I first heard of Fabio Aru (Astana & Italy) when he won the 2011 Giro della Val d’Aosta U23 stage race in Italy from US rider Joe Dombrowski – who’s now professional with Sky.
Aosta along with the Tour de l’Avenir and the U23 Worlds are the big shop windows for the professional talent scouts.
Aru had been fourth in Aosta the year previous and would win it again in 2012.
In 2011 he was also fourth in the Baby Giro and second in the Italian U23 Road Race Championship as well as a whole raft of wins and placings in Italian U23 races.
Dombrowski gained revenge on Aru however in the 2012 Baby Giro relegating the Sardinian to second spot.
Disappointed or not at the loss, Aru rode stagiaire with Astana at the end of the season; the transition was seamless as he took a second on a stage of the Tour of Colorado and a top 20 spot in Giro dell’Emilia.
Last year he took fourth overall in the Giro del Trentino and eighth overall in the Tour of Austria – and he also rode the Giro in support of Vincenzo Nibali.
He was right there in the blizzard at the top of the Tre Cime Lavaredo and much impressed Dave and I with his riding.
Today on Montecampione was his confirmation – dropping everyone to win solo and move up to fourth.
As I always say at times like this, if he can avoid the night clubs, fast cars and faster women then he could be the real deal – another bona fide Italian Grand Tour contender so as it’s not all down to his team mate, Nibali.
A brilliant day then for Aru who now occupies fourth spot @ 2:24; and a good day for Nairo Quintana (Movistar & Colombia) as he stole back 20 seconds on maglia rosa Rigoberto Uran (QuickStep & Colombia) and is now fifth @ 2:40.
But Uran is cool under fire and doesn’t panic – after all it was a good day for him too, distancing Cadel Evans (BMC & Australia) so as his lead is now over a minute to the Aussie and nearly two minutes over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff & Poland).
Evans never looks great on a bike and when he’s toiling he’s well up the ‘constipated crab’ scale of hideousness.
The man has grinta though.
Majka looked super cool on Aussie team mate Michael Rogers wheel well into the 20 K horror climb but when the final chips were thrown down he was found wanting.
Rogers is impressive, he only rode Liege-Bastogne-Liege and then the Giro straight of his suspension; he’s already won a stage and here he was in the thick of it for his team leader in the finale of a real death stage
Yesterday’s attacker, Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R & Italy) had apparently announced that he was going on the attack again – but it was not to be and the little man in brown struggled in off the pace and now lies sixth @ 2:42.
Julian Arredondo’s (Trek & Colombia) early efforts on Montecampione to win the stage never looked like succeeding but the later move made by Phillip Deignan (Sky & Italy) looked much more promising until the ‘Bigs’ decided it was time to get serious and Deignan’s light was extinguished in less time than it takes to type the words.
The Irishman’s attack saved it from being an anonymous day for Sky.
Pierre Rolland (Europcar) is impressing too; he’s not there just to make up the numbers and is another figure in the French Renaissance along with Bouhanni, Coquard, Demare and Pinot – good to see.
Despite a promising start to last season’s Vuelta, I think it’s time for Ivan Basso (Cannondale & Italy) to call a halt – it’s just not there anymore.
He can’t live with the accelerations and whilst he’s not at the stage of making a fool of himself, he should quit now.
The 2012 Giro winner, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin & Canada) battled hard today, ninth on the stage and he’s creeping close to the top ten.
But it would seem like a better idea to me for him to go for stage win rather than go so deep for eighth or ninth on GC – but those Pro Tour points are vital and Garmin don’t exactly have them coming out of their ears at the minute.
They currently sit 12th of 18 Pro Tour teams on 254 points to leaders QuickStep’s 700 points.
But the stage could have panned out so differently if there had been a Neri Sottoli rider in the big early break.
But there wasn’t and their big, be-stubbled DS Luca Scinto is not to be messed with – putting his men on galley slave duty; but on the 53 x 11 rather than the oars.
The men in the bright colours chased hard and the break didn’t have nearly enough of a gap to consider success when they hit the bottom of the climb with 20 K to go.
- Evans? No.
- Pozzovivo? Don’t think so.
- Uran? Maybe.
- Quintana? Maybe.
- Aru? As Oasis might say; ‘Definitely, Maybe!’
Rest day tomorrow – don’t forget we have part two of the Garry Clively interview for you so you won’t get withdrawal symptoms.