Fabio Aru's Big Day

Harry Engels Velo-Getty Images

It was the arrival of another big Italian talent. Young Fabio Aru of Astana rode off to take the stagewin on Montecampione and advance to fourth place in the GC. The stage saw a thrilling finale where the advantage and fortunes swung back and forth among the favorites.

On a day when we were expecting Pozzovivo or Quintana to try to put their mark on the race it was instead young Fabio Aru, once second placed in the BabyGiro, who confirmed that he deserved leadership on the Astana Giro team by setting in an attack in the final kilometers that not even the pink jersey Uran could follow for long.

The big break got quite a long leash and had some strong names in it. For a long time it looked like riders like Cunego and Cardoso would win from the break but as the riders approached the one big climb of the day, the 20 km Montecampione the gap was falling rapidly under the pressure of Nero Sottoli and other teams. The break was mopped up in the first third of the climb even as some of them attacked to stay away. We saw early tries from riders like Arredondo, Zardini and Deignan before the big favorites opened the hostilities in the final eight kilometers.  Tinkoff's Michael Rogers upped the pace to set up Majka but in the end it was Rolland who tried his luck as did Evans and Quintana. The leader Uran showed none of the weakness we saw yesterday and answered all question convincingly. Instead it was Pozzovivo who looked like the weak link today, falling to the back of the group and letting the big opponents ride off from him. Kelderman and Kiserlovski also looked to be struggling at the back for most of the climb. The final decisive punch came three km from the finish when Aru put in an acceleration that only Uran could follow. Quintana clawed back before Aru hit the gas again. This time he came clear alone and it was Quintana who followed nearest to him. Uran looked done as Fabio Duarte dumped him and joined Quintana in the chase but in the end he held on and didn't drop to much time. Aru fought with everything he had at the front and grabbed the stage by about 20 seconds from Duarte, Quintana and Rolland, Uran followed a further 20 seconds down to hold on to the leaders jersey.

Going into the rest day the general classification looks tighter than ever. Aru looks like a serious contender while Majka and Evans had to fight to stay at the top. It's a race that swings back and forth though from day to day with riders taking turns having off and on days. Even on the climb today we saw the relative powers between the favorites vary from kilometer to kilometer. A rider like Evans can attack at one point only to be dropped minutes later, the riders seem so evenly matched at the top. This thing could stay uncertain right until the last meters of the Zoncolan next weekend. Stay tuned.

TOP 10 STAGE 15:

  1. Fabio Aru, Astana
  2. Fabio Duarte, Colombia +21 sec
  3. Nairo Quintano, Movistar +22
  4. Pierre Rolland, Europcar +22
  5. Rigoberto Uran, OPQS +42
  6. Ragal Majka, Tinkoff +57
  7. Franco Pellizotti, Androni 1:08
  8. Dani Moreno, Katusha s.t.
  9. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin 1:13
  10. Cadel Evans, BMC +1:13
GC after stage 15:
  1. Uran
  2. Evans + 1:03
  3. Majka + 1:50
  4. Aru + 2:24
  5. Quintana + 2:40
  6. Pozzovivo + 2:42
  7. Kelderman + 3:04
  8. Rolland + 4:47
  9. Kiserlovski + 5:44
  10. Poels + 6:32
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