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Giro d'Italia 2019: Zakarin wins Stage 13 on the Nivolet as Yates drops out of overall contention

Mikel Landa takes time out of Roglic and Nibali as Simon Yates's hopes of pinks end as he concedes minutes on the General Classification

Joe Robinson
24 May 2019

Katusha-Alpecin's Ilnur Zakarin took an impressive victory on the Colle del Nivolet to win Stage 13 of the 2019 Giro d'Italia and re-enter the fight for the Maglia Rosa as Simon Yates's General Classification hopes all but ended.

Zakarin proved the strongest rider from the day's breakaway dropping Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) in the final 2km to take the first summit finish of the race on a destructive day in the Alps that saw plenty make up time and just as many lose it.

For the General Classification riders, Mikel Landa (Movistar) made the biggest gains, attacking early on the climb to claw time back from the likes of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who were content to watch each other to the finish.

The biggest loser was Yates who found himself dropped on the Nivolet's lower slopes, eventually losing minutes on his rivals and likely ending any chance of the British rider winning a maiden Giro d'Italia.

The day proved a curse for the wider British contingent. Yates found the Nivolet too tough a test while Hugh Carthy (Education First) lost his white young rider's jersey and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) abandoned the race after crashing.

Jan Polanc (UAE-Team Emirates) fought well to keep the lead of the Giro but saw his overall advantage cut drastically.

Tomorrow sees Stage 14 take on another big day in the mountains as a punchy 131km course takes the peloton from Saint-Vincent to Courmayeur and the lower slopes of Mont Blanc.

The day the peloton visited the Nivolet

Stage 13 was the first true mountain day of this year's Giro d'Italia. Covering 198km, three major peaks and a brand-new summit finish, good racing was guaranteed.

The new summit finish was the Colle del Nivolet, untouched territory by the Giro, it's been long labelled Italy's most beautiful mountain.

While pro cycling has avoided its slopes, it did once play backdrop to the iconic balanced coach scene in The Italian Job and was once climbed by our esteemed editorial director Pete Muir who said 'it was a really nice climb'. More on the latter can be found here

Yet another breakaway managed to escape the peloton early on, however, today with a difference. The composition of the break included riders from almost every General Classification team including Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Zakarin, who were GC contenders in their own right.

They pushed on early, setting a fast pace on the Colle de Lys, carving a reasonable gap that forced Jumbo-Visma into an early chase.

All seemed to be quiet on the Western Front until Geoghegan Hart took a tumble descending the Lys, significant enough to see him abandon the race in tears.

By the Pian del Lupo, Miguel Angel Lopez had instructed his Astana gregari to notch up the pace, quickly whittling the peloton down to just the very best climbing talents and dropping the likes of Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and pink jersey wearer Polanc.

Fortunately, by the descent of the Lupo, the distanced riders had chased back to the favourites albeit in a reduced number with the entire race reeling the break to around the 50-second mark with only the climb of the Colle del Nivolet left to tackle.

As the break hit the base of the climb, a small group including Ion Izagirre surged ahead as a lull occurred through the imminent worry of how hard the last 20km were likely to be. In the second group, Zakarin and Mollema set a tempo but looked to be in pain.

The first main GC threat to attack the peloton? Mikel Landa, of course. Out the saddle, in the drops, he was forcing gaps and causing hurt, gaining a gap and putting the likes of Yates and even Roglic into plenty of hurt. Yates was in trouble and losing time.

Landa eventually caught two teammates that have dropped from the break and began to drill it. Using the last of their energy supply, he forced a 20-second gap to the likes of Nibali, Lopez, Roglic and Rafal Majka.

Lopez was then struck with an untimely mechanical which saw him joined by Yates and 35 seconds adrift of the other big GC names as Landa found himself all alone with 6.3km still to climb.

Not to forget about the race ahead, Zakarin attacked Mollema to lead the entire race, not that it mattered. Nibali was attacking behind really putting the cat among the pigeons. He did not make many inroads but did weed out only the very best of the race favourites.

Before Superman Lopez was allowed back onto the wheel of Nibali and Roglic, the latter had attacked although not enough to drop Nibali but enough to almost catch Sivakov, who had been riding alone.

With only 2km left to ride, it looked as if Landa would be the day's biggest winner, Nibali and Roglic were going to hold station and Yates's pink jersey dreams had come to an end.