Einer Rubio wins shortened stage 13 – Giro d’Italia

Giro d’Italia 2023

Stage 13

Einer Rubio (Movistar) claimed the victory on a severely shortened stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia to Crans-Montana, breaking the hearts of Thibaut Pinot fans as the Groupama-FDJ rider fell victim to feigned fatigue from the Colombian and EF-Easypost’s Alexander Cepeda.

Pinot, denied another opportunity to win a Grand Tour stage before he ends his career, came through a demoralized second but gained the mountains classification jersey. Cepeda, having opened up the sprint too early, finished in third. Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech), who’d been dropped from the breakaway, was next to finish in fourth.

“Finally, my big day. I was looking for it, I worked really hard for this,” Rubio said. “I really wanted to prepare for this Giro. I had problems the other day because of the weather, it was really hard. I knew I couldn’t give up, I wanted to keep looking for opportunities. Thankfully my dream came true today.”

The three were part of a five-rider move that went clear on the Croix de Coeur, the first climb of the truncated stage which was cut to only 74.6 kilometres due to weather conditions on the descent from the Grand St. Bernard.

Pinot, Cepeda and Rubio distanced their breakaway companions on the final climb, but Pinot and Cepeda bickered almost the entire way up as the EF-EasyPost rider at times refused to pull, then attacked only to be caught by Pinot and chastised again.

The Frenchman was unable to break his companions and had nothing left at the finish, but Rubio, flying under the radar of Pinot’s scrutiny, was able to take advantage of the distraction.

“I knew that Pinot was really strong, Cepeda as well,” Rubio said. “I had to let them play their games, and that was the strategy.”

Most of the action in the maglia rosa group was out the back, with Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) the main victim as he was distanced from the group of race leaders halfway up the climb.

Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Easypost) attacked with 5km to go and gained six seconds, coming across in sixth behind Valentin Paret-Peintre in sight of João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AlUla) and the race leader Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers).

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) finished at the same time as Thomas to keep the general classification at status quo.

Thibaut Pinot leads the breakaway.

“I think the shorter days are more intense – the way we started up that climb was super tough. Then the final climb was quite a headwind most of the time. That may have put a few of the guys off attacking. I’m happy to keep the jersey,” Thomas said.

“I think the wind put people off, but with Roglič, he’s happy to wait til the final week. He’s happy to leave me in the jersey and do all this, and he can go to the bus and chill and not have his team control the race. He’s looking good, also Almeida – a lot of the guys are looking strong. I think it’s building to a big crescendo next week.”

Bad weather on the descent from the Grand St Bernard led organisers to shorten an already truncated stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia. Earlier in the week, heavy snow on the summit forced the removal of part of the climb, and on the day, teams instead drove to the other side of the climb, and the race started at the base of the Croix de Coeur.

Karel Vacek (Corratec-Selle Italia) started the hostilities as the flag dropped for the severely shortened stage and had mountains classification leader Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa) straight on his wheel. Not a minute after his acceleration, Vacek’s chain snapped, and it was game over for this early move.

Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) and Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan) started to push the pace, sending most of the sprinters straight out the back. Alex Cepeda (EF Education-EasyPost) countered the surge and stayed out front for a few kilometres until Groupama-FDJ reeled him in.

Cepeda pressed on again and, chased by Israel-Premier Tech’s Derek Gee and Matthew Riccitello, Bruno Armirail and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën) and Einer Rubio (Movistar), formed the day’s breakaway as the race headed into a rain shower.

Rubio led over the intermediate sprint in Verbier less than halfway up the mountain before Armirail lost contact. Behind, Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) and Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) were in trouble in the pink jersey group one minute behind the leaders.

Pinot surged to reduce the lead group, and only Gee, Cepeda and Rubio could hang on. Behind, Bahrain Victorious moved ahead of Ineos to slow the pace and allow Haig to return, and the slowing allowed riders in the peloton and the breakaway to don rain jackets.

Pinot led over the summit 1:46 ahead of the maglia rosa group, gaining 40 points toward the mountains classification, with Rubio, Gee and Cepeda following behind. Paret-Peintre, Ritticello and Armirail stayed ahead of the maglia rosa group, led by Laurens De Plus (Ineos), who closed out the point tally for the Croix de Coeur.

While the road across the summit was wet from melting snow, the first part of the descent was a mere trough through the snow pack, and riders had to take great caution on the wet, narrow, dirt and gravel-strewn descent. The caution allowed Paret-Peintre to rejoin after finally making it past the motorbikes. The AG2R rider took risks to get through the leading quartet, then pass them and surge ahead just before the road widened and was in much better condition.

Pink Jersey wearer Geraint Thomas crosses the finish line with his rivals close behind.

Because of the caution taken by the maglia rosa group, the leaders’ gap was out to 3:13 when Paret-Peintre was rejoined by the four chasers with 47km to go, halfway through the descent and on far nicer, dry roads past the ski stations.

The rain jackets came off in the valley before the breakaway headed up the Crans-Montana climb with 2:53 on the maglia rosa group. Pinot attacked first with 12km to go, Cepeda fighting to get on his wheel as the chasers kept a more steady pace.

With 10km to go for the breakaways, Primož Roglič had to stop with a mechanical and take his teammate’s bike. Up ahead, Cepeda played too much cat-and-mouse, and Pinot demanded he work or they all get caught. This allowed Rubio and Gee to come back to the lead group.

Soon, Gee would fall behind as the road kicked up, and Pinot saw his chance to attack with 7.8km to go, but his solo move only lasted a kilometre before Cepeda and Rubio clawed their way back to him. Behind, Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) was trying to bridge the 3:10 gap. Haig, who had made it back on, was then dropped for good.

Before the 5km to go mark, Hugh Carthy attacked to try to get across to his teammate in the breakaway, but Cepeda also attacked at the same time, angering Pinot for feigning weakness. Although Cepeda briefly got away, a furious Pinot made it across just as Carthy reached Fortunato.

Rubio scrambled back to Pinot and Cepeda as Ineos kept clawing away at Carthy’s think 20-second advantage, setting up an action-packed final kilometre.

As the road levelled off, Caruso attacked, passing Fortunato and going after Carthy. Pinot tightened his shoes in preparation for the final sprint. Cepeda launched first, with Rubio closing down his lead and denying Pinot a Grand Tour stage win in his final year.

The riders return to Italy in tomorrow’s 14th stage of the Giro. They clip into their pedals in Sierre, Switzerland, to finish in Cassano Magnago after 194 kilometres of racing with 1,600 metres of climbing. Virtual all vertical action takes place on the Simplon Pass, which is crested at kilometre 56.

It would have been a typical stage for the sprinters, if not for that huge climb in the first part. The Simplon Pass does not fit that profile at all. The 20.2 kilometres at 6.5% seems totally out of place. Some minor hurdles here and there, but the route is a sprinter’s dream. Were it not for the obstacle that looms large after 36 kilometres: the Simplon Pass.

After descending the pass the riders have still 100 kilometres on the flat ahead of them. There’s one small climb remaining in Quinzano San Pietro – 1 kilometre at 6.1%, with 16 kilometres left – and a false flat inside the last 10 kilometres, but that’s it. So when the sprinters make it back to the peloton after the Simplon Pass nothing stands in the way of a fast finishers showdown in Cassano Magnago.

Stage 13 result:

  1. Einer Rubio (Col) Movistar, in 2:16:21
  2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ), at 0:06
  3. Alexander Cepeda (Eca) EF Education-EasyPost, at 0:12
  4. Derek Gee (Can) Israel-Premier Tech, at 1:01
  5. Valentin Paret-Paintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team, at 1:29
  6. Hugh Carthy (GBR) EF Education-EasyPost, at s.t.
  7. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1:35
  8. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Jayco-AlUla
  9. Geraint Thomas (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers
  10. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma), all at s.t.

General Classification:

  1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 51-20-01
  2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 2s
  3. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 22s
  4. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM, at 42s
  5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 1-28
  6. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-52
  7. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Jayco AlUla, in 2-32
  8. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at 2-45
  9. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers, at 3-08
  10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 3-13


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