Fabio Jakobsen celebrated "an amazing day" after sprinting to victory in stage two of the Tour de France.

The second of three stages to be held in Denmark proved to be a frantic one, but ultimately pre-race favourite Jakobsen took his first individual Tour de France triumph.

Preferred to Mark Cavendish and Julian Alaphilippe for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, Jakobsen repaid the team's faith with a perfectly executed sprint in Nyborg, following a 202.5-kilometre ride from Roskilde.

Saturday's route included an 18km crossing of the Great Belt Bridge, on which heavy winds caused havoc, with a huge crash halting the progress of two-time reigning champion Tadej Pogacar and world champion time trialist Filippo Ganna among others.

Fortunately for the General Classification hopefuls, the crash occurred within the final 3,000 metres, meaning no rider lost time, and the focus was able to switch to the sprinters at the front.

Wout van Aert and Danish hope Mads Pedersen looked well set coming out of the bunch, but Michael Morkov's exceptional lead-out ability proved crucial for Quick-Step, as Jakobsen was able to launch an attack in the final 150m, and ultimately crossed the line first by a matter of inches.

For the 25-year-old, who suffered horrendous injuries in a crash at the Tour de Pologne less than two years ago, it marked a remarkable success story.

"For me it was a long process, step by step," said the Dutchman. "A lot of people helped me along the way – this is to pay them back so they can see that it was not for nothing.

"I'm happy that I still enjoy riding the bike, racing, and luckily I can win. It was an amazing day.

"The team kept me in a good position when we exited from the bridge. I could stay behind Morkov, he dropped me off in the wheel of Van Aert. I was next to [Peter] Sagan, we kind of touched each other but luckily we stayed alright, then it was a final stretch where I could launch.

"It sounds easy, but for sure the legs were in pain. But this is what we train for, this is why we race. And a stage at the Tour de France, I've been dreaming about that for 15 years. It's the biggest race. As a sprinter you want to make it here and to win."

Van Aert takes yellow

While he was pipped to the post by Jakobsen, Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) leads the GC, taking a one-second advantage over overnight leader Yves Lampaert, meaning he will wear yellow on Sunday's route from Vejle to Sonderborg.

Van Aert also leads the points classification after his efforts in the sprint, ending Quick-Step's run of 34 successive Tour de France stages in which one of their riders has held the green jersey.

STAGE RESULT 

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 4:34:34
2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) same time
4. Danny van Poppel (BORA-Hansgrohe) same time
5. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 4:49:50
2. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) +0.01
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0.08

Points Classification

1. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 60
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 59
3. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 30

King of the Mountains

1. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–EasyPost) 3

Yves Lampaert claimed a shock victory on stage one of the Tour de France in rainy conditions in Copenhagen to take the first yellow jersey of this year's race.

The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider came out on top in Friday's opening 13.2-kilometre time trial in a time of 15 minutes and 17 seconds.

Lampaert dislodged Belgian countryman Wout van Aert, who finished five seconds back, while Tour favourite Tadej Pogacar was a further two seconds behind in third.

Time trial world champion Filippo Ganna and fellow heavyweight Mathieu van der Poel completed the top five, but it was surprisingly Lampaert who was celebrating at the end.

An emotional Lampaert said in his post-race interview: "My mind is exploding right now – I can't believe it. Top 10 would have been my expectation but to win is unbelievable.

"I know I'm in good condition, but to win the first stage of the Tour de France, the prologue, is something I never dreamed of.

"To beat Van Aert, Van der Poel, Ganna… it's unbelievable for me."

Lampaert, the fourth Belgian to win the opening time trial in the Tour de France, added: "I'm just a farmer's son from Belgium, eh."

Despite finishing in third, Pogacar confirmed his status as the overall favourite for a third title in a row by finishing as the best of the likely general classification racers.

The Slovenian laid down a marker when posting a time of 15:24, enough to finish just behind Team Jumbo-Visma's Van Aert, who was then usurped by Lampaert.

Elsewhere on stage one of the 109th edition of the race, Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic conceded eight and nine seconds to Pogacar respectively.


STAGE RESULT 

1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 15 minutes and 17 seconds
2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0.05 seconds
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0.07s
4. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.10s
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +0.13s

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 0:15:17
2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0.05
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0.07

Points Classification

1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 20
2. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 17
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 15

Police searched the hotel Team Bahrain Victorious are staying in on the eve of the Tour de France at request of French prosecutors.

The raid in the early hours of Thursday morning came just three days after some riders and members of Team Bahrain Victorious staff were subjected to police searches on their homes.

The Marseilles Prosecutor's Office started an investigation into doping allegations made against Team Bahrain Victorious during the 2021 Tour.

Team Bahrain Victorious stated on Monday that "at no time have the team been informed of the progress, results or received any feedback about the investigation" following the police searches at the start of this week.

The team believe the timing of the raids were conducted with the aim of "intentionally damaging the team's reputation" and "undoubtedly casts a shadow of doubt on the purpose of the investigation" so close to the start of the 2022 Tour, which starts in Copenhagen on Friday.

A Team Bahrain Victorious statement said: "Following the police search into some staff and riders' homes on Monday, the Team Bahrain Victorious hotel was searched by Danish Police at the request of the French prosecutors this morning at 5:30 am.

"The officers searched all team vehicles, staff and riders’ rooms. The team fully cooperated with all the officers' requests, and the search was completed within two hours. No items were seized from the team.

"Following the police search, the team is now looking forward to focusing on the world's biggest and best cycling race, Tour de France.

"The team will make no further comment on the subject."

 

"I'm just a kid from Slovenia, watching television all day and then riding afterwards," said Tadej Pogacar, after winning the 2020 Tour de France.

Then just 21, he required a 57-second swing to overtake his compatriot Primoz Roglic on the final time trial.

He went on to win the grandest of the Grand Tours by 59 seconds, writing his name forever into cycling history as he won Le Tour on his debut.

There was less drama in 2021, as Pogacar easily retained the three jerseys he won in 2020 (the yellow for the general classification, polka dot for the mountains and white for the best young rider).

While Olympic glory went to Roglic, Pogacar is out to match the great Eddy Merckx in the record books as he returns to Grand Tour action after skipping the Giro d'Italia.

The race starts in Copenhagen on Friday, with the opening three stages winding their way through Denmark – the 10th nation other than France to host the Grand Depart.

Can anyone hope to stop Pogacar in the 109th edition of Le Tour, or is there just no matching the kid from Slovenia?

 

Pogacar has Merckx in his sights

Only Merckx has managed to win the Tour de France on each of his first three appearances in the race (the Belgian went on to win his first five in a row, remarkably), but a place in history is there for the taking for Pogacar.

He is already the youngest rider to win multiple yellow jerseys, at the age of 22 years and 301 days at the culmination of the 2021 Tour, while he has led the young rider classification for the last 30 stages in total, since stage 13 in 2020, which is the longest run since the white jersey was first awarded in 1975.

Pogacar is also aiming to become the first rider to win the king of the mountains jersey in three successive editions of the Tour de France since popular French rider Richard Virenque between 1994 and 1997.

"The Tour de France is the jewel in the crown. It's the one that the road cyclists do all want to win," Chris Hoy, one of the United Kingdom's greatest Olympians, told Stats Perform.

"As such, it's quite hard to predict. But Pogacar is one of these young phenomenal athletes who have shown such maturity, despite their years."

 

Roglic out for revenge

Roglic won the Criterium du Dauphine earlier in June, and looks well placed to push for what would be his fourth Grand Tour success, albeit his first outside of Spain.

The chance was cruelly snatched away in 2020, while Roglic was forced to abandon ahead of stage nine last year following a crash six stages prior.

Roglic is aiming to become the oldest rider to win the Tour de France since Cadel Evans in 2011 (34 years and 162 days).

He will be 32 years old and 268 days on the last day of this year's race, but is the prime contender from a strong Jumbo-Visma team.

Their line-up includes six-time Tour de France stage winner Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, who finished second overall in 2021, and Sepp Kuss, an exceptional climber who last year became the first American to win a stage at the Tour de France since Tyler Farrar in 2011, while Steven Kruijswijk is one of three riders in the squad to have finished on the GC podium before.

Van Aert is the pick of the supporting cast, with his six stage wins between 2019 and 2021 the joint-highest in that period alongside Pogacar.

Indeed, the Belgian won the final two stages last year and could become the first rider to win three successive individual stages (not including time trials) at Le Tour since Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi in 2003.

No Bernal, but INEOS looking strong

Egan Bernal has not yet fully recovered from a serious crash he suffered earlier this year, meaning INEOS Grenadiers are without one of the best in the business.

Yet their team is still one to be reckoned with. Captain Geraint Thomas is one of just three riders in the provisional start list to have won Le Tour (along with Pogacar and Chris Froome), with the Welshman heading to France on the back of his sole victory of 2022 so far, in the Tour de Suisse.

Only Merckx (in 1974) and Bernal (2019) have won both the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France in the same season, and while a Thomas push for GC glory looks unlikely, INEOS have real depth.

Tom Pidcock is one of the brightest prospects in cycling, having triumphed in the Tokyo Olympic Games mountain biking and the World Championships (cyclo-cross).

He is riding alongside Adam Yates, the winner of the white jersey in 2016, and time trial world champion Filippo Ganna.

Stage 20 between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour (40.7km) will be the longest individual time trial in the Tour de France since 2014, and Ganna, a six-time stage winner at the Giro d'Italia, will be looking to come to the fore there.

Cavendish denied a shot at history

Despite Pogacar's dominance, Mark Cavendish provided the most remarkable story at the 2021 Tour de France. His comeback was one for the ages.

Cavendish had not featured at the Tour de France in 2016, but last year he won four stages to match the overall record of Merckx (34 stage victories) that had stood since 1975.

 

The Manxman was unable to surpass it on the Champs-Elysees, however, and his chance of becoming the outright record holder may well have gone, after Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl went with Fabio Jakobsen (who has 10 sprint wins this season) as their sprinter.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team riders have led the points classification in the Tour de France in each of the last 33 stages of the race, with three of their riders winning the green jersey in that time. Julian Alaphilippe is one of them, but like Cavendish he has missed out.

France out of luck?

Alaphilippe has won six of the last nine stages won by a French rider in the Tour de France, and would have been aiming to become the first home rider to win a stage at five consecutive editions since Bernard Hinault (1978-1982).

As it is, Alaphilippe will have to watch on, and with that France's slim hopes of a home success seem to have dwindled further still.

Romain Bardet has achieved five top-10 finishes in the GC standings. That is the most for a French rider since Virenque (six between 1994 and 2000), yet Bardet has finished only two of his last four Grand Tours and it would be a shock if the Team DSM man challenged.

Pierre Rolland will participate in his 13th Tour de France, the joint-highest tally among all riders on the provisional start list, alongside Imanol Erviti, while Thibaut Pinot will make his first Grand Tour start since the 2020 Vuelta a Espana, when he abandoned after two stages. This will be his ninth appearance in La Grande Boucle, but he has finished only four times.

The last time a Frenchman did not win a stage was in 1999 – since then, 59 stages have been won by French riders – but you might not bet against that run ending this year.

Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl duo Mark Cavendish and Julian Alaphilippe have missed out on selection for the Tour de France.

Cavendish equalled the all-time record for stage wins at the Tour last year, matching Eddy Merckx's tally of 34 victories - which had stood since 1975.

The Manxman looked to have boosted his hopes of making the eight-man team by triumphing at the British National Road Championship on Sunday, having featured at the Giro d'Italia for the first time in nine years.

But Fabio Jakobsen has a superior record in sprints this season, with 10 wins compared to Cavendish's five, and the Dutchman has got the nod for Le Tour, which starts in Copenhagen on Friday.

Kasper Asgreen, Andrea Bagioli, Mattia Cattaneo, Tim Declercq, Mikkel Honore, Yves Lampaert and Michael Morkov are the other seven riders to be picked.

Cavendish and Florian Senechal were named as first-reserve riders on Monday, while Alaphilippe was not included.

"Over 3,300 kilometres and more than 55,000 meters of elevation promise to make for a tough race," Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Tom Steels said. 

"After the first ITT, we have two other days in Denmark, which should be for the sprinters, that is if we won't have any echelons.

"The cobblestones stage will be a very tricky stage, as everyone will want to be at the front, and after this we'll have a lot of climbing, with many iconic ascents of the Tour de France.

"The climbers will get plenty of opportunities at this edition, unlike the sprinters, who'll have to fight in many of the stages against the time limit.

"Overall, the race has something for everyone, and that's why we are going there with a balanced team."

Alaphilippe was widely expected to be picked after racing in the French National Championships two months after his Liege–Bastogne–Liege crash, but there is no place for the popular 30-year-old.

"Concerning our reserves, we must stress out that they showed a lot of professionalism, continued to train and remained focused in these past couple of weeks, and even brought two victories at the Nationals," Steels added.

"The decision to leave Julian home was a very difficult one, as he is one of the team's most emblematic riders and we wrote so many great moments together at the Tour.

"Julian worked hard to get back into shape after what happened to him in Liege, but it is felt that for a rider like him it's always important to be on top of his game and be able to compete with the best riders of the peloton in a race like Le Tour.

"That's why we decided to give him more time to recover and build back his condition, so that he can be at 100 per cent for the second part of the season."

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome will make his 10th appearance in the race next month after being confirmed as part of Israel-Premier Tech's squad for the second grand tour of the year.

Froome has won the Tour on four occasions, in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 – only four riders (Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain - all five) have more general classification wins. 

The 37-year-old finished 133rd overall at last year's Tour, his first entry since coming third in 2018, but will bring up double figures for appearances in the race when it gets underway in Copenhagen on July 1.

Froome told his team's media channels: "It's awesome to be starting my 10th Tour de France with Israel-Premier Tech.

"I've worked exceptionally hard this year and I'm looking forward to giving it my all. We've got a great group of riders in the line-up and we can't wait for the battle to begin in Copenhagen."

Froome will ride largely in support of Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang, with the team's general manager Kjell Carlstrom insisting stage wins are their priority this year.

"In this Tour, the main priority for us is to win a stage," he said. "With Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana stage wins to our name, we would like to complete the grand tour trifecta with a Tour de France win, so it's certainly our main focus to begin with.

"We also want to keep our options open and see what may be possible in terms of fighting for a leader's jersey like we did last year, when we had Michael Woods fighting for the KOM jersey. 

"However, hunting for stages is definitely the most important goal for us in this year's Tour de France."

Peter Sagan has seen his Tour de France preparations take a hit after testing positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks before the start of the race.

Seven-time Tour de France green jersey winner Sagan was forced to abandon the Tour de Suisse on Saturday due to a third positive coronavirus test in 18 months.

The Slovakian, who holds the record for the most points classification victories in the Tour de France (seven), took to Twitter to announce he had contracted the virus on Sunday.

"Yesterday, Saturday, after the finish of stage seven of the Tour de Suisse, I was given a COVID-19 test by the Team TotalEnergies doctor," he wrote.

"Unfortunately, it came out positive. I have no symptoms, and I feel well but I have to abandon the race. I thank you for your support and I will keep you posted."

Sagan becomes the latest name in a growing list of riders to contract the virus, with INEOS Grenadiers' Tom Pidcock and Bora-Hansgrohe's Aleksandr Vlasov also testing positive for COVID-19.

Vlasov was leading the Tour de Suisse at the time of his withdrawal, while Mikkel Bjerg – team-mate of two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar – withdrew from the Tour of Slovenia due to coronavirus.

Sagan will hope to recover in time for the start of the Tour de France in Copenhagen on July 1, having ended a 13-month winless drought with his sprint victory at stage three in Grenchen earlier this week.

Rafal Majka won stage four of the Tour of Slovenia, but had to come out on top in a game of Rock Paper Scissors against Tadej Pogacar to do so.

It was not quite a case of the fastest rider over the line in stage four of the race on Saturday, with the victory instead settled by a jokey game between the two UAE Team Emirates riders.

Majka, who has helped Pogacar take the lead in the general classification standings, plucked for paper. His team-mate went for rock.

It resulted in a second stage win of the race for the Pole, who is three seconds behind Pogacar in the GC heading into Sunday's final stage.

The pair celebrated as they cruised over the line, with Majka leading the way.

"He [Pogacar] said, 'ok you go for the stage'," Majka laughed. "We did a small bit, but he still tells me: you can win today. I'm still really happy, and this is good before the Tour de France."

Pogacar is in line to compete at the Tour de France, which starts on July 1 in Copenhagen. The Slovenian is aiming for a third successive title.

UAE Team Emirates have dominated the Tour of Slovenia, with Majka's two stage wins added to by Pogacar claiming victory on Friday.

American cycling great Greg LeMond has been diagnosed with leukaemia.

LeMond, a two-time world champion and three-time Tour de France winner, retired from cycling in 1994.

The 60-year-old is also the only American to claim the Tour de France after Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis were stripped of their wins over banned substances.

LeMond revealed in a statement on his website on Monday that he is receiving treatment for chronic myelogenous leukaemia.

"Fortunately, it is a type of cancer that is treatable, and it is a type of leukaemia that is not life-threatening or debilitating," he wrote. 

"I had been experiencing a few weeks of fatigue which prompted me to go in for a check-up which included some blood work.

"Following a series of tests and a bone marrow biopsy, which was completed last week, I received my formal diagnosis last Friday.

"No one ever wants to hear the word 'cancer' but, admittedly, there is great relief, now, to know why I was feeling poorly. My doctors and I have decided on a treatment which will begin this week.

"I should be feeling better in a few weeks and for the near future, my daily schedule will be altered only a little and I have been told that in a few months, I should be in remission."

LeMond assured "the long-term prognosis is very favourable" and hopes to return to France to watch the Tour next year.

"I had hoped to be in France in July for the Tour, but we are, now, working on an alternate plan so I can follow the Tour and engage with friends and teammates from our offices and farm in Tennessee," he added.

"I will look forward to returning to the Tour next summer! I will keep everyone updated about my health and treatments in the months ahead but for now, I believe I couldn't be in better hands.

"I am excited about our plans ahead and I look forward to updating you all along the way."

Tom Dumoulin promised to make one last push for glory as he announced he will retire from cycling at the end of the season.

Jumbo-Visma rider Dumoulin won the Giro d'Italia in 2017 and followed up with success at the individual event of the World Time Trial Championships in the same year.

The Dutchman is also a four-time national time trial champion, while he has claimed three stages at the Tour de France, two at the Vuelta a Espana and four at the Giro.

Dumoulin, alongside his Giro success, finished second at the 2018 Tour de France and has two time trial Olympic silver medals to his name.

The 31-year-old featured at this season's Giro but has confirmed this campaign will be his last as he looks for a new challenge.

"I decided that 2022 will be my last year as a professional cyclist," Dumoulin wrote on Instagram.

"In 2020 I had a very difficult year and at the end of that year I got overtrained and burned out. At the end of 2020, beginning of 2021, I was only a shadow of myself and thus decided at the time to take [a] break away from cycling to think about my future.

"But despite how good it occasionally still was: many times, and especially this year, it has been a frustrating path, at which my body felt tired and still does feel tired. As soon as the load in training or races gets higher, I suffer fatigue, aches, and injuries instead of improving.

"The effort in training did often not lead to the desired performances. For a while now there has been a disbalance between my 100 per cent dedication, everything that I do and sacrifice for my sport, and what I subsequently get out of it in return.

"With a lot of patience and a very cautious approach, I'm convinced that I could get back to my full potential on the bike. But that would be a long and patient road, with no guarantees on success. I choose not to take that road, but to quit my active cycling instead and to take a new and unknown path.

"I especially look forward to the World Championships in Australia where I hope to get the best out of myself in the time trial one last time."

Jai Hindley celebrated his maiden Grand Tour triumph as he put heartbreak from 2020 behind him to win the Giro d'Italia.

Hindley went into Sunday's time trial with a one-minute, 25-second lead over Richard Carapaz, having overtaken the Ecuadorian in the Dolomites on Saturday.

The Australian was wearing the maglia rosa at the start of the final stage two years ago but finished second behind Tao Geoghegan Hart.

On that occasion, Hindley did not have a time advantage to play with however, and he did not let his lead slip in Verona.

"It's a beautiful feeling, I had a lot of emotions out there today," BORA-Hansgrohe rider Hindley said.

"I had in the back of my mind what happened in 2020, and I wasn't going to let that happen again. To take the win, it's incredible.

"I was getting updates and I felt pretty good on the bike. I wasn't really fighting it, so I knew I was on a decent ride.

"In the end, I took the descent pretty cautiously and then gave it everything to the line. It's an incredible feeling."

Hindley recorded a time of 23:55 across the 17.4km route, just over a minute-and-a-half slower than stage winner Matteo Sobrero (22:24), Italy's national time trial champion.

Carapaz, on his 29th birthday, was seven seconds faster than Hindley, but could not make a big enough dent as his place in second was confirmed, although he did extend his advantage on Mikel Landa.

Arnaud Demare's success in stages five, six and 13 meant he had already done enough to claim the maglia ciclamino, with Koen Bouwman confirmed as king of the mountains. 

Australia's day

Hindley's victory makes him the first Australian to win the Giro d'Italia and came 20 years to the day since Cadel Evans became Australia's first wearer of the maglia rosa.

"The pink jersey, it’s the most beautiful jersey in cycling," Hindley said. "It's a privilege and an honour to wear this again. It was a bumpy road to get back here and I didn't know if I was going to get a chance to wear this again."

STAGE RESULT 

1. Matteo Sobrero (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) 22:24
2. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +0:23
3. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) +0:40
4. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +1:08
5. Ben Tulett (INEOS Grenadiers) +1:12

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) 86:31:14
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +1:18
3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +3:24

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 254
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 136
3. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 132

King of the Mountains

1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 294
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 163
3. Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) 102

Jai Hindley vowed to "die for" the maglia rosa in the final stage after he surged away from Richard Carapaz to lead the Giro d'Italia by a minute and 25 seconds on Saturday.

Alessandro Covi went solo to win a brutal stage 20 on the Passo Fedaia in his homeland, and there was huge drama behind the UAE Team Emirates rider.

Carapaz came into the penultimate stage with a three-second lead over Hindley, but his hopes of winning the prestigious race for a second time were surely dashed on a lung-busting final climb.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider cracked just under two kilometres from the end of the 168km route from Belluno, and Hindley capitalised to take the maglia rosa in the Dolomites.

Hindley is poised to become the first Australian winner of the Giro after he had plenty in the tank while Carapaz was suffering, finishing sixth having been given great support by BORA-Hansgrohe team-mate Lennard Kamna.

Kamna had been among a breakaway group but dropped back to assist Hindley on what looks set to be the decisive day of the race, which saw Koen Bouwman crowned the King of the Mountains.

The 2019 champion Carapaz crossed the line in 11th on a painful day for the Ecuadorian, with Mikel Landa remaining third in the general classification after finishing ninth.

With only a 17.4km time trial to come in Verona on Sunday, Hindley is ready to make history

He told Eurosport: "I knew this was going to be the crucial stage of the race, I knew it was a brutal finish and if you had the legs you can make a difference.

"It was perfect with Lennard up the road in the breakaway, and he couldn't have timed it better to drop back in help. When I knew Carapaz had cracked, I just went all out."

Asked if that should be mission accomplished, Hindley replied: "We'll see how it goes, it's always hard to say how a time trial will go on the last day of a three-week race. I'll die for the jersey."

Deja vu but surely no denying Hindley this time around 

Hindley was wearing the maglia rosa at the start of the final stage two years ago but finished second behind Tao Geoghegan Hart.

It was a different story in 2020, though, as the 26-year-old did not have a time advantage to play with.

Hindley was a man on a mission on Saturday, and he will surely not be denied a maiden Grand Tour title this weekend.

It was also a day to remember for Covi, who secured a maiden Grand Tour stage win, finishing 32 seconds before Domen Novak.

STAGE RESULT 

1. Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) 4:46:34
2. Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious) +0:32
3. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) +0:37
4. Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) +1:36
5. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +1:50

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) 86:07:19
2. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +1:25
3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:51

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 254
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 136
3. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 132

King of the Mountains

1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 294
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 163
3. Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) 102

Koen Bouwman claimed his second victory of the Giro d'Italia on stage 19, while Richard Carapaz maintained his three-second general classification lead on Friday.

Jumbo Visma's Bouwman profited from a dramatic uphill finish at Santuario Di Castelmonte following a day-long five-man breakaway across the 178-kilometre race, which included a brief visit to Slovenia.

The Dutchman, who also leads the King of the Mountains classification, watched a last-corner mistake from Mauro Schmid (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) forced Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen) off the road.

Bouwman surged through to win as Schmid recovered to take second, with Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) taking third and Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) finishing ahead of a furious Vendrame.

However, Schmid was quick to question the last-corner problems with Bouwman and Vendrame.

"My opinion it was not a fair sprint, it was pretty clear, my handlebars are still in front and he nearly crashed in the last corner, he just knows he's slower in the sprint and he just pushed me away. You'll see when you watch the last 100-200 metres. I can do nothing," he told reporters.

"It was not fair in my opinion. Second place is first loser, so I'm not happy with that. I think I had it in the legs today. Of course, I'm disappointed but I want to say thanks to the team."

Bouwman, though, offered a different version of events to Schmid as he added: "I knew there was a corner to the left but I didn't know it was this sharp. I had to brake quite hard and I knew I had to take the inside [of the corner].

"After my first victory I said it would be really nice if I could have another one, but I also said I have to be realistic. It was my first victory as a pro. Now to win two stages in the Giro – I'm just so happy I don't have words.

Meanwhile, Carapaz finished eighth on the same time as Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) as the general classification battle continues.

Carapaz loses key team-mate Porte

Ineos Grenadiers' Richie Porte was forced to abandon the Giro at stage 19 due to illness, leaving Carapaz without a key supporter for the final two summits of the race.

Porte will be disappointed to finish his 13-year Grand Tour career in such fashion, having announced his intention to retire at the end of the season, and Carapaz was frustrated to lose his team-mate.

"Truth is, it's been a really difficult day today. I'm really disappointed for Richie it's unlucky," he told reporters.

"But the team is doing a good job and we're dealing with everything the best we can. We're all at a good level and trying to make it into a positive.

"It was a little give and take today but I think we're all pretty much on the same level at the top. It wasn't such a fantastically difficult finale that it was going to break up very much."

STAGE RESULT 

1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo Visma) 4:32:55
2. Mauro Schmid (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) same time 
3. Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) same time
4. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) same time
5. Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 81:18:12
2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 254
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 136
3. Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) 132

King of the Mountains

1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 294
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

Dries De Bondt sprinted to victory on stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia, as Jai Hindley remained three seconds adrift of race leader Richard Carapaz despite a late puncture.

It was De Bondt among a breakaway quartet who had the pace to take his maiden victory in a Grand Tour race in Treviso on Thursday.

The Alpecin-Fenix rider pipped Edoardo Affini, with Magnus Cort Nielsen third and Davide Gabburo just missing out on a podium at the end of a 156-kilometre route from Borgo Valsugana.

That group of four riders made an early move and there was no catching them on a day Belgian De Bondt will never forget.

The 30-year-old's win was his first since crossing the line first in the Belgian National Road Championships in September 2020.

There was drama when Hindley suffered a puncture, but the BORA-Hansgrohe rider did not lose time in the general classification battle as the mechanical issue came within three kilometres of the finish.

Carapaz finished 20 seconds after De Bondt as he retained the maglia rosa, with Mikel Landa staying in third place behind Hindley.

"I checked Landa and Hindley all the time as I knew there could be some gaps. I want to keep the maglia rosa till the end, I trust in my legs." INEOS Grenadiers rider Carapaz said.

Almeida ruled out after positive COVID-19 test

Joao Almeida was fourth in the GC standings, but the Portuguese rider's race is over after he tested positive for COVID-19 following stage 17.

UAE Team Emirates team principal Mauro Gianetti said: "We are obviously deeply upset because Joao and the supporting team were doing an excellent race.

"Our goals were the podium of the Giro and the white jersey as best young rider, and we were fighting to win them both.

"It is bad news, but this is the reality we have been living every day for two years. We have to accept it and look forward. Now the most important thing is that Joao recovers as soon as possible."

STAGE RESULT 

1. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) 3:21:21
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-EasyPost) same time
4. Davide Gabburo (Bardiani CSF Faizane) same time
5. Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) +0:14

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 76:41:21
2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 254
2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 132
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 124

King of the Mountains

1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 218
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

Santiago Buitrago won stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia as Richard Carapaz kept hold of the maglia rosa despite pressure from Jai Hindley.

Colombian Buitrago had not won a Grand Tour stage before the mountainous 165km route from Ponte di Legno to Lavarone, but the Bahrain Victorious rider got off the mark on Wednesday.

Having caught Gijs Leemreize on the final climb, Buitrago cruised to victory with a margin of 35 seconds.

Mathieu van der Poel turned in another gutsy ride, but the Dutchman did not have enough in the tank to push on for a second stage win of the Giro after going out ahead on his own with around 65km remaining. 

Van der Poel's compatriot Leemreize crossed the line second, almost two minutes ahead of third-placed Jan Hirt, who won Tuesday's stage.

Hugh Carthy was fourth ahead of Carapaz and Hindley, who both finished two minutes and 53 seconds behind Buitrago.

"It's been a really hard stage. I think we're happy – every day everything is being defined more, everything is clearing up in the GC and I'm happy to have the jersey another day," said Carapaz, who holds a three-second lead over Hindley.

"Tomorrow will be an important day – we have to get through the remaining days, no day is easy and we've got a very difficult weekend coming up."

Hard luck for Yates

It has been a frustrating race for Simon Yates, who has won two stages but found himself way out of contention for the maglia rosa.

His race is now run, with Yates withdrawing due to a knee problem, with Team BikeExchange-Jayco team doctor Matteo Beltemacchi confirming: "Despite daily therapy and Simon's tenacity, the knee pain grew worse."

STAGE RESULT 

1. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) 2:27:41
2. Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) +0:35
3. Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +2:28
4. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) +2:28
5. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:53

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 73:19:40
2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 117

King of the Mountains

1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 218
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

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