Dennis Continues to Impress in the Mountains Ahead of Final Rest Day20. May 2018, Sappada (ITA) — Road Team
15 stages into his first real attempt at the General Classification in a Grand Tour and Rohan Dennis has retained his position just outside of the top ten with six stages of the Giro d’Italia, including the stage 16 time trial, remaining.
It was a frantic start to racing on stage 15 and numerous breakaway attempts, including multiple from Alessandro De Marchi, were all neutralized.
After two prior attempts were pulled back, De Marchi jumped clear again in a group that bridged to four riders, who had managed to gain a slight advantage.
The then nine-rider breakaway formed the base of what would eventually be a huge 24-rider group that finally went clear with 100km remaining on the 176km stage.
The group’s advantage reached a maximum of three minutes but EF Education-First Cannondale Drapac immediately started to chase and brought the gap down quickly.
On the second ascent of the day, the Passo Tre Croci, the breakaway started to split and the Maglia Rosa group was closing in with the gap down to 1’20”.
With 70km to go, Mike Woods (EF Education-First Cannondale Drapac) attacked from the bunch to try and bridge to the breakaway while behind, the injection of pace caused many riders to drop from the peloton.
De Marchi crested the Passo Tre Croci is a four-rider chase group 30 seconds behind the leading quartet, whose advantage over the Maglia Rosa group had extended back out to two minutes.
The number of riders leading the race consistently changed as the undulating terrain took its toll until it was just Nico Denz (AG2R La Mondiale) and Guilio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) who led the race, 1’20” in front of the Maglia Rosa group, with Dennis, approaching 30km to go.
Denz attacked solo with just over 20km to go, but his advantage continued to drop as the General Classification battle started to heat up behind when the Maglia Rosa group split.
Dennis battled to stay on the wheel and was distanced on the category 2 Costalissoio climb while up ahead, race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) launched attack after attack to distance his General Classification rivals.
Dennis dug deep and managed to claw his way back to the second group on the Costalissoio summit to pass under the King of the Mountain arch 1’07” behind Yates, who was solo up the road.
Yates held on to take the stage win and extend his overall lead, while Dennis crossed the line with the second chase group, 1’20” behind to retain his 11th place overall.
BMC Racing Team’s Giro d’Italia team has been reduced to six riders after Nicolas Roche and Loïc Vliegen withdrew at the feed zone during stage 15.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“Today was crazy. I think any potential General Classification day just before a rest day is a recipe for everyone to go as hard as they can. The final categorized climb was solid and I got gapped at the bottom, but just rode my tempo which got me on about one kilometer from the top and then the valley road to the finish was perfect for me.”
"My legs are obviously sore but for stage 15 it is the best I have ever felt in a Grand Tour. The time trial on Tuesday is perfect for me and I’m really looking forward to it.”
“I haven’t been feeling good on the bike for the last few days and today the sensations were worse and worse to the point where I wasn’t able to continue. I’m disappointed to withdraw, particularly as this is the first time I have ever abandoned a Grand Tour in the 19 that I have done.”
Dr. Giovanni Ruffini:
“Loïc Vliegen started to show symptoms of illness in the last few days and this morning woke up with a fever. We made the decision to start the race but to monitor his condition throughout the race. Unfortunately, Loïc’s condition did not improve and he was forced to withdraw at the feed zone. After a few days of rest and recovery, he will be ok to get back on the bike in training.”
Stage 15 Tolmezzo > Sappada (176km)
Top 3: 1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), 2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team), 3. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)
BMC Racing Team top 3: 16. Rohan Dennis, 32. Kilian Frankiny