Thursday, July 11, 2013

Valle d'Aosta Stage 2: "A Return to Normalcy" as Villella takes stage honors; cuts GC deficit

After yesterday's surprising ride by Marc Christian Garby (Team General Store), stage 2 of the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta saw a return to normalcy of sorts as many of the pre-race favorites duked it out on another uphill finish, this time at Champorcher. Garby would finish the day in yellow but his lead would be much reduced from the previous day.

There were multiple attacks early in the stage with over half of the Astana Continental team trying to get into the day's break at various stages of the race. First it was Bahktiyar Kozhatayev who went but was pulled back quickly before Maxat Ayazbayev tried his hand with Giacomo Gallio (Delio Gallina) but after some kilometers of trying, they were both absorbed. Finally after 40 kilometers, it was Zhandos Bizhigitov along with Simone Petilli (Delio Gallina) who attacked and opened up a nice gap and were later joined by Roman Katyrin (Russia), Simone Andreetta (Zalf Euromobil) and Gallio. The peloton was finally willing to let this one go as they needed to keep something in their legs for the fearsome Col Tze Core, a 15 kilometer climb that averages nearly 7%.

The gap got up to nearly 3 minutes but as the break hit the first slopes of the Tze Core, it was Petilli who immediate attacked his breakaway companions and put time into them. Petilli rode solo up the whole climb while behind, Bizhigitov and Andreetta created an alliance and worked well together to limit their advantage. From the peloton, Fausto Masnada (Colpack) attacked near the bottom and put in a herculean effort to pass Gallio and Katyrin and then catch the chasing duo of Bizhigitov and Andreetta before he reached the summit, where he was only 22 seconds down on a streaking Petilli after dropping the duo. After a short descent, it was the short side of the Col de Joux that was tackled next. Masnada joined Petilli near the beginning of the climb and the duo worked together and at the top, it was Petilli who took maximum points to pad his KOM lead.

While this ride was impressive, it was only in the first 106 kilometer to go and the two climbers still had another 35 kilometers of descent and flat before hitting the first slopes of the climb to Champorcher. While the leading duo plowed on, the peloton were fine with letting the gap balloon as it went from 2 minutes to 3 and then 4 minutes plus with 15 kilometers to go. Finally, with 12 kilometers to go the peloton awoke from their slumber and Davide Formolo (Petroli Firenze) attacked and was initially followed by Davide Villella (Colpack) and race leader Garby but would soon be joined by many more as the race went under the 10km to go banner, the gap now under three minutes.

After the chasers reformed, one of yesterday's attackers, Louis Vervaeke (Lotto U23), put in another attack today at 8 kilometers to go and drew out Villella, Alexander Foliforov (Russia), Clement Chevrier (Chambery CF) and Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS) and the gap between them and the two leaders was plummeting. Petilli went on solo but with a little over 5 kilometers to go, it was all over for him. De Tier and Vervaeke exploded soon afterwards while Formolo, Daniele Dall'Oste (Trevigiani) and Maunel Senni (Colpack) joined to leaders to make it a sextet. Garby was struggling behind with Vervaeke and nearly a minute back with four kilometers to go.

As the steepest bit of the climb ended, it was just down to Formolo, Villella and Chevrier with the other three gapped by a few handfuls of seconds. Formolo, the worst sprinter, tried to lead it out with a long sprint from nearly a 750 meters to go of shallow uphill but the other two easily came around the the powerful Villella distancing Chevrier for his 2nd win of the year, quite a surprising fact in and of itself seeing as he already won 8 races this time last year. In the end, Villella pulled out 1'19" from Marc Garby's lead as the Dane came across the line in 8th, just behind Pierre Paolo Penasa (Zalf Euromobil), and kept his overall lead by 39 seconds on Villella.

  1. Davide Villella (Colpack)
  2. Clement Chevrier (Chambery CF) +1"
  3. Davide Formolo (Petroli Firenze) +4"
  4. Daniele Dall'Oste (Trevigiani) +22"
  5. Alexander Foliforov (Russia) +25"
  6. Manuel Senni (Colpack) +28"
  7. Pierre Paolo Penasa (Zalf Euromobil) +1'15"
  8. Marc Christian Garby (Team General Store) +1'19"
  9. Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Belisol U23) +1'40"
  10. Roman Semyonov (Astana CT) +1'57"
  1. Garby
  2. Villella +41"
  3. Formolo +56"
  4. Chevrier +58"
  5. Vervaeke +1'04"
  6. Foliforov +1'12"
  7. Senni +1'29"
  8. Dall'Oste +2'03"
  9. Penasa +2'46"
  10. Semyonov 4'34"

Behind the top 10, it is a steep drop off on the results page. The rest of the top 20 came in anywhere from 3'16" to 7'40" and the gaps got even larger afterwards. The final rider, Sergey Vdovin of Lokosphinx, came in at 37'12". Technically he wasn't last as three Ventilair Steria riders missed the time cut. Tomorrow will give the riders some respite as the race transfers to the French town of Châtel and will feature a few climbs but nothing on the scale of the last two days. 

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