• Froome enroute to victory atop Mount Zoncolan (LaPresse)Source: LaPresse
Chris Froome (Team Sky) showed that his bid for the maglia rosa is far from over, securing an impressive victory atop the infamous climb of Mount Zoncolan in Stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia.
By
Cycling Central

20 May 2018 - 7:02 AM  UPDATED 20 May 2018 - 8:22 AM

While Froome's results face potential nullification as he faces allegations of exceeding the maximum allowed dosage of Salbutamol, it didn't stop the British Tour de France champion on the climb of the Zoncolan.

Shrugging off what has been an uncharacteristically average start to the Giro d'Italia, Froome launched an attack from the main group of favourites after teammate Wout Poels had done a tremendous job to thin down the bunch.

With four kilometres remaining Froome launched and dangled off the front of the chasing riders before race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked to try and bridge to his countryman with three kilometres left.

Yates slowly pegged back Froome's advantage, but wasn't able to overhaul him before the finish and it was Froome who took the win.

“It’s a really special feeling winning at the top of the climb today," said Froome. "It’s an amazing feeling on such a monumental climb on this year’s Giro d’Italia and such a monumental climb for the race in general. It’s just such a good feeling, especially after a really hard start to the Giro for me and the team."

“I felt like that (the four kilometre point) was the moment that the race was really on the limit. I felt that was the moment for me to go. I’d obviously done the recon here and I knew the last few kilometres.

The Zoncolan is renowned as one of the hardest climbs in world cycling. 10.1km in length at an average of 11.9 per cent, with the section Froome attacked on ascending at 15 per cent.

"Even right until the line Simon was just behind me," said Froome. "I kept on hearing 10 seconds, five seconds, 10 seconds.

"I didn’t know if he was going to catch me or not so it was such a relief to get into that last 100 metres and to hear that I was going to win the stage.”

The early break was hotly contested, as the winner on the Zoncolan often comes from the escapees. The first move that got any gap was made up of Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).

Within 10km, Francesco Gavazzi (Androni-Sidermec), Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) and Jacopo Mosca (Wilier-Selle Italia) had made it across, making it a group of seven.

The break’s advantage maxed out at six minutes, but with Mitchelton-Scott keeping the gap in check for Yates, it was always going to be hard for the break to stay away.

Poels did the work to lay the foundation for Froome, whose attack saw him jump clear off the front of the race. An elite chase group of Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Yates and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) went off in pursuit of the Team Sky rider.

Defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) didn't respond to the attacks and instead opted for a steady pace. It resulted in a time loss to Froome of 37 seconds and 31 seconds to Yates as the Dutchman finished fifth on the stage. 

Yates now has a one minute 24 second advantage over the second-placed Dumoulin with the final week of racing still to come.

“I tried to go for the stage," said Yates. "I did my best to catch Chris. I just didn't have enough to get it. But as far as the Maglia Rosa is concerned, it's all good to be second here.”

"As expected, the gaps aren’t massive. I’m still happy with the gap to Tom [Dumoulin] and the rest of the guys behind. I wasn’t more nervous than the other days, as much as I am sure that Tom is confident ahead of time trials."