Grand Tours are traditionally decided in the mountains, where the greatest advantages can be gained, and the most crippling losses sustained. Further signs of what might develop into a Titanic struggle between the two men at the sharp end of the general classification of the 2014 Giro d’Italia were made visible today.
When Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) found the strength to sprint to the finish line at the end of an 11.5km climb to the summit finish at Oropa, the shattered visage of race leader, Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), spoke volumes.
It is unlikely that a campaigner as experienced as Uran believed that he had won the race with his astonishing victory in the stage 12 time trial, but any hope among his fanatical Colombian support that his performance against the clock had built a sufficient advantage to see him through the mountains was extinguished today.
Evans’ five-second reward is not of itself race-changing, but the Australian showed again why he can already count the biggest prizes in the sport among his achievements. That a former world champion and Tour winner can remain so hungry for victory at 37 speaks volumes about the man.
The stage was claimed by Enrico Battaglin in a second consecutive triumph for Italian Pro Continental team, Bardiani, and, by extension, for Italian cycling. Half of the first 10 finishers on the toughest stage to date of this 97th corsa rosa hail from Belle Italia. By coincidence, so does our photographer. Enjoy this gallery of striking images from Stefano Sirotti.