Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates) grabbed his second victory of this Giro d’Italia and his eighth in total. A ferocious finale on Stage 13 featuring two sharp climbs saw a GC centric group fight it out for stage winning honours and those all important bonus seconds. The Italian powered to the line to pip the maglia rosa with BORA-hansgrohe’s Patrick Konrad rounding out the podium. Joao Almeida‘s second place gives him six extra seconds on all his rivals before the time trial tomorrow.
How the stage was won
First glance at this stage and you’d be forgiven for thinking, yep, it’s one for the sprinters. Flat roads for 155km, two cat 4 climbs in the last 40km and then a 15km flat run to the line. But as always with these Giro profiles, the devil was in the detail – in this case the profiles of those innocuous looking Cat 4 climbs. The 4km Roccolo averaging at 7%, followed almost immediately by the 2km Muro di Calone averaging at 10% with eyewatering ramps. It made for a fascinating finale between sprinters, puncheurs and the GC guys.
BORA-hansgrohe roared onto the Roccolo determined to set Peter Sagan up for his second stage win, and dispatch Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis) out the back, never to be seen again.
It worked, but the maglia ciclamino would not give up. He sent Kilian Frankiny and Ignatus Konavalovas to front and they brought him back just before the second climb. Ultimately Demare was dropped again, but I did enjoy the French team bridging the gap and immediately bossing the front.
Onto the wall of a final climb and it wasn’t only the sprinters in trouble. Deceuninck Quickstep lead the charge until the GC guys took over towards the summit. The last of the break was swallowed up and Sagan started to slide out the back. As the race crested the top, the maglia rosa group was whittled to around 20 riders and held 20 seconds on Sagan, with Demare only a further 20secs back. The twisty descent was as beautiful as it was technical. I do love Italy in the slanting autumnal light.
It was at that point the Quicksteppers, who were flocked around young Joao as though they’ve been protecting GC leaders for the last five years, realised they had a chance to secure a stage victory for him. INEOS also had numbers in the front group and Tao Geoghegan Hart to ride for. This alliance of ambition came to front on the flat and rode – HARD.
Behind them Sagan found himself in a group of four with Ben Swift (INEOS), Davide Ballerini (Deceininck-Quickstep), and his own special alliance in the form of Lotto-Soudal’s Thomas de Gendt. The fact Thomas pulled hard for kilometres puzzled everyone on twitter. If he caught the front group, he was never going to win the sprint.
The gap ebbed and flowed but as the front group flew under the flamme rouge it was certain they would fight it out for victory. Around the final switchback bend, and those with teammates put them to good use. Rafal Majka led out Konrad, Almeida lunged for the line after hopping off Mikkel Honore‘s wheel but it was Ulissi with his arms in the air after superb work from Brandon McNulty.
It’s not often we see the GC guys in a flat finish, I would like to see more.
How brilliant is this? Breakaway member Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocatolli-Sidermec) was caught on the climb. Instead of running the risk of impeding the peloton as they came around a tricky hairpin bend, he pulled to the side, got off his bike and applauded the riders as they went past.
Long time fans may well remember Simon at IAM cycling (I still adore that kit). Since the team folded he’s plied his trade at US based Team Illuminate before signing with Gianni Savio’s team this year. Splitting his time between Colombia and Europe, he seems the perfect fit as far as breakaways are concerned…
and now leads two of the many classifications and podiums the Giro has to offer (Combative and Intermediate sprint king) – I can’t emphasise enough how important this is for the team.
The Final Word
Not the Giro but the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Wout van Aert!
Stage 13 Results
1 Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates) 4:22:18
2 Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) same time
3 Patrick Konrad (BORA-hasgrohe) s/t
4 Tao Geoghegan Hart ( INEOS-Grenadiers) s/t
5 Mikkel Honore (Deceuninck-Quickstep) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 53:43:58
2 Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +0:40
3 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) +0:49
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling) +1:03
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) +1:07
6 Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe) +1:17
7 Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +1:25
8 Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:27
9 Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +1:42
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +2:26
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Points jersey Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
King of the Mountains Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling)
Best Young Rider Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
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Official race website: Giro d’Italia
Header: ©GETTY/AFP/Luca Bettini