Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal, of the Garmin-Barracuda team, claimed the overall leader’s pink jersey after Costa Rican Andrey Amador (Movistar) won the 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia in Cervinia, Italy, on Saturday.
The Canadian, who was fourth in the stage, now sits 9 seconds ahead of overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain (Katusha), with Astana’s Italian rider Paolo Tiralongo in third at 41 seconds.
Hesjedal was 17 seconds down on Rodriguez at the start of the wet and cold stage, but finished 26 seconds ahead of the main peloton.
“I felt good. There was just three kilometers to go, the pink jersey was there to take and so I went for it,” the Canadian said. “I was a little sad when I lost it and so I feel fortunate to pull it back on now. You never know if it’s going to be your last day in pink.”
“I think I can take time back on anyone in the final time trial in Milan, but I’m not thinking that far ahead. I’m where I’m at and that’s how I approached the race today,” Hesjedal said. “I’m going to continue to do that and we’ll see what happens at the end of the Giro d’Italia.”
Amador, whose mother is Russian, clocked 5 hours, 33 minutes, 36 seconds over the stage, a testing 206km run from Cherasco to Cervinia, boasting two stiff climbs at Joux and Cervinia, with the finish line at more than 2,000m altitude.
The Costa Rican was first home in a sprint off with his last two breakaway companions, Czech Jan Barta and Italian Alessandro de Marchi.
It was the 25-year-old Amador’s first stage success in four years as a professional cyclist.
Amador had caught up with Barta after the first climb, and then struck out alone, but was himself reeled in on the 27km second climb by the Czech and De Marchi.
The Costa Rican said he had bounced back in good time from an annus horribilis last year during which he fractured a collarbone, injured an ankle and had “my own problems when some thieves tried to kidnap me.”
“At Movistar, we’re a very united team and our results prove it,” Amador said. “In 2011, I fractured my collarbone while I was getting ready for the Giro.”
“I also had an ankle problem while I was preparing for the Tour de France. It was a year to forget. Last winter, I changed my training and I’m going well thanks to that,” Amador said.
“On this stage, we knew you had to have a big lead before the two big climbs,” Amador said. “We found ourselves at the foot of the climb with a 13-minute lead. It was doable.”
Yesterday’s 15th stage was to see the riders tackle a 169km run from Busto Arsizio and Lecco, with three climbs scheduled before a final 7.8km ascent above Lake Como.
TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
REUTERS, MOUNT BALDY, CALIFORNIA
Robert Gesink of the Netherlands won the penultimate stage of the Tour of California on Saturday, all but ensuring he will claim the overall victory when the eight-day race was to end yesterday.
The 25-year-old Gesink snatched the leader’s yellow jersey after winning the grueling 126km mountain climb from Ontario to Mt Baldy in 3 hours, 37 minutes, 8 seconds.
He started the day in third place, 38 seconds behind the overall leader, American David Zabriskie, but ended up leading by a commanding 46 seconds with only the short final stage in Los Angeles to come.
“I’m back,” said Gesink, who broke his leg in a crash last year. “I’ve been working really, really hard the last months. It didn’t always work out in the beginning and that’s difficult on an athlete, always wanting to win. Now to be back at the highest level and to be the best uphill like this is unbelievable.”