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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 14: Lorenzo Fortunato conquers the Zoncolan as Egan Bernal gains more time

Fortunato survives from early break as Bernal attacks in the final 300 meters to consolidate grip on the pink jersey.

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Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) conquered Monte Zoncolan at the Giro d’Italia on Saturday.

The young Italian was the strongest from the day’s early break, countering a move from Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) at the base of the summit finish before riding away from his rival on the steepest slopes of the savage climb. Alessandro Covi (UAE Emirates) finished third.

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) launched his third massive attack of the Giro, riding away from Simon Yates (BikeExchange) with a blistering move that saw him finish fourth on the stage, gaining bucketloads of time on his nearest rivals.

Bernal now has a 1:33 lead on GC, with Yates next in the classification.

Aleksandr Vlasov had started the day second overall but was dropped when the action heated up in the final, leaving Astana-Premier Tech unrewarded after the squad had controlled the entire stage.

Fortunato’s win was the first for Eolo Kometa, the team of Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “The team is the best. In the first attacks my teammate was with me and we got into the breakaway. We took it easy all day but at the start of the Zoncolan I attacked, and stayed behind Tratnik and my legs were very good. I’m very very happy.”

Tratnik had been first to punch out of the breakaway on the lower slopes of the Zoncolan, with Fortunato bridging across soon after.

After the pair rode together through much of the climb, Fortunato hit out solo in the final two kilometers, winching his way ahead of Tratnik, grinding out a 50-meter gap that the Slovenian stalwart could never quite pull back. Fortunato took the win by 26-seconds, the first of his pro career.

Behind them, Yates hit out of the GC group in the final kilometer on a fierce 20 percent ramp, with only Bernal able to hold his wheel. Yates led the pair through the next minutes only for Bernal to pounce in the final 300 meters, rocketing away from the Brit to finish fourth and further extend his advantage in the GC.

“I just tried to be calm, because I think I’m in a good position in the GC so I don’t need to attack in every mountain stage,” Bernal said. “I need to be calm, patient. I followed Yates and did the acceleration in the final. I think I did a good race.

“I have a good gap on GC but I need to be focussed. Everything can happen in the Giro. It looks like 1:30 is enough time but you never know, so I need to be calm.”

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was dangling at the back of the GC group through the final kilometers of the Zoncolan, shepherded by teammate João Almeida. The young Belgian was dropped in the final kilometers, losing several minutes. He now sits eighth overall, nearly four minutes back.

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) also had another bad day in a Giro that never got rolling. “The shark” was dropped out of the GC group with around 6km to go.


Astana-Premier Tech takes control with no reward

The peloton didn’t take the start of the stage easy to save their legs for what was to come.

There was a fierce fight to get in the early break before a strong group of 11 went away, which included Fortunato, Tratnik, George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).

The bunch pulled out over eight minutes of a gap as Astana-PremierTech did all the pulling all the way through to and over the Cat.2 Forcella Monte Rest climb, which topped out at 55km to go.

Astana-PremierTech piled on the pressure with its whole team through the descent, splitting the bunch into bits with only Pello Bilbao, Bernal and one Ineos teammate making the front split of Astana riders. Most of the remaining GC riders were caught in the second group behind the break, with Evenepeol and a number of his teammates in the third bunch.

There was a short desperate chase from the teams who missed out before the race came back together, with Astana-Premier Tech continuing to tow the peloton through toward the summit finish as the break continued to enjoy its comfortable advantage.

All the effort went unrewarded, as Vlasov was unable to follow Yates and Bernal’s attack he finished over two minutes back on Bernal, slipping to fourth on GC.

What’s to come

Bernal and Co. should be able to enjoy an easier day in the saddle Sunday, a hilly sprint stage around Gorizia.

Monday will be an altogether different prospect however. Stage 16 is the “Queen Stage” of the race, a 212km haul through the Dolomites that repeatedly climbs over 2,000 meters before a descent to the line in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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