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October 14, 2020

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Sagan claims 10th stage as virus hits Giro

Peter Sagan won the hilly 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia, which was contested yesterday despite two teams withdrawing from the race because of novel coronavirus cases.

Sagan, a three-time world champion who is racing the Giro for the first time, was desperate for a win after three second-place results in the race. He now has won stages in all three Grand Tours — the Giro (1), Tour de France (12) and Spanish Vuelta (4).

And the Slovakian rider did it in style yesterday, getting into an early breakaway and then launching a solo uphill attack in the final stages on roads made treacherous by rain. It was Sagan’s first win of the season.

“Finally I won in my style — with a show,” Sagan said.

Portuguese rider Joao Almeida held onto the overall leader’s pink jersey.

The race was disrupted before the stage when the Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma teams withdrew.

Four Mitchelton-Scott staff tested positive for the coronavirus. That came after Mitchelton-Scott team leader Simon Yates withdrew before Saturday’s eighth stage after also contracting COVID-19.

Dutch contender Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma and Australian rider Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb also tested positive amid 571 exams for all riders and staff members coinciding with Monday’s rest day.

Kruijswijk, Matthews and Mitchelton-Scott were withdrawn from the event in accordance with race organizers. Jumbo-Visma then announced minutes before the stage started that it was withdrawing the rest of its team, too.

But the stage started as scheduled and Sagan needed just over 4 hours to complete the 177-kilometer leg from Lanciano to Tortoreto in the central Abruzzo region.

Sagan got into an early seven-man breakaway that also featured time trial world champion Filippo Ganna. He then attacked Ben Swift — the only other remaining member of the breakaway — with 12km to go. American rider Brandon McNulty crossed second, 19 seconds behind, and Almeida was third to lead the main pack, 23 seconds behind.

Almeida leads Wilco Kelderman by 34 seconds and Pello Bilbao by 43 seconds.

Stage 11 today is a mostly flat 182km leg from Porto Sant’Elpidio to Rimini along the Adriatic coast that sets up well for sprinters.

The race was rescheduled from its usual May slot because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Giro ends on October 25 with an individual time trial in Milan.


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