Dario Cataldo of Astana has won his first ever stage at the Giro d’Italia after ten years of trying, beating breakaway companion Mattia Cattaneo of Androni-Sidermec in the sprint in Como after more than 200 kilometres at the front of the race on a day when the final was played out on roads familiar from the late-season Monument, Il Lombardia.
Among the overall contenders, Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott came third, 12 seconds back, in a group also containing EF Education First rider Hugh Carthy, overall leader Richard Carapaz of Movistar, and two-time Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida.
Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic, who started the day 7 seconds behind Carapaz, lost time after crashing on the final descent, riding a bike borrowed from a team-mate following an earlier mechanical issue.
The final climb to Civiglio had its summit just 9.7 kilometres from the finish, and by the time they came out of Como for the first time, Cattaneo and Cataldo had enough of a gap that they seemed assured of contesting the win between them, but their advantage had tumbled to barely a minute by the time they came over the top.
Behind, the overall battle exploded as Yates followed a move from Carthy and with Nibali and Carapaz getting across to them, Roglic hit a crash barrier on the way down as he tried to limit his losses.
Nibali – twice a winner of Il Lombardia – by contrast produced a trademark daredevil descent, but was caught by Yates, Carthy and Carapaz as the road bottomed out.
The Italian pair who would dispute the finish got away early on during the 237-kilometre stage from Ivrea, north of Turin, its route taking them across the rice fields of the Po Valley and the northern suburbs of Milan before heading towards Lake Como.
Their advantage, once standing at around a quarter of an hour, began to tumble as the race hit the lower slopes of the ascent to the Madonna del Ghisallo, the first of three categorised climbs today, with Mitchelton-Scott forcing the pace before Movistar, working for Carapaz, moved to the front.
Next, it was the Bahrain-Merida team of Nibali that came to the fore, stringing out the bunch as they headed up towards the chapel at the summit and its cycling museum that houses the biggest collection of the iconic pink jersey awaiting the winner of the race in Verona next Sunday.
Cataldo and Cattaneo – who had chased back to his breakaway companion after changing bikes on the climb due to a mechanical problem – crested the summit with an advantage of around 7 minutes over the main group, from which Trek-Segafredo’s Giulio Ciccone took more points to further reinforce his leadership of the mountains classification.
Next on the menu was the Colma di Sormano, the race avoiding the tougher Muro – the Wall – di Sormano, but even so, it was a taxing climb with a maximum gradient of 12 per cent.
Yates attacked twice on the climb, Nibali as well as Movistar’s Mikel Landa and Carapaz going with him, and while they were quickly reabsorbed into the group a second attack from the Briton moments later saw him get clear.
He was soon back in the bunch, but following yesterday’s second place to Carapaz, it was another sign that his form has returned after what had been a challenging week since last Sunday’s time trial to San Marino – something he further confirmed with his move on the final climb and his third-place finish today.
Stage winner Dario Cataldo
“On the Civiglio climb I knew the gap and I knew how much we could lose at the top. I was more worried at the foot of the final descent because we had 30 seconds and Mattia wouldn't work with me any longer. In the final 1.5km, I managed to catch my breath a bit, save some energy, then I knew I could do a good sprint.
"I knew my capabilities and those of my rival. I rode from the front. I opened full gas and gave it everything.”
Maglia Rosa Richard Carapaz
“[About Primoz Roglic’s mechanical], that’s cycling. One day it happens to a rider, the other day it happens to another one. That’s part of the passion for this sport.
"I had good legs yesterday. I wasn’t at the front by coincidence. In the last week, my rivals still have many kilometres to recover their time. But I hope to be declared the champion of the Giro d’Italia.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.