Peter Sagan claimed only his second Giro d'Italia stage win as he sprinted to victory in Foligno on Monday.

Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe team worked superbly throughout a predominantly flat stage 10 from L'Aquila to Foligno to set Sagan up to triumph.

A seven-time winner of the points classification on the Tour de France, Sagan made sure their efforts did not go to waste.

He got the better of Fernando Gaviria in a bunch sprint, having won his first Giro stage in an individual effort last year.

Sagan now has 18 Grand Tour stage wins to his name, putting him in a three-way tie with Rudi Altig and Nino Defilippis for 21st on the all-time list among those with at least one triumph at each event.

It looked as if Gaviria may be in prime position to claim the stage as UAE Team Emirates led out the sprint with 500 metres to go.

But it was Sagan who had more left in his legs at the finish and said afterwards: "I have to say thanks to all my team-mates, they did an impressive job. I'm very happy to win a stage like this, it was a great job from all the team."

Egan Bernal stays in the maglia rosa going into the first rest day of this year's Giro, which will resume on Wednesday with a 162km ride from Perugia to Montalcino back on gravel roads.
 

STAGE RESULT  

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 3:10:56
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) same time
3. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) "
4. Stefano Oldani (Lotto Soudal) "
5. Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 38:30:17
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.14
3. Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) +0.22

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 108
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 91
3. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 91

King of the Mountains
 
1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 51
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 48
3. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 44

Egan Bernal produced a storming finish to win stage nine of the Giro d'Italia – a result good enough to see the Colombian take over as the new race leader.

Bernal claimed a long-overdue maiden Grand Tour stage triumph following a gruelling 157-kilometre ride from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice that concluded with an uphill finish on a gravel track.

Geoffrey Bouchard and Koen Bouwman were involved in a breakaway group but were unable to remain clear, the duo overtaken within 500 metres of the line.

A determined Bernal pushed hard to claim potentially crucial time in the battle for the maglia rosa, finishing seven seconds clear of Giulio Ciccone and Alexandr Vlasov, who were second and third respectively.

The 2019 Tour de France winner now has a 15-second cushion over nearest rival Remco Evenepoel in the overall standings.

"I cannot believe what just happened, I just won my first stage in a Grand Tour," Bernal said in his post-race interview.

"I made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am now. I was thinking I would do well today but I was not sure whether I could have won the stage.

"My team-mates had a lot of confidence in me, they told me I could do it: this victory is for them, they really believe in me."

Attila Valter had held the pink jersey heading into the stage, yet he found the going tough on the final climb and finished almost a minute behind the stage winner.

Meanwhile, Matej Mohoric was taken to hospital following a dramatic crash during proceedings. Team Bahrain Victorious confirmed the Slovenian would undergo tests and was to be kept under observation, as per the UCI's concussion protocol.

Mohoric somersaulted over his handlebars after coming off during a descent, with his bike splitting apart after making contact with a crash barrier.


STAGE RESULT  

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:08:23
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) +07secs
3. Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) "
4. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +10s
5. Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 35:19:22
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.15
3. Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) +0.21

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 69

King of the Mountains
 
1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 51
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 48
3. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 44

Victor Lafay landed his first grand tour major success by winning stage eight in style for Cofidis at the Giro d'Italia.

The 25-year-old French rider made a solo dart to the finish line with just under three kilometres remaining, crossing 36 seconds ahead of Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa), who edged out Nikias Arndt (Team DSM).

Saturday's ride from Foggia to Guardia Sanframondi saw no major disruption in the general classification picture, with Attila Valter remaining in the pink jersey, still 11 seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel.

The overall leaders finished in the peloton, four minutes and 48 seconds behind Lafay, meaning the Giro remains nicely poised heading into Sunday's stage, which takes the riders from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice.

Notably, however, Caleb Ewan abandoned the race, with the Australian sprinter having achieved his targets for the Giro, winning two stages in the first week. He hopes to also win stages at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana and had not been expected to complete the Giro, with his team, Lotto Soudal, reporting Ewan quit due to "pain in his knee".

Lafay said of his first major win as a professional: "It's incredible. It was a very tough day.

"To take the breakaway was very difficult, but when it's gone the peloton left us seven minutes, so it was good, we could recover a little.

"The finish was hard, but it's about 10 minutes' effort and that's where I'm the best so I was focused all the day for the support and I'm really happy I did that."

Speaking on Eurosport, Lafay said he felt Portuguese rider Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) was the big threat from the riders who had pulled clear of the peloton.

"I knew they were not climbing well but Oliveira I think was the best one, so I kept an eye on him, but I was confident with my legs and I attacked with 3k to go, and I don't believe it now that I just won."

STAGE RESULT  

1. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) 4:06:47
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa) +36 secs
3. Nikias Arndt (Team DSM) +37s
4. Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) +41s
5. Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) +44s

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 31:10:53
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.16

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 69

King of the Mountains

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 26
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 18
3. Kobe Goossens (Lotto Soudal) 18

Caleb Ewan sprinted to his second victory of this year's Giro d'Italia and moved into the points jersey after his stage seven triumph.

The Lotto Soudal rider beat Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) in a sprint finish at the end of a 181km stage from Notaresco to Termoli.

Australian Ewan, who also triumphed on stage five, now has five career stage wins at the Giro and 11 victories to his name across the three grand tours.

Towards the end of a quiet stage, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) - who ultimately finished sixth - made the first move but was unable to make it stick, with Ewan winning comfortably.

Attila Valter of Groupama-FDJ remains in the leader's pink jersey after finishing safely in the peloton. He is 11 seconds clear of Remco Evenepoel.

"It was a question of being smart and a lot of teamwork," stage winner Ewan said as he described the finish over some tight and twisty roads.

"There were a few points in the last 10km where we needed to be in the front so we didn't have to brake and we got a really good ride in. They did a really good job.

"My legs were burning at the end, it was basically sprinting for the last 450 metres with a slight uphill so it was a tough one.

"When Gavaria goes you know he has the strength and the speed to hold it. I had a bit of a run and really accelerated."
 

STAGE RESULT  

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 4:42:12
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) same time
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) "
4. Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) "
5. Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarche - Wanty - Gobert Materiaux) "

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 26:59:18
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.16

Points Classification         

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 106
2. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76

King of the Mountains

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 26
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 18
3. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) 16

Gino Mader climbed to the first professional victory of his career on stage six of the Giro d'Italia and Attila Valter took over as the race leader on Thursday.

Mader gave Bahrain Victorious a much-needed lift a day after their team leader Mikel Landa crashed out of the race.

The 24-year-old Swiss was among six riders who made a breakaway on the 160-kilometre route from Grotte di Frasassi on a miserable rainy day.

That group was increased to eight, but there was one man who went on his own up the 15km final ascent to the finish in Ascoli and it was Mader who went away to take the win.

Mader attacked with 3.3km to go in grim weather conditions and there was no catching him as he finished 12 seconds ahead of Egan Bernal, also taking over as the leader of king of the mountains.

His victory ensured for the first time in Giro history riders from different countries have won the opening six stages of the race.

Groupama-FDJ rider Valter took the maglia rosa from Alessandro De Marchi, becoming the first Hungarian to have that honour.

Valter leads Remco Evenepoel by 11 seconds, while 2019 Tour de France champion Bernal is only 16 seconds adrift of the new leader in third place.

Bernal showed no sign of the back problem that has troubled him, making a late attack to drop some of his general classification rivals after receiving great backing from his INEOS Grenadiers team-mates a day after Pavel Sivakov was forced to abandon the race.

 

STAGE RESULT  

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 4:17:52
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.12
3. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0.12
4. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) +0.12
5. Giulio Ciccone (Trek–Segafredo) +0.14

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 22:17:06
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck–Quick-Step +0.11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.16

Points Classification        

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 72
2. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 68
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 58

King of the Mountains

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 26
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 18
3. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo–Kometa) 18

Pavel Sivakov has abandoned the Giro d'Italia after suffering a shoulder injury when he crashed late in a chaotic stage five.

Sivakov was selected as a joint leader by Ineos Grenadiers but the Russian rider's race ended in the first week.

The 23-year-old went down heavily after seemingly touching wheels with a team-mate in the final 15 kilometres of the 177-kilometre route from Modena to Cattolica on Wednesday.

Sivakov was able to pick himself up and finish the stage, but his general classifications were shattered by the unfortunate incident.

Ineos later confirmed Sivakov's participation in the Giro is over following a stage that was won by Caleb Ewan in a sprint finish.

The team tweeted: "Unfortunately, @PavelSivakov has been forced to withdraw from the Giro d'Italia after injuring his shoulder in a crash on today's stage. All the best for a speedy recovery Pavel!"

Mikel Landa is also out of the race after he suffered a heavy crash and was taken to hospital.

Joe Dombrowski, leader of the king of the mountains, was another rider to crash on his birthday a day after the American gave himself an early present by winning stage four.

Caleb Ewan sprinted to victory in a chaotic finish to stage fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia which saw Mikel Landa abandon the race and Pavel Sivakov also suffer a heavy crash.

Lotto Soudal rider Ewan had the pace to burst away from heavy traffic and claim the fourth Giro stage win of his career ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis).

The Australian's win in Cattolica on Wednesday was overshadowed by accidents in the closing stages of the 177-kilometre route from Modena.

Landa and Sivakov went down heavily in separate incidents, with the Spaniard taken to hospital after being unable to get back on his feet.

Bahrain Victorious rider Landa looked in great pain as he was treated on the roadside before an ambulance arrived.

Fellow general classification contender Sivakov crashed in the final 15km and although he was able to get back on his bike, it remains to be seen if the Russian will be able to continue.

Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) appeared to touch wheels with a team-mate as his hopes of winning the Giro evaporated in dramatic fashion.

Joe Dombrowski, leader of the king of the mountains, also crashed on his birthday a day after the American gave himself an early present by winning stage four. 

Dombrowski had started the day second in the GC standings and his crash left Alessandro De Marchi with a 42-second advantage in the Maglia Rosa.

Francois Bidard was another rider who came off in a painful day for several riders, but a glorious one for Ewan after the peloton had reeled in Alexis Gougeard, Davide Gabburo and Simon Pellaud.

Ewan said: "The goal to start with was one [stage win], so I've done that, and I think you know me, I'm pretty hungry to win as much as I can, so maybe this is good confidence for the team and myself going forward and, you know, in the next few sprint stages it'll show."

 

STAGE RESULT  

1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 4:07:01
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) same time
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) same time
4. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
5. Fernando Gaviria Rendon (UAE Team Emirates) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) 17:57:45
2. Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) +00:42
3. Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) +00:48

Points Classification        

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 72
2. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 68
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 59

King of the Mountains

1. Joe Dombrowski (UAE-Team Emirates) 18
2. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) 16
3. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) 13

Alessandro De Marchi emerged from stage four of the Giro d’Italia with the pink jersey after finishing second to Joe Dombrowski, with Tuesday's action coming in brutal conditions.

American Dombrowski (UAE-Team Emirates) caught the breakaway leaders and attacked with 4km remaining on the last climb of the day in the stage from Piacenza to Sestola, claiming his first victory at a grand tour.

As riders battled cold, wet and windy conditions, De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) came in 13 seconds behind to ensure it was he who claimed the maglia rosa, now leading the overall standings by 22 seconds over Dombrowski.

"I started thinking about taking the maglia rosa two days ago but I didn't tell anybody," said the veteran De Marchi.

"It was about finding the right move. I knew it would be tricky at the start. A bit of luck helped and here we are. I'm lost for words.

"The maglia rosa is the childhood dream of every cyclist, especially for an Italian.

"When I realised that there was opportunity [with the breakaway] I really started to dream and I was scared to have lost the opportunity in the middle of the race when the three guys went clear, but never give up."

INEOS Grenadiers rider Filippo Ganna relinquished the leader's jersey after coming in more than 21 minutes adrift.

Some of the race favourites also did battle back in the peloton with a group including Giulio Ciccone, Mikel Landa, Egan Bernal, Hugh Carthy and Aleksandr Vlasov making up 11 seconds on Simon Yates, Remco Evenepoel and Dan Martin.

A bad day for Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider Joao Almeida saw him drop from fourth to 42nd overall after losing just under six minutes to all but end his hopes of contending.


STAGE RESULT  

1. Joe Dombrowski (UAE-Team Emirates) 4:58:38
2. Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0.13
3. Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) +0.27
4. Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) +0.29
5. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Victorious) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) 13:50:44
2. Joe Dombrowski (UAE-Team Emirates) +0.22
3. Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) +00:42

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 50
2. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 38
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 35

King of the Mountains

1. Joe Dombrowski (UAE-Team Emirates) 18
2. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) 16
3. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) 13

Taco van der Hoorn produced a stunning performance on his Grand Tour debut to take victory on stage three of the Giro d'Italia on Monday.

Van der Hoorn, riding for a Belgian team Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux making their debut in the Giro, demonstrated remarkable endurance to upset the odds on the 190-kilometre ride from Biella to Canale.

The Dutchman was part of the initial breakaway in the opening kilometres of a route through the hills of Piedmont that included one category three and two category four climbs.

And he somehow stayed at the front throughout to hold off the peloton and cross the finish line in disbelief at this achievement.

With the breakaway eventually thinned to Van der Hoorn and Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli–Sidermec), the former made an ambitious move to go it alone with under nine kilometres left.

It looked as if he may be caught in the final kilometre but the peloton could not close the gap in time, allowing Van der Hoorn to celebrate arms aloft after an incredible solo ride on only his second road stage in a Grand Tour.

"I can't believe it. I didn't believe actually when I had one minute with 25km to go," Van der Hoorn said. 

"Simon was pulling really hard on the climb, was actually full gas, but then afterwards I was a bit happier, my position was a bit better. He was tired and I drop him and then I heard on the radio that I still had 40 seconds or something and full gas to the line.

"I couldn't believe it, I was really thinking with 1km to go I was looking behind and I was thinking, 'oh f***, I'm going to make it, what the f***?' and the last part was incredible."

Filippo Ganna, winner of the time trial on stage one, remains in the maglia rosa.

STAGE RESULT 

1. Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) 4:21:29
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) +0.04
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
4. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) same time
5. Patrick Bevin (Israel Start-Up Nation) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 8:51:26
2. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +00:16
3. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck) +00:20

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 50
2. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 38
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 35

King of the Mountains

1. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) 16
2. Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli–Sidermec) 6
3. Lars van den Berg (Groupama-FDJ) 6

Tim Merlier won Stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia as Filippo Ganna retained his place at the top of the General Classification standings.

Belgian Merlier executed a superb sprint to edge out Giacomo Nizzolo, 'the Bridesmaid of Milan', who has the most runner-up finishes in Giro history without ever winning a stage.

Elia Viviani, Dylan Groenewegen and Peter Sagan rounded out the top five following the 179km ride from Stupinigi (Nichelino) to Novara on Sunday.

Merlier kicked with around 250 metres to go and held his nerve, while Fernando Gaviria collided with UAE Team Emirates colleague Juan Sebastian Molano as he tried to squeeze through by the barriers.

"I'm really happy, really proud of it," Merlier said after clinching a first Grand Tour stage win. "I knew there was a roundabout that was really important in the end. When I saw it I knew I was in a good position. When I came out I was thinking, 'We need to go faster, faster, faster.'

"I was in an altitude camp together with my girlfriend and then I came here. It paid off."

Ganna, who leads the GC by 13 seconds, felt it was important to strengthen his position before Monday's more arduous ride from Biella to Canale.

"I did the time bonus sprint just to take the bonification away from the others, thinking of the coming days if Egan [Bernal] or Pavel [Sivakov] are fighting for the Maglia Rosa," he said.

"I saw Remco [Evenepoel] was trying to go for it, too. But Gianni [Moscon] and myself did a good job. I enjoyed hearing the crowd of Piedmont yelling my name today. We know tomorrow is a perfect stage for Peter Sagan."

STAGE RESULT 

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 4:21:09
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) same time
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) same time
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) same time
5. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:29:53
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +00:16

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 50
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 35
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 30

King of the Mountains

1. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) 3
2. Filippo Tagliani (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) 2
3. Umberto Marengo (Bardiani CSF Faizane) 1

INEOS Grenadiers started the defence of their Giro d'Italia title in some style on Saturday, as Filippo Ganna cruised to victory in the stage one time trial.

Tao Geoghegan Hart finished top of the general classification standings in 2020, and Ganna ensured INEOS hold the maglia rosa once more after day one. 

Ganna won the same stage last year – a 15km individual time trial from Monreale to Palermo – and repeated the feat on an 8.6km course in Turin this time around.

The defending time trial world champion, who won four stages in total in the 2020 Giro, went round in a time of 8:47, beating Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) by 10 seconds.

Affini and his team-mate Tobias Foss had looked well placed after their efforts, but Ganna ultimately had far too much power as he claimed what is the third-fastest individual time trial record in Giro history.

"It was a lot of time waiting in the hot seat at the finish, but I've won the stage, I'm here, and I'm really happy," Ganna, who recorded an estimated average speed of 58.748kmph, said in a flash interview.

"Now, we think about tomorrow, and recovering, because this Giro is really hard. I have this amazing victory."

Ganna is the first rider to wear the pink jersey after stage one of successive Giros since Francisco Moser in 1984 and 1985, while only Diego Ulissi (eight) and Vincenzo Nibali (seven) have won more stages in the event of the riders taking part this year.

Deceuninck-Quick Step riders Joao Almeida, Remi Cavagna and Remco Evenepoel all claimed top 10 finishes, while only a second separated GC favourites Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) and Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers), who recorded times of 9:07 and 9:08 respectively.

STAGE RESULT 

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 8:47
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:10
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
4. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:17
5. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:41

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 8:47
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:10
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13

Points Classification

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 15
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) 12
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) 9

King of the Mountains

N/A

The Giro d'Italia returns to its usual spot on the calendar after its coronavirus-delayed scheduling last year and it promises to be another classic.

It was not until October that last season's event took place, with Ineos Grenadiers rider Tao Geoghegan Hart taking the honours for his first Grand Tour triumph.

However, the Briton's primary target in 2021 is the Tour de France so he will not be wearing the maglia rosa in Milan at the end of the month.

Here is a rundown of everything you need to know about this year's Giro.

 

THE ROUTE

It is 3,479 kilometres of hard graft from the start in Torino on May 8 to the finish line in Milan 22 days later.

That spans 21 stages, with two rest days, beginning and ending with individual time trials.

In between are some punishing days in the saddle, including seven major mountain stages and brief trips into Slovenia and Switzerland along the way.

All eyes will be on what could be a pivotal day in the mountains on stage 16, which takes in climbs up Passo Fedaia and the Passo Giau in the Dolomites.

The literal high point of the race – though perhaps not at all figuratively for the competitors – will also come on that day atop the Passo Pordoi, at 2,239m above sea level.

THE CONTENDERS

There is little to split Simon Yates and Giro debutant Egan Bernal in the bookies' odds, with stiff competition from elsewhere in the pack.

Bernal is from the rich stock of Ineos Grenadiers' stable and will have the backing of a strong team, as will Team BikeExchange's Yates.

Both have Grand Tour successes under their belts, Bernal winning the 2019 Tour, while Yates prevailed at the 2018 Vuelta a Espana.

Given that Geoghegan Hart was not giving any billing ahead of last year's race, it would be remiss to exclude supposed 'outsiders' from the reckoning.

On that front, Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Bernal's team-mate Pavel Sivakov would be two to look out for, while 2020 runner-up Jai Hindley (DSM) cannot be discounted.

 

PAST WINNERS

2020: Tao Geoghegan Hart 

2019: Richard Carapaz

2018: Chris Froome

2017: Tom Dumoulin 

2016: Vincenzo Nibali

EXPERT INSIGHT

Tour winner and five-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins shed some light on the supposed fragility of Bernal, suggesting the dynamic with Sivakov could prove problematic.

Wiggins favours Yates instead and suggested he could be joined on the podium by fellow Briton Hugh Carthy.

"The air of invincibility around Bernal has now gone after his failure at the Tour last year due to injury," Wiggins told Cyclingnews.

"There are question marks over his form and if he's through the period of being able to get through three weeks of racing without problems for his back.

"But for me this is Simon Yates' moment. He's won the Vuelta and it's been three years since he won that race and he dominated the Giro until Chris Froome did what he did.

"We could have two British riders [Yates and Carthy] on the podium and I think that it's going to be great race, I really do."

Fabian Cancellara is not one for looking back, but the Swiss great will always be able to afford himself fond reflections of a glorious Olympic swansong in Rio.

Cancellara turned 40 last month and while many struggle after retiring from professional sport, the man nicknamed 'Spartacus' has embraced new challenges in and out of the saddle.

The 'Chasing Cancellara' platform enables cycling enthusiasts - ranging from beginners to semi-professionals - to compete against and pick the brains of the legendary double Olympic champion.

Asked how life after professional cycling is treating him in an interview to mark 100 days before the Tokyo Olympics start, Cancellara told Stats Perform News: "I'm busy, I have nothing to complain about. 

"I'm enjoying meeting so many different people from different places and backgrounds. It is great the human connection you experience and it's not just about winning.

"I take great satisfaction from seeing people cross the line maybe hours after a winner, they have got a little lost or taken a different route but they have had a great time, they did not give up and that is what matters.

"It gives me goosebumps to see that. In life we need to challenge ourselves and I'm so happy to be part of getting people to do that. I love being able to give something back."

While crossing the finishing line first is no longer the objective for Cancellara, it was the only thing on his mind in his pursuit of a second Olympic gold medal five years ago.

The seven-time Monument winner had decided to quit at the end of the 2016 season and did not fancy his chances of even getting on the podium in his final Games in Brazil after returning from his last Tour de France devoid of confidence. 

Yet a phone call from his coach Luca Guercilena changed Cancellara's mindset and from then on he was a man on a mission - which was accomplished when he blew his time trial rivals away on the 54.5 kilometre course.

Cancellara recalls: "When I came back from the Tour de France I was not confident and it had a big emotional impact with it being my last Tour. I had tears in my eyes when I left the Tour.

"I was flat and lacking confidence. Luca Guercilena called me and said I must get ready, he said my data was good and all of a sudden I had changed my mind completely because I couldn't have reached these numbers if I was not there (at the level of performance required). I said I want to win gold and if I do that in August, I will finish.

"I wanted to end my career on a high note and everything came together. The data was there, I had experience, luck, will and support."

Cancellara, who had won time-trial gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver in the road race, vividly remembers the race and standing on the top step of the podium.

He added: "It's such a different race. It's huge and the Olympics can crack you. For 54.5 kilometres you are purely focused on the outcome, you know there cannot be any mistakes.

"It was going to be an hour to one hour and 15 minutes of pure effort. I remember the two laps clearly, after the first I was quite a way ahead and Luca said 'remember it's two laps'!

"I was able to gain even more time and I remember it was such an emotional moment when I knew I had won gold. You feel proud of yourself, proud for Switzerland and everybody who helped me to achieve it. 

"No words are needed for that moment you hear the anthem on the podium. That moment will never leave me. I don't look back in life, as you have to move forward.

"I know I am a two-time Olympic champion and all over the world people know about the Olympics."

Olympics great Mark Spitz believes politically active athletes are unlikely to heed demands for them not to protest during Tokyo 2020.

United States swimming superstar Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games to establish himself as an all-time legend of the pool.

He recalled the Black Power salute from American track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico Games four years earlier as a prime example of Olympians using their platform to take a powerful stance in front of the watching world.

On the podium in Mexico City, after Smith won gold in the 200 metres and Carlos took bronze, the American sprinters each stood with a black-gloved hand raised and head bowed, an immortal protest against racism in the United States.

Spitz acknowledged the determined efforts of current sporting superstars such as LeBron James and Lewis Hamilton to draw attention to similar matters of racial prejudice.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said last year that the Olympics "are not and must never be a platform to advance political or any other divisive ends".

Bach added: "Our political neutrality is undermined whenever organisations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas, as legitimate as they may be."

In an interview with Stats Perform, Spitz said of the IOC's intentions: "I know they have had some campaigns at a political level not to make it a platform for people to speak out against things that are obviously a concern to them, and they use when they stand on the podium and win a medal to voice their opinion.

"I am on the fence in how I feel about it. An example was Tommie Smith and John Carlos who held their hands up in the 1968 Olympic Games in track and field. And that still resonates to this day.

"And the issues they spoke loud and clear about are still happening here in America and worldwide. So I don't think people's rightful opportunity to speak out will be eradicated."

Speaking courtesy of Laureus, Spitz added: "I think there's a proper place and a proper time and in most people's opinion the proper place and time are when the most people in the world are listening to you.

"And certainly that provokes those sort of things to happen at the Olympics, or other events for that matter."

Formula One champion Hamilton and NBA superstar James have used their global fame as a means to call for equality in society and sport.

Spitz stressed he remained "down the middle of the line" on political protests in sport, but he added: "I think morally if they feel they need to speak out then they should. And there's a way to do that in a polite and politically correct and accurate way. I think those two gentlemen [Hamilton and James] have done so."

Spitz, now 71, no longer holds the record for the most gold medals in a single Games after fellow swimming great Michael Phelps won eight at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He predicted organisers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics - set back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic - will go the extra mile to deliver a standout entertainment experience for the worldwide audience.

International spectators have been banned from travelling to watch the Games, in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

"I suspect and hope they will go off without a hitch, but in keeping with tradition I'm not sure how they'll do an opening ceremony with all those people, or an opening ceremony show," Spitz said.

"It is a big revenue generator for the television networks to have those part of the festivities. It's a shame if it's not done as we're accustomed to seeing, but I think it will be modified and we'll be happy with what the presentation will be I hope."

The 2023 Tour de France will start in the Spanish city of Bilbao.

Organisers of the most prestigious Grand Tour race on Friday confirmed the event in two years' time will get under way in the Basque Country.

It will be the second time the Grand Depart has been staged in Spain, with the riders having set off in San Sebastian back in 1992.

The Tour will get going in Bilbao on July 1, with an opening loop stage before a second day within the borders of the Basque Country.

A big crowd will be expected for the start of the race on a day which will mark the 120th anniversary of the race.

As many as 21 Tour de France stage winners have hailed from the Basque Country, almost a third of the 66 Spanish riders to have achieved that feat.

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