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by Shane Stokes
May 23, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Italian rider Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) beat Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing), Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and a number of other sprinters to win stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia but the biggest news of the race to Jesolo was a large crash which brought down race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Sky leader Richie Porte and others and brought about a change in the Maglia Rosa.
Contador added to his lead on Thursday’s stage, prompting some to suggest that Fabio Aru’s challenge was in trouble, but the Astana rider instead took over at the top on Friday. The Italian avoided the carnage and rolled in four seconds behind Modolo and 13 others, netting 18th.
In contrast, Contador finished on a team-mate’s bike in 46th place, dropping 40 seconds. Things were even more complicated for Porte, who also came in on another rider’s machine; he was 102nd, two minutes and eight seconds back.
“Finally I’ve won a stage,” said Modolo, who was previously third and sixth into Castiglione della Pescala and Forli respectively. “My great companion, colleague and friend, Max Richeze, gave me the perfect lead-out, and I just finished off the work of my team.
“At Fiuggi, I was disappointed with myself. At Forlì the breakaway made it so I didn’t get the chance to sprint, so it was destiny that I would win my home stage. I have so many friends standing at the barriers from San Vendemiano, my home village, that this experience is unforgettable.”
When the losses from that late crash were totted up Contador found himself out of the leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour for the first time in his career. Aside from the 2010 Tour de France which he lost months after reaching the Champs Elysees in yellow, thanks to a positive Clenbtuerol test, he has maintained his grip in every other three week race he has led.
Instead, thanks to a crash which occurred a couple of hundred metres outside the three kilometre safezone, Contador drops to second overall, 19 seconds behind Aru, while third-placed rider Mikel Landa goes from 55 seconds off pink to one minute 14 behind his Astana team leader.
Dario Cataldo loses 19 seconds to the Maglia Rosa and drops from fourth to fifth overall, enabling Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) to move up a place. Rigoberto Uran inches closer to pink and ends the day two minutes and two seconds off the target he is chasing, while Porte goes from 12th to 17th. He had started the day three minutes 18 seconds back and is now five minutes five seconds back and wondering what he must do to get better Grand Tour luck.
Aru leads his home race for the first time and will ride the time trial on Saturday in the pink jersey.
“Today was very hard, in bad weather, on a route that was flat but with lots of roundabouts and other paraphernalia,” he said. “I was always at the front, in a good position to avoid possible falls, and what happened, happened.
“Now I’m just thinking of tomorrow. It is going to be a very important stage. I will give it everything. But the Giro ends next Sunday in Milan, not before.”
With a flatter profile than in recent days, stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia was always shaping up to be a bunch sprint, but that didn’t deter riders from trying to bring out a different outcome. Starting in wet conditions, there were plenty of attacks and a three man move slipped clear.
Together Jerome Pineau (IAM Cycling), Rick Zabel (BMC Racing Team) and Androni Giocattoli’s Marco Frapporti knuckled down to build as big a lead as is possible, but the peloton wasn’t in a charitable mood. They were allowed a lead of just over two minutes, and had their progress interrupted by a closed railroad crossing.
While they got going again, the disruption played havoc with their momentum and they struggled to maintain a lead of over a minute. With 20 kilometres remaining the sprinters’ teams had slashed this own to 14 seconds and they were caught very soon afterwards.
The sprinters tried to manoeuvre themselves into position while the GC contenders tried to say out of trouble. Things didn’t go to plan for the latter as a big crash snarled things up and put Contador and Porte – amongst others on the ground.
The issue was compounded by the fact that the pileup happened just outside the three kilometres to go point, thus ensuring that any time loss would be incorporated into the general classification.
As a result Contador lost his grip on the pink jersey, while Porte slipped even further back and almost certainly has lost any chance of fighting back into contention.
He’ll try to keep his morale up as best as he can, and will aim to try to chase the stage win on Saturday’s 59.4 kilometre Treviso to Valdobbiadene time trial.