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Giro d'Italia Live: McNulty wins stage 15; Bruno Armirail defends the pink jersey; Another stalemate in the GC race; Cavendish expected to announce retirement; Vollering wins Vuelta a Burgos; Grégoire wins Four Days of Dunkirk

All the news from stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia

Welcome to today's live blog, where we'll be keeping you updated as to what's happening at stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia, as well as the rest of the cycling world. It's the last day of the second week, and looks like an unpredictable one, as the riders take on an 'urban mountain stage' in Lombardy.

Key updates (all times BST)

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The riders are in the neutralised zone. You sense this is the calm before the storm. As soon as the flag drops, expect a real fight to get into the breakaway.

190km to go: The riders are off and the attacks have been flying. Ben Healy and Simone Velasco are up the road together, and a large chasing group are close behind.

As a ‘mini Il Lombardia’ that features the same hilly terrain in Lombardy that characterises that cycling monument, this could be a fruitful day for whichever puncheurs can get into the break.

Mark Cavendish

(Image credit: Getty Images)

That's quite the bombshell about Cavendish, but perhaps not something we shouldn’t have seen coming. We’re so used to him bouncing back from setback after setback that at times it has felt like he could go forever. But time is at last catching up on him — in fact, he’s turned 38 today (happy birthday Cav!)

170km to go: Back to the racing, Healy and Velasco have been joined by another 13 riders, and it appears we have our break of the day. The peloton has eased up and the gap is over four minutes already. We’ll run through the full list of riders present shortly.

Here’s a full list of the riders in the 15-man break.

160km to go: We’re approaching the first of the day’s four climbs, Valico di Valcava. It’s a real tough one, too, with a maximum gradient of 17%. Ineos Grenadiers DS Matteo Tosatto said yesterday that he expected a ‘big casino’ on it. 

160km to go: Rubio is now in the lead group, after his Movistar teammate Rojas dropped back to help him bridge up. There’s no Marcellusi, who was distanced by Rubio, meaning the break is sixteen strong.

155km to go: The break is on the climb, and they’re going at a steady pace. No need to rush up it as the peloton have let them have a gap of over six minutes. 

150km to go: Marcellusi did make it into the break after all despite being dropped by Rubio when they were chasing. But we’re not sure for how long: he’s struggling to stay in the group on the climb.

This is turning out to be a much calmer day than it might have been. The weather is milder than it has been for much of the Giro and the rain has held off, and the big gap that’s already formed between the break and the peloton, and the lack of any GC threats in the break, means both groups can afford to take this difficult climb easily. 

148km to go: There’s lots of interest in the King of the Mountains points as the break nears the top. Healy and Rubio were very combative, even rubbing shoulders as they sprinted against each other. Healy came out on top to take the maximum points.

Groupama FDJ

(Image credit: Getty Images)

120km to go: Still very quiet on the road. Neither group is in much of a rush, and the gap between them is 6-30. 

Having already won a stage last weekend by such a whopping margin, Ben Healy will surely be among the favourites for the stage win from the break. 

108km to go: Ballerini jumped out of the break to reach the intermediate sprint first, and claim maximum points in the race for the maglia ciclamino. Everyone else was happy to roll over.

Here's our write-up of the big news about Cavendish's expected retirement announcement 

105km to go: The riders are now on the Selvino, a climb that will be familiar to those who have experienced Il Lombardia in the past. It's still too far from the finish for attacks to be made, but will wear the riders out ahead of the next two climbs.

104km to go: A rare sight at this year’s Giro: the sun is out! Ben Healy is even hot enough to spray a bidon over himself as he climbs the Selvino.

davide ballerini

Davide Ballerini first over the line at the intermediate sprint

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As well as Healy, Einer Rubio is another rider in the break looking for their second. By sneaking victory a couple of days ago while Thibaut Pinot and Alex Cepeda engaged in their own private duel, the Colombian showed he had brains as well as climbing legs, which could hold him in good stead again today. 

Elsewhere in Europe, it’s the final stages of both the women’s Vuelta a Burgos and men’s Four days of Dunkirk, while the Rund um Köln classic is taking place. We’ll keep you up to date of the outcomes of all of those races.

96km to go: Healy is first to the top of Selvino, to gain more points in the KOM classification. Rubio was second again, but didn't put up as much of a fight this time. 

96km to go: Despite the calm there’s been a minor crash in the breakaway group, with Velasco, Frigo Berwick going down. McNulty also suffered a mechanical, and is chasing back to the group with them. Meanwhile Dainese was dropped on the climb and is about to be caught by the peloton.

89km to go: Velasco, Berwick and McNulty all look OK and have just descended their way back to the group.

87km to go: The break is now on the next climb, Miragolo San Salvatore. Rojas has upped the pace in service of his Movistar teammate, and Ballerini has been dropped from the group. This could be the climb where the race for the stage win kicks off. 

peloton

(Image credit: Getty Images)

85km to go: A close shave for Ballerini as he swerves to avoid one of the cars in the convoy as he tries to work his way back into the peloton. That could have been dangerous. 

83km to go: Rubio and Healy again sprint for the points at the top of the climb, and this time they’re almost neck-and-neck. Rubio just about edges it.

All of these climbing points mean Rubio and Healy are now third and fourth in the King of the Mountains Classification, with 112 and 90 points respectively. They still trail leader Davide Bais, who has 144 points, and Thibaut Pinot, on 112.

70km to go: Attack from Healy! This is a surprise move given that the break are currently on a long flat stretch before the next and final climb, Roncola Alta. He seems to be trying to catch the rest of the break by surprise. 

69km to go: Healy decided not to press on, however, and is back in the group.

66km to go: The riders are now on a long flat road before the start of the next and final climb, Roncola Alta, which begins 30km from the finish. There are sure to be attacks in the breakaway group as they battle for the GC group, and potentially some GC action in the peloton - although based on how this Giro has been raced so far, don’t count on it.

VOLLERING WINS AGAIN TO SEAL OVERALL AT VUELTA A BURGOS