Belgian rider Victor Campenaerts has won the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia for his first victory in a grand tour, while Egan Bernal kept the leader’s pink jersey after a day marked by a large crash at the beginning of the route.
The 29-year-old Campenaerts, who rides for Team Qhubeka Assos, edged out Oscar Riesebeek at the end of Sunday’s 147-kilometre route from Grado to Gorizia that crossed into Slovenia and covered the fourth-category climb to Gornje Cerovo three times.
The duo had attacked from a breakaway approaching the final climb, with the rain falling heavily.
Nikias Arndt won a sprint for third, seven seconds behind Campenaerts.
Bernal crossed the line safely in the peloton, more than 17 minutes behind.
The 2019 Tour de France champion maintained his lead of one minute 33 seconds over Australian outfit Team BikeExchange’s British leader Simon Yates.
The stage was halted for about half-an-hour shortly after the start following a mass crash. Several riders had to get medical attention at the side of the road and there were numerous bike changes.
Emanuel Buchmann, who had hopes of a podium finish, was one of the riders forced to retire from the race because of his injuries. The German cyclist had been lying sixth overall, 2:36 behind Bernal.
Monday’s 16th stage will be the Giro’s toughest leg. The so-called queen stage includes nearly 6,000 metres of climbing over the Passo Fedaia, the Passo Pordoi and the Passo Giau in the Dolomites before the descent to the finish in the famous ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
At 2,239 metres, the Passo Pordoi is also the race’s highest point.