Jouaquin Rodriguez of Katusha is the new leader of the Giro d'Italia after prevailing on a very tough final climb in Assisi to take victory from Bartosz Huzarski of NetApp and Giovanni Visconti of Movistar. This morning's race leader, Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Barracuda, was in the group contesting the finale, crossing the line several seconds after Rodriguez, but the 20 bonus seconds the Spaniard gains for his victory is enough to put him into the maglia rosa.
The Spaniard, nicknamed ‘Purito’ after mimicking smoking a cigar on a training climb as a young pro to show his team mates how easy he was finding it, was the favourite to win today’s stage, having demonstrated his form on this type of explosive finish when winning the Fleche Wallonne last month.
Rodriguez hits the top of the climb (Gian Mattia D'Alberto - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
On his 33rd birthday on Saturday, Rodriguez had to be content with fourth place as Paolo Tiralongo of Astana took the stage win from Michele Scarponi, but he gave himself a late present today, timing his attack to perfection on a sharp ascent through the narrow streets of Assisi, reminiscent of the finale of the Strade Bianche in Siena.
A belated birthday present for Rodriguez (Gian Mattia D'Alberto - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
As the roads narrowed in the final five kilometres of today’s stage with the peloton heading towards the Umbrian hilltop town and birthplace of St Francis – the finish was in the shadow of the basilica that bears his name – Liquigas Cannondale were prominent at the front, riders strung out way back along the road behind them.
On the first of the two short but tough climbs heading towards the line, the main overall contenders were swarming all over the front of the race, maglia rosa Hesjedal, by now isolated from his Garmin Barracuda team mates, trying desperately to keep tabs on Rodriguez, who was lying just nine seconds behind him in the general classification.
Hesjedal in front group ahead of the finale (Pool Bettini - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Tom Slagter of Rabobank tried to get away on that penultimate climb, but it was Team Sky’s Rigoberto Uran and AG2R’s John Gadret who led the race down to the foot of the last short but sharp ascent.
Hitting that last climb, Katusha’s Daniel Moreno moved to the front, working for his team leader, and although other riders including Tiralongo and in particular Slagter chanced their arm, it was Rodriguez who burst to the front in the final part of the ascent, Huzarski trying to go with him but having to be content with second place – although that will no doubt be cause for celebration for his NetApp team, awarded a wild card entry to the race.
Rodriguez on Moreno's wheel (Pool Bettini - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Within 10 kilometres of the start of the stage on the Tyrrhenian coast, five riders got away from the peloton, including Martijn Keiser of Vacansoleil-DCM, who had slipped into yesterday’s break, and Euskaltel’s Miguel Minguez, involved in a break on Sunday. Joining them were Francesco Failli of Farnese Vini, NetApp’s Matthias Brandle, and Guillaume Bonnafond of AG2R.
Five men in the day's break (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
With 30 kilometres left, Brandle and Kaizer were dropped by their fellow escapees, the peloton just half a minute behind, but the pair were then joined by Rabobank’s Stef Clement who had attacked from the bunch and bridged across.
The Dutchman's fresh legs helped them reach back to the three in front with 25km left to ride, the group of six now a minute ahead of the peloton. It would be a brief swansong for the breakaway riders, however, as they were unceremoniously swept up with around 8 kilometres to go.
My other tractor's a Lamborghini... (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Before that, with the five original members of break still together as they passed the intermediate sprint at the exact halfway point of today’s 186km stage from Civitavecchia, Kaizer took maximum points as he had done yesterday.
That meant there was only one point on offer for the peloton, a little over four minutes back at that stage, and world champion Mark Cavendish, who had closed the gap over points classification leader Matt Goss of Orica-GreenEdge yesterday by crossing the line fourth in the intermediate sprint, led the main group across unopposed.
Cavendish a point closer to Goss (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
While any hopes the Team Sky rider had of getting into the red jersey yesterday were scuppered by his being brought down in yesterday’s crash at the end of the stage, which also involved Goss, there’s a good chance he can do so tomorrow, with Stage 11 predicted to end in a sprint.
That finish, in Montecatini, will be on roads familiar to Cavendish – it’s just a few kilometres form his Italian base in Quarrata, and on roads that team mates Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh and Ian Stannard also know well from their time at the British Cycling Olympic Academy there.
The rider who accepted responsibility for causing that crash on a hairpin bend 300 metres from the finish in Frosinone yesterday, former Italian champion Pippo Pozzato of Farnese Vini, did not start today after an x-ray revealed that he had fractured his wrist in the incident, although he seemed in good spirits as he gave interviews at the start.
Pippo Pozzato (Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Times Square comes to Civitavecchia (Daniele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Giro d'Italia Stage 10 result 1 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin KAT 04:25:05 2 HUZARSKI Bartosz APP 00:02 3 VISCONTI Giovanni MOV 4 POZZOVIVO Domenico COG 00:06 5 GADRET John ALM 6 HESJEDAL Ryder GRM 7 SLAGTER Tom Jelte RAB 8 CATALDO Dario OPQ 9 KREUZIGER Roman AST 10 URAN Rigoberto SKY 11 BRAMBILLA Gianluca COG 12 INTXAUSTI Benat MOV 13 HENAO Sergio Luis SKY 14 TIRALONGO Paolo ITA 15 BASSO Ivan LIQ 16 DUPONT Hubert ALM 17 SCARPONI Michele LAM 18 CAPECCHI Eros LIQ 19 CARUSO Damiano LIQ 20 NIEVE ITURALDE Mikel EUS Overall Standings after Stage 10 1 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin KAT 40:27:34 2 HESJEDAL Ryder GRM 00:17 3 TIRALONGO Paolo AST 00:32 4 KREUZIGER Roman AST 00:52 5 INTXAUSTI Benat MOV 00:52 6 BASSO Ivan LIQ 00:57 7 CARUSO Damiano LIQ 01:02 8 CATALDO Dario OPQ 01:03 9 CAPECCHI Eros LIQ 01:09 10 URAN Rigoberto SKY 01:10
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.