Dario Cataldo produced a Giro d'Italia highlight for Team Sky on stage 16 as he claimed the Cima Coppi prize for being the first rider over the 2758m high Stelvio. The 29-year-old came close to victory on stage 14, narrowly losing a sprint against Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF), but proved he was over the disappointment by bouncing back to win the prize for the first rider over the highest peak in this years Giro.
Cataldo had made his way into a 10-man lead group early in the stage but counter-attacked when the catch was being made and soloed to the top of the Stelvio. With miscommunication over the descent being neutralised, Cataldo powered down the Stelvio and had built a lead of 1:35 minutes over the chasers when he started the climb to the finish at Val Martello.
The eight-riders in hot pursuit of Cataldo soon splintered when Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked and then caught the Team Sky rider with 17km left to race.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) bridged across to the leading duo while Sebastian Henao then took up the reigns for Sky to finish eight on the stage and confirm that Colombia is a hot bed for young exciting climbing talent. Cataldo rolled over the line in 17th place.
Sports Director Dario Cioni was full of praise for the rides by Cataldo and Henao in the treacherous conditions.
"Our guys got stuck into it today and no-one really struggled out there," Cioni said. "We had a lot of personnel on the side of the road giving out warm clothes and drinks and things. That allowed us to be active and Dario put in a really brave ride.
"He was a bit unlucky that there had been the split in the GC group because it meant Quintana, Rolland and Hesjedal went 100% until the end. Otherwise he might have stayed away. Even so, he can be really proud of his performance today, as can [Ben] Swifty, Philip [Deignan] and Sebastian.
"Sebasitan did really well to be part of a really select group on the third and final climb, and I'm sure he will remember this day for many years to come.
It was day for Colombian’s as Quintana wrested the maglia rosa off Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to take a commanding lead in the Giro with four stages left but for Cioni, Henao's ride was a sign of his climbing talent in his first grand tour.
"It's one of the first times he's ever been up there with the big guys and that will give him a big boost in confidence moving forwards. He's still only 20-years-old and has a big future ahead of him."
There was another rider added to Sky's casulty list though as Edvald Boasson Hagen didn't start the start due to several injuries on the advice of the team doctor.
"I'm sad to be leaving the race but I couldn't risk my injuries getting worse and affecting my longer-term fitness," Boasson Hagen said. "I'm going to rest up now but I'll be back in training as soon as possible and am looking forward to competing again already."
"Edvald is bitterly disappointed but realises this is the best course of action," Team Doctor Steve Baynes said. "Some enforced time off the bike will allow him to make a full recovery before he begins competing again in due course."
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