Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Simon Yates has taken a stunning third stage win to further his overall lead at the Giro d’Italia today.
The solo victory, following a bold attack with 17km remaining, makes the 25-year-old the first rider in 15years to claim three stages in the Maglia Rosa after Gilberto Simoni’s efforts in 2003.
As the race enters its final rest day, Yates leads overall by two-minutes 11seconds to Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and two-minutes 28seconds from Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).
Despite a brutal finish to yesterday’s stage, there was no respite today and the bunch was uneasy from the flag.
No matter the composition of a move, someone was unhappy and forced the chase. A group of nine swelled to over 20, which included Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Sam Bewley, but they broke down into small groups on the second climb of the day as EF Education First – Drapac chased from behind to launch Michael Woods.
Over the top of the second climb, the gaps started to extend. Dario Quintana (Team Movistar) led with AG2R La Mondiale duo Nico Denz and Mikael Cherel, with Woods in a chase group of three at two minutes and the peloton, regrouped and led once again by Mitchelton-SCOTT, at two-minutes 30seconds.
Mitchelton-SCOTT still had seven riders in the reduced bunch racing into the final 50km and they working well on the front they soon swept up the Woods trio.
Team Sunweb came to the front and started to push the pace. Their efforts further reduced the bunch to 20riders and the advantage to two surviving breakaway riders shrunk to 40seconds with 30km remaining.
Jack Haig and Mikel Nieve were the final remaining teammates with Yates and they chased down the early attacks of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Racing with confidence and tactics, Yates saw a gap open up in the lead group on the final classified climb and used the opportunity to hurt his rivals. He launched an attack which caused the group to split further but his main rivals responded, neutralising his attempt.
Unwilling to give up, Yates bravely tried another attack shortly after and nobody was able to respond. Yates quickly opened up a solo lead and extended the gap further on the final descent. By the time he reached the finish line, the Briton had increased his advantage to 41seconds over his rivals and took a 10second bonus on the line to gain more crucial Dumoulin.
Simon Yates – Stage 15 winner:
“It was a bit of instinct. When we came off the descent I saw there was a little gap to a few guys so I asked Jack (Haig) to really push the pace. Then George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) attacked so it was basically really hard from the very bottom, but I still felt good so I chose my moment to go.
“They responded the first time so I gave it everything the second time to get away and finally managed to get away.
“I am super happy, I am a bit emotional after today, I really gave it everything.
“Yesterday it was extremely difficult and today was the same. I knew everybody would be tired today. I was also really tired but, at the same time, I was very motivated to take as much time as I could on Tom [Dumoulin] before the time trial.
“I have a good gap, but he (Dumoulin) could take two minutes out of me in the time trial in one stage. I have been fighting since Israel to have a good gap, I have a good gap but it could vanish in 35kilometres so we will see.”
“I came to the Giro to win the race but I didn’t expect to win three stages. It’s a magnificent achievement. I’m lost for words. I couldn’t imagine this. But I don’t know if the advantage I have now is enough to win the Giro.”
Giro d’Italia – Stage 15 results:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT)
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) +0:41
3. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +0:41
Giro d’Italia – General Classification after stage 15:
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 65:57:37
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) 2:11
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) 0:02:28