'Indescribable' - Brandon McNulty's emotion as he wins stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia
Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) won stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia in a three-up sprint against Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) and Marco Frigo (Israel-PremierTech).
McNulty and Healy had arrived on the finishing straight together after dropping Frigo on an uncategorised climb a few kilometres before, but Frigo caught them 500m from the line and launched his own attack. The Italian failed to get a gap though, and McNulty won the subsequent three-up sprint.
Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) lost some time after a late flurry of action in the GC group, but limited his losses enough to retain the pink jersey heading into tomorrow’s rest day.
Before that it was another subdued day in terms of the race for the pink jersey, as all of the contenders opted against attacking on any of the four official climbs in Lombardy.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) instigated the action with an attack on a small, uncategorised rise a few kilometres from the finish, and went clear with a few other riders, including fellow GC favourites Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
They got a small gap over a chasing group containing some other riders in the top ten, including Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) but only gained two seconds at the finish.
Armirail then arrived in a group 33 seconds behind, meaning his lead at the top of the classification ahead of Thomas has been cut to 1-08.
The more exciting action was happening out in the front, where McNulty won the hard-fought battle for the stage win from the day’s breakaway group.
‘Indescribable’, answered McNulty when asked how he felt having just won what was his first ever Grand Tour stage win. ‘It was my goal coming here [to win a stage], and then I got sick in the TT. I didn’t really know what was going to happen, then today it came together, and I’m so happy.'
The three riders went clear from the rest of the large break of the day on the final climb, Roncola Alta. McNulty attacked Healy, and Healy attacked McNulty, but neither was able to permanently distance the other.
‘On the long last climb I tried to go. Ben was so strong, but I managed to claw back. I rested, and then we played games on the flats, but in the end it came down to that last kick in the sprint.'
Frigo had looked out of the race on not one but two occasions. First when he was dropped on Roncola Alta, then, when Healy accelerated on an uphill a few kilometres from the finish.
‘I knew he was coming, and he ended up coming at just the right moment, because then he could swing over and I caught the draft. Then at 150 or 200 metres I just went for it.’
McNulty was making the most of a chance to ride for himself rather than stick to domestique duties for UAE Team Emirates teammate João Almeida, and becomes the second rider from the team following Pascal Ackermann to win a stage.
‘We came here for GC, but also with the goal of me having a stage win. Now it’s happened, we can fully focus on João [Almeida].’
RESULT: STAGE 15 OF THE GIRO D'ITALIA 2023
1. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates, at 5-13-39
2. Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost
3. Marco Frigo (Ita) Israel-PremierTech, both at s.t.
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-51
5. Einer Rubio (Col) Movistar, at s.t.
6. Simone Velasco (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan, at 2-26
7. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious), at s.t.
8. Laurens Hays (Bel) Intermarché - Circus - Wanty, at 3-10
9. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa at 4-13
10. François Bidard (Fra) Cofidis, at s.t.
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 15
Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, in 61-38-06
Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-08
Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-10
João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-30
Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM, at 1-50
Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 2-36
Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-02
Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Jayco-AlUla, at 3-40
Thymen Arensman (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at 3-55
Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers, at 4-18