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Lorenzo Fortunato takes surprise win on Monte Zoncolan as Simon Yates moves to second at Giro d’Italia

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Lorenzo Fortunato – Lorenzo Fortunato takes surprise win on Monte Zoncolan as Simon Yates moves to second at Giro d’Italia – REUTERS

03:04 pm

Bernal drops Yates to tighten grip on pink

There will be some significant losses on general classification today. And maglia Rosa will extend his overall lead today, having finished in fourth place; Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) takes fourth, while Simon Yates (BikeExchange) is fifth. Still, a hugely important day for Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), who looks to be the strongest rider with the strongest team at this year’s Giro d’Italia, while Yates has, finally shown the form that made the British rider some people’s favorite coming into the first grand tour of the year.

03:03 PM

Fortunato wins atop Monte Zoncolan!

Nobody, and I mean nobody, will have predicted that. Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) wins the first race on one of the most challenging climbs in world cycling. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) rolls over 26sec later in the second spot, while Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) is third, another 33sec down.

03:01 pm

400 meters to go

Jan Tratnik is in a world of pain, his bike zag-zagging across the road on this impossibly steep road as it pitches up to around 25 percent.

 

03:00 pm

500 meters to go

That attack from Simon Yates has blown up the general classification contenders. He could be riding into the top three in today’s standings, possibly up to second. Jan Tratnik is in pursuit of Lorenzo Fortunato.

02:58 pm

Yates attacks!

Simon Yates, who finished second here on Monte Zoncolan in 2018, has attacked off the front, and Egan Bernal is the only one able to hold his wheel.

Egan Bernal and Simon Yates – GETTY IMAGES

02:57 pm

1km to go

I think Lorenzo Fortunato may do this.

02:57 pm

1.2km to go

Lorenzo Fortunato grimaces, fighting with his inner demons as this nasty climb bites, and Alessandro Covi is closing in on him while George Bennett is a few bike lengths further back.

02:55 pm

1.4km to go

Remco Evenepoel sat at the rear of the general classification group.

02:54 pm

1.5km to go

Mikel Nieve, a mountain domestique for Simon Yates, is dropped. Remco Evenepoel is also struggling, but Lorenzo Fortunato is not slowing up. What a massive surprise this would be if the second-division rider were to win on this famous climb.

02:53 pm

2km to go

Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) rolls off and appears to have dropped Bauke Mollema and George Bennett. At the same time, up the road, Lorenzo Fortunato is the lone leader, having shaken off Jan Tratnik.

02:51 pm

2.5km to go

Jonathan Castroviejo is in the front of maglia rosa’s group, and Bora-Hansgrohe has moved towards the front alongside Ineos Grenadiers.

02:50 pm

3km to go

The pair inch their way up a narrow, one-track road with steeper gradient pitching. Their advantage, however, has increased on the breakaway riders . . . but the maglia rosa’s group is closing in – 3min 36sec down.

02:47 pm

3.5km to go

Jan Tratnik and Lorenzo Fortunato are sharing the work between themselves. Not far from the steepest part of the day, will they keep hold of that 45-second advantage?

02:46 pm

4km to go

The maglia rosa’s group has dropped Vincenzo Nibali, and here’s a reminder of what is coming up.

3km

02:45 pm

5km to go

Jhonatan Narváez peels off the front of the Ineos Grenadiers’ group, his day done. Into the clouds now, and it looks chilly, Jan Tratnik and Lorenzo Fortunato are holding on to a lead of around 40sec, but they are yet to reach the most challenging part of this climb.

02:42 pm

5.5km to go

Simon Yates, Irishman Dan Martin, who has always liked the very steep stuff, Damiano Caruso, Hugh Carthy, Emanuel Buchmann, Romain Bardet, and Remco Evenepoel are all in the group of general classification favorites. Still, Egan Bernal and Aleksandr Vlasov are up near the head of proceedings, and they are two kilometers behind stage leaders Jan Tratnik and Lorenzo Fortunato.

02:39 pm

6km to go

Jan Tratnik and Lorenzo Fortunato have a lead of 38sec on the remnants of the breakaway and five minutes on the peloton,

02:38 pm

6.5km to go

Jhonatan Narváez, another former stage winner from last year’s Giro d’Italia, takes over on the front of the peloton for Egan Bernal after teammate Gianni Moscon pulls the pin on his day.

02:37 pm

7km to go

Jan Tratnik is a grinder of a climber, but he’s gained 42sec on Bauke Mollema and George Bennett. Wow, that’s impressive. The Slovenian has Lorenzo Fortunato for the company.

02:36 pm

7.5km to go

Egan Bernal takes a gel, staring into the eyes of the television cameras, looking calm and assured. The Colombian, by the way, has clear sunglasses on today, so there’s no hiding place for the maglia rosa.

02:34 pm

8km to go

Gianni Moscon shifts towards the front of the peloton. Ineos Grenadiers is keen on reining in stage leader Jan Tratnik and the rest of the breakaway, or are they just turning the screw on Egan Bernal’s rivals? This could be an excellent time to test their mettle and see how the land lies ahead of the actual battle in a short while.

02:31 pm

9km to go

Sunglasses off, tucked into the front of his helmet, Jan Tratnik gulps air before bouncing out of his saddle. He takes a slight look over his left shoulder, peering in the direction of Lorenzo Fortunato. The peloton is another 5min 30se down the road, but there are no time gaps on George Bennett and Bauke Mollema.

02:27 pm

10km to go

Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) clips off the front of the breakaway, the 25-year-old Italian pursuing Slovenian rider Jan Tratnik. George Bennett and Bauke Mollema appear happy enough to play the waiting game and leave the pair out to dry.

02:24 pm

11km to go

Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), a stage winner at last year’s Giro d’Italia, rolls off the front of the breakaway. The road surface is perfect, with large sections of it recently relaid. The peloton, meanwhile, is now onto the climb, and Aleksandr Vlasov has dropped back a few wheels to sit on Egan Bernal.

02:19 pm

13.5km to go

Edoardo Affini has ridden himself to a standstill, leaving his Jumbo-Visma teammate George Bennett to see if he can land a big stage win high above the clouds on Monte Zoncolan. Jacopo Mosca is the next to ease up, having helped deliver his Trek-Segafredo teammate Bauke Mollema to the lower slopes of Monte Zoncolan.

Zoncolan

Remember, the opening two-thirds of this climb is not too brutal. Unlike the stricter side that barely exceeds 10%, the final three kilometers will bite here today.

02:14 pm

There be hills . . .

The breakaway is under one kilometer from the start of the day’s final climb; that’s right, folks, they will soon be onto the Zoncolan.

02:07 pm

19.5km to go

Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) falls out the back of the breakaway, whose lead has increased slightly to 6min 15sec. Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo have two riders in the break, so out of that group, you would have to say George Bennett or Bauke Mollema is, on paper, most suited to today’s finale.

02:06 pm

20km to go

A slight lull in proceedings in the peloton. Luis León Sánchez, who has put in some huge turns on the front today, drifts towards the group’s rear containing all of the leading general classification contenders. Still, his Astana-Premier Tech teammates sat on the show for Aleksandr Vlasov, who started the day second overall, 45sec behind Egan Bernal. On climbs like today, if a rider does not have the legs once the gradients go above 20 percent in rising, ages of time can be lost, so the young Russian may even be thinking of taking that maglia rosa off the shoulders of Bernal.

01:57 pm

26.5km to go

Six Astana-Premier Tech riders are positioned at the head of the peloton, just ahead of Ineos Grenadiers. They have managed to regroup and are protecting the maglia rosa on the shoulders of Egan Bernal. Hugh Carthy and his EF Education-Nippo teammates are also near the front of the group of favorites, as is Simon Yates.

01:54 pm

30km to go

Working together in the valley between the base of the Forcella Monte Rest and the beginning of the day’s final ascent, the slow and steep drag up the Zoncolan, the breakaway has increased its advantage to 5min 43sec.

01:52 pm

Hell is around the corner.

Cycling fanatics are waiting for the race to arrive on the summit of Monte Zoncolan, where they will face a tricky test this afternoon.

Giro d’Italia 2021, stage 14 – live updates – GETTY IMAGES

01:44 pm

37km to go

Following that phony war, all of the general classification riders are back together, and that gap on the breakaway has now reduced to just five minutes. Egan Bernal is in there, as is Hugh Carthy, Simon Yates, Remco Evenepoel, Damiano Caruso, and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), but a few minutes there and, perhaps, a sign of what may follow in the final to today’s stage. Given the fickle nature of the last three kilometers of the climb, I’m not sure how many domestics will be able to help their team leaders, but it should be a fascinating watch.

01:43 pm

38.5km to go

A group containing Hugh Carthy and Simon Yates bridges over to the Astana-Premier Tech group after Alberto Bettiol does an excellent pull. The Italian will have made that effort for EF Education-Nippo teammate Hugh Carthy who may fancy his chances today.

01:38 pm

Game on

The chasers have around 30km before the start of the ascent up the hellish Zoncolan. Astana-Premier Tech’s leading general classification rider Aleksandr Vlasov has three teammates – Gorka Izagirre, Luis León Sánchez, and Harold Tejada – for the company. In contrast, Egan Bernal has just Jonathan Castroviejo to help him out. Pello Bilbao is the Bahrain Victorious rider, and the septet of riders has gained around 15sec on the peloton. Remco Evenepoel, meanwhile, missed that move and is another 10 seconds or so down the road.

01:32 pm

48.5km to go

Edoardo Affini is out of his saddle on the front of the breakaway; his Jumbo-Visma teammate sat a few wheels down the line. Back in the peloton, a gap forms at the front after Astana-Premier Tech takes the descent at some speed, as is their wont. There are four Astana-Premier Tech riders in this small group, as the maglia rosa has one teammate for company, while there’s also a Bahrain Victorious man.

01:29 pm

Opportunities Knox for Evenepoel?

Seeing how Remco Evenepoel copes with the Zoncolan today will be fascinating. The Belgian lost age of time on the white roads of Tuscany earlier this week and has never raced on the road like this.

Deceuninck-Quick Step – GETTY IMAGES

01:24 pm

53km to go

Over the top go Astana-Premier Tech, and all of that work done by the boys in sky blue has led to the breakaway’s advantage dropping to below six minutes. They must indeed be targeting the stage today – they cannot do all this work to protect Aleksandr Vlasov’s second spot on general classification.

01:20 pm

55km to go

Bauke Mollema adds 18 points to his tally in the mountains classification as the Dutchman is the first rider to crest the category two Forcella Monte Rest. Still, Geoffrey Bouchard’s (Ag2r-Citroën) lead in that competition is safe. The breakaway is descending off that climb on a very narrow road, but thankfully the road surface looks perfect, and it is dry. Once the peloton is over the top, there may be a big fight for position near the summit as nobody wants to be caught out behind any crashes, and there doesn’t look to be too many opportunities to overtake. For now, at least.

01:14 pm

58.5km to go

The breakaway loses another 30sec to the Astana-Premier Tech-powered peloton.

01:08 pm

60km to go

Astana-Premier Tech has big numbers on the front of the peloton now. Their entire team is riding on the show for Aleksandr Vlasov, who is feeling strong today.

Astana-Premier Tech – GETTY IMAGES

The peloton, which has splintered with the sprinters now riding in the grupetto, is around 5km from the summit of the Forcella Monte Rest. That injection in pace from Alexandre Vinokourov’s squad has seen the breakaway’s lead drop ever so slightly to 7min 30sec.

01:02 pm

Looking cold up the road . . .

There is snow atop Monte Zoncolan, while Eurosport showed a cloudy summit earlier. It is dry up there now, but if that rain does turn up, that could make the final three kilometers of the stage very difficult, or should I say more difficult?

Monte Zoncolan – GETTY IMAGES

12:56 pm

Is Bernal feeling the chill?

Race leader Egan Bernal was just spotted donning a rain jacket. Rain is expected later today on the day’s final climb, but it’s not raining right now. Earlier in the stage, Bernal was briefly stuck towards the rear of the peloton while the breakaway was forming. I am reading too much into this, but it made me wonder if the Colombian is okay today.

12:50 pm

Are you talking to me?

A few words are shared between Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo) and Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux). The Portuguese appeared to take offense at something the Italian sprinter did, but they were not entirely sure what. Guerrier’s teammate, remember, is working today for teammate Hugh Carthy. Either way that would suggest the tension rises – much like the road – as the peloton edges towards the next day’s climb, the category two Forcella Monte Rest.

12:45 pm

70km to go

Filippo Ganna, incidentally, is sat at the front of the row of Ineos Grenadiers riders tucked in behind Astana-Premier Tech’s pair on the front of the peloton.

12:38 pm

73.5km to go

I made a quick bike change for Bauke Mollema a few minutes ago. Although not on the category two Forcella Monte Rest just yet, the road is gently rising as it will continue for some time. Mollema appears to have switched from an aero bike to one better suited to climbing. The Dutchman didn’t waste much time and is back in the breakaway group, whose advantage has grown slightly to 8min 30sec.

12:34 pm

Do you see yourself with the maglia rosa tonight?

12:28 pm

80km to go

Hugh Carthy (second right) appears pretty relaxed as he rides towards the hellish climb of Monte Zoncolan. The Preston lad often excels on the steep stuff, but can he land another huge win today?

Hugh Carthy and his EF Education-Nippo teammates – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage 14 – live updates – GETTY IMAGES

The breakaway, which has some big names in it, including George Bennett and Bauke Mollema, leads by a shade over eight minutes, with two categorized climbs to follow, so that may evaporate before the pointy end – very sharp – conclusion to the stage.

12:19 pm

85km to go

It is interesting to note that Astana-Premier Tech has a pair of riders on the front of the peloton instead of allowing Ineos Grenadiers to set the pace. They will be riding on behalf of Alsekandr Vlasov, who started the day second on the general classification and may be thinking of having a crack today – either to close the gap on maglia rosa Egan Bernal or to widen the gap on third-placed Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and the British pairing of Hugh Carthy and Simon Yates (BikeExchange).

Astana-Premier Tech – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage 14 – live updates – GETTY IMAGES

Those with good memories will recall the young Russian finished second to Carthy on the Angliru stage at last year’s Vuelta an España, and so is no slouch on steep slopes such as the Zoncolan.

12:09 pm

Another man down

As mentioned, David Dekker, Dylan Groenewegen, and last year’s runner-up Jai Hindley were non-starters today. Still, they forgot to say that Nicolas Edit abandoned a short while ago after the Cofidis rider crashed. The Frenchman fell heavily and was spotted holding his collarbone, but his team has not announced the severity of his injuries.

12:00 pm

As it stands

The reduced peloton of 161 riders passed through KM0 at 10.43 am (BST). Following a bit of a fight, an 11-man group comprising Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma), Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), Bauke Mollema (​Trek-Segafredo), Jacopo Mosca (​Trek-Segafredo), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Andrii Ponomar (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Rémy Rochas (Cofidis) and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) went off up the road. With 105 kilometers of today’s stage remaining, they have a 7min 55sec lead over the peloton.

Mollema took a maximum of three points atop the category four Castello di Caneva to add three points to his mountain classification account, which moves the Dutchman ahead of Belgian national champion Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) into third overall. But with two big climbs to follow, there could be plenty more movement in that particular competition. The non-starters today, by the way, were David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma), Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), and Jai Hindley (DSM).

08:20 am

Today’s menu . . .

As is often the case at the Giro d’Italia, today’s stage is one of two halves as it winds its way towards the best, Monte Zoncolan. However, that beast may be a little less scary than usual today as the riders will go up the more accessible side. That easy side tops out at a gradient of 27%, so I’m almost sure it will not feel easy later this afternoon when the riders are crawling up this wall-like climb.

As usual, there are two intermediate sprints where points are up for grabs in the race for the maglia calamine in Medano. At the same time, the second one is just under 20km from the line in Arta Terme. Bonus seconds are up for grabs. There are three climbs of note; the category four Castello di Caneva is just 3.4km long with an average gradient of 4.4% that summits 77.9 kilometers into the stage, while just under 70km later, a stricter test awaits.

The category two Forcella Monte Rest is 10.5km at 6.1%, which will soften the riders up ahead of the final climb of the day, Monte Zoncolan. Although not that high (1,728 meters above sea level), and on paper does not especially look too tricky – I am basing this wildly inaccurate assumption purely on its numbers – this 14.1km long climb with an average gradient of 8.5% will, one suspects, provide the canvas on which today’s general classification battle will be sketched out.

Stage 15 profile

The roadbook says: “This mountain stage is divided into two parts: it starts flat and continues on a slight incline for 130km, all the way to Monte Rest. The route then weaves through a brace of hairpins on the narrow roadway, both on the way up and down. After returning to broader roads in Prius, the route passes Tolmezzo and Arta Terme, reaching the foot of the closing climb.

Monte Rest

“The first 11km ascend in hairpins, on wide roads, with gradients around 7-8%, whereas the last 3km are very demanding.”

Monte Zoncolan

And in conclusion, here’s the finale: “The last 3km rise sharply on the narrow road with only a few bends, and gradients often exceeding 20% (averaging 13%). The pitch over the final kilometer largely hovers around the 18% mark, with gradients exceeding 25% and topping out at 27% along with the hairpins and in the final stretch. The last 50 meters are on a tarmac road and a slight incline.”

Monte Zoncolan finale

It will surprise few that race leader Egan Bernal is the favorite o win today’s stage. However, I have a sneaking suspicion it could be a day for Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), who tends to favor these climbs that go high into double digits. Having won a stage on the Angliru at last year’s Vuelta an España, adding a Monte Zoncolan stage to his palmarès would propel the Briton into climbing royalty. Indeed, Gilberto Simoni, the two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia, remains the only rider to have won stages that finish on the Angliru and atop Monte Zoncolan.

07:50 am

Catch up: Highlights from yesterday’s stage

07:45 am

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 14 at the Giro d’Italia, the 205-kilometer run from Cittadella to Monte Zoncolan. The day after Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) must have been as if he had finally entered some heavenly oasis, having won the first Giro d’Italia stage of his career on his eighth outing at his national race, the Italian and his fellow sprinters will, today, edge their way gingerly towards what will feel like purgatory for them. That’s right, folks, today the race returns to the mountains and one of the most feared climbs in world cycling, Monte Zoncolan, but before we look at what is on today’s menu, let’s remind ourselves about the standings in the top spots in the four jersey classifications.

Giacomo Nizzolo – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage 14 – live updates – EPA

Given the nature of yesterday’s stage – a pan-flat course from Ravenna to Verona – there was tiny movement in the general classification. Indeed, no rider within 30 minutes moved up or down the general category, so Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), the 24-year-old Colombian, retained his lead and will, for the fifth day today, wear the maglia rosa, or the pink jersey.

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished third on Friday, which ensured he kept hold of the maglia calamine, the cyclamen jersey, as a leader in the points classification. However, Nizzolo closed the gap on him and now trails the three-time world champion by nine points.

With no points available in the mountains classification yesterday, Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën), who took control of the maglia Azzurra almost a week ago, will again wear the blue jersey, the overall leader in the mountains.

The top three in the youth classification mirror that of the overall. So Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) will wear the maglia Bianca, or the white jersey, on behalf of the maglia rosa Bernal.