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Giro d’Italia | Stage 18

04:21:14

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Carapaz still three seconds clear of Hindley on GC

The Australian was given the same time as his Ecuadorian rival for pink after his puncture in the final 3km. The only big change in the top 10 is Juan Pedro Lopez dropping to ninth place after the Spaniard eventually came home in that second peloton almost three minutes off the pace following those splits on the approach to Treviso. Lopez is now 15 minutes down on Carapaz with Domenico Pozzovivo moving above him into eighth.
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Break defies the peloton by 14 seconds

Dries De Bondt beat Edoardo Affini with Magnus Cort in third ahead of Davide Gabburo. It was local lad Alberto Dainese who led home the peloton 14 seconds behind ahead of Arnaud Demare, Davide Cimolai, Mark Cavendish, Fernando Gaviria and Simone Consonni. Here's how the former Belgian champion took the win in Treviso...

Hindley soft-pedals home...

The Australian must have been involved in some kind of incident inside the final 3km because he's showing no concern as he comes home with teammate Wilco Kelderman almost a minute back - he must be pretty sure that he's going to have his time reinstated...
Update: We're hearing that it was a puncture within the final 3km for Hindley and so he will not lose any time to Richard Carapaz. Phew!

Victory for Dries De Bondt!

The Belgian goes shoulder-to-shoulder with Edoardo Affini and comes out on top - and it's another win for Alpecin-Fenix after Mathieu van der Poel and Stefano Oldani.

16:09 - Jai Hindley dropped by peloton!

Final kilometre: Forget the sprint... the Australian has been distanced and that's why Ineos Grenadiers are laying it on thick...

16:08 - Cort to complete his set?

2km to go: Magnus Cort has six wins on the Vuelta and one on the Tour... can he complete his grand slam today? De Bondt has never won a Grand Tour stage before, ditto Affini, while Gabburo has never won any professional race.

16:06 - Just 35 seconds now

3km to go: Robbie McEwen has given the chasers "a snowball's chance in hell" of catching the four leaders... But it's not over yet!

16:04 - Gap down to 53 seconds after Affini scare

5km to go: It looked like Affini has a mechanical issue there but the Italian must have sorted it out because he didn't need to slow or stop. They are collaborating perfectly - and will need to continue doing do to ensure the win goes to one of them and not one of the chasers behind.

16:01 - Peloton only 50-strong now

8km to go: Carnage in Treviso with the peloton utterly decimated ahead of what may not be a bunch sprint. Groupama are keeping riders up their sleeve for a lead-out that may now never happen - and Bahrain sprinter Phil Bauhaus is in this second peloton. Team DSM are waiting for their man Alberto Dainese, who lives in Treviso, but the local lad may not even get the chance to show what he can do.

15:57 - De Bondt leads quartet through finish; one lap to go

12km to go: Quick-Step front the peloton when they hear the bell ring at the finish line with the gap at one minute. It's Mauro Schmid and Pieter Serry doing the honours but both riders soon peel back and off, leaving UAE to take up the chase. Moments earlier it was De Bondt who led the quartet over the line - will he do the same in one lap's time? Juanpe Lopez and the second peloton is another 1:20 back.

15:54 - Still over a minute for the break

15km to go: The four leaders still have 1:20 over the pack and are working very well as they negotiate the street sof Treviso - streets which are still, for now, dry. At this point in the stage to Cuneo, the breakaway had 1:40 and they were caught as Arnaud Demare picked up his third win.

15:49 - White jersey dropped from peloton

20km to go: There's a split in the peloton and it looks like Juanpe Lopez, who moved into the white jersey this morning after Joao Almeida's withdrawal, has got on the wrong side of a split as the pace increases. The Spaniard is over a minute back and has numerous Trek teammates trying to close the gap...

15:45 - Cofidis join the chase

23km to go: As Robbie McEwen just said in the commentary box - there just aren't the numbers at the back end of a Grand Tour. Cofidis have sent a man to help out for their sprinter Simone Consonni, but it's still DSM, Groupama, UAE and Quick-Step who are doing the lion's share. They're clearly missing the input of Israel-Premier Tech, who have no inclination to help now that their man Giacomo Nizzolo has pulled out.

15:39 - Tension rises in peloton

27km to go: Bert Van Lerberghe of Quick-Step is having a word with some of the UAE riders who are not pulling their weight. They have a man on the front but it's now that they need the kind of watts that Rui Costa was putting in earlier - and that's clearly got the Belgian's goat. As things stand, the peloton is burying itself but the gap is only coming down very slowly. As they approach Treviso and those one and a half laps, the gap is 1:35. De Bondt is on the back and coughing up his guts after a huge pull. This quartet are really going all-in.

15:31 - Affini could be the key for the break

35km to go: The presence of the Italian time trial specialist - one of the few riders to beat compatriot Filippo Ganna against the clock in recent years - will benefit this four-man move, which still holds a gap of 1:50 over the pack. Gabburo is a bit of an unknown quantity while De Bondt and Cort are the fastest finishers - but it's Edoardo Affini, the huge engine from Jumbo-Visma, who could ensure that the break is still out once the heavens open and the roads get slippery. Then it becomes anyone's game...

15:25 - Breakaway holding firm under severe pressure

40km to go: You sense an increase in tension out on the road as the business end to this stage approaches. The peloton clearly wants to bring this move to heel before the expected rain on the closing circuit and they have brought the gap down to two minutes. Here's a photo of our four leaders - Cort, De Bondt, Gabburo and Affini - from earlier in the stage.

Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark and Team EF Education - Easypost leads the breakaway during the 105th Giro d'Italia 2022, Stage 18

Image credit: Getty Images

15:15 - Pace goes stratospheric after climb

50km to go: De Bondt led the escapees over the summit with a lead of 2:25 over the peloton - and there has been a marked upping of the tempo both in the break and the main field. Rui Costa has come back onto the front fo UAE Team Emirates and he's going hell for leather. We're also hearing that there's some rain at the finish, where the riders will tackle 1.5 laps of a circuit around Treviso.

15:06 - Quartet hit the "Wall"

55km to go: The leaders are onto this crazy climb, which winds through vineyards and is lined by thousands of spectators. The surface is smooth and pristine but that won't disguise the fact that its gradient is utterly brutal. They started the climb with a 2:35 gap on the peloton, which will no doubt split up on this climb and will need a fair amount of regrouping afterwards.

15:02 - Sweeping downhill ahead of savage ascent

58km to go: The breakaway are zipping down a lovely set of hairpin bends through vineyards that, apparently, are responsible for producing around half a billion bottles of Prosecco per year. At the foot of this descent they will face the short and sharp Muro di Ca' del Poggio - a savagely steep 1km climb that has an average gradient of 12.3% and a maximum tilt of 19%.

14:55 - Gap back above two minutes for quartet

64km to go: The inhalations and exhalations of the gap between the leaders and the peloton continue. It had come down to one minute around 10km ago but is now back up to 2:15 for Italians Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF) and Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma), Belgium's Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) and the moustacheod Danish powerhouse Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost).

Juanpe Lopez back in white

The withdrawal this morning of Joao Almeida following a positive Covid-19 test sees Spain's Juan Pedro Lopez go into the white jersey - not that you can see much of a difference between the maglia bianca and his regular Trek-Segafredo team kit in the photo below.
The 24-year-old went into the race lead after Mount Etna on Stage 4 and wore the maglia rosa for 10 days before dropping to ninth in Torino on Sunday. Lopez fell out of the top 10 in Aprica but returned to ninth yesterday - and is now up to eighth following Almeida's departure, 12:27 down. So he's on course to improve on his 13th place in last year's Vuelta.

Wiggins on Cavendish ahead of final chance for win

With the gap just over a minute for the four leaders and with the remaining three stages including two mountain-top finishes and the final TT to Verona, today's finale in Treviso will be the last opportunity for the sprinters to pick up a win in this year's Giro. Can Cavendish take a second win or will Demare make it four? Brad Wiggins mulled over this earlier today from the back of a motorcycle...

‘Very, very tired!’ – Wiggins on Cavendish's state ahead of expected sprint finish

14:25 - Mind games between break and peloton

85km to go: The gap keeps ebbing and flowing between the four riders on the front of the race and the chasing peloton. It's currently up to 1:40 having come down to just 1:10 a few minutes earlier. They're approaching the intermediate sprint at Valdobbiadene, which comes just ahead of an uncategorised climb into the town centre. It's Gabburo who nips clear to take the points and prize money for his Bardiani-CSF team - the only rider who shows any interest.
Meanwhile, on the front of the pack, Arnaud Demare and Mark Cavendish are in deep discussion as they approach the intermediate sprint - with the Frenchman putting in a subtle cadence hike to ensure he takes some extra points for fifth place over the line. They are probably discussing the division of labour between their two teams ahead of the expected bunch sprint in Treviso.

14:10 - Gap grows a little despite Costa returning to the front

95km to go: That man Rui Costa is back on the front for UAE Team Emirates, who clearly want a morale-boosting with for Fernando Gaviria following Joao Almeida's withdrawal earlier today. Whether reeling in the break early on is the best way to go about that remains to be seen. In any case, Costa isn't going hell for leather as he was earlier and the gap has extended back to around 1:35 for the four leaders - Cort, Gabburo, Affini and De Bondt.

13:55 - Strange atmosphere engulfs this stage

103km to go: With the gap almost coming down to just one minute, the team cars of the four escapees are called out of the gap - and this short stage continues to get ever stranger. If they reel them in now there will only be another set of attacks and another breakaway forming, so you really can't grasp the logic of what's going on.
Here's Bradley Wiggins from earlier in the stage as he delivered his first missive from the motorbike...

13:48 - Gap yo-yoing for the break

110km to go: De Bondt is clearly not happy with the situation with the break seeing their gap grow to 2:30 before UAE Team Emirates sent Rui Costa onto the front of the peloton to take an entire minute off the break's lead. The Belgian from Alpecin-Fenix clearly thinks that there's no point in wasting energy if the pack is going to give them no leeway - and so he's prepared to play a game of cat and mouse and test the resolve of the peloton behind.
In fact, tempers have now flared up in the pack as Jacopo Guarnieri (Groupama-FDJ) comes to the front to give Costa a dressing down. The gap had come to 1:20 and it seemed folly to bring the leaders to heel so early. Quick-Step were also unhappy - even Vincenzo Nibali had words, the Italian veteran seeing the futility of Costa's tactics. The Portuguese is a former world champion - he should know better than ride full gas at this point in the stage...

13:40 - Discussions in the break

115km to go: De Bondt is deep in discussion with Affini in the breakaway. It seems like the Belgian is of the opinion that they should knock off the pace a little because it may make the peloton reconsider their own tactics. They're still on a tight leash but if the quartet come close to being caught, the sprinters' teams will be in a pickle because they won't want to catch the move now and encourage a second wave of attacks. It's a classic power play with De Bondt banking on the peloton reacting by letting the gap grow out a little...

Big opportunity for Mikel Landa

Since his first Grand Tour podium finish in the 2015 Giro d'Italia, the Basque climber has failed to return - despite five more top 10 finishes. Landa DNF'ed his last two Grand Tours - last year's Giro and Vuelta - but is now on course to match his third place in the Giro seven years ago.
Admittedly, the Bahrain Victorious rider has benefitted from the crashes, illnesses and withdrawals suffered by the likes of Joao Almeida, Simon Yates, Romain Bardet, Miguel Angel Lopez and Tom Dumoulin. But he finds himself 1:04 down on Richard Carapaz and with a good five-minute buffer on the rider in fourth place on GC, Vincenzo Nibali.

13:22 - De Bondt leads break over the summit

130km to go: It's the former Belgian champion Dries De Bondt who takes the KOM points over the top ahead of Affini and Gabburo - but that will make no difference in the blue jersey KOM standings, which Dutchman Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) leads comfortably by over double the points held by his nearest challenger, Guilio Ciccone of Trek-Segafredo.

13:15 - Breakaway onto the first climb

133km to go: There are only two Cat.4 climbs on the menu today and the four leaders are onto the first of them. Le Scale di Primolano is 2.6km long at 4.3%. Behind, Quick-Step have sent James Knox onto the front and ahead of a selection of Groupama-FDJ and Team DSM riders. So it's the teammates of sprinters Mark Cavendish, Arnaud Demare and Alberto Dainese who are keeping a lid on things - wary, no doubt, of the class and calibre of the riders ahead. The gap is 2:10.

13:10 - Gap grows for four leaders

138km to go: Eolo-Kometa tried to sneak a man into the break but Francesco Gavazzi's attempt to bridge over came to nothing. Wildcard teams Eolo and Drone Hopper weren't happy and kept the pressure up on the front for a while but Quick-Step snuffed out all the attempts because this move suits them quite well and will be easier to control rather than having more men out ahead. Once the pace eases in the pack, the leaders see their advantage quickly grow to two minutes.

No Mathieu van der Poel in the break...

After wisecracks about eating spaghetti with ketchup and pizza with pineapple, Mathieu van der Poel almost pulled off his biggest joke yet yesterday – a victory in a mountain stage of his debut Giro d’Italia.
Not content with a stage win and the pink jersey at the earliest point of asking back in Hungary in Stage 1, the Dutchman went on the attack yet again on Wednesday’s Stage 16 as he continued going deep into the third, and most mountainous week, of a race most people expected him to leave at the halfway point.
This is uncharted territory for Van der Poel, who has never gone beyond the first week of a Grand Tour before in his career. But if it's a voyage of discovery of sorts, then he's going about it as it were a fact-finding mission - a chance to test the limits of his body, to amass as many experiences as possible and leave his mark on the race on every twist and turn.
Today's profile looks far more suited to the Dutchman - although given his efforts yesterday, you can see why he's decided to let teammate De Bondt go for it instead...

Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team Alpecin - Fenix competes

Image credit: Getty Images

13:00 - Four riders clear

148km to go: Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) and Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) have been very aggressive since the start and they're now riding ahead with Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF). It's a strong quartet but there's no let up from the peloton and the gap is only 15 seconds for now.

12:50 - Stage 18 under way

156km to go: The flag goes down and the attacks rain down from the gun. Today is the last chance for many to get on the scoresheet - although the teams of the sprinters will hope to bring it back together for a fast finish in Treviso.

The remaining 152 riders in the neutral zone

Today's stage is about to get under way. It's sunny with temperatures back in the mid-20s despite some grey clouds threatening overhead...

Big name withdrawal: Joao Almeida out with Covid-19

Yesterday we saw two more riders call it a day in Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) but today the race has been rocked by the news that Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) has pulled out because of a positive test for Covid-19.
“Almeida woke up last night from persistent pain in his throat and the test gave a positive result," his team said in a statement.
The Portuguese rider was in fourth place in the GC (+1:54) and in the white jersey - and his departure means Vincenzo Nibali rises one place in the standings. It also opens a huge gap between the current podium and fourth place, with Nibali currently 5:48 down on race leader Richard Carapaz.
The jokers may say that Almeida's teammates knew about his condition already given how much the climber has been socially isolating himself from the rest of UAE Team Emirates in the mountains... but that would be cruel.

Joao Almeida during Stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia May 25, 2022

Image credit: Getty Images

Mark Cavendish's last dance?

As Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) slogged through the mountains, two words will have been echoing around his head: ‘Stage 18, Stage 18, Stage 18’.
Two brutal days of climbing at the Giro d’Italia mean everyone will be hoping for a largely chilled run from Borgo Valsugana to Treviso, leaving the fast men free to squabble over the final bunch sprint... assuming the breakaway does not rip up the plan.
Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) is the in-form rider with three wins already, while Cavendish is chasing his first win since the race arrived in Italy, having won Stage 3 in Hungary during the Grande Partenza. The likes of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) and Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) will be keen to push Cav and the maglia ciclamino all the way, though.
But with so many hard metres now in the legs, who will be freshest on the gentle run into Treviso on Thursday? And could any weakness from the sprint teams be pounced on by a break?
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) staved off the threat of Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) in the maglia rosa battle on Stage 17, with the gap still at three seconds and the race increasingly likely to be decided on the final-day time trial.
The Ecuadorian should enjoy a day off from following attacks, although we can expect his Ineos team-mates to be stationed at the front... just in case.

STAGE 17 RECAP: Buitrago wins Stage 17 after crash; Van der Poel shines, Carapaz keeps pink

Tears of sadness on Sunday turned to tears of joy on Wednesday as Santiago Buitrago picked up a maiden Grand Tour stage win with a fantastic solo effort in Lavarone.
Three days after agonisingly missing out to Guilio Ciccone in Cogne, the 22-year-old Colombian bounced back on an explosive Stage 17 in the Italian Alps as Bahrain-Victorious team-mate Mikel Landa moved into the podium positions at the expense of Portugal’s Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates).
Buitrago picked himself up from a nasty crash with 80km remaining before reeling in a leading Dutch duo of Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) and the indefatigable Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) on the final climb, the latter having ridden clear of the day’s breakaway on at least three occasions in a bid to secure a second stage win in his debut Giro.
Keeping his cool on the descent to Lavarone, Buitrago, with his jersey and shorts scuffed from his earlier spill, pointed to the sky as he crossed the line to take an outstanding win by 35 seconds on the impressive Leemreize, another 22-year-old Giro debutant who himself came close to victory in Genova in Stage 12.
Czech climber Jan Hirt, the Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert rider who won Tuesday’s Stage 16, continued his fine purple patch with third place ahead of Britain’s Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) as the last two riders from the initial 24-man break held on before the GC favourites battled tooth and nail in their wake.
A succession of attacks from Bahrain Victorious duo Landa and Wout Poels had decimated the maglia rosa group on the decisive ascent of Monterovere – most notably dropping the white jersey of Almeida on the second of two successive first-category climbs at the end of the 168km stage.

HOW CAN I WATCH THE GIRO ON TV AND LIVE STREAM?

Each and every stage will be broadcast in its entirety on Eurosport, discovery+ and GCN+, bookended by The Breakaway, presented by Orla Chennaoui and Dan Lloyd. Rob Hatch and Hannah Walker will be in the commentary box with regular contributions from pundits Robbie McEwen, Sean Kelly and Adam Blythe, with Bradley Wiggins doing his thing on the back of a motorbike.

WHEN IS STAGE 18?

Tune in from 12:20-16:35 BST to watch Stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia. Watch uninterrupted coverage on eurosport.co.uk and discovery+, or watch the action from 12:30 on Eurosport 2.

Stage 18 profile and route map

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