Pogacar Climbs to Victory in Stage 15 of Giro d’Italia

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05/19/2024| 0 comments
by Roadcycling.com
Tadej Pogacar crosses the finish line as winner of stage 15 of Giro d'Italia 2024 in Livigno
Tadej Pogacar crosses the finish line as winner of stage 15 of Giro d'Italia 2024 in Livigno RCS Sport - LaPresse

Pogacar Climbs to Victory in Stage 15 of Giro d’Italia

Tadej Pogacar has taken a beautiful victory in a mountainous stage 15 at Giro d’Italia 2024; Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) remains General Classification leader ahead of Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers) and Daniel Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Saturday’s stage 15 of Giro d’Italia 2024 was a mountain stage from Manerba del Garda to Livigno (Mottolino). The stage would be 222 kilometers long and as it featured three Category One climbs an epic mountain battle was expected. All three Category One climbs would have to be contested in the final 100 kilometers of the stage. It would be an old-style stage with more than six hours in the saddle to be expected. Yours truly is a great fan of these long and exhausting mountain battles that become epic adventures to be remembered for decades to come.

From the very beginning of the stage, it was obvious that this was a stage in which many riders had great ambitions and in which many teams were hoping to set their own important agendas.

Several attacks were launched from the peloton soon after the race was given free. Multiple attack groups were established, and these groups were reshuffled on the Lodrino (Category Three; 7.6 km; 4.4%) and Colle di San Zeno (Category Two; 13.7 km; 6.7%) climbs in the first part of the stage.

As the Giro riders approached the first Category One climb of today’s stage 15 - the Passo del Mortirolo (12.6 km; 7.7%) – the front breakaway group featured Tobia Bayer (Soudal-QuickStep), Davide Ballerini (Astana), Christian Scaroni (Astana), Harrison Wood (Cofidis), and the VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizane duo of Giulio Pellizzari and Alessandro Tonelli.

A large 45-man chase group was working hard to reduce or bridge the gap. The group was 01:45 minutes behind the front sixtet and featured well-known and strong riders such as Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos-Grenadiers), Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Jefferson Cepeda (EF Education-EasyPost), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarche-Wanty), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Juan Pedro Lopez (Lidl-Trek), Pelayo Sanchez (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep), Alessandro de Marchi (Jayco-Alula), Chris Hamilton (DSM-Firmenich), Attila Valter (Visma-Lease a Bike), Jan Tratnik (Visma-Lease a Bike), and Michael Storer (Tudor Pro Cycling Team). 

The peloton was 04:30 minutes behind the front sixtet and featured General Classification favorites such as race leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers), and Daniel Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The first breakaway group had entered the false-flat kilometers that preceeded the Category One Passo del Mortirolo climb. Bayer and Ballerini were dropped from the group.

Participants kept dropping from the first breakaway group on the Passo del Mortirolo as The VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizane duo of Giulio Pellizzari and Christian Scaroni were setting a fast pace to keep the chasers at bay. Only Astana’s Scaroni was able to keep up with his two fellow Italians.

Meanwhile, team Polti Kometa were pulling in breakaway group two on the Passo del Mortirolo and the group now had a 43 second deficit to group one.

Geschke and Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck) attacked from group two on the Passo del Mortirolo in pursuit of valuable points for the Best Climber Classification, which was currently led by Berlin-native Geschke. 

Full-beard Geschke is riding his last season as a pro cyclist and looked very determined. Conci, however, dropped Geschke and caught front men Scaroni and Pellizzari. Scaroni was first to reach the top of the climb and thereby secured the most points for the Best Climber Competition. 

The front group now consisted of Conci, Scaroni, and Pellizzari. A 15-20 man chase group was 24 seconds behind, while a small main peloton group featuring the General Classification favorites was 04:35 minutes behind the front trio. A dangerous descent on small roads now awaited the Giro cyclists. Full attention and gentle braking were the doctor’s orders.

The two front groups merged in the valley and a strong eighteen-man group pressed on – each rider with his own ambitions and hopes of winning today’s memorable mountain stage.

With forty kilometers left of today’s stage 14 of Giro d’Italia 2024, there were discussions and minor arguments going on in the front group. The riders appeared unable to agree on a propper strategy and how to fairly share the workload. The frustrations resulted in the main peloton gaining time on the breakaway hopefuls who now had a lead of only 03:30 minutes with two Category One climbs still remaining on today’s race menu.

Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos-Grenadiers) and Simone Velasco (Astana) attacked from the front group. They were soon caught.

The breakaway riders were approaching the Passo di Foscagno climb (Category One; 14.6 km; 6.3%). Twenty-eight kilometers remained. Ten men were represented at the front. They were Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos-Grenadiers), Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Georg Steinhauser (EF Education-EasyPost), Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep), Davide Piganzoli (Team Polti Kometa), Attila Valter (Team Visma – Lease a Bike), Michael Storer (Tudor Pro Cycling Team), and Luca Covili (VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizane).

Steinhauser attacked while Alaphilippe got dropped. While this would not be the day for the Frenchman, this could be the day for young German Steinhauser.

Steinhauser looked strong and he quickly built a lead of fifteen seconds to Valter who had initiated a chase effort. The other breakaway participants were further five seconds behind. Quintana and Storer joined the chase together with Valter.

Steinhauser increased his lead to 45 seconds over Quintana who was now chasing solo as Valter and Storer had been dropped from the chase group. The main peloton with Pogacar, Geraint Thomas and Dani Martinez was 03:15 seconds behind with 16 kilometers of the stage remaining.

Pogacar attacked solo from the main peloton on the penultimate climb of the day, the Passo di Foscagno. UAE Team Emirates knew an early attack was needed for Pogacar to be able to catch Steinhauser and other frontmen before the finish line.

Steinhauser first, Quintana 20 seconds later, six-man group one minute behind Steinhauser, and Pogacar chasing 02:35 behind the leading German with 13 kilometers left. Martinez, Thomas and others were chasing further behind.

Quintana surprisingly passed Steinhauser with 12.3 kilometers remaining.

Romain Bardet (Firmenich-DSM) attacked from the main peloton with eleven kilometers left.

The short descent before the final climb to the finish line was intense. Quintana was solo in front and knew he had to descend from the mountain at a very high pace because Pogacar was chasing him forty seconds behind. Pogacar had climbed at a remarkable speed which made it look as if other riders were almost standing still. We were now seeing the speeds of days past. Steinhauser was chasing behind Quintana and Pogacar.

Quintana had a lead of twenty seconds when he entered the final climb to the finish line in Livigno (Mottolino). But Pogacar was chasing hard. He also wanted this stage for himself – and tomorrow would be the second rest day of this year’ Giro d’Italia.

Pogacar pushed hard in the pedals and delivered a very high speed. He caught Quintana with two kilometers left and flew past the Colombian.

Geraint Thomas and Daniel Martinez were losing valuable time to the Slovenian race leader again today. Why were they suffering, while he had endless energy? Hadn’t they trained sufficiently and prepared well this season?

Pogacar crossed the finish line in solo fashion as winner of stage 15 of Giro d’Italia 2024.

Quintana was next across the finish line in Livigno.

Meanwhile, Geraint Thomas attacked in the final climb. The Welshman still had some energy left in his human battery.

Steinhauser crossed the finish line solo to take an impressive third place in today’s tough stage.

Bardet finished fourth and Martinez, who had responded to Thomas’ acceleration in the climb, finished fifth ahead of Thomas.

In the General Classification Pogacar increased his lead over Thomas and Martinez.

Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for complete race coverage from Giro d’Italia 2024.

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