Some older Italian riders are still in the picture at the Giro d’Italia as Stefano Garzelli (Acqua&Sapone) spent the day away before being caught on the final hill of Gardeccia by eventual stage 15 winner Mikel Nieve, while Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) was active in the hunt for the runner-up position behind Alberto Contador.
“Contador is definitely the strongest because he keeps gaining time on all of his rivals,” Scarponi commented afterwards. “Today’s stage lasted an eternity. Every climb we did looked harder than the previous one. In the past few stages, I was quite far behind Alberto, today I was almost with him at the finish. I’ll try to stay as close as I can from here until Milan.”
The Lampre-ISD rider dismissed the idea that Contador was getting particularly tired. “He’s still in front of us,” Scarponi said. “For sure the Giro isn’t easy for him either. I’ve tried to put him in difficulty and I’ll try again. I’ve suffered the hot weather for the first part of the Giro, now I’m getting better with the cold in the mountains and I’m still determined to fight.”
While Scarponi entered into action on the final climbs of the day, Garzelli moved to the front right from the beginning of the race, as the riders didn’t take it easy at all despite the toughness and the length of stage 15.
“I wanted to be at the front badly,” Garzelli explained. “This was the most important stage of the Giro. I tried to attack from distance. Unfortunately, in the end, I found someone who was stronger than me. My main satisfaction comes from the green jersey (of king of the mountains) that I got today. I’ll do my best to keep it until Milan.”
The winner of the 2000 Giro d’Italia, who is now the oldest rider in the race after the abandon of Andrea Noè, didn’t hide that he lost time on purpose in the previous stages to get more freedom for an attempt at a stage victory.
“I forgot about GC when I lacked energy on Etna,” Garzelli said. “On the Zoncolan, I finished sixteen minutes behind in order to save energy for today. If it didn’t work today, I had it in mind to spare more energy for Tuesday’s uphill time trial but after what I’ve done in that long stage, it will be difficult to repeat my win from last year in the cronoscalata.”