The Tour Take | GIRO D'ITALIA Stage 14
1st – Chris Froome
2nd – Simon Yates @ 0:03
3rd – Dominico Pozzovivo @ 0:23
Five climbs in total made up the route all with steep pitches, but this stage was about the Monte Zoncolan. With some bonkers gradients, the Zoncolan is probably the hardest climb in Europe along with Spain’s Angrilu, and this is the first time since 2014 that the Giro has crested it. 10.1km averaging 11.9%, with a 6km section averaging 15%; absolutely leg bursting.
Yates extended his lead over Tom Dumoulin in the GC, now leading by 1:24, while Dominico Pozzovivo jumped into 3rd place. Miguel Angel Lopez moved into the Young Riders’ Jersey as Richard Carapaz was distanced on the climb. Esteban Chaves holds the Maglia Azzurra and Elia Viviani holds the Maglia Ciclamino.
Seven men went away and got a maximum lead of five minutes. Enrico Barbin, Francesco Gavazzi, Mads Pedersen, Valerio Conti, Matteo Montaguti, Laurent Didier and Jacopo Mosca made up the group, with Conti the spriteliest up the hills. Conti and Barbin were the last two left; they crested the penultimate climb with a minute lead. Conti was caught on the lower slopes of the Zoncolan by Igor Anton, a previous winner on the climb, who attacked when the climb began, and those two lasted until the 6km to go point.
The Winning move
With 5km still left to go on the Zoncolan, Wout Poels had done an enormous amount of work for Chris Froome. He’d reduced the main group to himself, Froome, Yates, Lopez, Pozzovivo, Dumoulin, Pinot and Reichenbach. With Froome looking to have found form, he attacked with 4km to go, dropping everyone.
Yates was calm though, taking up the chase for himself, Pozzovivo and Lopez, 15 seconds behind Froome, while Dumoulin and Pinot were 10 seconds behind them. With 3km to go, Yates attacked, aiming to open up more of a group on his GC rivals.
Yates looked better in the final 2km, slowly clawing Froome back, but Froome surged again in the final 200m, maintaining his gap to the line.
The GC Movers and Shakers
This was easily the best that Froome’s looked all race; you sensed he felt good when he sent Poels to the front. He conquered a real demon here; he’s previously stated the Zoncolan is his least favorite climb in Europe, so at least he’s got some good memories now, and this is his first Giro Stage win. He moved up to 5th place, 3:10 down on Yates and 1:46 back on Dumoulin.
Yates managed the day well – he didn’t need to chase Froome, just manage the gap back to Dumoulin. He did that reasonably well, but probably would have liked more time. Dumoulin himself never really broke, this is just a hard climb that suited others more. He rode to power the whole way up, managing the gap to Yates superbly himself. This is the hardest climb he’ll see all race, and he only lost 31 seconds – he’s in great shape and probably the biggest winner today.
Lopez is finally putting in a good showing too, he’d lost time consistently over the first two weeks, but he’s now riding like Astana were hoping he would. He also took the White Jersey, as Richard Carapaz was distanced with 5km to go and lost around 2 minutes.
16th- Ben O'Connor @2:17 (15th on GC @5:42)
19th- Rohan Dennis @2:35 (11th on GC @5:11)
23rd- Jack Haig
43rd- Adam Hansen
83rd- Chris Hamilton
102nd- Mitch Docker
144th- Zak Dempster
The mountain fun continues on Stage 15 from Tolmezzo to Sappada, the last day before the third rest day. Four more climbs, and an uncategorized climb to the finish make up the day. The profile of these climbs are similar to Stage 14, not super long, but very steep, with most reaching 15% in places. The final climb to the line isn’t categorised, but goes for 6.5km and flattens in the last kilometre, so should provide ample action.
The finish looks punchy, and Simon “Punchy” Yates still needs to accumulate more time before the TT – he’s our pick for the win.