Giro d'Italia

Henao leads the way

Cavendish stays in red after gutsy ride

Last updated: 20th May 2012

Sergio Henao produced another outstanding display to take fourth - and the young rider's jersey - on the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia.

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Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini) battled to a thrilling solo win as Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) reclaimed the leader’s maglia rosa - but 24-year-old Henao was again right in the mix as he finished just 25 seconds back.

That saw him move into eighth on the general classification, 1:55 behind Rodríguez, and it was enough to see him leapfrog team-mate and fellow Colombian Rigoberto Urán in the white jersey standings.

Urán was 22nd on the stage and is now 11th overall while Team Sky continue to hold two of the four jerseys as world champion Mark Cavendish, who again led the peloton over the day's intermediate sprint, negotiated another high mountains stage to stay top of the points classification by 26 from Rodríguez.

Dramatic day in the mountains

But the day belonged to Rabottini, who along with Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R) had escaped just 18 kilometres into the 169km route from Busto Arsizio to Piani dei Resinelli, and edged out the fast-finishing Rodríguez in the final 200 metres, with Alberto Losada (Katusha) in third.

The Italian had been out on his own for the final 80km but his lead was gradually eroded by a five-man chase group led by Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) along with Saturday's stage winner Andrey Amador (Movistar), Stefan Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Losada.

However Rabottini battled on with great determination - even overcoming a fall on a slick descent off the penultimate climb - and heading up the 7.8km ascent to the finish at Piani dei Resinelli his advantage was still two minutes.

As Cunego and Amador faltered the other three chasers pressed on while the group containing Rodríguez and the main general classification contenders also emerged as a real threat.

And it was Rodríguez who came out of that pack to cut down Rabottini in dramatic style, going past him inside the final 500 metres.

But the Farnese Vini rider somehow managed to get back on his wheel before surging past off the final corner to claim a thoroughly deserved win.

Rodriguez's second place meant he took time out of all his GC rivals, regaining the lead from Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) who is now 30 seconds back in second.

Ivan Basso, whose Liquigas-Cannondale team again did much of the work on the front in the closing stages, is third at 1:22.

Solid progress

The stage was also notable as it saw the departure from the race for Jeremy Hunt, the Brit heading home for the birth of his child following an impressive stint at the Giro despite a last-minute call-up.

After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal was among a number of people paying tribute to the performance of Henao during a tough day at the Giro.

The Frenchman said: "It was a very impressive ride from Sergio to be up there on the climb at the end of a tough stage. Sergio is looking very strong and both he and Rigoberto did a great job all day. Unfortunately Rigoberto lost some time at the finish but we have kept hold of both our jerseys.

"The boys did a very good job. Pete, G and Flecha helped out on the climbs and Mark also took some points for the red jersey today.

"Tomorrow we have a rest day but we’re very proud of the way the team has performed up to this point in the race."