Peter Sagan takes his first Giro d'Italia victory with solo attack to Tortoreto

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) claimed his first victory in more than a year on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia, winning solo from the breakaway after 177 breathless kilometres of racing on the opening day of the second week.

After the rest day tests revealed seven new cases of COVID-19 in the race bubble – forcing Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Michael Matthews (Sunweb) plus the whole Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott teams to leave the race – the remaining riders raced as if there would be no tomorrow.

Sagan, winner of more than 100 races but empty-handed since the 2019 Tour de France, raced as if the past 15 months hadn’t happened, winding the clock back with a complete performance to silence any talk of a decline in his career. The three-time world champion was part of a breakaway that took an age to form, and dropped his last companion Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) over the last climb in a series of short, steep ascents in the final 50 kilometres to go solo.

Behind him, the overall contenders waged war, and a 13-rider pink jersey group bore down on the 10km run-in, but Sagan held firm to claim a memorable win on his Giro debut.

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) attacked on the run-in to finish in second place, 19 seconds down on Sagan and four seconds ahead of the GC group, where pink jersey João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won the sprint for third and extended his overall lead thanks to the four bonus seconds.

After Kruijswijk’s exit, the finale saw more major developments on GC, with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), sixth overall at the start of the day, losing more than a minute after a mechanical on the final descent. White jersey Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal), seventh overall this morning, struggled on the constant climbs in the final 50km and lost two and a half minutes.

While both riders fell out of the top 10, the rest of the riders who’d started the day in the top 12 – plus McNulty, Swift, and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) – finished in the pink jersey group. Almeida now leads by 34 seconds over Kelderman, and in third at 43 seconds back is Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren), who launched a long-range attack before being brought back in the closing kilometres.

The day, however, belonged to Sagan, who, after a frantic opening hour, went clear with double stage winner Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) on the first categorised climb. They were joined by a larger group and eventually sailed clear, but not before a tense 30km chase from Groupama-FDJ, who wanted to protect Arnaud Démare’s lead in the maglia ciclamino standings ahead of the intermediate sprint. Their efforts proved futile, though, and Sagan claimed 12 points there before adding another 20 at the finish to cut his overall deficit to 20 points.

In the finale, with its six steep climbs – three of them categorised – Sagan overcame both a spirited chase from UAE Team Emirates and NTT Pro Cycling in the peloton, plus attacks from the Ineos duo of Swift and Ganna and the Movistar duo of Dario Cataldo and Davide Villella. He went clear with Swift on the penultimate incline and dropped the British champion with a vicious attack on the final climb, just as Bilbao was closing in from the bunch. After coming down the descent, he still had to work hard on the flat 7km run-in to hold off the GC riders, and his long-awaited celebration at the finish line was richly deserved.

“I'm very happy, finally,” Sagan said. “I've been trying since when we started the season again with Strade Bianche, San Remo, the Tour de France. I was a lot of time on the podium or top five, but my last victory was last year in the Tour de France - already a long time ago.

“For sure I did not have the plan [to go solo]. When I already accepted second, third, fourth place, I let it go and I don't try anymore - and now the victory comes. I'm very happy for that. Finally I won in my style. I do the race, do some show, take the victory, and it's something special.”

How it unfolded

The day’s main drama occurred even before the roll-out, as the highly-anticipated results from the rest day round of COVID-19 testing were announced. Kruijswijk and Matthews were the two riders to test positive, along with four staff members from Mitchelton-Scott and one each from Ineos Grenadiers and AG2R La Mondiale. Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma decided to pull their entire teams out, and so, with Lawson Craddock (EF Pro Cycling) leaving due to a different issue, the Giro started for stage 10 with 146 riders.

The start of the stage was no less chaotic, and it took some 90 kilometres of relentless racing for a breakaway to truly establish itself. It took 25km for a first group to gain some ground, with Swift, Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling), Mathias Brandle (Israel Start-Up Nation), Simone Ravanelli (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec), and Marco Mathis (Cofidis Solutions Credits) going clear before being joined by Andrea Vendrame (AG2r La Mondiale), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Jhonatan Restrepo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Josef Cerny (CCC Team).

Moves came flashing from the peloton on an early uncategorised climb, and that group was brought back. Sagan and Ganna were originally part of a larger group, including GC threat Geoghegan Hart, that briefly went clear towards the top of that climb, and they pressed on together soon after on the steep ramps of the first categorised climb in Chieti after 47 kilometres.

That was the foundations for the day’s main break, as a larger chase group formed and eventually reached the duo after 55 kilometres. In addition to Sagan and Ganna, the move also contained Swift, Clarke, Restrepo, Cataldo, Villella, Ignatas Konovalovas (Groupama-FDJ), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), and the Cofidis duo of Nicolas Edet and Stéphane Rossetto. A counter attack from Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabu-KTM), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Simon Pellaud (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec), Jaakko Hanninen (AG2R) and Kamil Malecki (CCC) was launched but never gained enough ground.

That was mostly because Groupama-FDJ suddenly came to the front of the peloton with 117km to go and rode hard en masse, with Konovalovas dropping back from the break to add horsepower. Despite Ramon Sinkeldam abandoning through illness, FDJ brought the gap from just below a minute down to 20 seconds. Ciccone, Edet, and Rossetto dropped from the break, but FDJ never finished the job, and the gap started to go back up with just under 100km to go. Even with Démare doing his fair share of turns, FDJ couldn’t drag it back, and called off the chase after 30km of effort, with 88km remaining on the stage.

That caused things to settle down, as the peloton finally relaxed and stopped for comfort breaks and the seven remaining escapees moved out to five minutes. After 10km of detente, UAE Team Emirates took the reigns and started working on the front of the peloton, looking to control the gap and set Diego Ulissi up for a shot at the stage victory.

At the intermediate sprint, Sagan claimed the maximum 12 points from the break and so reduced his arrears in the ciclamino standings to Démare to 45 points.

It was then time for the first in the series of short, steep climbs in the final 55km, starting with the first of two ascents of the fourth category ascents outside Tortoreto. The break stayed together as Clarke took the maximum mountains points, while the peloton split, Ilnur Zakarin’s CCC Team forced into a chase on the ensuing flat. After they got back on, NTT hit the front of the peloton on the approach to the category 3 climb at Colonella (3.1km at 9.2 per cent), reducing the gap to 2:30.

Things kicked off in the break on that climb, with Cataldo attacking. Ganna and Clarke were dropped, Swift was quick to respond, and Sagan dragged Restrepo and Villella back up. Cataldo took the KOM points as those five led the way over the front, with a lead of 20 seconds over Ganna and Clarke and two minutes over the peloton.

On the climb to the second intermediate sprint – claimed uncontested by Sagan – Ganna dropped Clarke and made his way back to the leaders, attacking them instantly. The six of them came together quickly but back in the peloton there was already trouble for Vanhoucke.

After a short downhill to the 25km-to-go banner, there were two uncategorised climbs. As the breakaway attacked each other, their lead fell to just 45 seconds, but the fireworks would soon come from the peloton. 

Bilbao attacked over the top of the first climb, while Domenico Pozzovivo suffered an untimely mechanical after so much work from his NTT team. Bilbao led onto the wet descent and onto the next uncategorised climb, where the breakaway exploded. Sagan and Swift went clear, while Ganna, Restrepo, and Cataldo were dropped. 

Villella managed to hang on as Bilbao came soaring up, and they went over the top of the climb 12 seconds down on Sagan and Swift, with the peloton – down to 30 or so riders – half a minute further back. Pozzovivo had got back on but Vanhoucke was dropped again.

Sagan and Swift started the final climb at Tortoreto (2.5km at 7.1 per cent) together with 13km to go, as Bilbao dropped Villella, nine seconds further back. A kilometre from the top, Sagan attacked Swift, just as Bilbao closed to touching distance. The three-time world champion crested it with a lead of 13 seconds over Bilbao, who dropped Swift at the top. 

At the same point on the climb, Almeida himself kicked off a flurry of action from the GC contenders, with Kelderman and Pozzovivo making big accelerations. The heavily reduced pink jersey group went over the top 25 seconds down on Sagan and 12 seconds down on Bilbao, and the drama continued on the descent as Fuglsang suffered a mechanical and had to stop for a bike change, losing precious time in the process.

Once the road flattened out in the last 7 kilometres, the attacks continued in the pink jersey group, Geoghegan Hart kicking things off. The accelerations saw Bilbao brought back with 4.5km to go as the 13-rider group rode 25 seconds behind Sagan and still ahead of Fuglsang.

McNulty attacked that group with 3.5km to go but didn’t get too far, and Sagan ploughed on to enter the final kilometre with 20 seconds in hand and time to celebrate a long-awaited victory.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 4:01:56
2Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:19
3Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:23
4Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
5Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb
6Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
7Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
9Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
10Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren
11Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
12Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
13Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain McLaren
14Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep
15Tanel Kangert (Est) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:50
16Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) CCC Team
17Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team
18Jhonatan Manuel Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
19Nico Denz (Ger) Team Sunweb 0:01:38
20Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
21Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
22Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep
23Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
24Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
25Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
26Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
27Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spa) Movistar Team
28James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quickstep
29Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb
30Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
31Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
32Attila Valter (Hun) CCC Team 0:02:11
33Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team
34Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:02:17
35Jhonatan Restrepo Valencia (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 0:03:59
36Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
37Louis Meintjes (RSA) NTT Pro Cycling
38Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
39Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
40Antonio Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
41Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:06:01
42Lawrence Warbasse (USA) AG2R la Mondiale 0:08:49
43Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R la Mondiale
44Ben O'Connor (Aus) NTT Pro Cycling
45Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team
46Victor De la Parte (Spa) CCC Team
47Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain McLaren 0:12:27
48Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Pro Cycling
49Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:12:35
50Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 0:12:55
51Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
52Mattia Bais (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
53Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal
54Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates 0:15:28
55Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Vini Zabu' KTM
56James Whelan (Aus) EF Pro Cycling 0:15:51
57Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
58Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team
59Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Pro Cycling
60Victor Campenaerts (Bel) NTT Pro Cycling
61Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal
62Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Vini Zabu' KTM
63Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
64Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
65Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
66Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
67Francesco Romano (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
68Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal
69Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
70Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
71Etienne Van Empel (Ned) Vini Zabu' KTM
72Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
73Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro Team
74Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
75Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
76Danilo Wyss (Swi) NTT Pro Cycling
77Matteo Sobrero (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
78Dylan Sunderland (Aus) NTT Pro Cycling
79Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Vini Zabu' KTM
80Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Team Sunweb
81Einer Augusto Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar Team
82Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb
83Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Israel Start-Up Nation
84Jesper Hansen (Den) Cofidis
85Joseph Rosskopf (USA) CCC Team
86Jaakko Hanninen (Fin) AG2R la Mondiale
87Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana Pro Team
88Rodrigo Contreras Pinzon (Col) Astana Pro Team
89Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
90Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
91Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bahrain McLaren
92François Bidard (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
93Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
94Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
95Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri) NTT Pro Cycling
96Simone Ravanelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
97Simon Pellaud (Swi) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
98Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team
99Albert Torres Barcelo (Spa) Movistar Team
100Mathias Le Turnier (Fra) Cofidis
101Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu) EF Pro Cycling
102Jefferson Alexander Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
103Luca Chirico (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
104Eros Capecchi (Ita) Bahrain McLaren
105Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain McLaren
106Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis 0:20:51
107Kamil Malecki (Pol) CCC Team
108Nathan Haas (Aus) Cofidis
109Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
110Josip Rumac (Cro) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
111Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain McLaren
112Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Start-Up Nation
113Simone Bevilacqua (Ita) Vini Zabu' KTM
114Marco Mathis (Ger) Cofidis
115Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
116Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
117Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (Col) Deceuninck-Quickstep
118Kamil Gradek (Pol) CCC Team
119Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
120Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep
121Lachlan Morton (Aus) EF Pro Cycling
122Giovanni Lonardi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
123Fabio Mazzucco (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
124Alexander Cataford (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
125Alex Dowsett (GBr) Israel Start-Up Nation
126Matthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal
127Jonathan Dibben (GBr) Lotto Soudal
128Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ 0:21:52
129Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
130Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
131Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
132Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
133Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
134Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-Up Nation
135Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates
136Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates
137Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
138Marco Frapporti (Ita) Vini Zabu' KTM
139Matteo Spreafico (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
140Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
141Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain McLaren
142Josef Cerny (Cze) CCC Team
143Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Start-Up Nation
144Joe Dombrowski (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:22:09
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJRow 144 - Cell 2
DNSLawson Craddock (USA) EF Pro Cycling
DNSJack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNSLucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNSMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNSDamien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNSCameron Meyer (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNSSteven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSKoen Bouwman (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSTobias Foss (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSChris Harper (Aus) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSTony Martin (Ger) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSChristoph Pfingsten (Ger) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSAntwan Tolhoek (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSJos Van Emden (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNSMichael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
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Intermediate Sprint: Giulianova - km 110.1
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 12
2Jhonatan Restrepo Valencia (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 8
3Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 6
4Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 5
5Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team 4
6Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team 3
7Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Pro Cycling 2
8Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 1