Rabottini Solos to Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Victory

May 20, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Farnese-Vini's Matteo Rabottini celebrates after crossing the finish line of Stage 15th of the Giro d'Italia. (Luk Benies/AFP/GettyImages)
Farnese-Vini's Matteo Rabottini celebrates after crossing the finish line of Stage 15th of the Giro d'Italia. (Luk Benies/AFP/GettyImages)

Matteo Rabottini of Farnese-Vini initiated an attack at 18 kilometers, pressed on solo for 86 kilometers, and held off Joaquin Rodriguez in the final 100 meters to win Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia.

Rabottini’s ride was brilliant; he pushed hard from the start, climbed well in absolutely terrible weather, descended Bravely despite dangerous road conditions, crashed and kept going, and finally, when overtaken a few hundred meters from the finish, fought back to earn his stage win.

Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha attacked in the final kilometer to take back the leader’s pink jersey. The big-name contenders—Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Paolo Tiralongo, Damiano Cunego—all beat race leader Ryder Hesjedal across the line.

One has to commend the designers of this year’s parcours. Several stages have sparked serious competition, and the final outcome of the Giro d’Italia is still up in the air. No rider has managed to gain a real edge, despite concerted efforts.

Monday will be a rest day. Tuesday starts the final week which includes some positively brutal mountain stages.

A Test of Toughness

Stage 15, 169 km from Busto Arsizio to Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli, included four categorized climbs, opening with the Cat 1 Valico di Valcava, followed  the Cat 3 Forcella di Bura, the Cat 2 Culmine di San Pietro and climb to the finish line, the Cat.2 Piani dei Resinelli. After the two tough climbs of Stage 14, this would have been a difficult stage on the best of days, but Sunday was chilly and rainy, the worst possible conditions for riders who had been on the road every day for nearly two weeks.

With most of the serious GC contenders a minute or more behind the leader, Stage Fifteen looked to be a time for attacks. Mateo Rabottini started the process when he and Guillaume Bonnafond of AG2R broke free of the peloton 18 km into the stage, opening a gap of over seven minutes before Stefan Denifl (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Mathias Frank (BMC) decided to give chase.

This pair was soon joined by Francesco Failli (Farnese Vini) and Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep.) The quartet should have been able to reel in the leaders; instead, they were swallowed up by the peloton within ten kilometers.

A more serious chase group broke free on the lower slopes of the Cat 1 Valcava climb (8.6% average grade for 11.6 km.) This group started with Emanuele Sella (Androni) and Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) but swelled to include 11 riders: Sella, Txurruka, and Michal Golas (QuickStep,) Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar,) Marco Pinotti (BMC,) Diego Ulissi (Lampre,) Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago,) Evgueni Petrov (Astana,) Adriano Malori (Lampre,) Alberto Losada (Katusha,) Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-DCM.)

Shortly after this group broke free, Rabottini decided he could make better progress on his own and dropped Bonnafond. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Andrey Amador chased and caught the chase group at the 65-km mark. At this point Rabottini had four minutes on the chase group which was itself five minutes ahead of the peloton.

Rabottini and the chasers crested the Cat 3 Forcella di Bura with more than eight minutes on the peloton, which was now led by Garmin and Liquigas—Liquigas refused to do all the work alone. This might have helped the breakaways stay out front.

Rabottini looked strong as he started the climb up the Cat 2 Culmine di San Pietro, now with 5:15 over the chase group. With 31 km left in the stage Stefano Pirazzi attacked the chase group. He was reeled in and attacked again, wasting time and energy the chasers needed to put into their pursuit. Several of the chasers dropped off the back.

Rabottini finally began showing slowing near the top of the third climb. The Farnese rider had less than three minutes over the chasers when he crested the climb with 25.9 km to go. He pushed hard on the slick, narrow, and very foggy descent, trying to stretch the gap, and paid for it, hitting the deck 1t the 17-km mark. He got right up an continued, but the gap was barely two minutes.

Luckily, the remaining chasers: Cunego, Amador, Losada, Pirazzi and Txurruka, wasted still more time attacking each other. The peloton, now led by Astana, picked up the pace coming into the final climb of the day; the GC leaders didn’t care about Rabottini, but they needed to catch Cunego, who was 2:43 down in GC. The peloton fractured under the pace, with only a couple of dozen riders managing to hang on up the final climb.

The Final Climb

When Rabottini hit the last climb, ten kilometers at a 7.8 percent average grade with ramps up to 12 percent, he had 2:30 omn the five pursuers and 4Z:10 on the peloton. It looked like he wouldn’t make it; the peloton was picking up the pace, and the Farnese rider was looking more and more tired. He had led the race for 140 kilometers, through abominable conditions; he had soloed 75; he had crashed. He didn’t give up.

Stefano Pirazzi attacked the chase group again with 6.8 km left. Losado lead Cunego and Txurruka in pursuit; Amador faded. With 4.2 to go, Losado caught Pirazzi, dropping Cunego in the process. Four kilometers from the line, Pirazzi attacked again. Losado and Txurruka caught him 500 meters up the road; the gasp to Rabottini was now down to a minute-and-a-half.

Meanwhile Liquigas had taken over driving duties, determined to keep Ivan Basso up on the GC, closing the gap to the chasers to 2:40.

Sylvester Szmyd of Liquigas led the peloton until the 2-km mark, when he pulled off the let Ivan Basso finish the stage. Immediately the other GC contenders prepared to attack the Liquigas leader. Sky’s Segio Henao and Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal came up to the front.

At 1700 meters Roman Kreuziger of Astana made an attack but he got nowhere. Lampre’s Michele Scarponi used Kreuziger’s attack to launch his own. The peloton caught him so he went again, this time gaining a gap. The Lampre rider caught his teammate Cunego, but Katusha’s Joaqim Rodriguez and Sky’s Henao caught Scarponi 1400 meters from the line.

Rodriguez accelerated away from Henao and Scarponi with 1000 meter to go, passing Pirazzi, Txurruka and Losado halfway to the finish. The Spanish Katusha rider caught the Italian Farnese rider with 300 meters to go, but Rabottini managed to cling to his rival’s wheel.

Rabottini, after all he had done already, found a way to do just a little more: with 100 meters left in the stage, the Italian rider cut inside Rodriguez, pulled level, and put on a final burst of speed to cross the finish line just ahead.

Rodriguez re-took the leader’s pink jersey, while Matteo Rabottini got the stage win he had worked so hard to secure.

Several of the top contenders: Roman Kreuziger, Ivan Basso, Paolo Tiralongo and Michele Scarponi—moved into the top six spots in GC behind Ryder Hesjedal and Joaquim Rodriguez, who have been swapping the overall lead. Though they are all more than 1:20 behind, they are all at nearly identical times. This half-dozen riders will have to fight it out on every climbing stage, and even then—will they be able to catch Joaquim Rodriguez?

Giro d’Italia Stage 15

 

rider

team

time

1

Matteo Rabottini

Farnese Vini

5:15:30

2

Joaquim Rodriguez

Katusha

 

3

Alberto Losada

Katusha

0:00:23

4

Sergio Luis Henao

Sky

0:00:25

5

Michele Scarponi

Lampre-ISD

 

6

Ivan Basso

Liquigas-Cannondale

 

7

Stefano Pirazzi

Colnago-CSF Inox

0:00:29

8

Roman Kreuziger

Astana

 

9

John Gadret

Ag2R

 

10

Amets Txurruka

Euskaltel-Euskadi

 

General Classification after Stage 15

 

rider

team

time

1

Joaquim Rodriguez

Katusha

65:11:07

2

Ryder Hesjedal

Garmin-Barracuda

0:00:30

3

Ivan Basso

Liquigas-Cannondale

0:01:22

4

Paolo Tiralongo

Astana

0:01:26

5

Roman Kreuziger

Astana

0:01:27

6

Michele Scarponi

Lampre-ISD

0:001:36

7

Benat Intxausti

Movistar

0:01:42

8

Sergio Henao

Sky

0:01:55

9

Dario Cataldo

Omega Pharma-QuickStep

0:02:12

10

Sandy Casar

FDJ-BigMat

0:02:13