Russian cyclist Ilnur Zakarin won the first mountain stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia in Ceresole Reale today.
The Katusha-Alpecin rider, who claimed his first victory since taking the national time-trial title in 2017, beat Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) and Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) into second and third respectively to take the 196km 13th stage in 5:34:40.
“Yes it’s good. [We knew] the last climb will be really hard. I didn’t have a plan for the climb, I did my best and this is the result. The ambition is to be in the top five and now it is possible,” said the stage winner, who placed eighth in this year’s Tour de Romandie.
It was a battle between Zakarin and Nieve during the final couple of kilometres to the finish line.
With 1.5km remaining Zakarin attacked and distanced Nieve, while further back down the road, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) was caught by Landa.
Zakarin continued to distance Nieve and made his way to the finish to take the stage.
With 20km to the finish, riders reached the final climb, which featured a summit finish above 2 000m. Fausto Masnada (Androni-Giocattoli), Ion Izagirre (Astana), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First) and Hector Carrettero (Movistar) were in the leading group.
The five-man group were joined by Andrey Amador (Movistar), Davide Formolo (Bahrain-Merida), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Nieve and Zakarin three kilometres later.
Carrettero, Amador and Izagirre fell off the back of the leading group with 16km to go.
Landa launched an attack and joined up with Carrettero and Amador, but Carrettero was soon dropped.
Masnada and Dombrowski joined the Landa group.
With 6km remaining Amador fell off and Landa went alone after dropping his other mates and passing Formolo, who was out on his own ahead of them.
Landa was one minute and 18 seconds behind the leaders when Ciccone was distanced, leaving Mollema, Zakarin and Nieve up front.
Two kilometres later Zakarin attacked. Nieve followed while Mollema could not keep up, but Zakarin proved strongest.