Giro d'Italia stage 18: Simon Yates' lead halved atop Prato Nevoso

Game on. After holding his grip on the maglia rosa with a formidable ride in the individual time trial on Tuesday, Simon Yates showed his first signs of weakness in the 2018 Giro d'Italia, cracking at the summit finish at Prato Nevoso.

The Mitchleton-Scott rider, who has looked supreme throughout the first 17 stages, hit the wall when Chris Froome (Team Sky) attacked in the closing stages, and when his main rivals Tom Domoulin (Team Sunweb) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain Merida) joined the Team Sky rider, Yates had no response.

In the space of less than two kilometres, Yates conceded 28 seconds to Dumoulin to see his advantage over the defending champion cut to just 28 seconds with three stages remaining.

The Giro d'Italia has suddenly burst into life, and, for the first time, Yates has found himself on the back foot. Pozzovivo remains in third but has closed the gap on Yates to 2:43.

While the GC battle hogged the limelight, the stage was won by Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors). The German held off the late challenge from Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) at the ski summit of Prato Nevoso.

The trio survived from the day's early break, and, after a series of attacks, came into the final 900m together. Schachmann, just a second-year pro, powered clear with a few hundred meters to go, with Cattaneo the first to buckle under the strain.

Plaza, who had yo-yoed off the front throughout the final climb, had no response to Schachmann's final surge.

"I feel amazing,” Schachmann said at the finish. "It's great to win a stage on my first Grand Tour. I think everyone here agrees it's a really hard Giro, which makes it even nicer to be on top here. Of course, I am going to help Viviani as much as possible. It doesn't matter who wins in our team. We are a great team, with great team spirit. A big part of this victory goes to Michael Morkov. He took me on his wheel and he bridged me over. It's not the first time he's helped me in this race. We share a room together, he's a great rider and he always has a big big part in every victory."

The final climb saw two races unfold. The first came when the early 12-rider break of Morkov, Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors), Davide Ballerini, Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Hansgrohe), Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha-Alpecin), Jos van Emden, Boy van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), Marco Marcato (UAE Emirates), Giuseppe Fonzi and Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia), siphoned clear of the bunch and built up a substantial lead of more than 16 minutes.

With such a healthy buffer and Mitchelton-Scott more than willing to tap out a steady tempo, the bunch hit the lower slopes of the final climb relatively fresh.

The break was trimmed down to half a dozen riders on the lower sections of the climb as the gradient topped out at 10 per cent, with Morkov tapping out a steady-but-challenging pace. Van Poppel, who had attacked the break before the final climb, was quickly caught and distanced before Ballerini raised the pace at the front of the race.

Plaza, a three-time stage winner in Grand Tours, but in the twilight of his long career, had been weaving off the back of the group since the road began to point upwards, but he accelerated from his rivals with 8.7km to go, just as the main field was approaching the climb.

Plaza’s first attempt to break free was soon damped as Schachmann drew across a group of five that included Cattaneo and Bora’s Pfingsten.

The Spanish rider attacked again, but the second move only acted as a Launchpad for Schachmann, who was quickly marked by Cattaneo. The duo then traded attacks as the road once more rose but neither could snap the elastic as a determined Plaza hovered just a few seconds back.

With 2,000m remaining, Cattaneo threw down one last acceleration but as the pair entered the final kilometre nothing could separate them. In the blink of an eye, Plaza had summoned the strength to once more contest for the win. However, Schachmann was in no mood to play games. With 700m to go he moved to the front and wound up a long sprint. Cattaneo was the first to submit, while Plaza’s creaking legs were unable to withstand the pace. Five stage wins for Quick-Step, and another landmark for Schachmann in what is turning out to be a blossoming career, but further down the mountain the GC battle was raging.

Yates cracks as Dumoulin piles on the pressure

When the overall contenders hit the midway point on the final climb there was an air of inevitability, with Yates once again expected to rule over his rivals. After all, the British climber had looked so strong, for so long in this race and was once more at the front as Astana and Movistar set the tempo. The maglia rosa looked cool, comfortable and collected as he followed in the wheels, and the status quo remained, even when a cluster of riders from 6th to 10th began attacking.

It was clear at that point that Yates would be outnumbered, but when Woet Poels (Team Sky) pushed clear, with Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) already up the road, the dynamic began to change. Yates had talked about defending rather than attacking in the final set of mountain stages, and he stuck to the script when Dumoulin kicked things off a little later. The Mitchelton rider responded to the move without cause for alarm but when Froome powered away with 2km to go Yates could not follow. Pozzovivo and Dumoulin were on Froome’s wheel in a flash as Poels dutifully sat up and waited for his leader. Yates could not even hold the group containing Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Pello Bibao (Astana), and had the climb been a kilometre longer the British rider could have seen his lead completely evaporate.

Up ahead, Lopez continued his charge to finish first from the bunch in 11th place, while Pozzovivo came over the line next, with Dumoulin and Froome in tow. Yates cut a lonely figure as he laboured up the last few slopes, with Nieve finally catching his leader and offering him some assistance before the line.

Yates was not the only high-profile rider to suffer. Thibault Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) lost further ground and looks ever-more vulnerable as the race moves further into the mountains, while Ben O’Conner (Dimension Data) and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) both attacked before fading at the line.

Yet it is Yates who has the most concern and pressure tonight. This was, and still is, his race to lose, but after building up a healthy lead in the first two weeks, and then fending off Dumoulin with the time trial of his life on Tuesday, the 25-year-old looks beatable for the first time since Etna. With two even tougher stages to come, Yates will have to find something extra. He has the time on his side but perhaps not momentum. The 2018 Giro d’Italia is alive. Game on. 

 

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors4:55:42
2Ruben Plaza (Spa) Israel Cycling Academy0:00:10
3Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:00:16
4Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:01:10
5Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:01:26
6Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors0:01:36
7Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:01:52
8Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:03:22
9Alex Turrin (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia0:03:29
10Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:05:09
11Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team0:10:48
12Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:11:03
13Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team SunwebRow 12 - Cell 2
14Chris Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 13 - Cell 2
15Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky0:11:07
16Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:11:23
17Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar TeamRow 17 - Cell 2
19Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott0:11:31
20Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-ScottRow 19 - Cell 2
21Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 20 - Cell 2
22George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo0:11:36
23Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJRow 22 - Cell 2
24Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 23 - Cell 2
25Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 25 - Cell 2
27Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data0:11:43
28Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:11:50
29Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team0:12:03
30Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb0:12:30
31José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin0:13:10
32Georg Preidler (Aut) Groupama-FDJRow 31 - Cell 2
33Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo0:13:42
34Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 33 - Cell 2
35Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:14:06
36Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:14:15
37Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team0:14:26
38Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky0:14:46
39Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 38 - Cell 2
40Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb0:15:18
41Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 42 - Cell 2
44Koen Bouwmam (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:15:41
45Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:16:51
46Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Team Sky0:17:16
47Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:17:43
48Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team0:18:28
49Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:19:47
50Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team EmiratesRow 49 - Cell 2
51Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 50 - Cell 2
52Benjamin King (USA) Dimension DataRow 51 - Cell 2
53Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-AlpecinRow 52 - Cell 2
54Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension DataRow 53 - Cell 2
55Lars Bak (Den) Lotto SoudalRow 54 - Cell 2
56Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 55 - Cell 2
57Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-JumboRow 56 - Cell 2
58Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 57 - Cell 2
59Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension DataRow 58 - Cell 2
60Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-AlpecinRow 59 - Cell 2
61Nathan Brown (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 60 - Cell 2
62Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 61 - Cell 2
63Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 62 - Cell 2
64Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 63 - Cell 2
65Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 64 - Cell 2
66Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 65 - Cell 2
67Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy0:21:23
68Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 67 - Cell 2
69Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 68 - Cell 2
70Steve Morabito (Swi) Groupama-FDJRow 69 - Cell 2
71Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Team SunwebRow 70 - Cell 2
72Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 71 - Cell 2
73Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 72 - Cell 2
74Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:21:26
75Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team0:21:51
76David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky0:22:12
77Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott0:22:57
78Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 77 - Cell 2
79Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-ScottRow 79 - Cell 2
81Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 81 - Cell 2
83Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84François Bidard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 83 - Cell 2
85Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 84 - Cell 2
86Jérémy Roy (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 85 - Cell 2
87Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team0:23:40
88Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale0:24:22
89Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 88 - Cell 2
90Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 89 - Cell 2
91Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb0:25:27
92Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 91 - Cell 2
93Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-SegafredoRow 92 - Cell 2
94Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 93 - Cell 2
95Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 94 - Cell 2
96Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 95 - Cell 2
97Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 96 - Cell 2
98Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
99Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 98 - Cell 2
100Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team0:25:51
101Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-SegafredoRow 100 - Cell 2
102Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky0:26:06
103Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 102 - Cell 2
104Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 103 - Cell 2
105Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 104 - Cell 2
106Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-AlpecinRow 105 - Cell 2
107Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-AlpecinRow 106 - Cell 2
108Roy Curvers (Ned) Team SunwebRow 107 - Cell 2
109Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 108 - Cell 2
110Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 109 - Cell 2
111Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 110 - Cell 2
112Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 111 - Cell 2
113Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 112 - Cell 2
114Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) LottoNL-JumboRow 113 - Cell 2
115Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team EmiratesRow 114 - Cell 2
116Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 115 - Cell 2
117Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 116 - Cell 2
118Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 117 - Cell 2
119Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 118 - Cell 2
120Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 119 - Cell 2
121Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 120 - Cell 2
122Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 121 - Cell 2
123Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 122 - Cell 2
124Liam Bertazzo (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 123 - Cell 2
125Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 124 - Cell 2
126Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 125 - Cell 2
127Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 126 - Cell 2
128Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-SegafredoRow 127 - Cell 2
129Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 128 - Cell 2
130Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 129 - Cell 2
131Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension DataRow 130 - Cell 2
132Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 131 - Cell 2
133William Bonnet (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 132 - Cell 2
134Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 133 - Cell 2
135Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 134 - Cell 2
136Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 135 - Cell 2
137Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-ScottRow 136 - Cell 2
138Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team SunwebRow 137 - Cell 2
139Simone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 138 - Cell 2
140Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia0:26:59
141Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:27:02
142Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:27:09
143Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors0:27:24
144Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step FloorsRow 143 - Cell 2
145Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 144 - Cell 2
146Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 145 - Cell 2
147Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 146 - Cell 2
148Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 147 - Cell 2
149Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:27:41
150Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky0:27:49
151Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo0:28:37
152Marco Coledan (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle ItaliaRow 151 - Cell 2
153Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 152 - Cell 2
154Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data0:28:52
155Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:30:06
156Sam Bewley (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott0:33:57
157Svein Tuft (Can) Mitchelton-ScottRow 156 - Cell 2
158Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-HansgroheRow 157 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Grinzane Cavour, 14km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec10pts
2Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia6Row 1 - Cell 3
3Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors1Row 4 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - Mondovi, 169km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec10pts
2Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo6Row 1 - Cell 3
3Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors1Row 4 - Cell 3
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Points - Prato Nevoso, 196km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec17pts
2Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors15Row 1 - Cell 3
3Ruben Plaza (Spa) Israel Cycling Academy12Row 2 - Cell 3
4Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec9Row 3 - Cell 3
5Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe7Row 4 - Cell 3
6Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates6Row 5 - Cell 3
7Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors5Row 6 - Cell 3
8Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia5Row 7 - Cell 3
9Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin4Row 8 - Cell 3
10Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo4Row 9 - Cell 3
11Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo4Row 10 - Cell 3
12Alex Turrin (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia2Row 11 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1 - Novello, 140km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia3pts
2Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 2 - Prato Nevoso, 196km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors35pts
2Ruben Plaza (Spa) Israel Cycling Academy18Row 1 - Cell 3
3Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec12Row 2 - Cell 3
4Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe9Row 3 - Cell 3
5Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors4Row 5 - Cell 3
7Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin2Row 6 - Cell 3
8Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo1Row 7 - Cell 3
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Combativity