Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), attacking from an escape, conquered the Giro d’Italia’s Galibier stage in a snowstorm today.
“I’ve sacrificed myself for a year and a half, abandoned the Giro last year – it wasn’t easy,” Visconti said in live TV, breaking into tears. “I let it all out today, thinking of my family, my baby.”
Over the winter, Visconti served a back-dated ban and fine for working with known doping doctor, Michele Ferrari.
Visconti escaped today with a group just over 80 kilometres out on the Col du Mont Cenis leading into France. Snow banks lined the climb, but it was nothing close to what was to come.
In the last 24 hours, organiser RCS Sport went back and fourth over what to do with the stage. Bad weather and snow forced RCS Sport to cut Sestrière from the stage to Jafferau yesterday. It believed it might have to cut Cenis and bus the riders to France, or even cancel the entire Galibier stage.
Instead, authorities gave the OK to race Cenis and workers cleared the final kilometres of Galibier to Les Granges at 2301 metres, just four kilometres short of the pass at 2642 meters.
Visconti attacked free at 23 kilometres out on the Col du Télégraphe. The sun was out, but down in Valloire at the base of Galibier’s northern run the weather was changing. The rain in Valloire quickly turned to snow when the Sicilian began climbing up Galibier.
“It was incredible, but I just kept on pushing,” Visconti added. “It seemed impossible to try to win in conditions like this, but it worked.”
The snowfall became thicker towards Le Granges du Galibier and the favourites began to move. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) attacked. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) followed and tried a move of his own.
“The conditions were truly extreme out there today,” Nibali said. “I tired to make some selection, but it was hard because it was cold.”
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) escaped with best young rider, Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff). He placed second and nabbed the 12-second bonus to claim the white jersey from Majka.
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Photos by Graham Watson