Rain put a bit of a damper on any potential fireworks in stage 14 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, but Andrei Amador was able to grind out the stage win and Ryder Hesjedal managed to dig in during the final kilometers and regain the overall lead. With plenty more mountain riding to come, the race's GC contenders reasoned that it might be better to play it safe today and save their attacks for later in the race. Things weren't all quiet, as the last 10km of the race did feature the heavyweights testing each other out.
That opened early opportunities for some of the younger riders, who don't have a shot at overall glory but can still climb. Netapp's Jan Barta took full advantage, motoring up the first climb, ditching his fellow escapees to make it over the first climb solo. The wet roads left him skittish on the descent, though, and Movistar's Andrei Amador moved past him on the way down and took the lead. That's how things set up leading into the finish, with Amador out in front, an intermediate chase group, and the peloton over nine minutes back.
As the race moved up the final climb the peloton began to pick up the pace, and with 10km left to go the gap that had started over nine minutes was under 6:30 and falling. Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli) and Barta joined Amador at the front and the three worked together in an attempt to stay away. Liquigas was driving the peloton hard, and with 5km to go the gap was only 3:30. Shortly after that the last Liquigas support man dropped off and team captain Ivan Basso had to put in his best effort to see which of his rivals he could shed. Ryder Hesjedal, Joaquim Rodriguez, Dominico Pozzovivo, and Michele Scarponi were all with him.
Pozzovivo and Rodriqugez both tested the field with attacks, but were quickly pulled back. Hesjedal went next though, and managed to open up a decent gap. He gritted his teeth and committed to grinding it out, and the rest were unable to catch him. Ahead of him were still Amador, De Marchi, and Barta, and they contested the stage win among each other. Barta gave it his best shot, but having been alone much of the day his legs weren't up to the task of beating Amador, and the Movistar rider picked up the win. Barta was second, and De Marchi third. Hesjedal's effort didn't flag, and he ended the stage in fourth place while picking up more than 20 seconds on leader Rodriguez. That was enough to earn him the overall lead and the Maglia Rosa.
The provisional GC standings following stage 14:
1) Ryder Jesjedal (GRM) 59:55:28
2) Joaquin Rodriguez (KAT) -:09
3) Paolo Tiralongo (AST) -:41
4) Sandy Casar (FDJ) -1:05
5) Ivan Basso (LIQ) -1:06
6) Roman Kreuziger (AST) -1:07
7) Benat Intxausti (MOV) -1:07
8) Rigobergto Uran (SKY) -1:19
9) Michele Scarponi (LMP) -1:20
10) Domenico Pozzovivo (CNG) -1:21
Santa Rosa's Team BMC struggled a bit at the end, as their highest placed GC rider Ivan Santaromita was unable to stick with the favorites as the peloton splintered at the end of the race. Stage 15 and onward only bring more mountains as the race moves through the Alps, so no matter what the result today it's anyone's race going forward.
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