Apart from the expected final effort of stage winner and new race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the uphill finish to Assisi, the man who impressed in stage 10 of the Giro d'Italia was Tom Jelte Slagter (Rabobank). His effort at the front on the final climb was the sort of effort often put forth by Rodriguez.
One year ago, in the Giro d'Italia in the same region of Umbria, Italy, just after a section of strade bianche gravelled roads and just prior to the end of stage 5 in Orvieto, the Dutchman Slagter quit his first Grand Tour. He had crashed in a spectacular manner after colliding with a team staff member on the roadside. It was a frightening incident, coming so soon after Wouter Weylandt had passed away earlier in the Giro.
Slagter made a comeback later in the 2011 season to ride the Vuelta a España in the role of a domestique for points classification winner Bauke Mollema, who finished fourth overall in Madrid.
Back in the Umbria region in central Italy on Tuesday, Slagter found a terrain that suits his characteristics, including a steep and narrow uphill finish into Assisi.
"I first attacked with 3km to go," Slagter told Cyclingnews. "But that was only to test the legs. [Michele] Scarponi jumped behind me, so I realized that the big guns didn't want to let me go. Before the downhill, I tried again and I created a small gap. Unfortunately, [Daniel] Moreno brought [Joaquim] Rodriguez back."
"At the entrance to the sharp corner, Rodriguez was on my wheel. It meant it was over for me. I did a perfect lead-out for Rodriguez. It's too bad that he's not in the same team as me!"
The 22-year-old Slagter, who finished fourth in the 2010 Tour de l'Avenir, joined Rabobank after proving his talent in Flèche Wallonne-type finales. A small rider with great explosivity, he is a sort of Joaquim Rodriguez in the making.
"In the future, I want to beat Purito, not lead him out anymore," Slagter said. "I'm not too far behind him. I want to develop in that sector in the coming years. I've showed today what I'm good at."
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