Rigoberto Urán (Sky) won stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday at Altopiano del Montasio. The Colombian attacked on the final climb and held off a late chase from countryman Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale), who finished second in the 167-kilometer leg from Cordenons to Altopiano del Montasio.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was third and defended his overall lead.
With the stage win, Urán moved into third overall, at 2:04, one second ahead of reigning Tour de France champion and teammate Bradley Wiggins. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was fifth on the stage and is second overall, at 41 seconds.
“I’m quite happy,” said Urán. “I knew the climb. This morning, we had expected that I would go or [teammate Sergio] Henao would attack. I went with eight kilometers to go and I climbed at a good, regular pace. This victory is a great satisfaction for me and the team.”
The Giro d’Italia continues Wednesday with the 182km 11th stage, from Tarvisio to Vajont.
An unwieldy group heads for Cason di Lanza
The day’s breakaway took shape 31km into the stage. At one point, the escape comprised 14 riders and held a lead of 8:07, but the peloton started picking riders off one-by-one on the Cat. 1 Passo Cason di Lanza climb, 102km into the stage. The pace tore at the bunch and defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) was among the riders to lose contact on the twin-summited climb.
Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) was the final survivor from the move. He rode alone over the top of the climb with a 3:52 advantage on the maglia rosa group.
Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) jumped across on the narrow, technical descent and the leaders were two with 25km to go. Rodriguez and Pauwels rode onto the grinding, 22km ascent of the Cat. 1 Altopioano del Montasio with under four minutes’ advantage.
Sky set tempo on the climb and with 13km to go, Kanstantsin Siutsou drove the pace, teammates Dario Cataldo and Urán lined up behind him. Tanel Kangert guided teammate Nibali behind the Sky trio, Bradley Wiggins further back in the group.
Uran launches toward the plateau
The pace from Siutsou was too much for best young rider Wilco Kelderman (Blanco) and he dropped off the group with 10km to go. Ahead of the Dutchman, Cataldo pulled the chase group up to the leaders, resetting the race with 9.7km to go.
Samuel Sánchez (Euskadi-Euskatel) held tightly onto the back of the group. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) sat sixth wheel, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) behind him.
Kangert lost contact with 9.3km to go, leaving Nibali, in fourth wheel, with only Valerio Agnoli left for support.
Urán sensed his opportunity and attacked with 8km to go. The Colombian sat and turned over the gears, Agnoli driving the chase. Urán pushed out to a 30-second advantage with 5.5km to go.
Agnoli’s pace dropped Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), but about 20 riders stayed in contact. Wiggins sat around 10 wheels back in the group as the chase rode under an avalanche tunnel with 5.2km remaining. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale) and best young rider contender Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) were in the group.
“We expected Urán to attack,” said Nibali. “We didn’t work too hard.”
With 4.3km remaining, Agnoli was done and Nibali was left to his own. The Sicilian surged across the late sprint line and took a three-second time bonus ahead of Evans.
Up ahead, Urán continued to push, taking 50 seconds’ advantage with 3.8km to go.
Behind him, Cataldo and Sky lieutenant Sergio Henao dropped off the pace. Wiggins held tight, near the front of the chase, but looked labored as the road tilted upward.
The road steepened severely with 3.3km to go and Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) attacked. The acceleration split Robert Gesink (Blanco) and Wiggins off the group. The Spaniard soon faded and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) took up the fight, followed by Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard). Nibali chased, but Scarponi could not keep up.
The surge cut into Urán’s advantage and he held just 30 seconds with 2.5km to go.
The diminutive Pozzovivo struck out alone, chased by Nibali, Majka, and Betancur. Evans clawed back onto the maglia rosa group with Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini). Wiggins trailed, alone, 15 seconds behind.
Nibali pulled five riders onto Pozzovivo’s wheel with 1.5km to go and Evans took up the pace-making. The chasers were Nibali, Evans, Betancur, Pozzovivo, Kiserlovski, and Santambrogio. Still, Urán pushed on alone.
Betancur surged again. Evans looked back, but had no help. At the back, Kiserlovski dropped off the group. Nibali appeared to drop his chain, reaching down to replace it, and immediately attacked from the back.
“Small problems with the gears as a result of running the compact groupset, but in the end, no harm done,” said Nibali.
Evans closed him down.
“Do we collaborate or fight each other?” Evans said. “We’re close on GC, but we both want the time bonuses.”
Nibali jumped again inside 1km to go, but Urán was gone. The Sky lieutenant-turned-stage winner pushed his way over a series of winding ramps on the plateau and crossed the line with enough buffer to enjoy the victory.
Betancur crossed the line second, 20 seconds later, and it was Nibali who finished third, 31 seconds behind Urán, taking the final bonus seconds on offer.
“Uran was ahead, and I could not get him because we were among Colombians. We do not have the same team colors, but it is not our practice to put obstacles before each other. This victory is ours,” said Betancur. “There are a lot of very good riders in the Giro. I tried today to take a little. Wiggins was dropped and Urán showed he was stronger. If Sky had ridden differently, Rigoberto could have the pink jersey.”
Wiggins, Intxausti, and Gesink crossed the line more than a minute down on Urán. Wiggins now sits fourth overall, 2:05 down on Nibali.
“It’s hard to race against Nibali. He’s strong, he knows the Giro, he’s on home roads, and he rides well on wet roads,” said Urán of the GC contest. “We will have to wait for him to have a bad day before we can attack him. The Giro is long.”
Nibali wouldn’t count Wiggins out of the race for the overall.
“We have a good advantage between us and them,” he said. “I will keep my eyes on both of them. We will have to watch what they will try to do.”
Majka was sixth on the stage and took command in the best young rider classification.