Giro 2018 Stage 14: Froome conquers Zoncolan, Yates defends pink

It was hyped as one of the showcase stages of this year’s Giro d’Italia and it actually lived up to our expectations. With some aggressive pacemaking from Astana, by the time the maglia rosa group hit the slopes of the mighty Zoncolan, the field was well and truly thinned out. With 4km to go, Chris Froome found his form and attacked with no one catching his wheel. Simon Yates waited until under the 3km banner to give chase, hoping to distance a slowly-but-surely Tom Dumoulin. Froome won the stage but didn’t do anything to prise Yates’s grip off the maglia rosa. It did juggle the top 10 around, though.

Rider(s) of the race

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As is often the case, the stage win wasn’t necessarily the biggest drama – or battle – of the day. That accolade goes to the maglia rosa rivalry of Simon Yates (Mitchelton Scott) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). Two very different riders with the same goal – standing on the top step in Rome – who acted out a slow-motion drama on the steep slope of the Zoncolan.

While Yates wasn’t particularly concerned with Froome going off to win the stage – after all, he was over 3min down and Yates only lost 6sec on him – Yates was concerned about Dumoulin, especially with Tuesday’s TT looming, and wanted to take as much time as possible from him. But Dumoulin really did limit his losses with a super cool performance that showed he might not be an explosive climber, but even the toughest of all Grand Tour climbs doesn’t unnerve him. That he is only 1.24 away from Yates means he’s still very much in contention for another Giro championship – and therefore is my first Rider of the Race.

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My second Rider of the Race was clad in the white and cyan of Sky and showed his mettle on the Zoncolan. No, not Chris Froome, but the teammate that kept him in the mix when it looked like he wasn’t up to much and drove the pace at the sharp end of the final climb to put as many remaining riders in the red as possible – Wout Poels. Looking at times like he might distance his team captain, Poels kept the pace high enough to spit out some hangers-on – Fabio Aru (UAE) and Movistarlets Carlos Betancur and Richard Carapaz all lost over 2mins on the climb, putting them well out of contention, if they were ever in it. Considering that the Sky train seems to have lost a lot of carriages – Kenny Elissonde wasn’t at his best and was in the gruppetto almost immediately, while Sergio Henao was only seen riding backwards on the Zoncolan – Poels did the work of three men to take Froome as far up the climb as possible before sending him on his way to victory.

Shakin’ the GC

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The Zoncolan certainly took its toll on the GC Top 10. Thibaut Pinot sat on Dumoulin’s wheel as they climbed the big Z, offering no help at all to the Dutch rider (although the way he was riding so immodestly, it didn’t look like he could) and the cycling gods punished the FDJ rider by replacing him in 3rd on GC with Domenico Pozzovivo. The Giro giveth and it taketh away.

Rohan Dennis just couldn’t keep the pace and drops from 7th overall to 11th – over 5min down. Froome jumps to fifth but still is over 3min down on Yates – and unless Tom D falls into a ditch, he won’t gain any time on the returning champion in the TT – so the dream of the maglia rosa in Rome looks still to be just that – a dream. But the Giro is a strange and fierce race so the battles on the way to Rome should be aggressive and majestic.

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Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) redeemed himself today by rolling in fourth on the stage, which meant he leapt to 6th in the GC and took the white jersey from the shoulders of Robert Carapaz. This could be a jersey battle that goes all the way to Rome as only 14 seconds separate them in the young riders classification – and with three mega-mountain days to finish off the Giro before Rome, it could go back and forth a couple more times.

Punching the dinosaur

No, that’s not a euphemism. Dino was loose on the Zoncolan and Froome took a swipe at him, as he was moving recklessly around the road (the dinosaur, not Froome … although …)

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Chad Haga speaks

Out of the mouths of babes

Stage results

1 Chris Froome (Sky) 5:25:31

2 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:06

3 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +0:23

4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +0:25

5 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +0:37

GC Top 10

1 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 61:19:51

2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +1.24

3 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +1.37

4 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +1:46

5 Chris Froome (Sky) +3:10

6 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +3:42

7 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) +3:56

8 George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) +4:04

9 Pello Bilbao (Astana) +4:29

10 Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe) +4:43

All the jerseys

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Leader’s jersey: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Points jersey: Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)

KOM jersey: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Best young rider: Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)

Full stage report from Cycling News

Header Image: ©GETTY/Velo/Tim de Waele 

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