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Giro Notebook stage 14: Amador scores for the Ticos; Pozzovivo still believes; Schleck, Cav hang tough

CERVINIA, Italy (VN) — Andrey Amador (Movistar) made history Saturday by becoming the first Costa Rican to win a grand tour stage with victory in the 206km 14th stage from Cherasco to Cervinia.

Amador was part of a big, eight-man group that held a 10-minute lead over the first of two Cat. 1 climbs. He attacked off the descent of the Col de Joux to pass Jan Barta (NetApp) and eventually out-kicked Barta and Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) to win, also fending off a hard-chasing Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda).

“We knew that today and tomorrow would be good opportunities that a breakaway would stay clear,” he said. “I rode the first 10km of the final climb alone, trying to conserve my energy because I knew they could catch me. We were all very tired in the end, but I had enough legs to win. I am very happy.”

Amador has a unique background. His mother is Russian, his father Costa Rican and his grandparents Spanish. A pro since 2009, this was Amador’s first professional win and he delivered it in style with a gutsy ride.

“Of blood, I am Costa Rican. We are a small country, but cycling has a following there,” he said. “When I was 12, I received a mountain bike as a Christmas present and I entered the world of cycling. In 2007, I went to Spain to race as an amateur, and after two years, Eusebio (Unzue) offered me a contract at Movistar. And here we are now.”

Saturday was Amador’s third breakaway effort of the week and the hard effort paid off.

The last couple years were tough, though. Over the winter of 2010, he was beaten up and left for dead after thugs stole his Pinarello bike back in Costa Rica. Then last season, he broke his clavicle and missed a planned Giro start. After becoming the first Costa Rican to race the Tour de France last summer, he crashed out with a broken ankle.

“The incident happened a long time ago. It’s all forgotten,” he said. “I have come into this season more concentrated and now I am seeing the results. I am very happy right now with this victory after being third the other day.”

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