Giro d’Italia: Samoilau 23rd on the last mountain stage

Branislau Samoilau was the strongest CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider on the last mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia. He took 23rd, while Fabio Aru claimed the victory.

The day’s main breakaway pulled away after around 30 kilometers of racing. It contained nine riders – Julien Berard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli), Nicola Boem (Bardiani CSF), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Jon Izagirre (Movistar), Giacomo Berlato (Nippo VIni Fantini), Matteo Busato (Southeast), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha). They never got too much space, since the peloton was holding the escape at around 2 minutes. It was definitely too little to think about going all the way to the finish.

The riders had extremely difficult Colle delle Finestre ahead of them. It was 18,5 kilometers long, with average 9%  gradient (14% max), and had sections of dirt roads. With the top at 2178 meters above the sea level (located 27 kilometers from the finish), it was the highest point of the race – Cima Coppi. This is where the stage was suppose to be decided.

On the ascent, everyone from the breakaway, but Zakarin, was reeled in by the main group and the bunch broke in pieces. Sylwester Szmyd and Branislau Samoilau started the climb well positioned, right behind Alberto Contador. The CCC Sprandi Polkowice managed to stay with the strongest for first few kilometers but eventually they both lost contact with the race favorites.

Mikel Landa (Astana) was first one to reach the top, alongside Zakarin who was caught just before the summit. The group with Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step), Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) and Fabio Aru (Astana) was around 40 seconds back. Alberto Contador had his first moment of weakness in Giro d’Italia and was 1:25 behind.

After the descend, at the beginning of the last climb, two leading groups joined together. With 1 kilometer to go Aru took off by himself and held on to win his second consecutive stage.  Just like yesterday, Hesjedal and Uran rounded out the podium. Contador arrived 2:25 back, but retained his leader jersey.

Branislau Samoilau finished in a good, 23rd place. Sylwester Szmyd was 41st and before the last, completely flat stage to Milan, he is the highest ranked CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider. He sits in 45th overall.