Eurosport expert Dan Lloyd admits there was "no point" for any of the favourites to attack on Stage 15 at the Giro d’Italia as the final climb was not hard enough.
Sunday was predicted to be another big day in the fight for the maglia rosa after the Bora-hansgrohe detonation on Saturday that saw Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) win, Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) take pink and Bora’s Jai Hindley move seven seconds off the lead.
It was anything but. While Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) lit up proceedings by blowing apart a 27-strong breakaway to win, the action behind was subdued.
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The final Cat. 2 climb to Cogne looked tough on first glance, but a closer inspection of the 22km ascent revealed 15km at a palatable 4%. With Ineos Grenadiers controlling things on the front of the main bunch, ready to shut down any moves, Carapaz’s GC rivals elected to sit in the tow and save their attacks for the final week.
“Setting off this morning there would have been a lot of fear amongst the riders, if it would be another tough stage like yesterday,” said 2012 Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins on Eurosport’s coverage afterwards.
“But it was a stage that was easier than it could have been. I think it could have been a lot harder and riders could have been in a lot more danger.”
‘It could have been a lot harder’ – Wiggins on Stage 15
One rider expected to be lively was Hindley, who beat Carapaz in a sprint on Saturday to claw back bonus seconds in the battle for the maglia rosa.
But the Australian was among those to suggest it was pointless attacking on the final climb, given it would likely end in a stalemate.
“I think there were a lot of tired bodies out there. I was getting the vibe that everyone just wanted to come home and get the day done,” said Hindley.
“I guess it was pretty boring but what can you do? Grand Tour racing is all about the long game.
“Hard day yesterday and it was still hard today but I think everyone was a bit cautious.
“If the final climb was much harder it would have been a different scenario but with a final gradient like that it’s really hard to do anything. I think everyone was a bit like ‘let’s call it a day’.”
‘Really hard to do anything!’ – Hindley on ‘boring’ Stage 15
Lloyd concurred with those comments, suggesting there was little incentive for the likes of Hindley and Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) to attack given the final climb.
“I understand that the race organisation has been a little disappointed with how little GC action there’s been until yesterday’s stage. But then don’t design a stage like today’s,” he said on The Breakaway.
“The [first] two big climbs were tough. The last one was long, 22km, but if 15km are at 4%... no one is going to be able to move.
“You’ve got an entire team on the front like Ineos or Bora, there’s no point in any other rider attacking.
“You’re just going to get caught and maybe spat out the back. That sort of finish doesn’t encourage any big GC riding.”
Still, anyone feeling short-changed from Sunday’s action can console themselves by looking at the next stage profile. A five-star trip to the mountains awaits on Stage 16 as Passo del Mortirolo looms.
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Stream the Giro d'Italia live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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