Brutal Mont Zoncolan Climb Wraps Up Second Week at Giro d’Italia19. May 2018, Monte Zoncolan (ITA) — Road Team
The second week at the Giro d’Italia came to an end in the most brutal of ways with a General Classification showdown on Monte Zoncolan, which saw Rohan Dennis finish in 19th place on stage 14 to move into eleventh overall.
The iconic Monte Zoncolan summit finish, deemed the hardest climb in Europe, features a maximum gradient of 22 percent and an average gradient of 11.9 percent across the 10 kilometers.
Despite multiple attacks early in the race, it took more than 40km for a breakaway to establish when four riders went clear towards the summit of Monte di Ragogna before later growing to seven riders when three chasers made the junction.
Race leader Simon Yates’ Mitchelton-SCOTT team took control of the race situation and set a steady tempo to keep the breakaway’s advantage within five minutes as the riders tackled the hilly terrain leading to the category three Avaglio climb.
After 100km, Dennis and Nicolas Roche made their way to the front of the peloton to stay out of trouble and be positioned well on the approach to the category two and three climbs.
The breakaway’s advantage extended to 6’30” with 55km remaining and although the penultimate climb of the day saw many riders start to drop, the battle between the overall contenders was saved for the Zoncolan ascent.
With 25km to go, Dennis was being guided by Alessandro De Marchi at the front of the bunch as the group closed in on the remaining breakaway riders, who were 2’10” in front.
By the time Dennis’ group hit the bottom of the climb, the race was all but together and new attacks started.
As the gradient reached the maximum 22 percent Dennis started to drop off the back of the Maglia Rosa group and from there, rode his own tempo for the remaining seven kilometers.
Up ahead, Chris Froome attacked to go solo ahead of the final four kilometers while behind, the gradient took its toll and the group was in pieces.
Froome hung on to take the win ahead of Yates, who retained the race lead, with the remaining General Classification contenders crossing the line one by one.
The peloton faces one more day of climbing with stage 15 before the final rest day on Monday.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I was expecting the climb to be bad and it was. I think anybody who is over 70kg is going to hate that climb [Zoncolan] and anybody under 60kg is going to love it. I knew it was going to hurt so I just rode my own pace up it and after that first kick there was a bit of a downhill. I thought if I could stay with them there and it didn’t hurt too much, I could get a free run into the proper climb. From there on, I just rode my tempo.”
“I’m happy with my ride. I was surprised by how much I lost still considering I was still, what I thought, holding good power the whole way up. It’s good to see where I’m at again, on a climb like this. I’m hoping it’s not a climb that we do again very soon. Obviously I lost a lot of time to the leaders, the guys on the podium, but the top ten is still within reach and the time trial is going to help me a lot. So, tomorrow is another hard day but it will probably feel easy compared to today. It’s not easy though so I need to keep switched on for 180km and then it’s a rest day and the time trial.”
Stage 14 San Vito Al Tagliamento > Monte Zoncolan (186km)
Top 3: 1. Chris Froome (Team Sky), 2. Simon Yates(Mitchelton-SCOTT), 3. Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale)
BMC Racing Team top 3: 19. Rohan Dennis, 60. Kilian Frankiny, 73. Alessandro De Marchi