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Giro d'Italia

Omega Pharma boss still riled over Stelvio snafu

For team boss Lefevere, it's not Quintana's strength but the UCI's weakness that matters

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MONTE ZONCOLAN, Italy (VN) — Rigoberto Urán secured his second place overall in Saturday’s 20th stage of the Giro d’Italia, but a bitter taste remains for team Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

“Rigoberto doesn’t talk a lot about the Stelvio incident, but I’m still upset,” team boss Patrick Lefevere told VeloNews. “I’m sure that Nairo Quintana’s the best climber, but I’m very angry with the system and how it worked.”

Urán led the race for four days, but lost it in a controversial moment on the Passo dello Stelvio as Movistar’s Quintana shot clear in a group with Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar), opening a gap on the maglia rosa group.

Giro officials announced near the Stelvio summit that motorcycles with red flags would guide the peloton along at least a portion of the descent, which would be neutralized; But the details were fuzzy, and interpretion varied wildly, and in the confusion, Quintana gained two minutes on the descent and nearly twice that by the finish in Val Martello.

That day, Quintana took the leader’s pink jersey, and he has yet to let go. Up the Panarotta climb Thursday he defended his lead, and in the Monte Grappa time trial on Friday he added to it. On Sunday, the final, flat stage to Trieste, he should win the race overall.

“I’ve spoken very little to Quintana, but I’ll make sure to talk with him tomorrow when the race is finishing in Trieste,” Urán said. “All I can say, though, is congratulations.

“He rode a good time trial yesterday and proved that he’s strong. After the Stelvio, we just had to keep together as a team and keep fighting, but it was going to be hard to beat him.”

Lefevere signed Urán from Sky over the winter in hopes of winning the Giro, and for him, the battle may not end when the race does on Sunday. Quintana has convinced many that he is the strongest man in the race, but for Lefevere, that’s not the issue.

“For sure, Quintana was the strongest in the time trial and he just rode away,” Lefevere said. “I’m not sure, I only got here today, but Urán might have just thought it was over for him after the stage over Stelvio.

“The UCI is the boss in the Giro. It’s like the referee in football, if there’s some snow then he decides if the match goes on or not. In this case, the organizer said it goes on, the flag was up with the motorbike, the riders passed.

“It’d be like if Fernando Alonso passed the safety car in Formula One, he’d be out of the race. They said they didn’t hear [the Giro’s race radio message], it was in three languages and there were the flags. What more do you want?”