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Giro d'Italia 2018: Chris Froome comes good on Monte Zoncolan finish

James Spender
19 May 2018

Chris Froome takes his first Giro d'Italia stage win of his career on Stage 14's Monte Zoncolan

Chris Froome and the Monte Zoncolan took centre stage in a day which saw the race culminate with all the big names at the sharp end of proceedings.

With 4km to go a near silent Froome finally made his move on the unmerciful Zoncolan gradient, chased by maglia rosa-clad Simon Yates and defending champ Tom Dumoulin. Yates finished second, staying in pink, with Froome making a quite brilliant, and quite unlikely resurgence for the win. Yet Tom Dumoulin, coming in fifth, will be more than happy with his performance.

How the stage unfolded 

With a week to go the Giro hit the mountains proper, leaving the peloton staring down the barrel of 186km from San Vito al Tagliamento to a finish atop the mighty Monte Zoncolan. Some 10km long and rising to 1,730m, the Zoncolan averages 11.9%, maxes out at 22% and throws in a cruel 20% average kilometre in its middle third.

Given fierce promise of the finish, the peloton took it easy over the preceding four climbs, which though not inconsiderable in themselves would nonetheless serve only breakaways and points hunters. 

The pace started too high for an early eight-man break to make headway, and by the foot of the cat. 3 Monte di Ragogna, 2.75km at a 10% average peaking to 16%, the peloton had regrouped. Trek-Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen and UAE Team Emirates Valerio Conti broke clear in the first kilometre, with the latter finding the legs to lead over the crest.

Conti stayed away, joined by six others including Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF), Francesco Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli) and Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), and soon the gap had stretched to four minutes, with race leader Simon Yates’ Mitchelton-Scott boys controlling the pace at the front of the chasing peloton.


The intermediate sprint was taken by Gavazzi, and by the time the race reached the foot of the second climb, another cat. 3 up to Avaglio (4.6km and 7%), the break had a 4m35s jump on peloton. Conti seemed set for the points, but at the last metres Matteo Montaguti – the highest placed GC rider in the break, a mere 33 minutes behind Yates going in to the day – showed Conti a clean pair of cleats and bags himself the maglia azzura points. 

The gap continued to rise, nearly six minutes heading in the cat. 2 Passo Duron, a nasty 4.4km spike peaking at 22%, whose spoils again went to UAE’s Valerio Conti, while back down the road Tom Dumoulin’s Sunweb found themselves doing the major work at the sharp end of the peloton. The Giro’s defending champion went in to today 47s down on Simon Yates, could he find time on the Zoncolan?

The penultimate climb up the Sella Valcalda Ravascletto (7.6km, 5.6%) is again taken by Valerio Conti, who together with compatriot Barbin has dropped all-comers including Matteo Montaguti, and by the early slopes of the Monte Zoncolan, Conti was alone, a mere 29s ahead of a pack which had split in two, the pink jersey group including Team Sky’s Chris Froome surely looking to suck up Conti.

Team Dimension Data's Igor Anton, who won on the Zoncolan in 2011, bridged Conti, with the pair sat just 20s proud of the peloton with 7km to go. Michael Woods, EF Education-Drapac and runner up at this year's Liege-Bastogne Liege, made a valiant jump to find Anton and Conti, the two riders eventually falling to the peloton's sword while Woods stayed narrowly away for a time. Meanwhile, Fabio Aru (UAE Emirates) had blown down the slope.

By halfway up the Zoncolan, Team Sky had finally played their hand, delivering Froome to the front with teammate Woet Poels on the rivet for his captain, and race leader Simon Yates sitting relativley pretty on Froome's wheel, along with Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Dumoulin, Groupama-FDJ's Thibaut Pinot and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

With 4km to go Chris Froome attacked, right knee still strapped after that time-trial recce crash on day one, but he looked strong and began putting vital seconds into the chasers, while Yates seemed to be concentrating more on putting time into Dumoulin than chasing a win. 

Then Yates struck for home with 3km to go, had Froomedog gone too early in his 32x34 granny gear, or had Yates left it too late to get his 10 bonus seconds plus whatever he could put into Dumoulin.

With the rain starting to pour at the top of the Zoncolan, Yates pushed hard, out of the saddle to Froome's seated waggle. But it was finally Froome that came good, Yates second and Dumoulin, fifth, 37s back, arguably the moral victor on the day.