Yesterday Monte Zoncolan assaulted the riders’ legs and bruised a few egos. Today’s stage required maximum concentration and sheer power. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) delivered an aggressive masterclass taking the stage win and solidifying his place at the top of the GC. Every other rider was an also-ran.
Rider of the raceEmbed from Getty Images
Up until the penultimate climb, Giulio Ciccone of Bardiani-CSF was going to get this accolade. Part of the breakaway, Ciccone was the driving force on all the early climbs. He’d lose out on the descents only to reappear at the sharp end once the road turned upwards. Impressive.
However, Simon Yates made all that Ciccone action a distant memory. The short version is that he accelerated off the group of favourites with 18km to go on the climb up to Costalissoio and crossed the line 41 seconds ahead of an elite chasing group.
The longer version was that this was a ride to savour no matter which aspect of the sport you love.
For the romantic, there is the sight of the man in the pink jersey not taking it for granted. Staying in the bunch and protecting his lead wasn’t for him. Yates wanted to parade that jersey on the road and strengthen his grip on it. Each time he hit one of the small towns you could hear the warmth of the cheers embrace him. This was a display of maglia rosa panache.Embed from Getty Images
For the fans of sporting endeavour, you could enjoy watching a rider at the peak of his powers. He dropped Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Richard Carapaz (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). In anyone’s book that is one daunting group of powerful riders but they could do nothing about Yates’ raw aggression and power. Their baffled and demoralised reaction spoke volumes about the situation Yates had put them in.
And for adrenaline junkies, Yates didn’t simply make up the time by grinding up a steep climb. He bagged a good few seconds by descending like a demon. He took the fastest possible lines and left no corner uncut. It might have made you wince once or twice but it showed how much he wanted it.
At times, Yates looked more like a rider sitting well down the GC trying to make up the time to get on the podium rather than the overall leader. And that’s probably how he saw it, knowing Dumoulin is likely to gain a lot of time on him with Tuesday’s time trial.
But after that display of power and desire from Simon Yates, Tom Dumoulin must be asking how much time he really can gain on Tuesday. And if it will be anywhere enough.
Here’s how Yates sees it:
I don’t know if the gap is big enough … two minutes, it sounds like a lot but to a guy like Tom, it’s really nothing. Everything I’ve gained from the beginning can be wiped out in one stage so we’ll see.
What else happened?Embed from Getty Images
What a stage – Grand Tour organisers are twigging that the “epic” monster climb summit finish stages are not always the most thrilling – it’s what you do with the stage after the epic that counts! Today’s race, over shorter and smaller mountains, provided more action that yesterday’s trip up the Zoncolan. And had more of an effect on the GC.Embed from Getty Images
Arrivederci, Aru – If yesterday was a bad day for Fabio Aru then today was dreadful. He cracked early on and despite a battalion of teammates around him he still came home 19 minutes after Simon Yates. The Italian cameras lingered on him too long, it wasn’t pretty viewing. [You can’t help but feel for guys when that happens – ed]Embed from Getty Images
You win some, you lose some – Another bad day for Chris Froome. Before the start of the race, his DS sounded dismissive of Yates as a rival, namechecking Pinot, Dumoulin and Pozzovivo as Froome’s main rivals. Well, he may have won yesterday but, on aggregate, he’s lost 1 minute 32 seconds this weekend and now sits nearly 5min down from his non-rival Yates.
Chad Haga speaks
#WEAREEXCITE! Ooops …
Sometimes it’s better in another language
1 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 4:37:56
2 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +0:41
3 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) same time
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) s/t
5 Richard Carapax (Movistar) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 65:57:37
2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +2:11
3 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +2:28
4 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +2.37
5 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +4:27
6 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) +4:47
7 Christopher Froome (Sky) +4:52
8 George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) +5:34
9 Pello Bilbao (Astana) +5:59
10 Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe) +6:13
All the jerseysEmbed from Getty Images
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/AFP/Luk Benies