That's three in a row, folks...
Rome - Rome
Giro d'Italia - 28 May 2018
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 00:00 on 28 May 2018. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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And here he is...
Meanwhile, Team Sky drop to the back of the GC gruppetto so that they can bring Froome home with reverse symbolism: in last place. They've entered the final kilometre now...
Confirmation of the stage result today with Froome and the other GC riders still to cross the finish line 10-odd minutes after Bennett's win...
Meanwhile, Team Sky lead the GC gruppetto as they edge along the perimetre of the Circus Maximus with pink jersey Chris Froome in deep conversation with team-mate Kenny Elissonde.
Here's how Bennett snared his hat-trick on the streets of Rome...
That's a third stage win for Bennett who just had too much for Viviani there. The Italian knew he was beaten and took his foot off the gas as the Irishman powered past. Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) was third.
Fabio Sabatini launches Viviani and the maglia ciclamino soars clear with Bennett in his wheel... but he sits up and Sam Bennett takes the win for Bora-Hansgrohe!
Bahrain Merida are spoiling things on the front with Bonifazio...
Bennett jumps on Viviani's wheel coming into the final kilometre. He has no team-mates while Viviani has three to lead him out.
Now Quick-Step comes up with Stybar in pole position.
EF Education First getting in the mix now as still Quick-Step hold back.
Meanwhile, the pink jersey group have only just crossed the finish for the last lap... But back to the sprint and Manuele Boaro has surged to the front for Bahrain Merida.
With Senechal in that move, Quick-Step didn't need to do anything so Viviani's train should be fairly fresh. It's over now for that break, so expect to see Quick-Step soon.
The gap is coming down... Bahrain Merida also helping out with the chase as Mullen, the Irish champion, pulls with Martin on the front.
The gap is seven seconds... Bora-Hansgrohe are leading the chase for Sam Bennett.
None of these five riders has ever won a stage in the Giro... could this be the day?
Mattia Cattaneo has managed to bridge over to the break, so we have five men out ahead - but the gap is small.
Van Poppel can't fancy his chances of winning a sprint against Bennett or Viviani, so this could be a sly move from the Dutchman.
And Danny van Poppel is in this four-man move... that's very interesting. Tony Martin for Katusha is there, too.
Ryan Mullen is one of a few riders off the front - the Irish national champion joined by Quick-Step's Florian Senechal who is policing this...
Problem for Elia Viviani! He drops a chain and needs to slow to sort it out - and while he's dealing with that, there's been an attack off the front!
The bell sounds and we have one lap remaining. Both Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe are on the front, with Kristian Sbaragli (Israel Cycling Academy) - another sprinter to watch - up in contention with his team-mate Zak Dempster.
Kuznetsov and Juul-Jensen are caught ahead of the penultimate crossing of the finish line. It's show time.
Meanwhile, at the back of the race and nearing finish of the previous lap, Esteban Chaves rides on his own and could be lapped if he's not careful. The Colombian has had a strange Giro - he was so strong in the opening week, entering the rest day just 32 seconds down having won on Etna. Then it all crumbled - in the same way that it would for team-mate Simon Yates a year later.
Just five seconds now for the two leaders, who will be caught before the end of this penultimate lap.
It's a bit of a debacle to have the GC riders and maglia rosa soft-pedalling in a group more than seven minutes down, but the course today was really dangerous with terrible road surfaces, some tight bend, huge bottlenecks and road furniture. God knows what would have happened if it was raining like the day Dennis Menchov won the Giro... remember his time trial crash back in 2011??
Still 10 seconds for our two leaders... but Quick-Step really have this under control.
Of course, it's not just a two-horse race even if Messrs Viviani and Bennett have been the dominant forces in the sprints this year. Sacha Modolo has a chance, as does Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida). It will be a surprise is the winner is not from those five, though. Who else? Baptiste Planckaert of Katusha, Ryan Gibbons of Dimension Data perhaps, BMC's Jean-Pierre Drucker, Manuel Belletti of Androni, Lotto Fix All's Jens Debusschere...
It's only Kutnezsov and Juul Jensen out ahead now after the rest of the break are reeled in - and their gap is down to 10 seconds as they cross the line at the end of the eighth lap. Just two laps to go and it looks like a reduced bunch sprint is on.
The gap is still just under 20 seconds for the break as two more riders zip clear of the QuickStep-led pack in a bid to spring a surprise.
Meanwhile, the maglia rosa group is more than five minutes down now. And before you get worked up: both Dumoulin and Froome are in this group - as are all the other top 10 contenders - and also it's immaterial, because the GC times have been neutralised today.
Kuznetsov is after Katusha's first win of the race. Interestingly, just three teams have won over half of all the stages in this year's race: Quick-Step Floors (5), Mitchelton-Scott (5) and Team Sky (2).
We're onto the third-to-last lap now and our two leaders have a small gap over the chasers, who have the pack breathing down their neck.
Two riders out ahead of the break now: Katusha's Viacheslav Kuznetsov and Mitchelton-Scott's Chris Juul Jensen. If the latter wins it will be a sixth stage for his Australian team following Simon Yates's three scalps, Esteban Chaves on Etna and Mikel Nieve yesterday.
We have the likes of Nico Denz, Fran Ventoso, Krists Neilands, Chris Juul Jensen, Florian Senechal, Manuel Boaro, Alexey Lutsenko, Ben King, Eugert Zhupa, Marco Marcato, Viacheslav Kuznetsov and Gijs Van Hoecke in this break, which still has a gap of 20-odd seconds on the main pack.
We spoke to Sam Bennett ahead of today's stage. The Irishman, who could win a hat-trick today for Bora-Hansgrohe, said: "It's a nice stage and I think all the sprinters are motivated so it's going to be a difficult. We'll see. We'll try to do the best we can. we have had a very successful Giro so far and anything else is a bonus. I just need to be in the right position and we will see. I just have to get that right." You can tell that Bennett thinks he's faster than Viviani...
The gap is down to 17 seconds for the break as they approach the second intermediate sprint, which Eugert Zhupa takes without any contest. Four laps to go - and the Froome gruppetto is now a couple of minutes back.
Meanwhile, Quick-Step Floors are getting some help from the EF Education First-Drapac team of Sacha Modolo, who is still looking for his first win on the race. No sign of Sam Bennett of his Bora-Hansgrohe team yet - but I'm sure they're happy to let Quick-Step do all the work.
With Neilands reeled in, Chris Juul Jensen ups the tempo in the break again. The gap back to the chasing pack is 30 seconds and another minute back to a gruppetto which includes the maglia rosa Chris Froome, who is taking things easy now that the GC times have been neutralised.
Eight seconds for Neilands over the break and 35 seconds over the pack.
Latvian national champion Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) has ridden clear of the break and holds a small gap. Meanwhile, the peloton is just 20 seconds down on the break now.
A reminder that Froome will also win the maglia azzurra as the king of the mountains of this Giro. The Brit has 125pts - 17pts more than the man who is currently in blue by default, the young Italian Giulio Ciccone of Bardiani-CSF.
The gap is still 40 seconds as Quick-Step lead the chase. They have a man on policing duties in the break - it's Florian Senechal.
CRASH: Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin) hits the deck and that's proof just how difficult this circuit is. The Briton looks pretty angry and it takes him an age to get a replacement bike.
Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli) wins the first intermediate sprint from the break and that secures him the sprint competition crown. He's been ever present in the breaks - as have his team - and that's fair recompense for his hard work. This break has 50 seconds to play with.
There's actually around 20 riders off the front. They have joined forces with those earlier leaders and it's Quick-Step who are working with Bahrain Merida to try and neutralise things. With the break so large, they may have a task on their hands...
Schmidt has been reeled in but Lutsenko now rides with Chris Juul Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott) and Eugert Zhupa (Wilier Triestina). The gap is about 10 seconds and Quick-Step Floors finally come to the front of the pack to work for Viviani.
This is going to get really messy! Because there will be very little interest for most of the GC teams to ride, the peloton is going to split up quite dramatically, and we may even see some lapping. Meanwhile, we have our first attacks: Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Mads Wurst Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) zip clear of a very reduced peloton. The sprinters' teams are going to have their work cut out today or they will miss a trick.
With the pink jersey now secured, let's take a look back at How The Race Was Won with our superb contributor Cosmo Catalano.
And that's it: the peloton passes through the finish at the end of the third lap and the final GC times have been taken. So Chris Froome is champion - although it's unclear if he has to actually complete the stage now... we presume yes, but this has been such a shambles it's anyone's guess. Right, seven more laps now and we might see some racing.
Here's more about today's city centre circuit in Rome via our friends at Velon.
Meanwhile, apparently the riders have been told to respect the fans - both those present and those watching on TV. It's a fair point, but you think someone would have checked this course beforehand. The latest is that the pace has increased now and that the final GC times will be taken at the end of this third lap...
Yes, and that appears to be that: Froome gets the thumbs up from the commissaires and it looks like this will be neutralised until the final two laps - and everyone will be given the same final time. Rider power. And to be fair, although a tourist route de luxe - and quite spectacularly shot from the aerial cameras - this is quite a dangerous city loop.
Froome is now deep in conversation with the race organisers - and he's pretty much dictating what he and the others want. In short: a neutralised stage with a race for those who want it over the last few laps. The commissaires don't look best pleased about this - but they're going to have to accept it because these roads are quite dangerous, especially the cobbled sections which are littered with manholes and potholes.
Viviani and Froome are now in discussion and the TV cameras picked up some of it. In short, the Italian proposes that the stage will be neutralised in terms of GC times and then they start racing for the stage win "with five or four laps" to go. So, there you are, it looks like the riders are going to negotiate - dictate, even - how they ride this one.
There's a fair bit of chatting going on between Elia Viviani and the race organisers at the moment. It seems that Viviani is concerned that there is not going to be any racing today because at the moment the pace is very slow - and both Dumoulin and Froome seem to have voiced their concern about the state of the cobbles. They have seemingly been negotiating some kind of go-slow of GC amnesty so that those who want to contest the sprint can do so without their positions on GC being threatened. Viviani, of course, just wants to know what's happening because he wants his fifth stage win.
Talking of Sam Oomen, his Sunweb team leader was full of praise of his fellow Dutchman when quizzed by our reporters this afternoon before the start. He said: "He's amazing. He's a young, cool guy, super laid back. Quite a similar character as me when I was that age. I used to do the same good things - the same mistakes, too. I see a lot of talent in him. He's a really cool rider and guy. Can he be a leader in the future? Yes. It's good for him that he's now a little bit in the shadow - for his development. He's flying and staying happy and really nice to have him by my side."
As for the white jersey for the best young rider - that goes to Astana's Lopez who is currently 47 seconds clear of Movistar's Carapaz, who won stage 8 in the rain to Montevergine. Dutchman Oomen, who rode impressively in support of team-mate Dumoulin, was a distant third at 9'21".
As for the maglia ciclamino, it looked to be a one-horse race for Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) after a bullish start in Israel until Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) picked up two stage wins to level things out. But the Italian replied with another two wins and then got in yesterday's break to pick up enough intermediate sprint points to secure the jersey yesterday. Viviani now has 306 points to the Irishman's 232 points. Today's sprint - if it comes to that - should pit the two fast men together with Viviani going for his fifth win and Bennett seeking a breakthrough hat-trick.
A reminder that Froome leads Dumoulin by 46 seconds on GC with Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) completing the podium at 4:57. Ecuador's Richard Carapaz (Movistar) and Italy's Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain Merida) complete the top five, while there are top 10 finishes for Pello Bilbao (Astana), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) and Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) - in that order, with Formolo over 15 minutes down on the summit.
One person who Tom Dumoulin was talking to this morning was former Giro winner Alberto Contador, who looks much chunkier - and healthier - now that he's retired, I think you'll agree. This from our friends at Velon...
There were rumours doing the rounds yesterday that Tom Dumoulin refused to shake Chris Froome's hand yesterday - but that was apparently all a misunderstanding and the Dutchman didn't even see his colleague's out-stretched hand. In any case, they seem pretty friendly today as they ride along off the back while chatting together...
Pinot's withdrawal means we have 150 riders in Rome - so just 26 have quit since the start in Israel, which is not a bad departure rate given the brutality of the past few weeks. Out of interest, the 'lanterne rouge' - or 'black jacket' as they refer to it in Italy - is, for a second year running, Italy's Giuseppe Fonzi of Wilier Triestina, who is currently 5:48.37 behind Froome on GC - that's pretty much an entire 240+ kilometre stage in arrears, and some.
One non-starter today: Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) has had to withdraw from the race due to exhaustion. The Frenchman cracked on the second climb yesterday and finished in a gruppetto some 45 minutes down to lose his place on the virtual podium. He was taken to hospital for check ups and told to pull out of the race. It was a sad end for Pinot who was fourth last year and looked set to go one better this year.
He's not wearing pink bib shorts - thankfully - but Team Sky and Pinarello couldn't resist giving Froome's Dogma a bespoke pink paint job today. Froome and his Sky team-mates are currently riding off the back in a line and taking in the ambiance.
And they're off! Except they're not, really, are they, because no one ever races these final stages in Grand Tour full gas until much later on... Expect at least one processional lap of this 11.5km course around the capital city before thoughts switch to the sprint battle in hand.
The riders are currently riding past the Colosseum in the neutral zone as they approach the finish line before getting the 10 laps started.
Here's what's in store for the riders on this final stage - a pretty much pan-flat 10 circuits of an 11.5km city-centre circuit around Rome.
Yesterday, Froome came within touching distance from a Grand Tour grand slam after all but winning the Giro d’Italia following a captivating tussle with Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin on the final climb of Stage 20 to Cervinia, won by the Spaniard Mikel Nieve on his birthday. Read all about a captivating penultimate day of the race below...
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Stage 21 of the Giro d'Italia - the final stage of the 101st edition of La Corsa Rosa, 10 laps around the streets of Rome in a largely processional 115km run that should end with a showdown between Elia Viviani and Sam Bennett as Britain's Chris Froome secures his first Giro crown.