Tightly coiled GC pack leaves Giro d’Italia poised for final week thriller

Four riders within 1:01 of pink jersey Richard Carapaz sets the scene for a scintillating third week through the high mountains.

Photo: Getty Images

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Stage 15’s loss will be the third week’s gain at this Giro d’Italia.

The GC contenders hit pause on stage 15 of the Giro on Sunday to leave the race perfectly poised ahead of an attritional final week in the high peaks.

After a short, sharp stunner through the streets of Torino on Saturday, Ineos Grenadiers kept a close lid on the tired legs of the classification contenders through what was the Giro’s first multi-mountain test Sunday.

‘There were a lot of tired bodies out there to be honest,” said second on GC Jai Hindley. “I was getting the vibe everyone just wanted to get home and get to the rest day.”

Also read: Giro d’Italia GC group hits pause on stage 15

Pink jersey-clad Richard Carapaz and the top GC contenders crossed the line together atop the Cogne summit to leave five riders sitting within 1:01 heading into a final week that will test resilience just as much as climbing legs.

Here’s how the classification looks ahead of the third week:

  1. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers): 63:06:57
  2. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe): +0:07
  3. João Almeida (UAE Emirates): +o:30
  4. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious): +0:59
  5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert): +1:01

After Monday’s rest day, the Giro heads toward a final week that won’t spare any wheel-suckers.

Four mountain stages in five days – including a trip to the thin air of the Dolomite passes of the Pordoi and Fedia on stage 20 – will see gaps expand or diminish within the space of one ascent as bodies break down.

Carapaz’s slim lead over Hindley and João Almeida could crumble in the space of one missed bottle or botched bike swap.

Riders like Hindley or Almeida might be content to defend for a podium slot, but an attacking ace like Mikel Landa won’t go settling for a top-5 after hitting the Giro podium in 2015.

Even aging warhorse Vincenzo Nibali remains in range at 2:58 to leave the door open for the type of final-week onslaught that won him the pink jersey in 2016.

Ineos Grenadiers reasserted its spot at the top of the grand tour pecking order with its peloton lockdown Sunday.

“The scenario of this stage was very good for us,” Carapaz said. “The initial phase was very difficult, but after that we had it under control.”

Ineos’ vice-grip could easily be broken as teams like Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain-Victorious pack the numbers at the top of the fight for pink to spring surprises next week.

Also read: Bora-Hansgrohe blows Giro apart in stage 14 stunner

“I guess it was pretty boring but grand tour racing is all about the long game,” Hindley said Sunday. “I think everyone just wanted to call it a day.”

The “long game” will start getting shorter and the stages will start getting spicier after a GC snoozer Sunday.

Don’t adjust your sets. The Giro’s third week will be a must-watch.

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