Skip to main content

Live coverage

Giro d'Italia stage 18 – Live coverage

Refresh

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia.

Today the Giro d'Italia reaches the most critical GC stage of the entire race, it's the Queen stage as we climb the iconic Stelvio.

The climbing begins right from the start in Pinzolo, the second-category Campo Carlo Magno above Madonna di Campiglio the day’s first test. Dropping away from it, the riders will arrive in the Val di Sole, but will soon be climbing away from it via a recently opened pass that appears on the route for the first time. Extending to 8.8 kilometres, the Passo Castrin/Hohmandjoch isn’t long but is consistently steep, averaging a shade over 9 per cent to its 1,704-metre summit. 

The descent takes the race into the Val d’Ultimo, passes Merano and turns west, tracking the River Adige upstream until it reaches the bottom of the Val Venosta, turning here to approach the Passo Stelvio from the Prato side. From this little town, the mythical ascent is close to 25km long, rising at an average of 7.5 per cent through 48 hairpins, many of the higher ones majestically engineered with the corners perched on towering walls of cut stone. The last third of the climb is above 2,000 metres, the altitude exacerbating the difficulty already posed by the Stelvio’s length and gradient.

The riders will descend most of the way towards Bormio, turning at Premadio to take on the ascent to the Laghi di Cancano. Averaging 6.8 per cent for 8.7 kilometres, it doesn’t compare with the Stelvio in stature, but, if the weather is fine, it will stand out both for the spectacular views and for the sheer beauty of the road, especially in those switchbacks towards the top from which the riders will emerge into two kilometres of flat to the finish next to the Cancano dam and lake.

Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia 2017 Stelvio

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

We are about 20 minutes from the official start but riders are already on the startline having signed on earlier this morning. There's Almeida, looking pretty relaxed in pink but plenty of riders will be looking to put the young QuickStep rider under pressure today. It's a huge test for the Grand Tour debutant.

Here's how things stand on GC after yesterday's stage.

General classification after stage 17
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 71:41:18
2Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:17
3Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:02:58
4Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:59
5Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:03:12
6Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:03:20
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:31
8Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 0:03:52
9Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:11
10Fausto Masnada (Ita) CCC Team 0:04:26

Some breaking news before the race gets underway and one member of staff from Astana has tested positive for COVID-19. Here's a statement from the UCI.

A total of 484 tests were performed

No rider was tested positive for Covid-1

One staff member from Astana Pro Team was tested positive for Covid-19; he was referred to his team doctor who organized isolation measures and took necessary action, in compliance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) rules, concerning contact cases.

Riders are now rolling through the neutralized zone, with 207km and four major ascents ahead of them. 

Here's what Almeida had to say after stage 17.

“I actually like the climb. I know I can be dropped there, but I like the climb,” Almeida said of the Stelvio. “I think it’s a great climb. In the end, I just hope that the strongest rider wins.”

The full story is here.

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO ITALY OCTOBER 21 Joao Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Pink Leader Jersey Forcella Valbona 1782m Snow Mountains during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 17 a 203km stage from Bassano del Grappa to Madonna di Campiglio 1514m girodiitalia Giro on October 21 2020 in Madonna di Campiglio Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One rider who is desperate for a good day in the saddle is Vincenzo Nibali. If he has any hopes of winning he needs good legs and he needs to go early today. Here he is talking after stage 17 (yesterday).

"On today's stage [Wednesday], there was a lot of expectation, and the start was full gas," he explained. "There were a lot of attacks in the first part of the day – and then we climbed at a regular pace. I expected the race to explode at any moment, but it didn't happen. On the final climb, the pace was then too high and there was little opportunity to attack.

"Clearly, in light of Saturday's changes and today's result [Almeida defending his lead], tomorrow's stage becomes the 'queen stage' and takes on considerable importance," Nibali said. 

"The profile of the stage is clear, but everything depends on the pace with which it will be faced. Expectations are high, but to make predictions is a gamble judging by how this Giro has gone so far."

The full story is here.

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) finished with the main group of GC contenders on stage 17 of the 2020 Giro d’Italia

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Some more breaking news and veteran rider and possible candidate for the stage, Giovanni Visconti, is out! The former KOM winner in the Giro has tendonitis. That's a huge blow for both him and his team.

We are still rolling through the neutralized zone but once the flag drops we'll be racing uphill immediately. At the start this morning we saw plenty of riders warming up on the rollers. 

And we've started stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia and immediately the road starts to tilt upwards. No attacks have made it so far but a few riders are certainly trying to break away. 

The first 14km of the stage are entirely uphill, until we reach the summit of the first climb. 

This climb, the Campo Carlo Magno, is only a second cat climb but it's already causing some splits in the race. Pray for the sprinters today, and the walking wounded, because they're going to be groveling out there with over 5,000m of climbing. 

AG2R have been active this morning, pinging riders up the road as they attempt to force the breakaway but nothing has stuck just yet.

Four riders skip clear but they're immediately closed down and we're back together with about 8km covered so far.

O'Connor, who won yesterday, and was second the day before was one of the riders to go on the attack but he's been brought back by the bunch. 

Team NTT Australias rider Ben OConnor celebrates on podium after winning the 17th stage of the Giro dItalia 2020 cycling race a 203kilometer route between Bassano del Grappa Madonna di Campiglio on October 21 2020 Photo by Luca Bettini AFP Photo by LUCA BETTINIAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

While here's our story on the situation at Astana.

More attacks and this looks promising as 15 riders move clear, then the group swells to 18 and we're about 2km from the summit of the first climb. No names just yet but these riders do have a gap at least. 

Ineos, Movistar, NTT, Cofidis and Bahrain McLaren are driving the pace at the moment at the front of the break.

We ar over the top of the first climb and it's Louis Meintjes who is setting the pace for the break, 15km covered so far.

Zakarin, Oomen, Swift, Cataldo Navarro, Louis Meintjes, Kangert, Holmes and Masnada are among the riders in the break at the moment. No time gap just yet though.

It's a really powerful looking break and Sunweb and QuickStep have matched each other by putting a rider in the break with Masnada and Oomen both there. I can't see anyone from Trek just yet but I think that Bernard is there.

Navarro is tearing down the descent and even has a gap on the rest of the break. 

Ruben Guerreiro is in the break and he was first over the summit so picks up 8 points. He's got a massive lead over De Gendt in the competition and should wrap things up today as the Belgian isn't in the move.

The riders in the break have now been joined by the GC favourites so we have around 40 riders in the front of the group. It'll be easier if I just tell you who is missing but as things stand all the top-10 appear to be here.

Situation

175km to go and the race is back together again but the speed has been relentless for the first 45 minutes of racing.

Navarro goes once more and this time he's joined by Ganna, Cataldo, Rossetto, De Gendt and Felline. 34km raced so far.

These six immediately draw out a gap and they're working well together. This could be our break of the day but lets see if Ruben Guerreiro is willing to let De Gendt go up the road.

At the moment the 6 leaders only have a 15 second lead but a number of GC teams will be happy with the riders up the road. 

Meanwhile, some transfer news.

Situation

36km covered. 

Fabio Felline (Astana), Dario Cataldo (Movistar Team), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Daniel Navarro (Israel Start-Up Nation), and Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers). 

We have four chasers at 25 seconds and then the bunch a further 10 seconds down.

It looks like the four chasers, who include Swift and O'Connor, are about to catch the leading six riders, while the bunch have drifted out to 1'45. In a few minutes we should have ten leaders and then a compact bunch.

Over in the Vuelta we had another tough day for the GC riders, and even after only two stages the race has been defined. You can catch up on who lost time, and who gained time, right here.

Away from the Grand Tours and Alice Tompson has written this excellent piece for us around the gender inequalities that women face - with a focus on the national hill climb championships, which take place this weekend.

Here's a link to the story, and if you have five minutes I highly recommend that you read it.

(Image credit: Phil Wilks)

Fabio Felline (Astana), Dario Cataldo (Movistar Team), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Daniel Navarro (Israel Start-Up Nation), and Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) have now been joined by Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers), Ben O'Connor (NTT Pro Cycling), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani), and Héctor Carretero (Movistar) after 44km of racing but the peloton are only one minute down.

We'll soon be on a long false flat before the road kicks up and we hit the lower slopes of the Passo Castrin.

54km covered though and the bunch are only 52 seconds back. 

It's EF who are doing the chase because they don't want De Gendt to gobble up those vital mountain points, and I presume the American team want to try and win another stage. They've pegged the leaders to within 48 seconds with 51km covered. 

47 seconds for the ten leaders who are unlikely to ask De Gendt to sit up at any point. 150km to go but this stage has already been brutal. 

We're at the foot of the climb now and the gap is holding at just over 44 seconds. 

The break splits up almost right away but then it comes back together again as EF finally stop chasing and the gap goes back out 2'29.

With the bunch sitting up the  break can concentrate on extending their lead without attacking each other and they could easily have over 5 minutes by the time we reach the summit. 

That said, almost right away Sunweb come to the front and starting setting the pace. The gap to the break is at 2'29 with 146km to go.

Kelderman and his team want to take pink today and put significant time into Almeida before the final time trial and they're just trying to soften up QuickStep on this second climb of the day.

3km from the summit of the climb and the 10-man break is still together.

Forget a five minute lead the break will be lucky to have a minute at the summit as Sunweb cut the break's advantage to 1'44 with with 143km to go.

A chase group formed with Guerreiro, Dombrowski, Holmes, Meintjes, Pedrero, and Samitier and they've caught the ten riders up front, so we now have 16 riders in the break.

Guerreiro now has an excellent chance to end the KOM competition. He was first over the first climb of the day and if we can take maximum points on this first cat asset he'll be even further ahead of De Gendt.

The  problem for Guerreiro is that he might not pick up any more points after this climb because the bunch are only at 1'30 with 143km to go.

We're on some of the steepest pitches on this climb and De Gendt is out of the saddle as he takes a turn on the front. Sunweb are just holding the break at 1'30.

And De Gendt has just put in a huge acceleration. Guerreiro is struggling right now.

The Belgian is first over  the summit and Guerreiro was second. We'll have the points  breakdown in just a few minutes but De Gendt is giving up on the mountains jersey just yet. Of course the Lotto Soudal rider won on the Stelvio back in 2012 and finished on the  podium that year after a huge solo breakaway. 

So that's 40 points for De Gendt and 18 for Guerreiro. The gap between them in the competition is still around 100 points. 

Onto the really fast descent and the break have 1'38 over the peloton with 133km to go.

The peloton crested the climb just over two minutes down.

After the acceleration from De Gendt the break have come back together but this is such a long descent that we could have more splits before we reach the valley. 

And it's De Gendt who leads the break on the descent right now. He has Holmes in the break to help him today.

Back in the bunch and it's still Sunweb setting the pace as they hold the break at just under two minutes.

Almeida is sitting third wheel at the moment and looking comfortable but the biggest tests are still to come. 

Denz is on the front, the former AG2R rider, winding things up for Kelderman with 122km to go. The gap to the break is at 2'29.

QuickStep have one or two riders near the front but the maglia rosa is happy to just sit at the back of the Sunweb train for now.

Even though it's 10 against 1 with just Denz on the front of the peloton the gap isn't going out too much. It's at 2'16 with the a long stretch in the valley once we're off this descent. 

A reminder of how the  GC stands coming into the race.

General classification after stage 17
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 71:41:18
2Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:17
3Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:02:58
4Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:59
5Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:03:12
6Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:03:20
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:31
8Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 0:03:52
9Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:11
10Fausto Masnada (Ita) CCC Team 0:04:26

The break reach the start of the valley and this is where they need to keep the pressure on and try and look for more time. The gap is currently at 2'27.

Riders in both the break and the peloton head through the feedzone and with 111km to go the gap is at 2'27.

It's still Denz on the front of the bunch and doing all the work but the pace is steady rather than spectacular. 

107km to go and Nibali has flown. 

Well he accelerated with Sagan, but has now eased up but that was interesting.  

Nibali is back and it looked like he wanted to make sure that there was some pace at the front because Denz has stopped. Now we have QuickStep back on the front and Nibali and Knox sharing a few friendly words.

106km to go and the gap to the break is at 2'29.

The bunch eases up as a number of riders head back to the team cars and that has allowed the break to extend their lead to 3'14 with 104km to go.

And after a break Denz is back on the front and setting the pace for the peloton. 

100km to go and the break have 3'11 over the peloton. 

Almeida is coming back through the cars for a second time and his team are waiting for him. There's no major rush at this point.

We have an intermediate sprint coming up but  the break will decide that. We have 93km to go and the bunch are holding the break at 3'29. 

The Stelvio is looming though, all 25km of it, and that's where a lot of this Giro will be decided. After that there's still the tough climb to the finish but  ahead the break continue to share the workload, even though their chances of winning are very slim.

The NTT riders in the break will know that their chances aren't great but  they're well positioned to help Domenico Pozzovivo later on in the race.

The long valley in between the climbs is gently uphill and as the bunch pick up more food and bidons the gap to the break extends to 4'08 with 88km to go. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart is near the front of the bunch and his Ineos team are well placed back in the bunch. They have two good riders up the road as well, and Dennis to support the British climber back in the peloton. He's only a second off the podium right now and has looked stronger as the race has gone on.

Giro dItalia 2020 103rd Edition 15th stage Base Area Rivolto Frecce Tricolori Piancavallo 185km 18102020 Tao Geoghegan Hart GBR Ineos Grenadiers photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Some breaking news from Spain and Pinot will not start stage 3. Here's the story.

Back to the Giro and De Gendt and company have 3'55 with 81km to go.

And it's still Denz on the front of the bunch as the road gently flattens out again. We're about 20km from the intermediate sprint.

The bunch ease up again so a few more riders can drop back to the cars and take short stops.

4'21 for the leaders with 76km to go on the stage and it's pretty calm out there for now. Everyone knows what's coming later on in the stage but there's no fight for position yet. That will come though.

How it started. 

LAGHI DI CANCANO ITALY OCTOBER 22 Start Joao Almeida of Portugal and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Pink Leader Jersey Ruben Guerreiro of Portugal and Team EF Pro Cycling Blue Mountain Jersey during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 18 a 207km stage from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio 1945m girodiitalia Giro on October 22 2020 in Laghi di Cancano Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

How it's going.

LAGHI DI CANCANO ITALY OCTOBER 22 Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier Werkilul of Eritrea and NTT Pro Cycling Team Matthew Holmes of The United Kingdom and Team Lotto Soudal Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski of The United States and UAE Team Emirates during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 18 a 207km stage from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio 1945m girodiitalia Giro on October 22 2020 in Laghi di Cancano Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

This is what's coming up.

Situation

The bunch have started to up the pace and they've shaved almost an entire minute off the break's lead. With 68km to go the gap is at 3'08.

It's still Sunweb on the front but Ineos are just being them with  Tao Geoghegan Hart riding on Dennis' wheel.

Denz and Haga lead the peloton for now as we see a few riders from the break drop back to their cars. They know the climb is coming and they're just trying to get ready.

The intermediate sprint is coming up but the break are back at riding in a double pace-line and sharing the work. Apart from De Gendt who goes clear briefly and then sits up after taking 12 points.

We're at the foot and De Gendt attacks right at the foot of the  Stelvio.

O'Connor goes with him and then the rest of the break follow suit. The gentle gradient at the start of the climb will give way soon enough.

The bunch hit the lower slopes of the climb and Sagan is still here and working for Konrad and Majka. 

60km to go and the gap to the break is at 2'53. There's still such a long way to go though even on this climb.

Sagan peels off but that  was a good turn from the former world champion as Denz and Haga remain on the front of the peloton. We're already down to about 30 riders in the maglia rosa group.

The maglia rosa looks good and he still has teammates around him for now but this is a big day for Masnada and Knox.

2'15 for the leaders on the road but Sunweb and the rest of the maglia rosa group are closing as Cataldo is dropped  from the break.

Louis Meintjes is doing all the work on the front of the break.

57km to go and Haga takes over from Denz.

Louis Meintjes has dropped a couple more riders from the break but they've lost a few more seconds. De Gendt has been dropped. 

Ineos are down to three in the peloton but they have two riders in the break still.

Haga and Denz did a great job and it's still the American on the front. 

With De Gendt dropped that's the KOM jersey probably done and dusted. This is the Cima Coppi though so there are 50 points available at the top.

Just 1'32 now for what's left in the break but all change in the bunch as Haga pulls over. Up ahead and O'Conner has attacked with 54km to go.

Tonelli has been caught by the bunch, along with De Gendt but the maglia rosa group is down to less than 15 riders, four f of them from Sunweb.

O'Connor has 12 seconds on the break and 1'37 on the main field.

Make that five from Sunweb in a group of around 20. Almeida still has two riders with him but it looks like Domenico Pozzovivo is struggling near the back of the group. Still 53km to go on the stage.

Domenico Pozzovivo is hanging on here  and this isn't a good sign at all. He started the day in  8th overall but if he's dropped here then his top-10 chances will be all but  over. He needs to hang on.

No such worries for O'Connor who has 1'42 over the peloton now.

Domenico Pozzovivo is second last wheel and Bilbao is near him. Sunweb are cracking QuickStep too as Knox is just ahead of Domenico Pozzovivo.

Fuglsang is there but alone, Nibali I think has one teammate with him as the bunch pick up a couple more riders from the early break.

Is McNulty there? I can't see him at the moment but O'Connor still has about 13km to go climb.

50km to go and Domenico Pozzovivo is in trouble. He loses the wheel but then comes back as Nibali loses his last teammate.

Felline is caught so Fuglsang has a teammate once more. O'Connor still has 1'47.

The leader in the mountains classification has now been caught. 

Still can't see McNulty in the maglia rosa group. He was 13th coming into the stage and Domenico Pozzovivo has been dropped and the maglia rosa is in trouble too with 49km to go.

Almeida is right at the back of the group and he's hanging on for dear life as Sunweb turn the screw.

It's the Oomen on the front now and that's making  the difference.

The injection of pace sees O'Connor's gap drop to 1'30 but Almeida is fighting on. He's closed that small gap that opened up.

Majka and Konrad are struggling too. 

Holmes is caught as Oomen continues to put everyone in the red. Almeida is still hanging in there though with another great ride.

The maglia rosa has cracked. He's off the back with 48km to go. 

Masnada looks back and eases up but he might have to lead the race leader now.

Oomen is now dropped after that decisive turn.

And now Ineos come to the front as Majka and Konrad lose group. We're down to less than ten riders as Ganna is caught and moves to the front right away.

20 seconds down for Almeida already so he's out of the maglia rosa.

47km to go and we're down to just four because Nibali and Fuglsang are dropped. So we just have Tao Geoghegan Hart , Dennis, Kelderman and Hindley. Incredible. 

Nibali can't even follow Fuglsang at the moment.

46km to go and Kelderman has been dropped.

He's coming back, he's coming back but that's a huge scare for Sunweb as Dennis keeps the pace high.

Kelderman is back but that's a terrible sign with so far to go. The maglia rosa is one minute down on Tao Geoghegan Hart and company. This race has totally been blown up by Sunweb and  now Ineos.

There are groups all over the road and O'Connor is still clear. He has about 40 seconds on the Tao Geoghegan Hart / Kelderman group.

Nibali is in a small group with Bilbao but he's about 30 seconds down and now Kelderman is dropped again.

He's the virtual leader on the road, Kelderman and he's dropped with 45km to go. This is so far from the finish that Hindley can't wait. And he's not.

Kelderman has lost but 10 seconds but his entire race is unravelling and now it's down to Tao Geoghegan Hart  and Hindley, who are separated by just a second on GC.

45km to go and O'Connor has been caught. 

Kelderman is still at about 10 seconds and he needs to dig in and hope that Dennis slows but no sign of that just yet.

Kelderman is crumbling slowly as down the road Fuglsang has been caught by the Nibali group. Kelderman needs to hold the gap to Ineos and then try and come back on the descent. We've still got one more climb to come as O'Connor dropped. 

Kelderman is 17 seconds down at the moment. He's still the  virtual leader on the road and came into the stage with a healthy lead over Tao Geoghegan Hart but the race is riding away from him. He can't panic but these are very tense times.

There's such a long way to go, even on this climb and Tao Geoghegan Hart looks comfortable. Dennis is still doing a huge turn on the front and Kelderman is now at 24 seconds. 

Kelderman could be out of the virtual lead by the top of this climb, as we've still got 6km to go.

So Dennis, Tao Geoghegan Hart , and Hindley have 28 seconds on Kelderman with 43km to go. Nibali is at 1'08 and Almeida is a 1'59.

Kelderman has 2:44 to play with or rather that's what he did have. Tao Geoghegan Hart has taken 30 seconds of that back already. 

Dennis is just keeping the pace high enough for Tao Geoghegan Hart  and Hindley but Kelderman is holding things for now. He's still at 31 seconds and he could maybe bring some of that back on the descent. 

Back down the  road and Nibali has been dropped by Fuglsang and two riders from Bahrain McLaren.

Kelderman is now 34 seconds down on the three leaders. 4km to the summit.

Almeida is now  2'30 down on the leading trio, so about two minutes down on Kelderman.

Kelderman loses another 10 seconds. Tao Geoghegan Hart  doesn't have to attack yet, he's still got the final climb to come.

It's 41 seconds and he'll be lucky to hold it at under a minute by the time we get to the summit.  

If Dennis looks out over the edge of the climb he can see Kelderman one switchback below. Still 3km to go until we reach the summit with 40km to go on the stage.

The gap is holding at 37 seconds so Kelderman is just holding things at the moment. Now it's 40 seconds.

There's no one further down the climb who can come back and help Kelderman at this point and the gap is out to 43 seconds. 

The gap is holding at 40 seconds with 39km to go as Fuglsang and Bilbao ride together having dropped Nibali.

Nibali is on his own and represents the fourth group on the road.

The three leaders are near the summit now and they have 43 seconds on Kelderman. 

The Ineos riders have put on their jackets as they prep for this important descent. 

Kelderman is okay at going downhill but he needs the best descent of his life as Hindley struggles with his jacket. Kelderman is struggling with his too. This is a real problem. 

Kelderman is dressed. Hindley still has problems with his jacket. He's done it and we're almost at the summit. 

Kelderman is holding at 40 seconds, so he's survived this climb at least. Hindley still has problems with his zip, as Dennis is the first rider over the Stelvio. Who  thought that was going to happen today?

Kelderman crests the summit with 37km to go and the gap at 46 second. 20km of full on descent.

Sunweb have made the right call here in not waiting for Kelderman but he's still the leader on the road with two minutes on GC. Hindley couldn't do his jacket up as Nibali crests to the minutes down.

Dennis could pull this gap out to a minute in the valley before the final climb. 

3'38 for Almeida at the summit and his podium chances are almost over.

Kelderman hasn't been able to do is jacket up either and that  will count on this freezing descent. 

43 seconds between the leading trio and Kelderman, who just chucks his jacket to the ground. He has taken three seconds back though.

It's so cold out there on the descent and Kelderman is going to pay for that when the final climb starts. The gap is at 44 seconds with 31km to go. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart is in a perfect position at the moment thanks to the ride from Dennis who continues to lead on the descent. Kelderman is now at 45 seconds and has just under two minutes to play with. 

Tao Geoghegan Hart  lost a few bike lengths on a corner but he's coming back. 

Kelderman isn't taking any risks and to be fair he's done well to limit his loses up until this point. The gap is at 42 seconds with 25km to go. 

40 seconds of a gap and Kelderman would snap your hand off for that sort of time loss at the finish. 23km to go.

Situation

Almeida has taken about a minute back on the descent and is at 3'23. Nibali is at 2;40, Kelderman is at 40 seconds with 20km to go.

Kelderman takes on a gel as he prepares for this final climb that could make or break his Giro d'Italia.

Jackets off for the  Ineos pair as they hit the short valley. It's time for Dennis to make the difference once again. The gap is 40 seconds as Kelderman takes a bottle. Could have held on for longer there...

Kelderman didn't look too happy then either. He wanted a bit more of a chat but the car has left him. The gap is now 48 seconds. 

Hindley is still waiting for the car and the gap is now at 50 seconds with 15.6km to go and Kelderman just looks slower. 

He takes a second gel and then tosses it to the side of the  road. 

We're climbing again and the gap is at 57 seconds with 14.9km to go. 

Kelderman is running on fumes here and it's not a good sign because the real climb hasn't even started, that was just a short little rise. The gap is at 1'09.

Bilbao and Fuglsang are only 20 seconds down on Kelderman who is now at 1'11.

Right now the maglia rosa is on Kelderman's shoulders but he's not riding like a race leader because the gap has opened out to 1'20. I don't think he'll have the lead at the end of the stage. 

At this rate Tao Geoghegan Hart  or Hindley is going to be in pink and based off what we've seen so far it will be Tao Geoghegan Hart . 

Tao Geoghegan Hart  takes time at the bonus seconds and that means Tao Geoghegan Hart  is above Hindley in the GC. The Australian is just looking to keep pace.

10.7km to go and the gap between Tao Geoghegan Hart  and Kelderman is at 1'36. The climb starts in about 500m.

10.2km and Dennis pulls over and Tao Geoghegan Hart is only 59 seconds off the race lead. This is incredible. 

How long can Hindley hold on for? That's the big question at this point. Kelderman is at 1'47.

GC at the bonus sprint
Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:01:14
Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:15
João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:02:26
Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:03:17
Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:04:22
Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:05:31
Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:05:46
Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:06:37
Fausto Masnada (Ita) CCC Team 0:06:52

Kelderman has totally cracked now as Bilbao and Fuglsang ride away from him. Geoghegan Hart has 1'40.

Geoghegan Hart has a quick word with Geoghegan Hart. They'll know over the radio that Kelderman can't keep pace with Fuglsang and Bilbao. 

This climb is far from easy, especially after what we had on the Stelvio but Kelderman has found some momentum. He has about 40 seconds to play with at this point.

Geoghegan Hart is having more words with Hindley. 

Kelderman can see Fuglsang and Bilbao and now Dennis ahead of him. He's holding the gap at 1'40.

We've still got 7.7km to go as we see Almeida is at 4'26. 

Kelderman rides through Dennis and he has taken two seconds back. If he can pull Fuglsang and Bilbao back that will be huge but  he's about 18 seconds down on that pair now.

Out front and Geoghegan Hart is setting the pace and Hindley is still holding on. 7km to go. 

Kelderman will be hugely relieved that he's managed to keep the gap where it is. He's even found a few more seconds. It's at 1'35 but what will Geoghegan Hart later on the climb. 

Nibali is about to be caught by the maglia rosa group.

And with 6.4km to go Bilbao  has dropped Fuglsang. 

Bilbao is at 1'09 and he could finish today on the podium if this continues. He could even feature in the stage as he takes 5 more seconds back. 

Kelderman has found a few more seconds and he's now at 1'32. 5.8km to go.

1'35 for Kelderman now with 5.5km to go as we see Almeida lead a group that contains Majka and Nibali. The young QuickStep rider has, despite losing the jersey, has put up a huge fight today.

Bilbao is closing now, he's at 48 seconds. Geoghegan Hart keeps having words with Hindley. He certainly looks confident.

Bilbao now at 45 seconds. He won't come back but this is a huge ride from the Bahrain ride. Kelderman on GC has a 1'07 lead on Geoghegan Hart. 4.6km to go.

5km to go on GC
Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:05
Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:01:06
Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:02:10
João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:02:35
Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:04:50
Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:05:55
Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:06:46
Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
Fausto Masnada (Ita) CCC Team 0:07:06

4km to go and the road does flatten out soon.

1'42 for Kelderman so it's going out again slowly. 

1'48 now with 3.5km to go.

Kelderman  then responds and brings the gap down to 1'43. This has been a brutal stage.

3km to go and Geoghegan Hart  and Hindley lead with Bilbao at 40 seconds and Kelderman at 1'43.

We're almost at the top as Geoghegan Hart gets out the saddle and looks to put more time into Kelderman. 1'50 now.

2km to go and again Geoghegan Hart lifts the pace.

The road levels off for a bit now. 

1'58 is the gap and Kelderman is starting to crack as Geoghegan Hart time trials to the finish. 2'02 and this could be close. Hindley has to win the stage.

800m to go.

Geoghegan Hart needs to think about GC and not the stage. 

Geoghegan Hart leads out

Jai Hindley (Sunweb) wins stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia.

Bilbao takes third. Great ride from him.

Fuglsang is fourth but where is Kelderman?

Here comes Kelderman. He comes over the line at 2'17. He takes pink but only just. 

Nibali and Almeida come to the line next, over four minutes down on Hindley.

And  here are the gaps for the stage and the GC:

1 Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 6:03:03
2 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
3 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:0:46
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:25
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:18

General classification
1 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 77:46:56
2 Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:0:12
3 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:0:15

Mixed emotions for Sunweb. They finish the day first and second overall and have a stage win but they'll be really concerned with Tao Geoghegan Hart at just 15 seconds.

Here are the top ten for today and the new GC:

1 Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 6:03:03
2 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
3 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:0:46
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:25
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:02:18
6 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:04
7 Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:04:51
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
9 Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain McLaren
10 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:04:55

General classification
1 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 77:46:56
2 Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:0:12
3 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:0:15
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 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:06:46
10 Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain McLaren 0:07:23

You can find our report, new and results, right here.

LAGHI DI CANCANO ITALY OCTOBER 22 Arrival Jai Hindley of Australia and Team Sunweb White Best Young Rider Jersey Celebration Tao Geoghegan Hart of The United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 18 a 207km stage from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio 1945m girodiitalia Giro on October 22 2020 in Laghi di Cancano Italy Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

While, you can find our live coverage for stage 3 of the  Vuelta a Espana right here.

Lets hear from Kelderman: 


It was a crazy day, super hard, the hardest day of my life. It was a super fight. It couldn't be any better for us with Jai getting the stage win and me in pink. I knew it would be close but I got it, so I'm happy. We dropped Almeida quite early on the Stelvio and then it was a race - Ineos was super strong with two guys and I couldn't hold them. So then it was just a race for myself behind them. I'm happy with today, now we recover and make plans and then we see the last stages what happens.

Here's our stage winner Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb).

It’s such a beautiful stage today, with such epic climbs. I’m just over the moon to get the win. I knew Tao was going to ride all the way to the line to try to get as much time as he could, I was told to sit on him and not do any work, which I did, because I knew Wilco was most likely going into the jersey. I saw the opportunity to take a stage and I took it. I think Tao was pretty strong and was also climbing at a really high level here, he’s been super impressive. It wasn’t our tactic to go solo. I followed the plan, got the stage and I’m happy with that.

Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep):

I’m proud of what I did. I’m happy. On the other hand, I lost the pink jersey. The other guys were stronger and there’s nothing I could do. I was on the limit and I knew I could not go with that rhythm to the top. Then I took my rhythm in order not to lose too much time. In the end I think I did a good stage. They were just super strong. I’m not at their level. I like the climb of the Stelvio, it’s super hard. I was happy to have my family there at the top of some Portuguese people. I even cried with emotion and I’m very thankful to them.

Latest on Cyclingnews