Giro d'Italia stage 15 as it happened: Tadej Pogačar stuns to win queen stage

With 5,400m of climbing, there's an epic mountains day in store

Giro d'Italia stage 15 profile

(Image credit: RCS)

Buckle up, everyone, it's time for the queen stage at this year's Giro d'Italia. Today's stage 15 is the longest and toughest of the entire race, stretching out 222km, with a whopping 5,400m of elevation gain – that's more than half the height of Mount Everest. 


Today's stage is a brute. It's uphill from the gun, with a cat-three climb, a cat-two, and then a punishing duo of cat-ones. 

Key timings for stage 15 (in BST): 

Are you as excited for today as Lidl-Trek?

The riders roll out for the neutral start in Manerba del Garda. They'll have 6.7km to warm up the legs, before the official 222km begin. 

Stage 15 begins

222km go to: There are attacks for the breakaway immediately. Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ) leads the move, with nine riders on his wheel. Among them, curiously, is sprinter Caleb Ewan (Jayco AlUla).

217km to go: 12 riders have gone clear with a 30-second lead. Movistar and Visma-Lease a Bike have missed the move, and both have busy riders at the front of the peloton, trying to wriggle away. 

211km to go: That was the easiest formed breakaway I've seen all race. There were no complaints from the GC teams, who have settled down behind. 

203km to go: Right, who had Cofidis pulling in the peloton on their bingo card? Presumably, the French team are riding to protect Simon Geschke, who is second in the mountains classification, and wearing the blue jersey on loan from Pogačar. The German has missed the breakaway, so there will be slim pickings for him today. 

200km to go: It's been a fast start to stage 15. The average speed is 47.5km/h, and the breakaway has quickly stretched out a three-minute advantage. 

193km to go: Cofidis are still riding hard on the front, but the gap to the breakaway is only going out. It's 3-40 now, and it looks like Geschke won't be getting many mountains points today. 

192km to go: The first categorised climb begins. It's 7.6km in length, classified as a category-three, and climbs to Lodrino. Don't expect fireworks this early. 

189km to go: Geschke takes matters into his own hands. The Cofidis rider has left his teammates behind on the categorised climb and gone in search of the breakaway. They're three minutes up the road. 

184km to go: Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) pips Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Wanty) to maximum points over the cat-three climb. Calmejane was not expecting the sneaky move, and offers a few, presumably stern, words to the Kiwi on the descent. 

180km to go: A large chasing group formed on the climb, and there are now 14 riders between the breakaway and the peloton. Simon Geschke (Cofidis) is among them, as are Colombian climbing duo Einer Rubio and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Geraint Thomas cornering at the Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: Getty Images)

171km to go: We're onto the second climb of the day and, appropriately, it's a cat-two. 13.9km at 6.6%. 

169km to go: The chasing group has now swelled to around 50 riders. I won't name them all, but some of the bigger names include Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal Quick-Step), Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers) and Juanpe López (Lidl-Trek). 

166km to go: The chasing group is really winding it up on this climb. There's still 9km to go until the top, and the gap to the breakaway has reduced to 1-30. If the two groups come together, we could be looking at a mega breakaway of around 60 riders. 

164km to go: The initial breakaway looks doomed. Their advantage to the chasers, all 46 of them, is now under a minute.

161km to go: Four kilometres from the summit and Caleb Ewan (Jayco AlUla) is going backwards out of the breakaway. It was probably a good idea for the Australian to get a head start today, but it could be a long afternoon for him now. 

159km to go: Three Italian climbers have bridged across to the front group. They are: Giulio Pellizzari (VF Group - Bardiani CSF - Faizanè), Davide Piganzoli (Polti Kometa) and Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan). 

158km to go: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a mega breakaway. The two front groups up the road come together as they approach the summit of the cat-two climb. There are around 60 riders in the group. 

157km to go: Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan) takes maximum points over the summit. Fair play to Simon Geschke (Cofidis) who, having missed the initial breakaway, kickstarted the chasing move, and clawed back the gap to take second on the climb. 

150km to go: The gap from the mega breakaway to the peloton is 4-38. I won't bore you with the names of all 54 of them, but here are the escapees who are best placed in the GC:

142km to go: Six riders have wriggled free from the mega breakaway on the descent: Tobias Bayer (Alpecin Deceuninck), Davide Ballerini, Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan), Giulio Pellizzari, Alessandro Tonelli (VF Group - Bardiani CSF - Faizanè) and Harrison Wood (Cofidis), the 23-year-old Brit on his Grand Tour debut. 

137km to go: Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to confirm that the mega breakaway is now over. It was short-lived, but it will be remembered fondly. 

127km to go: The riders are now enjoying a rare stretch of flat road. Many are taking the opportunity to take on some lunch and recover before the next mountains test. That will be the cat-one Passo del Mortirolo, which starts with 79km remaining. 

Here's a closer look at the Mortirolo, one of the Giro's most famous ascents. 

115km to go: If you're wondering who's in the chasing group, now 1-50 behind, the official Giro account has spared me the job of writing all the names out. Thread below. 

111km to go: We are now officially at the halfway point of stage 15. For those of you who woke up early this Sunday morning to watch from the flag drop, I salute you. For those of you just tuning in now, congratulations on having better things to do with your weekend. 

104km to go: With a lull in the racing, now's a good time for a reminder of the race situation. 

94km to go: Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) is, once again, pulling at the front of the peloton. I hope all the riders band together and get him a thank you card at the end of this race. 

91km to go: Davide Ballerini (Astana Qazaqstan) takes the intermediate sprint from the breakaway. It was barely contested, to be honest, with the Mortirolo looming large. 

84km to go: Just 5km to the start of the Mortirolo now. The six-rider breakaway has a 44-second lead over the chasing group, which I expect to fall away on the climb. 

79km to go: It's Mortirolo time. There are seven different roads to the summit of this climb, and the peloton today are taking one of the 'easier' ones. Of course, there are no easy ways to climb to 1,850m altitude. 

The Giro d'Italia peloton in the mountains

(Image credit: Getty Images)

76km to go: We've seen very little of Tadej Pogačar today. He's been nestled in the peloton, which is five minutes behind the front of the race. He still has all his matches left to burn.  

75km to go: The breakaway has now halved from six riders to three. It's an all-Italian trio, made up of Scaroni, Pellizarri and Tonelli. They've got 43 seconds on the 47-strong chasing group. 

73km to go: The front trio becomes a duo as Tonelli drops away. We're moments away from the mega breakaway establishing itself again. I cannot wait.   

71km to go: Simon Geschke (Cofidis) is upping the pace in the chasing group. There are mountains points up for grabs in just under 5km, and the German wants them. 

70km to go: We're onto the steepest section of the Mortirolo now. The road kicks up to 16%, before dropping to a constant 10%. Pellizzari and Scaroni are still clear. 

68km to go: Nicola Conci (Alpecin Deceuninck) has shot out of the chasing group. Geschke is in pursuit. The top of the Mortirolo is just over a kilometre away. 

67km to go: Conci catches the the leading duo and immediately attacks them towards the summit. The move isn't as fruitful as he hoped. Scaroni takes maximum points, followed by Pellizzari, with Conci crossing the line in third.  

64km to go: Over four minutes in arrears, the peloton cruises over the top of the Mortirolo and onto the descent. Pogačar heads down in around fifth wheel. 

55km to go: There's a screech of disc brakes as the chasing group descends the Mortirolo. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has managed to make his way to the front of the race. 

52km to go: 19 riders are now at the front. Michael Storer (Tudor Pro Cycling), nine minutes down on the GC, is the highest ranked among them. Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal Quick-Step) is in there too. 

45km to go: The average speed so far is 37.8km/h. That'll start tumbling now, though. The final climb doesn't start officially for another 20km, but it's gradually uphill to the base. 

41km to go: There are 18 riders out front, with a 3-40 advantage over the peloton. 

35km to go: A couple of Ineos Grenadiers collect musettes from their soigneurs and sift through for food and drink. There's a real calm-before-the-storm atmosphere at the moment. 10km until the next climb begins. 

Here's what's coming. The next one's a cat-one climb, starting with 25km to go, that rises without any nasty pitches. Don't be fooled, though. After the summit, the riders will drop down for 5km, before a 4km kick up to the finish line in Livigno. The finale offers ramps at 19%, at an altitude of almost 2,400m. Hold onto your seats. 

30km to go: Davide Piganzoli (Polti Kometa) is out of the saddle on the front of the 18-rider front group. The Italian has forced a gap of a few bike lengths, towing Georg Steinhauser (EF Education-EasyPost) on his wheel. I'm not 100% sure why he's doing this, but I like the panache.  

29km to go: Attila Valter (Visma-Lease a Bike) collects three bonus seconds through a rather non-descript intermediate sprint. The InterGiro sprint is coming up now. If you don't know what that is, don't worry, it's not very important, but my colleague James Shrubsall wrote a nice explainer.  

24km to go: The breakaway rolls through the InterGiro and Davide Piganzoli (Polti Kometa) wins uncontested. He'll be on the podium at the end of the day, collecting a small, glass trophy for that very moment. 

23km to go: We're onto the cat-one Passo di Foscagno. Please allow me a moment to give you my unsolicited thoughts on how this stage will now pan out. 

22km to go: Georg Steinhauser (EF Education-EasyPost) has launched an attack out of the breakaway. He's solo now, with a gap of just a handful of seconds. 

20km to go: Michael Storer (Tudor Pro Cycling) picks up the chase to Steinhauser. On his wheel is Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who, let's remember, won the Giro 10 years ago. Could he spring a throwback victory today? 

19km to go: Steinhauser is labouring over his stem, but he's managed to stretch out a 15-second gap. Behind him, Quintana, Storer and Valter follow in pursuit. 

18km to go: 'What's going on in the peloton?' I hear you cry. Well, Felix Großschartner (UAE Team Emirates) is on the front, making sure the breakaway doesn't flutter away too far. Ineos Grenadiers are up alongside Pogačar's team, too. They're at 3-38 from Steinhauser. 

17km to go: Tadej Pogačar only has one man alongside him now – Rafał Majka. I'd be surprised if this was part of the plan. Still, maybe it is, and Pogačar's about to try and sail away. 

16km to go: There's a big focus on Pogačar in the GC group, but don't write off Steinhauser here. He's got a 30-second lead to Quintana, and it's not coming down. 

14km to go: This climb tops out in 5km, before a short descent, and a final 4km-odd kick up to the line. Steinhauser has a 20-second gap now to Quintana, who, steely-faced, is tapping out a fast rhythm. 

14km to go: Pogačar attacks! It's early, but it's effective. The pink-jersey-wearer puts daylight into his GC rivals. Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) is trying to follow. 

13km to go: None of the other GC contenders have tried to follow Pogačar, just Martínez. There are 4km to go until the top of the climb. 

12km to go: Martínez has fallen away. The Colombian couldn't hack Pogačar's speed. He's already 50 seconds ahead of his GC rivals, and is only 1-40 off Quintana, who is alone now out front. 

Here's the moment Pogačar attacked. It's a sight we've all become accustomed to, but it's no less spectacular. 

11km to go: This is remarkable. Pogačar is flying. He's pulled almost a minute and a half ahead of the other GC contenders and is riding in a class of his own. 

9km to go: Pogačar tags Steinhauser, leaving just Quintana ahead of him on the road. He has managed to claw back almost three minutes in just 5km of climbing. 

8km to go: Quintana crests the climb first and heads onto the descent. The Colombian is but a carrot on a string for Pogačar right now. And the race leader is hungry. 

5km to go: Pogačar is 40 seconds behind Quintana now. There's set to be a real battle between the two on the final slopes to Livigno. 

4km to go: Quintana is onto the final climb. It's short, but it's very steep. Pogačar is stomping down on the pedals behind. 

3.5km to go: The other GC contenders are 2-30 behind Pogačar. He's set to stretch out his GC lead to an astonishing six minutes. 

3km to go: Quintana's days are numbered. His advantage has slipped from 40-odd seconds to just 20 after only one kilometre. Pogačar will catch him soon. 

2km to go: 14 seconds now separate Pogačar from Quintana. The path of destruction is almost complete.

1.9km to go: Pogačar whips around Quintana and is now solo out front. The Colombian tries to kick out of the saddle, but it's fruitless.

1km to go: A man with a Slovenian flag runs alongside Pogačar, but can't keep up. The race leader is not allowing himself to come off the pedals. He wants to gain every second he can here. 

Tadej Pogačar wins stage 15

It's second for Quintana. The rest of the GC contenders are still to come. 

Martínez jumps beyond Thomas with 200m to go, but the Welshman hangs onto his wheel to protect his second place overall. The duo come in 2:51 after Pogačar. 

Thanks for your patience. You can now find the full report, plus Pogačar's winning words, on our website. 

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