Giovanni Visconti overjoyed at winning 'extreme' Giro d'Italia stage
Giovanni Visconti, Giro d'Italia 2013, stage 15
Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), attacking from an escape, conquered the Giro d'Italia's Galibier stage in a snowstorm today.
"I've sacrificed myself for a year and a half, abandoned the Giro last year - it wasn't easy," Visconti said in live TV, breaking into tears. "I let it all out today, thinking of my family, my baby."
Over the winter, Visconti served a back-dated ban and fine for working with known doping doctor, Michele Ferrari.
Visconti escaped today with a group just over 80 kilometres out on the Col du Mont Cenis leading into France. Snow banks lined the climb, but it was nothing close to what was to come.
In the last 24 hours, organiser RCS Sport went back and fourth over what to do with the stage. Bad weather and snow forced RCS Sport to cut Sestrière from the stage to Jafferau yesterday. It believed it might have to cut Cenis and bus the riders to France, or even cancel the entire Galibier stage.
Instead, authorities gave the OK to race Cenis and workers cleared the final kilometres of Galibier to Les Granges at 2301 metres, just four kilometres short of the pass at 2642 meters.
Visconti attacked free at 23 kilometres out on the Col du Télégraphe. The sun was out, but down in Valloire at the base of Galibier's northern run the weather was changing. The rain in Valloire quickly turned to snow when the Sicilian began climbing up Galibier.
"It was incredible, but I just kept on pushing," Visconti added. "It seemed impossible to try to win in conditions like this, but it worked."
The snowfall became thicker towards Le Granges du Galibier and the favourites began to move. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) attacked. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) followed and tried a move of his own.
"The conditions were truly extreme out there today," Nibali said. "I tired to make some selection, but it was hard because it was cold."
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) escaped with best young rider, Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff). He placed second and nabbed the 12-second bonus to claim the white jersey from Majka.
Visconti wins Giro's Galibier stage
Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage reports
Stage 13: Cavendish takes his fourth stage win of 2013 Giro
Stage 12: Cavendish takes 100th win as Wiggins' Giro bid faltrs
Stage 11: Navardauskas wins as favourites enjoy day off
Stage 10: Uran wins as Wiggins and Hesjedal lose time
Stage nine: Belkov takes solo win as Wiggins put under pressure
Stage eight: Dowsett wins as Nibali takes race lead
Stage seven: Wiggins crashes as Hansen wins
Stage six: Cavendish wins stage six of Giro
Stage five: Degenkolb avoids crash to take win
Stage four: Battaglin sprints to first Giro stage win
Stage three: Paolini takes charge
Stage two: Sky wins team time trial
Stage one: Cavendish wins opener
Giro d'Italia 2013: Photo galleries
Photos by Graham Watson
Stage 14 gallery
Stage 13 gallery
Stage 12 gallery
Stage 11 gallery
Stage 10 gallery
Stage nine gallery
Stage eight gallery
Stage seven gallery
Stage six gallery
Stage five gallery
Stage four gallery
Stage three gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage one gallery
Team presentation gallery