Wilco Kelderman lost his pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia on Saturday to his teammate Jai Hindley. The leader of Team Sunweb had to release from the favorites group on the penultimate climb in the last mountain stage and seems to be able to forget the overall victory.
Kelderman finished eighth at 1 minute and 35 seconds behind the British stage winner Tao Geoghegan Hart, who settled uphill with Jai Hindley in a sprint-à-deux.
Rohan Dennis, who did impressive head work for Geoghegan Hart, crossed the finish line 25 seconds behind his teammate at INEOS Grenadiers.
In the general classification Hindley and Geoghegan Hart are now exactly in the same time, but the Australian has a few thousandths ahead and is in the lead. Kelderman drops to third place and is now slightly more than a minute and a half behind.
On Sunday, the battle for the overall victory in the Giro will be decided in a 15.7-kilometer individual time trial from Cernusco sul Naviglio to Milan.
Extensive leading group colors the first hours
The last mountain stage in this Giro was about 190 kilometers from Alba to Sestriere. The riders had to climb three times to Sestriere, approaching the winter sports village first from the eastern side and then twice from the heavier western side. The 6.9 kilometer long final climb had an average increase of 7.2 percent.
The first hours of the stage were colored by a leading group of 21 riders, including Brandon McNulty and the sprinters Arnaud Démare and Elia Viviani. They built up a lead of about seven minutes.
On the first climb to Sestriere the leading group fell apart and Davide Ballerini took off alone in the descent. The Italian took a 40-second lead over the pursuers, while the peloton followed at more than four minutes.
Wilco Kelderman quickly lagged behind the competitors. (Photo: ANP)
Kelderman resolves on penultimate climb
With about 30 kilometers to go, INEOS Grenadiers took the initiative on the second ascent, quickly thinning out the favorites group. Dennis was the last helper of Geoghegan Hart and due to the high pace of the Australian, Kelderman also had to release, while Hindley could follow.
The Dutchman soon found a gap from the INEOS duo and Hindley, who continued to drive away during the climb. At the top, which was reached first by the lonely Colombian leader Einer Rubio, the difference had grown to almost forty seconds.
In the meantime, Dennis continued unperturbed with the impressive head work and picked up the escapees one by one. At the foot of the final climb, the lead over the group with Kelderman was now almost two minutes, but during the climb the pursuers came back slightly.
At 2.5 kilometers from the finish Hindley attacked, forcing Dennis to release. Geoghegan Hart was able to follow and beat the Sunweb rider in the sprint for the stage victory. Kelderman followed more than a minute and a half in a group, from which former rosette wearer João Almeida had jumped.
Geoghegan Hart beats Hindley in the sprint-a-deux. (Photo: ANP)