Patrick Konrad advances to seventh overall as peloton suffers on Giro d’Italia Queen Stage and the Stelvio shakes up the GC
The Passo dello Stelvio is easily one of the most beautiful and most famous climbs in the world. At nearly 25km long with an average gradient of 7.5%, it’s also one of the hardest, and without a doubt was going to cause some upsets in the overall standings. On today’s Giro d’Italia Queen Stage, the riders would have to contend with three other tough ascents over its 207km distance, the climbing starting from the moment the flag was dropped to start the day. In spite of the prospect of more than 5,000m of climbing, the breaks were trying to go out as soon as they could, with several moves pulled back before having a chance to build an advantage. It wasn’t until the descent of the first climb that a group of six managed to draw out a slim advantage, with a group of four bridging across and joining them. With the constant undulation, the gap to the break went up and down as much as the road, but this levelled out at around four minutes, that is, until the peloton upped the pace with 70km remaining – close to the foot of the Stelvio.
Having worked hard to keep Rafał Majka and Patrick Konrad safe, it was here Peter Sagan peeled off and the bunch of GC riders started bringing the remnants of the break in. Five groups formed on the road here, with Rafał and Patrick controlling their pace to make sure they didn’t blow up on this relentlessly tough mountain. The snow on the ground meant riders were contending not just with the painful gradients, which maxed out at 12%, but also the cold conditions. Choosing to recover in the descent, Rafał and Patrick’s group was unable to pull back the lead riders here, but on the climb to the summit finish in Laghi di Cancano, finding his legs after suffering on the earlier climbs, Patrick upped the pace and made the escape from his group, claiming sixth position on the stage as well as jumping two positions in the GC to seventh overall.
01 J.Hindley 6h03’03”
02 T.Geoghegan Hart + 0:00
03 P.Bilbao + 0:46
06 P.Konrad + 4:04
11 R.Majka + 6:43
From the Finish Line
"It was a big day! Unfortunately, I started suffering from the first climb and in the ascent to the Stelvio I decided to ride at my own pace and not go on the limit and risk even more. On the last climb, it got better, I had good power and I was able to distance some of the GC contenders. Overall, I think it was a good day for me. We have three more stages, including another climbing one and a time-trial, and we are done." – Patrick Konrad
"It wasn't an easy stage for me, I wasn't feeling well at all, from start to finish. I held on as much as I could and I gave my absolute best. The climbs on the Stelvio and then the one to the finish were really hard. I hope to recover for the remaining stages." – Rafał Majka
"With more than 5,400 metres of elevation gain it was a very tough stage, a monster stage. We knew that in the end, it would all come down to the Stelvio, so we kept our guys safe until the bottom of the climb. On the Stelvio, the peloton blew up into pieces and it was up to each rider's legs. Rafał and Patrick crested the Stelvio with another five riders but on the last climb, Rafał paid the price of his stomach problems. He was empty and lost his GC spot. On the other hand, Patrick put in a good performance on the last climb and moved up in the GC. With the top three so close, we expect more action in these final days and, hopefully, Rafał will find his legs and move into the top ten while Patrick still has the options of moving one spot higher." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director