2015 Giro d'Italia, Stage 12 to Stage 21
|Denotes the leader of the general classification||Denotes the leader of the mountains classification|
|Denotes the leader of the points classification||Denotes the leader of the young rider classification|
The 12th stage of the Giro features another chance for the Classics specialists to take a stage victory. The first 129 kilometers of the stage is entirely flat before the riders tackle three categorized climbs on the route - the fourth category Castelnuovo, the third category Crosara and the fourth category Monte Berico. Along with the three climbs, the uncategorized climb of Perarolo is also located on the route. The ascent of Monte Berico starts at around 1 kilometer from the finish, averaging 7.1 per cent and going all the way to the finish. The short climb could provide a chance for the GC contenders to make some differences in the GC.
For the first 70 kilometers, no rider could break away from the peloton as the riders' pace was at around 50 km/h during that stretch. Finally, 5 riders, consisting of AG2R La Mondiale's Patrick Gretsch, Androni–Sidermec's Davide Appollonio, Bardiani–CSF's Enrico Barbin, FDJ's Kenny Elissonde and LottoNL–Jumbo's Nick van der Lijke, were able to build a gap on the peloton. However, they were not allowed to build a big lead as the peloton only allowed them to have an advantage of around 2 minutes. The peloton began to reel them in one by one with around 50 kilometers still remaining with Gretsch being the last rider reeled in by the peloton. Afterwards, Gianfranco Zilioli of Androni–Sidermec attacked but Louis Vervaeke of Lotto–Soudal joined and dropped him but he was not able to build much of a gap and soon, he was also caught. As the riders approached the summit of Crosara, Beñat Intxausti also attacked but his only focus was maintaining the blue jersey. Maglia rosa wearer, Alberto Contador, also gave in a little dig to put him in the right place on the descent.
On the descent, several riders crashed including Simon Gerrans, dropping him out of contention for the stage win. At the front, Alexandre Geniez attacked but his descending style got him off-road and he was also caught. The peloton also split on the descent but they eventually regrouped into a smaller peloton. With around 16 kilometers to go, Franco Pellizotti of Androni–Sidermec attacked and although he tried to go solo, Astana's Tanel Kangert chased and joined him. The duo were able to build a gap of nearly 30 seconds as the riders closed in on the ascent of Monte Berico. On the final kilometer, Kangert was able to distance Pellizotti but Kangert was also caught with around 200 meters left. After a while, Philippe Gilbert attacked and no one was able to catch him as he took his second Giro stage win. From behind, the peloton split into three groups with Contador taking second place and the 6 bonus seconds, 3 seconds behind Gilbert. With Fabio Aru finishing 8 seconds in arrears of Contador and coupled with the time bonuses he gained, Contador stayed in pink and extended his GC lead over Aru to 17 seconds.
|Stage 12 result
|General classification after Stage 12
After two stages partially designed for Classics specialists, the riders tackle an entirely flat course designed for pure sprinters. No climbs are included on the route and not even one uphill road is included on the stage. The final 20 kilometers could blow some winds that may spark echelons on the peloton and rain may also be a factor on the stage, especially on the expected bunch sprint in the finale.
Unlike the previous stage when a break was not allowed to go away easily, a break was already established early, consisting of BMC Racing Team's Rick Zabel, IAM Cycling's Jérôme Pineau and Androni–Sidermec's Marco Frapporti. The break was not allowed to build a large gap, however, as the peloton only allowed them to have an advantage of around two and a half minutes before chasing them. At one point during the stage, the break was stopped by a crossing train and as a result, the peloton also slowed down to allow the break to build a gap again. However, the advantage of the breakaway went down from two minutes to just around one minute. Frapporti won the first intermediate sprint while Zabel won the second intermediate sprint. However, the peloton was quickly closing in on the three breakaway riders.
With the chase being led by the sprinters' teams, the gap was down to around 30 seconds with around 25 kilometers left and with 20 kilometers left, the lead of the trio was down to 14 seconds. The trio would eventually be caught 17.5 kilometers from the finish. After all riders regrouped, Tinkoff–Saxo led the peloton for around 10 kilometers before Trek Factory Racing took over with 6 kilometers to go, trying to set up their sprinter, Giacomo Nizzolo. However, with just 3.2 kilometers left, a crash took down most of the riders. Among those caught in the crash were GC contenders, Alberto Contador and Richie Porte. As the crash took place just outside the 3-kilometer banner, time lost would stand as time lost. Meanwhile, up front, Lampre–Merida took over the peloton as the riders were closing in on the finish. Lampre-Merida perfectly led out their sprinter, Sacha Modolo, as Modolo took the stage win ahead of Nizzolo and Elia Viviani. Main GC contenders, Fabio Aru and Rigoberto Urán, both of whom were able to escape the crash, finished four seconds behind Modolo while Contador finished 36 seconds behind Aru and Porte lost two minutes on the day. As a result of the crash, Aru took over the maglia rosa as he will go to the crucial time trial with a 19-second advantage over Contador. It was only the first time in his career that Contador lost a leader's jersey in a Grand Tour after wearing the jersey previously during the race. All previous times that Contador wore the leader's jersey during a Grand Tour, he was able to keep hold of it until the end of the race.
|Stage 13 result
|General classification after Stage 13
Featuring the only individual time trial of this year's Giro, the stage is the longest ITT since 2009 when Denis Menchov won a 60.6 kilometer ITT on his way to overall victory. The riders travel from Treviso to Valdobbiadene, the home of processo and tiramisu. The first 30 kilometers of the stage is flat while the rest of the stage is hilly, including the fourth category climb of San Pietro Di Feletto in the middle of the stage. After the climb, a short descent follows before the riders go up a hill again. Another short descent follows before a short 400 meter climb to the finish. The stage is considered as the most crucial of the Giro and is expected to build huge time gaps between the riders. Following tradition, the riders set off in reverse order of the general classification, starting from the last-placed rider to the leader of the GC. Thus, Marco Coledan of Trek Factory Racing, who was 3h 15' 15" behind maglia rosa wearer Fabio Aru at the start of the day, was the first rider off the start ramp.
However, Coledan was not the first rider to cross the finish line as Michael Hepburn, the third rider off the start ramp, set a time of 1h 21' 05" to set the early time to beat. Shortly after, Nikolay Mihaylov beat Hepburn's times at the intermediate time checks before setting the best time at the finish of 1h 20' 32", 33 seconds faster than Hepburn's time. Christopher Juul-Jensen and Alexander Porsev went close to beating Mihaylov's time but they both fell short at the finish. After a while, Luke Durbridge took Mihaylov out of the hot seat, setting a time of 1h 19' 28", bettering Mihaylov's time by more than a minute. Time trial specialist, Kristof Vandewalle went close to beating Durbridge's time but Vandewalle came back from a crash and fell short by 5 seconds. However, both Vasil Kiryienka and Patrick Gretsch went faster than Durbridge's time. Gretsch set a time of 1h 18' 15" to knock Durbridge off the hot seat but Kiryienka immediately beat Gretsch with a time of 1h 17' 52", 23 seconds better than the German. Kiryienka's time would not be beaten as he took his third Giro stage win.
The focus would eventually shift to the GC favourites. Change in weather and wind direction played a factor in the stage result and it made it hard for the late starters to set faster times than the early starters. Riders like Jurgen Van den Broeck, Andrey Amador and Leopold König set good times that were enough to move them up the standings. Soon, the four main GC contenders, Richie Porte, Rigoberto Urán, Alberto Contador and Aru went off the start ramp. Porte was the first to set off and although he was expected to set a good time, he struggled as he only finished with a time of 1h 22' 12" in 55th place, 4' 20" behind Kiryienka. Urán, who was a favourite for the stage victory, struggled as well and he could not repeat his performance in the previous year's stage 12 ITT. He could only set a time of 1h 20' 37", 2' 45" behind in 23rd place. After some time, Contador went off the start ramp and despite the effects of his injury and his tweaked time trial position, he set the fastest time of all the GC favorites. Despite being 1' 05" off Kiryienka's pace at the first intermediate time check, Contador put on significant time gaps on his main rivals, even catching his three-minute man, Mikel Landa, on the course as he eventually recorded a time of 1h 18' 06", the third best time and just 14 seconds behind Kiryienka's time. Maglia rosa wearer, Aru did his best to limit his losses but he could only finish with a time of 1h 20' 53", 3' 01" behind Kiryienka and more importantly, 2' 47" behind Contador. As a result of the huge time gaps, Urán rose to fourth place in the GC, 4' 14" behind, while Porte suffered as he dropped to 17th place in the GC, 8' 52" in arrears. More importantly, Contador retook the maglia rosa and he now leads the Giro by 2' 28" over Aru in second with Amador in third at 3' 36" behind.
|Stage 14 result
|General classification after Stage 14
To end the race's second week, the riders tackle the second high-mountain stage of this year's Giro, the first of two Dolomites stages. There are three categorized climbs on the course - the second category La Fricca, the first category Passo Daone and the final first category ascent to the summit finish at Madonna Di Campiglio. The ascent of the Madonna Di Campiglio was well known for its appearance in 1999 when Marco Pantani won the stage finishing at the climb. Pantani was eventually expelled from the race before the next stage due to a high hematocrit level. This stage is expected to feature another showdown between the race's main GC favorites.
After four successive stages marred by bad weather, the riders rode the stage under clear blue skies. No rider was able to break away until the middle of the climb to La Fricca when a ten-man group slowly made their way to the front. The best-placed GC man in the breakaway was Giovanni Visconti of Movistar Team, who was 6' 04" behind maglia rosa wearer, Alberto Contador, before the stage. The break was only allowed to build a gap of around 2 minutes before the peloton began the chase. As the break began to close in on the climb of Passo Daone, Visconti, Team Sky's Kanstantsin Sivtsov, AG2R La Mondiale's Hubert Dupont and BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter attacked out of the breakaway and managed to build a gap again while the other six breakaway riders chose to wait for the peloton to catch up to them. On the ascent of Passo Daone, GC contenders, Richie Porte and Rigoberto Urán both were dropped by the peloton. Porte would eventually lose 27 minutes on the day and would quit the race the next day while Urán would lose 8 minutes on the day to drop out of the top 10. Up front, Brookwalter was distanced on the ascent and at the top of the climb, Visconti took the maximum KOM points. In the peloton, Contador found himself isolated with no teammates around him while rival Fabio Aru still had five riders for support.
On the descent, several riders crashed and chief among them was Contador's teammate Roman Kreuziger, ninth place in the GC. As the four-man break neared the Madonna Di Campiglio, Sivtsov and Visconti dropped out to help their teammates, leaving Dupont as the lone breakaway rider. He was eventually caught after the second intermediate sprint, where Contador sprinted to take two bonus seconds. On the final ascent, Astana continued to set the pace and the group of favorites continued to dwindle down until eight riders remained with 5 kilometers to go. When Tanel Kangert finally let go of the pace, Mikel Landa sparked the attacks at the front. He was chased down by Contador while Aru struggled behind. Aru and Yuri Trofimov eventually bridged the gap to Contador and Landa. Contador would also put in an attack but his three companions were able to chase him down. Trofimov would be dropped shortly but as the trio up front neared the final kilometer, Trofimov suddenly had the legs to come back and he attacked on his own, taking advantage of the GC battle between Contador and Aru. Realizing that the stage could slip away, Landa chased after Trofimov and he succeeded in passing Trofimov with 450 meters to go. Landa stayed up front to take the stage win, 2 seconds ahead of Trofimov. Contador gained one second on Aru at the finish and also took the time bonuses for third place. The riders finished scattered behind, shaking up the GC once more as Contador extended his lead over Aru to 2' 35" while Andrey Amador held on to his third place, 4' 19" behind in arrears. Contador stayed in pink ahead of the second and final rest day with six stages remaining in the Giro. During the rest day the next day, it was announced that Richie Porte will withdraw from the race, to better prepare for the Tour de France. Team Sky thus turned their hopes on Leopold König, in fifth place in the GC after the stage.
|Stage 15 result
|General classification after Stage 15
The queen stage of this year's Giro, the first stage in the third week of the race consisted of five categorized climbs. The first climb, the second-category Campo Carlo Magno, commenced immediately after the start and saw the riders reach an altitude of 1,681 m (5,515 ft). After the descent, and a short false-flat section, the riders climbed the Passo del Tonale, which was also a second category climb, followed by the third-category ascent to Aprica, with the riders crossing the finish of the stage for the first time on its summit. Although averaging 3.5 per cent, the gradient topped 15 per cent at the start of the ascent. The first intermediate sprint occurred partway through the ascent. After having descended from there and after passing the second intermediate sprint in Tirano, the riders had to tackle the legendary Mortirolo Pass. The climb isn't especially high, at 1,854 m (6,083 ft), but it is absurdly steep, with an average gradient of 10.9 per cent and reaching 18 per cent halfway through the ascent. After a long descent, the riders ascend to Aprica again, with the finish occurring on its summit at an altitude of 1,173 m (3,848 ft).
After a sunny day to Madonna Di Campiglio, the rain again played a factor on the stage. On the ascent of Campo Carlo Magno, several riders attempted to build a breakaway until nine riders were able to build a gap on the descent. The best-placed GC man in the breakaway was Cannondale–Garmin's Ryder Hesjedal, who was sitting in 13th place, 11' 17" behind maglia rosa wearer, Alberto Contador. Two additional riders, Lotto–Soudal's Sander Armée and Orica–GreenEDGE's Simon Clarke, bridged over to the break to make it 11 riders in the breakaway. Their advantage only reached around two minutes after 80 kilometers of racing, prompting Hesjedal to attack his breakaway companions on the first ascent to Aprica. He was able to quickly build a gap of around one to two minutes on the descent. At this point, Astana's Diego Rosa fell off his bike but the first drama of the day took place when Contador had a mechanical problem. At the same time, Team Katusha and Astana immediately pressed on the pace at the front, sparking a bit of controversy over respect and fair play. Contador immediately received the wheel of teammate, Ivan Basso, but by the time he was riding again, his group was nearly a minute behind the group containing Fabio Aru. Aru's group immediately caught the breakaway riders, including Hesjedal. With a deficit of 52 seconds at the start of the Mortirolo, Contador attacked out of his group.
On the ascent of Mortirolo, several riders continued to fall off the back, with Mikel Landa pressing on the pace at the front. Contador quickly caught the dropped riders, working with several riders in order to bridge the gap to Aru. His deficit hovered around 40–50 seconds before he slowly chipped into the gap with the help of riders like fellow Spaniard, Igor Antón. With around 40 kilometers to go, Aru's group was within sight of Contador and after a bit more effort, he finally bridged the gap to the leading chasers which consisted of two riders, Aru and Landa with Steven Kruijswijk further up the front. Contador soon attacked on his own, immediately pursued by Kruijswijk while Landa was instructed by Aru to give chase as well. Aru struggled to catch the leading group and he continued to lose time on the ascent. He was passed and dropped by Yuri Trofimov and Hesjedal as they closed in on the summit. At the top, it was Kruijswijk who led the leading trio while Trofimov and Hesjedal were almost a minute behind. Third-placed overall, Andrey Amador, also caught and dropped Aru as they passed the summit over a minute and a half behind the leading trio.
On the long descent, Contador set a fast pace, quickly followed by Kruijswijk and Landa. Trofimov descended the Mortirolo aggressively, dropping Hesjedal in the process. He actually came to within ten seconds of Contador's group before dropping back. Aru also set an aggressive pace on the descent, catching up to Amador before stopping due to a mechanical problem. When Aru changed his bike, he forgot to pick up a bidon and as he was already within 20 kilometers of the finish, he was not allowed to get a bidon or else, he would be penalized. As a result, Aru had to finish the rest of the stage without having a drink. At one point, Aru had Trofimov, Hesjedal and Amador within his sights on the ascent to Aprica but he continued to drop back and he lost more time to Contador. With the leading trio within 5 kilometers of the finish, Kruijswijk gave in a dig but he was quickly chased by Contador and Landa. In turn, Landa attacked in pursuit of another stage win and although Contador tried to give chase, Landa continued to increase his advantage. Landa would not be caught as he took his second successive stage victory, 38 seconds ahead of Kruijswijk and Contador with Amador's group finishing more than two minutes behind after distancing Hesjedal by a few meters. Landa's stage victory marked the first time that a rider won two stages in this year's Giro as the fifteen previous stages featured fifteen different winners. The riders behind finished within scattered groups but at considerable distances behind as only fifteen riders finished within ten minutes of Landa's time.
Trofimov's strong ride allowed him to enter the top 5 while Kruijswijk's and Hesjedal's ride propelled them inside the top 10. Aru crossed the line nearly three minutes behind his teammate, Landa, and in the process, Landa moved up to second overall, 50" ahead of Aru in third but 4' 02" behind Contador, who retained his maglia rosa with five stages left in the Giro.
|Stage 16 result
|General classification after Stage 16
The only route of the Giro to go outside of Italy, the stage will be the last chance for the sprinters to win a stage before the ceremonial flat stage to Milan. Eight kilometers from the start of the stage, the riders tackle the only categorized climb of the route - the third category ascent of Teglio. Following the descent, the course will be mostly flat with only two short and uncategorized climbs near the end of the stage. At around eight kilometers from the end of the stage, the riders will reach Switzerland, where they will finish near the Lake of Lugano.
Just two kilometers into the stage, Etixx–Quick-Step's Iljo Keisse, Androni–Sidermec's Marco Bandiera and Nippo–Vini Fantini's Giacomo Berlato immediately went on the attack. Despite the fact that no one in the breakaway posed a threat in the GC, the trio was only allowed an advantage of around three minutes, with the sprinters' teams controlling the pace. At the first intermediate sprint, the break took the first three places before points classification leader, Elia Viviani, outsprinted Giacomo Nizzolo to increase his lead in the classification. At the second intermediate sprint, the break took the first three places again before Nizzolo outsprinted Viviani to decrease Viviani's advantage in the points classification. Up front, the breakaway's advantage began to drop quickly and with 40 kilometers remaining, the advantage was down to less than a minute before the peloton slowed the pace a bit. However, with 30 kilometers left, the break's lead was just around 30 seconds before the break was finally caught with 27 kilometers remaining in the stage.
With around 25 kilometers remaining, Adam Hansen and Patrick Gretsch attacked off the front on a short uncategorized ascent. Darwin Atapuma tried to give chase and he successfully did so after a few seconds of chasing. Hansen soon took off solo with Gretsch and Atapuma returning to the peloton. Hansen, riding in his 11th consecutive Grand Tour, was able to build a lead of 20 seconds before the Team Giant–Alpecin-led peloton brought the gap down quickly. Shortly before the race reached Switzerland, Hansen was caught and Tinkoff–Saxo took over the pacing in the peloton. With 5.5 kilometers left from the finish, Tom-Jelte Slagter attacked in a bid to win the stage. He was quickly chased by Philippe Gilbert but both riders were unable to build a substantial gap. Luca Paolini was next to attack with around 3 kilometers remaining and he was able to build a decent gap. However, the peloton quickly gave chase and with around 1 kilometer remaining, Paolini was caught. During the finale, Luka Mezgec tried to sprint for his second Giro stage win but Lampre–Merida did a perfect lead-out once again, setting up Sacha Modolo for his second stage win and his team's fourth in this year's Giro. Nizzolo overtook Mezgec to take second on the stage and he assumed the lead in the points classification after Viviani missed out on the top 10. The GC contenders finished safely within the peloton and with no change in the GC, Alberto Contador kept the maglia rosa.
|Stage 17 result
|General classification after Stage 17
Probably the last chance for a breakaway to bring home a victory, the stage features the first category climb of Monte Ologno near the end of the stage. The first 124 kilometers of the stage is mostly flat but has several lumps along the way before the riders tackle the climb of Monte Ologno. The climb is expected to test everyone, especially the GC contenders, as it is 10.4 kilometers long and it has an average gradient of 9 per cent. After reaching its summit and after a very short descent, the riders will ascend an uncategorized climb before descending again. Another short uncategorized climb is located along the way but the descent goes all the way until the 6-kilometer mark where the riders tackle a flat ride to the finish in Verbania.
A fast start to the stage prevented any break from forming until 44 kilometers into the stage when a 14-man group attacked out of the peloton. However, shortly after the break was made, Lampre–Merida's Roberto Ferrari and Nippo–Vini Fantini's Damiano Cunego crashed up front. While Ferrari dropped down to a chase group with Trek Factory Racing's Fabio Felline and Movistar Team's Jesús Herrada, Cunego had to retire from the race. The peloton caught the chase group and allowed the break to have a maximum advantage of around 13 minutes, almost making sure that someone from the break would take the stage win. It was not until the climb of Monte Ologno that the day featured more drama in terms of the GC and the stage win.
On the ascent of Monte Ologno, the break split into two with some riders from the breakaway dropping back on the climb's steep gradients. The gap between the two breakaway groups hovered at around a minute. From behind, a crash took place, bringing down most of the Team Sky riders but the most notable rider caught behind it was Astana's Mikel Landa, who was sitting in second-place overall. At the front of the peloton, maglia rosa wearer, Alberto Contador, told his team, Tinkoff–Saxo, to up the pace. After a while, Contador attacked solo and he immediately built a gap of around two minutes. Contador's attack was presumed by many as payback for what happened on the Mortirolo two days earlier but Contador said after the stage that he told his team to press on the pace even before Landa was caught behind in the crash. A chase group consisting of most of the top 10 riders formed in pursuit of Contador with Landa joining that group after a huge effort. Further up the climb, Contador dropped his chain but he was quickly helped by his mechanic and he was able to keep his lead. Eventually, the only rider to catch up to Contador was Cannondale–Garmin's Ryder Hesjedal, who caught up to Contador at the summit of the climb at around 7 minutes behind the breakaway with the chase group a further minute behind the duo.
On the descent, Davide Villella, who was an original part of the breakaway, was caught by Hesjedal and Contador. Villella, who was Hesjedal's teammate, helped the duo build and maintain their advantage over their chasers. Contador's group maintained a minute-and-a-half advantage over their chase group but still at a large deficit behind the breakaway riders. Up front, the first breakaway group led the second breakaway group by nearly a minute before BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert attacked from the second breakaway group and he was able to get to the front group on the descent. With 19 kilometers left for the break, Gilbert immediately attacked and he was able to build a substantial gap. Several riders from the remnants of the breakaway tried to chase Gilbert but only Francesco Manuel Bongiorno managed to build a gap over the other riders. Gilbert managed to stay up front to take his second win of this year's Giro with Bongiorno crossing the finish line 47 seconds behind. The remnants of the break finished a further 14 seconds behind Bongiorno while Hesjedal led Contador across the line, 6' 05" behind Gilbert. Aru's and Landa's group crossed the line 7' 18" behind Gilbert and crucially, 1' 13" behind Contador and Hesjedal.
Hesjedal's ride moved him up one spot in the top 10 as he now sits in ninth overall, 8 seconds behind Steven Kruijswijk who sits in eighth place in the GC. As a result of his successful attack, Contador extended his lead over Landa to 5' 15" with two key mountain stages and one flat stage remaining in the Giro.
The penultimate mountain stage of this year's Giro is expected to feature one of the final showdowns between the main GC contenders. The first 151 kilometers of the stage is a bit hilly, featuring the third category climb of Croce Serra. The final 85 kilometers of the stage will be crucial as it features three first category climbs. The riders will have to tackle the climb of Saint-Barthélemy first. The ascent is almost 20 kilometers long with an average gradient of 6.7 per cent. Following the descent, the riders will climb the Col De Saint-Pantaléon which is 16.5 kilometers long and has an average gradient of 7.2 per cent. After another descent, the riders will climb to Cervinia with the finish line located at its summit at a height of 2001 meters. The final climb is not very steep, averaging only 5 per cent but it is 19.2 kilometers long. The hardest part of the climb comes at its middle section with an 8-kilometer section having an average gradient of around 7 per cent before the riders tackle three gentle kilometers to the finish in Cervinia. All but nine of the final 44 kilometers of the stage goes uphill.
Another fast start to the stage prevented any breakaway from forming easily. After a while, eight riders broke clear from the peloton. The break was not allowed to build a large gap, however, as they only had a maximum advantage of around four minutes on the peloton. Astana soon took over the chase and the gap began to come down. On the first difficult climb of the day, the climb of Saint-Barthélemy, the break began to dwindle down as some of the breakaway riders dropped on the climb. From behind, Steven Kruijswijk and Beñat Intxausti attacked in a battle for the KOM competition. The duo built a short gap before dropping back with Intxausti taking more points at the summit of the climb. As the climb of Col De Saint-Pantaléon went underway, Movistar Team's Giovanni Visconti went off solo with Team Katusha's Pavel Kochetkov and Team Sky's Vasil Kiryienka chasing him. Kiryienka was caught on the climb while Visconti continued to stay up front with Kochetkov chasing him. Kochetkov slowly fell back while Astana-led peloton kept Visconti's advantage hovering around two minutes on the maglia rosa group. At the summit, Visconti took maximum points, taking over the lead in the KOM competition.
On the short descent of the climb, Kochetkov only had a gap of around 20 seconds over the peloton while Visconti still had a lead of almost two minutes. As the riders reached the lower slopes of the climb to Cervinia, Kochetkov was caught by the Astana-led peloton while Visconti saw his advantage continue to shrink quickly. With around 10 kilometers left in the stage, Visconti was finally caught and several minutes later, Mikel Landa gave in a small dig at the front, followed quickly by maglia rosa wearer, Alberto Contador, and Ryder Hesjedal. After the trio were caught by a small number of riders, Hesjedal attacked and he quickly built a substantial advantage. Shortly after, Fabio Aru, who struggled in the previous mountain stages, attacked from a small chase group while Contador chose to mark Landa instead of chasing Aru. Aru quickly bridged over to Hesjedal and he immediately accelerated off the front, dropping Hesjedal in the process. Aru continued to increase his advantage to the line, soloing to a 28-second victory over Hesjedal. Rigoberto Urán, who also struggled in the previous mountain stages, crossed the line in third at 1' 10" down on Aru following a great ride while a chase group containing Contador, Landa, Kruijswijk and Tanel Kangert finished 1' 18" behind.
Another strong ride from Hesjedal saw him rise to seventh in the GC standings while Aru regained his second place from his teammate, Landa, with an advantage of 38 seconds over his teammate but with a 4' 37" deficit to Contador, who continued to stay in pink with one final mountain stage and a flat stage remaining in the race.
|Stage 19 result
|General classification after Stage 19
The final mountain stage of the race will finally decide the placings in the overall GC standings. The first 150 kilometers of the stage will serve as warm-up before the riders tackle the climb of Colle delle Finestre. With its summit at a height of 2,178 meters, it is the scheduled Cima Coppi as the highest point reached in the race. The climb has as many as 45 hairpins and it is 18.5 kilometers long with an average gradient of 9.2 per cent. The first nine kilometers of the climb is paved while the last nine kilometers will be ran on dirt roads. Following a short descent, the riders will ascend the easier third category climb of Sestriere. The climb is 9.2 kilometers long and it only averages 5.4 per cent. The finish line is located at its summit at a height of 2,035 meters.
Several kilometers into the start of the stage, nine riders broke clear of the peloton. The breakaway group was not allowed to build a large gap, however, as they were only allowed to build a maximum advantage of nearly three minutes. As the riders reached the foot of the climb of Colle delle Finestre, the break's advantage was down to around a minute before Nippo–Vini Fantini's Giacomo Berlato attacked his breakaway companions with Team Katusha's Ilnur Zakarin chasing him solo. The seven other breakaway riders were quickly caught by the peloton. Berlato eventually struggled on the climb as he was passed by Zakarin. In the peloton, Bardiani–CSF's Stefano Pirazzi broke clear to pursue Zakarin on the climb. Zakarin's advantage reached nearly two minutes before Tanel Kangert started the moves in the peloton. He quickly brought most of the GC contenders with him before attacking once again. Pirazzi was eventually caught by the maglia rosa group as Zakarin continued to stay up front. With the gap at around a minute to Zakarin, Mikel Landa attacked out of the maglia rosa group. Maglia rosa wearer, Alberto Contador, tried to chase him but Landa managed to build a substantial gap on Contador's group. After a while, Ryder Hesjedal accelerated and he was quickly pursued by Steven Kruijswijk, Rigoberto Urán and Fabio Aru but the main surprise of the day was the sight of Contador struggling on the Finestre. Contador only had Kangert with him but Kangert attacked as well to keep Contador isolated. Up front, Landa was able to catch Zakarin with Landa taking the Cima Coppi at summit of Finestre. Aru's group crossed the summit at nearly a minute behind Landa and Zakarin while Contador reached the summit a minute and a half behind.
On the descent, Contador managed to hold the gap at around a minute and a half. Meanwhile, up front, Zakarin refused to work with Landa, prompting Landa to wait for Aru's group. From behind, Contador managed to catch Kangert and he was able to cut the gap to the leading riders to under a minute. The leading riders eventually began to work together in a final chance to try and take the maglia rosa from Contador but despite the fact that their gap increased over Contador, they were not able to really threaten Contador's lead. With around two kilometers left, Aru attacked in pursuit of the stage win. He was immediately chased by Urán but Aru continued to build his gap. Aru eventually won his second successive stage win, his team's fifth of the race as he finished 18 seconds ahead of Hesjedal, who passed Urán on the finish. Urán finished the stage, 24 seconds behind Aru with Landa and Kruijswijk finishing in fourth and fifth, respectively while Contador, pumping his fist, crossed the line 2' 25" behind Aru.
In terms of the GC, Hesjedal's ride propelled him inside the top 5 and Kruijswijk's ride allowed him to move up two spots to seventh overall. Although Contador lost two and a half minutes on what he described as an "off-day", he kept the maglia rosa with a lead of 2' 02" and with just a flat ceremonial stage remaining, he is now on the cusp of winning his second Giro title.
|Stage 20 result
|General classification after Stage 20
The final stage of the race is expected to feature the traditional parade as the Giro comes to an end and for the first time since 2012, the Giro will end in Milan. There are no categorized climbs on the route so it is expected that the pure sprinters will battle it out for the stage win. The course ends with seven laps of a 5.35-kilometer circuit. Barring any disasters, it is already expected that Alberto Contador will cross the finish line of the stage as the winner of the Giro and it is also expected that Giovanni Visconti and Fabio Aru will confirm their win in the mountains classification and young riders classification, respectively. However, the points classification is expected to be decided during the stage.
As expected, no riders went into the breakaway for almost the first half of the stage, content to celebrate three weeks of racing in the Giro. 86 kilometers into the stage, the first attacks were made as three BMC Racing Team riders, Philippe Gilbert, Silvan Dillier and Marcus Burghardt and Lampre–Merida's Max Richeze pulled out a gap of around a minute. Gilbert's goal during the stage was to take the points classification and he managed to get closer to that goal as he won the first intermediate sprint. The four riders eventually took it easy as they waited for the peloton to catch up to them. After the quartet were caught, AG2R La Mondiale riders, Axel Domont and Patrick Gretsch attacked as well but they were immediately caught by the Tinkoff–Saxo-led peloton. With Tinkoff-Saxo setting a fast pace, no attacks were successful until after the first of seven laps of the circuit in Milan when Etixx–Quick-Step's Iljo Keisse and Orica–GreenEDGE's Luke Durbridge attacked the peloton.
The duo were able to build a gap of around 40 seconds with other teams in the peloton contributing to the chase. Along the way, Team Giant–Alpecin's Luka Mezgec and Team Sky's Leopold König suffered punctures as the duo up front continued to maintain their gap. After a while, Gilbert and IAM Cycling's Heinrich Haussler also suffered punctures as the leading duo kept their advantage at around 40 seconds. Several teams began contributing to the chase but the leading duo worked perfectly together as they held a pretty healthy gap on the peloton heading into the last kilometer of the stage. As the final kilometer wore on, Durbridge and Keisse began playing cat and mouse before Durbridge started his sprint first. However, Keisse came through to the front to take the stage win, his first victory in a Grand Tour. IAM Cycling's Roger Kluge led the peloton across the line, 9 seconds behind the duo while points classification leader, Trek Factory Racing's Giacomo Nizzolo, finished fifth on the stage to win the red jersey. Contador finished the stage safely to win his second Giro title while Aru and Visconti also finished safely to confirm their victories in the young riders classification and the mountains classification, respectively. The traditional prize-giving commenced shortly after the race.
|Stage 21 result
|Final General Classification
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