Today’s Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia took the riders to the legendary Monte Zoncolan climb. For the first time since 2003, the riders approached the climb from the Sutrio side. The approach from Ovaro, which was used five times between 2007 and 2018, is considered to be more difficult. However, the climb from Sutrio still features a very demanding final three kilometers, with gradients touching 20%.
The stage victory ended up being contested by a strong breakaway. The move contained the likes of Jan Tratnik, Bauke Mollema and George Bennett. However, it was Lorenzo Fortunato of second division Eolo-Kometa who pulled the upset to take the biggest win of his career.
The battle for the stage got serious with about 9.7 kilometers to go. Firstly, Jan Tratnik hit out in search of victory. Fortunato immediately went after him. Behind them, Mollema, Bennett, Alessandro Covi and Nelson Oliveira established a chasing group.
Fortunato caught Tratnik with 7 kilometers to go, and the two worked together well for the next 4.7 kilometers. With 2.3 kilometers left, Fortunato began to pull away from Tratnik on the steeper gradients. At almost exactly the same time, Covi attacked out of the chasing group.
Just like that, the day’s podium was formed. Fortunato battled gamely up the steepest sections to hold off Tratnik by 26 seconds. Covi crossed the line 59 seconds down to secure third.
The win is Eolo-Kometa’s first victory of the season, and it is the first WorldTour win in the history of the team. The victory is also significant for Fortunato. With his triumph on Monte Zoncolan, the 25-year-old Italian has picked up the first win of his professional career.
📽️ The last, super-steep, kilometre of the Stage 14!
📽️ L'ultimo, super ripido, chilometro della Tappa 14!
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 22, 2021
Giro General Classification Shake-Up
As the breakaway was contesting the stage in the final kilometer, the GC men took the opportunity to do battle as well.
The first major contender to attack was Simon Yates. He made his move just as Fortunato entered the final 1000 meters. The maglia rosa of Egan Bernal immediately responded to the move. For a while, the Colombian was content to sit on the wheel of Yates as he opened a gap on the rest of the GC favorites.
Inside of the last 500 meters, Bernal attacked and gapped his British companion. The race leader crossed the line 11 seconds ahead of Yates, while the rest of the GC contenders came home in ones and twos. When the dust settled, the top ten of the general classification looked a little bit different.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) May 22, 2021
Despite losing time to Bernal, Yates gained enough time on everyone else to jump up into second place. The 28-year-old appears to be peaking at exactly the right time in order to fight for the final podium.
The GC riders who fared next best on the day were Giulio Ciccone, Damiano Caruso and Bernal’s Ineos teammate Dani Martínez.
As a result, Ciccone moved up one spot to seventh. Caruso, who is sitting in third, is riding the Grand Tour of his life thus far. Martínez looked very strong despite working for Bernal. He could be an extremely valuable weapon in the coming days.
There are still seven days of racing left in the 2021 Giro d’Italia, so a lot can change. With that being said, Egan Bernal is looking like the prohibitive favorite at the moment. The 24-year-old’s strength has been unmatched just about every time the road has gone uphill in the Giro.
If Yates can build on his attack from today, he may just be the most likely rider to challenge Bernal. Four of the remaining seven stages feature a significant amount of climbing, so there is plenty of time for the GC contenders to try to turn the race in their favor.
Today we saw the seventh breakaway stage win of the 2021 Giro. Unless Bernal shows signs of being beatable, this trend is likely to continue.
Eolo-Kometa’s win today was the first by a wildcard team at the 2021 edition. Fortunato’s win prompted a fantastic response from two time Giro champion and Eolo-Kometa financial backer Alberto Contador.
"Si gana Fortunato me voy de Pinto a Milano en bici"
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 22, 2021
Supposedly, Contador has agreed to ride his bike some 1,600 kilometers from Pinto, Spain to Milan in honor of his rider’s big win.
Looking ahead, Monday’s stage 16 will be the next big chance for race altering GC action. However, Tuesday’s rest day may be just as significant. The day off will give the riders one last bit of respite before an incredibly tough third week.
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