The queen stage of the Giro d’Italia was cut back by 60 kilometres and two major mountain passes but it still produced a major shake-up, with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) winning the stage and tightening his grip on the maglia rosa.
The wet and snowy conditions that had forced the re-routing also grounded the television transmitters, shrouding the ascent and descent of the mighty Passo Giau in a cloud of mystery.
Bernal made his move half-way up the 10-kilometre first-category climb, after EF Education-Nippo had shredded the bunch to an elite selection of GC riders. The Colombian breezed past the breakaway remnants to lead alone over the 2236-metre summit of what was now the ‘Cima Coppi’ - the highest point in the Giro – and he safely negotiated the 17km descent to celebrate his second stage win in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Caruso had distanced Bardet on the upper slopes of the climb but was caught by the Frenchman on the descent, as the pair both clawed back time on an apparently more cautious Bernal. Still, Caruso moved from third to second overall, at 2:24, at the expense of Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), who fell to fifth after suffering on the Giau. The Briton was dropped even before Simon Carr had done the last turn for EF Education-Nippo and their leader Hugh Carthy, and went on to ship 2:37 to Bernal.
Carthy, who had wanted to go ahead with the full 212km stage, himself finished in fifth place, just behind Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) as the pair conceded 1:18 to Bernal. The Briton had reportedly sensed an opportunity to turn the whole Giro on its head, but he had to settle for moving into third overall, 3:40 down on Bernal.
Carthy and Ciccone finished in a trio with João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who was given the freedom to enter the breakaway on a day when his teammate Remco Evenepoel’s GC challenge came to a definitive end. The young Belgian lost contact with the peloton on the approach to the Passo Giau and lost more than 20 minutes, plummeting out of the top 10. Leadership therefore passed back to Almeida, who climbed to 10th overall, albeit 10 minutes down.
Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) suffered an untimely issue that held him up just before the start of the final climb and, despite help from Gorka Izagirre who dropped back from the break, he was never able to regain contact. By the finish, where he crossed the line in seventh ahead of Izagirre, he was still fourth overall, but a further 2:11 off Bernal’s lead.
Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) was the next finisher from the day’s breakaway, while Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) caught and passed a rapidly fading Yates to round out the top 10 on the stage and move to ninth overall. However, the Italian was docked 10 seconds, penalized for holding onto a team car.
There were developments aplenty but one constant in the superiority of Bernal, who took the time to remove his black rain cape in the home straight to celebrate in the pink jersey.
“It's a big victory. If you win with the maglia rosa it's special so I wanted to show it and respect the jersey,” he said.“I wanted to do something special. I wanted to show I am back in the game. The team believed in me during the stage, and I just tried to go and to do something special. It was hard, of course. But when the race is hard because of the weather you need to be hard in the mentality also. I had the mentality in the beginning, and I kept it. It was a day to suffer, and we did it.”
How it unfolded
After morning discussions between riders and race organisers, the start of the stage was delayed by half an hour, with the route cut by 60km and two major mountain passes.
The rain was already pelting down by the time the riders left Sacile, and Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) cut a lonely figure as he was seemingly the only rider interested in forming a breakaway on the flat opening 10km.
It was a different story, however, once they hit the early first-category climb of La Crosetta, which measured 11.6km at an average gradient of 7.1 per cent.
That’s where a large and high-quality breakaway formed, containing 24 riders: Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën), Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix), Natnael Tesfatsion (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Gorka Izagirre (Astana-PremierTech), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Victorious), Matteo Fabbro, Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal), Antonio Pedrero, Einer Rubio, Davide Villella (Movistar), Tanel Kangert (Team BikeExchange), Nicolas Roche (Team DSM), Vincenzo Nibali, Gianluca Brambilla, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Giovanni Viconti, Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane).
The main danger men from a general classification perspective were Martin, 12th overall at 7:50, Almeida, 13th at 8:32, Formolo, 14th at 9:52, and Nibali, 17th at 14:25.
Bouchard beat those riders, plus stage 14 winner Fortunato, to the top of La Crosetta to extend his lead in the mountains classification. Meanwhile, the peloton had slipped back to three minutes by the time they reached the summit.
The breakaway then split on the descent, with Nibali going clear with his teammate Ghebreizgbhier, plus Almeida, Formolo, Izaguirre, and Pedrero.
As they took on the 70km stretch in the valley, which ramped up gradually towards the Passo Giau, that sextet established itself as the lead group, soon opening up a minute on their former companions and five minutes on the peloton, where Ineos Grenadiers were controlling the tempo en masse.
By the first of the two intermediate sprints, in Agordo with 92km on the clock and 62km to go, the leading six were nearly four minutes up on the rest of the break, with Izagirre crossing first to claim maximum points.
With Filippo Ganna and Salvatore Puccio combining to keep the peloton just over five minutes from the front of the race, those breakaway remnants started to lose interest. Bouwman was the first to drop away, while the rest of the group were all caught by the bunch with 55km to go.
There was a change in the peloton with just under 50km to go as EF Education-Nippo took over from Ineos on the front. The gap was down to 4:30 but the American team appeared keen to reduce it further and set Carthy up for a possible stage win, with one rider calling for collaboration from Ineos Grenadiers.
The second intermediate sprint came in Capile with just under 40km to go and carried bonuses of 3-2-1 seconds. Ghebreigzabhier crossed first, followed by Almeida and Nibali. Back in the bunch, Tejay van Garderen was pushing on to the extent that the peloton briefly split in two and the gap to the leaders ducked below the three-minute mark.
The road then tilted uphill even more sharply ahead of the Passo Giau, and Ghebreigzabhier was soon dropped, having done the bulk of the heavy lifting for Nibali. Back in the bunch, Evenepoel lost contact as Alberto Bettiol continued the EF charge, slashing the gap to 1:45.
The official start of the Passo Giau was preceded by a 2km descent, where Pedrero accelerated to take a slim lead onto the climb, while Izagirre narrowly avoided a crash but was soon called back to work for Vlasov, who'd been held up by some sort of problem.
The Passo Giau, measuring 9.9km at 9.3 per cent, began with 28km remaining, and with the gap between break and bunch at 1:45. Pedrero was soon caught by Nibali and Formolo, while Almeida quickly lost ground and Izagirre found himself well off the back. A couple of kilometres up, Formolo accelerated away.
There was an even bigger explosion in the bunch, as Simon Carr took it up as the next and last man for Carthy. It was nowhere near a ‘bunch’ in fact, as just eight riders remained after a kilometre of the climb.
Along with Carr and Carthy, Bernal was present and correct with his teammate Dani Martinez, while Caruso, Yates, Ciccone, and Bardet were the other members of the group. Vlasov was struggling to claw his way back at a deficit of around 15 seconds. He soon had company when Izagirre was caught, but Carr was turning the screw, to the extent that Yates, who’d been hovering at the back, lost contact before the half-way point.
Up front, Pedrero worked his way up to Formolo, and then accelerated away from him. Almeida found a new wind, overtaking Nibali and then Formolo as he took up the pursuit of the Spaniard. Half-way up the Giau, Pedrero was just a minute clear of the GC group.
At that point, Bernal lit the touchpaper. When Carr finished his turn, the Colombian decided to take matters into his own hands, launching a vicious seated acceleration. Carthy was quickest to follow at first, while Carr and Martinez immediately fell away, but Caruso and Bardet soon emerged as the closest pursuers. Either way, Bernal was solo, and he made quick work of Nibali, Formolo, and Almeida, before reaching Pedrero and moving clear alone at the head of the race.
Television pictures broke down, but 2.5km from the summit, Bernal was 25 seconds clear of Caruso, with Bardet at 33 seconds and Carthy with Almeida and Pedrero at 42 seconds. Ciccone was timed at 50 seconds, ahead of Formolo, Yates, and then Vlasov at just over a minute.
By the summit of the Giau at 2236 metres, with 17km to go, Bernal led the race alone, increasing his advantage over Caruso to 45 seconds. Bardet was at 1:15, with Ciccone next over the top at 1:30, just ahead of Carthy and Almeida. Vlasov was next over the top, dropping Yates as the Briton hit real difficulty and slipped to 2:40.
There was 17km of fast descending that separated the summit from the finish line down in Cortina d’Ampezzo. The rain had eased but the road surface was still slippery and treacherous. Bernal appeared reluctant to take too many risks, as Caruso closed back to within 30 seconds with 8.5km to go, and Bardet closing to 45 seconds. The pair did join forces, and all bar Yates managed to limit some of the damage but, as the second week draws to a close, Bernal reinforced the notion that he’s in a league of his own.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers||4:22:41|
|2||Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM||0:00:27|
|3||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|4||Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:01:18|
|5||Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo||0:01:19|
|6||João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:01:21|
|7||Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech||0:02:11|
|8||Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech||0:02:31|
|9||Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:02:33|
|10||Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma|
|11||Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange||0:02:37|
|12||Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team||0:02:51|
|13||Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers||0:03:13|
|14||George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma||0:06:12|
|15||Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Team BikeExchange|
|16||Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation||0:07:10|
|17||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:07:16|
|18||Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||0:07:25|
|19||Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma||0:07:33|
|20||Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:08:22|
|21||Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ||0:08:24|
|22||Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team|
|23||Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers||0:10:17|
|24||Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious|
|25||Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo||0:10:32|
|26||Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech||0:11:40|
|27||Vadim Pronskiy (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|28||Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'||0:11:48|
|29||Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|30||Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|31||Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:12:11|
|32||Callum Scotson (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:16:03|
|33||Harold Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana-Premier Tech|
|34||Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:16:47|
|35||Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team|
|36||Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers|
|37||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:17:44|
|38||Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team||0:17:55|
|39||Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech||0:18:32|
|40||Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R Citroën Team|
|41||Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:18:49|
|42||Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri) Trek-Segafredo||0:18:54|
|43||Michael Storer (Aus) Team DSM|
|44||Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:19:19|
|45||Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:19:49|
|46||Tanel Kangert (Est) Team BikeExchange|
|47||Matteo Badilatti (Swi) Groupama-FDJ||0:19:57|
|48||Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||0:20:16|
|49||Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team||0:21:06|
|50||Simon Pellaud (Swi) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|51||Simone Ravanelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|52||Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|53||Andrii Ponomar (Ukr) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|54||Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange||0:23:19|
|55||Michael Hepburn (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|56||Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel Start-up Nation|
|57||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo||0:23:45|
|58||Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:24:05|
|59||James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|60||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|61||Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|62||Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|63||Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|64||Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech|
|65||Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers|
|66||Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team|
|67||Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:26:42|
|68||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Bahrain Victorious||0:27:29|
|69||Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'||0:27:41|
|70||Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|71||Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal|
|72||Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|73||Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team||0:27:50|
|74||Márton Dina (Hun) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team|
|75||Jan Hirt (Cze) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|76||Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'||0:28:17|
|77||Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo|
|78||Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|79||Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|80||Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech||0:28:49|
|81||Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:29:29|
|82||Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team|
|83||Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar Team|
|84||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:29:53|
|85||Nico Denz (Ger) Team DSM||0:30:10|
|86||Davide Gabburo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'||0:30:19|
|87||Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ||0:31:42|
|88||Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain Victorious||0:32:26|
|89||Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM|
|90||Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team DSM||0:32:36|
|91||Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:32:42|
|92||Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|93||Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|94||Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|95||Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious|
|96||Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:33:03|
|97||Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-Nippo||0:33:45|
|98||Tejay van Garderen (USA) EF Education-Nippo|
|99||Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo|
|100||Mark Christian (GBr) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team|
|101||Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team|
|102||Edward Ravasi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team|
|103||Max Kanter (Ger) Team DSM||0:34:15|
|104||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo||0:34:30|
|105||Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM||0:35:25|
|106||Paul Martens (Ger) Jumbo-Visma||0:36:16|
|107||Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma|