McNulty denies the Healy Monster on stage 15 of the Giro

Strength and smart tactics deliver the biggest win yet of the American's career.

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) outkicks EF Education-EasyPost’s Ben Healy for the stage 15 win with Marco Frigo just behind. (Photo © Cor Vos)

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) took a three-rider sprint in a chaotic finale of stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia to notch his first Grand Tour victory and biggest result ever. The American all-arounder outsmarted and outsprinted Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) and Israel-Premier Tech’s Marco Frigo, the last survivors of a day-long breakaway, to take the victory on a Tour of Lombardy-style course that finished in Bergamo. Here’s what went down:

Brief results:

  1. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates)
  2. Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost)
  3. Marco Frigo (Israel-Premier Tech) both same time
  4. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) @ 1:51
  5. Einer Rubio (Movistar) same time

Giro riders as the sun finally came out:


Healy’s second place is worth breaking down on two levels: strength and tactics. He may have been the strongest rider in the break today, but he seemed to lack a little of the snap he had in week one. That’s perhaps not surprising. Healy was the revelation of the Ardennes Classics and has a run of strong results dating to late March. Two months is a long time to hold that kind of form.

But McNulty was clearly the cleverest rider in the move, and capably neutralized Healy’s strength on the climbs. First, he was aggressive in responding to Frigo’s attack when Healy hesitated. When Rubio didn’t (or couldn’t) close it down, that left Healy to do it himself. When Healy went clear, McNulty didn’t go into the red trying to follow, instead relying on steady pace to get back across the gap and make contact just before the descent. Both riders can go down a hill pretty well, but McNulty simply stayed on the wheel for the most part to recover. Then in the finale, he launched one move on the flat that Healy had to cover and then sat on Healy when Frigo countered. That took place just before the final climb in Bergamo, and likely sapped a bit of Healy’s punch, which the EF rider would like to have saved for the climb. Finally, McNulty was alert to Frigo coming back in the final kilometer, sitting on Healy’s wheel and waiting for Healy to open his sprint just a bit too early. Just extremely smart riding from the American.

Today is Mark Cavendish’s birthday, and the rumor is that the 38-year-old sprinter plans a press conference on the rest day for an announcement of some kind. Cav is on a one-year deal with Astana that’s widely seen as a quest to break his tie with Eddy Merckx for all-time Tour de France stage wins. It’s been an up-and-down season for him so far; is a retirement announcement in the making? Stay tuned – we’ll have full coverage of anything that develops.

Speaking of Rubio, the young Movistar rider is vying to make the KoM competition a three-rider race (he’s currently second, two points ahead of Thibaut Pinot and 28 points behind leader Davide Bais). But he raised some eyebrows today with aggressive racing for the first KoM, literally banging elbows with Healy like in a sprint finish.

GIF of Ben Healy and Einer Rubio jostling and barging as they race for king of the mountain points on the first climb of stage 15 of the 2023 Giro d'Italia.

Next up:

After Monday’s rest day, the race gets absolutely down to business with Tuesday’s stage 16, a tough, 203 km ride starting on the shores of Lake Garda that takes in five categorized climbs, including the Category One summit finish on Monte Bondone. There are more than 5,800 meters of climbing, making it the “hardest” stage in the race by that measure. Based on today, it’s almost certain that Armirail will give up the race lead, and whether a breakaway survives again or not, we expect a fierce showdown for the GC contenders.

Quote of the day:

“In those moments, you’re done, spent, but you carry on because it’s a Giro stage; it’s not a nothing race.”

-Marco Frigo, on his never-say-die ride today

Silliness straight from the socials:

Two straight days in the breakaway for Davide Ballerini, who had a little fun with his fan club today:

Next up, a Zoolander-Hansel runway showdown:

Want to know how wet this May has been for Italy?


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