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  1. Plaza rues missed opportunity at Prato Nevoso

    Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) threw everything he had at the Giro d'Italia's 18th stage on Thursday, infiltrating the day's main breakaway and then surviving to be among the final three fighting for victory on the summit finish at the Prato Nevoso ski resort.

    The 38-year-old Spaniard came up just short of adding a Giro d'Italia stage to his collection of Grand Tour stage wins, however, finishing second to winner Maximillian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) with a gritty performance that saw him twice come back to the leaders after losing the pace in the closing kilometres.

    "I finished completely dead," Plaza said after the line, still catching his breath from the effort.


    Plaza previously won stages in the Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France, and he said before the race that he wanted to add a Giro win to his palmares, and he put in a mighty effort to keep the promise. Plaza had been fighting to stick with the slowly shrinking breakaway since the road began to climb after a long day of flat terrain, but he jumped from his rivals with 8.7km to go as the leaders' advantage on the pink jersey group remained above 12 minutes.

    Schachmann quickly put the clamps on Plaza's first acceleration, bringing across a group of five that included Androni-Sidermac's Mattia Cattaneo and Bora-Hansgrohe's Christoff Pfingsten.

    The Spanish rider's second move only launched Schachmann and Cattaneo into a duo move, with the pair trading attacks but unable to drop one another. Plaza lingered just a few seconds back, but he wasn't done yet.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  2. Giro d'Italia stage 19: The hardest part is still to come

    As the Giro d'Italia gruppo pedalled towards Prato Nevoso on Thursday afternoon, the eye will have been drawn by the snow-capped peaks that loomed imposingly on the horizon beyond the day's finishing climb. They seemed to serve as a tacit reminder: no matter what happens here, the hardest part is still to come.

    In the end, the ascent of Prato Nevoso on stage 18 tightened the margins of this Giro in a way that few could have anticipated. It was expected to be the most straightforward of the race's three days in the Alps, but a breathless finale saw Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) halve Simon Yates' lead to just 28 seconds.

    Come Friday's immense tappone from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia, however, the arithmetic of this Giro may well be performed in minutes rather than seconds. Stage 19 is, quite simply, the hardest stage of the race to this point. If, as per the truism, anything can happen in the final week of the Giro, then Friday is the day where those things are most likely to take place.


    The dirt road of the Colle delle Finestre is the headline attraction on the stage – not to mention the highest point of the entire Giro – but it would be reductive to focus solely on that evocative ascent. The beauty and the brutality of stage 19 are that there is scarcely any let up at all, with the Colle del Lys, Sestriere and a summit finish on the Jafferau also crammed into the day's 184 kilometres.

    Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) sits in the field with his teammates

    The route

    The stage sets out from Venaria Reale, north of Turin and former residence of the House of Savoy, and the road rises gradually for the first hour or so even before the gruppo hits the day's first classified climb, the category 2 Colle del Lys (13.8km at an average of 4.3 per cent and a maximum of 12 per cent).

    The lie of the land

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  3. Pozzovivo's confidence grows as Giro d'Italia's big mountain stages loom large

    Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) coughed hard and deep as he tried to recover from his huge effort to finish with Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) on the Prato Nevoso finish at the end of the Giro d'Italia's stage 18, but he was happy to have gained a few seconds on Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and show that he can more than hold his own in the fight for the final podium places.

    Pozzovivo leads the Italian hopes in the Giro d'Italia after the demise of Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates). He is performing better after joining Bahrain-Merida for the 2018 season and being given a clear leadership role while teammate Vincenzo Nibali focuses on the Tour de France.

    Pozzovivo, like Dumoulin and Froome, gained 28 seconds on Yates and now knows the Briton could be vulnerable in the terrible final two mountain stages to Bardonecchia and Cervinia. While Froome could suffer another bad day, and Dumoulin was arguably more suited to today’s finish, the two multi-climb stages, with steep gradients and mountain finishes, are Pozzovivo's favoured terrain. He is the pure climber in the fight for the podium and so, while he lacks the palmares of Froome and Dumoulin, he is as dangerous as both of them.


    "Their attacks hurt the maglia rosa, but I just held their wheels, especially when Froome kicked, I wasn't at my limit. That's why I pushed on hard right to the finish," Pozzovivo said confidently before descending to his bus parked below the finish area.

    "As everyone knows, my goal is to defend my third place overall but perhaps also try for something extra, including a stage win. I'm looking forward to the big mountain stages. I'm not sure if everyone else is."

    CRESCENDO from Cyclingnews Films on Vimeo. Pre-order now ahead of June 1 release.
    Debut production THE HOLY WEEK still available to buy or rent.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  4. Tom Dumoulin: I thought, 'That's nice, finally a moment of weakness'

    For two weeks, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and the Giro d'Italia gruppo had laboured under the growing impression that Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) simply could not be defeated when the road climbed. For two weeks, on every manner of mountain and hill that Italy has to offer, the maglia rosa was impassive of face and light of foot, his lead seemingly impregnable.

    In the space of two kilometres near the summit of Prato Nevoso, however, Dumoulin put an altogether different complexion on the race by halving his deficit to the Briton in the overall standings. The Dutchman's two accelerations, first alone and then in pursuit of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), placed Yates in difficulty for the first time in this Giro. All of a sudden, the margins have drawn tighter.

    With two mammoth mountain stages still to come before the race leaves the Alps, Dumoulin now trails Yates by just 28 seconds. Perhaps as importantly, for the first time since Yates seized the maglia rosa in Sicily, there has been a shift in the momentum of the race. Small wonder that Dumoulin couldn't stop repeating the same word when he was swarmed by the sizeable contingent of Dutch reporters just past the finish line. "Mooi," he kept saying. 'Nice.'


    "It is his first weak moment in this race, and that is nice," Dumoulin said. "I thought I would just try to accelerate. Then I had to sit down, and Froome came past me. But I felt that I had enough in the tank to follow him and Pozzovivo."

    Stage 18 was the first of three in the Piedmontese Alps, and ever since setting out from Israel, Dumoulin likely had the page marked off in his Garibaldi, as the Giro roadbook is known. A year ago, after all, he scored a stage victory in this same corner of the world on a markedly similar stage to Oropa by accelerating clear near the summit.

    "Today I was better, and that is nice, but I am also well aware that this stage suited me very well," Dumoulin said. "It was super slow and flat all day, and then there was a maximum effort on the climb to the finish.


    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  5. Chris Froome: The race is still on

    Chris Froome was forced to ride on the defensive for much of the Giro d'Italia after his crash before the opening time trial in Jerusalem, but the Team Sky leader appeared to be back to his Grand Tour best on the fast climb to Prato Nevoso at the end of stage 18, gaining 28 seconds on race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

    Froome is targeting Domenico Pozzovivo's podium place as his first goal, and the Italian for Bahrain-Merida is only 39 seconds ahead of him. But Froome appears to have found the inspiration for a possible audacious all-out attack on the maglia rosa in the final two mountain stages.

    "If only I hadn't crashed in Jerusalem," Froome told Italian television after refusing to stop at the finish, again preferring to descend to the Team Sky bus and warm down before sharing his thoughts.


    "I'm feeling better every day, but I need to pull back time. It was a good for me, but we've only done the first of thee consecutive mountain stages which will be very hard."

    Froome revealed that his late attack was premeditated. He sent teammate Wout Poel up the final climb to be there to help him in the finale. After going with Dumoulin's first surge with two kilometres remaining, Froome then jumped around his rivals and surged away himself, helping to distance Yates. He was perhaps hoping to gain time on Pozzovivo. Little did he know that Yates would suffer and be unable to stay with them.

    "I had no idea he was on the limit there. Only when I accelerated did I turn around to see Pozzovivo and Dumoulin with me and not Simon," Froome explained.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  6. Giro d'Italia: Yates tries to paper over the cracks after losing time to Dumoulin

    Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) showed a first sign of weakness at the 2018 Giro d'Italia on Thursday, losing time to Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) on the fast finish to Prato Nevoso.

    He tried hard to paper over cracks in his defence of the maglia rosa, insisting it was just a bad day and that the multiple mountain stages to Bardonecchia and Cervinia suit him much more. However, Dumoulin is just 28 seconds down on the Briton and he got a real taste of blood after two-and-a-half weeks of suffering.

    "I feel really good. I was only bad for one kilometre, so that's OK. I'm still in the lead, I'm still in front. Dumoulin is 28 seconds behind, not 28 seconds ahead of me. For me that's OK," he said, perhaps to convince himself, his rivals and everyone else who feels the Giro d'Italia is suddenly wide open.


    "Today is very different to the next few days," Yates said. "Today was one big effort in the final. Tomorrow there are many passes and longer climbs that suit me much more. This does not hurt my confidence. I'm much more confident about tomorrow and the next day than I was about today."

    Asked specifically if this time loss was the first crack in what seemed to be an invincible armour, Yates gave a little more away but put the blame on the fast finish that facilitated the high-speed attacks from Dumoulin and Froome.

    "For sure, today was not a super day for me, as in the parcours I mean. The next few days suit me much more. I am looking forward to them," he said.

    "Everyone expects Tom to lose time to me on every climb because he is a time triallist, but he is a classy rider. I didn't have the legs to follow him. Was it a first crack? Good question. I don't know. I hope not."

    Yates insisted that his aggressive race strategy so far had been the right one.

    "It's what I needed to do to be in the lead," he said. "If I hadn't been so aggressive, I would be behind now. I have taken 40 seconds in time bonuses, and I am only 28 in front. If I hadn't been aggressive, I wouldn't be in the lead. For me, it's been necessary."

    Yates responded to Dumoulin’s first surge with two kilometres to go and initially looked in control as he sat in the big Dutchman's slipstream. However, when Froome then kicked hard, too, he was not able to respond. Dumoulin and Pozzovivo did, and with help from perfectly placed Wout Poels (Team Sky), the trio put 28 seconds into Yates before the finish line.

    Yates knew Dumoulin would attack and looked him in the eye after following the first surge. It was the second attack from Froome that put him on the ropes.

    "I looked at him because I wanted to see how he was," Yates said. "He gave everything in one attack, but he still had some legs to go. It was a really good ride for him. After I couldn't close the gap. I was really tired and I couldn't respond to the attacks, that's OK. That's OK," Yates said.

    Yates explained he focused on Dumoulin today but conceded that Froome is not out of the race, despite being 3:22 back, and perhaps focused on taking Pozzovivo's third place overall.

    "I said from beginning he was never out of it. He said he was going to fight all the way to Rome, and that is what he's shown now. I never doubted him for one minute. For me, it's not a surprise," Yates said of his fellow Briton.

    "Both he and Dumoulin are good. I said that from start. All my rivals are very strong. I have never underestimated anyone in the top 10. We need to be careful until we reach Rome, especially in the next two days."

    Yates had promised to ride defensively in the final mountain stages but hinted he may return to riding aggressively as he did until the Trento time trial.

    "Maybe I'll have to go on the offensive if it's not working," he said. "The offensive approach worked all race, so maybe we'll have to switch back."

    CRESCENDO from Cyclingnews Films on Vimeo. Pre-order now ahead of June 1 release.
    Debut production THE HOLY WEEK still available to buy or rent.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  7. Giro d'Italia: Stage 18 highlights - Video

    Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) won stage 18 on the summit of Prato Nevoso on Thursday. The German was part of the day's breakaway that survived the final climb, and he held off Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy), who finished second, and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), who was third.

    The winning trio stemmed from the early breakaway that also included Quick-Step's Michael Morkov, Davide Ballerini, Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Hansgrohe), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha-Alpecin), Jos van Emden, Boy van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), Marco Marcato (UAE Emirates), Giuseppe Fonzi and Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia). They built a lead of more than 16 minutes.

    The remaining trio attacked each other beginning at 900m to the finish line, and Schachmann made his winning move with 300 metres to the line, leaving his two rivals to settle for second and third.


    The battle for the GC heated up as well, and although Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is still in the maglia rosa, he lost 28 seconds to rival Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). Yates now leads the race by 28 seconds ahead of Dumoulin, and 2:43 to third placed Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida). Chris Froome (Team Sky) is in fourth at 3:22 back.

    There are three stages left of this Giro d'Italia with significant climbs on stage 19 to Bardonecchia and stage 20 to Cervinia, before the race wraps up in Rome in Sunday.

    Watch how stage 18 unfolded in the highlights video above.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  8. Giro d'Italia: Stage 18 finish line quotes

    Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) - stage winner

    "I feel amazing. It's great to win a stage on my first Grand Tour. I think everyone here agrees it's a really hard Giro, which makes it even nicer to be on top here. Of course, I am going to help Viviani as much as possible. It doesn't matter who wins in our team. We are a great team, with great team spirit. A big part of this victory goes to Michael Morkov. He took me on his wheel and he bridged me over. It's not the first time he's helped me in this race. We share a room together, he's a great rider and he always has a big big part in every victory."

    Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) - lost 27 seconds to rivals on stage

    "I didn't have great legs. I did the best I could, and that's that. I'm still in front, so it's all good." 

    Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) - now 28 seconds behind Yates

    "I was waiting for the moment, and at 2km to go I wanted to see what was possible. [Yates] stayed with my first attack, then Froome attacked and I tried to follow Pozzovivo, and Froome and found out he was dropped. Of course, it's a good day, but the coming two days are going to be different and much harder than today."


    Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) - third overall

    "Well I wanted to try get on [Froome's] wheel straight away, so I thought, 'Let's go for it,' and I also wanted to put pressure on the maglia rosa. I could see Yates behind me, and I was just ahead of him and now this Giro has become very close once again."

    Matt White (DS, Mitchelton-Scott)

    "Simon has showed no sign of any weakness over the last 18 days. Today suited the power guys with a nice, steady climb. If Froome and Dumoulin were going to put time into Simon, today was definitely the day. We've got a lot harder days to come but we expected the attacks. Some people have bad days and obviously Yates hasn't had the best final today.

    "I don't think anything changes at all, tomorrow is probably the hardest day of the tour. Very, very different, very long with some long valleys in between. Tomorrow's final climb is very tough and very steep. I hope he doesn't respond with attacking tomorrow! He's an aggressive character and you saw he's not happy with himself. He knows theres lots of racing to come. He's a tough nut and he's gonna go down fighting." (To Eurosport)

    Michael Morkov (Quick-Step Floors) - Schachmann's teammate in the breakaway

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  9. Nevi combines titanium with walnut for spectacular Titanio Legno race frame

    This article first appeared on BikeRadar.

    Italian brand Nevi is known for producing exquisite titanium frames, but its new Titanio Legno adds another exotic material into the mix.

    The Titanio Legno (that’s Titanium Wood for those of us whose Italian lessons are now a distant memory) uses identical geometry to Nevi’s Spinas race bike, but its top tube and signature oversized down tube have been replaced with hollow 10mm thick sections of walnut wood.


    At present, the Titanio Legno frame you see here is the only one in existence, though Nevi has announced it will soon become an option for Nevi customers.

    The walnut used for the frame was sourced locally to Nevi’s Bergamo HQ and is laminated from solid sections in a process that’s used frequently in the nautical industry. The sections were then machine-cut, treated and bonded to the rest of the titanium chassis.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  10. Raim continues comeback with win in Japan - News Shorts

    Estonian sprinter Mihkel Räim (Israel Cycling Academy) put an exclamation point on his recovery from the broken scaphoid he suffered at Colombia Oro Y Paz in February, adding his second win of the season during stage 4 at the Tour of Japan on Wednesday.

    Räim had to overcome both the broken bone and the disappointment of missing out on an opportunity to start his first Grand Tour as Israel Cycling Academy gained a wildcard entry to the Giro d'Italia.

    The Pro Continental team's most prolific winner with10 UCI wins over three years, Räim broke his wrist in a crash during stage 3 of the Colombian 2.HC race and was out of competition for two months. The injury caused him to miss the important early part of the season when riders were proving their mettle to make the Giro roster.


    "Kjell [Carlström, team manager] and the sports directors all said there are other races than the Giro, so I just accepted that," Räim said. "I still do my job whether I'm at the Giro or not. I wasn't selected and that's OK. I think the other guys deserved it more because I was injured and couldn't race until a month ago."

    Räim returned to racing in April at Tro Bro Leon, where he failed to finish in his first race back. He went to Spain next for the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and won the stage 2 bunch sprint in Palencia. He raced the Vuelta Aragon before proving again in Japan that his bunch-kick was back with a win on stage 4.

    "There aren't many guys like him," said Spanish teammate Jose Diaz Gallego. "He's funny and he makes a lot of jokes, but he's still a very professional racer."

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    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

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