After Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took a big step towards overall victory in the Giro d’Italia by limiting his losses on Tuesday’s time trial, and then finished safely in the bunch on a trick stage 17, stage 18 sees a return to the mountains

The stage start on the outskirts on Milan in the town of Abbiategrasso and makes its south-west across the Po Valley towards a summit finish in the ski resort of Prato Nervoso.

The first 170km of the stage are almost completely flat, only being interrupted by a small fourth-category climb at Novello, before the race will be decided on the final ascent.

This is the first of three mountain stages that will decide the final destination of the pink jersey in Rome, with Simon Yates hold an advantage of nearly a minute over Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).

Dumoulin will be hoping to pick away at Yates’s lead over the next few days, and will take confidence from the way that he took victory in a similar stage of last year’s Giro d’Italia in Oropa.

>>> Five talking points from stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia

The steady nature of the final climb could also suit Chris Froome (Team Sky) who will be hoping to leapfrog Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) in the fight for the third step on the podium.

After today’s stage, stages 19 and 20 are more complicated with multiple climbs on the race profile. Stage 19 looks particularly tough including the Cima Coppi on the gravel climb Colle delle Finestre – the highest point in the 2018 race – before a summit finish to Bardonecchia.

Catch-up with highlights of stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia above, or read the full race report of the day’s action here.

The 2018 Giro d’Italia concludes in Rome on May 27.