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Giro d'Italia 2017: Bob Jungels outsprints Nairo Quintana to win Stage 15 in Bergamo

Martin James
21 May 2017

Stage raced at breakneck speed sees Jungels triumph from select group, Quintana second after earlier crash

Luxembourg's Bob Jungels triumphed in a thrilling finish to Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia, outsprinting Colombian Nairo Quintana, who finished an impressive second after having crashed earlier on the 199km stage from Valdengo to Bergamo.

FDJ's Thibaut Pinot finished third, with Orica-Scott's Adam Yates fourth. Overall leader Tom Dumoulin was among a handful of riders to finish together with the stage winners in a select group that went clear on a difficult finish on the paved streets of Bergamo.

Quick-Step rider Jungels consolodated his lead in the young rider competition thanks to a 10-second time bonus for winning the stage, with Quintana gaining six seconds back on Dumoulin with his second place finish. 

Overall, the stage was raced at an incredible average speed of upwards of 46kmh.

One for the break? 

On paper, Stage 15 of the 100th Giro d’Italia was always likely to be one for the breakaway. Coming right before the third and final rest day, with nothing but mountains to follow before the final day time-trial into Milan, this was one last chance for the non-GC teams and riders to make their mark.

With the first 150km of rolling terrain followed by a pair of deceptively hard climbs, then a final 1.5km test on the streets of Bergamo itself before a downhill run to the line in the final kilometre, it was clearly a finish many liked the look of.

In fact, the last 50km was a mirror of the finish of the 2016 Giro di Lombardia, a race won by Orica-Scott’s Esteban Chaves ahead of Astana’s Diego Rosa – now a Team Sky rider, on the hunt for stage wins now that GC hope Geraint Thomas has gone home.

Yet for much of the stage it seemed the peloton couldn’t quite decide just what kind of break it was happy to let go clear.

It added up to the slightly surreal sight of a seven-man break racing through the feed zone, a full 92km into the stage, followed by a fully strung out peloton barely 15 seconds later.

The first 100km of the stage was covered at an incredible average of over 52kmh.

Just afterwards, however, a group of 10 did come together and finally the peloton seemed to relent. The most notable name in the break was four-time stage winner Fernando Gaviria of Quick-Step. Also in the group was Silvan Dillier, winner of Stage 6, and Team Sky’s Philip Deignan.

The gap quickly grew to 2min 30sec but with more than half the stage already gone, that was as big as it got, with Orica-Scott joining the ranks of race leader Dumoulin’s Team Sunweb to start reeling the leaders back in.

By the time the race arrived at the second-category climb of the Miragolo san Salvatore, 8.4km long at just over 7%, the gap had been reduced to under a minute. 

Soon the breakaway was down to just three riders, with Deignan still involved, while Cannondale-Drapac's Pierre Rolland attacked from the peloton trying to bridge across.

South African Jacques Janse van Rensburg led the way over the top of the Miragolo san Salvatore, followed by Rudy Molard (FdJ) and Deignan, then Rolland 40 seconds later and the pink jersey group at one minute.

On the way down there was drama for Nairo Quintana, who went down on a sharp switchback. Fortunately it wasn't a bad crash, and he was quickly back on the bike, with pink jersey Dumoulin sportingly calling a halt to the pace-setting in the peloton until the Colombian had rejoined the group.

That gave a bit of respite to the riders out front, and by the bottom of the third category Selvino, 6.9km long at 5.4%, a quartet of riders had come together half a minute behind the three leaders, including Rolland and Luis-Leon Sanchez of Astana.

Soon the latter pair joined up with the three up front, and Sanchez went straight to the front to lift the pace, aware that the maglia rosa group was rolling along quickly less than a minute behind. They reached the summit just 37 seconds clear, but with a technical descent to come including 19 hairpins, closing the gap would be far from straightforward.

The pace remained high all the way down, and we had the unpleasant sight of several riders going down, including Sky's Kenny Elissonde, Cannondale's Davide Formolo and Astana's Tanel Kangert, seventh overall, but still the speed didn't drop.

The five leaders held on well into the final climb of Bergamo Alta on the cobbled streets of Bergamo itself, but ultimately couldn't hold back the surge in speed as the fast men from the main field made their push for glory.

Vincenzo Nibali first went to the front, then Jungels in the white jersey made a big move off the front. Then Pozzovivo and Nibali went all in in a bid to finally get Italy's first stage win. Nibali and Jungels continued to push on over the crest of the climb, and a group of around 10 arrived at the red flag a few seconds clear of the rest, including all the main overall contenders.

Bauike Mollema went early, then Pozzovivo followed, but with Yates looking good to deliver on Orica-Scott's hard work earlier on, Jungels surged through the middle to win, with Quintana following his wheel to gain six valuable seconds in time bonuses.