4/22/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Nibali wins Giro del Trentino on Sega di Ala
Giro del Trentino 2013
Mechanical problem for Wiggins on final climb
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) conquered the fierce slopes of Sega di Ala to claim the final stage and overall victory at the Giro del Trentino ahead of Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia).
It was a dramatic day of racing in the Dolomites, one which served as something of a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Giro d’Italia, and Nibali’s great rival for the pink jersey, Bradley Wiggins, will be hoping for greater fortune at the main event in May.
Problems with his electronic gearing forced Wiggins to come to a stop at the base of the climb just as Astana were winding up the pace en masse for Nibali. A frustrated Wiggins tossed his bike to the roadside as he waited for a change and in spite of a determined chase afterwards, he was never able to get back on terms. The Sky rider crossed the line 1:39 down and closes the race in 5th place overall.
Even before Wiggins’ misfortune 9 kilometres from the summit, however, Nibali had underlined his intentions for the afternoon, setting his Astana teammates Paolo Tiralongo and Fabio Aru to the front of the dwindling lead group to tap out an infernal tempo on the lower slopes of the climb and drop overnight leader Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
With 6 kilometres to go – just as Wiggins had dragged himself back to within grasping distance of the coattails of the leaders – Nibali peeled off a fierce acceleration that splintered the leading group. Only Santambrogio could respond, and the pair edged away on the stiff gradients that followed, which touched 20% at times.
A little over three kilometres from the summit, Nibali kicked once again and this time succeeded in shaking off Santambrogio. With Bouet losing ground further down the mountain, Nibali knew that he was within touching distance of overall victory and he pressed on to claim the stage win at the summit, 8 seconds ahead of the resolute Santambrogio.
Nibali’s young Sardinian teammate Fabio Aru belied his years on the climb to finish 4th, just behind Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) and secure 4th overall for his troubles, while Cadel Evans (BMC) found his rhythm towards the summit to come home in 5th place, a little over a minute down.
The final kilometres proved a little more difficult for Wiggins, however. There had been initially shades of Marco Pantani at Oropa about the Briton as he cut through dropped riders to bridge back towards the leaders, but his progress stalled after Nibali’s acceleration 6km from the summit, and he rolled home in the company of in the company of Marcos Garcia (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA).
Astana show their strength
With the Sega di Ala climb dominating the landscape on stage 4, it was no surprise that the break went early, as José Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Lampre-Merida), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Emanuele Sella (Androni-Venezuela), Edoardo Zardini, Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani-CSF Inox), Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Mateusz Taciak (CCC-Polsat), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura), Manuel Antunes Amaro (Ceramica Flaminia) zipped up the road.
They were still clear at the foot of the Sega di Ala, although their advantage had dwindled to just 38 seconds as the climbing began in earnest. It was at this point that Astana began to force the issue, as Nibali sent Aru, Tiralongo and Tanel Kangert to the front of the bunch.
Their relentless pace-making saw Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) unceremoniously dumped off the back, as well as Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and race leader Bouet, and the leading group was quickly reduced to just a dozen riders.
It was at this point, with 9km still to race, that Wiggins encountered his mechanical problem and he was forced to a halt at the roadside as the Astana train chugged away up the mountain. Undeterred, he began a steady fightback over the next three kilometres but his act of defiance was thwarted when Nibali launched his winning move.
Wiggins was left to rue his ill fortune as he rode to the finish, but there will also be food for thought in the relative strength of his and Nibali’s teams. Although Dario Cataldo and Kanstantin Siutsou had impressed earlier in the week, there was no Sky rider able to support Wiggins in his pursuit on Sega di Ala, and his chief lieutenants from last year’s victorious Tour de France will not be on duty at the Giro in May.
By contrast, Vincenzo Nibali’s final pre-Giro stage race offered further reassurances of his form after victory at Tirreno-Adriatico in March, and also bodes well for the collective influence his Astana squad can impose on affairs next month.
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Photo: © Bettini