Dubai: UAE Team Emirates’ American rider Brandon McNulty finished third on Stage 14 to vault into fourth overall and remain in contention for a podium finish at the Giro d’Italia late on Saturday.
The Valdobbiadene time trial was always likely to shake up the general classification at the Giro, but nobody rose through the top end of the rankings quite like the 22-year-old American climber.
He began the day just outside the top 10, but ended it within touching distance of the podium, after placing third behind the Ineos Grenadiers pair of Filippo Ganna and Rohan Dennis in the rolling test through the vineyards in the hinterland of Conegliano.
McNulty was third quickest behind Ganna and Dennis at the first time check on the short but steep Ca’del Poggio after 7.4km, and that trio remained in situ atop the rankings at every time check thereafter.
By the time McNulty crumpled into a heap past the finish line, he had stopped the clock 1:09 down on Ganna on the undulating 34.1km individual time trial course with an average speed of 46.7kph, just 1.09 minutes slower than Ganna.
With seven stages remaining, McNulty now lies a mere 12 seconds off the podium, a remarkable feat in what is the first Grand Tour for the 22-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona.
“Warming up beforehand my legs felt really bad so I didn’t know how I would go. Then at the first split I wasn’t far off from Ganna, so I knew I was on a good day and just went as a hard as I could,” McNulty related.
“Matxin [Team Manager] told me last night that he thought I could move into fifth. I thought that if I did a really good day I could even get fourth. For the rest of the race I think I stand a good chance on the climbs and then there’s one last time trial in Milan so it’s another good opportunity for me. Everyday is a surprise to me because I’ve never done a race this long but so far I keep getting better so it it’s good,” he added.
Sunday’s Stage 15 will go from Base Aerea Rivolto to Piancavallo while covering a distance of 185km with the final climb of 14.3km at 7.8 per cent.
1. Filippo Ganna (Ineos-Grenadiers) 42:40
2. Rohan Dennis (Ineos-Grenadiers) +26s
3. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) +1’09
1. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 54:28.09
2. Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +56s
3. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) +2’11”
4. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) +2’23”