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Monday, May 22, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2022 Giro d'Italia

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Giro d'Italia stage fifteen team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Brandon McNulty's UAE Team Emirates with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Burno Amirail's Team Groupama-FDJ:

Bruno Armirail couldn’t be prepared for his Sunday journey to Bergamo. With the pink jersey on his shoulders, the Frenchman undoubtedly experienced one of the most memorable days of his career in stage 15 of the Giro. Speechless the day before, the French time trial champion finally realized on Sunday, on the bike and along the road, the impact of his new outfit. As an icing on the cake, following a day controlled by his teammates, he managed to save his pink jersey despite attacks from the favorites in the final.

Bruno Amirail finished the day still in pink. Sirotti photo

With more than a minute lead, he therefore remains at the top of the general classification of the Giro d’Italia and will still be able to enjoy his new popularity tomorrow on the rest day, then Tuesday in the monstrous stage of Monte Bondone.

“I will give everything to keep it tonight”. Just by going to the start in Seregno on Sunday morning, after a magical night, Bruno Armirail was able to judge the pink jersey effect. Although he was well aware of the menu of stage 15 towards Bergamo, through three big climbs and 4000 meters of elevation gain, the Frenchman did not want to lose the jersey after just twenty-four hours. Especially since he hadn’t seen anything yet… However, in order to achieve his goal, the first step was to not make mistakes at the start of the race, when the fight for the breakaway began. “There were two options. Either the breakaway went on the flat and with riders quite far in GC, or it was a fight until the first climb, in which case the situation would have been much different”, explained Sébastien Joly.

“Eventually, it went on the flat, and with Rubio, who was eleven minutes down this morning. If we would have pulled to come back on him, the risk was that the race would start again and that it would explode in the first climb. We preferred to let it go, manage it, and that allowed us to take our own pace”. So after letting the gap grow to five minutes, the whole team positioned at the head of the pack, first in the wake of Fabian Lienhard. The Swiss man set the pace up until the first climb, then Jake Stewart and Ignatas Konovalovas replaced him in the valley leading to the Selvino.

“The scenario was good for us, and we managed to control it well”, explained the Lithuanian. “The leading group was quite strong, but it’s very good that we succeeded inmaintaining the gap at 5-6 minutes with only two or threeriders. I was personally in one of my best days since the start. Defending the jersey gave me, and gave us, even more motivation.” “Jake and Fabian surpassed themselves, and it was also nice to see Ignatas back at this level,” added Sébastien. “They managed to control until the last climb, and they were all up to the task. We knew that the GC teams were going to take the race in hand in the final, but that allowed us to respect and honour the jersey”.

After the two climbs located halfway through, the situation was therefore under control before a long valley leading to the last big ascent of the day. Protected, surrounded, and guided throughout the day, Bruno Armirail savoured the “fleeting moments” Rudy Molard was speaking about the day before. “I got a lot of encouragement”, he said later. “Yesterday I had not realized. Today I did. It’s only when I got on the bike that I realized that only pink mattered. It gave me goosebumps. During the stage, I even had goosebumps looking at the work my teammates were doing, because it is usually the one I do for them. I was moved on the bike. I thought: “they ride for me, it’s amazing”. I don’t think I will experience that often in my career. It was crazy stuff.”

As an expert of the domestique’s work, Bruno Armirail had nothing but praise to express for the support of his teammates on Sunday. “Honestly, the guys did a terrific job,” addedBruno. “They pulled all day. We lost Fabian at one point, but he came back and pulled again. Kono did a tremendous job, Jake too. I tried to have some encouraging words for them. When I’m in their place, it always makes me happy when the leader comes to encourage me a little. I know the work they did today, I know it very well, and I can’t wait to see them to thank them for all they have done.” As for the race, the peloton certainly reduced in the climb of Roncola Alta (10km at 6.7%) but it didn’t start the fight yet. It was only on the heights of Bergamo, five kilometres from the finish, that some attacks were recorded. Thibaut Pinot managed to stay very close to the favourites, while Bruno Armirail left it all on the road so as not to lose everything. “I know a short bump like that isn’t my thing, but I also knew it was pretty close to the line, so I did my best on the climb and gave it my all until the line”, said Bruno. “The whole team did a huge job, and I had to give everything until the end to try to keep it. I would have been very disappointed to lose this jersey, because they gave 300% of themselves”.

On the line, Bruno Armirail eventually lost only about thirty seconds on the GC contenders, and therefore easily kept the leadership. “It was an incredible day for me, I fully enjoyed it”, assured Bruno. “The guys really nailed it and I’m still in pink tonight thanks to them. It’s great to be able to spend the rest day with it. Tuesday? It will be another day”. While Brandon McNulty won the day’s stage after a breakaway, Thibaut Pinot only lost two seconds on some favorites and remains in eleventh place overall ahead of the third week of the Giro, which will start immediately with a tough program towards Monte Bondone. “We’re going to rest well tomorrow, Bruno will savour his jersey, then we’ll set off for the final week 100% behind Thibaut,” concluded Sébastien.

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Here's the report from GC second-place Geraint Thomas' Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Geraint Thomas finished the second week of the Giro d'Italia on the front foot to remain second overall.

The Welshman heads into the rest day remaining at the top of the established general classification contenders, 1:08 back on the maglia rosa of Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ).

Geraint Thomas is sitting in second place, 1min 8sec behind Bruno Amirail. Sirotti photo

Thomas looked comfortable over the final climb of the day as the GC group briefly split, even pushing the pace on the final descent into the finish in Bergamo.

The top 10 went unchanged on the day, with Thymen Arensman and Laurens De Plus also retaining their ninth and 10th places overall.

De Plus had hit the front to help pace the team over the day's final major climb, on a day which once again saw the breakaway go on to contest the stage win. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) won the three-up sprint, fending off Ben Healy (EF Education - EasyPost) and Marco Frigo (Israel - Premier Tech).

One of the only issues on the stage was a puncture for Pavel Sivakov heading into the final 75km. The Grenadier was able to quickly recover and make his way back to the group, on a day which saw Groupama-FDJ shoulder the majority of the pace setting in service of the maglia rosa.

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Here's the report from Primoz Roglic's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Primoz Roglic has finished the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia amidst his closest rivals. The rider of Jumbo-Visma was the first to start the final climb after a perfect lead-out from Koen Bouwman, keeping him ahead of any possible skirmishes. Breakaway rider Brandon McNulty won the stage.

Primoz Roglic before the stage start. Sirotti photo

The stage before the final rest day had similarities to the Tour of Lombardy. The finish was tricky with the long Roncola Alta and a challenging climb in the narrow streets of Bergamo. A large group broke away in the early stages and eventually fought for the stage win. The peloton was quiet for a long time until the final climb. Roglic followed steadily and stayed out of trouble.

"Here in Bergamo, we were still trying to assess the level of the competition”, sports director Marc Reef said. "Groupama-FDJ was in control, so it came down to the final climb, which showed that the classification riders were level matched. It was also too short to make a big difference. We did well during this stage.”

Reef is happy with the way the Giro d'Italia has gone so far. "We haven't had to waste a lot of energy. But it has been a challenge to stay healthy in the bad weather conditions. Thankfully, we can anticipate the last week with eight riders. On the wall stage, we took the initiative, and Primoz showed that he is in good shape. We are content with how things are right now, but we must now wait for the ideal opportunity to attack.”

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And here's the report from Lennard Kämna's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The second week of racing ended with a demanding 195 km stage that involved several loops around Bergamo. There was hardly a breather between the four categorized climbs, and the finale was also a challenge. Four kilometers before the finish, there was another steep climb in the old town of Bergamo, partly on cobblestones, before the last three kilometers led downhill to the finish. On the flat part at the beginning of the stage there was a hard fight for the escape group, with 17 riders successfully breaking away from the peloton.

The field took it easy and at the bottom of the last climb the lead of the reduced leading group was still more than 6 minutes, and it was clear that the victory would go to one of the escapees. In the end Brandon McNulty took the day's win. There were no attacks in the group of favorites until the very last climb in Bergamo, where a small group including the likes of Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic attacked. A chasing group containing Lennard Kämna was a few seconds behind, but managed to get closer again near the finish. In the end, Lennard lost two seconds in the general classification today, but thus keeps his seventh overall place before tomorrow's second rest day.

Lennard Kämna having a good day at the 2023 Alps Tour.

"It was a tough and hot day and I'm glad I came through it pretty well. My teammates provided really good support. Some other GC riders and I lost contact with the group of favorites on the last hill but we fought back and could almost close the gap at the finish straight. Overall I only lost two seconds, so we kept that in check." - Lennard Kämna

"There was finally sunshine on the route today, but also 4000 meters of altitude to contend with. FDJ wanted to defend the jersey and set a hard pace in the peloton. On the very last hill, another pre-selection came and the moves were made. I think we did quite well and really deserved tomorrow's rest day. The next week will of course be very decisive for the overall standings but we are ready. Our goal was for Lenni to be up there overall and so far it doesn't look too bad. We are just looking ahead now. The last week will be quite hard, it's not about 10 or 20 seconds, it's about minutes." - Patrick Konrad

"It was a pretty tough stage today. As expected, it was a breakaway day but our main task was to fully support Lenni and we did that well. I also wanted to say that Cesare did a particularly strong job after a week where he wasn't 100% fit, so chapeau. Before last week here, things are looking pretty good. Lenni lost a few seconds today but I think we have everything well in hand." - Enrico Gasparotto, Sporting Director

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