Movistar’s Andrey Amador of Costa Rica (L) sprints ahead of NetApp’s Jan Barta of Czech Republic to win the 206-km 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia from Cherasco to Cervinia, May 19, 2012. (REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo)
By Alasdair Fotheringham
CERVINIA, Italy, May 19 (Reuters) – Andrey Amador earned himself a niche in cycling’s history books on Saturday when he claimed Costa Rica’s first ever stage win in the Giro d’Italia in a tough mountain stage, while a late surge by Ryder Hesjedal recaptured the overall lead for the Canadian.
As temperatures plummeted to five degrees celsius and rain began to fall at the summit of the stage’s final 27 kilometre Alpine climb of Cervinia, Amador fended off fellow breakaways Jan Barta of the Czech Republic and Italian Alessandro de Marchi.
Amador’s triumph was both a first for Costa Rica and for the 25-year-old Movistar rider since he turned pro in 2009.
Meanwhile, Hesjedal staged a late lone attack from the peloton of around a dozen favourites to regain the lead he held for three days earlier in the race.
Overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain, seventh on the stage, slid to second, nine seconds back, whilst Italian veteran climber Paolo Tiralongo is in third at 41 seconds.
“I had to use a lot of energy to get this win, but it’s a dream to get my first ever win in the Giro and in a big mountain stage too,” Amador, who placed third after forming part of a breakaway on stage 12 in the Apennine hills, told reporters.
“I had to calculate very carefully because I only had a little strength left when it came to the last few kilometres.
“I was really close two days ago and I wasn’t happy about missing so narrowly, but now I can dedicate a win to my family and my girlfriend Laura.
“I’ve worked harder than ever this year to get the victories, and it’s finally paid off.”
Further back, double Giro winner Ivan Basso of Italy set his Liquigas team to shred the group of favourites on the Cervinia climb but neither he nor overnight leader Joaquim Rodríguez could answer when Garmin-Barracuda pro Ryder Hesjedal blasted away.
However, Hesjedal said that when he had attacked his aim was not to try and regain the pink leader’s jersey, but more to gauge his rivals form.
“I just wanted to put in an effort and test the guys,” the former MTB-er told reporters. “I felt very comfortable on the last climb.
“I knew that the course flattened out a little bit at the top so I figured I’d go for it. It’s a nice bonus to be back in the jersey.”
Asked how long he can remain in the pink, Hesjedal replied, “I’m just enjoying this Giro, I’m just going out and racing.”
While world champion Mark Cavendish of Great Britain completed the Giro’s first major high mountain stage more than 32 minutes down on Amador, two other top sprinters, Matt Goss of Australia and his compatriot Mark Renshaw made planned abandons before racing started today.
At the start of the stage in Cherasco, a minute’s silence was held to honour the victims of a bomb attack in Brindisi, southern Italy early this morning.
The Giro d’Italia finishes on May 27th in Milan.