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Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) ripped the field to shreds on the road to Piancavallo, just the third summit finish in fourteen days at the 2020 Giro d’Italia. With 5km to go, the 22-year-old Australian had just two riders on his wheel: Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hindley’s team leader, Wilco Kelderman. The maglia rosa of João Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) pedaled on the verge of collapse just down the road, with the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates) even further back.
In stage 14, we saw not only a massive shake-up in the GC at the Giro, but also a number of superb climbing performances on the summit finish at Piancavallo. By the time the results came in, Almeida had hung on to pink by just 15 seconds, Hindley had rocketed up to third in the GC, and Kelderman was now in the driver’s seat on the way to Milan.
Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia left Base Area Rivolto with 185 kilometers of racing on tap, including three category 2 climbs and a summit finish at Piancavallo. A large breakaway went up the road in the race’s early goings, with plenty of horsepower to potentially take the stage win. Stage 12 runner-up Mark Padun (Bahrain-McLaren) was in the front group, along with breakaway artist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Davide Villella (Astana), Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers), Giovanni Visconti (Vini Zabù–KTM), and seven others.
The breakaway had amassed a seven-minute gap by the base of the first climb of the day, the Sella Chianzutan after 65km. Both the breakaway and the peloton kept a hard pace, but nothing crazy for these riders whose FTP’s surpass 6w/kg.
McNulty – start to Sella Chianzutan:
Average Power: 291w (4.3w/kg)
Peak 20min Power: 362w (5.3w/kg)
In the opening kilometers, Deceuninck-Quickstep moved to the front and began controlling the pace in the peloton, soon leveling the breakaway’s gap to five minutes, and then making inroads on the second climb of the day, the Forcella di Monte Rest at 105km. The pace picked up on this second category ascent, with McNulty riding at nearing 6w/kg for 20 minutes just to stay in the peloton.
McNulty – Forcella di Monte Rest:
Average Power: 388w (5.7w/kg)
On the third climb of the day – a multi-part ascent culminating in the Forcella di Pala Barzana – the breakaway began to crack under the pressure of De Gendt and Dennis. Only Visconti was able to catch back on, albeit briefly as Dennis put in an attack over the crest to forge on solo towards the summit finish at Piancavallo.
The peloton was slowing closing in on the breakaway, climbing at nearly 6w/kg on the Forcella de Pala Barzana, and bringing the gap to under three minutes.
McNulty – Forcella di Pala Barzana:
Average Power: 371w (5.4w/kg)
Normalized Power: 387w (5.7w/kg)
At the base of the final climb to Piancavallo, Dennis had just two minutes on the peloton who were now being led by Team Sunweb who were working for their GC leader, Wilco Kelderman. With 14.3km to go, the road kicked up to over 9 percent, and it would stay that way for over eight kilometers. Sam Oomen and Chris Hamilton of Team Sunweb pushed the pace at over 6.2w/kg for the first half of the climb, putting nearly every rider into difficulty including Nibali, Fuglsang, McNulty, and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling).
As is often the case on lengthy summit finishes, the peloton rode the first part of the climb the hardest, before toning down the pace just a notch (by about 0.5w/kg), and seeing who could hang on the longest. The first part of the Piancavallo was ridden at nearly 6.5w/kg, as we can see in the numbers of Hamilton and James Knox (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) who rode in the front group alongside his teammate and the maglia rosa, João Almeida.
Knox – first 3km on the Piancavallo:
Average Power: 370w (6.4w/kg)
Hamilton – decimating the peloton on the Piancavallo:
Average Power: 400w (6.2w/kg)
Peak 5min Power: 418w (6.5w/kg)
Average gradient: 9.6 percent
VAM: 1824 Vm/h
After Hamilton peeled off, Hindley took over and kept pushing the pace at around 6.3w/kg. The front group kept shrinking as Rafał Majka (BORA-Hansgrohe) and then Almeida began to struggle. Soon there were only three left at the front: Hindley driving the pace, Geoghegan Hart sitting in the wheel, and Kelderman at the back.
With 5km to go, the gradient lessened, but Almeida’s lead was beginning to slip. He started the day with nearly a minute’s lead over Kelderman, but now the gap was 25 seconds and growing – with the addition of 10-6-4 second time bonuses available at the finish line, the maglia rosa was hanging in the balance. Almeida dug deep – really deep – pulling all sorts of pain faces in the final few kilometers. Hindley kept plugging away at the front, towing Geoghegan Hart and Kelderman all the way until 200 meters to go. The Brit looked fresh as a daisy as he jumped away to the stage win with plenty of time to celebrate. Kelderman trailed in for second place on the stage with Hindley coming in third, putting an exclamation point on another brilliant day out for Team Sunweb.
Geoghegan Hart – final 3km on the Piancavallo:
Average Power: 400w (6.3w/kg)
Peak Power: 1080w (16.6w/kg)
Almeida – final 3km on the Piancavallo:
Average Power: 400w (6.3w/kg)
McNulty – Piancavallo:
Average Power: 408w (6w/kg)
Normalized Power: 418w (6.1w/kg)
Peak 20min Power: 427w (6.3w/kg)
Despite averaging 6w/kg for nearly 42 minutes, McNulty came in 15th place on the stage, nearly three minutes down on Kelderman and Geoghegan Hart. But thanks to a brilliant time trial performance on Stage 13, the American still sits comfortably in 11th overall, and crucially, only 90 seconds off the final podium in Milan. With plenty of mountain passes to come in the final week of the Giro, there could well be another GC shake-up, or even a day over the Stelvio that turns the race completely on its head.
Geoghegan Hart – Giro d’Italia Stage 14: 1st
Full stage: 4:58:52
Average Power: 290w (4.5w/kg)
Weighted Average Power: 330w (5.1w/kg)
Brandon McNulty – Giro d’Italia Stage 8: 15th (+2:43)
(Excluding neutral zone)
Average Power: 298w (4.4w/kg)
Normalized Power: 341w (5w/kg)
Max Power: 1204w (17.8w/kg)
Power Analysis data courtesy of Strava and VelonCC