Vini Fantini's Mauro Santambrogio vastly improved his case for grand tour leadership today with the victory atop the Bardonecchia in the Italian Alps in a shortened Stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia. Santambrogio came home with only maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali of Astana, who extended his lead over all of his remaining rivals and seems well on course to his first Giro d'Italia victory, albeit with plenty of challenges remaining. Cadel Evans of BMC and Rigoberto Uran of Sky, Nibali's closest challengers, each lost 30 seconds on the stage, as well as another 12 in the form of Nibali's time bonus.
It was an odd and disappointing day for many fans at the Giro.Inclement weather forced the removal of Sestriere from the course, so the two-climb, 168-km course became a single-climb, 180km event. No video was available during the race, prior to the peloton reaching the stationary cameras atop the Bardonecchia, though there was a significant escape for much of the day which succumbed to the heads of state only in the final km.
Before today, Santambrigio, late of BMC and Lampre, had never finished in the top 50 of a grand tour or won a stage, but the latter duck is broken and the former is up next. Granted, there's a long way between Bardonecchia and Brescia, but the Como native lies fourth overall, one second off the podium after today's exploits. More significantly, he is coming off a second-place finish at the Giro tuneup the Giro del Trentino, showing the form -- or at least the results of form -- of his life. Vini Fantini placed him in the leadership role he never had at BMC or Lampre, and Santambrogio has done nothing but justify that decision all season long.
- Mauro Santambrogio, Vini Fantini
- Vincenzo Nibali, Astana, s.t.
- Carlos Betancur, AG2R, at 0.09
- Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel, at 0.26
- Rigoberto Uran, Sky, at 0.30
- Cadel Evans, BMC, at 0.33
- Domenico Pozzovivo, AG2R, s.t.
- Robert Kiserlovski, Radio Shack, s.t.
- Sonny Colbrelli, Bardiani, at 0.55
- Damiano Caruso, Cannondale, at 0.58
- Evans, at 1.46
- Uran, at 2.26
- Santambrogio, at 2.27
- Michele Scarponi, Lampre, at 3.53
- Przemyslaw Niemiec, Lampre, at 4.55
- Pozzovivo, at 5.02
- Rafal Majka, Saxo-Tinkoff, at 5.32
- Betancur, at 5.39
- Benat Intxausti, Movistar, at 5.42
- Betancur, at 0.07
- Wilco Kelderman, Blanco, at 7.51
- Stefano Pirazzi, Bardiani, 47 points
- Jackson Rodriguez, Androni, 26
- Robinson Chalapud, Colombia, 23