CYCLING / GIRO D’ITALIA: Hesjedal in pink as Amador wins 14th stage
CERVINIA (Italy): Canada's Ryder Hesjedal, of the Garmin team, claimed the overall leader's pink jersey after Costa Rican Andrey Amador (Movistar) won the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday.
The Canadian, who was fourth in the stage, now sits nine seconds ahead of overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain (Katusha), with Astana's Italian rider Paolo Tiralongo in third at 41sec.
Hesjedal was 17 seconds down on Rodriguez at the start of the wet and cold stage, but finished 26s ahead of the main peloton.
"I felt good. There was just three kilometres to go, the pink jersey was there to take and so I went for it," the Canadian said.
"I was a little sad when I lost it and so I feel fortunate to pull it back on now. You never know if it's going to be your last day in pink.
"I think I can take time back on anyone in the final time trial in Milan but I'm not thinking that far ahead. I'm where I'm at and that's how I approached the race today.
"I'm going to continue to do that and we'll see what happens at the end of the Giro d'Italia."
Amador, whose mother is Russian, clocked 5:33:36s over the stage, a testing 206km run from Cherasco to here, boasting two stiff climbs at Joux and Cervinia, with the finish line at over 2,000m altitude.
The Costa Rican was first home in a sprint off with his last two breakaway companions, Czech Jan Barta and Italian Alessandro De Marchi.
It was the 25-year-old Amador's first stage success in four years as a professional cyclist.
Amador had caught up with Barta after the first climb, and then struck out alone, but was himself reeled in on the 27km-long second climb by the Czech and De Marchi.
The Costa Rican said he had bounced back in good time from an annus horribilis in 2011 during which he fractured a collarbone, injured an ankle and "my own problems when some thieves tried to kidnap me".
"At Movistar we're a very united team and our results prove it," he said.
The 15th stage sees the riders tackle a 169km run from Busto Arsizio and Lecco, with three climbs scheduled before a final 7.8km ascent above Lake Como. AFP