Giro d'Italia Stage 19: Cataldo, Pauwels Aggressive in the Mountains
Dario Cataldo saw his chance to cut into his GC gap, and also potentially contend a stage, when he attacked the peloton with slightly more than 25km to go, and the remainder of an original 17 rider break that included his teammate Serge Pauwels, up the road. Two riders: Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago CSF Bardiani), and Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat), had left all their former breakmates behind, and soon Pirazzi had also dropped Casar.
Cataldo bridged to teammate Pauwels, and they worked along with Roman Kreuziger (Astana) to chase down the break. Kreuziger, however, was too strong for both riders, as he eventually passed all riders in front of him with 3.4km to go and soloed to victory. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), who dropped fellow chaser Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) with less than 1.5km to go after initially escaping with Scarponi and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha Team) at the 2.7km point, took 2nd. Rodriguez was third after he eventually caught and outsprinted Scarponi. Cataldo finished 15th, 1'52" back.
"Today I tried to do something special," Cataldo said. "I was scared about this stage. I'm the type of rider who suffers on the climbs with high inclination. I decided to attack, to try to anticipate the best riders of the peloton before the last climb. Tactically we played very well. Along the way I I found Pauwels, who was a great help for me before the final ascent. When I remained alone with Kreuziger to try to win the stage, I had no power left in my legs. I would have preferred a more regular ascent — it would be better for me. Beyond all, though, today it was also important to give a signal, showing that we are a team of fighters. Tomorrow is another day, the last on the mountains. If we will find the right condition, we will try again with an eye also on the GC. I really would like to conquer a place in the top 10, for me and for the team. The Stelvio is a monument of cycling, and tomorrow might holds some surprises for the top of the charts."
Sports Director Davide Bramati praised the effort of his riders on a tough mountain stage.
"Today we decided to try to stick with the two men who ride well on the mountains," Bramati said. "The objective was to recuperate some time in the standings and maybe try to win the stage if there were the right conditions. The tactic was good. Cataldo did a great job but unfortunately, wasn't able to follow the rhythm of Kreuziger in the final. Dario missed some legs today, but certainly not the courage. The goal for tomorrow is to keep Dario among the top 10 in the overall standings, waiting for the last time trial in Milan on Sunday. "