Marek Rutkiewicz was involved in the breakaway of the day on the very demanding Stage 19 of Giro d’Italia. The race from Gravellona Toce do Cervinia, which included three category 1 climbs, was won by Fabio Aru.
Many riders tired to pull away early on – Marek Rutkiewicz said afterwards. – In the beginning everyone was going full gas. The leading group was forming on a small hill, 20 kilometers into the stage. Procontinental teams were chasing us hard, because they wanted to send their riders to the escape. They were holding the gap at 35-40 seconds, but eventually they let us go. We gained over 5-minute lead, but then Astana started its show and reduced the gap.
When we kicked off first category 1 climb, Visconti attacked. Yesterday I was involved in a crash and I hurt my knee in it. It caused some problems today and I was unable to respond to that acceleration right away. After 3-4 kilometers of climbing I found the rhythm and caught the leading riders 3 kilometers from the top. I led the group on the descend. When the road began to go uphill again, Visconti repeated his move and took off. I wanted to follow him, but mostly because of right knee soreness, I couldn’t. Also I have to admit that Visconti was very strong and made the day even harder for us.
One of the longest and hardest stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia, kicked off with extremely high pace. In the first hour of racing the pace reached 50km/h. It was very hard to break clear, but eventually a 9-man group was formed. Marek Rutkiewicz was one of the attackers. He was riding in the front with Carlos Betancur and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r), Diego Ulissi (Lampre), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Johan Chaves (Orica), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Nick Van der Lijke (Lotto NL) and Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky).
At first the peloton was not letting the break gain to much of advantage. The gap was increasing slowly and steadily. When the bunch finally slowed down the lead reached 4:40. On the first (out of three) cat. 1 climb of the day to Saint Barthelemy, the breakaway split and Rutkiewicz was chasing solo a four-man leading group with Chavez, Kiryienka, Visconti and Kochetkov. At the top he was only 19 seconds behind and managed to neutralize the gap on the descend.
On the slopes of Col Saint-Pantaleon the escape broke in pieces again. Visconti attacked at the bottom of the ascent. Rutkiewicz tried to follow Italian, but was unable to maintain his pace. He paid for that acceleration and was reeled in by Astana-led bunch with 38 kilometers to go.
Visconti continued his solo journey won the KOM and took over the lead in the mountains classification. He was caught 11 kilometers from the finish. Few minutes later biggest favorites started to attack. The strongest move, with best timing, was launched by Fabio Aru. He crossed the line alone and claimed the win. Ryder Hesjedal arrived 28 seconds later and Rigoberto Uran was third, 1:10 back.
Branislau Samoilau reached the top in 43rd, just before Marek Rutkiewicz who was 44th (18:58 back). Sylwester Szmyd took 45th (22:46 behind).