Two riders in a single, mere, damn second. The 34th Giro d’Italia Under 26 couldn't ask for a better final. After 1300km. and more than thirty hours of climbing, sprinting, attacking, getting dropped, regaining the bunchm time trialling, puncturing, falling and all the rest, nothing else but a single, mere, damn second is the gap between Alessandro Bertuola, who may regret that second for the rest of his career, and Marco Marzano who, thanks to the same single, mere, damn second, could get his greatest win as an amateur rider, coming after two overall victories in a row at the prestigious Giro della Valle d’Aosta.
It all happened on the Terminillo, “the mountain of Rome” (although it’s located some 50 miles to the east of Italy’s capital city), and also the last ascent, as well as last mountain top finish, of the race. That’s where a man from the outskirts of Rome’s main rival city, Marco Marzano of Turbigo (Milano province) took the stage in front of Domenico Pozzovivo and Ireland’s 20-year-old Philip Deignan.
And that’s where the mountain goat of the Lombardy-based Pagnoncelli team captured the overall lead by a single, mere, damn second. In fact Alessandro Bertuola, who was leading Marzano by 02’24” at the stage start, finished “just” 02’15” behind him, but that wasn’t enough for him to keep the Maglia Rosa, as the 10-second time bonus awarded to the stage winner took the overall leader’s mantle out of his shoulders, to the delight of his main challenger Marzano.
Saturday’s Stage 9, finishing into the Terminillo after a 167-km. journey that got underway at Fabriano, saw a group of 22 riders allowed to break away by km. 13, while the “big names” and the GC contenders were keeping an eye on each other, and saving their legs for the final ascent of 18 km. And the Terminillo lived up to expectations: the battle broke out halfway through the climb, with Marzano starting the fireworks as he attacked the bunch and embarked on a chase of the escapees.
It was no surprise attack anyway, as everyone knew that, even if the man was just third on GC, Marzano is a better climber than runner-up Dal Fatto and the same Maglia Rosa Bertuola, and the “Mountain of Rome” provided him with the best chance to have a go at taking the big prize. Bertuola himself was well aware of that, but nonetheless he proved unable to match Marzano’s move, or perhaps just chose to carry on riding at his own pace and limit the damage. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t limited enough.
Only another skilled climber, Domenico Pozzovivo, as well as two revelations of this Giro such as Deignan and Italy’s Micula De Matteis followed Marzano’s move. The quartet caught and dropped all members of the (former) breakaway group, with Luca Zanasca (Palazzago-Vellutex) as the last fugitive to give up, and Marzano attacking again and powering top a victory that lifted him to the top spot. Pozzovivo was hoping that he could take line honors at least, and was arguably unhappy at Marzano’s “take-it-all” attitude, but the prize at stake was too high for the Pagnoncelli man to even think of making any gifts.
The 1980-born Milanese has won the Terminillo battle, but the Giro war is far from over, and Bertuola and his Ima Moro Brugnotto Zottarelli teammates will definitely fight it out for any single, mere, damn bonus second awarded in Sunday’s closing stage, the so-called “Circuito di Rieti”, consisting of five laps of a flat circuit (for a total distance of about 116 km.) in and around the town of Rieti. What was meant to be a ceremonial stage paying homage to an already known GC winner, will turn into the most dramatic stage of a race that saved most, if not all, of the drama for its final part.
We wrote it about the Tour of Colombia, we can do it again for this race: get ready for the best Baby Giro final in years!!
Stage 9 (Fabriano-Monte Terminillo, 167 km.)
1. Marco Marzano (Ita - VC Ceramiche Pagnoncelli) - 04h38’40” (36.602 kph)
2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita - GS Zalf Desirče Fior) - at 03”
3. Philip Deignan (Irl - VC La Pomme Marseille) a 16”
4. Luca Zanasca (Ita - Palazzago-Vellutex) - at 17”
5. Ivan Buoso (Ita - Camel Brunero Boeris) - at 40”
6. Massimiliano Maisto (Ita - VC Podenzano) - at 47”
7. Micula De Matteis (Ita - GS Bottoli Artoni Zoccorinese) - at 01’07”
8. David Betts (Aus - Australia) - at 01’48”
9. Marco Osella (Ita - GS Resine Ragnoli) - at 02’11”
10. Denis Shkarpeta (Uzb - VC Ceramiche Pagnoncelli) - at 02’13”
… 12. Alessandro Bertuola (Ita - Ima Moro Brugnotto Zottarelli) - at 02’15”
34th Giro d’Italia U26: GC after Stage 9: Top 10 Places
1. Marco Marzano (Ita - VC Ceramiche Pagnoncelli) - 30h41’30”
2. Alessandro Bertuola (Ita - Ima Moro Brugnotto Zottarelli) - at 01”
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita - GS Zalf Desirče Fior) - at 01’17”
4. Micula De matteis (Ita - GS Bottoli Artoni Zoccorinese) - at 02’01”
5. Riccardo Riccň (Ita - GC Fausto Coppi Grassi) - at 03’18”
6. Paolo Bailetti (Ita - Camel Brunero Boeris ) - at 03’51”
7. Dainius Kairelis (Lit - Cyber Team Faresin) - at 04’08”
8. Alexandr Sabalin (Rus - VC La Pomme Marseille) - at 04’19”
9. Hrvoje Miholjevic (Cro - Promociclo) - at 04’27”
10. Denis Shkarpeta (Uzb - VC Ceramiche Pagnoncelli) - at 05’13”
34th Giro d’Italia Under 26 on the”Daily Peloton" - Links
* Stage 1 Results & Report
* Stage 2 Results & Report
* Stages 3, 4 & 5 Results & Report
* Stage 6 Results & Report
* Stage 7 Results & Report
* Stage 8 Results & Report