Giro d'Italia Final Week, Hammer Series ...Global Cycling Network
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This week, the Giro d’Italia wraps up in Rome, we’ve got the Baloise Belgium Tour, the final two stages of the Emakumeen Bira, Tour of Japan, Tour des Fjords, The RAS, and the first Hammer Series event of the year in Stavanger, Norway.
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What a difference a week makes. This time last week on the Racing News Show, Simon Yates looked set to take the biggest win of his career. And that lead looked even more secure when he admirably defended his lead in the stage 16 individual time trial, a stage won by Rohan Dennis - from that point, as Yates said himself, all he and his team needed to do was defend.
Easier said than done, as we subsequently found out. Yates first sign of weakness came on stage 19, the mountain top finish at Prato Nevoso - he lost 28s, half his lead. Not the end of the world, but as it turns out it was a sign of things to come.
The following day, which many saw as the Queen stage of the race, saw one of the most dramatic stages of any grand tour in recent history. Up the epic Colle Delle Finestre, Team Sky rode their trademark high tempo, and one of the first riders they shed was Yates, with still 80km’s to go. It was a sad sight to see the pink jersey slip out of contention - the disappointment for both him and the rest of the team must have been huge. It’s quite amazing, really, that you can take 5 stage wins, lead the race for 13 days, and still come out the other end with a tinge of disappointment. Cycling can be a really cruel sport.
Meanwhile, up front, Chris Froome attacked. It looked like a suicide mission, but as the kilometres ticked by, the time gap ticked up. Tom Dumoulin, virtual race leader, suddenly found himself having to do the chase of his life, not helped by Sebastien Reichenbach, who he compared to a grandma when subsequently talking about his descending skills.
And it was on the descents that Froome carved out the majority of this advantage, taking a few risks, something that he needed to do if he was going to have any chance of winning the race overall. And it worked, Froome’s advantage slowly but steadily rose, until the foot of the final climb at Bardonecchia. His advantage held steady, from there to the finish, but it was enough to see him take the stage win, with enough of an advantage over Dumoulin to take a lead in the GC by 40 seconds over the Dutchman. Simon Yates trailed in a massive 39 minutes later.
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