Giro d'Italia - Gadret gallops to Giro stage 11 win
Wed, 18 May 16:16:00 2011
France's John Gadret launched a late attack in the closing kilometre of stage 11 in the Giro d'Italia to take the biggest win of his career in Castelfidardo.
The AG2R climber took advantage of an uphill finish to break clear of the peloton and sweep up escapee Daniel Moreno (Katusha) with around 200m to spare of the undulating 144km stage through the foothills of the Central Apennines.
Spain's Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) finished in fifth place to retain his leader's pink jersey ahead of the flat stage 12 to Ravenna on Thursday.
Gadret's win under the blue skies and hot sun of central Italy was the first Grand Tour scalp in the veteran 32-year-old former cyclo-cross champion's career after seven years as a professional.
With just Moreno and fellow escapee Ignatas Konovalovas (Movistar) out ahead as the peloton sped under the kilometre-to-go banner, Gadret moved to the front of the bunch alongside the stage favourites - which included local favourite Michele Scarponi (Lampre).
Once Lithuania's Konovalovas was dropped by Moreno it looked like the Spaniard would hold on for the victory.
But Gadret jumped clear with less than half a kilometre to go, catching an exhausted Moreno and holding off a late charge from another Spanish rider from Katusha, Joaquim Rodriguez.
The pint-sized bald rider from Epernay took the stage with Rodriguez coming home for second and Italy's Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini) taking third.
Giro stage 11
Four fourth category climbs and a constantly bumpy road which featured no flat sections longer than 3km made for a gruelling day in the saddle for the 188 riders remaining in the race.
A similar fate hung over a second group of around 12 riders, of which Britain's David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) was the most notable presence.
But with 80km left to ride a breakaway finally stuck. Interestingly, amongst the 11 riders was Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo), third in the GC at just 1:19 from overnight leader Contador.
Owing to Le Mevel's presence, the group's lead never crept above the three-minute mark, with the Saxo Bank team-mates of Contador marshalling the peloton and leading the chase.
On the final fourth category climb of the day, Moreno attacked from the breakaway and was joined by Konovalovas on the descent. The duo rode 30 seconds clear of the chasing group, who were gradually reeled in by the pursuing peloton.
With 5km left to ride it looked certain that the win would be decided between one of the two riders - but some fierce riding at the front of the bunch by the Androni squad of stage 3 winner Angel Vicioso saw the lead whittled down to nothing.
Sensing his chance to star, Gadret seized the opportunity and timed his successful break to perfection.
Frenchman Le Mevel lost 13 seconds at the finish and drops to fourth place on the GC.
The Giro continues on Thursday with the pancake flat 184km stage 12 from Castelfidardo to Ravenna - a final chance for the sprinters to grab a win before the race returns to the mountains.Felix Lowe / Eurosport