A brutal day in the Dolomites on the road to Laghi di Cancano saw the general classification of the Giro d’Italia upended over the Passo dello Stelvio on stage 18.
After 15 days in the maglia rosa, Deceuninck-QuickStep neo-pro João Almeida finally ceded the race lead to Team Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman, with an entirely new situation at the top of the rankings as we head into the final three stages.
The Portuguese 22-year-old lost contact with the Sunweb-driven lead group 48 kilometres from the end of the stage and nine from the top of the Stelvio.
He had teammate Fausto Masnada for company but had no answer to the power of Sunweb and Ineos, crossing the finish line at the top of Torri di Fraele 4:51 down on stage winner Jai Hindley (Sunweb), falling to fifth overall, 2:16 down.
Hindley rode himself into overall contention along with the man he beat to the line, Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers). The pair were the cream of the crop after being towed by Ineos’ Rohan Dennis to the top of the Stelvio, down the freezing descent and through the valley.
They finished first and second on the stage and now lie second and third on GC, with Hindley just 12 seconds down and Geoghegan Hart 15 seconds back. Kelderman holds that slender lead, benefitting from gaining 2:33 on Almeida to jump up into first overall with just a sprint stage, the triple-Sestriere day, and the Milan time trial between him and overall victory.
A resurgent Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) took third place, 46 seconds behind the two leaders, with the Spaniard and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) working well as the third group on the road before overhauling Kelderman on the final climb.
The Dane finished fourth at 1:25 and moves up six places into sixth overall, 3:59 down. Bilbao, meanwhile, is in striking distance of the podium – or even overall victory depending on the events of stage 20 – at 1:19 down on Kelderman.
Further back, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) left co-team leader Rafał Majka behind on the final climb to finish sixth at 4:04. The Austrian moves up two spots to seventh overall, 5:40 down, while Majka, who lost almost seven minutes, fell five spots to 10th overall.
Other losers on the stage included Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling), the two Italians losing contact on the Stelvio, eventually losing 4:51 and 8:17 at the line. They are now in eighth and 12th overall – Pozzovivo the last man on the general classification within 20 minutes of the lead.
Finally, Fausto Masnada and Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain McLaren) occupy ninth and 11th after riding to the final spots in the top 10 of stage 18.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb||77:46:56|
|2||Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb||0:00:12|
|3||Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:15|
|4||Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||0:01:19|
|5||Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep||0:02:16|
|6||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||0:03:59|
|7||Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:05:40|
|8||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:05:47|
|9||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:06:46|
|10||Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:07:28|
|11||Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain McLaren||0:07:43|
|12||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling||0:09:34|