One day after TEAM KATUSHA’s Giro bad luck, with Ilnur Zakarin’s horrible crash and abandon, Rein Taaramäe had the perfect answer by winning the last mountain stage in Sant’Anna di Vinadio. A smart race of the Estonian rider and a perfect timed attack on the Colle de la Lombarda were the ingredients of his success. Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing) finished second, 52 seconds behind. Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) was third at 1.17. Vincenzo Nibali is the new maglia rosa.
Yesterday was really a hard and sad day for us. The team worked for three weeks for the GC and I know how motivated Ilnur was. Everything ended in one sudden second. That’s why I was so motivated today to go in the break. The second reason was that I wanted to prove myself I can do a good race. I worked so hard in the beginning of the season and I hoped this work would pay off one day, - said Rein Taaramäe.
Rein Taaramaäe was already in the break of eleven riders skipping away on the Col de Vars. Later, on the Col de la Bonnette, Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) was allowed to take one minute, but he was reeled in over the top. On the last first-category climb, the Colle de la Lombarda, it was clear that only the six strongest riders of the eleven would decide on the stage win: Visconti (Team Movistar), Dombrowski, Atapuma, Taaramäe, Kangert (Team Astana) and Foliforov (Rusvelo). Dombrowski and Atapuma attacked, but later Taaramäe’s attack was the right one. Taaramäe reached the top with 32 seconds to the others. After a fast descent there were still 3.2 km uphill to Sant’Anna di Vinadio but nobody was able to come back.
It was not easy at all to go in the break. Honestly, I suffered a lot in the beginning. I even dropped a few times from the break but everytime I was able to come back. I did everything to go on on a regular pace and that worked. I know these climbs very well since I did a lot altitude training camps here. From those camps I also learned that I become better the higher we go in the mountains. I found my moment to attack and I went away. I took my rhythm and was able to create a gap. The last two kilometers were really hard, I had strong cramps, but I went until the finish and won. This victory is very important for me but also for the team. I am super happy and I still can't believe it. What a day! - concluded Rein Taaramae.
Meanwhile in the background, but on the same Colle de la Lombarda, Vincenzo Nibali pulled off what seemed impossible just a few days ago and all but won the Giro d’Italia. The Italian started stage 20 44 seconds down on maglia rosa Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) but made up the deficit on the penultimate climb with a long-range attack after cracking all his major rivals, including the Colombian. Vincenzo Nibali finished 6th in the stage, 6.44 behind Taaramäe but he reached the finish with 13 seconds boni to Valverde, 1.29 to Kruijswijk and 1.36 to Chaves. Nibali is the new maglia rosa. Without any incidents he will bet he overall winner of the 99th Giro d’Italia.
Tomorrow’s last stage between Cuneo and Torino is a completely flat stage.