Three days after Beñat Intxausti was forced to hand over his mountains jersey to Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Giovanni Visconti ensured that it returned to the Movistar team with his attack on stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia. Visconti had been hoping for the stage victory but he was thwarted by a chase from Astana. However, he found some consolation in the blue jersey.
“This jersey is sort of a small compensation for me,” said Visconti. “Well, probably not a small one since taking the maglia azzurra at the end of the Giro means a lot, it takes a lot of effort away from you and requires you to climb at the front on many mountains. I’ve got to look towards this prize as I’ve done during the last few years: with optimism.”
Visconti got away on stage 19 as part of a break that escaped after two hours of racing, the Italian still looking to add to the two stage victories he took in 2013. Visconti broke free of his companions near the base of the Col Saint-Panteleon, building a two-minute gap on the race favourites by the time he reached the top. However, any chance at victory disappeared when he was brought back on the final climb of the day.
Visconti was pragmatic about missing out: “Today’s stage was terribly hard. The winds were really gusty; when I was climbing with the mountain on the left-hand side and it blew on my face, the suffering was immense,” he explained.
“I think I managed my energy well to keep the advantage alive over those two climbs, but as it usually happens, I wasn’t fortunate enough to escape on the day I should have done. Astana decided to ride this way, and one might criticize them or not, but they were right on riding like they did, as their stage win proves.”
Visconti has been aggressive throughout the Giro d’Italia but the closest he’s come to victory was fourth on stage four to La Spezia. After yesterday’s stage he sits in 16th overall at just over 34 minutes behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Visconti believes that he’s just far enough away from the overall leaders to be given some freedom.
“To be honest, I don’t think that ‘contesting’ the GC might have made things harder for me to chase the stage wins. If you think about it, I got into three breaks and GC-wise, even though I was into the top guys, I was quite a long way behind,” he said. “There was no ‘stop’ signal to me from the real leaders if I decided to get into the breakaway, it was all up to myself. I took my biggest efforts into two important stages, Madonna di Campiglio and this one, and though I wasn’t really lucky, I had the legs.”
Going into the final stage Visconti leads Kruijswijk by 16 points but with 25 available he will have to fight to defend the jersey. Will he go on the attack again? “Let’s see how much energy remains in my body when we wake up; it was a very demanding day,” he said.