One of the most epic stages I've ever seen occurred on today's intensely cold and treacherous Pyrenean adventure. I'm trying to remember when I ever witnessed a sprinter winning a climber's stage... I can't think of it.
That's what happened to sprinter turned epic hero, Daniele Ratto (Cannondale), taking an extremely bad day and making gold. Sixteen riders dropped out due to hypothermia, some of the big names; Ivan Basso, Luis Leon Sanchez, Haimar Zubeldia, Roman Kreuziger, Greg Henderson and Nick Nuyens.
It's quite amazing to watch as Ratto attacked with 60kms to go and stayed out in front to win the stage. Amazing still - on the sketchy descents he stuck out his inside foot for good measure... showing the safe way down slick roads. At times his rear wheel was going to slip and I prayed it wouldn't send him off the edge. It looked dicey but worked for the 23 year sprinter.
I'm still amazed that this big sprinter was untouched by the pure climbers. Come to think of it, light weight thin climbers were frozen almost to death and this bigger sprinter had the advantage.
... and winning!
Stage 14: the Epic day...
1. Daniele Ratto 4:24:00, 2. Vincenzo Nibali 3:53, 3. Chris Horner 3:55, 4. Purito Rodriguez 4:11, 5. Samuel Sanchez 4:19, 6. Alejandro Valverde 4:43, 7. Thibaut Pinot 4:46, 8. Domenico Pozzovivo st, 9. Mikel Landa 5:17, 10. Leopold Konig 5:21, 15. Phil Gilbert 6:14
"It was inhuman, the hardest day I've ever had on the bike. If this goes on there will only be 50 riders in the race."
- Alejandro Valverde
"I haven't won yet, but this is an important step forward. It was very hard day, a lot of riders suffered badly on the descents because it was so cold."
- Vincenzo Nibali
"It's very strange to win here, I'm a sprinter, not a climber. But I'm lucky, I live in the mountains, so cold, rainy days like these suit me fine."
- Daniele Ratto
Cadel still has some tricks up his sleeve...
... winning stage 4 Tour of Alberta!