Simon Yates wins Stage 14 thriller at Giro d’Italia as Richard Carapaz takes pink and Jai Hindley hovers
Simon Yates provided a telling reminder of his talents with a sensational victory at the Giro d’Italia – a race that has provided some of his greatest and worst memories. Yates, who is still haunted by his collapse at the 2018 Giro, charged clear of Richard Carapaz, Jai Hindley and Vincenzo Nibali on the final climb before holding on for another victory at the Italian Grand Tour.
Stage 14 highlights: Yates wins classic, Carapaz in pink as GC battle detonates
Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia promised much but managed to deliver even more.
Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), who last Sunday seemed a spent force, rode a race of renewal to claim his second stage of this edition. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) crossed the line in Turin a few seconds back and seized the maglia rosa from the shoulders of a formidable, but finally beaten, Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo).
On paper, the shortest stage and one of the spikiest, always looked difficult to defend. So instead the very best teams in this year’s Giro opted to go on the attack.
Rather than Ineos Grenadiers, as we might have expected, it was Bora-hansgrohe whose riders ripped things up. And they did so almost from the very start of the stage.
The competition for the break had been red hot from the moment the flag fell. On the narrow, undulating roads around Turin small groups formed and rose, before splintering and falling back just as quickly. No sooner did it seem that the race had cooled than it was ignited once more. The first hour of racing covered more than 45km.
More than 50km of the stage had elapsed before what looked to be the break of the day had formed. King of the Mountains, Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) led the race over the first categorised climb and took a gang of four with him. On the descent of Il Pilonetto the group swelled to eight, before four more made the jump across on the last stretch of (relatively) level road the riders would see all day.
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The peloton appeared happy enough with the breakaway’s composition, until all of a sudden, everything changed. Despite one of their riders being up the road, Bora put their collective foot to the floor. The German team put four riders on the front of the bunch, and rode at a ferocious pace.
Those who could hang on, did. Most couldn’t. Onto the Turin finishing circuit and the break’s lead, which had been measurable in minutes, was decimated. Several big names were caught out completely.
Those names did not include that of Carapaz, who was just about wise to Bora’s tricks, though the Ineos man was left isolated from his team-mates, though it was enough to see off Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Guilllaume Martin (Cofidis). Though the maglia rosa and maglia blanca, Juan Pedro Lopez and Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), looked to be among the victims of Bora’s brutality, the pair did enough to stay in touch and make it back to the front of the race.
Having made it to the front of the race, Bora-hansgrohe did not take their foot off the gas for a moment. An elite group of 12, made up of superstar stage hunters, super domestiques and GC contenders, followed in their wake, Wilco Kelderman led for longer than seemed possible, over the Superga climb for the first time and even up the eye-wateringly steep slopes of the Colle della Maddalena.
It was not until the second ascent of the Superga that the Dutchman bowed out and the race began its final furious phase.
‘Big attack!’ – Carapaz launches with 28km to go
On the lower slopes of the Superga, Carapaz tried an attack for the first time, but gave it 80% at most, and did little damage. Further up he went again, was able to ride up, away and over the top, alone.
Regardless of whether they could not or would not follow the Ecuadorian, the remainder of the bunch chose not to panic. As far as possible they remained as one, worked together, with those who still had team-mates setting them to work. Carapaz was able to grow his lead to 20 seconds but no more. Juan Pedro Lopez was the only significant casualty.
Onto the Colle della Maddalena for the second time, and it was clear that Carapaz would not win alone. With Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) locked to his wheel and Simon Yates following in their wake, the Shark, Lo Squalo, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazakstan), went hunting.
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Roared on by tifosi, by the top of the climb there were four riders left in the race. Two of them had GC ambitions, while the others had eyes only for the stage.
The Briton stayed back. He had the legs and the smarts to know he did not need to ride to win, but could hang on to the coattails of Carapaz and Hindley.
On the final, uncategorised climb he launched an unmatchable attack. It was enough to give him a gap, while the descent was too technical for even Nibali to catch him.
Two stage wins was not what he had come to Italy for. Asked afterwards if it made up for the disappointment of Blockhaus, and his GC collapse, Yates said: “I came here to win the race. It’s another stage, but I have five already.”
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Hindley, up into second place overall and with a few bonus seconds snatched on the line gaining him ground on Carapaz, was happier with his and his team’s performance:
“We came in with a bold plan to light it up early and isolate the other GC guys. The team was ridiculous today. I’m disappointed not to take the pink jersey, but the guys showed that we’re not here to play around.”
Carapaz leads the general classification by seven seconds from Hindley, the 2020 runner-up.
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