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Giro d’Italia: Simon Yates keeps lead as Elia Viviani wins sprint finish

Elia Viviani

Italy’s Elia Viviani has now won four stages at the 2018 Giro d’Italia

Britain’s Simon Yates retained his lead at the Giro d’Italia after a wet sprint finish on stage 17 in Iseo.

Italy’s Elia Viviani took his fourth stage victory of the 2018 tour from Ireland’s Sam Bennett in a chaotic final push as the rain lashed down.

Yates had begun the day with a 56-second lead over reigning champion Tom Dumoulin after Tuesday’s time trial.

And the 25-year-old finished the 155km course from Riva da Garda safely in the main pack to maintain his title bid.

Yates is bidding to become the first ever Briton to win the Giro, with three mountain stages to come on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the race finishes in Rome on Sunday.

He finished in 28th place behind Dumoulin of the Netherlands and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

Team Sky’s Froome is in fourth place, behind Italian Domenico Pozzovivo of Bahrain-Merida, who is three minutes and 11 seconds down on Yates.

There were two casualties before the race began on Wednesday as South Africa’s Louis Meintjes pulled out with a respiratory infection and Belgian Victor Campenaerts also withdrew.

And on a turbulent stage from Riva del Garda with constant attacks, Yates managed to keep out of trouble as Viviani recovered from a mechanical problem to prove his class in the final sprint.

The win for Viviani effectively wraps up the points classification, with three mountain stages to come and a final sprint in Rome on Sunday.

Stage 16 results:

1. Elia Viviani (Ita/Quick-Step Floors) 3hr 19mins 57secs

2. Sam Bennett (/Katusha-Alpecin) same time

3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) same time

4. Danny van Poppel (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) same time

5. Jens Debusschere (Ger/Lotto Soudal) same time

6. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita/Israel Cycling Academy) same time

7. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux/BMC Racing) same time

8. Sacha Modolo (Ita/EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale) same time

9. Andrea Vendrame (Ita/Androni-Sidermec-Bottecchia) same time

10. Jose Goncalves (Por/Katusha Alpecin) same time

Overall standings:

1. Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) 69hrs 59mins 11secs

2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +56secs

3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +3mins 11secs

4. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +3mins 50secs

5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +4mins 19secs

6. Rohan Dennis (Aus/BMC Racing Team) +5mins 04secs

7. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +5mins 37secs

8. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Astana Pro Team) +6mins 02secs

9. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Movistar Team) +6mins 07secs

10. George Bennett (NZ/LottoNL-Jumbo) +7mins 01secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44228351

Yates retains Giro lead after pivotal time trial

Simon Yates pictured during a scenic stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia

Simon Yates will take nearly a minute’s lead into the final four stages

Simon Yates will go into the final five days of the Giro d’Italia as clear favourite after surviving Tuesday’s time trial with a 56-second lead.

On a day when Australia’s Rohan Dennis took the stage win, Yates finished the 34.2km course in 22nd place.

That was 97 seconds down on Dennis, but more importantly only 75 off reigning champion Tom Dumoulin in third.

Yates, who began Tuesday 2mins 11secs ahead of Dumoulin, said: “I’m very satisfied with where I stand now.”

He added: “I’m really happy. I felt good in the first half. I had a good rhythm. I was trying to hold on to my position, but I died in the final 10km.

“Being in the lead after the time trial changes my tactics for the remaining stages. Unfortunately for the fans, I might be more defensive.”

Dumoulin was 21 seconds up on Yates at the first time-check, 12km in, and had extended that to 48 seconds at 24km.

The world time-trial champion had won the Giro a year ago in large part through his dominant form against the clock and would have hoped to take much more out of Yates, who has struggled in time trials in the past.

But Yates had come home seventh in the short opening time trial on the first day of this Giro in Jerusalem and his hard work over the winter on his aero position paid off when he needed it most.

There was a solid ride from Chris Froome, the Briton 35 seconds down on stage winner Dennis to move back up to fourth on the general classification, 3mins 50secs behind Yates.

Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo is in third, with France’s Thibaut Pinot the big loser after a disastrous performance saw him cross the line over three minutes behind Dennis’ time.

But it was Yates’ day, the 25-year-old having only one worrying moment when he took the wrong line through a late corner, losing a few seconds but no more.

No Briton has ever won the Giro and with three mountain stages to come on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the race finishes in Rome on Sunday, there is still scope for his rivals to attack – and terrain to test his nerve.

But the rider from Bury, near Manchester, has been in peerless form in the mountains across the first two and a half weeks and will know he has history in his sights.

Stage 16 results:

1. Rohan Dennis (Aus/BMC Racing Team) 40mins 00secs

2. Tony Martin (Ger/Katusha-Alpecin) +14secs

3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +22secs

4. Jos van Emden (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +27secs

5. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +35secs

6. Fabio Aru (Ita/UAE Team Emirates) +37secs

7. Alex Dowsett (GB/Katusha-Alpecin) +40secs

8. Diego Ulissi (Ita/UAE Team Emirates) Same time

9. Chad Haga (USA/Team Sunweb) + 47secs

10. David De La Cruz (Spa/Team Sky) at 1min 01secs

Selected other:

22. Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) at 1min 37secs

Overall standings:

1. Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) 66hrs 39mins 14secs

2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +56secs

3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +3mins 11secs

4. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +3mins 50secs

5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +4mins 19secs

6. Rohan Dennis (Aus/BMC Racing Team) +5mins 04secs

7. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana Pro Team) +5mins 37secs

8. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Astana Pro Team) +6mins 02secs

9. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Movistar Team) +6mins 07secs

10. George Bennett (NZ/LottoNL-Jumbo) +7mins 01secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44215971

Simon says: Giro leader Yates on why Monday’s rest day is important

Simon Yates and Chris Froome

Simon Yates (left) won the best young rider at the 2017 Tour de France, won by Chris Froome

Britain’s Chris Froome started the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia looking to become just the third rider to win three successive Grand Tours.

However, the Team Sky rider, who won his fourth Tour de France title last July and followed that with victory in the Vuelta a Espana, is now almost five minutes down on race leader and fellow Briton Simon Yates.

Mitchelton-Scott rider Yates showed his pedigree by finishing seventh at last year’s Tour de France to win the best young rider’s white jersey,

Yates, who wrote this guide to the race, extended his lead further on Sunday’ by winning his third stage of this year’s race but he expects to lose time to defending champion Tom Dumoulin in Tuesday’s individual time trial on stage 16.

The 21-stage, 3562.9km (2,214 miles) race started in Jerusalem and finishes in Rome on Sunday, 27 May.

Stage 1: Friday, 4 May – Individual time trial, Jerusalem – 9.7km

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Dumoulin proved his time trialling prowess with a sensational ride in Jerusalem.

Winner: Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb)

Report: Froome crashes before race as Dumoulin crushes rivals

Chris Froome’s quest to win a third Grand Tour on the trot takes an early blow when he crashes on a pre-stage recce of the route. Defending Giro and world time trial champion Tom Dumoulin goes out last and comfortably beats his rivals, also eclipsing long-time leader Rohan Dennis to take the stage win and maglia rosa. Simon Yates is the strongest of those chasing GC honours, finishing seventh, just 20 seconds back

Stage 2: Saturday, 5 May – Haifa-Tel Aviv, 167km

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Elia Viviani picked up his second career Giro stage win with victory in Tel Aviv

Winner: Elia Viviani (Ita/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Viviani wins sprint as Dennis takes race lead

Elia Viviani lives up to his favourite billing by winning the bunch sprint in Tel Aviv, despite losing his lead-out men in the closing stages. All the race favourites finish in the peloton, while Rohan Dennis picks up three bonus seconds in an intermediate sprint to take the overall race lead.

Stage 3: Sunday, 6 May – Be’er Sheva-Eilat, 229km

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Viviani won his third career Giro stage in front of huge crowds by the Red Sea

Winner: Elia Viviani (Ita/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Viviani takes second win as race leaves Israel

The ‘Big Start’ comes to its conclusion with the expected finale as Elia Viviani wins the sprint for the line by Red Sea. He is nearly dumped into the barriers by Ireland’s Sam Bennett but nudges his way through to complete a superb start to the race.

Stage 4: Tuesday, 8 May – Catania-Caltagirone, 198km

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Wellens claimed his second Giro stage, having won his first in 2016

Winner: Tim Wellens (Bel/Lotto Fix All)

Report: Yates up to third as Froome loses time

The first stage in Italy serves up an exciting race as Tim Wellens breaks clear to win on a testing uphill finish. Simon Yates impresses by finishing fourth in the same time as Wellens to move up to third overall. But Chris Froome struggles and loses 21 seconds, slipping to almost a minute behind Rohan Dennis, who retains the pink jersey.

Stage 5: Wednesday, 9 May – Agrigento-Santa Ninfa, 153km

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Enrico Battaglin claimed a third stage victory during the Giro d’Ita

Winner: Enrico Battaglin (Ita/LottoNL-Jumbo)

Report: Battaglin wins stage five as Yates remains third

Enrico Battaglin comes off the wheel of Italian compatriot Giovanni Visconti to snatch stage five as the overall lead stays the same. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Battaglin makes his move inside the final 200m of the stage in Sicily. In another frantic finale, Britain’s Simon Yates takes fifth to stay third overall, 17 seconds behind general classification leader Rohan Dennis.

Stage 6: Thursday, 10 May – Caltanissetta-Etna, 164km

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Yates (R) finished in the wheel tracks of Colombian team-mate Chaves, who took his second Giro stage win and first of 2018

Winner: Esteban Chaves (Col/Mitchelton-Scott)

Report: Yates takes overall lead as Chaves wins stage six

Britain’s Simon Yates storms into the overall lead as team-mate Esteban Chaves wins stage six. The 26-year-old attacked in the last two kilometres of the 163km stage to Mount Etna with his rivals for the general classification unable to react.

Yates now leads from reigning champion Tom Dumoulin by 16 seconds, with Chaves 26 seconds back. Chris Froome sits eighth, one minute 10 seconds behind his compatriot, after crossing the line in the second group.

Stage 7: Friday, 11 May – Pizzo-Praia a Mare, 159km

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Bennett, 27, celebrates his first Grand Tour stage win

Winner: Sam Bennett (Ire/Bora-Hansgrohe)

Report: Bennett wins stage seven as Yates retains lead

Britain’s Simon Yates holds on to the overall lead as Ireland’s Sam Bennett wins stage seven of the Giro d’Italia. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider jumped Elia Viviani just before the line as the 159km stage from Pizzo to Praia a Mare ended in a bunch sprint.

Mitchelton-Scott’s Yates, who took the pink jersey with a 16-second lead after stage six, is among the group of riders to finish behind Bennett.

Stage 8: Saturday, 12 May – Praia a Mare-Montevergine di Mercogliano, 209km

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Richard Carpaz becomes the first Ecuadorian rider to win a Grand Tour stage

Winner: Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Movistar)

Report: Yates retains overall lead as Ecuador’s Carapaz wins stage

Britain’s Simon Yates hangs on to the leader’s pink jersey as Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz makes a late move to win stage eight of the Giro d’Italia. The Movistar rider launched a solo attack with a little over one kilometre to go on the 209km route from Praia a Mare to Montevergine di Mercogliano.

Mitchelton-Scott’s Yates finishes safely in the bunch to maintain his 16-second lead over Tom Dumoulin.

Stage 9: Sunday, 13 May – Pesco Sannita-Gran Sasso d’Italia, 225km

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Simon Yates goes into the second rest day of the Giro with a 32-second lead over team-mate Esteban Chaves

Winner: Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton Scott)

Report: Sensational Yates takes first Giro stage win

Britain’s Simon Yates extends his overall race lead to 32 seconds with a well-time burst from the pack to win his first Giro stage on a summit finish. The Bury rider makes his move in the final 100m to distance defending champion Tom Dumoulin and fellow Briton Chris Froome, who now sits more than two minutes adrift.

Stage 10: Tuesday, 15 May – Penne-Gualdo Tadino, 239km

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Matej Mohoric won his second Grand Tour stage with victory over Nico Denz in a two-man sprint

Winner: Matej Mohoric (Slo/Bahrain-Merida)

Report: Mohoric sprints to victory over Denz

Slovenia’s Matej Mohoric outsprints Germany’s Nico Denz to take the stage win after the pair break clear late on. Britain’s Simon Yates retains the overall lead over defending champion Tom Dumoulin, who moves up to second after Yates’ team-mate Esteban Chaves cracks and loses significant time.

Stage 11: Wednesday, 16 May – Assisi-Osimo, 156km

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Simon Yates became only the second Briton after Mark Cavendish to win multiple stages in the same Giro

Winner: Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott)

Report: Yates extends lead with second stage win

Britain’s Simon Yates, who picked himself for victory in this guide, wins his second stage of the Giro and extends his overall lead. The Mitchelton-Scott rider attacks with about 1.5km to go, dropping all his rivals before Tom Dumoulin responds to limit his losses, coming in two seconds down on Yates to now trail by 47 seconds. Chris Froome struggles again and slips to over three minutes behind Yates.

Stage 12: Thursday, 17 May – Osimo-Imola, 214km

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Sam Bennett became the first Irishman to win multiple stages at a Grand Tour since Sean Kelly at the Vuelta a Espana of 1988.

Winner: Sam Bennett (Ire/Bora-Hansgrohe)

Report: Bennett wins stage as Yates stays in pink

No change among the main contenders after a stage for the sprinters eventually ends as just that.

Elia Viviani does not contend the finish after he gets dropped and it is Sam Bennett who kicks early to win in some style and secure his second stage win of the 2018 Giro.

Stage 13: Friday, 18 May – Ferrara-Nervesa della Battaglia, 180km

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Elia Viviani claimed his third win of the 2018 Giro on stage 13

Winner: Elia Viviani (Ita/Quick-Step Floors)

Report: Viviani wins third stage as Yates retains lead

Elia Viviani emphatically wins his third stage of the 2018 Giro, leaving his rivals behind in a bunch sprint finish. The contenders for the title enjoy an easy day before the imposing Zoncolan climb on stage 14, with Simon Yates retaining his overall lead.

Stage 14: Saturday, 19 May – San vito al Tagliamento-Monte Zoncolan, 186km

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Chris Froome sprays the celebratory champagne after winning stage 14

Winner: Chris Froome (GB/Sky)

Report: Froome wins first Giro stage as Yates extends lead

Chris Froome secures a first stage win at the Giro, beating Simon Yates on the brutal summit of Mount Zoncolan. The four-time Tour de France winner, who had slipped to more than three minutes off the lead, won the stage following a battle with his fellow Briton who finishes second, six seconds behind and puts more time into key rivals as he holds on to the overall leader’s pink jersey.

Stage 15: Sunday, 20 May – Tolmezzo-Sappada, 176km

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A third stage win for Britain’s Yates and he increased his lead at the top of the standings

Winner: Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott)

Report: Yates wins his third stage and extends leads

A fine solo win from Simon Yates sees him claim his third stage victory of this year’s race and extend his overall lead. He becomes the first rider since Gilberto Simoni in 2003 to win three road stages while wearing the maglia rosa in one edition and now leads by two minutes 11 seconds.

Monday, 21 May – rest day

Simon says: After a long transfer we will normally sleep in as long as possible. We’ll take a look at stage 16’s individual time trial course in the morning but rest is just as, if not more, important. So, after we have ridden over what is a reasonably straightforward TT we will retreat to the team hotel and just lay low and focus on what surely will be one of the most crucial show downs of the entire Giro.

Stage 16: Tuesday, 22 May – Individual time trial, Trento-Rovereto, 34.2km

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Simon says: Survival day. Before the race even started we knew today was our danger day. Days like today are made for Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin – the difference they can make on a time trial like this is why they started the Giro as the favourites.

For smaller guys like me and my team-mate Esteban Chaves, we just hope that the work we did on the time-trial bike in the off-season is enough to minimise the damage and keep us in striking distance of the podium.

Simon’s one to watch: Chris Froome – the Team Sky cyclist, looking to become the third rider to win three Grand Tours in a row, is playing catch-up…

Stage 17: Wednesday, 23 May – Riva del Garda-Iseo, 155km

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Simon says: The last chance for the real opportunists. The sprinters and their team-mates will all be fatigued so who will control a stage like this that will surely involve an aggressive start? A breakaway looks certain because all the key teams and riders will be thinking of three incredibly heavy days to come.

Simon’s one to watch: Luis Leon Sanchez – the Spaniard is a breakaway specialist with all four of his Tour de France stage wins coming in this way.

Stage 18: Thursday, 24 May – Abbiategrasso-Pratonevoso, 196km

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Simon says: The first of three big days to decide the Giro. I really see two races developing on a stage like today, one for the lucky climbers who make the break and the other between the key General Classification guys on the final and only climb of the day.

Simon’s one to watch: Carlos Betancur – the Colombian climber is yet to win a Grand Tour stage but has numerous top-10 finishes on mountain stages and to add to his pedigree, he was the best young rider at the Giro in 2013.

Stage 19: Friday, 25 May – Venaria Reale-Bardonecchia, 184km

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Simon says: This is the hardest day of the race – the Queen stage – and I expect it to be won by a General Classification rider, although you could see big gaps between them. There’s a lot of GC players starting the Giro who need to be aggressive and if you have good legs you can really make a difference on a day like today.

The break might go to collect King of the Mountain points but I predict it will most likely come back together on the final ascent.

Simon’s one to watch: Chris Froome – will he be needing to attack? This promises to be an exciting day regardless of who is in the lead.

Stage 20: Saturday, 26 May – Susa-Cervinnia, 214km

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Simon says: The final chance. The General Classification battle will determine how this final stage is raced, but I guarantee it will be action-packed and you will see a lot of key guys marking each other. With only the procession in Rome to follow, our winner will be decided today.

This could play into the hands of somebody slightly off the radar on GC for the stage win.

Simon’s one to watch: George Bennett – the New Zealander is yet to win a Grand Tour stage but comes into the race in decent form having finished fifth in the Tour of the Alps last month.

Stage 21: Sunday, 27 May – Rome, 115km

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Simon says: Emotions on this day depend on how the previous 20 days have panned out, but there’s always a sense of relief. Your body is on the brink of exhaustion and everyone is looking forward to stepping off the bike, having a rest and spending some time with family and loved ones.

What an incredible city to finish off our epic three weeks of racing. A short, sharp circuit race in the city of Rome is our last stage. A day for the surviving sprinters who have endured an arduous third week with one eye on victory.

Simon’s one to watch: Elia Viviani - it’s hard to back against the Italian who will be keen to impress in his capital city.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/43891228

Giro d’Italia: Simon Yates extends lead with fine solo win on stage 15

Simon Yates wins stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia

Britain’s Simon Yates stormed to a sensational solo win on stage 15 to take a tight grip on the overall lead at the Giro d’Italia.

The 25-year-old attacked with 18km to go of the stage to Sappada to blow away his rivals for the pink jersey.

On a day when Chris Froome lost more time, reigning champion Tom Dumoulin also struggled badly.

No Briton has ever won the Giro but with one week to go Yates now has a lead of two minutes 11 seconds.

He admitted to feeling emotional after his third road stage win of this Giro and he is the first man to do that in the pink jersey since Gilberto Simoni in 2003 – with Simoni going on to claim overall victory that year.

“I didn’t know that,” Yates told Eurosport. “I do like the stats, I like the numbers. It’s really fantastic. I don’t know why but I’m a bit emotional after today. I really gave it everything.”

It was arguably his most impressive yet, his sparkling form matched by the elan with which he timed his move.

Dumoulin stays second overall after battling through to finish third on the stage, 41 seconds behind Mitchelton-Scott rider Yates and picking up only four bonus seconds for his placing compared to Yates’ 10 for the stage win.

Monday is a rest day before Tuesday’s time trial so can Yates stay in the maglia rosa?

“It’s a good gap but (Dumoulin) could take two minutes out of me in a time trial. I’ve been fighting since Israel to have a good gap. I’m happy with that gap but it could disappear in 35km. We’ll have to see.”

Froome, who had looked reborn in his win on Monte Zoncolan on Saturday, lost a minute and a half on the day and is now almost five minutes down on his young compatriot, dropping two places in the general classification to seventh.

On a punchy day of second category climbs the racing was relentless, a huge break of 26 riders going up the road early on but gradually being whittled down to just Italy’s Guilio Ciccone and German Nico Denz with 30km to go.

Dumoulin’s Sunweb team pushed the pace hard in the main pack as the race climbed into the final hour, Yates watchful on his rival’s wheel and Froome in the company of Team Sky team-mate Sergio Henao.

With 18km to go, an acceleration from Miguel Angel Lopez on the penultimate climb caused splits in that group and Froome was the man to pay the price, dropping back and left without team-mates.

Yates spotted his fellow Briton’s distress and attacked, as any ruthless race leader should, jumping away to an 18-second advantage over a five-man group of Dumoulin, Lopez, Richard Carapaz, Domenico Pozzovivo and Thibaut Pinot, with Froome quickly a minute and 10 seconds adrift.

It was a move of both bravery and risk, but with the chasing group unwilling or unable to work together, Yates kept pushing up the final climb and extending his precious lead.

He looked exhausted at the finish but knows he has given himself a wonderful chance of making history.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Nicholas Roche and BMC team-mate Loic Vliegen both abandoned the race on Sunday. It was the first Grand Tour Roche had failed to finish in 19 races.

Stage 15 result:

1. Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) 4hr 37min 55secs

2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana) +41secs

3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) Same time

4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita/Bahrain-Merida)

5. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Movistar)

6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ)

7. Alexandre Geniez (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +1min 20secs

8. Davide Formolo (Ita/Bora-Hansgrohe) Same time

9. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Astana)

10. Sam Oomen (Ned/Team Sunweb)

Selected: 17. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +1min 32secs

Overall standings after stage 15:

1. Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton) 65hrs 57mins 37secs

2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2min 11secs

3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +2min 28secs

4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +2min 37secs

5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana) +4mins 27secs

6. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Movistar) +4mins 47secs

7. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +4mins 52secs

8. George Bennett (NZ/LottoNL-Jumbo) +5mins 34secs

9. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Astana) +5mins 59secs

10. Patrick Konrad (Aut/Bora-Hansgrohe) +6mins 13sec

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44190618

Froome beats Yates to win thrilling Giro stage on Monte Zoncolan

Chris Froome

Chris Frome is fifth in the overall classification, more than three minutes back on leader Simon Yates

Chris Froome held off fellow Briton Simon Yates to win a first ever stage of the Giro d’Italia – a thriller on Monte Zoncolan.

Yates finished six seconds behind Froome and stretched his overall lead over Tom Dumoulin to one minute 24 seconds with the reigning champion holding on impressively to come home fifth.

The infamous Zoncolan is known as the hardest climb in European cycling, and the huge crowds lining its upper slopes were treated to an epic finale.

This was redemption of sorts for Sky’s Froome after an injury-hit first two weeks.

Froome’s stage win means he leaps up to fifth in the overall standings, but he is still three minutes 10 seconds down on race leader Yates.

Dumoulin, the world time-trial champion, is expected to take at least a minute and a half out of Yates on Tuesday’s 34.2km time trial, which meant that Mitchelton-Scott rider Yates had targeted Saturday’s tough stage as one where he could try to bank significant time as the the pair battle for supremacy.

And for the Dutchman to lose only 38 seconds – 32 on the day and six more for Yates’ second place on the stage – represents a fine return for a man who is not a natural climber.

The Zoncolan averages 11.9% over its 10.1km length, with a maximum gradient of 22%. The Tour de France’s better-known Alpe d’Huez averages 8%, with a maximum of 12%, while Mont Ventoux is far longer at 21.5km but averaging just over 7%.

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Simon Yates could become the first Briton to win the Giro

Davide Formolo and Fabio Aru were the first of the big boys to feel the pain, dropping back with 6km to the summit.

Froome had team-mate Wout Pouls working with him, and the Team Sky pair led into the final 5km with Yates sitting third, Domenico Pozzovivo just behind and Dumoulin hanging on with Thibaut Pinot, who had begun the day third in the general classification.

On long sections of 15% section, the group thinned and drew away from the rest, and with 4.2km to go Froome attacked for the first time in this Giro.

He quickly built a small gap over Pozzovivo and Miguel Angel Lopez, Yates joining them as Dumoulin tried to maintain a steady pace rather than respond to the acceleration.

At 3km Yates made his own move, dropping the Italian and Colombian with glorious ease and hunting down the troubled Froome as the gap to Dumoulin began to stretch.

With 1500m of climbing to go that advantage for the young Briton over his main rival was up to 24 seconds, and he stretched that a little further by the finish even as he could not quite catch an exhausted Froome in a frenzied last few metres.

Froome said: “It is a really special feeling winning on top of that climb. On such a monumental climb for the race and in general is such a good feeling after a such a tough start to this race for me.

“I felt like 4km was the moment when the race was on the limit and was the moment to go. The team had done a great job pulling me to that point, but right to the line Simon was right on me.

“I didn’t know if he was going to catch me, so it was such a relief to get into that final 100m.”

No Briton has ever won the Giro, and Yates knows that his own bid still hangs in the balance with the race finishing in Rome on Sunday 27 May.

Stage 14 result:

1. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky) 5hrs 25mins 31secs

2. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) +6secs

3. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/BAH) +23secs

4. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) +25secs

5. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN) +37secs

6. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) +42secs

7. Wout Poels (NED/SKY) + 1min 7secs

8. Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI/FDJ) +1min 19secs

9. Pello Bilbao (ESP/AST) +1min 35secs

10. Michael Woods (CAN/EFD) +1min 43secs

Overall standings

1. Simon Yates (GBR/Mitchelton) 61hrs 19mins 51secs

2. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN) +1min 24secs

3. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/BAH) +1min 37secs

4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) +1min 46secs

5. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) +3mins 10secs

6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) +3mins 42secs

7. Richard Carapaz (ECU/MOV) +3mins 56secs

8. George Bennett (NZL/LNL) +4mins 4secs

9. Pello Bilbao (ESP/AST) +4mins 29secs

10. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOR) +4mins 43secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44184660

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