Nieve takes second as Yates loses time in the mountains on stage 13 of the Giro

Fri 24 May 2019

Basque rider Mikel Nieve climbed to second place from the breakaway as Mitchelton-SCOTT leader Simon Yates lost time on his rivals on stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia.

The 34-year-old made it into the break of the day as 27 riders went down the road early in the day with the battle for the win coming down to a duel between Nieve and eventual stage winner Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha – Alpecin).

Yates rolled home five minutes down on the victor after struggling to go with attacks on the earlier slopes of the final climb to the finish despite strong domestique work from Coppi e Bartali winner Lucas Hamilton.

Mountains Ahead:
With the first big day in the mountains ahead there was a clamour to get into the breakaway from the word go, with Dane Chris Juul-Jensen making it into the initial move. That group was soon brought back as another attempt to form the break soon followed, with Juul-Jensen present once again, this time joined by teammate Nieve.

The large escape group began to reduce in size over the first categorised climb of the day with the Lotto-Jumbo led peloton capping their advantage at around two minutes. The first action amongst the general classification hopefuls soon began on the slopes with a select group of favourites forming.

Hamilton was keeping Yates safe and to the fore while Esteban Chaves lost contact. Those distanced on the climb managed to get themselves back on as the chasers merged with the select group on the flat run to the final climb.

Tough Finale
It appeared as though the escapees would be reeled back in before the race hit the climb to Lago Serru’, but they held a two-minute advantage as the road began to ramp up to the finish. 

It was then a waiting game with attacks expected from the GC favourites and it was Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) who was the first to make his move. The attack soon put Yates in trouble as he drifted to the back of the pack with Hamilton working hard to try and pace him back on to the fragmented group. 

Meanwhile, at the head of the race the breakaway was down to just three riders and that was reduced further as Zakarin attacked. The acceleration was too much for Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) while Nieve slowly reeled the Russian back, but a second attack proved too much for the Mitchelton-SCOTT man who was forced to settle for second place.

Mikel Nieve:
“The plan was to be in the break and then after the second last climb to wait for the instructions from the car behind.  The plan went well, I was there and I was waiting for the call, but I was also playing for the win and in the end it was close.

“I didn’t know how they were coming from behind, and the result is with a bitter sweet feeling because I didn’t win, but sometimes it happens like this. 

“On the last climb I was waiting behind Mollema and Zakarin, they were the strongest in the GC and they had to pull. When I saw Zakarin attack, I tried to follow. I caught him with three kilometres to go and thought I might have a chance, but with two kilometres to go he was too strong for me and went on to win.”

Matt White (Sports Director):
It’s obviously not the result we wanted today, but Lucas had an incredible ride supporting Simon. Simon had a bad moment and he couldn’t hold the wheel of a couple of different riders. He was with Lopez (Astana Pro Team) at one stage, so he just really struggled in the last few kilometres to the line.”  

“It looked like he went from a really good place to struggling quite a lot on that final climb. It’s not the situation we planned on being in, but it is what it is and we’ll alter our tactics accordingly.”

“We’re not here to make excuses that’s for sure, at the end of the day Simon wasn’t good enough to follow those guys on the final climb. I’ll get his perception of what happened, but it certainly went from being very good to not so good in a short period of time.”

Photos courtesy of Kramon.