Viggiano, 14 May 2014 - The Italian rider Diego Ulissi (Lampre - Merida) accelerated out of an elite group of climbers this afternoon to win the first uphill finish of the 2014 Giro d’Italia at Viggiano. In his wake, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Julián Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) finished second and third, a second down on the stage winner.
Michael Matthews finished 6th in the leading group of 29, which consisted, in the main, of climbers. It was enough to extend his overall lead from 8 seconds this morning to 14 seconds going into tomorrow’s long stage Sassano-Montecassino (247 km).
Maglia Rosa – Balocco: Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
Maglia Rossa – Algida: Elia Viviani (Cannondale)
Maglia Bianca – F.lli Orsero: Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
Maglia Azzurra – Banca Mediolanum: Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin)
After the stage, the stage winner and the Maglia Rosa spoke to the press.
A planned victory: “When I looked at the race handbook before the Giro, I earmarked this stage because the finish lent itself perfectly to my characteristics. It’s no secret thatI like this type of finish, and the press had included me among the favourites.”
The final kilometres: “It was a very hard finish after a stage ridden in wind and rain. I was held up behind a fall on a climb, 17 km from the finish, where I had to put a foot down. My team-mates brought me up to the group, and when Moreno attacked, I was 5th wheel: I didn’t want to be at the front in the sprint because of the wind. Quintana couldn’t keep the rhythm, so a gap opened. My team-mates closed it and led me up to Matthews wheel. Then the sprint started, and it went well for me.”
A growing champion: “Winning a stage at the Giro is wonderful for an Italian rider, and it’s doubly important because I’ve beaten real champions today. I’ve always wanted to develop gradually. I turned professional very young - I’m still 24 - but I’ve won 16 races, 2 Giro stages (the first at Tirano in 2011), other World Tour stages, and, in the last 2 years, I’ve improved, thanks, in part, to Michele Bartoli, who is an fantastic coach and a great motivator. Sometimes I ‘m beaten before I start, so I need to improve in that, and Michele really helps me with my confidence. Last night, before I went to bed, I visualised winning and then going through all the commitments that come afterwards, and it helped me. I had a disappointing Ardennes classics season this spring, and I hope it doesn’t happen again. In fact, I’m hoping that this Giro turns things around for me.”
The stage finish: “It didn’t quite pan out the way I thought. I had a mental picture in which there were lots of attacks, but I think everyone was pinned and no one could get away. I think it was Quintana who dropped the wheel in front, so it was up to me to close the gap, Rodriguez and team mates were ahead, with Edvald Boasson Hagen. I was a bit pinned when I got to them and I didn’t quite have the sprint I would have liked. But up to there, I was good.”
Keeping the Maglia Rosa: “Today’s stage was the big goal for me. We showed we really deserved this jersey. We proved today that we have a really strong team, because to keep the jersey and to be able to have a good crack at the finish you need a good team. They set a tempo that didn’t really let anyone move. They did an amazing job. To be in the final with all these climbers is really nice for me.”
Tomorrow - and the future: “My goal was to keep the Maglia Rosa until tomorrow, and then reassess things day by day. But today went pretty well for me, so we’ll certainlyhave a good crack at it tomorrow. After that I’m not really sure. The next few stages will be pretty key for the team. It’s been a great honour for us and we’ve had a really good trip so far so we’ll try and keep the ball rolling.”