Samuel Sánchez showed he's still got a few cards to play in Italy with a gutsy fourth-place finish in Saturday's summit finish at Jafferau.
The Euskaltel team leader displayed all of the determination and never-say-die attitude we've been accustomed to see from him over the years as he battled the elements en route to a result that will boost his confidence ahead of the demanding last week of racing in this year's Giro d'Italia.
Stage 14 of the race will always be remembered for the torrential rain and freezing temperatures that saw to it that the route was altered and made the day miserable for the majority of the riders out on the roads.
Vincenzo Nibali cemented his position at the top of the standings by coming in second at the same time as winner Mauro Santambrogio of Vini Fantini, with third going to the wily and ever-present Carlos Betancur of Ag2r. In fourth, at less than half a minute and ahead of such riders as Cadel Evans, Michele Scarponi, Beñat Intxausti, Rafal Majka and Robert Gesink, was 'Samu', showing his form is still there or thereabouts despite a less than stellar opening two weeks of the race.
Sánchez is still way down in 17th overall, but is now 'only' two and a half minutes down on Intxausti in tenth.
Another rider in orange who enjoyed a strong day in the saddle was Egoi Martínez. Despite crashing out of the break of the day he had once again managed to infiltrate, the veteran went on to finish 30th on the day and as a result climb to 27th on GC.
- (1, Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini), 4:42:55)
- 4, Samuel Sánchez, 0:26
- 30, Egoi Martínez, 4:01
- 48, Jorge Azanza, 5:50
- 80, Robert Vrecer, 12:59
- 83, Ricardo Mestre, 13:31
- 116, Gorka Verdugo, 20:32
- 134, Miguel Mínguez, s.t.
- 137, Ioannis Tamouridis, s.t.
Photo: Euskaltel Euskadi