Matteo Rabottini (Farnese-Selle Italia) jumped off the front of the peloton 18km into stage 15 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, and he stayed in front for virtually the entire 172km stage, snatching a stage victory back from Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) just meters from the finish line. Rodriguez had motored away from the other GC contenders on the final climb and looked as if he was going to take the stage win before Rabotitini cut to the inside of the final corner and managed to take back what he had worked so hard for. Rodriguez finished 39 seconds ahead of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), meaning the Maglia Rosa leader's jersey will leave Hesjedal's shoulders and return to Rodriguez. Katusha's Alberto Losada was third on the stage.
Damiano Cunego had made a move for the Maglia Rosa earlier in the day, leading a group of chasers after Rabottini. Cunego had started the day 2:43 out of the lead, and for a while he had more than enough distance between himself and the peloton to give him the overall lead. Included in that chase group was Marco Pinotti, the strongest cimber on Santa Rosa-based Team BMC Racing. He wouldn't have gotten enough time to take the lead, but it would have catapulted him up the overall standings.
It ended up being a moot point for both, as by the final climb the GC leaders had caught Cunego and all the rest. Cunego put in a strong effort, but Rodriguez, Michele Scarponi (Lampre), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Roman Kreuziger (Astana) all passed him in the final few kilometers.
Provisional GC Standings after stage 15:
1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 65:11:07
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:30
3) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:22
4) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:26
5) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:01:27
6) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:36
7) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:42
8) Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:01:55
Monday is a rest day for the riders, and Tuesday returns them right back into the hills for a medium mountain stage. Rodriguez has been in this position before, but he has never been able to hold on to finish a grand tour in first. That's no secret to Hesjedal, Basso, and others, so if they smell blood they won't hesitate.
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