Start Location: Abbiategrasso
End Location: Prato Nevoso
Start Location: Abbiategrasso
End Location: Prato Nevoso
Welcome to live coverage of stag 18 of the Giro d'Italia.
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Ciccone would has moved off the front now. Mitchelton-Scott and the rest of the peloton has little desire to chase this group down at the moment, they've got enough tough days to come to flog themselves on this flat stretch of road. In what feels like a blink, the gap has ballooned out to 12:26 and it's nudging out little by little.
The gap between Ciccone and Yates in the mountains competition is 39 points. However, the Italian would have to win the stage in order to overtake Yates and hope that the maglia rosa didn't mop up any points at all, which is an unlikely prospect given the current situation.
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 91 pts
2 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF 52
3 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 47
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 46
5 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 36
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 36
7 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 35
8 Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 33
9 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 29
10 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team 27
Blue jersey wearer Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani) is sat right up near the front of the peloton on the tail of the Mitchelton-Scott train, with a teammate close to him. Race leader Simon Yates is actually leading that competition at the moment, thanks to his stage wins.
Bardiani has managed to miss out on today's move. Interestingly enough, I believe there is only one time that a breakaway has contained all four of the Pro Continental teams. The other occasion was stage 6 when a huge move went off the front. Plaza is the only member of that breakaway to have made it into today's move.
Sam Bewley is enjoying his day out there. He's leading the peloton at the moment and gives the peace sign to a fan on the side of the road. Bewley has been a workhorse for the Mithcelton-Scott team during this year's Giro d'Italia.
Some 10 minutes now for the breakaway. I think this is possibly the biggest advantage a breakaway has held all race. The average speed over the first hour has been a speedy 48.7kph.
Former white jersey wearer Max Schachmann is the best placed of the breakaway in the overall classification. The Quick-Step Floors rider is 38:06 back on Simon Yates so no threat whatsoever to the maglia rosa.
The group continues to extend their advantage and it now sits at 7:40. After so many fast stages, the peloton is enjoying some slightly easier racing today.
The gap has continued to grow out and now stands at 5:40. We have a few additional riders that weren't called over race radio earlier. This is the full make-up of the group: Michael Morkov, Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors), Davide Ballerini, Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha-Alpecin), Jos van Emden, Boy van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), Marco Marcato (UAE Emirates), Giuseppe Fonzi and Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia).
There are just two climbs in today's stage, the first of which comes after 140k and is just a fourth category ascent. That should mean a relatively fast day out. It also means that there will be fresher legs in the peloton when they hit the climb. If the breakaway wants to make it stick. They're going to have to work hard to build a substantial advantage ahead of it.
Apologies, I have got my Van Poppels confused. It is Boy rather than Danny in the breakaway.
It seems that the answer is yes with the gap going out to 2:30 for the breakaway.
EF Education First have been controlling the bunch for much of the opening 30k. They have slowed the pace now, is this the move made?
We saw how the wet weather affected the summit finish of Montevergine di Mercogliano on stage 8. The break was expected to stay away but concerns in the peloton meant that they upped the pace and brought them back. Chris Froome also crashed, something he'll be hoping to avoid today.
As you can see there, there are some clouds overhead. We saw some heavy rain at the finish yesterday and a quick glance at the forecast says that we'll experience rain at the finish today.
The group just before the flag dropped for racing. You can see a number of teams up front and ready for the off.
16 kilometres into the stage and the margin for the leaders is just 15 seconds.
This group only has a very small lead at present so it's not certain that they will be able to make it stick. Perhaps a few more teams interested in getting into the move.
We have a move in the making. Guess what? We have an Androni rider in the mix. Ballerini is joined by Matteo Catteneo, Christoph Pfingsten, Ruben Plaza, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, Jos van Emden, Danny van Poppel, Marco Marcato, Giuseppe Fonzi and Alex Turrin.
Davide Ballerini leads the intermediate sprint classification for the team while Marco Frapporti has topped the breakaway classification having spent a huge 640km in the break at this year's Giro d'Italia.
Androni have been perhaps the most prolific in making the day's breakaway. There were in many of various incarnations of the break yesterday, though they missed the one that stuck for the longest. We can expect at least one, and maybe more, of them to make it into today's move.
A few kilometres into the stage and we've got attacks flying already.Nothing has stuck just yet.
Confirmation that all the riders that finished yesterday's stage have started today. We had two non-starters yesterday and one abandon, making it 158 rider remaining in the race.
Tom Dumoulin signing on this morning. Simon Yates says that he's going to be defensive today, how aggressive will Dumoulin be?
The riders have set off through the neutral zone, which is 4.1km today. Racing proper is expected to begin at 10 minutes past the hour.
It is interesting to note that Simon Yates is in a contract year. Strictly speaking, riders aren't ableto sign contracts with new teams until August 1, but that doesn't stop talks going on well in advance of that. Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson has been speaking to agents, team managers et all. Yates reportedly refused a sizable offer from a team ahead of the Giro d'Italia. With his performance over the past few weeks, he's now reportedly asking for a sum of 4 million euros. Read up on that and more, here.
It will be interesting to see how the start of today's stage plays out. Yesterday, Bora-Hansgrohe did not want to let the breakaway go clear and rode aggressively from start to finish. The sprint teams, obviously, will be taking a back seat today. With Esteban Chaves' win on Mount Etna the only one that has gone to the breakaway, we're likely to see some heavy competition to get into the move. Whether or not the peloton will let them stay away remains to be seen. My own theory is that the GC guys will be interested in taking something out of today and the break is going to find it tough to succeed.
Thus far, Yates has taken an aggressive stance to his racing as he tried to build a substantial lead over Tom Dumoulin ahead of the time trial. It delivered him more than enough of a cushion over the time trial world champion and he helped himself to three stage wins along the way. With the time trial behind him, he says that he's going to play a more defensive tactic in the coming days. Read the full story here.
Simon Yates comes into the final three mountain stages of the Giro d'Italia with a tidy advantage of 56 seconds on Tom Dumoulin. Third place Domenico Pozzovivo is 3:11 back. It's a handy lead for the Mitchelton-Scott rider but this is the Giro d'Italia and anything can, and will, happen.
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 69:59:11
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:56
3 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:03:11
4 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:03:50
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:04:19
6 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:05:04
7 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:05:37
8 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:06:02
9 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team 0:06:07
10 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:07:01
With the start less in just over 20 minutes, sign on is well underway. Viviani has been up on stage and got the usual vociferous welcome from the tifosi. He'll be just hoping to make it through today with no bad fortune.
Yesterday's stage was the last chance for the sprinters ahead of the final stage in Rome. Elia Viviani added a fourth win to his name, and increased his lead in the maglia ciclamino contest after it was decimated last week. This was how things ended yesterday afternoon.
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 3:19:57
2 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
5 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Fix All
6 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
7 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
8 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
9 Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
10 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
Welcome back one and all. We're back in the mountains as the Giro d'Italia heads towards its climax. The GC riders have just three more stages to try and topple Simon Yates from the Giro's throne.