Yates wins summit finish on stage 19
Bernal finishes third to extend lead
Caruso retains second, Yates third
Simon Yates won stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia to set up what should be a thrilling finish to the race this weekend as Ineos Grenadiers’ long time leader Egan Bernal faced further searching questions over his fitness.
Yates (BikeExchange) closed to within 2min 49sec of his Ineos Grenadiers rival after his win atop the Alpe di Mera with another big mountain day to come on Saturday before Sunday’s final time trial in Milan.
Bernal has led the race since stage nine, looking brilliant for most of that time. But the 24 year-old showed the first signs of weakness on Wednesday when he was unable to go with a Yates attack. And as the race hit the mountains again all eyes were on the Colombian to see whether Wednesday’s performance was a one-off or part of a pattern.
The jury is still out. Yates countered an attack by Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) with 6.5km to go of the final climb, to take a solo win on the summit finish, with the Portuguese crossing the line 11 seconds behind in second position.
Bernal, who had strong support from his Ineos Grenadiers team, did not panic when Yates initially went, instructing his team to ride tempo and to keep the gap manageable. They did exactly that, and when he had used all his team mates up, Bernal was able to rouse himself to go solo for the last few kilometres.
But he still did not look entirely comfortable and was unable to go with Almeida at the finish. Bernal ended up crossing the line 28 seconds behind Yates, who remains third on the general classification behind Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and right in contention.
“I’m really happy,” Yates said. “The team did a fantastic job. They really controlled the start and worked a lot and I managed to finish it off so I’m really happy.
“I saw the boys from Ineos were happy just to ride a tempo and I had a feeling they would let me go. I read something from Egan on Twitter or whatever about how they would be conservative and try to control rather than go with me and as soon as I attacked I saw that was correct.”
Saturday’s stage – which features over 4,000m of vertical gain – heads into Switzerland and includes three first category climbs where Yates can again try to test Bernal’s legs – and possibly his back, with the injury which ended his Tour de France defence last year still apparently causing him some issues.
Yates wins stage 19 at the Giro!
Simon Yates (BikeExchange) wins stage 19 at the Giro d’Italia. Although he gains a few seconds on general classification, the Briton is still some way off Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) who, in fact, extends his overall lead over Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) by eight seconds after the maglia rosa finishes in third spot.
For all the talk of Bernal ‘cracking’ in this third and final week, he is looking poised to win this year’s Giro d’Italia in two day’s time in Milan. However, to do that he must pass one more test in his natural terrain – the high mountains – ahead of the final-day time trial.
Saturday’s stage (see below profile) features three category one climbs while twice going high above 2,00 metres in altitude. With everything to play for, Yates must throw everything he has – the ultimate Hail Mary – if he wants to take home the maglia rosa, while Caruso must mark the Briton to within an inch of his life if he is to keep hold of his second spot on general classification. With a 2min 29sec lead over Caruso – and 2min 49sec on Yates – Bernal can afford to lose up to around two minutes to both and still stand a chance of becoming only the second Colombian to ever win the Giro d’Italia.
Much has been made of Bernal’s weakest link, his time trial, but if you look at the results from stage one which was also an individual race against the clock, the Ineos Grenadiers team leader completed the 8.6km ride through Turin just one second slower than Yates. Caruso, meanwhile, was six seconds faster than Yates which given the fact he arrived riding in support of Mikel Landa was impressive.
Speaking after his stage win, a delighted Yates said: “I’m really happy. The team did a great job right from the start of the stage, a fantastic team effort and I’m happy to have finished it off. I really wanted to win a stage in this Giro, I’m not sure where I am now in the general classification but I’m really happy about this win.”
Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) is second and gains some time, but did not manage to climb a single place in the standings.
500 metres to go
Simon Yates will be winning the stage shortly, while Joao Almeida will gain some time on general classification and Egan Bernal may even extend his lead over Damiano Caruso in second place.
1km to go
Simon Yates leads by 18sec. I don’t think he can be caught here today.
1.5km to go
Damiano Caruso trails Simon Yates by 31sec so, as it stands, the Italian would keep his second place on general classification while Egan Bernal is on course to extend his lead here today.
2km to go
Joao Almeida is doing all he can to hold the wheel of Egan Bernal. Damiano Caruso, meanwhile, digs deep as he desperately tries to limit his losses – he led Simon Yates by 1min 1sec going into today’s stage and will not want lose his second spot to the Briton.
2.3km to go
Damiao Caruso has been dropped by Egan Bernal who now has just Joao Almeida for company. Simon Yates leads the stage by 20sec.
2.5km to go
Simon Yates’ lead is dropping, but the Briton has safely navigated the toughest part of the climb. Dani Martínez peels off the front of the chasing group, allowing team-mate Egan Bernal to float up ahead.
3km to go
Dani Martínez is riding a superb race. The Colombian has closed the gap slightly on Simon Yates – down to 25sec. With Martínez riding at this pace and his team leader appearing relatively comfortable, I’d hazard a guess that Egan Bernal is not suffering as badly as some had us believe. His demise may have been greatly exaggerated.
3.5km to gm
Dani Martínez has done a great job at closing the gap on Damiano Caruso. Egan Bernal trails stage leader Simon Yates by just 30sec so his leader’s pink jersey is safe, for now at least. But what will happen when the road ramps up to its steepest section? Will Yates kick again in an effort to break the resolve of these two quite wonderful Colombian riders, or will the Bury rider’s fortunes fade in the finale?
3.8km to go
Egan Bernal and his Inoes Grenadiers team-mates are managing this quite well, limiting their losses to the Damiano Caruso group to only around 15sec. Simon Yates, meanwhile, still leads the stage but by nowhere near enough to see him climb the general classification.
4.5km to go
George Bennett, the New Zealand national road champion, has been dropped. Simon Yates has increased his lead on overall race leader Egan Bernal but it is still just 25sec, while Damiano Caruso is 17sec behind the BikeExchange rider. Getting pretty tense out there now.
The final 3km today
5.5km to go – Yates kicks again
Simon Yates is leading the stage and has gained 20sec on Egan Bernal. The Briton started the stage 3min 23sec down on the maglia rosa. He has a brilliant opportunity here today, but can he sustain this pace on the steep steep climb?
6.3km to go – Yates sets off . . .
Simon Yates rolls over to Joao Almeida, taking with him Damiano Caruso, Aleksandr Vlasov and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), but Egan Bernal does not react. Does this mean Bernal is suffering, or does he not think that strong group can eat into his sizeable advantage at the top of the general classification? Intriguing.
6.8km to go
Just as he did the other day, Joao Almeida rides off the front of the maglia rosa‘s group … and there is no reaction. The Portuguese is no major threat on general classification having started 8min 45sec down on Egan Bernal, but would love to claim his first professional win at the Giro d’Italia, a race he led for 15 days last year.
7km to go
Damiano Caruso is sat on the wheel of former team-mate Vincenzo Nibali. Gaps are beginning to appear as Jame Knox rises out of his saddle, the Cumbrian is doing some real damage further back.
8km to go
Slight technical issues here at Telegraph Towers, but back in the saddle now. Briton Mark Christian has attacked from the breakaway and leads the race, though only by 10sec. Pieter Serry peeled off the front before Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate James Knox takes over, just ahead of Ineos Grenadiers. It is up, up, up now all the way.
11.5km to go
Other than Ineos Grenadiers, Deceuninck-Quick Step and BikeExchange we have barely seen any other teams riding today, but let’s not forget Bahrain Victorious whose Damiaon Caruso started the day second on general classification. The Italian will be desperate to defend that position, while Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) may also fancy his chances today. Can Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) live up to his billing as the next big thing?
15km to go
The breakaway’s lead is ebbing away, to below a minute now. Their time in the sun is surely almost over. Pieter Serry of Deceuninck-Quick Step and Cameron Meyer (BikeExchange) are riding hard, looking to deliver their men to the bottom of the incoming climb.
18km to go
Cameron Meyer, the two-time Australia national champion, moves to the front as BikeExchange assume control of the group containing all of the remaining general classification contenders.
20km to go
The drinks are being handed out in the breakaway as they dig deep to hold off the maglia rosa‘s group. Alpecin-Fenix move to the front, but Dries De Bondt is soon replaced by Deceuninck-Quick Step who appear determined to set up their man Joao Almeida today.
23km to go
Deceuninck-Quick Step have three riders on the front, the trio in blue are followed by Ineos Grenadiers and the magila rosa and then Bahrain Victorious and Damiano Caruso, but BikeExchange appear happy enough in fourth position on the road.
30km to go
No gaps appear to have formed in the group containing the key protagonists. Egan Bernal has a posse of Ineos Grenadiers team-mates around him and it is very much looking like today’s stage will be decided on the final climb, the category one Alpe di Mera which has a very tough looking profile. It is just under 10 kilometres long at around 10% in gradient, though gets harder and harder as each kilometre clicks by, pitching up at its steepest part to 14%!
This just in from Trek-Segafredo: “Gianluca Brambilla suffered a deep cut on the patella that made it very painful to move his knee. As a result, the team decided not to take any risks at this point of the Giro and in light of today’s hard stage. Heal up Brambi!”
32.5km to go
Here we go again. Deceuninck-Quick Step are back on the front of the maglia rosa‘s group, drilling it on the descent with a row of four riders. The five-man breakaway’s lead drops to just above one minute as a result of this injection in pace.
37.5km to go
Big battle for position at the head of the peloton on the approach to the summit of the Passo della Colma. BikeExchange and Deceuninck-Quick Step were unable to shake off Filippo Ganna, who subsequently takes over going into the descent.
39km to go
Mikel Nieve, the former Team Sky mountain domestique, rides on the front of the peloton as they nibble away into the lead the five-man breakaway – Nicola Venchiarutti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) haas been dropped – now has: 1min 19sec.
40km to go
Deceuninck-Quick Step and BikeExchange are riding this penultimate climb of the day, the Passo della Colma, almost as if it is the last. The fierce pace being set is, presumably, in an effort to burn off the likes of Filippo Ganna. The more Ineos Grenadiers riders they can burn off before the final climb of the day, the better.
Brambilla abandons the Giro
Gianluca Brambilla has become the second Trek-Segafredo rider to leave the Giro d’Italia, that decision coming just moments after the Italian was involved in what looked like a fairly innocuous fall.
Bernal’s back playing up?
Interestingly, Bradley Wiggins has been speaking on Eurosport and GCN where he said he had heard rumours that Egan Bernal’s back issues had returned. Wiggins said he received a message from Matt Rabin, the chiropractor with EF Education-Nippo, who claimed it was apparent Bernal was suffering, his back issues being behind his performance on Wednesday on the final climb.
50km to go
A crash in the bunch results in Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) hitting the deck and he’s in no rush to get back on his bike. The Italian is receiving some treatment to, I think, his right knee.
52km to go
All calm in the bunch following that brief scare for Dani Martínez and his team-mate Egan Bernal. Not too far from the beginning of the next climb of the day, the category three Passo della Colma.
59km to go
Dani Martínez has been guided back to the front by the diesel that is Filippo Ganna. The breakaway’s advantage dropped down to a shade above two minutes off the back of Deceuninck-Quick Step’s effort.
62km to go
Deceuninck-Quick Step’s hard work appears to have done a little bit of damage, Dani Martínez and Salvatore Puccio were both caught out by that split. Filippo Ganna dropped back, leaving maglia rosa Egan Bernal in the lead group, to go help shepherd them back on. Whether they get back on or not, that will cost them a few matches while also sew a few further seeds of doubt, perhaps, into the mind of race leader Bernal ahead of a race defining 24 hours.
65km to go
Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) wins the intermediate sprint overlooking Lake Maggiore. Iljo Keisse is riding hard on the front, barking instructions to Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate James Knox. There’s a small split in the group, not too sure what the Belgian team is thinking of but sure they have a plan.
70km to go
Having descended off that climb, the peloton has nibbled into the advantage held by the breakaway though they still lead by 3min 39sec. Deceuninck-Quick Step are on the front of the long, long line of riders, attempting to turn the screw a little by setting a fierce pace
80km to go
The peloton inches towards the summit of the category four Alpe Agogna with Simon Yates now tucked in behind his team-mates. Yates typically rides further down the bunch, but presumably is positioning himself near the front ahead of the descent. Yates’ team-mate Nick Schultz crashed on a descent the other day and was subsequently forced to abandon and so Bike Exchange will not want similar happening again today.
85km to go
Deceuninck-Quick Step have shifted three or for riders up towards the front of the peloton, the Belgian team working today for Joao Almeida who may be thinking of targeting the stage, and will almost certainly be hoping to gain some time in the general classification. The Portuguese looked strong on the final climb of Wednesday’s stage and was the only rider able to stay with Simon Yates following the Briton’s attack.
95km to go
The breakaway edges its way up the category four Alpe Agogna. It’s not too long, nor is it too steep. Once over the summit, there’s a descent down towards the first intermediate sprint of the day where there will be points up for grabs in the race for the maglia ciclamino.
That’s the jersey, of course, that is being worn by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) who was penalised overnight and handed a 1,000 Swiss franc fine for “Intimidation, improper conduct against other riders”. From what I can gather, Sagan was essentially told off for blocking others from getting into the breakaway.
100km to go
Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) is back in the bunch having failed to bridge over to the breakaway. That leading sextet has almost four minutes on the peloton following 66km of racing.
As it stands . . .
It is a beautiful day in Italy, clear blue skies and temperatures in the low-mid twenties. There were two non-starters – Jefferson Cepeda (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Victor Lafay (Cofidis) – leaving the 145-man peloton to roll through KM0 at 11.49am (BST).
There was a nice touch at the beginning of the day when Trek-Segafredo’s sprinter Matteo Moschetti clipped off the front as if attempting to start a breakaway, but it turned out all he wanted to do was wave to the spectators – he was born within 23km of the route so one assumes his supporters will have been stood at the roadside.
Following the customary flurry of early attacks, the breakaway of six riders – Giovanni Aleotti (Bora-Hansrohe), Mark Christian (Eolo-Kometa), Quinten Hermans (Alpecin-Fenix), Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Nicola Venchiarutti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Larry Warbasse (Ag2r-Citroën) – formed around 40km into the stage and, thus far, lead by three minutes.
Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix), the Dutchman that was beaten in a two-up sprint by Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos) for last Sunday’s stage, is chasing that breakaway while Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) is also going his best to catch them up.
BikeExchange, the team of Simon Yates who starts the day third on general classification, are riding on the front of the peloton and already appear to have the bit between their teeth. Massive day today for all of those riders contesting the general classification. Tucked in behind are Ineos Grenadiers and their maglia rosa, second-placed Damiano Caruso‘s Bahrain Victorious team and Hugh Carthy’s EF Education-Nippo squad.
What’s on today’s menu?
Following the tragic events of last weekend in which 14 people were killed in a cable car crash, the Mottarone climb has been removed from today’s slightly shortened stage. There remains, however, three categorised climbs that are preceded by a long rising false-flattish stretch of road and it will be interesting to see how the race develops here: will teams allow Ineos Grenadiers to control the pace, or will they ride hard in an effort to put pressure and further test Egan Bernal? Either way, for those hoping to dislodge Bernal from top spot or, indeed, look to secure their place on the podium in Milan on Sunday, today represents the penultimate opportunity to do so.
As has been the case throughout much of this Giro, today could be another day fro the breakaway riders, while the battle for the general classification will most likely play out on the final few kilometres of the last climb of the day. With a profile not too dissimilar to the one on which Bernal showed his first sign of weakness during Wednesday’s stage, all eyes will be on the Colombian and Simon Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) who will have to again ride aggressively if he wants the tear that maglia rosa off him. One suspects Bernal’s wobble was little more than a bad day at the office, but other than those inside the team camp nobody really knows. At least it keeps the race interesting, fascinating even.
Here’s what the roadbook says about Alpe di Mera, today’s potentially decisive mountain: “The final climb rises steadily at 9-10% for 10km, with pitches maxing out at 14%. The road is quite wide, with a number of hairpins. The home straight is on tarmac road.”
Catch up: Highlights from Thursday’s stage
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 19 at the Giro d’Italia, the 166-kilometre run from Abbiategrasso to Alpe di Mera.
It was the longest stage in this year’s Giro, but Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo) will not have minded as the Italian finally landed his first grand tour stage win, and his first on home soil, with a superbly timed and executed move out of the big breakaway. Having chased down Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), the rider nicknamed the ‘TGV’, the Frenchman ran out of steam before Bettiol ploughed on towards a deserved and hugely popular victory.
Bettiol’s stage win was, quite remarkably, the 10th from a breakaway at this year’s Giro after 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), Lorenzo Fortunato (stage 14), Victor Campenaerts (stage 15) and Dan Martin (ISN) also managed to stay away. Another interesting detail from yesterday was the fact that not since the mid-1990s have all four jerseys been held by the same person, or persons, for so long. And with that, let’s remind ourselves about those standings.
Following his brief wobble during Wednesday’s stage, where he lost the princely sum of three seconds to Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) on Thursday appeared to have a stress-free day and so will wear the maglia rosa, or leader’s pink jersey, for a 10th day as the race re-enters the mountains.
None of the key protagonists in the race for the points classification got in the breakaway yesterday and so Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) keeps hold of the maglia ciclamino, the cyclamen jersey.
Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) again carries the maglia azzurra, the blue jersey, on his shoulders ahead of a big day in the mountains. The Frenchman may need to get in the breakaway today if he is to add to his tally and keep top spot 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.