RoundTao Geoghegan Hart has given INEOS Grenadiers a fifth stage victory in the Tour of Italy. The Briton beat Wilco Kelderman in the sprint at Piancavallo. The Dutchman did an excellent job in the rankings thanks to a demonstration by Sunweb. João Almeida first showed cracks in his pink armor, but remains leader.
After yesterday’s time trial, the riders in the Giro are putting their teeth into the real thing today. The menu included the first tough mountain stage of this Tour of Italy: four climbs had to be overcome along the way, including the final climb to Piancavallo. Pink jersey João Almeida faced a new test. After his good performance against the clock, it was up to the other pretenders to shake the Portuguese.
The first hour of competition was rock hard. A dozen riders – including Thomas De Gendt – soon tore themselves free, but had to fight for an excruciatingly long time against a chasing peloton. In the end, the twelve front runners got the blessing of the peloton, where Deceuninck-Quick.Step kept the pace calmly. The leading group seemed on their way to a big lead, until Sunweb (for Kelderman) and NTT (for Pozzovivo) joined forces.
De Gendt thins out, but has to let Dennis drive
On the way De Gendt showed himself the big engine in the breakaway, while Visconti took the full booty on the climbs. The 37-year-old Italian took over the blue mountain jersey from the Portuguese Ruben Guerreiro. But Visconti was also unable to come when De Gendt drove his other fellow refugees out of the wheel one by one. Only Rohan Dennis could pick up his wagon.
What’s more, Dennis gave De Gendt the best of it and took off alone on the penultimate climb of the day. Our fellow countryman could only watch as the Australian speed racer got smaller and smaller. The two-time time trial world champion was not yet able to excel in his discipline – partly due to the dominance of teammate Ganna – and so was heading for anger. Dennis started with a two-minute bonus on the final climb to Piancavallo, but that lead melted like snow in the sun under the impulse of Sunweb.
Sunweb makes Almeida and Nibali crack
The pace of Sunweb was fast, very fast. After Kelderman’s troops called Dennis to order, Jakob Fuglsang had to let the other favorites drive. But the Dane was not alone: after first having to try on Nibali, pink sweater Almeida also got into trouble. In the front, only the Sunweb duo Kelderman-Hindley and Tao Geoghegan Hart remained. After all, a fifth stage win for INEOS Grenadiers after Dennis capsized?
Yes, because in the final sprint Kelderman was no match for the more explosive Hart. The Briton took his first stage victory in a big round. Kelderman did a golden case in the rankings as a consolation prize, but just missed the pink jersey. It stays around the shoulders of a fighting João Almeida for 15 seconds. Nibali and Fuglsang saw their ambitions for final victory take a big hit today.
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