Fortunato wins atop Zoncolan, Bernal extends Giro d’Italia lead

Getty Images
10 Comments

MONTE ZONCOLAN, Italy — Italian rider Lorenzo Fortunato soloed to victory atop the fearsome Monte Zoncolan as Egan Bernal extended his overall lead to more than a minute after the 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia.

Fortunato, who rides for Eolo-Kometa, attacked with around 2 kilometers remaining of the 205-kilometer (127-mile) route from Cittadella to claim a debut professional win in his first Grand Tour, at the top of one of the Giro’s most prestigious climbs.

“I haven’t fully realized yet what I just did,” the 25-year-old Fortunato said. “I knew I was in good shape and this morning I really wanted to go in the breakaway.

“I knew that the last 3 kilometers were the hardest, for this reason I waited for the final part of the Zoncolan to attack and then I gave it everything until the finish line”.

It was Fortunato’s first victory in more than eight years, having last won as a junior.

Jan Tratnik was second, 26 seconds behind Fortunato. The duo had escaped from the remains of the breakaway shortly after the start of the ascent of the Zoncolan, which was covered in snow.

Alessandro Covi was third, 59 seconds behind Fortunato.

Bernal responded to a late attack from Simon Yates and then attacked the British rider in the fog at the summit to finish fourth and extend his overall lead to 1 minute, 33 seconds ahead of Yates, who moved into second.

Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France winner, is 1:51 ahead of third-place Damiano Caruso.

“I tried to remain calm when we tackled the Zoncolan because I knew I was in a good position in the GC and did not need to attack first,” said Bernal, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers. “I followed Simon Yates when he attacked and then I did an acceleration in the finale.

“I think I did a good race. Now I have a good lead but I need to remain calm and focused, anything can happen in the Giro.”

This year’s Giro saw the riders climb the Zoncolan from the easier side. It was still nevertheless one of the most arduous ascents of the race. The last 3 kilometers had gradients often exceeding 20% and topping out at 27% along the hairpins in the final kilometer.

Eolo-Kometa is owned by retired cyclists Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador, who both won the Giro twice.

Contador had vowed he would ride from Madrid to Milan if the team won a stage at this Giro, in its first Grand Tour. And, in a video posted on Instagram of him watching the finale, the clearly emotional Spaniard said he would keep his promise.

Sunday’s 15th stage crosses into Slovenia and covers the fourth-category climb to Gornje Cerovo three times on the 147-kilometer (91-mile) route from Grado to Gorizia.

The Giro finishes on May 30 in Milan with an individual time trial.

Davide Rebellin dies after hit by truck while training

Getty Images
3 Comments

MILAN — Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, one of the sport’s longest-serving professionals, died after being struck by a truck while training. He was 51.

Rebellin was riding near the town of Montebello Vicentino in northern Italy when he was hit by a truck near a motorway junction. The vehicle did not stop, although Italian media reported that the driver may have been unaware of the collision.

Local police are working to reconstruct the incident and find the driver.

Rebellin had only retired from professional cycling last month, bringing to an end a career that had spanned 30 years. He last competed for Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek and the UCI Continental team posted a tribute on its social media accounts.

“Dear Davide, keep pedaling, with the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same passion as always,” the Italian team said. “This is not how we imagined the future together and it is not fair to have to surrender so suddenly to your tragic absence.”

“To your family, your loved ones, your friends and all the enthusiasts who, like us, are crying for you right now, we just want to say that we imagine you on a bicycle, looking for new roads, new climbs and new challenges even up there, in the sky.”

Rebellin’s successes included victories at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico as well as winning a stage in the 1996 edition of the Giro d’Italia, which he also led for six stages.

Rebellin won silver in the road race at the 2008 Olympic Games, but he was later stripped of his medal and banned for two years after a positive doping test. He had denied wrongdoing.

CAS upholds Nairo Quintana DQ from Tour de France for opioid use

Getty Images
17 Comments

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The disqualification of two-time Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana from his sixth place in the 2022 race for misuse of an opioid was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS said its judges dismissed Quintana’s appeal and agreed with the International Cycling Union that the case was a medical matter rather than a doping rules violation. He will not be banned.

The court said the judges ruled “the UCI’s in-competition ban on tramadol was for medical rather than doping reasons and was therefore within the UCI’s power and jurisdiction.”

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from the Colombian racer five days apart in July, the UCI previously said.

Quintana’s case is among the first to rely on the dried blood spot (DBS) method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use at cycling races because of potential side effects. They include the risk of addiction, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention.

Quintana finished second in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, won both times by Chris Froome. He won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.