Simon Yates attained it a hat-trick of wins in the Giro dItalia on the 15 th stage and the British rider consolidated his overall lead on Sunday as the race heads into its final week
Two days before the time trial which could demonstrate a decisive moment in the 101 st Giro d’Italia, Simon Yates took his third stage victory of at the Sappada ski resort on Sunday, widening his overall lead over the defending champion Tom Dumoulin beyond the two-minute barrier. It was a massive step towards what could be a first British win in the Giro, while the race favourite Chris Froome flopped seriously following his stage victory on Saturday, with the overall win slipping farther out of reach.
With two short sharp climbs in the final kilometres and a further ascent to the finish, this stage finish favoured Yates’s punchy, assaulting style more than the relentlessly steep slopes of Saturday’s finish on Monte Zoncolan. He built two incisive attacks in rapid succession at the foot of the penultimate ascending, Costalissoio; the first pulled an elite group of half a dozen clear of the remnants of the lead peloton, while the second took him clear for good.
” It was a bit of instinct ,” Yates said, and it was a similar move to assaults that devoted him stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana in 2016, and Paris-Nice the following year.” When we came off the descent I assured there was a little gap to a few guys, so I asked Jack[ Haig] to push up the pace, then George[ Bennett] assaulted. It was really hard from the bottom of the climb, but I felt good so I select the moment to run. I’m a bit emotional because I devoted it everything the second time to get away, and it worked. I think it was the hardest 15 kilometres of my life .”
Yates decided to press on immediately after the rapid, chilly descent from the Passo di Sant Antonio, which led straight up onto Costalissoio without giving the riders a pause to gather breath or stretch the legs. Chris Froome was already floundering a little way behind as Yates’s team mate Haig increased the pace, inspiring the New Zealander Bennett to make a brief, unsuccessful attack.
When the pink jersey had flown, Dumoulin was left in the company of four other contenders for the rostrum: Domenico Pozzovivo, Miguel-Angel Lopez, Richard Carapaz, and Thibaut Pinot. Merely the Frenchman Pinot was willing to collaborate consistently with the Dutchman, who could be seen gesticulating at the quartet in an attempt to attain them cooperate.
Dumoulin was briefly dislodged by his four companions on the final ascending to the ski resort, but regained contact when they began marking each other with their minds on the time bonuses awarded for second and third places behind Yates, whose stage victory appeared assured from the moment “hes been gone” past the five kilometres to ran mark with 51 sec in hand. The Dutchman aimed the stage third, just behind Lopez, but his loss of 47 sec to Yates, including bonuses, extended his deficit to 2min 11 sec.
As for Froome, Yates had failed to overhaul the Team Sky leader in the final kilometres up Monte Zoncolan the previous day, but 24 hours later Froome gave the impression of a man who had not recovered from that monumental stage-winning endeavour. At the finish the quadruple Tour de France winner had fallen from fifth overall to seventh, but he is now 4min 52 sec behind Yates, suggesting that even a place on the rostrum may be out of reach.
There are now only six challengers for the pulpit in Rome on Sunday- seven if you remain optimistic about Froome- and Yates’s stage victory puts him on a par with Eddy Merckx and the Italian Gilberto Simoni, the only others to have taken three stage wins while wearing the pink jersey. Those are not the key statistics for the Bury cyclist entering the final week, however.
Dumoulin may well wipe out most if not all of that 2min 11 sec in Tuesday’stomorrow’s time trial- he is the world champ at the discipline and the flat course will prefer him- but the three mountain stages that follow it will give Yates the opportunity either to regain the lead or to reinforce it, depending on how things stand after Tuesday. The structure of this year’s Giro, with two day trials, one short and one longer if not over-long, entails the tactical equation has always been simple: gain so much better time on the specialists as possible.
” It’s a good gap, but he can take two minutes out of me in the time trial in one stage ,” said Yates.” I’ve been fighting since Israel to get a good gap. I’m happy with the gap, it could vanish in 35 kilometres. I don’t know if it is enough .” His directeur sportif at Mitchelton-Scott, Matt White, set it differently:” We’re going to take a kicking from one of best available time triallists in the world .” The dimension of that kicking- if kicking it turns out to be- “il be going” a long way to deciding the final outcome of this Giro.
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