With the first week over, the bodies slightly recovered thanks to a rest day, and a mountaintop finish at the end of the race, This Giro's Stage Ten, running 167km (104mi) from Cordenons to Altopiano Del Montasio promised to be one where all the big dogs had to come out and play.
While the favorites were warming up their legs, a fourteen-man move escaped the peloton's grasp 31km (19mi) into the stage. Among them was Cannondale Pro Cycling's Elia Viviani, on the hunt for sprint points. There were two intermediate sprints on the stage, one at Paularo with 102km (61mi) covered, the second high up on the slopes of the final climb, 162km 1(01mi) in.
Viviani won the first sprint, leapfrogging over Mark Cavendish in the hunt for the red jersey, and moving within striking distance of points leader, Cadel Evans of BMC. But bagging the second would be hard.
Viviani couldn't keep pace with Jackson Rodriguez of Androni Gioccatoli over the Passo Cason di Lanza, but descended like a stone to stay in the second group on the road. While his companions were all working well together, they were no match for the Team Sky-led chase, and were absorbed 16km (9mi) short of the second sprint.
Onto the Montasio, Viviani lost contact while his teammate Damiano Caruso hung tough with the leaders, watching riders hit their limits and fade. Sky was trying to put the hurt on everybody in an effort to spring team leader Brad Wiggins loose in the final few kilometers so he could start taking time back on race leader Vincenzo Nibali of Astana.
With 8km (5mi) remaining, Wiggins' teammate Rigoberto Uran rolled off the front. A set-up for Wiggins. Nibali had teammate Valerio Agnoli ride to the front to reduce the deficit on the Colombian, but Uran was on an inspired ride.
The Sella Nevea intermediate sprint was taken by Uran, with nearly a 50-second gap on the chase. Nibali took second place, and the bonus seconds along with it as Caruso couldn't resist gravity any longer and dropped back.
At the finish, Uran took an impressive solo victory, with countryman Carlos Betancur taking second, 20 seconds down, and Nibali attacking for third place, another eleven seconds behind.
Caruso, who kept pace with the contenders until the second intermediate sprint, rode in for sixteenth place, 2:11 down on the stage winner. It was a good day, drinking from the same cup as the favorites. "Today we had the first taste of the big fight among the riders for the GC. The rupture of the stage was on the list climb. The rhythm immediately ratcheted up, and I had do to extra work to remain with the best. During the last 4 km, there were many attacks and accelerations. Too much for me: if I tried to follow the first moves, I'm sure I would paid the efforts. So, I decided to proceed with my own pace. The result was not so bad. I know that my condition is not at its peak, so I can only do my best day by day."
Tomorrow's stage from Tarviso to Vajont is classified as a medium mountain stage, but the 182km (113mi) route, with a long category two climb in the middle, probably will favor attackers more than general classification riders. The reason is that the long climb yields to a steep, technical descent, and the finishing climb is also short, at only seven kilometers (4.3mi). Frustrating for riders like Viviani, the two intermediate sprints occur after the first long climb, so it will take lots of work to snag those points and further close the gap on Evans.
Giro d'Italia 2013
Cordenons to Montasio 167km
1. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling in 4:37:42
2. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale at 0:00:20
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:31
4. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia same time
5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team same time
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff same time
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling
16. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:02:11
55. Elia Viviani (Ita) 0:15:00
68. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) 0:20:53
76. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) same time
79.Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) same time
80. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) same time
107. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 0:22:10
137. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 0:28:52
151.Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) same time
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 38:57:32
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:41
3. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:04
4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:02:12
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
21. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:08:43
64. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) 0:51:51
68. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 0:54:00
74. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 0:58:04
113. Elia Viviani (Ita) 1:24:33
116. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) 1:26:06
124. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) 1:31:09
129. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 1:32:15
139. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 1:37:16