Canola wins 13th Giro stage; Uran retains lead
RIVAROLO CANAVESE, Italy (AP) — Marco Canola of Italy won the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday for his first victory in a Grand Tour, while Colombian Rigoberto Uran retained the overall lead.
Canola edged out Jackson Rodriguez and Angelo Tulik in a sprint at the end of the mainly flat, 158-kilometer (98-mile) leg from Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese.
The trio had been part of an early break and the peloton left it too late to catch them on the final circuit in Rivarolo Canavese.
“It’s a massive surprise and a special win for me,” Canola said. “Sometimes in life you get unexpected opportunities and today is the best day of my sporting career so far.
“I hope it’s the first of many.”
Uran finished in the main group, 11 seconds behind Canola, to maintain his 37-second lead over Cadel Evans.
“There is never an easy day in the Giro, it was still a dangerous stage. The only easy days are the rest days,” Uran said. “We didn’t want to take any risks today so we rode at the front all day, but we were not riding to control the breakaway.”
Rafal Majka was third overall, 1:52 behind Uran.
The breakaway group escaped almost immediately and was formed of Canola, Rodriguez and Tulik, along with Jeffry Johan Romero, Gert Dockx and Maxim Belkov.
The six escapees had a lead of more than three minutes but that had dropped to 2:16 at the top of the category-four climb with 30K (18.6 miles) remaining.
The gap had dropped to less than two minutes as they set off on the first 22K (13.7-mile) lap at the end of the stge.
The weather again played a part as the roads were wet and icy following a hailstorm.
Sprinter Nacer Bouhanni had been targeting a fourth stage victory in this year’s Giro, but with no one seemingly willing to take charge in the peleton, the group was unable to catch the break.
Romero, Belkov and Dockx were eventually dropped, leaving the remaining three to fight for the win.
Canola managed to round the very tight, final, right-hand bend slightly ahead of the others and held on in the long sprint for victory.
Saturday sees the Giro enter the first of the high mountains and is the second of three stages dedicated to the late Italian cyclist Marco Pantani, who won both the Giro and Tour de France in 1998. Pantani was found dead in a hotel room on Valentine’s Day in 2004, and a coroner ruled he died from cocaine poisoning.
The 14th stage of the Giro is an uphill finish to Oropa, celebrating Pantani’s memorable victory in 1999.
“Tomorrow the Giro starts,” Uran said. “It’s a good climb tomorrow and Sunday too. I hope the legs are good.”