67km to go
Having been dropped earlier, Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) has bridged over to the breakaway, the five-man group now leading by 3min 11sec. Now on home roads, perhaps the Swiss feels reinvigorated?
70km to go
Iljo Keisse may be tiring, the Belgian peels off the front of the peloton having done a decent shift on behalf of Joao Almeida.
71.5km to go
There has been a slight regrouping on the front. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), Felix Grosschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) and Giovanni Visconti (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) are riding together, with a lead of 4min 3sec on the peloton.
Ganna, Ganna, gone . . .
The diesel that is Filippoo Ganna has peeled off, his race for the day appears done leaving the Ineos Grenadiers team leader Egan Bernal with Salvatore Puccio, Gianni Moscon, Jhonatan Narváez, Jonathan Castroviejo and Dani Martínez for company.
The White Wolf will be happy
73km to go
Michael Hepburnand Christopher Juul-Jensen are riding the early part of the San Bernardino at a fierce pace, just ahead of Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-Quick Step). Filippo Ganna is sat at the front of a long line of Ineos Grenadiers riders, working today to protect the maglia rosa on the young, but hugely talented, shoulders of Egan Bernal.
75km to go
Up, up and away! Felix Grosschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) have floated off up the road as it rises up this long, long climb. The remnants of the earlier breakaway has started to splinter, the peloton trails by 4min 15sec.
80km to go
Louis Vervaeke rises out of his saddle before rolling off the front of the breakaway, but one suspects the Belgian will not be on his own for too long. The peloton has closed that gap down to 3min 20sec which suggests the stage winner will not be coming from the breakaway today, bucking the quite extraordinary trend at the Giro where 10 victories have come from the break – Taco van der Hoorn (stage three), Joe Dombrowski (stage four), Gino Mäder (stage six), Victor Lafay (stage eight), Mauro Schmid (stage 11), Andrea Vendrame (stage 12), Lorenzo Fortunato (stage 14), Victor Campenaerts (stage 15), Dan Martin (stage 17) and Alberto Bettiol (stage 18).
85km to go
The strung out peloton is not too far from the foot of the Passo San Bernardino which at 24 kilometres long is, by my calculations, the longest official climb in this year’s race. Topping out at 2,066 metres above sea level and with an average gradient of 6.2% – with pitches up to 12% – this could be a key point in the stage. If the rumours are true that Egan Bernal’s back is playing up, then an hour and a half of climbing will, surely, expose any weaknesses he has. However, as I mentioned yesterday I do think Bernal’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. The maglia rosa rode a clever race on Friday and in Dani Martínez has a superb lieutenant in the high mountains – natural racing terrain for the two Colombians – but it will be fascinating to see how the climb is raced by the key protagonists.
90km to go
Jacopo Mosca has joined forces with BikeExchange and Deceuninck-Quick Step on the front of the peloton, which may suggest Trek-Segafredo’s Vincenzo Nibali of Bauke Mollema fancy their chances. Today represents the last chance for many teams to win a stage at the Giro and so while much of the focus is on the general classification, those teams who have yet to achieve any success at the race will be giving i=n one final throw of the dice. The breakaway’s advantage has dropped to 4min 5sec as a result of that three-way alliance.
As it stands . . .
Good afternoon . Today’s stage got under way at 11.34am (BST) as the remaining 143 riders in the race rolled through KMO. Fabio Felline, incidentally, was the only non-starter this morning with the Italian becoming the first Astana-Premier Tech rider to abandon.
Although there were attacks from the off, it took some time for a breakaway to stick but finally a nine-man group comprising Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Nico Denz (DSM), Felix Grosschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) and Giovanni Visconti (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) formed. With 100km of this monster stage remaining, that group holds a lead of five minutes five seconds.
If you are reading this then you will know that Simon Yates is hoping to dislodge Egan Bernal from top spot in the general classification and that Joao Almeida is eyeing a first stage win at this year’s race for his team, which is probably why BikeExchange and Deceuninck-Quick Step are working today on the front of the peloton. In order for both to achieve their ambitions, they may have to first isolate Bernal from his Ineos Grenadiers team-mates – especially Jonathan Castroviejo and Dani Martínez – but as we saw in the last two mountain stages that is a little bit easier said than done.
What’s on today’s then?
Today’s stage (see below profile) features three category one climbs while twice going high above 2,00 metres in altitude. With everything to play for, Simon Yates must throw everything he has – the ultimate Hail Mary – if he wants to take home the maglia rosa. Damiano Caruso, meanwhile, must mark the Briton to within an inch of his life if he is to keep hold of his second spot on general classification. With a 2min 29sec lead over Caruso – and 2min 49sec on Yates – Egan Bernal can afford to lose up to around two minutes to both and still stand a chance of becoming only the second Colombian to ever win the Giro d’Italia in Milan on Sunday.
Here’s what the roadbook says about the final mountain stage: “A colossal Alpine stage, crossing over to Switzerland. After the start, the route passes the Swiss border to negotiate the never-ending San Bernardino Pass (24 km), clearing the summit above 2,000 metres.
“After the descent, the riders will rise again to over 2,000 metres, to negotiate the Splügen Pass (see below). A technical descent (passing through a few tunnels and an avalanche gallery) will lead all the way to the foot of the closing climb in Campodolcino.
“The ramps are steep over the last 7km. Past Campodolcino (see below), the route ascends in hairpins, through a number of tunnels, up to Pianazzo, travelling the old, narrow road to Madesimo, with punishing gradients.
“After a relatively flat stretch in Madesimo (see final 3km below), the route rises again with gradients nearing 10% over the last kilometres. The home straight is on tarmac road and on a slight incline.”
Catch up: Highlights from Friday’s stage
Hello and welcome to our coverage of stage 20 at the Giro d’Italia, the 164-kilometre run from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta.
Simon Yates (BikeExchange) may have won the stage on Friday, but when the dust settled and the numbers were pored over what were we left with? Well, it was pretty much a case of as you were in the race for the general classification. In fact, despite all of the rumblings about Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) having ‘cracked’, he increased his lead over Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) by 8sec.
Though it was a spirited ride and a well deserved victory for Yates, he will have to do much, much better – or hope that Bernal does genuinely crack – when the race enters his Colombian rival’s natural terrain: the high mountains. And its is in those high mountains where Bernal will wear the maglia rosa, or leader’s pink jersey, for an 11th successive day. But what does the top 10 look like, and who else are on the verge of taking home the jerseys from Italy?
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) keeps hold of the maglia ciclamino, the cyclamen jersey, and will, barring something quite extraordinary happening in the mountains today, secure the first Giro d’Italia points jersey of his career when the race concludes in Milan.
Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) has all but assured the second mountains classification jersey of his career after also topping the standings at the 2019 Vuelta a España. The maglia azzurra, blue jersey, cannot be mathematically secured until today’s stage is over.
Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) will again wear the maglia bianca, or the white jersey, on behalf of the maglia rosa Bernal.