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Giro d'Italia stage 15 – Live coverage

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As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height we're being careful because today's stage starts with a display of the Italian Frecce Tricolori jet planes.  

The jets will give a brief display before the stage starts from inside their base near Udine in he northeast of Italy. 

It's a special day of racing in these very special times. Cycling has shown that racing can be held safely and as well as the Giro d'Italia there is also the men's and women's Tour of Flanders.

Click below to follow the live coverage of the men's Tour of Flanders, with Daniel Ostanek providing all the latest info.   

Sadhbh O'Shea will have full live coverage of the women's race later today.

Tour of Flanders – Live coverage

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM APRIL 07 Podium Alberto Bettiol of Italy and Team Ef Education First Marta Bastianelli of Italy and Team Virtu Cycling European Champion Jersey Celebration Trophy during the 16th Tour of Flanders 2019 Ronde van Vlaanderen Women Elite a 1592km race from Oudenaarde to Oudenaarde RondeVlaanderen FlandersClassic RVV19 on April 07 2019 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Five minutes to take off! 

Here are the Frecce Tricolori!

The riders are now on the runway ready for their own take off and the mountain stage to Piancavallo.

Fortunately the weather is dry today in Italy but it is cold at the 1290m high Piancavallo finish.

Our European Editor Barry Ryan is at Piancavallo to bring you all the news and interviews from the stage. 

After yesterday's time trial the mountain finish is the second part of a big weekend for the overall classifica at the Giro. 

As the music from Top Gun rings out across the start, the riders about to start the stage.

Stay with us to see who emerges as the Top Gun of the stage, who is the Maverick and Goose pilots the race and who is a defeated Iceman.  

This is the shot of the start captured by the Giro d'Italia Twitter feed. 

The Frecce Tricolori fly over the Giro d'Italia peloton

The Frecce Tricolori fly over the Giro d'Italia peloton (Image credit: RCS Sport)

There are 141 riders left in the Giro peloton today. the only non-starter is Sebastian Molano (UAE) after his crash in the TT.

The flag has dropped in the race after the Frecce Tricolori show and we have the first attacks. 

Teams will be trying to win the stage with their climbers that are out of the GC and/or send riders up the road who can help their team leaders later in the stage.  

There should be plenty more high-flying action today, with four climbs on the menu, the last of them up to Piancavallo where Marco Pantani was the solo winner on the Giro’s first visit in 1998. 

On the race’s return in 2017, Mikel Landa emulated Pantani, while Tom Dumoulin couldn’t stay with his GC rivals and lost the maglia rosa to Nairo Quintana.

The 185km stage the ski resort begins on the Friuli plain. It rises gently for the opening 50 kilometres or so, the gradient kicking up significantly for the first time on the Sella Chianzutan, a second-category climb that averages 5.4 per cent over 10.6 kilometres. 

The first intermediate sprint lies in the valley beyond, where the riders are soon climbing again, initially to the uncategorised Forcella di Priuso and then to another cat 2 hurdle, the Forcella di Monte Rest. This one is not long at 7.4km, but averages a steady 8 per cent gradient once past its early ramps.

After running downhill for 25km, the road rears up again, passing through the second sprint at Poffabro on route to the third category 2 hill of the day, the Forcella di Pala Barzana, which extends 13.3 kilometres but averages just 4.4 per cent. Another long drop follows to reach Aviano, at the foot of the climb to the first-category finale at Piancavallo.

The Piancavallo climb been designated as this year’s Cima Pantani, the climb most representative of “Il Pirata”, honouring that 1998 stage win. 

At 14.5km long, its steepest sections come in the opening half-dozen kilometres, which average 9.4 per cent and feature several pitches that are two and three points above that. 

Any rider who loses even a little ground here is likely to yield a lot more on the second half of the climb, where the easier grades will enable rivals to increase their advantage, as Quintana was able to do three years ago.

To read more about Marco Pantani, the 1998 Giro d'italia and his subsequent tragic decline click below. 

1998 Giro d'Italia: The apotheosis of Marco Pantani 

Alex Zülle won the time trial in Nice at the start of the 1998 Giro, gaining 39 seconds, but Pantani replied by attacking whenever possible, even on the Capo Berta climb before the stage 2 finish in Imperia. 

Pantani knew that Zülle would gain minutes on him in the two time trials and could only hope that a long spell in the pink jersey would slowly fatigue the Swiss rider and his Festina teammates.

Zülle won stage 6 and extended his lead, but Pantani responded by attacking and winning stage 11 to Piancavallo.

"I take risks and attack, that's why the tifosi love me. This is the start of my race, and Zülle should be afraid," Pantani said after the stage. He was often quietly spoken and reflective but never afraid to respond to his rivals.

However, Zülle responded out on the road by winning the next day's time trial in Trieste. He caught, dropped and humiliated Pantani, gaining 3:26. Pantani fumed but refused to admit defeat, knowing that a Trittico of terrible mountain stages were still to come.

"Non e' finito (It's not over yet)," Pantani insisted.

Stage 17 to Selva di Val Gardena included the Passo Duran, Forcella Staulanza, the Marmolada and the Passo di Sella. According to Matt Rendell's excellent Pantani biography, Pantani asked teammate Roberto Conti when the Marmolada began, only to be told they were already halfway up the 14km climb.

Pantani soon attacked, getting away with Giuseppe Guerini as Zülle cracked and Tonkov suffered. Pantani gifted Guerini the stage but gained over four minutes on Zülle and so pulled on the pink jersey for the first time in his career. He kissed the maglia rosa and beamed a big smile in a rare show of pure happiness.

Pantani in pink was front-page news on every newspaper in Italy and on every news bulletin. Pantani-mania was in full flow. An estimated one million fans packed the roadside and thousands of others decided to head to the mountains to be part of what felt like a historic moment.

Tonkov confirmed he was Pantani's new threat as Zülle lost more time on the steep finish to Alpe di Pampeago. The Russian was only 27 seconds behind in the general classification, with Zülle at 2:08, and Pantani knew he would need to pull another "impresa (epic ride)" if he wanted to win the Giro. Fortunately, stage 19 finished up at Plan di Montecampione after 243km of racing.

The finale of the stage is now legendary. Zülle cracked entirely and lost half an hour. Pantani and Tonkov fought like boxers on the twisting climb to the finish, with il Pirata - in the pink jersey - landing a series of attacks and accelerations, only for Tonkov to respond each time and stay in the fight.

"Either I'm going to blow up or he will," Pantani told himself, even throwing away his diamond nose stud before the decisive attack with three kilometres to go. Riding with his hands in the drops in his usual attacking position, Pantani gained a metre, then two, then more. Tonkov could suffer nor respond no more, the elastic snapped, and Tonkov's head bowed in defeat. Pantani went on to gain 57 seconds and extended his lead on the Russian to 1:27.

"Tutta Italia urla: Pantani! (All of Italy screams: Pantani!)" was the headline in Tuttosport, with 4.5 million Italians - 51 per cent of that day's television audience - glued to their televisions to cheer on Pantani.

The 34km time trial from Mendrisio to Lugano was the final obstacle between Pantani and victory at the Giro d'Italia.

The tension at Mercatone Uno matched the excitement of the fans, especially following the expulsion of teammate Riccardo Forconi for a high haematocrit. Pantani raced with a bandage on his arm after also undergoing a blood test. According to Rendell's book, Pantani's blood value was 49.3 per cent - scarily close to the 50 per cent limit.

Almost a year to the day in 1999, Pantani's blood haematocrit was measured at 52 per cent at Madonna di Campiglio, and he was disqualified from the race while wearing the maglia rosa. However, in 1998 Pantani seemed untouchable and unstoppable. He even gained five seconds on Tonkov in the time trial and rode into Milan the day after as the winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia.

Back to today's stage ands the early break includes 12 riders.

In the 12-rider break are Thomas De Gednt and Rohan Dennis but the peloton is not letting them go.  

The gap is just 25 seconds.

The riders are on the flat roads of the Friuli plain but the speed is high. 

None of the 12 are a GC threat but some in the peloton wants a different scenario and so are chasing hard. 

The riders are San Daniele del Friuli, where Tuesday's stage will finish. It is warm and dry for now but much colder at the mountain finish.

The 12 riders on the attack are: 

Andrea Vendrame, Luca Chirico, Manuele Boaro, Mark Padun, Nathan Haas, Daniel Navarro, Thomas De Gendt, Matthew Holmes, Davide Villella, Rohan Dennis, Giovanni Visconti and Edoardo Zardini.

Today's mountain finish will be huge test for João Almeida and his hope of keeping the maglia rosa and trying to win the Giro d'Italia. 

The 22-year-old has impressed in the second week but is racing into unknown territory in the third week of a Grand Tour. 

On Friday evening, Almeida confessed that he had never raced such a long time trial and, despite his qualities as a rouleur, nobody seemed entirely sure of what he might achieve on stage 14. Most reckoned he might keep the jersey, but few anticipated that he would end the day with a lead of over two minutes on everyone bar second-placed Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb).

After taking 6th on the stage, 1:31 behind Ganna, Almeida now has an advantage of 56 seconds over Kelderman, 2:11 over Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) and some 2:30 over Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), while Jakob Fulgsang (Astana) is over four minutes back.

“I actually won more time than I expected,” Almeida admitted on Saturday evening in Valdobbiadene. “I was expecting to lose time to Kelderman, and also with Nibali I was expecting it to be close. But in the end, I could gain time and that is very positive for me.”

Almeida has mastered his longest time trial, but he is still only two-thirds of the way through his longest race. Like Brandon McNulty, now 4th overall, racing for a 14th consecutive day is a new experience – “My longest race was, I think, the Baby Giro, so ten days in a row,” Almeida said – the Portuguese rider appears to be warming to the sheer distance of this event.

On Sunday, Almeida faces another robust examination when the Giro tackles three mountain passes en route to the tough summit finish at Piancavallo. Although the youngster rode with assurance to move into pink at Etna, he was unable to match the accelerations in the final kilometre at Roccaraso. For better or for worse, however, neither stage was an equivalent test to the one he faces on Sunday and beyond.

To read Barry Ryan's full report on Almeida's time trial and hopes for today's stage, click below. 

Almeida ready to go the distance at Giro d'Italia

Giro dItalia 2020 103th Edition 14th stage Conegliano Valdobbiadene 341kmm 17102020 Joao Almeida POR Deceuninck Quick Step photo Dario BelingheriBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The break is still fighting to stay away as the first climb approaches. This could be the moment the elastic snaps or the peloton shuffles again. 

Indeed, the gruppo has eased the break has opened a 1:00 lead. 

There are 11 riders in the attack, with others making a desperate attempt to get across.

Edoardo Zardini has been distanced as Thomas De Gendt sets the pace in the 11-rider break.

Nathan Haas (Cofidis) was in the attack but has also dropped back as the De Gendt pace hurts everyone.

The peloton is more than two minutes back now. 

The peloton has eased massively, with the gap up to 5:00. That could help the break stay away to the finish. 

There are few GC teams left in the Giro with the strength to chase the attacks to try to win the stages as well as defend their GC positions.  We are likely to see breakaways stay away each day in the final week. 

Almeida has Knox and Masnada for the climbs while Nibali has lost key domestique Giulio Ciccone, who abandoned the Giro yesterday due to bronchitis. 

Kelderman is seen as a big favourite now. He has Sam Oomen and Jai Hindley to back him and they could make a difference.

Jakob Fuglsang has lost more time but remains a threat despite lacking a strong team.  

130km to go

The riders in the break hit the Sella Chianzutan climb. It is 10.6km at 5.4%. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep lead the peloton, with five riders leading and protecting Almeida for now. 

The peloton is at near 7:00 now. 

120km to go

Thomas de Gendt is still driving the break along with 1km to summit of the climb. 

Giovanni Carboni of Bardiani-CSF is still trying to chase but faces a difficult task to get across. 

Visconti is first to the summit, scores 18 points and so is the new leader of the mountains classification.

That's a solid ride by Vini Zabu'-KTM. EF missed the attack. 

Ruben Guerreiro tried to chase but failed to get across. He started the stage in the blue jersey but has blown it now.  

Visconti has a total of 94 points now and has a chance to score more later in the stage. 

Ruben Guerreiro is on 87 points.

As the descent of the Sella Chianzutan climb approaches, rider grab bidons and their capes to stay fed and warm.

110km to go

Carboni is about to be swept up by the peloton, which is 6:25 down on the break.

The trees are very autumnal in Friuli, with spectacular colours. We will have a huge photo gallery after the stage on our report page.

Fortunately the roads are dry today and so the racing is safe.

The break is near Villa Santina now and will contest the sprint and then hit the feed zone for lunch.

On Cyclingnews we also have full live coverage of the men's Tour of Flanders. The women's Tour of Flanders is also about to start and Sadhbh O'Shea will have all the action from the race on our third live coverage. 

Today's is a Super Sunday of racing and a Super Sunday for the Cyclingnews servers. 

Click her for updates from the women's Tour of Flanders. 

Tour of Flanders Women - Live Coverage

100km to go

Carboni has done an incredible descent in isolation and is now only 3:30 down on the break. 

The peloton is at 5:25 but the climbs will return very soon.

As the kilometres click below 100km to go, Thomas de Gendt is again driving the break along. 

That hurts everyone else: this in the break and those chasing behind.

The peloton is at 5:10, with Deceuninck still working and leading for João Almeida. Sunweb are also helping with the work.

Crash! Two NTT riders tangle and Sobrero goes down hard. 

That will lift the tension in the peloton.

After losing Ciccone yesterday, Vincenzo Nibali has also lost Gianluca Brambilla.

Nibali will often be alone in the mountains of the third week. 

The break is on the Forcella di Priuso climb now. This is a short rise before the longer Cat 2 Forcella di Monte Rest. 

For now João Almeida looks good in the peloton. He's had a superb ride in the Giro considering he is just 22. 

Almeida now has an advantage of 56 seconds over Kelderman, 2:11 over Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) and some 2:30 over Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), while Jakob Fulgsang (Astana) is over four minutes back.

That's gives him a significant advantage in timer of time and moral.

It will not be easy for his rivals to pull back that time.

The 7.4km Forcella di Mont Rest climbs at 7.5%. It is already seeming some of the sprinters losing contact from the peloton. 

Team Sunweb and Deceuninck are setting a steady but constant pace.

80km to go

Rohan Dennis is leading the break now, as riders grab bidons from their road-side staff.

The peloton has closed the gap to 4:30. That could not be enough. 

Visconti kicks a little to cross the summit first to take more KOM points.

Visconti took a further 18 points and so now has 112 points. He is building a significant lead.

Puncture for Pozzovivo in the peloton. He gets service and is soon away.  

Pozzovivo is at the back of the gruppo but should not have any problems. 

The descent of the Forcella di Monte Rest is twisting and fast but has a new road surface.

The peloton seems to be enjoying the descent, with Nico Denz of Sunweb setting the pace and choosing the best lines.

Villella flats and the service takes time due to his disc brakes. 

65km to go

The peloton is only 4:20 down on the break. The likes of Dennis, De Gendt and Visconti will have up the pace if they want to stay away and try to win the stage.

Dombrowski calls for bidons. He has ripped his rear pockets in a crash and so is struggling to stay fed.  

60km to go

On the valley road the break is fighting to stay away. But their lead is down to 3:00.

There is still the Forcella di Pala Barzana and of course the climb to Piancavallo.   

Crash! 

Three riders slip out on the fast descent. Two are in pain.

Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos) are sat in the road. 

Uff. Denz is still giving it big licks on the front of the peloton on the valley road. 

Sunweb clearly have a plan for later in the race in the hope that Wilco Kelderman can perhaps make Joao Almeida suffer on the climb to the finish.

The riders start the Forcella di Pala Barzana climb. It is in two parts, with a moment of flat roads at half way in Poffabro. 

It climbs for 13.3km, with the final 4km at 7.3%.  

50km to go

The early gradient has smashed the break, leaving just De Gendt and Dennis up front. 

Visconti is trying to survive to score as many mountain points as possible.

For now João Almeida has five Deceuninck teammates with him. It will be interesting to see how many are there at the summit. 

Up front Visconti has caught Dennis and De Gendt and looking to take maximum points on the climb.

We spoke too soon. Visconti is distanced but refuses to give up fighting for KOM points. 

It's a busy day of racing today and the men's Tour of Flanders is also in the final kliometres. 

In a dramatic turn, Julian Alaphilippe hit a race motorbike and chased out.

Click below for the full story and the second link for our live coverage. 

Julian Alaphilippe crashes out of Tour of Flanders

Tour of Flanders – Live coverage

OUDENAARDE BELGIUM OCTOBER 18 Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep World Champion Jersey Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Team Jumbo Visma Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Breakaway during the 104th Tour of Flanders 2020 Ronde van Vlaanderen Men Elite a 2433km race from Antwerpen to Oudenaarde RVV20 FlandersClassic on October 18 2020 in Oudenaarde Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

40km to go

The peloton passes over the top of the Forcella di Pala Barzana some 3:30 down on lone attacker Rohan Dennis. 

Thomas de Gendt is little behind him, with Visconti and others from the early attack spread down the road.  

Dennis is time trialing on the fast valley road but faces the final 14.5km of hard climbing up to the Piancavallo finish.

After Nico Denz swung off on the climb, the USA's Chad Haga has taken over on the flat road. He's setting a fast pace and the peloton is only 2:45 back on Dennis. 

They face 14km of fast descending road and then the 14km climb to the finish. 

There are 50 or so riders in the peloton but the steep early slopes of Piancavallo will soon shake them out. 

Deceuninck know how hard the climb to the finish is. 

Dennis takes a small coke from the team car before the final 20km. He needs every lift he can get for the climb.

Astana has also moved to the front of the peloton to help Fugslang as mu h as they can before the climb.

Today's climb to Piancavallo could make or break the Dane's Giro. He needs to pull back time after his poor time trial.

This is the climb to Piancavallo. 

Dennis lead his chasers by 1:00 but the peloton are now only  a further minute back.

The climb to Piancavallo is wide but climbs constantly at 9.4% for the first 6km. 

The attacks in the GC group could begin very early.  

Dennis is going deep, pushing huge watts to try to stay away.

Sunweb have  four riders in the peloton working for Keldermann. We can expect them to up the pace very soon.

For everyone else, it will be a battle of survival.

Can Almeida limit his losses? Can Nibali fight back and prove he's competitive? Can Fugslang turn his Giro around? 

We will soon find out.  

11km to go

Dennis fights on but the peloton is sweeping up the chasers. He is probably next.

Everybody is close to their limits now. 

There are 20 or so riders in the GC group that are closing-in on Dennis. 

The Ineos team car is pulled over. Dennis' effort is almost over.

10km to go. 

The Sunweb pace is hurting lots of riders. Fuglsang and Pozzovivo are struggling. 

There are seven riders up front. Almeida is there. 

Keldermann has 2 riders setting the pace as his rials drop out of the back. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart is there, as is Nibali. But the Italian is suffering and losing contact.  

Nibali is alone and seems to have eased in an attempt to try to survive and limit his losses.

Almeida is still up front with Tao Geoghegan Hart, Majka. Sunweb are in control and could reduce the Giro to a battle between Keldermann and Almeida.  

There is still 7.5km to race.

Masnada is also there for Almeida. 

Hindley ups the pace and Almeida loses contact. 

It's just Hindley, Keldermann and Geoghegan Hart up front now. 

Almeida is fighting to limit his losses but he's 25 metres behind now.  

Almeida is refusing to give up. 

The gradient has eased to 7% now and that could help him. 

Almeida is not too far off the pace as Hindley gives is all for Keldermann up front. 

When he is done it will be just Geoghegan Hart and Keldermann.  

Nibali is laready 50 seconds back, Fuglsang is at 1:10, Pozzovivo even further down the road.

5km to go

Almeida is only 15 seconds down. He is fighting all the way to hold onto his maglia rosa. 

He leads Keldermann by 56 seconds and so could stay in pink. but the climb to Piancavallo has revealed the true strength of this year's Giro.  

Nibali is slipping back to over 1:00. 

This is a huge ride by Jai Hindley. He's a huge help to Keldermann and will be for the rest of the Giro.

3km to go

João Almeida is cracking ands has slipped to 30 seconds on the trio up front. 

João Almeida can no longer see the trio of Jai Hindley and Wilco Keldermann (Sunweb) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos).

Geoghegan Hart looks strong but Keldermann will want the maximum ten-second time bonus and the stage victory.

Nibali has been joined by Fuglsang but they're at 1:20.

Geoghegan Hart is already on the big ring, while Keldermann is spinning his legs on the small chainring.

João Almeida is at 38 seconds. He could hold onto the pink jersey.

Last Kilometre! 

Hindley leads it out. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) kicks and wins! 

Almeida finishes 37 seconds back and so keeps the maglia rosa by 12 seconds or so.

He collapses on the floor after making a huge solo chase. He deserves to keep pink after that gutsy ride.

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) moving pointed at the sky as he won the stage. 

We can only presume he was dedicating his victory to Nico Portal, the Ineos directeur sportif who died this spring.

The slow motion images shows  Tao shouted NICO as he crossed the line. 

That's a moving and special victory for the British rider.

That's another stage victory for Ineos, their fifth so far. 

The new GC shows Almeida kept pink by 15 seconds. 

Keldermann is now a very dangerous second. Hindley is third at 2:56 and Geoghegan Hart is fourth overall at 2:57. 

This is the stage top ten and the new GC. 

Look at those time gaps!

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 4:58:52
2Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:02
3Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:04
4João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:37
5Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:22
6Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:29
7James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:01:36
8Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren
9Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
10Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo

General classification after stage 15
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 59:27:38
2Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:15
3Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:02:56
4Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:57
5Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:03:10
6Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:03:18
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:29
8Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 0:03:50
9Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:09
10Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:04:12

Here's Tao Geoghegan Hart as he wins stage 15 and points to the sky to remember Nico Portal. 

PIANCAVALLO ITALY OCTOBER 18 Arrival Tao Geoghegan Hart of The United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers Celebration during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 15 a 185km stage from Base Aerea Rivolto Frecce Tricolori to Piancavallo 1290m girodiitalia Giro on October 18 2020 in Piancavallo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Joao Almeida was happy to hang onto the maglia rosa.

"For sure I'm really happy. I have to be very grateful to the team for all their work. I felt good today but there were stronger riders out there and so congrats to them," he said sportingly.

"In the first one or two kilometres I thought I could come back to them. Then I was just pushing my limits, it was a suffer fest all the way to the finish. 

"I took my radio out because I was so focused on doing the best I could. I was doing everything I could to keep the jersey."

PIANCAVALLO ITALY OCTOBER 18 Arrival Joao Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Pink Leader Jersey Disappointment during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 15 a 185km stage from Base Aerea Rivolto Frecce Tricolori to Piancavallo 1290m girodiitalia Giro on October 18 2020 in Piancavallo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) talked emotionally about his stage victory.

"This one was for Nico Portal, we lost him this spring and I think it’s been really difficult for the team. We’ve had some great highs this season but also some big lows in the Tour, for me personally and in this race," he said. 

"We just had to show the Grenadier spirit we try to foster in this team and try to bounce back as we know we can.

"It’s been such an up and down race for us. We had an incredible Filippo Ganna and equally incredible Rohan Dennis yesterday and Johnny ( Narváez), who we were really sad to lose today, he also won a stage from a breakaway. Everyone in our team has been in a top four minimum, so I’m really honoured to be part of this team and to be a Grenadier and to be in this Giro."

Tao played down his GC hopes despite moving up to fourth overall, at 2:57.

"I lost some time in the prologue and the plan for the whole team was to support Geraint (Thomas) for the victory and I really think he would have been on the podium if not better," he said. 

"Etna was a very strange stage for us. We stood for five minutes with G on the floor in the neutralised zone and the day wasn't great.

"I’m behind on GC but I really wanted to win today. I’ve only won a few races in my career and so this is something truly incredible."

This was Tao's podium moment.

This is the moment Tao won and movingly dedicated his victory to Nico Portal. 

Ineos have now won five of the 15 stages of this year's Giro. 

"This team is extraordinary and we are all showing what we're capable of stage by stage," he told Italian television.  

"Everyone knows what a great influence Nico Portal had on the team and for me in particular: everyday we ride, we are remembering him.”

This new top ten GC shows how much impact today's stage had on the race. 

Almeida kept the maglia rosa but Keldermann is only 15 seconds behind him.

Jai Hindley has confirmed his Grand Tour credentials and is third overall at 2:56. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) is fourth at 2:57 and surely within a shot of the podium.

General classification after stage 15
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 59:27:38
2Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:15
3Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:02:56
4Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:57
5Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:03:10
6Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:03:18
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:29
8Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 0:03:50
9Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:09
10Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:04:12

Almeida and Keldermann have a significant and surely managable lead on their bigger-name GC rivals.

Rafa Majka (Bora) is sixth at 3:18, Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) is seventh at 3:29 and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT) is eighth at 3:50. 

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) is further back in 12th at 5:07. 

We really do seem to be seeing a generation change, even at the Giro d'Italia. 

PIANCAVALLO ITALY OCTOBER 18 Joao Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Pink Leader Jersey Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Team Trek Segafredo Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Astana Pro Team during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 15 a 185km stage from Base Aerea Rivolto Frecce Tricolori to Piancavallo 1290m girodiitalia Giro on October 18 2020 in Piancavallo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The stage started like this.... 

UNSPECIFIED, ITALY - OCTOBER 18: <<enter caption here>> on October 18, 2020 in UNSPECIFIED, Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images,)

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

And ended like this....

Giro d'Italia 2020 - 103th Edition - 15th stage Base Area Rivolto (Frecce Tricolori) - Piancavallo 185 km - 18/10/2020 - Joao Almeida (POR - Deceuninck - Quick Step)- photo POOL/Fabio Ferrari/BettiniPhoto©2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

To understand the full story from the stage and see our growing photo gallery and full results, click below.

Giro d'Italia: Tao Geoghegan Hart wins stage 15 atop Piancavallo  

UNSPECIFIED, ITALY - OCTOBER 18: <<enter caption here>> on October 18, 2020 in UNSPECIFIED, Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images,)

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

It's been a Super Sunday of racing. We don't want to spoil anything for you but if you went to enjoy our full coverage of the mens' and women's Tour of Flanders, head to our home page and dive into our race reports.

Cyclingnews.com 

We also have all the latest news after Julian Alaphilippe's crash and exclusive news and interviews from Barry Ryan at the Giro d'Italia and from Brecht Decauwler in Belgium.    

Joao Almeida started Sunday in pink and keeps it for Monday's rest day.

That mean's he equals Eddy Merckx after defending the maglia  for 13 days while under the age of 23. 

PIANCAVALLO ITALY OCTOBER 18 Start Joao Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Pink Leader Jersey Base Aerea Rivolto Peloton during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 15 a 185km stage from Base Aerea Rivolto Frecce Tricolori to Piancavallo 1290m girodiitalia Giro on October 18 2020 in Piancavallo Italy Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

To catch-up on our live coverage from the men's Tour of Flanders, click below.

Tour of Flanders – Live coverage

For the full live coverage of the women's Tour of Flanders click below.

Tour of Flanders Women - Live Coverage

The Tour of Flanders brings down the curtain on the monument Classics in this 2020 rescheduled season but the season is far from over. 

There is the AG Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne for men and women on Wednesday and both races are part of the WorldTour. 

The Vuelta a Espana also begins on Tuesday, while the Giro d'Italia continues on Tuesday after Monday's second rest day. 

The 2021 Tour de France route will also be presented on Thursday October 29.

Cyclingnews will have live coverage of the race and unique news and interviews all day, every day.  

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