photo credits @ RCS
Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) claimed an impressive victory in stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia today, after outsprinting Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) and Marco Frigo (Israel-Premier Tech) in a dramatic battle to the line.
The trio emerged at the head of a 17-man breakaway on the final climb at Roncola Alta, with Frigo battling back on the descent after getting distanced along the ascent.
From there, Frigo was the first to launch his sprint during the final 500 meters, but Healy was quick to mark his move as he and McNulty proceeded to overhaul the Italian rider in the closing meters, with McNulty snatching the stage honors from his Irish rival.
Meanwhile, despite losing time on the climb, Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) took over the maglia rosa, with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) only mounting brief attacks.
A sizable group of 15 riders including Ben Healy, Bauke Mollema, Davide Ballerini and Alberto Dainese escaped the peloton early on, later building up an advantage of around 6 minutes at the first climb of the day.
In the meantime, Einer Rubio and Martin Marcellusi both bridged their way to the breakaway group, with Marcellusi later getting distanced on the second climb of the day.
The third climb became a battle between Healy and Rubio with a photo finish needed to determine who won, with Rubio earning two points in the KoM standings.
With around 46 kilometers to go, Niccolò Bonifazio launched an attack off the front of the breakaway, riding clear before the start of the final climb and quickly gaining a 30 second advantage.
As the climbing began, Bonifazio’s lead had extended to 1:20. However, the Italian rider was quickly caught and passed by Healy, Rubio, McNulty and Frigo.
Healy then began to slip away from his rivals as they crested the top of the climb, opening up a slight margin of 13 seconds ahead of McNulty and 34 over Frigo and nearly seven minutes on the peloton.
On the descent, McNulty managed to bridge the gap to the Irishman, while they opened up a gap of around 30 seconds on a chasing Frigo.
With just over 10 kilometers to go, Frigo finally regained contact with the duo.
The next real attack came from Healy with just under 4 kilometers to go, but McNulty was quick to mark his move, while Frigo faltered.
Going into the final kilometer Frigo was still 10 seconds behind, but as the leaders played cat-and-mouse he caught and overtook them.
In a thrilling finale, all three riders gave it their all, with McNulty ultimately emerging victorious.
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