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Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe discuss the fact that Mitchelton-Scott’s dream position has been altered by the fact that Esteban Chaves struggled on the first climb, found himself unable to follow the wheels and eventually lost 25 minutes – tumbling down from second place overall and leaving his team-mate Simon Yates as the undisputed leader of the squad for the remainder of the race.
We hear from Mitchelton-Scott’s domestique Sam Bewley, sports director Matt White and Chaves himself and get Yates’s verdict on his nickname – Sanguinaccio Volante, or the Flying Black Pudding.
The stage was won by Slovenia’s Matej Mohoric who got into the early break, only to be caught when the main peloton put the pressure on to make sure Chaves and sprinter Elia Viviani did not make contact. Mohoric attacked again in the final 40 kilometres and then outsprinted Nico Denz to add a Giro stage win to his victory at the Vuelta a Espana last year.
In the final part we have an exclusive interview with Team Sky’s Chris Froome about his Giro so far, which has been compromised by crashes, and what he thinks he can do in the second half of the race.
Team Mitchelton-Scott are set to go all in behind their British rider and the current Giro d’Italia leader Simon Yates in his quest to win a first Grand Tour after his team-mate and closest rival, Esteban Chaves, endured a terrible day in the east of Italy.
Chaves began Tuesday’s stage 10 with a 32-second gap to Yates wearing the Maglia Rosa, but struggled from the start and never recovered, losing several costly minutes which effectively ended his challenge with 10 race days still to go.
The rest of the overall contenders finished in the main pack, including Tom Dumoulin and Thibaut Pinot, as Bahrain-Merida’s 23-year-old Matej Mohoric clinched the stage win in Gualdo Tadino, Umbria.
“Chaves just had a bad moment on the first climb of the day,” Yates said afterwards. “Straight after the rest day, you don’t know how the body responds. I’m very disappointed for him because he’s worked hard for this Giro.”
Following the second of three rest days in this year’s tour, most of the peloton returned on Tuesday morning determined to break Mitchelton-Scott’s hold on the race, with both Yates and Chaves at the top of the standings.
Yates had a strong day, claiming three bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint point. But Chaves quickly slipped away around the first category two climb heading north from Penne, and despite the efforts of several team-mates to help haul him back into contention, the Colombian slipped away and eventually rolled in around 15 minutes behind his rivals.
“I was going to go for the bonus sprint because I need to gain time on Dumoulin,” he said. ”But, when I saw Pinot getting a lead out, I went past him. I need as many seconds as I can get so maybe I need to go for more bonus seconds.
Refreshed after a day off for the transfer from Israel, Lotto Fix All’s Tim Wellens claimed victory on a punchy uphill finale in Caltagirone on stage 4. The race lead remained with Dennis, while Chris Froome (Team Sky) lost some time. Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) managed to steal a few seconds, as did Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) in a move that would presage his sparkling performances in the mountains later in the week.
Froome was far more attentive in the second steep finale to stage 5 in Santa Ninfa, won by Enrico Battaglin (LottoNl-Jumbo), and while the overall contenders had to fight to stay together, there were no big changes in the overall aside from Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) losing time due to a crash.
The peloton moved to the mainland for a short, flat, and beautifully scenic stage to Praia a Mare, where Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) finally turned around his record of near-misses and claimed his maiden Grand Tour victory over Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).
The respite in climbing was brief, and two 200+km days followed, with back-to-back summit finishes. The first, to Montevergine di Mercogliano, was a fast grind to the finish that did little to change the overall classification. It was a fine platform for the talents of Richard Carapaz (Movistar), who jetted away in the finale to claim the first Grand Tour stage victory by an Ecuadorean rider.
The highest point in the Apennines proved a far more complicated affair, with the climb to Gran Sasso d’Italia surpassing the snow line at a whopping 2135m. Although not as steep as some of the Giro d’Italia’s later ascents, the sheer length, altitude and a strong head wind proved to be the undoing of a number of riders.
But not for Yates, who stole away from a quartet in the final hundred metres to take the stage victory while wearing the maglia rosa over a frustrated Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), with Chaves just behind. With Tom Dumoulin losing a dozen seconds and missing the time bonuses, Chaves moved into second at 32 seconds, with Dumoulin at 38 seconds in third.