Giro d'Italia stage 18 LIVE: will the sprinters finally have their day again?

All the action from the 18th stage to Padova

Morning everybody, and welcome to this 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia. With a flurry of mountainous – and sometimes controversial – mountain stages behind us for a moment, and Sunday's race finish in Rome on the not-so-distant horizon, we take a breath today to enjoy what looks like a cut-and-dried sprinter's stage.

Riders who headlined the action earlier in the race – the likes of Jonathan Milan and Kaden Groves – will finally look to have their day again as they eye up a finale unmarked by mountains or, frankly, any hills whatsoever.


Check out the profile of today's stage. It begins at an altitude of 694m at Fiera di Primiero, gradually descending over the course of 178km to Padova – just south-west of Venice – where they finish at just 10m above sea level.

It's a pretty late start today though – 13:10 European time (12:10 UK) – so we'll be back a little later to take you through all the goings on because, after all, they definitely won't be freewheeling to Padova.

Christian Scaroni finishes stage 17 of the 2024 Giro d'Italia

Scaroni after stage 17

(Image credit: Getty Images / Ilario Biondi)

Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) eyes today's sprint finish. "My condition's good," he says, "I've gone through [the mountains] quite well, and the team in general as well we're all healthy, so that's also a plus. To have eight riders here in the final week of the Giro is not easy. So yeah, we're all motivated for today."

172km to go: We're all underway now in what is foul weather for this 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia. Beginning on a long, meandering downhill, already the peloton is splitting.

169km to go: The spray is flying off the road surface. It's reminiscent of driving on a busy motorway on the wettest of days, surrounded by trucks. What a way to start.

162km to go: The race is already on the first (and only) classified climb of the day. A cat-four up to Lamon. Small group of four has nicked off the front. It's a handy little gap too.

161km to go: With around 0.3km to go till the top of the climb, the group looks established – helped by the fact the peloton has eased right back.

160km to go: Maestri takes the mountains points over the top. 

154km to go: Eurosport's Adam Blythe has learned via a conversation with sprinter Caleb Ewan, that most sprinters today are using 56 x 11 gearing, while Jonathan Milan will be riding a slightly bigger 54 x 10.

153km to go: The race is descending once again, and the gap to the break has now gone out to 2.30. The peloton is unlikely to see the front four again until, ooh, about five kilometres to go.

148km to go: Looks like the break has ridden out of the rain and on to some dry and sunny roads. The peloton will be right behind them and will be more than relieved when they get there.

147km to go: The gap to the break is 2.25 now. They're being kept on a tight leash so far.

156km to go: Suddenly the peloton is looking more purposeful, with Juan Pedro Lopez (Lidl-Trek) currently lining it out. Already the gap to the break has shrunk to 1.42.

137km to go: The break is clearly in no mood to capitulate, riding hard in a line with the Polti duo forging onwards at the front.

131km to go: Jonathan Milan's Lidl-Trek team is massed at the front of a peloton that continues to be strung out. Roads looking pretty damp again but it's not chucking it down like before.

122km to go: So far the race has averaged 43.8kph, putting it on track for a mid-time finish at 17:13 Euro time.

117km to go: The race has just begun an interesting little section of around 15km. It starts with a small climb, which the riders are on right now, then it's down the other side before climbing slowly towards the first of three sprints today, at around 110km to go.

110km to go: Polti's Pietrobon sails through the intermediate sprint first, unopposed by any his breakaway rivals. 1.13 behind, Jonathan Milan pings out of the bunch – equally unopposed – to sweep up fifth-place points.

106km to go: The sprint means Milan extends his lead in the ciclamino points jersey by another four points over second placed Kaden Groves. Milan is well out ahead on 288, while Groves is more than 100 points in arrears on 175.

105km to go: The riders are descending now through an amazing landscape of stepped vineyards, and while it's not exactly sunny, it is mercifully dry.

Stage 18 of the 2024 Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: Getty Images / Tim De Waele)

95km to go: The gap, which had come down to 42 seconds, begins to stretch again as bunch eases up. Catching the break at this point would only make a rod for their own backs, as the attacks would begin all over again.

92km to go: Hello, Adam Becket here taking over while James grabs some lunch.

91km to go: I did a really flat day last week, which Jonathan Milan won. Will it be the same again today?

85km to go: The break has 1:11 on the peloton at the moment. It is not going amazingly well for them.

81km to go: The four men are working well together, with 1:18 advantage.

79km to go: It's Lidl-Trek on the front of the peloton now. It's worth noting that because Tadej Pogčar has won five stages and Jonathan Milan three, there are loads of teams who have not won anything at this race so far. Nine teams have won, which means there are 13 with nothing.

74km to go: The break have 1:44 now, so it has extended a bit.

73km to go: Mirco Maestri (Polti-Kometa) is having a bit of a problem with his overshoes. That's about as exciting as it gets right now.

71km to go: The gap is under a minute now. The peloton didn't seem like it was pushing on too much, but this might be it really. Any hope for the break now has evaporated.

69km to go: Oh dear, I'm so sorry, I missed the Intergiro sprint. Fiorelli won it.

64km to go: The gap is at just 35 seconds now. There are wet roads at the finish, apparently, so that might make things a bit interesting. 

62km to go: Stefan De Bod (EF Education-EasyPost) attempted to attack off the front of the peloton there, which was shut down immediately.

59km to go: Edoardo Affini (Visma-Lease a Bike) has attacked off the front in an attempt to get free. Lidl-Trek and Soudal Quick-Step are trying to close this down. He has got a gap though.

58km to go: Affini has got the power to make things stick, and has finished second on two Giro stages before. Will this make a difference? The four up front are pushing on, but you can see the peloton behind.

57km to go: The peloton aren't taking this lightly. 22 seconds is the gap.

It's James Shrubsall back with you now for the rest of the stage. Thanks to Adam Becket for covering. It seems things have kicked off a bit while I was eating a sandwich...

53km to go: A real tug of war taking place between the peloton and what is now a five-man break, with Affini ensconced within. The gap is holding at around 25 seconds.

52km to go: Lopez nailing it on the front of the bunch, teeth bared, in the service of team-mate Milan. Tim Merlier's Soudal-Quick Step team is amassed behind Lopez. They're clearly pretty concerned about this break, which is now at 19 seconds.

45km to go: The break had a proper fight for the final intermediate sprint of the day at Martellago, with Fiorelli leading through and Pietrobon, who leads the separate Intermediate Sprints competition, coming second.

40km to go: The break is now just 8 seconds ahead. Can it survive this brush with the peloton?

37km to go: If the breakaway guys take a look over their shoulders, they will see the bunch very clearly down what is a long, straight and tree-lined avenue. The bunch is still lined out, but the gap has gone out a little to 11 seconds.

36km to go: The beautiful looking town of Mirano seems to have pretty much every single resident on the roadside cheering. There's a lot of pink about too. What an experience it must be to race through these places.

32km to go: The break is working so well together, the transitions are smooth and everyone seems to be taking their turn. Affini, who is obviously a bit fresher, is spending the most time on the front, but the five are clicking through the kilometres like a particularly well-oiled piece of purposeful machinery.

24km to go: Lidl-Trek DS Michael Schär says from the team car that the team is keeping the break so close because they were a little concerned about how purposeful it looked – Schär mentions Honoré's skinsuit and says he looked like he was "on a mission".

22km to go: No doubt about it, the break is starting to look tired. The riding, and the changes, are a bit more ragged. Hardly surprising, as they've basically been time trialling for 150 kilometres – all with the stress of having the bunch breathing down their necks.

19km to go: The sprinters' team have got themselves into formation at the front of the bunch – four lines of riders in different strips. Lidl-Trek and Soudal Quick-Step of course; UAE and Ineos are there too, presumably ready to help out Molano and Narvaez respectively, but also looking after their leaders Pogačar and Thomas.

14km to go: A sudden narrowing on the road catches out Alessandro De Marchi (Jayco-AlUla), who comes off in what looks like a fairly innocuous fall. He's back on his back now, but doesn't look particularly happy with it.

10km to go: The break is finally caught. Pietrobon attempt to prolong it further by attacking but to no avail. The race is all together. Next stop Padova.

9km to go: The race negotiates a near-180-degree turn, thankfully intact.

6km to go: Not a relaxing run-in to Padova here. Lots of roundabouts and some dramatic reductions in road width that come suddenly. Everyone still upright so far.

4km to go: Milan being brought up from some way back to negotiate a pinch point.

3km to go: Riders under the 3km to go mark now. The GC guys can relax a touch.

2km to go: Teams constantly swapping places in full flight. You can almost feel the barging and hear the swearing from here. It's chaotic.

1km to go: That went quick. Sharp left here. Everyone through alright.

500m: Lidl-Trek on the front. Where's Milan?

Tim Merlier wins! 

At least four riders crossed the line abreast in what was a very close finish. Milan was second, half a wheel back. Groves was there too, a bike length back in the middle.

Alberto Dainese (Tudor Pro Cycling) is fourth.

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