Giro d'Italia
Fabio Aru (Astana) took an emotional win in...

Aru back from the dead, wins Cervinia

With the weight of Italy's expectations on his shoulders, Fabio Aru attacked in the face of a hopeless Giro GC battle to win stage 19

CERVINIA, Italy (VN) — Tears flowed freely for Fabio Aru in the Giro d’Italia on Friday. The Sardinian returned from the dead to win the Cervinia stage and help save his race.

Aru cried, his girlfriend cried, and teammate Dario Cataldo cried at the finish at 6,565 feet with the snow-capped Alps above. The 24-year-old Astana rider redeemed himself after his bid for an overall Giro win took a disastrous turn.

“I still need to learn a lot,” Aru said to Italian television, “but this helps me for the next years.”

Aru slipped from second to third overall in Tuesday’s stage over the Mortirolo to the Aprica Pass and had to give up his hopes of winning the Giro d’Italia.

He will not win the Giro as he had hoped he would when the race began three weeks ago on the Italian Riviera, but he won a stage Friday to add to the one he took in last year’s Giro. At the Cervinia ski resort, three days later after failing on Aprica, he escaped solo from a group with Contador and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin).

Given his broken state Tuesday, it seemed impossible for Aru to pull off such a ride. He tried to explain how he was able to go from the darkest night in Aprica to the sunny day of Cervinia.

“In these last days I was truly tired. I tried just to sleep. I got up in the morning, and I was still tired!” Aru in a press conference later.

“In the race, you just try to feel better kilometer by kilometer. It’s baby steps: looking 50 kilometers or 100 kilometers down the road only. This was a little bit how I did it.”

It was impressive, but perhaps it should not be surprising given that he rides for Astana. The team does not have the overall lead, but everything else: second, third on GC, and a train that keeps on rolling despite the Giro’s difficulties. Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo team, by comparison, struggled when the sprint stages entered the final kilometers.

The Cervinia victory gives Aru the happy ending that he needs as he looks ahead toward the Vuelta a España in August. The overall plan failed, but at least he leaves the Giro on good terms. Instead of that face of pain and suffering seen in Vicenza and in Aprica, he can leave the Giro with a big smile on Sunday.

“Given everything, he’s still 24 years old. The new generation, they are about 27 or 28 years old when they win grand tours,” Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli told VeloNews.

“He still needs to improve. He already showed that he’s going to be the future of stage races, 100 percent. They say he’s young. True, he needs to grow, but this Giro will help him do so.”

On the immediate horizon, he will try to save his second-place overall in the stage over the Colle delle Finestre to the Sestriere ski resort Saturday. Next, he will seek further redemption in the Vuelta a España.