Saturday, July 18, 2015

Valle d'Aosta Stage 4: Regaining Power

It would be a short tryst for Russian Matvey Mamykin and the yellow leader's jersey of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta. Stage 4 of the race wasn't the biggest mountains or the longest but what it did have was 8 categorized climbs and many more uncategorized that had riders begging for flat road.

Kämna taking his first of what should be many wins
Photo: Giro della Valle d'Aosta

Within a kilometer of the official start out of Pollein, an attack of three including Simone Velasco (Zalf-Euromobil), Geoffrey Curran (USA) and Oleg Zemlyakov (Kazakhstan) took off and got an instant gap of 20 seconds. They would be joined by a group of 5 others including Odd Eiking (Norway), Lennard Kämna (Stölting), Jeroen Pattyn (VL Techniks), Stefano Ippolito (Palazzago) and Cristofer Robin Jurado (World Cycling Centre), whose parents must have seen Winnie the Pooh.

After 20 kilometers, the breakaway got away and began taking a couple of minutes as the climbs began to start. The climbs began and a chasing group formed behind the breakaway including Kämna's teammate Silvio Herklotz, Fausto Masnada & Edward Ravasi (Colpack), stage 1 hero Enrico Salvador (Zalf) and Enrico Logica (General Store). While the peloton was content with rolling along as there were no GC threats, the quintet was gaining ground on the leading octet.

With 88 kilometers to go, the junction was made near the summit of the Grand Brissogne climb. The new group of 13 wouldn't remain as such for long as Kazakh Oleg Zemlyakov, who was active in the stage 2 breakaway, launched an attack. As the peloton was letting the gap grow to the breakaway, the breakaway seemingly stopped riding after Zemlyakov. His gap went from 30 seconds to 3 minutes in just 14 kilometers. The urgency in the breakaway grew as riders started to put in probing attacks.

It was Kämna and Ravasi that were able to make inroads into the Kazakh's lead and soon they were joined by Curran & Velasco with a quintet forming with 32 kilometers to go. This group became a septet as Jurado and Ippolito joined. In the pack, Rob Power hit the deck for his 3rd mishap in 4 road stages but got up and was back into the leading group without much difficulty. With the yellow jersey group not interested in bringing the breakaway back as the time gap was insignificant, Lennard Kämna made his move.

Seemingly as if the prior 130 kilometers was a warm-up, the time trial specialist blasted off right around the Paye KOM climb and wasn't to be seen again until the finish. Ippolito was the first to pop followed by Curran and Zemylakov. Ravasi launched an attack to try and chase but wasn't making inroads and was more or less protecting his 2nd place on the stage while Velasco was in the no-man's land in between.

The chasing group was splintering even further in the final kilometers and was down to just 8 riders coming into the final kilometers. Mamykin, who had given the jersey justice, was cooked and popped and ended up losing a couple of minutes.

Lennard Kämna came across the line for a beautiful solo win and his first international victory as a U23, which has been one of the motifs of this race. Ravasi came across 2nd place, his 2nd of the race, while Velasco came across in 3rd. While the results sheet might show that Odd Eiking won the sprint of the chasing group, he was just a breakaway rider that was dropped and managed to hang on with the GC contenders. Power and De Plus finished together and asserted, again, they are probably the two strongest in the race while Simone Petilli ceded a few seconds.

Robert Power retook the yellow jersey with a 42 second gap back to Laurens De Plus and 47 seconds back to Simone Petilli while Zalf-Euromobil's Brit Dan Pearson continued his steady race by moving up to 4th overall. Mamykin slipped down to 5th overall and will look to not lose any more placings.

Giulio Ciccone stays in the KOM jersey while De Plus keeps the points jersey.

Full Results for the stage here and the overall here.

The final stage tomorrow is short and sweet. Just 86 kilometers but two big climbs including the gargantuan Colle del Gran San Bernardo, which finishes at 2,469 meters (8,100 feet) in elevation. Will Power hold on? Will De Plus or Petilli challenge? Will Steff Hermans make a huge comeback and make up 90 minutes on GC? Stay tuned.

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