Friday, July 17, 2015

Valle d'Aosta Stage 3: Mamykin pulls coup

My prediction for this stage was quite wrong. While I'm no psychic, I didn't foresee a Russian with a whopping total of one other teammate in the race flying away on the brtual Brieul Cervinia climb and taking a huge solo win that is the signature win for him to date. Also, I didn't foresee Robert Power, the young Australian who has seemed to be easily the most fit rider here, stumble on the final climb due to mechanical and then lose his yellow jersey by a handful of seconds.

The stage rolled out from Gressan with a breakaway including Davide Gabburo (General Store) and Lorenzo Rota (Unieuro-Wilier) taking up the impetus out front.

Alexey Vermeulen (BMC Development) on the beginning of the stage:

"Australia asked around to get some help from some other teams, but nobody was willing to ride...It was a really really hard day, and everybody knew that going in I think, mentally, a lot of riders were already cracked. A lot of people had their mind set on where they would pull the pin. The pace was relatively mellow as we pulled out of the start; nearly everybody wore a face of exhaustion. During the neutral, the car was going faster than we wanted to go so the peloton actually rode a slower pace than the car! After the race began there was a rush to go in the break and then Australia tried to settle things down over the top of the Cat. 3"

On the Les Fleurs climb, which was the first big one of the day, they were joined by Mamykin, Giulio Ciccone (Colpack) and Macedonian Andrej Petrovski. In the valley, Mamykin and Petrovski were tailed off but continued to chase behind the leading trio. The valley they were in between the Les Fleurs climb and the Col Tzecore was 50 kilometers in length and had 2 or 3 uncategorized climbs that possibly could have been categorized.

Once on the Col Tzecore, Gabburo, who was suffering from a crash yesterday, was dropped like a stone and it was then just Ciccone and Rota up front with Mamykin & Petrovski, who passed Gabburo, about 2 minutes behind while the peloton was leisurely riding at 9 minutes back. Ciccone attacked Rota on the Tzecore while Mamykin distanced Petrovski to try and get up to the leaders. Ciccone was over the summit but was closely followed by Rota and Mamykin, who joined up with them on the descent. The yelllow jersey group, which was down to 25 riders due to Australia picking up the pace to try and reduce the gap time, went gingerly over the top as riders were taking food and sprinkles were coming down.

The gap by the time the leaders got to St. Vincent was 7 minutes. Once on the climb, Ciccone and Mamykin distanced Rota and were plowing on. Lennard Kamna (Stolting) attacked out of the bunch and got up to the Macedonian Petrovski fairly quickly but wasn't able to get passed him. The bunch, which was sitting on Jack Haig's wheel, was losing even more time to the duo up front and were 9 minutes down at one point as the rain started to fall.

About 1/3 of the way on the climb, Robert Power had a mechanical, apparently with his chain getting caught. As soon as he pulled off, Simone Petilli and his Unieuro-Wilier teammates jumped and attacked the yellow jersey. A classless move by the team after they sat on Australia's wheel all day and didn't do any work to try and bring back the breakaway riders. According to Vermeulen, what was left of the leader's group yelled at the Italians and Jack Haig was able to tow Power back up. Haig motored along until roughly 5 kilometers to go and Power hit the gas and whittled the group down further.

With 15 or so kilometers to go, Ciccone accelerated and left Mamykin behind. The Russian used the slow & steady technique and with 10 kilometers to go, he was able to work his was back up to Ciccone and went past him. Ciccone blew up spectacularly and ceded time all the way to the finish. Mamykin began the stage in 14th overall at just 3'21" behind Power. The gap behind was still big with 5 kilometers to go with around 6 minutes between Mamykin and the yellow jersey group.

Power was hammering on the front to try and bring the gap back but was having a hell of a time of it. A saving grace was a mechanical that Mamykin had with 2 kilometers to go when he was forced to switch bikes and probably gave the chasers a good 30 seconds. The yellow jersey group saw attacks going all over the place and the group whittled down to 6 riders including Power, Laurens De Plus, Simone Petilli, Alexey Vermeulen, Sindre Lunke and Kilian Frankiny.

Mamykin, who was dropped earlier in the stage from the breakaway, held on for the spectacular win and once cross the line, he was counting. Ciccone would somehow survive for 2nd place but just seconds after him, the sprint from the yellow jersey group was on. However the rain made the sprint sketchy and a commissaire car stopped on the finish elevated it even more. Sindre Lunke was in 3rd place but more importantly, he stopped the watch at 3'32" behind Mamykin.

The Russian gained the leader's jersey by 11 seconds but with 1 teammate in the race, it will be next to impossible to defend. While Power lost the jersey, he might find it a blessing in disguise as Australia won't be as obliged to ride on the front during the rolling stage tomorrow and they can rest up as much as possible for the final stage.

For his effort, Giulio Ciccone got the green polka dot KOM jersey and now enjoys a 23 point lead on Nicola Bagioli. Laurens De Plus is now up 10 points on Simone Petilli in the points classification. In the team's competition, Norway has nearly 8 minutes back to Colpack in the team's classification while 3rd place Unieuro-Wilier is 20 minutes back.

Other notes:

Team Ecuador is out of the race after their final two riders abandoned on stage 3.

Alexey Vermeulen's stats from the stage: 102 miles in 5.5 hours, 13,750 ft of climbing and 4700 kilojoules.

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