Italian Matteo Rabottini (Farnese-Vini) rode free at 20km into Sunday’s brutal mountain stage, with one other rider. He then rode the rest of the 150km virtually solo until just a few hundred meters from the line, only to have to sprint for the win at the summit finish at Piani dei Resinelli.
Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) had viciously attacked the group of GC contenders – who seemed to have no chance of catching the Italian just a few kilometers before – passing him just before the finish.
But somehow Rabottini found the legs to catch back onto the Spaniard’s wheel, after 169 kilometers in the saddle over four categorized climbs. He bolted through the final corner inside Rodriguez and pulled ahead for the win.
Rodríguez finished with the same time in second on the day, with his teammate Alberto Losada, whom Purito had used to slingshot up to the leader, in third 23 seconds back.
Purito also managed to retake the pink jersey from Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who had stolen it from him in yesterday’s stage. Hesjedal lost contact when Purito attacked their group, and the Spaniard now leads the Garmin-Barracuda rider by 30 seconds, with Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) in third 1:22 behind.
The GC group was mostly concerned about each other near the finish, as Rabottini was too far back overall to be a major concern, and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) did not have enough time on the road to be a threat. The first to make a big move was his teammate Michele Scarponi, who was quickly caught by Rodriguez, Basso, and Sergio Henao (Sky).
Hesjedal was not able to match the move, and soon saw a wide gap. Then Rodríguez counter-attacked that group and quickly put daylight between himself and the other three. He soon rode alone into third place on the road, and caught his teammate who worked to close the gap on the leader, before Purito took off again.
After riding solo most of the day, Rabottini had about 5 minutes on a 9-man chase group at 50km to go, and managed to hold them off despite a hard chase. Cunego broke out of that chase alone, soon to be caught by yesterday’s winner Andrey Amador (Movistar), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF).
Rabottini, 24-year-old son of a former professional rider Luciano, even had to overcome a crash on the descent of Culmine di San Pietro but was still able to hold onto his lead going into the final climb.
Pirrazzi would later attack the chase group inside 6km, getting free, but failing to bridge the gap. Then Losada, who had caught the chasers, attacked the group, passing Pirazzi and riding alone almost to the line. He took a short pull that gave Purito the boost he needed, and then hung on for third while Rodríguez bridged up.
1 Matteo RABOTTINI, Farnese Vini in 5:15:30
2 Joaquim RODRIGUEZ, Katusha in s.t.
3 Alberto LOSADA, Katusha +23
4 Sergio HENAO, Sky +25
5 Michele SCARPONI, Lampre-ISD s.t.
6 Ivan BASSO, Liquigas-Cannondale s.t.
7 Stefano PIRAZZI, Colnago-CSF +29
8 Roman KREUZIGER, Astana s.t.
9 John GADRET, Ag2r La Mondiale s.t.
10 Amets TXURRUKA, Euskaltel-Euskadi s.t.
General Classification after stage 15
1 Joaquim RODRIGUEZ, Katusha in 65:11:07
2 Ryder HESJEDAL, Garmin-Barracuda +30
3 Ivan BASSO, Liquigas-Cannondale +1:22
4 Paolo TIRALONGO, Astana +1:26
5 Roman KREUZIGER, Astana +1:27
6 Michele SCARPONI, Lampre-ISD +1:36
7 Benat INTXAUSTI Movistar +1:42
8 Sergio HENAO, Sky +1:55
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