After 15 days in the maglia rosa, Deceuninck-QuickStep neo-pro João Almeida finally ceded the race lead to Team Sunweb's Wilco Kelderman, with an entirely new situation at the top of the rankings as we head into the final three stages.
The Portuguese 22-year-old lost contact with the Sunweb-driven lead group 48 kilometres from the end of the stage and nine from the top of the Stelvio.
He had teammate Fausto Masnada for company but had no answer to the power of Sunweb and Ineos, crossing the finish line at the top of Torri di Fraele 4:51 down on stage winner Jai Hindley (Sunweb), falling to fifth overall, 2:16 down.
Hindley rode himself into overall contention along with the man he beat to the line, Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers). The pair were the cream of the crop after being towed by Ineos' Rohan Dennis to the top of the Stelvio, down the freezing descent and through the valley.
They finished first and second on the stage and now lie second and third on GC, with Hindley just 12 seconds down and Geoghegan Hart 15 seconds back. Kelderman holds that slender lead, benefitting from gaining 2:33 on Almeida to jump up into first overall with just a sprint stage, the triple-Sestriere day, and the Milan time trial between him and overall victory.
A resurgent Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) took third place, 46 seconds behind the two leaders, with the Spaniard and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) working well as the third group on the road before overhauling Kelderman on the final climb.
The Dane finished fourth at 1:25 and moves up six places into sixth overall, 3:59 down. Bilbao, meanwhile, is in striking distance of the podium – or even overall victory depending on the events of stage 20 – at 1:19 down on Kelderman.
Further back, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) left co-team leader Rafał Majka behind on the final climb to finish sixth at 4:04. The Austrian moves up two spots to seventh overall, 5:40 down, while Majka, who lost almost seven minutes, fell five spots to 10th overall.
Other losers on the stage included Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling), the two Italians losing contact on the Stelvio, eventually losing 4:51 and 8:17 at the line. They are now in eighth and 12th overall – Pozzovivo the last man on the general classification within 20 minutes of the lead.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb||77:46:56|
|2||Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb||0:00:12|
|3||Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:15|
|4||Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||0:01:19|
|5||Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep||0:02:16|
|6||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||0:03:59|
|7||Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:05:40|
|8||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:05:47|
|9||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:06:46|
|10||Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:07:28|
|11||Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain McLaren||0:07:43|
|12||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling||0:09:34|
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.
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