Cycling (Image by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images).
Portuguese pink jersey user Joao Almeida survived a stiff difficulty to his overall race lead from Dutch title rival Wilco Kelderman who closed in on the leader after Sunday’s Giro d’Italia 15 th phase.
Group Sunweb’s Kelderman finished the stage in 2nd position behind British winner Tao Geoghegan Hart to bend his muscles going into the final week of racing.
Geoghegan Hart soloed to success after a hard final climb to the summit of the Piancavallo ski resort in north-eastern Italy to offer his Team Ineos a 5th phase win.
Almeida, mouth open on the last climb as he gasped for breath, fought to fourth, 37 sec adrift of the Englishman, to keep the pink jersey he has actually worn given that phase three.
However Kelderman near simply 15 seconds behind the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, who had actually had a lead of nearly one-minute going into the stage, with the race ending up in Milan on October 25.
” It was a really tough phase, the 3 riders on the front on the final climb were too quick for me,” stated Almeida.
” I understand my body and my limits, so I needed to drop back. I more than happy to have actually handled to save the Maglia Rosa, as soon as again thanks to my team.”
The Giro went back to altitude after leaving the Rivolto Air Base in Udine, covering 185 km prior to the final gruelling reach Piancavallo in the Friulian Dolomites.
It was the 3rd phase win in 4 days for Ineos after losing Welsh group leader Geraint Thomas after stage 4 with a broken hips.
Geoghegan Hart crossed the line alone 2sec ahead of Group Sunweb duo Kelderman and Australian Jai Hindley, who had set the rate in the final kilometres, 3rd at 4sec.
” I can’t think it, we have had an actually hard Giro to date after losing Geraint Thomas, however this group is remarkable and we are all showing what we can stage by stage,” stated the 25- year-old from London.
Geoghegan Hart moves up to fourth total, but over three minutes behind Almeida.
” I’m taking it day by day. Today the two Sunweb riders (Kelderman, Hindley) actually wanted to acquire time on the pink jersey.”
The younger riders exceeded the 30- somethings in the peloton on the slope towards Piancavallo, at 1290 metres elevation.
Vincenzo Nibali, fellow Italian Domenico Pozzovivo and Dane Jakob Fuglsang, among the race favourites saw their hopes probably end.
Fuglsang and Nibali, both aged 35 years, dropped over a minute and a half on Kelderman, after a stage which on paper should have suited them.
Two-time winner Nibali, the only competitor left who has actually won a Grand Tour, was likewise hit by colleague Gianluca Brambilla’s withdrawal on Sunday, a day after group climb professional Giulio Ciccone.
The ‘Shark’ now has just 4 Trek-Segafredo team-mates left before the final days in the mountains, with Monday’s rest day a welcome break.
Tuesday’s undulating 16 th phase covers 225 km from Udine, on the border with Slovenia, through the Julian Pre-Alps with a final circuit around Daniele del Friuli.
Results and standings after the 15 th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, over 185 km from the Rivolto Air Base in Udine to the Piancavallo ski resort:
1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/Ineos) 4hr 58 min 52 sec (average: 37.1 km/h), 2. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN) at 02 sec, 3. Jai Hindley (AUS/SUN) 04, 4. Joao Almeida (POR/DEC) 37, 5. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 1: 22, 6. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOR) 1: 29, 7. James Knox (GBR/DEC) 1: 36, 8. Pello Bilbao (ESP/BAH) 1: 36, 9. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 1: 36,10 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/TRE) 1: 36
15 Brandon McNulty (USA/UAE) 2: 43
1. Joao Almeida (POR/DEC) 59 hr 27 min 38 sec, 2. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN) at 15 sec, 3. Jai Hindley (AUS/SUN) 2: 56, 4. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/INE) 2: 57, 5. Pello Bilbao (ESP/BAH) 3: 10, 6. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 3: 18, 7. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/TRE) 3: 29, 8. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/NTT) 3: 50, 9. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOR) 4: 09,10 Fausto Masnada (ITA/DEC) 4: 12,11 Brandon McNulty (USA/UAE) 4: 29,12 Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 5: 07.