With an entirely flat stage and rested legs it was all set up for a sprint in Forlí but the breakaway had other plans. Never given much time by the peloton, the five man break of Marangoni, Gatto, Boem, Busato and Malaguti still pushed on admirably and when the race came into the final 30 kilometers it became apparent that the peloton would have its work cut out for it. Aided by a tailwind the break maintained their high speed and very few teams seemed interested in helping Lotto-Soudal close the gap to the escapees and once in the final 10 kms only a complete breakdown in front could help the chasers. Unluckiest man of the day was Oscar Gatto who punctured out of the breakaway at this point, he could have been a major contender for the win but instead he is left wondering what might have been.
Alan Marangoni took the initiative attacking in the last two kilometers and he initially looked promising as the chasers looked cooked but then Nicola Boem took charge of the chase and started closing, Malaguti gave him a brief respite and then after the final turn Boem launched again, this time charging past a flagging Marangoni to take the first win of the Bardiani team in this year's Giro d'Italia. He also earned enough points to take over the Maglia Rosso as the leader in the points competition.
The events that will have the biggest impact on the race happened behind the peloton today though. Sky's Richie Porte flatted somewhere in the last 10 kms and was lucky enough to get a wheel from his countryman Simon Clarke on Orica. With a hard-chasing peloton he lost time quickly though and it took some time for his Sky teammates to get back and organize a team-chase to bring him back to the peloton. Porte and his teammates looked ragged and desperate at times and Porte seemed to be having difficulty staying on the wheels of his teammates. It his hard to know what the actual gaps where but in the end Sky only managed to limit losses and at the finish Porte had lost 47 valuable seconds on his main rivals. Porte appeared calm about the incident saying that bad luck would even itself out over 21 stages but between this and the time lost in the TTT he now has a significant disadvantage to make up for in the timetrial on Saturday. If the pressure to perform there was on him before, that has even doubled after today. It's a long way to Milano but in a tight race Richie Porte might have lost the Giro by the roadside today on a flat stage to Forlí.
Lesson is kids: Don't be nice. After briefly being celebrated for outstanding sportsmanship, Simon Clarke and Richie Porte have been sanctioned for breaking the rule agains receiving assistance from opposing teams. Porte gets a two minute time penalty effectively ending his quest for a Giro d'Italia win.
The rule appears quite clear, no technical assistance between riders on different teams, so in reality the ruling from the race jury to award 2 minute penalties and fines to the two riders is uncontroversial. In reality though this will be one of the most hotly debated incidents in this year's race. The background is this, which happened late in the stage 10 finale:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This is cycling. This is the best sport in the world. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Giro?src=hash">#Giro</a> <a href="http://t.co/gK4C4YfSg9">pic.twitter.com/gK4C4YfSg9</a></p>— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) <a href="https://twitter.com/giroditalia/status/600704412940685312">May 19, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Now that is the race's official twitter celebrating the incident along with most everyone else, before the implications became apparent. Porte punctures, his compatriot and friend Clarke stops and gives him a wheel and a push so that he won't suffer the bad luck of losing time due to an unlucky puncture. In the end Porte lost 47 seconds anyway and to that we can now add 2 minutes putting Porte 3.09 minutes behind Alberto Contador in the overall. I think that means he can kiss this Giro goodbye.
The ruling should be gutting for both Porte and Clarke who will now go to bed knowing he killed the chances of the friend he tried to help, not a happy thought and perhaps not the outcome we would have liked to see when people actually display sportsmanship. On the other hand these aren't young juniors either, they should have known the rules for these situations and in the end have to take the penalty they get for failing to do so. The sad part in some ways is that we don't know if any commissaires actually witnessed the offense in the race? It might have been all the gushing commentary on it on social media that alerted them and in effect forced them to act on it. And the picture evidence wasn't hard to interpret so........
Top 10 Stage 10