Mikel Nieve made a daring attack inside the last few kilometres on today's first real summit finish in the Giro, but, despite opening up a decent gap at a tactically good moment, was caught and crossed the line in 19th place, advancing to 27th overall in the process.
All in all it was an encouraging performance from the Euskaltel leader. Isolated for big parts of the final climb up to Cervinia, the fact he felt strong enough to attack the group of favourites on the peloton's first real foray into the high mountains is a good sign of what's to come. Despite faltering to 19th on the stage, he only trailed Hesjedal, new pink jersey, by 35 seconds, and was only nine seconds down on the first group lead home by Tiralongo. He's now approximately two minutes and thirty seconds off the top ten.
Another one on the offensive, although not in an equally constructive manner, was wily Amets Txurruka. Exactly why he attacked the pack on the early slopes of the last climb, with eventual winner Amador and co. eight minutes up the road, is lost on me. While his legs looked fresher than on the stage to Sestri Levante, he was easily reeled in by the peloton a few clicks later. While it's hard, and perhaps excessively critical, to criticize a rider for attacking on a the last climb of a stage in a Grand Tour, you have to wonder if his energy could have been better spent helping out Nieve.
Juan José Oroz looked to be in decent shape by staying with Nieve for quite a while en route to a 44th place-finish, while Iván Velasco once again deserves credit for getting through a grueling day in the saddle.
Reactions to come later tonight.
Stage 14 results:
- (1, Andrey Amador (Movistar), 5:33:36)
- 19, Mike Nieve, 0:55
- 44, Juan José Oroz, 4:08
- 46, Amets Txurruka, 4:26
- 119, Iván Velasco, 32:04
- 139, Miguel Minguez, s.t.
- 167, Adrián Sáez, s.t.
- 173, Víctor Cabedo, s.t.
- 175, Pierre Cazaux, s.t.
- 177, Jon Izagirre, s.t.