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The always-unpredictable Giro dealt a pair of wildcards on Tuesday, as an unassuming breakaway took a flat, sprinter-friendly stage 10, and Richie Porte (Sky) lost time to GC rivals.
Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) kept his powder dry as Cannondale-Garmin’s Alan Marangoni launched a late attack, just before the final kilometer.
After the final left-hand bend, Boem jumped, closed the gap to Marangoni, and sprinted to win ahead of Matteo Busato (Southeast) and Alessandro Malaguti (Nippo-Vini Fantini).
“I’m really, really happy,” the winner said. “I really, really wanted to take home a result at this Giro. Of course it was unexpected today. But with 20 kilometers to go we had a really good advantage, and of course everyone worked together.
“Alan [Marangoni] went, and of course, I knew I couldn’t let him go. I couldn’t let the opportunity go.”
Porte lost 47 seconds, despite a desperate chase, and is now 1:09 behind Contador, fourth-place overall.
“Easy? No? There’s never an easy day,” Contador said. “Of course, even in Richie Porte’s case, anything is possible. I’ve had my bad moment; Richie’s had his bad moment today.”
Mikel Landa (Astana) is now in third overall, 46 seconds behind Contador. Landa’s Astana teammate, Fabio Aru, remains in second place after the 177.9km stage from Civitanova Marche to Forli.
The early breakaway included Boem, Marangoni, Busato, Malaguti, and Oscar Gatto (Androni-Sidermec).
Just outside of 10km to go, Gatto sat up and drifted back to the field, apparently with a mechanical. The break’s advantage had been shaved down to just under 1:30.
Lotto-Soudal rallied its riders to drive the pace on behalf of André Greipel, but it was the only sprint team working at the front.
On the fast run-in to the finish, Porte had a mechanical problem — reportedly a flat tire — and was distanced by the field. Orica-GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke, a fellow Australian, gave Porte a wheel so the Sky leader could restart as quickly as possible. Four of his Sky teammates dropped behind to pace him back. Last week, VeloNews reported that Sky was testing different tires during the Giro.
Ahead, the break had only a one-minute gap with five kilometers remaining.
The five Sky riders continued their desperate chase behind, aided by one Orica-GreenEdge rider who was also off the back. With two kilometers left, they faced a gap of about 35 seconds to the peloton.
Marangoni attacked the break just before final kilometer, and at first, he seemed to have dealt the coup de grace.
The three chasers weren’t far behind, but they were disorganized.
However, the final straight to the line was heartbreakingly long, and Marangoni could not hold his advantage. He was caught in the final few hundred meters by Boem.
On Wednesday, the Giro faces a hilly, 153km stage from Forlì to Imola, which looks to favor a rider like Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews.