Giro d’Italia 2012 stage 20 photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) rode himself back into contention for a podium spot at the 2012 Giro d’Italia, conquering the Stelvio to win stage 20 on Saturday.

The Belgian finished three minutes and 22 seconds clear of race leader Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), who came in fourth behind Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) finished in sixth on the stage and now sits 31 seconds in second spot behind Rodriguez overall.

The final mountain day kicked off in Caldes in Trentino this morning with riders nervous. The overall would likely be decided today.

The favourites for the overall put men in the key escape of the day, Garmin with Christian Vande Velde, Katusha with Alberto Losada and Liquigas with Damiano Caruso.

In total, 13 men went free shortly after 30km in the 219km stage: Vande Velde (Garmin-Barracuda), Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale), winner of yesterday’s stage, Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Oliver Zaugg (RadioShack-Nissan), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini), Tom Slagter (Rabobank), Branislau Samoilau (Movistar), Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil), Mathias Frank (BMC Racing Team), Matteo Bono (Lampre – ISD), Andrei Amador (Movistar), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Jose Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) and Stef Clement (Rabobank).

They started the key Mortirolo climb with two minutes and 30 seconds. Carrara and Tour of Lombardy winner, Zaugg rode free. Behind, Lampre and Garmin led the pace behind, Peter Stetina leading for Hesjedal.

Rodriguez attacked mid-way up when the climb ramped and turned from asphalt to concrete. Hesjedal marked him. Basso trailed off slightly. Also on the climb, Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and Matteo Bono (Lampre-ISD), who dropped back from the escape crashed.

Zaugg led over the top of the Mortirolo. Vande Velde, Caruso, Amador and Serpa trailed. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) went clear and went over at 2-28 minutes back. The Rodriguez group at 2-40.

De Gendt built on his lead on the descent. He joined with Carrara, Cunego and Losada. The four bridged with Vande Velde, Caruso, Amador and Serpa. De Gendt started the day 5-40 minutes back and threatened the overall lead. At 35km out, Zaugg had 2-07 to the eight and 5-50 to the pink jersey group.

Vande Velde drifted back and Stetina re-gained ground to the front. The duo went to work for Hesjedal to control De Gendt.

Zaugg led with four others in the first kilometres of Stelvio, 22.4 kilometres out. Stetina and Vande Velde pulled the group along four minutes behind.

De Gendt proved strongest. He moved free, left Cunego with Nieve and, at 10km to go, led with nearly five minutes – in third overall on the virtual GC and threatening the lead.

Although De Gendt’s time advantage over the other GC contenders was reduced by the finish line, he still gained enough time to move up to fourth overall ahead of Sunday’s final time trial in Milan.

Mark Cavendish (Sky) has lost out on the points classification after Rodriguez finished in fourth spot on the stage, overtaking the Manxman by just one point.

Stage 21 preview, including map and profile>>


Giro d’Italia 2012, stage 20: Caldes/Val di Sole to Passo dello Stelvio, 219km

1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM

2. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 56 secs

3. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2-50

4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 3-22

5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD 3-34

Overall classification after stage 20

1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha

2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 31 secs

3. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 1-51

4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM at 2-18

5. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3-18

Thomas De Gendt wins the stage and moves up to fourth overall

Giro d’Italia 2012: Latest news

Sky birthday boys put party on hold

Phinney aiming for Giro final time trial win

Hesjedal edges closer to being first Canadian Giro winner

Eisel rues missed sprint chances at Giro

Still an ‘opportunity’ for Uran to win Giro

Guardini speechless after win against Cavendish

Kennaugh withdraws from Giro, next stop Olympics

Giro’s Stelvio stage may be shortened due to weather

Izagirre wins on Grand Tour debut

Cavendish silences Cipollini

Sky tightens grip on white jersey

Rodriguez versus Hesjedal in Giro title fight

Cavendish’s Sky lead-out still on learning curve

Orica-GreenEdge to strengthen sprint train in Tour de France

Schleck struggles on with dislocated shoulder

Rodriguez up against more experienced rivals in Giro

Bak from worker to winner at the Giro

Giro d’Italia 2012: Live coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 live text coverage and schedule

Giro d’Italai 2012 stage 13 live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage 12 live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage 10 live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage six live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012 stage four live text coverage

Giro d’Italia 2012: Stage reports

Stage 19: Kreuziger bounces back with Giro stage win

Stage 18: Guardini beats Cavendish in final Giro sprint

Stage 17: Rodriguez wins stage to consolidate lead

Stage 16: Izagirre claims Basque breakaway victory

Stage 15: Rabottini takes tough win in Giro

Stage 14: Amador wins Giro’s first high mountain stage as Hesjedal reclaims lead

Stage 13: Cavendish makes it three

Stage 12: Bak attacks to win

Stage 11: Ferrari wins Giro stage on ride to redemption

Stage 10: Rodriguez wins thrilling finale to take lead

Stage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall

Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win

Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead

Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win

Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win

Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead

Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash

Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning

Stage one: Phinney wins time trial

Giro d’Italia 2012: Photo galleries

Stage 19 photo gallery

Stage 18 photo gallery

Stage 17 photo gallery

Stage 16 photo gallery

Stage 15 photo gallery

Stage 14 photo gallery

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

Giro d’Italia 2012: Blogs

Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Conserving energy for the final week

Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Holding on to the lead

Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Getting the team time trial right

Giro moto blog: Hurray for rest day

Giro moto blog: Stage 10

Giro d’Italia 2012: Teams and riders

Giro d’Italia 2012 start list

Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide

Giro d’Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule

Related links

Giro d’Italia 2012: The Big Preview

Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia section