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An exhausted Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) at the finish line in Ivrea
Vini Fantini leader defiant despite slipping to sixth overall
Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) had a bad day during the long stage to Ivrea, cracking on the final climb and losing 2:10 to his rivals in the top ten. Yet he remained defiant and upbeat about his Giro d'Italia, promising to bounce back in the final mountain stages.
The Italian had been one of the revelations of this year's Giro d'Italia. He won the stage in the cold and snow to Bardonecchia on Saturday and today began stage 16 in fourth overall, just one second behind Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) and a possible place on the final podium.
Now he has slipped to sixth overall, 4:57 behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) after a difficult day.
"He had the classic bad day after the rest day," Vini Fantini directeur sportif Luca Scinto explained to Cyclingnews in Ivrea, ready to take part of the blame.
"I also made a mistake. I sent Danilo Di Luca in the break but perhaps it would have been better if he'd stayed with Santambrogio. Fortunately Oscar Gatto did a great ride. He got back on after the climb and then gave it everything, risking his neck on the descent for the good of the team. Without him the gap would have been four minutes and Santa would be out of the top ten."
"A bad day can happen to anyone. Santa probably felt the pressure. He'd never expected to be close to the podium. Now we've got to work on his morale and pick him back up. The Giro is not over, by a long way."
After taking a shower on the Vini Fantini team bus in the car park after the finish line, Santambrogio was also defiant.
"A lot of people had predicted that I'd have a bad day and now they'll be happy," he told Cyclingnews while nibbling on a rice cake.
"I'm going to take it on the chin. Tomorrow is another day, another stage and we start all over again 'tranquilli and sereni'. I can't complain about how my Giro has gone. It's been great until today. Now I'll take things day by day and give it everything, without losing my self control. That's all I can do."
Santambrogio refuted Scinto's 'mea culpa', suggesting that a bad day can happen to anyone.
"It's not anybody's fault, especially not Luca's," he said.
"During a three week Grand Tour it can happen. It's happened to Wiggins, to Scarponi and to other riders, even in this Giro d'Italia. We'll see what happens in the rest of the race. My race is not over."