gained time on him, he is able to see the bigger picture; the Italian is still two minutes 24 seconds back, and it was more important to gain time on those closer to him.

“I was expecting an attack from Pozzovivo, not Aru,” he said. “I stayed with him a while, but I didn’t have to legs. I saw Aru at last year’s Giro: he surprised me in the last week because he was strong. He’s a young climber with a big future.”

“I didn’t have a bad day yesterday, but it wasn’t a super day for me. I was probably paying for the energy I expended in the time trial – it’s normal. Today I was better. I was good on the climbs. I like climbs like this.”

Uran said after yesterday’s stage that he was prepared to give up some time rather than to go too deep too often. He spoke about metering out his effort over this three week event, and returned to that theme today in saying that it is important not to go to the limit in trying to save every second.

“I’ve done four Giros, I have some experience. I tried to stay with Aru, but he was strong, so I preferred to ride at my rhythm,” he said. “Then Quintana set a fast rhythm, and I said to myself, again: “Ride at your own rhythm.” I lost a few seconds to Aru and Quintana, but it’s not a problem. Quintana was strong too today, and I expect him to be even stronger next week.”

Aru made his move inside the final three kilometres and quickly gained time on those behind. His effort saw him finish 21 seconds ahead of Fabio Andres Duarte (Colombia) and a further second over Quintana and Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar).

“Today I didn’t know how I’d be on the final climb,” he admitted. “When I attacked, I didn’t know how much energy I had left. I can’t explain how it felt. It felt great to be climbing with riders like Quintana and Urán. When I was alongside them on the climb, my hairs stood on end. Then, in the final kilometres, it was incredible. I felt new sensations today, ones which I have never felt before as professional rider.”

He’s clearly like to win this Giro, but doesn’t want to get carried away just yet. He’s aware that time is on his side and there is no pressure to take a Grand Tour right now.

“I just think of taking it from day to day, not just in the Giro but in the coming months and years,” he said. “I try to take one step after another, and to keep on improving.

“It is fantastic to see a team like Astana, with veterans like Scarponi and Tiralongo, put themselves at my disposal, even if I’m only 23. I can only thank them. The pressure pushes me to achieve every greater things.”

The 225 kilometre stage featured a long distance break containing Australian Adam Hansen, riding his eighth Grand Tour in a row, as well as Luca Paolini (Katusha), Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing), Johan Le Bon (Fdr.fr), Andre Cardoso (Garmin-Sharp), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Simon Geschke (Giant-Shiamo), Maxime Bouet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Daniele Ratto (Cannondale), Rodolfo Torres (Colombia), Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) and Androni Giocattoli’s Jackson Rodríguez.

They built a ten minute lead but this was depleted to just two minutes 24 seconds by the base of the final climb, thanks mainly to a furious chase by the Neri Sottoli team.

Hansen is determined to try to repeat his Giro stage win of twelve months ago and attacked. He was joined by Cardoso but both were distanced when the king of the mountains Julián Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) and Cardoso pushed out front.

Sky’s Philip Deignan was looking to take what would have been the second Grand Tour stage win of his career and caught the duo, then pushing on ahead. However he was himself caught inside the final four kilometres.

A flurry of attacks from the GC favourites behind saw a spate of action, then Rolland and Duarte got up and past Deignan. However Aru was feeling good and passed those ahead of him, reaching the line well clear and celebrating the biggest success thus far of his career.

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