Richard Carapaz may have seized the maglia rosa on Stage 14 at the Giro d’Italia but Ineos Grenadiers will be “asking questions of themselves” after he was isolated, according to Dan Lloyd on The Breakaway, while Bradley Wiggins suggested the Ecuadorian rode with an “element of fear”.
Ineos are renowned for protecting their GC leader at Grand Tours with their fabled train making it near-impossible for any rivals to attack off the front.
So it was a surprise when an early move from Bora-hansgrohe shredded the peloton, including the majority of the Ineos team, with only Pavel Sivakov able to offer any semblance of support to Carapaz.
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Sivakov soon fell too as Bora’s brutal pace on the front continued through Wilco Kelderman, with a pack of GC hopefuls scattered down the road.
Carapaz was persistent and, despite the lack of support, hung in the Bora slipstream before launching a solo attack with 28km remaining once Kelderman had finally peeled off.
It looked as though he would soar unopposed into pink as overnight leader Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) wilted behind, but while he impressed going uphill, his descending appeared too cautious to build a lasting gap.
And Wiggins, Eurosport’s roving reporter on the motorbike at the Giro, suggested Carapaz looked “nervous” despite his 25-second advantage.
‘He looks nervous’ – Wiggins on Carapaz lone attack
“He doesn’t look as comfortable and as confident as when he first attacked,” said Wiggins as he looked back at Carapaz with 19km to go.
“He’s making his ground up when he’s on the climb, he’s clearly the strongest rider. But there’s an element of fear amongst him, I’m not too sure what’s going on.
“It may be a sign that his legs [are suffering] because once you go into the red, with this temperature, and on this type of terrain, it doesn’t take much before you tip it over the edge.”
With Carapaz unable to build a decisive lead, Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) managed to bridge over, with Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) soon making it party for four.
Yates charged off the front on the final climb inside the final 5km as he soloed clear to a thrilling victory – even if he later admitted it did not make up for the disappointment of his non-existent GC challenge – while Hindley edged out Carapaz in the sprint behind.
Carapaz has the maglia rosa and a seven-second lead over Hindley, with Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) 30 seconds back in third, but Lloyd claimed there would still be concern in the Ineos camp after a testing day.
“Richard Carapaz had no team-mates around today,” said Lloyd.
“It’s a different scenario tomorrow and the last week where we’ve got bigger mountains, it’s probably slightly easier for them to control it. But I think they’ll be asking questions of themselves about why they had nobody around Richard Carapaz.
“If he’d had any kind of problem and got dropped through a crash, or whatever it might have been, he would have had no help trying to get back on at all.
“And that for a team with the budget of Ineos and the names that they’ve got here at this race was a big surprise for me.”
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Lloyd also heaped praise on Bora after they detonated the GC battle.
Prior to Stage 14, the top riders were separated by 1’23”. By the time the race had reached Turin, the gap was 9’06” – and that gap might yet grow with the rider in 10th place, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), possibly finding himself in trouble after a controversial bike change.
“I did not expect this. They [Bora] must have had a lot of local knowledge to start when they did, so far out from the finish,” continued Lloyd.
“And it worked. There was a point where there were four Bora-hansgrohe riders and only three riders that had managed to hold on with them.
“It was an incredible team performance.”
The Giro d’Italia returns on Sunday with a four-star stage in the mountains as the peloton travel from Rivarolo Canavese to Cogne.
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