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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, May 26, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The only change is that baseball has turned Paige from a second-class citizen to a second-class immortal. - Satchel Paige

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Giro d'Italia stage 19 reports

We posted the organizer's and stage winner Chris Froome's Team Sky's reports with the stage results.

Former GC leader Simon Yates ran out of gas before he ran out of race. Here's the report from his Mitchelton-Scott team:

Briton Simon Yates has dropped out of overall contention at the Giro d’Italia today, unable to follow the group of favourites on the Cima Coppi climb on the queen stage of this year’s Tour.

Having already won three stages and spent 13 days in the race lead, Yates succumbed to fatigue as Chris Froome (Team Sky) powered away for an 80km solo victory to take the Maglia Rosa from the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider.

Cima Coppi:
Having controlled the race over the first climb, Mitchelton-SCOTT continued to ride on the front of the bunch as it made its way through the valley to the Finestre.

Immediately on the climb, Team Sky moved to the front and set a furious pace that shelled the group quickly to 30riders. Shortly after, still on the lower slopes of this year’s highest climb, Yates also found himself in difficulty.

All for One:
As Yates fell off the back, teammate Mikel Nieve dropped back to help pace his leader. They were shortly joined by Jack Haig but the trio were over 15minutes behind the solo move of Froome as they crested the top of Finestre with two more climbs to go. By the end of the stage, the Yates group also had the support of Roman Kreuziger and Chris Juul-Jensen but crossed the line over 38minutes adrift.

Simon Yates:
“At the start there was no signs of anything wrong. I was just tired, extremely exhausted and that’s bike riding unfortunately.  I tried to manage (the gap) but I really had nothing to give.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates making his way to the finish.

“I gave everything today, it’s just how it is. But I’ll be back. It obviously hurts, but I have said all along that this is how I needed to ride this Giro to try to win it and if I achieved nothing more I can still be happy. And I will be.”

Here's what Tom Dumoulin's Team Sunweb had to say about the stage:

The queen stage of the Giro d’Italia was nothing short of action-packed. A frantic opening to the race saw a brief breakaway, with Laurens ten Dam there for Team Sunweb before the group were eventually swept up on the climb to the Cima Coppi of the race. As the gradients increased, the peloton reduced, and the pink jersey was eventually distanced and taken out of contention for the overall victory.

Still riding amongst the GC favourites, Tom remained tucked in the select group having taken over the race lead. His lead was cut short as Froome attacked and opened up a gap big enough to take the overall lead of the race. The chase continued for a long 80 kilometre effort, with Tom riding in a chase group working to bring the gap to the front of the race down.

As the group hit the slopes of the final climb Froome had a lead of three minutes and the chasing group began to attack each other. Despite the continued accelerations, Tom continued to pace his way up to Bardonecchia, riding his own climb to the finish. Whilst Froome went on to take the stage win and the lead in the GC, Tom finished the day in 5th place. He now sits 2nd overall at 40 seconds ahead of the penultimate stage tomorrow. Sam Oomen also put in a huge rude to 8th on the stage, and now moves to 10th in the GC.

Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin on the final climb.

Tom said: “Today was really a crazy stage. I expected Sky to go for it and knew they were planning something. I had good legs and did everything right but Froome was too strong and I didn’t have the legs to follow. I knew the responsibility was mostly mine in the chase group. Everyone was riding their own race and I can understand why not everyone was riding. At the moment I’m feeling a little bit pessimistic but we will see when I wake up tomorrow. It’s going to be difficult.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said: “Tom showed great heart today, he pedalled until the end. They did everything in cooperation in the group but Froome was just too strong, the chase didn’t even get one second closer. We did everything that we could do but in the end it just wasn’t enough today.”

Second-place Richard Carapaz's Team Movistar posted this report:

Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) was one of the leading actors in a day that will remain in the history books as one of the most spectacular in Grand Tours in recent years. The Ecuadorian was 2nd atop the Jafferau, end of the Queen stage in the 2018 Giro d’Italia, over 185km and four categorized climbs including the Colle del Lys (Cat-2), Sestriere (Cat-3) and, above them all, Finestre, the ‘Cima Coppi’ of this year’s race.

‘Richie’ was able to keep up inside the group of favourites as Sky drove an insane pace through Finestre, with race leader Simon Yates (MTS) soon cracking and making for an unexpectedly tough scenario into the main field. An attack by Chris Froome (SKY) with 80km to go, at the beginning of the dirt road section of Finestre and with 7km from the summit, left only four men pursuing the Briton: Carapaz, Tom Dumoulin (SUN), Miguel Ángel López (AST) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), soon joined by the Frenchman’s team-mate Sébastien Reichenbach.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz climbing to the finish.

The three contenders for the podium took entire protagonism in the group behind Froome, who crested Finestre with 40" of advantage and reached to more than 3' at the top of Sestriere, with then-third-overall Domenico Pozzovivo (TBM) at more than six minutes. Forces were pretty much equal on the approach to the Jafferau and the climb itself, with López, Carapaz and Pinot giving and taking blows yet unable to open gaps until the sprint, where a brilliant Richard led the group home in 2nd spot and put 18" on López to keep fighting for the Maglia Bianca.

47" is the new gap between the Colombian and ‘Richie’ in the Giro’s under-26 content, as Froome takes over the lead with 40" on Dumoulin. Carapaz improves four positions -from 9th to 5th- and will look very much forward to the mountain showdown on Saturday: the 214km trek from Susa to Cervinia (Cat-1), through a brutal chain of climbs before the decisive 19km ascent, with Col Tsecore (Cat-1) and Saint Pantaléon (Cat-1).

REACTION / Richard Carapaz:
“It’s been a really beautiful stage for me. I enjoyed the whole route, the tough slopes and, above that, my feelings over the entire course. I feel now like I was fully prepared for this, and I reached this point of the race in the best form possible. I’ll continue doing my best and the morale is really high at the moment – let’s hope I can find these same legs tomorrow to fight for the white jersey. It’d really make me happy to take that jersey back to my country, and now that I’m here, I’ll try everything to take it. I won’t settle until the last finish line, as long as we have a chance. I hope to continue doing things well tomorrow – the team will surely be helping me out and there will be no ‘tomorrow’ after tomorrow, it’ll just be about giving it our all.”

Fabio Aru abandoned during stage 19. Here's the note his UAE-Team Emirates sent me:

The stage which changed the course of the battle for the pink jersey turned out to be the last one in the Giro d’Italia for Fabio Aru. The Italian champion quit the race after 40 km in the Venaria Reale-Bardonecchia (184 km with the categorized climbs of Colle del Lys, del Colle delle Finestre, del Sestriere e dello Jafferau).

Froome took the pink jersey from Yates’ shoulders thanks to an attack on the Colle delle Finestre,  when there were still 80 km to cover to the arrival.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru in stage 16

Aru commented his abandon using these words: "I had said that I’ll evaluate my feelings day by day because I feel that I’m going through an abnormal period of my sporting career. I wanted to keep going and honor the team’s jersey, give the fans something and the race its due respect. But I could not do it. I’m really sorry for all this, for my team, my family and the sponsors that I represent, but it didn’t make sense to go ahead. 

"I’m not going to be dramatic, this is sport and maybe, even if it hurts to say so now, this is the beauty of the sport. I’ll try to reset and understand together with the team what happened, then I’ll restart thinking of the rest of the season. Because this is what you have to do in difficult moments."

And here's the Giro news from Bora-hansgrohe:

The 19th stage of the Giro was an exhausting and also an incredible stage with many attacks right from the start. The race exploded immediately after the first climb of the day and many riders, including the Maglia Rosa lost contact. BORA - hansgrohe two GC contenders Davide Formolo and Patrick Konrad were able to stay with the second chasing group just a few minutes behind the leader and later winner C. Froome, while both BORA – hansgrohe rider finished in the top ten. Patrick Konrad moved up to 8thin the overall ranking.

The Stage
The penultimate summit finish awaited the peloton after a full mountain stage today. Shortly after the start the route climbed to the top of “Colle del Lys” (cat. 2)  with an intermediate sprint after the descent. After 110 km of racing the riders had to tackle this year’s highest peak, Cima Coppi, the Colle delle Finestre. It has a steady 9,2% gradient, with 9 km on gravel roads following a technical descent. The third climb of the day was a cat. 3 climb up to Sestrière, and the final ascent of this year's queen stage went up to the summit finish in Bardonecchia, with sharp 10% gradients topping out at 14%.

The Team Tactics
BORA – hansgrohe's goal today was to protect Patrick Konrad’s 10th place in the overall ranking. He relished the full support of the whole team to achieve the team’s goal. To finish the 101st Giro d’Italia in this spot would not only be the Austrian's dream, but also the team’s first top ten in a Grand Tour overall ranking.

The Race
Right from the start the race was on fire as a big group tried to escape but after the first climb of the day the race fell apart. As the race headed into the Colle delle Finestre many riders lost contact and several groups were formed. BORA-hansgrohe climbers Formolo and Konrad were able stay on pace and saw themselves in the third group. During the climb up to the KOM C. Froome launched an attack and opened up a gap. The Maglia Rosa was already dropped and T. Dumoulin tried to close the gap to Froome. Formolo and Konrad stayed in the second chasing group around three minutes behind the leader. C. Froome held his lead and took his second stage win on the summit finish in Bardonecchia. 8 minutes later both BORA-hansgrohe riders Formolo and Konrad came in 7th and 9th. In the overall ranking Froome is the new leader of the Maglia Rosa and BORA – hansgrohe climber Patrick Konrad moved up eighth.

From the Finish Line
"It was an unbelievable stage, the pace was high and lot of riders tried to attack. As we reached the bottom of the Colle delle Finestre many riders got dropped but I think we worked really good together. Patrick and I stayed in the second chasing group as the race came to the final climb, we rode together and finished both top ten." – Davide Formolo

"It's not common, that an overall ranking change so much in the last stages of a Grand Tour. It was an incredible stage but our strategy worked out, with a strong team work Patrick moved up to 8th place. Now, just two days left and it will be a great Giro for us."- Jens Zemke, sports director 

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