The final act in 10 days of drama at the Baby Giro was to be a hilly time trial, finishing at the top of the 18% slopes of Ca’ del Poggio, near Conegliano. The ‘pursuit’ nature of the race has been well documented – the top 15 overall would ride in order, spaced according to their time gaps – meaning that the first of these riders to cross the line would be the final overall race winner. The format offered drama, which after the previous 9 days now seemed unnecessary as every stage (and particularly the unexpected ones) had included plenty of it.
Outside the final 15 starters was World under-23 Time Trial Champion Mikkel Bjerg (Hagens Berman Axeon), whose victory in Bergen had come on a hilly course and who is a threat in any time trial. Long-time leader Stefan de Bod (Dimension Data Continental) vacated the hot seat at the finish when Bjerg had finished his ride, the Dane taking the lead by 28 seconds from de Bod.
A pause in the race preceded the final 15 starters, and at 17:05 the maglia rosa Aleksandr Vlasov (Russia National Team) left the start-gate, followed 15 seconds later by Mark Donovan (Team Wiggins).
Vlasov, 10th in the time-trial at last year’s Baby Giro, was never under threat from Donovan or next starter Stevie Williams (SEG Racing Academy). Indeed, both Williams and Donovan – both on road bikes with deep section rims and clip-on tri-bars – rode disappointing time trials to place 12th and 14th respectively, 2 minutes off the pace. When Vlasov rounded the final right-hand bend on the steep slopes of the Ca’ del Poggio vineyards, roared on by a large crowd, he knew overall victory was his.
The effects of the morning’s crash were felt most acutely by Joao Almeida (Hagens Berman Axeon), who had lost 50 seconds in the overall classification earlier in the day. Riding a storming time trial to place second on the stage, the winner of U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege ended up second overall. At only 46 seconds behind Vlasov in the general classification, the crash clearly denied him a shot at overall victory, although Vlasov may have found more in the last few metres if Almeida had been close behind him.
A bigger surprise was the performance of Rob Stannard (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) whose time of 29:25 was fastest of the day, 11 seconds ahead of Almeida on the stage and 31 ahead of Bjerg. The Austalian’s ride was enough to move him up to 3rd in the overall standings, a result wholly unexpected after he had lost 3 minutes on the first high mountain stage.
1. Robert Stannard (AUS, Mitchelton-BikeExchange) 22,4 km in 29’25” alla media di 45,688 km/h
2. Joao Almeida (POR, Hagens Berman Axeon) a 11″
3. Mikkel Bjerg (DEN, Hagens Berman Axeon) a 31″
4. Stefan Jaco De Bod (RSA, Dimension Data for Qhubeka) a 59″
5. Edoardo Affini (ITA, SEG Racing Academy) a 1’07”
6. Matteo Sobrero (ITA, Dimension Data for Qhubeka) a 1’08”
7. Alexander Vlasov (RUS, Nazionale Russa) a 1’13”
8. Sean Bennett (USA, Hagens Berman Axeon) a 1’19”
9. Alessandro Covi (ITA, Team Colpack) a 1’42”
10. Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (COL, Nazionale Colombia) a 1’52”
In the final reckoning, after 10 days of racing from the Adriatic Coast to the Dolomites, it was the Russian National Team’s Aleksandr Vlasov who stood on top of the podium. Never spectacular in his results, Vlasov was consistently in the right place and managed to avoid the crashes which hampered his rivals.
1. Alexander Vlasov (RUS, Nazionale Russa) 1197,2 km in 29h57’42” alla media di 39,953 km/h
2. Joao Almeida (POR, Hagens Berman Axeon) a 46″
3. Robert Stannard (AUS, Mitchelton-BikeExchange) a 52″
4. Mark Donovan (GBR, Team Wiggins) a 1’03”
5. Stephen Williams (GBR, SEG Racing Academy) a 1’56”
6. Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (COL, Nazionale Colombia) a 1’57”
7. Cristian Muñoz Lancheros (COL, Nazionale Colombia) a 3’22”
8. Alessandro Covi (ITA, Team Colpack) a 6’28”
9. Michel Ries (LUX, Polartec-Kometa) a 6’32”
10. Yuriy Natarov (KAZ, Team Astana City) a 6’35”
Maglia Rossa Vodafone – Points Classification: Robert STANNARD (AUS, Mitchelton-BikeExchange)
Maglia Verde Friliver® Sport – King of the Mountains: Edoardo Francesco FARESIN (ITA, Zalf Euromobil Désirée Fior)
Maglia Bianca Pirelli – Best Young Rider: Joao ALMEIDA (POR, Hagens Berman Axeon)
Maglia Azzurra GLS – Intergiro: Michele CORRADINI (ITA, Mastromarco Sensi Nibali)
Maglia Nera Pinarello – Last in the General Classification: Gianmarco BEGNONI (ITA, Viris Vigevano Lomellina)
Team – Russia National Team