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Giro d'Italia 2018: Maximilian Schachmann triumphs on Stage 18 while Simon Yates loses time

Sam Challis
24 May 2018

Maximilian Schachmann proves the strongest on Stage 18's uphill finish as Simon Yates cedes 28 seconds

Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) wins Stage 18 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia from a day-long breakaway that was thinned by repeated attacks on the final climb up to Prato Nevoso.

Most of today's 196km stage was always going to be a sedate affair considering its denouement - the 14km, 6.9% climb up to Prato Nevoso, so most of the big names were content to ride conservatively and keep out of trouble until the very end, considering the tough stages to come over the next couple of days.

As such a large breakaway formed, quickly building a sizeable lead over the relaxed peloton that at times stretched to over 16 minutes.

Mitchelton-Scott were happy with that gap so the break was left to contest the stage win. The break fragmented in the run in to the final with several temporary allegiances formed and broken, but it was Schachmann that powered away near the summit to win Stage 18 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia.

Team Sky's Chris Froome and Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin accelerated away from Mitchelton-Scott's Simon Yates inside the last 2km, putting 28 unlikely seconds into the race leader.

The story of the day: Giro d'Italia Stage 18

The stage started very fast due to some flat opening kilometres and the real possibility for a break to succeed, so competition was fierce to get in the group that would gain time on the peloton - the average speed for the first hour of racing wasn't far under 50kmh.

The elastic broke fairly emphatically once the correct composition was decided upon. The peloton relaxed and a group of 12 riders quickly opened a gap that ultimately stretched to 16 minutes over the pack as the riders moved away from Abbiategrasso under blue skies and sunshine.

The group was comprised of Michael Morkov, Schachmann, Davide Ballerini, Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha-Alpecin), Jos van Emden, Boy van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), Marco Marcato (UAE Emirates), Giuseppe Fonzi and Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia), with no rider posing any significant threat to the GC or any of the minor jersey competitions.

Mitchelton-Scott commanded the peloton for a huge chunk of the stage, with Sam Bewley in fine form once again. The domestique has been a brilliant workhorse for the Australian team throughout the race so far and today was no different.

The rolling, verdant scenery of northwestern Italy that the rider pedalled through was very beautiful, and the sedate pace of the peloton meant that if they wanted the riders had plenty of opporunity to drink in the views.

The situation remained unchanged for most of the middle of the stage, so with every passing kilometre it became more and more apparent that the winner of Stage 18 would come from the 12 riders at the head of affairs.

Barring some jostling for position at the intermediate sprints, the group worked efficiently together right up until about 20km to go when Boy van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), not fancying his chances in the bunch, decided to spice things up with a long range solo effort.

His lead got to 30 seconds at one point but the breakaway only allowed him a short leash, so ultimately his effort amounted to little and he was spat straight out of the back of the group when they caught him 2km into the climb up to Prato Nevoso, which featured as a summit finish in the 2008 Tour de France.

Behind, the pace of the peloton began to ramp up as the GC teams lead out their leaders so they could be well positioned at the foot of the climb.

The first selection in the breakaway was made with an acceleration in pace at 10km and the group started to thin. Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) made the first real attack but paid for it, so Schachmann was the most prominent after that acceleration. The two Germans traded blows until the break thinned to just 4 riders.

Team Sky, Astana and Mitchelton-Scott were all present at the front of the peloton as they started the final climb. 

Schachmann, Cattaneo, Pfingsten dropped Plaza conclusively at 3km to go, so it looked like the win would come from one of those 3 riders but Pfingsten was dropped shortly after too on gradients that were rarely steeper than 7%.

The peloton started shedding riders more consistently as the lower slopes of the Prato Nevoso climb were dispatched and Astana moved to the front trying to protect young rider Miguel Angel Lopez.

Schachmann and Cattaneo repeatedly took turns in attacking each other, allowing Plaza to grind his way back to the pair.

The three riders were visibly exhausted but a strong surge by the young German Maximilian Schachmann was enough to take the stage.

Back among the favourites, a strong attack by Wout Poels caused a couple of riders with eyes on moving up the GC to launch off the front of the peloton.

Once such rider was Astana's Lopez, who cemented his position in the young rider competition.

Froome and Dumoulin accelerated away from race leader Yates inside the last kilometre, with a group of four forming and putting time into the up-until-now flawless Yates.

Yates limited his losses but lost almost 30 seconds to second placed Dumoulin.