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Deignan feels the pinch on Monte Zoncolan

Posted 21 May 2011


Alberto Contador tightened his grip on the Giro d’Italia race lead to boos from roadside fans at the summit of the notoriously steep Monte Zoncolan where the 22% gradients took almost 15 minutes out of Philip Deignan on stage 14.

Contador’s second place to stage winner Igor Anton did little to warm the hearts of the tifosi who reserved their applause for Vincenzo Nibali’s resilence in seeing off three attacks from the Spaniard over the closing six kilometres of the truncated stage.

The peloton started the 10.1 kilometre climb 4’38” behind breakaway riders Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli), Bram Tankink (Rabobank) and Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago CSF Inox) after two drastic changes to the 210 kilometre route from Lienz.

The penultimate climb of the first category Monte Crostis was removed from the stage amid protests from team directors concerned about safety and a proposal to use motorcycles instead of team cars to provide support for riders on the climb.

The decision caused huge upset for fans looking forward to climb’s Giro debut and their protests on the substitute climb of Tualis lead to a last minute decision to divert the race straight to Monte Zoncolan and to shorten the stage by 20 kilometres.

Brambilla attacked with 7 kilometres to the summit but all attention at that point was focused on the 30 strong chase group from which Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) was the first to make a move.

Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) followed and that attack prompted Contador (Saxo Bank – Sungard) to respond and close the gap just as Tankik caught and rounded Brambilla with 6 kilometre to go.

Contador sat on Anton’s wheel as he closed on Rodriguez and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) joined them within metres as race favourties Nibali, Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and David Arroyo (Moviestar) began to lose ground.

Anton launched his stage winning attack 5.6 kilometres from home leaving Contador and Scaproni to chase as Rodriguez ran out of steam.  Anton took just over a kilometre to catch and pass Tankik by which time Kreuziger and Arroyo were losing well over one minute.

Nibali refused to panic on the 11.9% average gradient and slowly grinded his way back up to Contador and Scarponi. He made the junction on the fringe of the 4 kilometre to go marker and his efforts to go for broke at the head of the trio were soon to dispatch Scarponi, his closest GC rival just 6 seconds off second place.
 
The Liquigas-Cannondale rider set a furious pace for the next two kilometres before an exchange of words saw Contador take up the baton. The Spaniard showed some signs that he was beginning to feel the hurt but any doubt that his supremacy was waning was put to rest when he attacked Nibali as they approached the final kilometre.

Nibali’s grit in once more fighting his way back onto his wheel was hugely impressive and it took a third attempt from Contador before he finally cracked him with Italian digging deep once more to limit the gap to a mere 7 seconds as he took third place.

A mechanical in the closing 1,600 metres added to Scarponi’s woes and cost him third place in the overall GC with that position now occupied by Anton who is just one second further back to Contador than Nibali at 3’21”.

Deignan placed 82nd on the stage finishing 14’54” down having once again worked to protect his Radioshack team leader Tiago Machado over the first three categorised climbs of the day. Machado conceded 4’03” by the day’s end.

Stage 15 from Conegliano to Gardeccia to Val di Fassa is another tough day in the mountains with the four categorised climbs which make up its 230 kilometres destined to shake up the GC ahead of the second rest day.

Results:

2011 Giro d’Italia

Lienz – Monte Zoncolan, 210 kilometres

1. Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 5:04:26  
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard at 0:00:33  
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 0:00:40  
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD at 0:01:11  
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 0:01:21  
6. John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 0:01:38  
7. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:01:52  
8. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 0:01:55  
9. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 0:02:05  
10. José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli at 0:02:11  

82. Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Radioshack at 14 minutes, 54 seconds

General classification after stage 14:

1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 54:45:45       
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 0:03:20      
3. Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:03:21      
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 0:04:06      
5. John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 0:05:23      
6. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 0:05:37      
7. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 0:06:06      
8. Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 0:06:12      
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana at 0:06:40      
10.David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar Team at 0:06:43

73.  Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Radioshack at 1 hours, 8 minutes, 54 seconds

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