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Nico Denz (Bora-Hansgrohe) won stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia from a day-long breakaway on yet another sopping-wet day that saw the race lead change hands thanks to a thoroughly disinterested chase. Denz got his second victory of the Giro (to add to his stage 12 win) at the expense of the Giro’s nearly man, Derek Gee. Here’s what you need to know:
- With a comfortable and growing lead, EF Education-EasyPost’s Alberto Bettiol started the action in the break from 65 km out. The attack was unsuccessful but spurred a five-rider countermove (eventually reduced to three) that got caught by the Gee- and Denz-led chase just in time for the sprint. Bettiol led it out, but Denz’s finishing speed was enough to just hold off Gee for a post-up photo.
- Denz’s second victory was built on the fact that his first left him with no pressure, so he could gamble. “With one kilometer to go everyone was looking at each other,” he said at the finish. “I thought ‘I already have a win; I don’t want to be fourth’ and so I pushed and closed the gap. When Bettiol went I jumped on his wheel and when he swung off I just went for the line.”
- Big early climb + large breakaway with no real GC threats + terrible weather = no chase. Usually with a breakaway you see the time gap balloon out and then shrink again as the field tries to pull it back. Today was not one of those days, and by the finish it grew to 21 minutes as the Ineos-led field was thoroughly content to ride tempo and let the break fight it out. As a result, Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) is the new maglia rosa.
- Nico Denz (Bora-Hansgrohe)
- Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech)
- Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) @ same time
- Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Wanty-Circus) @ :01
- Davide Ballerini (Soudal Quick-Step) @ same time
- Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ)
- Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) @ 1:41
- Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) @ 1:43
- João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) @ 2:03
- Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) @ 2:23
Gee is unquestionably one of the breakout stars of this Giro despite not (yet) getting a stage win; in four long breakaway attempts he’s now been second place three times. But at the finish, he didn’t sound too bothered by his string of near-misses, and credited his veteran teammate Simon Clarke’s knowledge of the area for helping lead to his result. “His experience has been invaluable,” he said in brief comments to Eurosport/GCN at the finish. “I was just not strong enough, but I’m really, really happy.” Gee’s run of form may yet result in a stage win, but there’s another prize in reach too: he’s now in second place in the points competition, 42 points behind Ciclamino jersey wearer Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious). With such a mountainous final week, anything is possible.
With a lead of 1:41, Armirail will likely hold the maglia rosa through the rest day on Monday – barring a major throwdown on Sunday – but he faces a fight to keep it on stage 16’s Monte Bondone finish. It gives Ineos a bit of a breather, and Groupama will likely work to defend its lead, but most teams will still look to Ineos to dictate the action at any crucial moments.
There’s a fierce back-and-forth battle shaping up in the KoM competition between fan favorite Thibaut Pinot and stage 7 winner Davide Bais. After Pinot’s 90-point haul on Stage 13 put him into the lead, Bais got it back today by jumping in the break and taking the maximum 40 points on the day’s only climb, the Simplonpass. He now has a 144-114 advantage in the standings. So far, the two haven’t been in the break on the same day, but that’ll probably change in the mountainous third week, and that battle could shape the breakaway dynamics. Does Armirail’s race lead complicate Pinot’s plans? Likely not; it’s hard to see the team telling Pinot not to go for his own goals just to defend pink.
Watch Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates). After losing 11 minutes due to a crash on stage 10, and then suggesting he didn’t care about a top-10 GC finish because there were no financial incentives for it, Vine has continued to bleed time, including finishing just behind the grupetto on yesterday’s Crans Montana finish. Today he wasn’t even in the main field that crossed 21 minutes down. He said he’ll help teammate João Almeida’s GC campaign but didn’t seem super happy about it. One of several things may be going on: he’s hurt, sick, in conflict with his team over objectives, or is saving his strength to go absolutely supernova on one of the remaining mountain stages.
Saturday was clearly a day off for the overall favorites, but Sunday may not be. Stage 15 is a Tour of Lombardy-style 195 km ride in the hills around Bergamo. There are four significant climbs, including the 10 km, Category 2 Roncola Alta summit about 30 km from the line, and a small, uncategorized bump just before the finish in Bergamo.
Quote of the day:
There was a lot of talk – probably too much talk – about the shortened stage on Friday. Eurosport/GCN asked race leader Geraint Thomas about it, particularly criticism from riders of older eras, and he had an all-time clapback ready:
The best of social media:
This is probably the wettest, nastiest Giro weather in memory, and Laurenz Rex is considering a career switch to swimming:
Pinot is still pretty hot about riders sitting on in the break (for the record he wasn’t super happy with Einer Rubio either):
- Lorena Wiebes won stage 3 of the women’s Vuelta a Burgos, a measure of redemption for yesterday’s relegation.
- Get the lowdown on Derek Gee’s rise from Matt de Neef and then more background on his path to the pros (2017 story).
- Would a calendar swap with the Vuelta fix the Giro’s weather woes? Peter Cossins weighs in.
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