Bike racing goes on regardless of weather. Almost. Snow buildup on the ground limits road racing. As much as this year's Giro d'Italia has gone on regardless of climatic conditions, today's fourteenth stage, the 180km (112.5mi) race from Cervere to the top of the Jafferau outside of Bardecchia, saw snow on mountain roads. The Sestriere climb had to be taken out of the race as the racers toiled under cold rain on the re-routed stage in the valleys. As the Jafferau didn't have snow sticking to the road, the finishing climb was still included.
The racers too their time warming up, and the day's breakaway took a total of fourteen kilometers (9mi) to establish. Seven riders sped off. But there was a crash, and the break was down to four. Sonny Colbrelli of Bardiani, Luca Paolini of Katusha, Daniele Pietropolli of Lampre, and Matteo Trentin of Omega Pharma-Quickstep found a rhythm and raced to a lead of almost ten minutes before the field evinced any interest in chasing them down.
As none of the escapees were a threat to race leader Vincenzo Nibali, his Astana team decided not to take up the chase. Instead, several teams with designs on a stage win, including Cannondale Pro Cycling, came to the front to reduce the deficit.
The foursome managed to keep together until the road started tilting up to the final climb. There, with 20km (12.5mi) remaining, Trentin was dropped as the result of a flat tire, and the gap was down to 5:35.
Up the Jafferau, the three remaining leaders slogged on. Pietropolli yo-yoed off the back of Paolini and Colbrelli as the race finally came to life behind. Sky drove up the slopes for Rigoberto Uran. But into the final kilometer, it was Vini Fantini's Mauro Santambrogio who emerged from the fog with Nibali on his wheel.
Santambrogio took the win over Nibali. The chasers were cracking behind. Out of nowhere, Cannondale's Damiano Caruso emerged, chasing with all he had left. He finished tenth, 58 seconds down on the winner, and only four seconds out of ninth.
After changing clothes, warming up, and gathering his thoughts, Caruso reflected on the day. "It was a hard, hard day. And we have be happy that the organization took away
the KoM on Sestriere. I'll be honest, I don't think today was a good show for cycling. We suffer a lot, but not because of the strain in saddle, but because of the condition in which we have to ride. I think we were at the physical limit. We had rain, cold, and snow for the entire day. I think is too much for a cycling race."
Tomorrow's Stage Fifteen, coursing 149km (93.1mi) from Cesana Torinese to the top of the Col du Galibier via the Col de Telegraphe, was long anticipated as a highlight for this Giro. The short relatively short horizontal distance more than made up for by the bountiful vertical gains. With the wet weather dropping snow on the higher elevations, there's a question of whether or not the stage can run as planned. If it does, it should be an amazing race, and another chance for Cannondale Pro Cycling's Caruso to show himself at the head of affairs
Giro d'Italia 2013
Cervere to Bardonecchia
1. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 4:42:55
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team same time
3. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:09
4. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:26
5. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:30
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:00:58
62. Fabio Sabatini(Ita) 10:08
88. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) 14:22
91. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 14:28
95. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 15:03
100. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) 17:48
105. Elia Viviani (Ita) 20:32
135. Cameron Wurf (Aus) same time
140. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) same time
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 57:20:52
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:26
3. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:46
4. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:02:47
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:03:53
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling
18. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:09:53
66. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 1:20:02
77. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) 1:29:47
80. Cristiano Salerno (Ita) 1:32:03
94. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) 1:44:24
110. Elia Viviani (Ita) 1:53:11
111. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) 1:53:37
118. Alan Marangoni (Ita) 2:01:28
143. Cameron Wurf (Aus) 2:18:22