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Giro d'Italia stage 20 Live - Final GC battle on Monte Grappa double ascent


Buongiorno and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 20 of the 2024 Giro d'Italia!

It’s time for the penultimate stage of the 2024 Giro d’Italia, and the last realistic chance for changes to the GC before tomorrow’s finale in Rome.

At this equivalent stage of last year’s Giro, there was huge drama as Primož Roglič deposed Geraint Thomas at the top of the overall standings to take the Maglia Rosa from him at the very last hurdle. 

Pogačar has today just two climbs of the Monte Grappa left to negotiate to seal the Pink Jersey — and perhaps more importantly, two descents. He has such a big lead and such superior form that that won’t be reversed on the uphills, but all that could still come undone if he makes a mistake and crashes on these tricky downhills. The Giro is all but his, but he’ll still have to be careful.

While the pink jersey may now be out of sight for everyone else, there are plenty more prizes up for grabs. Dani Martínez and Geraint Thomas currently hold the two other podium spots behind the Slovenian, with much more vulnerable leads of 2-05 and 1-43  respectively over Ben O’Connor in fourth, and 2-47 and 2-25 over Antonio Tiberi in fifth.

For others, the name of the game is survival. If Jonathan Milan can come through this stage unscathed and within the time limit, then he will be on the cusp of sealing victory in a second successive Maglia Ciclamino classification.

Adding to the difficulty of today’s stage is the weather. The rain is falling at the start, and there are a lot of anxious, uncomfortable faces in the peloton.

Tadej Pogačar

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The riders are making their way through the neutralised zone - not long now until the official start.

Make sure to read our preview of the stage before all the action kicks off.


Inevitably, there are attacks right from the flag.

Despite those moves, nobody has managed to get a gap yet.

Stage winner Georg Steinhauser is leading a group of about six riders that have a few seconds' lead.

That group's been brought back, but Steinhauser is among those trying to get into a new one. He seems intent on getting in the break today.

It may be that Steinhauser is targetting the King of the Mountains jersey. He's currently wearing the blue jersey in place of Pogačar (who's wearing pink jersey), and could still mathematically win the classification outright - but he'll need to claim a lot of points on today's summits if he's to have a chance. 

Two riders have at last managed to get a gap - Davide Ballerini and a representitve ftom Groupama-FDJ.

Jonathan Milan

(Image credit: Getty Images)


The latest such attack comes from Mirco Maestri, but several others have followed him and succeeded only in dragging the whole bunch back to him. This pattern looks set to continue for a while.

giro d'italia

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Andrea Pietrobon attacks and is caught, then Mario Frigo counters, with a few riders going with him.

Now they've all been brought back to. Ballerini and Germani are still up the road though, with a lead of nearly 30 seconds. 

This looks a bit more promising - about six riders have managed to open up a bit of a gap. More riders are firing off the front to try and join them, though, which could spell the move's doom. 

There are 8 or so riders together, and no riders between them and the peloton trying to chase. This is looking like it could be the break...

There are actually nine riders in that group, and are chasing down Ballerini and Germani. We'll have a full list of the personnel in that group soon.

The riders have been climbing the category four Muro di Ca' del Poggio this past kilometre, and Germani has taken the maximum points at the summit ahead of Ballerini.

Yesterday's stage winner Andrea Vendrame is among the chasing group of nine - he's clearly recovered well from yesterday's mighty effort.

The pace is really off in the peloton now, so much so that  they're almost coming to a standstill on the steep slopes of this climb. Everyone seems happy with this break.

Davide Ballerini

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Ballerini and Germani are having a chat, and have slowed down waiting for the the chasers to catch them. Only a matter of time now.


Now things have settled down on the road, take a lot at the custom bike Tadej Pogačar is riding today.


Tadej Pogačar

Tadej Pogačar in the rain (Image credit: Getty Images)

The rain has actually eased off for now, with some sunshine even gracing the riders. That could make the upcoming descents a lot less dangerous.


Curious scenes in the peloton, as Tadej Pogačar is out the back talking to the doctor's car, and looking aggravated about something. It’s hard to tell what exactly the problem is, but he looks uncharacteristically annoyed.

The issue (if it is an issue) appears to have something to do with his arms. He has been wiping both quite vigorously.

Andrea Vendrame

(Image credit: Getty Images)


The break has arrived at an intermediate sprint, and intent has been shown by some riders. Ballerini broke off the front to sweep up the maximum points, while Theuns made an effort to take second ahead of Pietrobon in third. 

There are some strong climbers in this break, who could hold on for a stage win if given too much of a head start before the double ascent of Monte Grappa. 

An update on Tadej Pogačar’s ‘problem’ - according to Adam Blythe of Eurosport, UAE Team Emirates staff have confirmed that all he was looking for was some sunscreen, which his team weren’t initially able to provide. Presumably that was what he was wiping his arms with. Mystery solved!


Jhonatan Narváez has gone down in the peloton, but it seems like an innocuous incident. 

Narváez is up and riding by the team car, still off the back of the peloton.

Here we go, the race is about to start to really get going - we’re climbing Monte Grappa for the first time! Already the break is splitting up.

Vendrame is hungry for more success, it seems. While the non-climbers like Ballerini and Thuns are dropped out the back, he's attacked and has a gap. 

He's been joined by Janssens, who, after exchanging a few attacks, are now working together. 

Now Janssens has pushed on, while Vendrame is being caught and passed by others.

Sánchez and  Mulubrhan are together ahead of Vendrame, and have just caught Janssens. 

After all those attacks and counter-attacks, Sánchez, Mulubrhan and Janssens are now working together at the front. 

They're building a lead, too - it's now about 20 seconds over the next riders on the road, who are Vendrame and Tonelli.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Back in the peloton, UAE Team Emirates are setting a fairly high tempo. It's slightly quicker than that of the leading trio, from whom they're now 3-45 adrift from. 

Riders dropped from the break a few kilometres ago are already being brought back by the peloton - Theuns has just been swallowed up.


Mikkel Bjerg is doing the work for UAE Team Emirates in the peloton, and has thinned it out and brought the leaders back to 3-20. The team has this well under control. 

No GC contenders are among those dropped from the peloton, although Filippo Zana has drifted towards the back. He has a ninth place on GC to defend. 

Rubén Fernández has also made his way up to the leaders, becomming the sixth man in that group.

The leaders are still only now half way up the climb. Many riders are going to be sick of Monte Grappa by the end of today, considering that even once they're finally done with it this first time, they'll have to ascend it all over again later today. 

Nicola Conci also joined up to the leaders, and is feeling strong enough to lead from the front. 

Actually it's Conci's temmate Janssens who is working at the front to set the pace. Alpecin-Deceuninck is the only team with more than one rider in this lead group. 

Janssens' pace is having an affect, too, with first Fernández and now Vendrame being dropped.

It seems Janssens wasn't working for Conci, but for himself. Now he and Sánchez have gone clear, the latter the only one able to keep up with Janssens' pace.

Now Sánchez attacks. After letting a gap grow out initially, Janssens manages to bridge up to him.

All this will be immaterial if UAE Team Emirates keep motoring up the climb as they are. Despite the increase in pace from Sánchez and Janssens, they’re within just two minutes.

Worrying times for Filippo Zana, who is starting to be distenced. If he's getting dropped this first time up, he could lose a bucket full of time. 

 Sánchez and Janssens have a companion again, in Tonelli, who has bridged up to them. The situation in the break has fluctuated constantly on the unforgivingly long climb.

Huge crowds greet the riders as the enter the especially steep gradients a few kilometres from the summit. There have been noisy fans all the way up the mountain, but it's intensified even more here. It's some atmosphere!

There's been an attack from the peloton, from Giulio Pellizzari. He's presumably looking for King of the Mountains points, even if the best he can hope for is to overthrow Georg Steinhauser, rather than make up Pogačar's unassailable lead in that classification.


The gap between Janssens, Sánchez and Tonelli in front and the peloton behind is now just 1-20, with several riders sill in between. 

Less than a kilometre of climbing left for the leaders. Even if the stage win is likely off the cards, there's some prestige in being the first to the top of such a massive mountains.

Pellizzari is absolutley flying up this climb, and might even catch the leading trio before the top...

He's about to join, a hundred metres from the top.

And he passes them before the summit, the maximum points are his!

That must be infuriating for Sánchez and Janssens, though Fiorelli will be pleased for his Bardiani teammate.

Now the peloton reach the climb, 58 seconds later. To have any chance of surviving, the leaders will have to build a big lead on this long descent. 

As the Mountains Classification, Pellizzari's haul is enough to see him leapfrog Georg Steinhauser in second, but the only way he can pass Pogačar is if the Slovenian fails t finish the race. 

Janssens is struggling on the descent already, and Sánchez, Fiorelli and Pellizzari have dropped him.


The descent is interrupted temporarily by a short uphill, which Pellizzari has used to up the pace and drop his teammate Fiorelli. Sánchez is just about hanging on though.

Vendrame has just been caught by the peloton, meaning only four riders remain out front:  Pellizzari and Sánchez, Tonelli and Janssens further down.

The leading duo managed to extend their lead for the first time in a while on that unclassified rise, and now have 1-40 on the peloton. They'll need to keep extending it now as they descend again. 

Fiorelli is back with which Pellizzari and Sánchez. Having two teammates here should help with cohesion, which was lacking the first time up Monte Grappa.


Now over two minutes for the leaders. Remember that Pellizzari hasn't been out in front for so long, having only made his attack towards the top of Monte Grappa, and ought therefore to be relatively fresh.


Tonelli goes through the Intergiro sprint first, after which the road tilts upwards again as they begin climbing Monte Grappa for the second time.

Now Tonelli' done, and Fiorelli has upped the pace. Sánchez is hanging on for now, though.

The peloton have now started the climb, some 2-40 later. UAE Team Emirates are leading for now with lots of domestiques still available, but Tadej Pogačar might not hang about if he wants this stage win.

Mikkel Bjerg

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lorenzo Fortunato is being dropped from the peloton. He's the rider that had stood to take Filippo Zana's top ten on GC, but may not be able to now.

Pellizzari is riding away from Sánchez. It doesn't look like the Spaniard will come back from this, either. 

Pellizzari already has 20 seconds on Sánchez. But more importantly, he still has 2-30 on the peloton. It's holding stead for now, but he still has 15km to climb.

In the peloton, Fortunato is back in it, albeit only just about hanging on at the back. 

Fortunato is back off the back again, struggling under the pace being set by Bjerg - who himself looks pretty much at his limit.

Bjerg is done, and now Felix Großschartner takes over.

More riders are being dropped from the peloton as a result of Großschartner's pace, but Pellizzari isn't losing too much time. He still has 2-20.

Sánchez has given up the ghost, and is about to be caught by the peloton. But Pellizzari - no the only man left up ahead - is still someway up the road, at 2-15.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pellizzari's lead is coming down, but only slowly. With 11km to climb, he still has just over two minutes.

Change in the peloton now as Novak takes over from Großschartner. Pogačar is talking and gesticulating with his teammates, making it clear he wants a higher pace. How long until he takes matters into his own hands?

Only 15 riders left in the peloton now, including all of the top 8 on GC.

The man who is 7th place on GC, Romain Bardet, is starting to struggle now though. He was the last man in line, and has just been dropped. 

Einer Rubio could stand to climb from 8th to 7th ahead of Bardet, while even Jan Hirt could gain the two minutes he needs to overtake the Frenchman on GC.


Bardet is seriously struggling. He's already lost over 45 seconds to the peloton.

As well as the top six on GC, the other riders still in the group of favourites are: Rubio, Hirt, Storer, Geschke, Valentin Paret Paintre, Vansevenant and Caruso, plus UAE's Majka and Novak.

Novak's done, and Majka takes over.

Majka's pace is too hot for some, and the group is thinning out.

The gap is alsp plummiting, now down to just over a minute.

O'Connor is dropped, Thomas is struggling.

Only Pog, Martinez, Tiberi and Rubio are with Majka now, with Thomas a few seconds behind.

Storer has passed Thomas and is closing down on the quintet.

36.1KM TO GO

He's exploded out of the group and has a gap of several seconds already.

He makes the move with about half a minute to bring back on Pellizzari.

Pogačar's is eating up that gap in no time. He'll be on Pellizzari's wheel shortly.

Further back, Thomas is 20 seconds behind Martinez. The Colombian's second-place on GC looks safe.

Just 700 metres after attacking, Pogačar has caught Pellizzari.

Pellizzari has 4.6km to hang on to his wheel before the summit - an impossible ask, surely.

In the next group behind, Martinez has Tiberi and Ruibo with him. Both of them might be hoping to rise on GC.

Pellizzari is OK for now, as they enjoy a brief respite from the climbing with a downhill. The real test will come in the following kilometres.

And Pogačar drops Pellizzari the moment the road goes uphill again. He's all alone out front with 3.3km left to climb, and 34km to the finish.

Pogačar's almost a minute ahead of the Martinez group, who are 20 seconds ahead of the Thomas group.

The biggest change in GC on the cards is for fourth-place. Tiberi needs to take 42 seconds from O'Connor for it, and is currently halfway there.

The podim will however be more of a long shot for Tiberi - he needs over two minutes on Thomas for that.

1500m to the top for Pogačar, and his lead is well over a minute.

Behind Martinez, Tiberi and Rubio is a group containing O'Connor, Thomas and some more. Thanfully for O'Connor, he has Decathlon teammate Valentin Paret-Peintre with him, who may be saving his fourth-place on GC.


Next to the top is Pellizzari, who has just about managed to withold the other GC contenders. How he must curse Pogačar, who may just have denied him a stage victory yet again. 

He was joined at the summit by Martinez, Tiberi and Rubio, who let him have the KOM points, but are very much on his wheel now.

The Thomas/O'Connor group reach the top only a few seconds behind. They look good to close that gap on the descent. 

Further back is Arensman, a minute behind the Thomas group. He's isolated, too, so is in some danger of losing the two minute buffer he has over Rubio for sixth place.

A two minute lead for Pogačar as he continues to descend. This is another sensational ride from the Slovenian.

At this rate his final winning margin on GC could be over ten minutes.

Meanwhile there's still 15 seconds between the Martinez and Thomas groups - not enough to threaten any changes on GC.

At this rate, Basso's winning margin of 9-18 from the 2006 edition is under threat by Pogačar.

Pogačar is back on the little climb that's halfway down the descent. He's dancing on the pedals, and looks intent on winning by as big a margin as possible.

Despite going at such a ludicrous speed, Pogačar still has it within him to hand a bidon over to a child running alongside him. 

His virtual lead on GC is now up to 9-37, which would be the biggest winning margin at a Giro d'Italia since Vittorio Adorni in 1965. 

Back behind, Rubio is pushing on in the chase group on the unclassified climb. He's not dropping the other three though, while the Thomas / O'Connor group remains close behind.

Now Daniel Martínez attacks, and has a gap.

Martínez is flying along as the road goes downwhill again. Second-place looks in the bag for him, but he's after more time anyway. 


Thomas, O'Connor, Paret-Peintre and Pellizzari have just caught up to the Martínez/Tiberi/Rubio group.

The only significant GC change still on the cards therefore is concerning Einer Rubio. He has enough time on Bardet to climb from 8th to 7th, but needs 2-13 to take Arsenamn's 6th place. Arensman is currently 1-30 adrift, so that's still possible.


Now he's waving to the crowd, as he enters the final 3km.

Final kilometre now for Pogačar. What little doubt there was that he would win this pink jersey has evaporated even more.

Tadej Pogačar win the stage! And, in all probability, the Giro d'Italia.

Now at last comes the next group on the road.

Ben O'Connor is leading them home, and launches the sprint for second from far.

O'Connor wins the sprint for second, with Dani Martínez in third.

Now comes Thymen Arensman, who appears to have done enough to defend his sixth place. 

Actually Valentin Paret-Paintre was the Decathlon rider who sprinted for second-place, his teammate O'Connor finishing safely behind him to seal fourth place overall.

Tadej Pogacar

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So that's six stage wins for Tadej Pogačar at this Giro. That's the most at any Grand Tour since Mark Cavendish at the 2009 Tour de France, and at any Giro since Alessandro Petacchi in 2004.

Tadej Pogacar

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here's today's top ten in full:

Here's what Pogačar had to say at the finish:

Thanks for joining us today. The GC may be all done and dusted, but there's still another stage to come tomorrow, where the sprinters will battle it out for victory on the streets of Rome. And Tadej Pogačar will have a chance to take stock and reflect upon the many remarkable things he has achieved at this race. We'll see you there!

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