Chris Froome showed his form is on the up at the Giro d’Italia by winning stage 14, a summit finish on Monte Zoncolan. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) finished second with Domenico Pozzivivo (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) taking third place.
Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia ended with the summit of the iconic Monte Zoncolan. The stage stretched for 186km in total though with Zoncolan making up the final 10.1km, at an average gradient of 11.9%.
A group of containing Enrico Barbin (Bardiani CSF), Francesco Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) and Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) were in the break of the day.
The break had lost a few riders before they made it to the base of Monte Zoncolan and they started the climb with a lead of 1 minute over the peloton. Igor Anton looked after Ben O’Connor throughout the stage, ensuring that the young Australian was well-placed heading into the final climb of the day.
As the climb of Monte Zoncolan started, Igor Anton put in a brave attack with 9km to go, to take the lead of the race for a portion of the climb. He was caught by Michael Woods (Team EF Education First-Drapac) 6 kms before the top. Louis Meintjes and Ben O’Connor were settling into their own rhythm within the GC group. As Froome accelerated, our two African Team riders lost contact with the head of the race. Froome’s attack saw him distance the main GC contenders too, before Yates tried to counter with a late surge.
The race leader wasn’t able to catch Froome before the line, giving the stage win to the Team Sky rider. Yates held on to the pink leaders jersey by placing 2nd, and Domenico Pozzivivo (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) rounded out the stage podium in 3rd.
Ben O’Connor finished 16th on the stage, 2’17” behind Chris Froome. He now sits 15th in the GC, after an arduous day on the bike.
Alex Sans Vega – Rider
It was a tough stage of the Giro today with a lot of climbing, but all the earlier climbs of the day were always going to be overshadowed by the Zoncolan. We arrived to the start of the Zoncolan with 3 riders in the reduced peloton and then it was down to who had legs. Igor tried with an early attack, it was worth a go for him, with nothing to lose. Unfortunately, there was no repeat of 2011 for him as the GC favorites showed their quality. Remembering that Ben O’Connor is still only in his first grand tour, he did a good effort to stay within fighting distance of the race leaders. We have another big stage tomorrow and we’ll be on the lookout to take our opportunity.