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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.  

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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.

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.

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

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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. 

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.

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.

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

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: 

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. 

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.

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

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

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.

130km to go

The peloton is at near 7:00 now. 

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120km to go

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

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

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

110km to go

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. 

100km to go

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

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

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

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.

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

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80km to go

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.

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

65km to go

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

60km to go

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. 

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

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

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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. 

40km to go

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

11km to go

Everybody is close to their limits now. 

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

10km to go. 

There are seven riders up front. Almeida is there. 

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

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.  

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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 refusing to give up. 

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

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

5km to go

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 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. 

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

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

The new GC shows Almeida kept pink by 15 seconds. 

This is the stage top ten and the new GC. 

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

Joao Almeida was happy to hang onto the maglia rosa.

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

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

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

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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.

The stage started like this.... 

And ended like this....

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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