Huge crash overshadows start of today’s stage
Buchmann forced to abandon after crash
Berhane and Van Emden also abandon
42km to go
Ineos Grenadiers stalwarts Salvatore Puccio and Filippo Ganna remain on the front of the peloton as they weave through through the huge crowd that has mobbed the Gornje Cerovo. The deficit on then breakaway has grown out to beyond 12 minutes and there are dark clouds overhead so we may be seeing some rain before the day is out.
De Bondt adds to his tally
As predicted, Dries De Bondt rolls off the front just shy of the summit to add a few more points to his account, but Bauke Mollema was second so the Belgian only gained a single point more than the Dutchman in the mountains classification. Interesting to note that Qhubeka-Assos have been doing much of the heavy lifting on the front of the breakaway, presumably planning on making an assault on a third stage win at this year’s race.
50km to go
The breakaway is inching its way up the second ascent of the Gornje Cerovo, Dries De Bondt is sat at second wheel no doubt thinking about the points on offer at the top of this category four climb. The Belgian national champion started the day fourth in the mountains classification, 10 points behind Bauke Mollema who is also in the break but doesn’t appear as concerned over the points as De Bondt.
60km to go
Salvatore Puccio takes over from Filippo Ganna on the front of the peloton, while up the road the breakaway zips along on the flat circuitous section that links the first and second ascent of the only categorised climb in today’s stage, the Gornje Cerovo.
67.5km to go
Not a great deal happening out on the road right now: the breakaway has lost a few seconds, but nothing too serious to worry about.
74km to go
If the peloton was unsure about where exactly it was, the numerous Slovenian flags atop the Gornje Cerovo climb will give them a clue. Ineos Grenadiers, as they have done for the best part of today’s stage, are sat on the front with that man Filippo Ganna pulling. It is a fairly narrow road with a decent surface and may be where an assault on the stage is launched later this afternoon, I’m guessing on the third and final ascent – though this is just idle speculation.
78km to go
Having hauled themselves over the summit of Gornje Cerovo, the breakaway’s lead has grown out to a shade below 12 minutes.
80km to go
The breakaway is onto the first of three ascents of the Gornje Cerovo climb which pitches up to 15% in gradient. Large crowds are out on the Slovenian climb, but I don’t think they will be getting a rider from Slovenia winning today’s stage as there’s just one remaining – Jan Tratnik – who will have burnt a few matches on Monte Zoncolan yesterday where he finished second to Lorenzo Fortunato.
85km to go
That quartet of riders who were stuck in no man’s land have given up the chase, while the breakaway has increased its lead to almost 11 minutes. It is quite windy out in northern Italy as the race edges towards the border with Slovenia and so riders and their teams will be on alert to any crosswinds causing splits in either group.
100km to go
Following the chaotic start to the stage, things have thankfully calmed down a little in the peloton which has allowed the big breakaway to increase its lead to a shade below 10 minutes. It is very much starting to look like today’s stage winner will be another breakaway rider, which has become a bit of a trend this year.
Indeed, of the 14 stages completed, seven of those have been won by a rider from the breakaway – Taco van der Hoorn (stage three), Joe Dombrowski (stage four), Gino Mäder (stage six), Victor Lafay (stage eight), Mauro Schmid (stage 11), Andrea Vendrame (stage 12) and Lorenzo Fortunato (stage 14) – five ended in sprints and the opening day was the time trial in Turin while just one, stage nine, was won by one of the general classification contenders (Egan Bernal).
As it stands . . .
Afternoon folks, unfortunately three riders have already abandoned the Giro d’Italia today after a huge pile-up forced race organisers into neutralising the stage for over half-an-hour.
Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Premier Tech), Natnael Berhane (Cofidis), Matthias Brändle (ISN), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Marton Dina (Eolo-Kometa), Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma), Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo), James Knox (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ) and Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix) all went down before the race, much to the initial consternation the breakaway that had been created thanks to the work of Qhubeka-Assos team-mates Victor Campenaerts and Max Walscheid, was halted. It was later reported that the entire medical team on the race were attending to the fallen and so, understandably, it was deemed unsafe for the stage to continue.
As riders staggered and rolled around in pain, the medical staff patched them up and checked them over for concussion before they were allowed to get back on their bikes. Berhane, Buchmann and Van Emden, however, were unable to continue. Buchmann was the highest placed rider on general classification, the German starting the day sixth overall and looking good for a top five finish.
Guerreiro appeared, to my untrained eye at least, a little wobbly on his feet but was allowed to continue, though shortly afterwards it was announced the Portuguese had abandoned which will come as a blow to both the rider himself and his EF Education-Nippo team-mate Hugh Carthy who is targeting the general classification. The Briton has now lost two team-mates that would have been helpful to him in the high mountains after Jonathan Caicedo abandoned during stage 11, the race over the strade bianche of Tuscany.
Anyhow, once racing resumed another breakaway clipped off the front resulting in 15 riders getting a gap on the peloton.
That group containing Nikias Arndt (DSM), Lars van den Berg (Groupama-FDJ), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos), Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Simone Consonni (Cofidis), Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates), Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Stefano Oldani (Lotto-Soudal), Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix), Albert Torres (Movistar), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos) and Lukasz Wisniowski (Qhubeka-Assos) leads by 7min 45sec with 110km of the stage remaining.
There’s a four-man group comprising Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-Citroën), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Filippo Tagliani (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) in pursuit, but they may have missed that particular train as they flounder in no man’s land.
Today’s menu . . .
Here’s what the roadbook says about the day ahead: “A short stage with a cross-border circuit between Italy and Slovenia of approx. 40km. The route begins flat, all the way to Sagrado, and then clears the Monte San Michele climb.
“Starting in Mossa, the circuit (see above) features three passes over the steep, 2km long Gornje Cerovo climb (see below), and a succession of tough climbs and descents. After the third lap, the route goes back to Italy through San Floriano del Collio, passes north of Gorizia and crosses the border again, passing through Nova Gorica.
“The last 5km are raced partly in Slovenia and partly in Italy. Past Piazza Europa (trg Evrope), the route ascends for nearly 1km at 14% max. gradients, and then takes a technical descent leading back to Italy. Over the final kilometre, the route covers a short stretch on stone pavings. The home straight is 300m long, on tarmac road.”
Catch up: Highlights of yesterday’s stage
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 15 at the Giro d’Italia, the 147-kilometre roller-coaster from Grado to Gorizia.
The morning after the night before in which fortune shone on the relatively unknown Italian Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), the Giro puts behind it Monte Zoncolan and the hyperbole associated with one of the hardest climbs in world cycling and heads over the border to Slovenia. But before we have a look at today’s stage, let’s remind ourselves about the standings in the top classifications.
Despite a little shuffling of the general classification pack that saw Simon Yates (BikeExchange) move up to second, Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), the 24-year-old Colombian, in fact extended his lead and will wear the maglia rosa, or the pink jersey, for the sixth day.
There were no changes of note in the points classification, meaning Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) keeps hold of the maglia ciclamino, the cyclamen jersey, as leader in that competition.
Yesterday’s stage winner Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) may have opened his account in the mountains competition with 40 points atop Monte Zoncolan, the first category one climb of this year’s race, but that was not enough to see the young Italian break into the top three. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) did, however, dislodge Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) from third spot but Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) kept hold of his maglia azzurra and will again wear the blue jersey as overall leader in the mountains classification.
Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) will again wear the maglia bianca, or the white jersey, on behalf of the maglia rosa Bernal.