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Deignan's stage winning bid falls short

Posted 22 May 2011

Philip Deignan had a tilt at claiming victory on the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia only to come undone in an eighteen-man breakaway from which Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took the stage honours at Gadeccia Val di Fassa.

Deignan (Radioshack) was determined to make an impression on the 230 kilometre stage 15 from Conegliano with the day’s five categorised climbs doing little to deter his ambition.

He formed an eleven-man chase group over the opening climb of the first category Piancavallo with that group swelling to eighteen riders as they made contact with the leaders after 51 kilometres of racing.

Deignan was joined in the group by teammate Yaroslav Popvych, Johan Tschopp (BMC Racing), Emanuelle Sella (Androni Giocattoli), Kevin Seeldrayers (Quickstep), Stefano Garzelli (Aqua & Sapone), Evgeni Petrov (Astana), Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Moviestar), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago Inox), Carlos Sastre (Geox), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), Katusha riders Danilo di Luca, Aleksandr Kuchynski and Alberto Losada Alguacil, Omega Pharma Lotto riders Jan Bakelants and Olivier Kaisen, and Nieve who was best placed in the GC just 9’08” behind race leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard).

Their lead peaked at 10’40” having crossed the second category Forcella Cibiana giving them a comfortable advantage as they started into the torturous 15.9 kilometre long Passo Giau which took the riders to the highest point in this year’s race at 2,236 metres.

Garzelli claimed the ‘Cima Coppi’ prize for the first rider to reach the summit with Nieve in close contact at 46 seconds. Hoogerland, who had attacked early in the climb, followed at 1’27” while Deignan tucked into a nine-man group who reached the summit 1’45” adrift.

The 16% gradient also split the chase group to just 23 rider with Contador expending his teammates to put his closest rival Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) under pressure as they reached the summit 9’30” behind Garzelli with Nieve still the on the road race leader.

Nibali used his fearless descending skills to positive effect en route to the next climb of the first category Passo Fedaia to distance Contador but was hauled back as the favourites reached the foothill of the climb where Garzelli’s lead over Nieve, who was now joined by Bakelants, had stretched to 1’03”.

Sella and di Luca where next on the road with Seeldrayers sandwiched between the following chase group containing Deignan, Pirazzi and Weening with the Donegal man losses slipping to three minutes as he started into the 13.4 kilometre climb.

Nieve dropped Bakelants five kilometres from the summit and closed to within 39 seconds of Garzelli by the time he got there. An attack from Contador put Nibali into immediate difficulty behind and the climb quickly became ground to the survival of the fittest with the 18%  gradient also causing Deignan to wilt.

The Donegal man was caught by a six-man group comprising Contador, Roman Kreuziger (Astana), David Arroyo (Moviestar), John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale), Denis Menchov (Geox) and Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) who had put 56 seconds into Nibali as they neared the summit.

The Liquigas-Cannondale rider produced another scintillating show of skill and nerve on the descent to regain contact with the Contador group before they reached the finishing climb to Val di Fassa with Deignan also finding the resolve to ride his way back onto the group.

Nieve’s persistence paid off with six kilometres to go when he caught and passed Garzelli to take command on the 16% gradient. Deignan hung tough in the chase group until the final 4.5 kilometres where the steep incline and exertions of his day out front finally got the better of him.

Contador seized his moment with 3.7 kilometres to go when he launched a devastating attack which left Nibali unable to reply. The Spaniard settled into a familiar rhythm and once again underlined his superior climbing ability as he set about eating into Nieve’s lead.

He closed to within 1’50” of the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider by the finish with Garzelli hanging on to second place with just nine seconds to spare.  Michele Scarponi (Lampre ISD) found a second wind on the climb and his six seconds deficit to Contador was enough to propel him to second place in the GC after Nibali cracked with exertion.

The Italian finished 3’34” down on Nieve with his time losses to Contador causing him to slip to the third in the GC. Contador now leads Scarponi by 4’20” heading into the second rest day and the final phase of the three week race.

Deignan dug deep over the closing kilometres to finish 6’40” down and can take some solace and future encouragement from the fact that he was competitive during the marathon stage. He has jumped to 51st in the GC where lies 1:13:51 behind Contador.


2011 Giro d’Italia

Stage 15: Conegliano – Gardeccia/Val di Fassa, 230 kilometres

1.  Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 7:27:14        
2.  Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone at 0:01:41        
3.  Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard at 0:01:51        
4.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 0:01:57        
5.  John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 0:02:28        
6.  José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli at 0:02:35        
7.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 0:03:34        
8.  Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team             
9.  Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana at 0:04:01        
10.  Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  at 0:04:13   

14. Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Radioshack at 6 minutes, 40 seconds

General classification after stage 15:

1.  Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 62:15:29        
2.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 0:04:20        
3.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 0:05:11        
4.  John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale at 0:06:08        
5.  Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:06:32        
6.  Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:07:03
7.  Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC    0:08:46        
8.  Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana at 0:08:58        
9.  Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team at 0:09:20        
10. David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar Team at 0:09:30     

51. Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Radioshack at 1 hours, 13 minutes, 51 seconds

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