Stage 15 Race Report: Teo Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) put the fifteenth stage of the 2020 Giro d’Italia on his palmarès. On the mountain stage to the ski resort of Piancavallo he beat the Sunweb tandem of Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman, who, including bonuses, took 43 seconds back on the pink jersey, João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
Almeida – Still in pink… just
Juan Sebastian Molano was not at the start. In the time trial to Valdobbiadene, the Colombian crashed and his injuries turned out to be too serious to continue. Only 141 riders started the fifteenth stage. In the first 7 kilometres a leading group of twelve men escaped, but they only managed to take a small lead.
Stage 14 winner, Filippo Ganna – Two flyers!
Stage 15 – Base Aerea Rivolto (Frecce Tricolori) – Piancavallo – 185km
This is a mountain stage with long downhill or flat drags in between the climbs. After the Sella Chianzutan categorised climb (on relatively wide and well-paved roads), a long descent leads all the way to Tolmezzo. The route then clears the 2nd category Forcella di Monte Rest on narrowed roadway (with several hairpins along the climb and the descent, at times inside a tunnel). The following descent then leads to the Pala Barzana KOM summit, with some intricate sectors while travelling uphill across the urban areas. The route then takes a technical descent, followed by a perfectly-surfaced and well-lit tunnel of over 4km, and eventually levels out until Aviano, where the final climb begins.
Stage 15 profile
The final 15km run entirely uphill. The first 10km of these go up at very steep gradients – around 9% and topping out at 14%. With 10.9km remaining, the road levels out and even descends a little, then climbs up again (passing through an avalanche gallery) with milder gradients (maximum 8%). The final kilometre is quite tough, still climbing slightly. The home stretch (100m long) sits on a wide, mild bend, on 7.5m wide asphalt road, and has a 1.5% uphill gradient.
Will we see fireworks today?
After 45 kilometres, when the group had been reduced to ten men, the lead group was allowed more time. Andrea Vendrame, Luca Chirico, Manuele Boaro, Mark Padun, Daniel Navarro, teammates Thomas De Gendt and Matthew Holmes, Davide Villella, Rohan Dennis, Giovanni Visconti and a little later Sergio Samitier. Visconti saw Ruben Guerreiro had missed the move and was able to collect points for the blue KOM jersey.
The Italian airforce showing their colours
On the Sella Chianzutan, the first climb after 65.1 kilometres, the Italian was the first to cross the summit and took the lead in the KOM. The early break now had a lead of 6:30. Behind; Sunweb for Wilco Kelderman, second on GC, and NTT Pro Cycling for Domenico Pozzovivo took control. They slowly reduced the difference in the run-up to the second climb.
A tough day again
Stage 15 was a bridge too far for some
On the Forcella di Monte Rest, after 105.2 kilometres, Visconti once again took full advantage and strengthened his KOM lead. The peloton followed at about 4:30. In the run-up to the third climb, there was a crash involving Jhonatan Narváez, winner in Cesenatico, Jefferson Cepeda and Nicolas Edet. Cepeda was able to continue, Narváez and Edet had to retire.
Jai Hindley, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Wilco Kelderman split the giro
While the road started to climb on the third mountain of the day, the Forcella di Pala Barzana, De Gendt thinned out the leading group and only Villella, Dennis and Visconti could follow, but Dennis continued solo. The Australian quickly broke away from his fellow escapees and reached the top with a 35 seconds advantage over De Gendt. The peloton was now more than 3 minutes behind.
The pink jersey was in trouble
41.6 kilometres remained, of which the last 14.5 kilometres were all uphill to the finish. With a two-minute lead, Dennis then started the climb to the ski resort of Piancavallo. Astana and Sunweb led the pack up the first 6 kilometres, where the road averaged 9.4%. One by one, the dropped early escapees were caught by the riders of Jakob Fuglsang and Kelderman.
Almeida wasn’t the only one
Due to the fast pace of Sunweb, Dennis was the last to be caught 9 kilometres from the finish. The Kelderman train, which was driven by Jai Hindley and Chris Hamilton for a long time, also resulted in victims among the favourites for the overall in the first part of the climb. Pello Bilbao (third), Brandon McNulty (fourth), Pozzovivo (seventh), Patrick Konrad (ninth) and Fuglsang were in trouble.
The INEOS sandwich
Vincenzo Nibali also had to let go on the steepest part and at 7 kilometres from the line, overall leader João Almeida also was dropped, while the very strong Hindley, Kelderman and Tao Geoghegan Hart took the lead together. The Portuguese pink jersey wearer refused to accept the situation and bit his teeth to keep the leading trio in his sights. He initially succeeded, but then he had to give up more and more time.
In addition to the stage victory, the bonus seconds were also at stake at the finish for the first three riders. Kelderman had to let the full ten seconds go to Geoghegan Hart, who still had a sharp sprint in the legs in the last hundred metres. The Briton gave his INEOS Grenadiers team their fifth success in this Giro. The Sunweb leader finished second and earned 6 bonus seconds.
Some of the day’s losers
We had to wait for Almeida. The wearer of the pink kept the damage limited to 37 seconds and kept his jersey. Kelderman is now at 15 seconds on GC. The Dutchman dealt a heavy blow to all his competitors. Hindley and Geoghegan Hart climbed to third and fourth place respectively thanks to their performance on the stage.
Another stage win on the way for INEOS Grenadiers
Further back the damage was worse. Bilbao, Nibali and Fuglsang, lost a minute and a half and are now fifth, seventh and twelfth. For McNulty, the loss was more than two and a half minutes, dropping him out of the top ten. Majka, Pozzovivo, Konrad and Masnada also lost time.
Stage win and 4th overall for Tao Geoghegan Hart
Stage winner, Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS): “I can’t believe it, we have had a really tough Giro to date after losing Geraint Thomas, but this team is extraordinary and we are all showing what we’re capable of stage by stage. Everyone knows what a great influence Nico Portal had on the team and for me in particular: everyday we ride, we are remembering him.”
Time lost for João Almeida
Maglia Rosa, João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “It was a very hard stage, the three riders on the front on the final climb were too fast for me. I know my body and my limits, so I had to drop back. I’m happy to have managed to save the Maglia Rosa, once again thanks to my team.”
# Stay PEZ for Ed Hood’s ‘Giro Rest Day Rant’ on Monday.#
Giro d’Italia Stage 15 result:
1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) INEOS Grenadiers in 4:58:52
2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 0:02
3. Jai Hindley (Aus) Sunweb at 0:04
4. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick Step at 0:37
5. Rafał Majka (Pol) BORA-hansgrohe at 1:22
6. Patrick Konrad (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 1:29
7. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick Step at 1:36
8. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-McLaren
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
11. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:38
12. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling at 1:54
13. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar
14. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-McLaren
15. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates at 2:43
16. Ben O’Connor (Aus) NTT Pro Cycling at 3:10
17. Tanel Kangert (Est) EF Pro Cycling at 5:07
18. Victor De la Parte (Spa) CCC
19. Ben Swift (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
20. Matteo Fabbro (Ita) BORA-hansgrohe at 5:17
21. Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis at 5:51
22. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) CCC
23. Lawrence Warbasse (USA) AG2R-La Mondiale
24. Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spa) Movistar
25. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 15:
1. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick Step in 59:27:38
2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 0:15
3. Jai Hindley (Aus) Sunweb at 2:56
4. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 2:57
5. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-McLaren at 3:10
6. Rafał Majka (Pol) BORA-hansgrohe at 3:18
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 3:29
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling at 3:50
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 4:09
10. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick Step at 4:12
11. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates at 4:29
12. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 5:07
13. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 8:14
14. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 8:55
15. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-McLaren at 9:30
16. Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spa) Movistar at 20:43
17. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) CCC at 22:24
18. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 26:38
19. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) INEOS Grenadiers at 29:46
20. Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 31:56
21. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb at 32:00
22. Attila Valter (Hun) CCC at 35:27
23. Lawrence Warbasse (USA) AG2R-La Mondiale at 39:38
24. Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck – Quickstep at 45:26
25. Ben Swift (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 47:01.