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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: Movistar left stunned after difficult day in Turin

Alejandro Valverde loses almost eight minutes on GC rivals after suffering a puncture on the Superga descent.

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BELVEDERE, Italy (VN) — Movistar was left stunned at the Giro d’Italia after its GC challenge took a major hit during a frantic stage 14 around Turin.

After some fairly aggressive racing already this week, Movistar sport director Max Sciandri was anticipating a brutal day on the bike in Turin, but he didn’t anticipate it would hit his team so hard.

Alejandro Valverde is the team’s best place rider in the overall classification, but he lost almost eight minutes to most of the Giro’s top 10. Thanks to some other riders around him also losing time, Valverde is still in 10th overall but he’s now at 9:06 behind the pink jersey.

“I have this kind of shock. I said today in the meeting that it would be the hardest day in the Giro, and I think it will have been the hardest day in the Giro,” Sciandri told VeloNews. “We’re going to go into the mountains from [Sunday] on but on whatever mountain you’re going to be on, you climb for 10 or 20 K, but stuff like this is pretty rare.

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“I know Torino, I know the descents around here. I didn’t know the second climb, the Colle della Maddalena, but I had a peek at them through the internet and it’s just going to be full-on racing. With the heat today and after almost two weeks of full-on racing and the speed they’ve been going at.”

Valverde’s troubles began with a puncture on the descent of the Superga with a little over 60 kilometers to go. The pace had already been extremely high for around 25km and the main group of favorites was quickly dwindling.

The Spaniard tried to ride on his puncture for a short while, but his rim broke under the strain and he had to take José Joaquin Rojas’ bike so that he could continue. He eventually got back on his own bike but the issues meant he was caught out as the lead group diminished ever further.

“We, unfortunately, had a flat for Alejandro at the worst moment. He had to do a bike change and go on the bike of his teammate and then change bike again. We missed out on the move,” Sciandri explained. “If it had happened on a climb, it would have been ok but on the descent, it was the hardest moment.

“I think he had a flat and he was riding on the flat and then the rim broke, and he had to get on Rojas’ bike, and he had to ride on Rojas’ bike for some time because I was full gas on the descent. Then I had to change Rojas’ bike and then try to get to Valverde, so it was a bit complicated.”

Valverde made his final bike change from a team car that was parked on the side of the road, ahead of the bunch. Bike changes should be done from the back of the group and Filippo Ganna was expelled from the Tour de la Provence earlier this year for making a bike change near the front of the bunch.

However, Valverde is at no risk of expulsion from the Giro d’Italia for his bike change. Ganna’s main issue was that his bike change had been made at a pre-determined place. Sciandri said that the way the change was made was necessary due to the chaos of the racing and the technicality of the circuit.

“They called up car number eight and it takes me ages to get there so he jumped on another bike. At that moment, it was splitting up. When we get down to this stretch here then we had a bit of time already, then he had to do another change with car two and get on his bike. With car two he stopped, and we gave him his third bike,” he said.

Despite shedding a lot of time to most of the GC contenders, Movistar is still hopeful of securing a solid result in the overall classification as well as a stage victory before the race is over.

“We’re still going to look for the stage and look for the GC place, why not he’s still 10th overall. There’s still a hard week to come, as well as Sunday’s stage, there’s still tonnes of this race to come,” he said.