Andrea Vendrame burns off breakaway to win stage 19 – Giro d’Italia

Giro d’Italia 2024

Stage 19

Andrea Vendrame gave Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale their second victory of the 2024 Giro d’Italia on stage 19 to Sappada.

“It’s a nice day today. The important thing was to get in the breakaway. I was there straight away from the start and then in the end, they all called me a joker and I tried to do that,” Vendrame said.

The 29-year-old soloed away from the day’s breakaway on a rain-soaked descent, extended his lead on the final climb, the category 2 Cima Sappada, and then powered home to the second Giro stage win of his career, much to the delight of the tifosi.

“I tried to get away on the descent, and it was a good move because they didn’t really agree too much behind, and of course, for me, it was better.

“I thought that somebody was going to come back, but I tried to keep a good, regular rhythm, and of course, they looked after me very well from the car. It was perfect.”

Pelayo Sanchez (Movistar), winner of stage 6, was second on the stage ahead of stage 17 winner Georg Steinhauser (EF Education-EasyPost).

Race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) suffered a puncture on the stage, but his lead of 7:42 went otherwise unchallenged as the breakaway gained over 16 minutes.

The same couldn’t be said for third-placed Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), who crashed with 6km to go after touching wheels with Antonio Tiberi (Bahrain Victorious).

The peloton eventually relented allowing the breakaway to take victory.

The Welshman was quick to get up but needed a new bike. However, the race leader’s team eased up on the pace to let him rejoin.

There were no further attacks, with Pogačar’s teammates leading him to the line to keep the top of the overall classification the same.

Vendrame will be back on duty to protect Ben O’Connor’s fourth place in the general classification tomorrow on the double ascent of Monte Grappa – the final mountain stage of this Giro d’Italia – but Vendrame promised his team would be on the move again.

“There’s another stage to go tomorrow in the mountains. We know that Pogi is really strong, but we’re here with O’Connor for the GC,” he said. “We’ve won two stages and we have nothing to lose at all, we’ll give it a try tomorrow.”

With the final major mountain challenge awaiting Tadej Pogačar and his overall rivals on Saturday, stage 19 to Sappada proved to be the one summit finish that the maglia rosa would not be winning.

It was a day for the breakaway, and the peloton knew it. The fight to get into the move was vicious.

A large group containing Attila Valter and Eduardo Affini (Visma-Lease a Bike), Simone Velasco (Astana), Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers), Andrea Vendrame (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale), Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost), Lorenzo Milesi (Movistar), Giovanni Lonadri (Polti Kometa), Ryan Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe), Daan Hoole (Lidl-Trek) formed early in the 157 kilometre stage, but they never could open up more than 20 seconds.

On a small climb in San Daniele del Friuli after 32 kilometres of racing, the peloton came back together, and Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quickstep) put in a strong move to form another attack.

He was joined by Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers), Pelayo Sanchez (Movistar), Vendrame and Quinten Hermans (Alpecin-Deceuninck), with Luke Plapp (Jayco-AlUla) bridging across ahead of a large split off the front of the maglia rosa group.

The breakaway eventually got clear of the peloton.

There was plenty of aggression from behind until 44 kilometres into the stage, when there was a brief lull that let the leaders gain 30 seconds. It only lasted a minute before more attacks came.

The gap came down to just 14 seconds when Narvaez slid out on a descent and, in the chasing peloton, Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal-Quickstep) crashed in almost the same place; however, both riders were quickly back up and in their respective groups as the aggressive pace continued.

Another four riders attacked to bridge across: Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek), Mattia Bais (Polti Kometa) and Enzo Paleni (Groupama-FDJ). The quartet made it to the leaders with 95km to go.

After the first intermediate sprint, where Alaphilippe led the breakaway across, yet another group split off the front to try to bridge what was only a 33-second gap, powered by the relentless Mikkel Honoré (EF Education-EasyPost).

It took the better part of 15 kilometres for the chasers to reach the leaders, but finally, with 81km to go, a 19-rider group formed containing:

Narvaez, Hermans, Velasco, Vendrame, Plapp, Alaphilippe and Mikkel Honoré, Michael Valgren and Georg Steinhauser (EF Education-EasyPost), Enzo Paleni (Groupama-FDJ), Dries De Pooter (Intermarché-Wanty), Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek), Pelayo Sanchez (Movistar), Alessandro De Marchi (Jayco-AlUla), Mattia Bais (Polti Kometa), Jan Tratnik and Tim van Dijke (Visma-Lease a Bike) and Manuele Tarozzi (VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizané).

The group built up an unassailable lead of over eight minutes by the Intergiro sprint with 56.6km to go, where Tarozzi attacked to get the points and led the breakaway into the first classified climb of the day, the Passo Duron – a 4.4km ascent kicking up to 18% grades.

In the peloton behind, Pogačar suffered a puncture before the climb and had to get a new bike, and as the pace eased to let him rejoin, the leaders’ advantage went out over ten minutes.

The main GC contenders cross the line ahead of tomorrow’s final battle.

Alaphilippe, Tarozzi, Narvaez and Steinhauser opened a gap to the rest of the breakaway on the climb, but the VF Group-Bardiani rider couldn’t hold on.

Sanchez, Vendrame, and Hermans chased on over the summit, making it six riders in the lead.

Plapp powered the chase of six on the second climb, the Sella Valcalda, bringing the gap down to less than 20 seconds as the grade kicked up and the rain began to fall.

Alaphilippe, sensing this, attacked to split the group, chased by Narvaez and Steinhauser. Sanchez managed to scramble across while Plapp, Vendrame and Hermans fought to make contact, too.

By the summit, the seven were together, and Steinhauser led over the summit as the peloton lagged 11:35 behind.

A crash from Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) as the leaders had 31km to go led the Italian to abandon.

Up ahead, Vendrame attacked on the descent and opened a gap, chased by Alaphilippe and Narvaez. The chasing group came together as the road levelled out.

Vendrame went into the final climb with a lead of a minute on the six-rider chase, and the maglia rosa group enjoyed a much easier ride, letting the gap go out to over 15 minutes.

An exhausted Vendrame after crossing the finish line.

Steinhauser attacked on the climb in pursuit of Vendrame, hitting the steepest section with 1:09 to close. Sanchez struggled to catch the wheel of the German, and Alaphilippe, Plapp and Narvaez continued to chase at 1:48, but Vendrame kept adding to his lead and was able to celebrate Decathlon AG2R’s second stage win of this Giro.

Sanchez got away from Steinhauser to take second on the stage, while Narvaez out-sprinted Plapp for fourth.

Off camera, the maglia rosa group imploded. Dani Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) were holding tight to the race leader until Thomas crashed and needed a new bike with 6km to go.

The maglia rosa wasn’t willing to press the issue, and the group eased up to let a relatively unscathed Thomas rejoin.

Tomorrow’s penultimate stage of the Giro is a mountainous test of 184 kilometres with start in Alpago and finish in Bassano del Grappa. The race comes down to a double ascent up the brutal Monte Grappa and a long descent to the line.

The route is very straightforward. A few minor hurdles pep up the predominantly first part of the race. Then, after 80 kilometres of action, the Monte Grappa makes its entrance. The ascent amounts to 18 kilometres, while the average gradient sits at 8.1%.

It’s been ten years since the last inclusion of Monte Grappa. Back then, the climb was the pinnacle of an individual time trial, which was won by Nairo Quintana, who went on to win the GC that year. Two years ago it was Natnael Tesfatsion who out-sprinted Filippo Zana and Vadim Pronskiy at the summit in the Queen Stage of the Adriatica Ionica Race. That ascent was different though, as the riders came from Pedavena, on the north side, while the riders tackle Mont Grappa this time from Semonzo, the south side, just as they did in 2014.

After tackling the second ascent of Monte Grappa, they have roughly 30 kilometres left to ride. This is mostly a descent, and in the final 5 kilometres, the road is practically flat.

The second and third intermediate sprint come with 3, 2 and 1 seconds, while the first three riders on the line gain 10, 6 and 4 seconds.

Stage 19 result:

1. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, in 3:51:05
2. Pelayo Sánchez (Esp) Movistar, +54s
3. Georg Steinhauser (Ger) EF Education-EasyPost, +1:07
4. Jhonatan Narváez (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, +2:27
5. Luke Plapp (Aus) Jayco AlUla, at same time
6. Simone Velasco (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan, +2:30
7. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Visma-Lease a Bike
8. Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-EasyPost, both at same time
9. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Soudal Quick-Step, +2:32
10. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck, +3:52

General Classification:

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 71:24:03
2. Dani Martínez (Col) Bora-Hansgrohe, +7:42
3. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers, +8:04
4. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale, +9:47
5. Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, +10:29
6. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, +11:10
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) dsm-firmenich PostNL, +12:42
8. Einer Rubio (Col) Movistar, +13:33
9. Filippo Zana (Ita) Jayco-AIUla, +13:52
10. Jan Hirt (Cze) Soudal Quick-Step, +14:44

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