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Campenaerts gets 1st Grand Tour stage win, Bernal keeps lead

Belgian rider Victor Campenaerts won the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday for his first victory in a Grand Tour, and Egan Bernal kept the leader’s pink jersey after a day that was marked by a large crash at the beginning of the route.

Campenaerts, who rides for Team Qhubeka Assos, edged out Oscar Riesebeek at the end of the 147-kilometer (91-mile) 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.

Dutch cyclist Taco van der Hoorn is assisted after falling during the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Grado to Gorizia, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

Nikias Arndt won a sprint for third, seven seconds behind Campenaerts.

Bernal crossed the line in the peloton, more than 17 minutes behind. The 2019 Tour de France champion maintained his lead of 1 minute, 33 seconds over Simon Yates and is 1:51 ahead of third-place Damiano Caruso.

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 bicycle changes.

Cyclists pedal during the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Grado to Gorizia, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

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 was sixth overall, 2:36 behind Bernal.

Natnael Berhane and Jos Van Emden also had to abandon. Ruben Guerreiro rode on for a while before also quitting.

Monday’s 16th stage is the Giro’s toughest leg. The so-called queen stage includes nearly 6,000 meters of climbing over the Passo Fedaia, the Passo Pordoi and the Passo Giau in the Dolomites before the descent to the finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Colombia's Egan Bernal, 3rd from left, wearing the pink jersey of the overall leader, pedals alongside teammates during the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Grado to Gorizia, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

At 2,239 meters, the Passo Pordoi is also the race’s highest point.

The Giro finishes on May 30 in Milan with an individual time trial.

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Cyclists pedal during the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Grado to Gorizia, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

Cyclists pedal during the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Grado to Gorizia, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)

Cyclists pedal during the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Grado to Gorizia, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP)