Giro d’Italia 2018: Simon Yates leaves Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome behind to clinch stage 15 in style

Yates attacked twice in the final 20km, first to shed Froome and his Team Sky allies, and then again to drop Dumoulin, Thibaut Pinot and the other leading general classification contenders

Lawrence Ostlere
Sunday 20 May 2018 16:20
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Simon Yates remains in pink after winning his third stage
Simon Yates remains in pink after winning his third stage

Simon Yates produced a sensational solo attack to win stage 15 and extend his Giro d’Italia lead over Tom Dumoulin. On a day when Chris Froome lost a significant chunk of time, the race now more than ever has the look of a straight fight between last year’s champion, Dumoulin, and Britain’s Yates who is delivering the performance of his career so far.

Yates attacked twice in the final 20km, first to shed Froome and his Team Sky allies, and then again to drop Dumoulin, Thibaut Pinot and the other leading general classification contenders, and pushed hard all the way to the finish in Sappada. In keeping with the cool, calm way he has raced this Giro, the 25-year-old barely celebrated as he crossed the line to clinch his third stage of the tour.

After Monday’s rest day comes the moment for Dumoulin to strike back and cut his 2min 11sec deficit, possibly even taking control of the Maglia Rosa in a 34km individual time trial which suits him perfectly. But this Giro ends with three summit-finishes beginning on Thursday which will decide the race before its finale in Rome, and they are the sort of stages on which Yates has repeatedly thrived – and where Dumoulin can be made to suffer.

“It was a bit of instinct,” said Yates of his double attack. “It was really hard from the very bottom. I still felt good so I chose my moment to go. They responded the first time. I gave everything the second time and managed to get away.

“I don’t know why, I’m a bit emotional after today, I really gave everything. It’s a good gap, but he can get two minutes out of me in the TT. It could vanish in 35km, so we’ll see.”

The 176km route from Tolmezzo to Sappada, close to the Austrian border, offered plenty of chances to attack and counter-attack with four relatively short but sharp categorised climbs.

Four riders dropped out during the day as the repercussions of Saturday’s brutal Zoncolan club made themselves clear. A couple of early breaks were foiled before a small group including Yates and Dumoulin burst away from Froome and his Team Sky domestiques on the penultimate descent.

Tom Dumoulin, front, couldn’t keep pace with Simon Yates

Yates then showed his determination to keep hold of the Maglia Rosa, knowing that he will almost certainly lose significant time to Dumoulin on Tuesday’s time trial, by digging in to heave himself clear of the Dutch rider and the handful of clingers on.

As Yates powered into the distance, Dumoulin slipped away from the group, the pain kicking in, but last year’s champion showed strength to rejoin them in the final kilometres to limit the damage, crossing the line around half a minute behind Yates.

Froome came in more than a minute later, perhaps struggling after his exertions in winning on the Zoncolan. He is now seventh overall, nearly five minutes behind Yates, and his hopes of holding all three Grand Tours at once seem remote. Instead the final week is set to be a fascinating head-to-head between Yates and Dumoulin, with all eyes on Tuesday’s crucial time trial.

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