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Joaquim Rodriguez climbs back into pink
May 21st, 11. Joaquim Rodriguez climbed his way back into the Maglia Rosa today after a great late escape from the favourites group on the second consecutive Giro d'Italia summit finish.
The ride of the day on Stage15 goes to Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini) who escaped before the first of four categorised climbs - almost 40km of climbing - yet found the strength to hold off Rodriguez in the final few metres.
"I don't know if he didn't [contest] the sprint, and I'm not in interested in this. I know only that I win, and I'm too happy!" said the 25 year old..
Rabottini and Guillaume Bonnaford (Ag2R) worked up a sizeable lead until the Italian dropped the Frenchman before they crested they first KOM after 77km.
Rabottini continued on in search of his first Grand Tour victory while a group of chasers, which included GC threat Damiano Cunego (Lampre) followed.
With a lead of 5m22 to the chasers and 9m42 to the main peloton and 60km to ride in the 169km stage, Rabottini's chances of victory looked good, but over the next two categorised climbs the time gaps came tumbling down.
Despite crashing on the wet roads on the final descent, Rabottini kept his lead and with less than 3km to go on the final Cat 2 ascent he was still holding a 1m30s gap to the final chasers and 2m08s to the bunch of favourites, but things were about to change.
Katusha sent Alberto Losada, who was in the original break, on the attack, and not long after, their leader followed. Rodriguez' rivals had no answer and were forced to watch as the Spaniard rode away from them 1.2km before the finish line.
The chase groups long efforts went unrewarded as Rodriguez overtook its remnants as he hunted his target.
After so long out front, Rabottini was caught in the final 350m - but he did not give up.
With one final kick the Italian thrilled the crowds to come around Rodriguez to take the much deserved stage victory.
The favourites, excluding Frank Schleck (RadioShack Nissan Trek) who abandoned citing shoulder pain from his Stage 11 crash, finished 25sec later.
After a cold and wet day in the high mountains in Northern Italy, Rodriguez claimed back the pink jersey he lost to Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin Barracuda) yesterday.
With a rest day tomorrow, Rodriguez leads the GC by 30sec to Hesjedal, Ivan Basso (Liquigas) is 3rd +1m22s.
Other jerseys changed hands today too. Rabottini claimed the KOM jersey and Sergio Henao took the Young Rider's jersey off his Team Sky teammate Rigoberto Uran. Mark Cavendish, also Team Sky, kept his sprinters jersey and added to his tally with interim sprint points.
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