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Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the stage 12 time trial at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday and climbed into the race lead.
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who entered the day with a 57-second advantage over Uran in the GC, lost time throughout the course and now sits second overall at 37 seconds back. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) remains in third, 1:52 behind Uran.
Uran scorched the course, finishing in 57:34 — 1:17 faster than Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), who held the previous best time and seemed poised to win the stage. Evans crossed the line 1:34 behind Uran in third.
“I worked a lot on my time trial, spending time in the wind tunnel over the winter,” Uran said. “Today surpassed my expectations. I cannot believe I won the stage and took the pink jersey. It’s too early to say the race is over. We still have not raced the hardest mountains yet. The most difficult part of the Giro is still to come. My team has given me great support so far.”
Cool temperatures and rain early in the day led to an uncomfortable ride for many in the field. The roads were wet and both braking and control were affected. As riders screamed around the technical turns of the 42-kilometer route from Barbaresco to Barolo, the screech of wet brakes on carbon rims pierced the air.
By the time the top GC men started, the rain had subsided and the road was drier. There were, however, still sections of the road with either standing water along the edge or a thin layer of water in the middle.
Ulissi charged to the lead at the end of his ride, recording a time that was 50 seconds faster than previous leader Thomas De Gendt (Omaga Pharma-Quick Step). Moments later, Evans rolled off the start ramp and began the final ride of the day.
As Uran picked up time at each of the time checks, Evans went the other direction. He nearly slid off the road in the final third of the course when he was heading up a short hill and had to rely on the bike handling skills he acquired as a mountain biker to stay upright.
“Cadel didn’t have the time trial we had hoped. He was on his limit and seemed to have some problems on the wet roads,” said Fabio Baldato, BMC director. “This changes things for us, and now we will have to attack. The Giro is not over. Hats off to Uran, he rode very well today. The big mountains will decide everything.”
Later, when it was clear Evans would lose the pink jersey, he took very aggressive lines at high speed down the final descent, a twisty and tricky route down a narrow road. At one point he went onto the dirt shoulder but managed to bunny hop back onto the pavement.
“As I told you a few days ago, I saw Uran coming into form, but I honestly did not expect him to have such an amazing time trial,” Evans said. “Of course, I had hoped to have done better myself. The time trial course suited me well, but as I said yesterday, the verdict is on the road.”
In the overall standings, Evans is 37 seconds back, with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) in third at 1:52. No other riders are within 2:30 of Uran with nine stages remaining. “My position is good tactically,” Evans said. “I think it is going to be interesting.”
Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who has been suffering with injury and illness, finished 13th on the stage, 2:41 down on Uran, and is now sixth overall, 3:29 back on his compatriot and good friend.
“It was a long time trial, I tried to hang in there as best I could,” Quintana said. “I wasn’t as good as I had hoped, I had some problems with my breathing, not with my legs. I hope to recuperate in the coming days; the hardest days are still to come. We hope we didn’t lose too much time in the time trial. I couldn’t breathe well, it really affected me, and you notice that against your rivals who are in perfect condition. I am taking some antibiotics these days, hope I get through it, and I can be at my best for the decisive days. The idea is to still fight for this Giro.”
Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Shimano) was taken away in an ambulance after a hard crash on the wet road during the big descent in the opening half of the course. After realizing he was coming into a corner too hot, Ludvigsson appeared to try to slow down and go a bit wider through the right turn. But he clipped a barrier along the side of the road and landed in a ditch, his bike coming to rest several feet from him.
Team officials and medical personnel attended to him and TV cameras caught him moving his arms and legs. Later, Giant reported that Ludvigsson was sitting up.
“Following his #Giro TT crash, Tobias is up and on his way to hospital for further checks. More to follow later. Best wishes from all team,” Giant Tweeted.
The race picks up with Friday’s stage 13, which stretches 158km from Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese.