Giro d'Italia: Van Garderen wins in St. Ulrich

Tejay van Garderen claimed his first career Grand Tour stage victory on Thursday's 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia. The BMC rider bested mountains classification leader Mikel Landa (Sky) at the finish line in Ortisei after a long afternoon in the breakaway.

Just over a minute later, race leader Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) arrived at the finish line on the same time as Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) after fiercely defending his pink jersey in the face of repeated attacks by his rivals.

FDJ's Thibaut Pinot was the big winner of the day among the general classification contenders, setting off in pursuit of van Garderen and Landa and nearly bridging to them in the final kilometres. The Frenchman finished third on the day and, with bonus seconds, clawed back 1:02 on Dumoulin, Quintana, and Nibali.

Van Garderen and Landa were the last men standing from a large early breakaway move following a day of five categorised climbs. Landa took a sizable bounty of mountains points on the stage but, still without a win in the race, pressed on out front as the battle among the GC favourites heated up behind.

Quintana delivered a powerful attack on the second-category Passo Gardena shortly after the midway point of the stage, bridging up to teammates that had been in the breakaway and opening up a small gap. Dumoulin, lacking teammates, found himself in a stressful situation when Nibali jumped to join the move, but the Dutchman proved his strength on the Alpine slopes, tapping out a rhythm in pursuit of his rivals that slowly but surely closed down the gap.

Brought to heel by the summit of the ascent, Nibali and Quintana were thereafter unable to shake Dumoulin, whose GC campaign looks that much stronger with now just two road stages remaining before a final time trial in Milan sure to suit his talents.

Out front, van Garderen and Landa battled neck and neck for the stage victory on the uphill road to the finish line, with neither rider managing to get clear. They came into the final corners together, with Landa leading the way, but the American came past the Spaniard in the final hundred metres to take an emotional victory.

"It's been a rough couple of years in Grand Tours as far as the general classification goes, but I did my best to keep the morale high," he said. "It's my first Grand Tour victory, so it's an incredible feeling, especially in an area like this, that I'm so familiar with – I've done a lot of camps here, so I knew every inch of the roads. It feels incredible to get this victory."

How it unfolded

The 137km stage kicked off under clear skies in Moena. With the day's lumpy profile – and plenty of mountains points on offer – it did not take long for the breakaway hopefuls to open hostilities at the head of the pack.

Dimension Data's Natnael Berhane, BMC's Joey Rosskopf, Sky's Diego Rosa and Bahrain-Merida's Manuele Boaro formed a quartet of escapees with a small advantage off the front inside the first eight kilometres of racing. However, the many teams missing the move were not content to let them stay clear without company, with rider after rider trying to bridge as the road kicked up for the first climb of the day.

A group of around 30 was brought to heel but then Landa spurred a dozen or so riders – including van Garderen – in pursuit, just as Boaro found himself dropped.

Rosa led over the climb but the pursuers closed down the trio on the descent to form a larger selection of escapees off the front.

Van Garderen, Landa, Rosskopf, Berhane, Rosa, Philip Deignan (Team Sky), Joe Dombrowski, Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac), Rubén Plaza (Orica-Scott), Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), Jasper Stuyven, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Dario Cataldo (Astana Pro Team), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Bahrain-Merida), Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Andrey Amador, Winner Anacona (Movistar) and Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom - Rusvelo) stood as the day's main breakaway after 45 kilometres of racing. With most of the interested teams represented in the escape, the peloton eased off the gas ever so slightly. The breakaway took a two-minute advantage into the day's second climb, where Fraile pipped Landa for maximum points.

Rosa went to work at the front of the break, shedding several riders on the next climb. The escape was down to just seven riders as it neared the top of the Passo Gardena.

Behind, the battle for the overall title at the Giro d'Italia was underway. Quintana launched a fierce acceleration on the high gradients and immediately opened up a gap on the rest of a thinned-out GC group, and as he continued on he found former breakaway riders Anacona and Amador. Then Nibali set off after them, putting the pressure on Dumoulin – but the Dutchman responded calmly, leading a steady pursuit of his rivals. Nibali joined up with Quintana's group but Dumoulin continued to plug away behind. By the summit of the climb, the race leader had dragged the chase group all the way back, shutting down the dangerous move.

Rosa continued to apply pressure out front, going over the third-category penultimate climb before finally peeling off, leaving just Landa, van Garderen, Dombrowski and Hirt in the lead. Landa and van Garderen made their decisive move on the lower slopes of the final ascent, dropping the other two breakaway riders and working more or less together to make their way to the finish.

In the GC group, Quintana tried another attack on the climb but was again reeled in, with FDJ doing most of the work. Then Nibali tried to get clear, but Dumoulin himself countered before putting in a few digs of his own as if in a show of unshakeable strength in the face of his rivals, who are running out of opportunities to wrest control of the race from the Dutchman's hands. With Nibali and Quintana closely watched, it was Pinot who finally managed to separate himself, setting off in pursuit of the last two survivors from the break. Nibali and Quitnana merely watched him go and the Frenchman managed to quickly create a sizable advantage over his chief rivals for the podium in the final kilometres.

Landa claimed the maximum points at the KOM point some four kilometres from the finish but he and van Garderen remained closely matched in the battle for the stage victory, staying on equal terms with each other until the finale. Landa had the lead rounding the last corners but a well-positioned van Garderen surged past to take the stage 18 victory.

Eight seconds later, Pinot claimed third followed closely by AG2R's Domenico Pozzovivo, who also picked up time on GC. Katusha's Ilnur Zakarin, LottoNL-Jumbo's Steven Kruijswijk and Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema clawed back a bit of time as well, with Dumoulin, Quintana and Nibali all arriving together 1:06 behind the stage winner.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team3:54:04
2Mikel Landa (Spa) Team SkyRow 1 - Cell 2
3Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ0:00:08
4Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 3 - Cell 2
5Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:00:11
6Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:24
7Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:34
8Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 7 - Cell 2
9Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb0:01:06
10Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 9 - Cell 2
11Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 10 - Cell 2
12Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott0:01:12
13Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJRow 12 - Cell 2
14Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:01:48
15Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-DrapacRow 14 - Cell 2
16Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team0:02:20
17Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-DrapacRow 16 - Cell 2
18Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:06
19Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors0:03:55
20Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida0:04:28
22Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension DataRow 21 - Cell 2
23Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac0:04:48
24Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:05:06
25Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 24 - Cell 2
26Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-Alpecin0:05:44
27Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates0:06:57
28Stef Clement (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 27 - Cell 2
29Diego Rosa (Ita) Team SkyRow 28 - Cell 2
30Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 29 - Cell 2
31Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:07:40
32Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 31 - Cell 2
33Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:44
34Ruben Plaza (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 33 - Cell 2
35Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac0:09:23
36Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:10:16
37Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team0:14:18
38Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb0:18:37
39Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 38 - Cell 2
40Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 39 - Cell 2
41Carlos Verona (Spa) Orica-Scott0:18:48
42Sebastian Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 41 - Cell 2
43Philip Deignan (Irl) Team SkyRow 42 - Cell 2
44José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-AlpecinRow 43 - Cell 2
45Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team0:21:59
46Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team0:32:57
47Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-ScottRow 46 - Cell 2
48Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) FDJRow 47 - Cell 2
49Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 48 - Cell 2
50Cristian Rodriguez (Spa) Wilier TriestinaRow 49 - Cell 2
51Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-ScottRow 50 - Cell 2
52Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team SunwebRow 51 - Cell 2
53Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 52 - Cell 2
54Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 53 - Cell 2
55Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 54 - Cell 2
56Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 55 - Cell 2
57Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team EmiratesRow 56 - Cell 2
58Clement Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 57 - Cell 2
59Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 58 - Cell 2
60Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 59 - Cell 2
61Georg Preidler (Aut) Team SunwebRow 60 - Cell 2
62Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 62 - Cell 2
64Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Simon Geschke (Ger) Team SunwebRow 64 - Cell 2
66Felix Großschartner (Aut) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 65 - Cell 2
67Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJRow 66 - Cell 2
68Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJRow 67 - Cell 2
69Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 68 - Cell 2
70Michal Schlegel (Cze) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 69 - Cell 2
71Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 70 - Cell 2
72Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 71 - Cell 2
73Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 72 - Cell 2
74Jan Bárta (Cze) Bora-HansgroheRow 73 - Cell 2
75Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 74 - Cell 2
76Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-DrapacRow 75 - Cell 2
77Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-DrapacRow 76 - Cell 2
78Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 77 - Cell 2
79Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 78 - Cell 2
80Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 79 - Cell 2
81Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-SegafredoRow 80 - Cell 2
82Jesus Hernandez (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 81 - Cell 2
83José Mendes (Por) Bora-HansgroheRow 82 - Cell 2
84Julen Amezqueta (Spa) Wilier TriestinaRow 83 - Cell 2
85Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 85 - Cell 2
87Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 86 - Cell 2
88Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 87 - Cell 2
89François Bidard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 88 - Cell 2
90Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 89 - Cell 2
91Martijn Keizer (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 90 - Cell 2
92Dmitriy Kozontchuk (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 91 - Cell 2
93Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 92 - Cell 2