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GIRO’23 Stage 15: Brendon McNulty Takes His Grand Tour Stage!

Il mini Lombardia

Stage Report: The fifteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia 2023 was won by Brandon McNulty. On a mini Tour of Lombardy course of 195 kilometres, finishing in Bergamo, the American of UAE Team Emirates was the best from the early break. He beat Ben Healy and Marco Frigo in an exciting finale. The favourites didn’t show anything until the last kilometres. Bruno Armirail kept the pink jersey going into the second rest day.

Giro d’Italia 2023 | Stage 15 | Last KM

The stage 15 route
This will be an ‘urban’ mountain stage. The Valico di Valcava, Selvino (‘traditional’ side), Miragolo San Salvatore and Valpiana (Roncola) ascents are linked with nearly no pause for breath. The route completes two loops and passes over the finish before taking in the last loop. The roads are wavy and curving, narrow but well surfaced. Down from the last climb (Valpiana), the following 9 kilometres (the only flat stretch of the race finale) serve as an approach to the city. The route then passes through Città Alta, heading for the finish.

Stage 15 profile

Final kilometres
Over the final kilometres, the route runs across the upper city (Bergamo Alta), climbing up to reach Porta Garibaldi and then Largo Aperto (covering 200 metres on pebble paving). In the first sector, gradients never fall below 10% (with a maximum of 12%). Along the descent, the roadway is wide and the surface is smooth. With 1,800m to the finish, a sharp bend and a sector on narrowed roadway lead through Porta Sant’Agostino. The road takes a wide bend to the left after the flamme rouge, leading to the finish line. The home stretch (800m long, on 8m wide asphalt road) runs initially downwards and levels out afterwards.

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The pink jersey, Bruno Armirail at the start in Seregno – Can he hold the pink jersey today?

The leading group of the day emerged in several section. Ben Healy and Simone Velasco were the instigators of a break of 17 riders. A group including Bauke Mollema, Brandon McNulty, Laurens Huys, Einer Rubio and a few sprinters managed to join them. They got more than 7 minutes from the Groupama-FDJ led peloton, who were defending Bruno Armirail’s pink jersey.

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Thomas Gloag, Michel Hessmann, Primoz Roglic and Jumbo-Visma PR, Ard Bierens at the start

Rubio, stage winner in Crans Montana on Friday, was the best placed rider in the leading group at 11 minutes from Armirail. He was the last to jump to the lead group on the first climb of the day, the Valico di Valcava (11.6km at 8%). Martin Marcelussi then managed to join. At the top, Healy took the 40 KOM points, despite a push from Rubio in the sprint.

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Geraint Thomas out of the pink – Will he take it back?

Then four more big climbs were still to come. First the combination of the Selvino (11.1km at 5.6%) and the Miragolo San Salvatore (5.2km at 7%), followed by the climb to Valpiana (10km at 6.7%) and the final to Bergamo, with the Colle Aperto (1.6km at 7.9%).

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Alberto Dainese, Sebastian Berwick and Davide Ballerini made the break of the day

The leading group started the Selvino with more than 6 minutes. Healy also took the most KOM points, moving up the mountain classification. On the Miragolo San Salvatore, the leading group had thinned out, partly due to Mollema, but he didn’t attack.

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Groupama-FDJ were working well for Bruno Armirail

Nothing happened in the peloton on the first three climbs. All eyes were on the Valpiana. Before that, Niccolò Bonifazio broke away from the leading group, taking a 1minute lead on his pursuers at the foot and 6:30 on the peloton.

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Not much flat today

Bonifazio came to a complete standstill on the climb and was passed by Marco Frigo and Brandon McNulty. Healy and Rubio couldn’t follow at first, but the Irishman then jumped to the leading duo. Just under 4 kilometres from the top, Healy chose his moment and dropped McNulty and Frigo.

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No pink shorts for Bruno Armirail, but a nice bike

McNulty found his second breath and rejoined Healy at the start of the descent, 26 kilometres from the finish. The two worked well together, but Frigo was getting closer. The Italian managed to join the two front riders 10 kilometres from the finish and the Colle Aperto (1.6km at 7.9%) was still to come.

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Looking very like Il Lombardia

Frigo kept the pace high on the technical climb, then Healy put in another hard attack just before the top, but McNulty managed to hold Healy’s wheel with 3 kilometres to go. It looked to be the end for Frigo, although the Italian did not give up.

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Very nice climbs in Lombardia

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Niccolò Bonifazio gave it his best shot, but…

McNulty stopped helping Healy and Frigo was able to catch them in the last kilometre. He went straight past them and sprinted full gas, it was Healy who closed the gap. McNulty used the Irishman’s effort and held him off to win the sprint. He beat Healy and Frigo in Bergamo with enough time to put both arms in the air. Just under 2 minutes later, Bauke Mollema was fourth, ahead of Rubio.

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Bauke Mollema was a danger-man in the break

Nothing much happened in the peloton. On the steepest part of the Valpiana, early on the climb, Jumbo-Visma briefly took the lead, but no serious move. The large group of favourites rode at a steady pace and there was no attacks. The pink jersey, Armirail could easily follow.

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Ben Healy was the favourite for the stage win

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The stage win would come form these three – McNulty, Frigo and Healy

There was some movement among the GC men on the Colle Aperto. Primož Roglič and João Almeida showed themselves on the steep climb, but all the big favourites stayed together. Lennard Kämna was missing and had to pull out all the stops to close the gap, he just managed to rejoin just before the line.

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Healy tried to go solo again

Pink jersey Armirail rode at his own pace and lost almost half a minute. That was no problem for his pink jersey, which the Frenchman will wear on Tuesday after tomorrow’s rest day.

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The win Brendon McNulty was in Italy for

Stage winner Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m stoked. This was my goal coming here. I wanted a stage win but I got sick in the time trial. I wanted to finish solo but luckily I managed to win even in a sprint. I knew the third guy was coming across. Let’s hope this win adds to the team’s motivation on GC with João Almeida.”

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McNulty’s biggest win so far – More to come

The Maglia Rosa, Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ): “It’s been difficult to retain the Maglia Rosa. It was a hard stage with a lot of climbing and there was Einer Rubio at the front. He was likely to take the jersey so my team-mates had to pace all along. Yesterday I didn’t realise what it was to take the Maglia Rosa but today with the incredible support of the crowd I’ve found out what it’s like. It’s huge and I’m delighted to stay in the lead on the rest day.”

The favourites group thinned out through Bergamo, but no more than that

# Catch up with all the news for Italy in EUROTRASH Monday. #

Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Result:
1. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates in 5:13:39
2. Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost
3. Marco Frigo (Ita) Israel-Premier Tech
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 1:51
5. Einer Augusto Rubio (Col) Movistar
6. Simone Velasco (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan at 2:26
7. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
8. Laurens Huys (Bel) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 3:10
9. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 4:13
10. François Bidard (Fra) Cofidis.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 15:
1. Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 61:38:06
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:08
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 1:10
4. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 1:30
5. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) DSM at 1:50
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 2:36
7. Lennard Kämna (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe at 3:02
8. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Jayco AlUla at 3:40
9. Thymen Arensman (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers at 3:55
10. Laurens De Plus (Bel) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:18.

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