It was a game of cat and mouse between Dario Cataldo (Astana) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) on stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia, which finished in Como today, with the former proving the strongest.
With 2.5km to the finish, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) was chasing the leading duo on the descent.
As they headed into town they had a gap of 48 seconds to Nibali, who was joined by race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team), Hugh Carthy (EF Education First) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
With 1km remaining Cataldo led the way into the home straight, while Cattaneo was unable to come around, which resulted in the former claiming the win. Yates completed the podium.
“Cattaneo was not giving me any change anymore [in the closing kilometres],” said the stage winner.
“I was keeping going on my pace to not let them come through. I said ‘ok I do my best in the sprint’ and it was ok. It’s something amazing – something I’ve been dreaming of all my life.”
Today’s stage, which started in Ivrea, included the Madonna del Ghisallo, Colma di Sormano and Civiglio climbs.
Soon after the start, Cataldo and Cattaneo attacked from the bunch, with their lead growing to a maximum of 16 minutes with 104km to go.
The leading duo hit the Ghisallo with a lead of nine minutes and 25 seconds with 67km remaining.
A mechanical for Cattaneo resulted in the leaders losing more time, bringing their gap down to seven minutes and 20 seconds before they hit the next climb.
They were in the final couple of kilometres of the climb when Yates attacked, but Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) flew past him after attacking in the last 500m of the climb, before the chasing group were together again with less than 40km to go.
Cataldo pushed on through the tight corners and Cattaneo struggled to keep up as they took on the tricky descent.
As the breakaway pair approached the foot of the short, but brutal Civiglio, they had a lead of four minutes and 50 seconds with 20km to the finish.
Carthy attacked from the chasing bunch, which was followed with another attack from Yates, as well as one from Nibali and Carapaz.
Nibali and Carapaz reached Yates with less than 10km to go. Nibali executed another attack, which resulted in Yates losing the wheel of the two of them.
With 8.8km remaining the duo reached Carthy. Behind the trio were Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma), Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) and Lopez.
Cataldo and Cattaneo then crested the climb, descended into Como and fought it out in a sprint.
The tour heads into the second and final rest day tomorrow.