Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) powered to an impressive win on stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia thanks to a solo attack on the final climb to Cogne.
The Italian, who was part of the day’s 28-man breakaway, won the mountain-filled stage by over a minute from Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) after attacking with 18km to go.
Just a day after they lost the maglia rosa, Ciccone delivered his team with just their third-ever Giro stage win.
British rider Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) looked in good shape on the Giro’s first day in the Italian Alps, but he couldn’t keep up with the Trek-Segafredo rider's intense pace and finished fourth, with Movistar's Antonio Pedrero in third.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) remains in the lead of the overall standings of the 2022 Giro d'Italia after his team controlled the race from the peloton to ensure no GC contenders were able to gain time ahead of the grand tour's final week.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The race ventured into the Alps for the first time in this year’s edition of the Giro d’Italia route, ahead of the final rest day tomorrow.
A 177km parcours from Rivarolo Canavese into the Valle d’Aosta region of Italy gradually built up in terms of difficulty.
A trio of climbs, a pair of first category tests before the final ascent to Cogne, challenged the riders yet again after a wild day of racing around Turin yesterday.
After just 7km of the maglia rosa being on his back, Richard Carapaz managed to get it dirty.
The race leader and yesterday’s stage winner Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) were amongst a group of riders involved in a low-speed crash.
Fortunately, both were able to swiftly return to the bunch.
The pace was high early in the stage as the battle to get into the day’s break went on and on.
It took almost 80km for it to finally form as the race gently wound its way towards the mountains.
Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), Merhawi Kudus (EF Education-EasyPost), Erik Fetter (EOLO-Kometa), Lawson Craddock (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) were the initial group that got up the road.
The break soon swelled in size as a 23-man group bridged over to them, this included: Mikaël Cherel, Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R Citroën), Mathieu van der Poel, Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), David De La Cruz, Harold Tejada (Astana Qazaqstan), Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious), Luca Covili (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper - Androni Giocattoli), Hugh Carthy, Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Koen Bouwman, Gijs Leemreize, Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma), Antonio Pedrero, José Joaquín Rojas, Iván Sosa (Movistar), Nico Denz, Martijn Tusveld (Team DSM), Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Rui Costa and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates).
Ineos Grenadiers, now with the maglia rosa in their ranks, soon took to the front of the peloton to control the time gap.
The escapees held a four-and-a-half-minute advantage by the time they reached the foot of Pila-Les Fleurs, the first climb of the day, which had an average gradient of 6.9% for 12km.
Bouwman set off in search of mountains classification points with 4km to the summit.
The Dutchman had a small gap as he secured the maximum 40 points at the top of the climb, overtaking the current magalia azzurra leader Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) in the process.
The time gap back to bunch sat at five minutes as the race gradually descended the first of the stage’s three climbs.
Van der Poel and Tusveld made it a Dutch trio at the head of the race after they left the chasing group behind on the descent.
With 50km to go, the three riders had a gap of 90 seconds at the foot of the Verrogne climb.
The main breakaway group began to splinter on the early slopes with the road ramping up to 9.8% in places.
Ciccone, Pedrero and Buitrago took advantage of the punishing gradients and bridged across to the leaders before dropping them all with 7km of the climb left.
The trio were joined by Carthy just before the summit of Verrogne, with Costa and Tusveld making contact by the bottom of the descent too.
Meanwhile, back in the bunch Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) had attacked on the climb and, alongside the remnants of the early breakaway, held a minute’s advantage on the peloton with 25km left.
At the front of the race, Ciccone and Carthy were the strongest riders on the steep early slopes of the final climb to Cogne and went clear.
Yet the Italian then attacked again, dropping the EF Education-EasyPost rider and going clear with 18km left.
With 13km left and over the hardest part of the climb, Ciccone had forged a one-minute gap to his rivals for the stage.
The 27-year-old looked untouchable as he powered up the final climb, extending his advantage the further up the climb he rode.
He came to the line a minute ahead of Buitrago - the strongest of the chasers on the ascent to Cogne - and was understandably emotional as he secured the third Giro d’Italia stage win of his career.
Almost eight minutes later, the peloton arrived at the finish line, with Carapaz and the rest of the GC contenders all rolling in together.
GIRO D’ITALIA 2022, STAGE 15: RIVAROLO CANAVESE TO COGNE (177KM)
1. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, in 4-37-41
2. Santiago Buitrago (Col) Bahrain-Victorious, at 1-31
3. Antonio Pedrero (Esp) Movistar, at 2-19
4. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-EasyPost, at 3-09
5. Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Team DSM, at 4-36
6. Luca Covili (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, at 5-08
7. Natnael Tesfatsion (Eri) Drone Hopper - Androni Giocattoli, at 5-27
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
9. Gijs Leemreize (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, both at same time
10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 6-06
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 15
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, in 63-06-57
2. Jai Hindley (Aus) BORA-hansgrohe, at 7 seconds
3. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 30s
4. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 59s
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, at 1-01
6. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 1-52
7. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe, at 1-58
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team, at 2-58
9. Juan Pedro López (Esp) Trek-Segafredo, at 4-04
10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 8-02
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Specialized's Cyber Monday sale: discounts on shoes, helmets, wheels and kit
Specialized is having a big Cyber Monday sale, here are our top picks
By Anne-Marije Rook • Published
Cyber Monday bike deals live: computers, smartwatches, clothing, shoes and more!
It's now Cyber Monday and we're still on hand, picking out all the very best deals on cycling kit - you're guaranteed to find a bargain
By Stefan Abram • Published
Geraint Thomas targets Giro d'Italia after disappointment over Tour de France route
Welshman says he doesn't know whether he will be riding for GC in May or not yet
By Adam Becket • Published
Gianni Savio's Drone Hopper team set to miss the 2023 Giro d'Italia
Italian hopes squad can continue at Continental level as they search for a new headline sponsor
By Adam Becket • Published