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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 28, 2018

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. - Rudyard Kipling

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Giro d'Italia stage 21 reports

We posted the organizer's and stage winner Sam Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team reports with the stage results.

GC winner Chris Froome's Team Sky had this to say about the race:

Chris Froome crossed the line in Rome to seal a momentous overall victory at the 2018 Giro d’Italia. The Team Sky rider becomes only the third rider in history to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time, after claiming a Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana double last season.

The first British winner of the Italian Grand Tour, Froome finished the Giro resplendent in the maglia rosa, flanked by his team-mates with an eventual winning margin of 46 seconds.

After a tough start to the three-week event, Froome and Team Sky turned the general classification on its head on stage 19 with a memorable 80-kilometre solo attack. It was here that Froome transformed a deficit of three minutes and 22 seconds into a race-winning foothold. An emphatic performance on Saturday’s 20th stage saw Froome fend off any remaining challengers, before the ceremonial run around the Italian capital.

Froome enjoyed unwavering support across the 21 stages, with seven team-mates all stepping up to play vital roles in a historic victory. David de la Cruz, Kenny Elissonde and Sergio Henao put in stellar climbing performances across the race, while Christian Knees completed a treble of his own, supporting Froome in each of his three latest Grand Tour successes. Salvatore Puccio continues to go from strength to strength, and in Wout Poels Froome again had his mountain wingman at his side, with the pair finishing together in Cervinia on Saturday. Sadly Vasil Kiryienka was forced to abandon the race on stage 19 after turning himself inside out for the cause across the three weeks.

That incredible unified performance also saw Team Sky claim victory in the team classification by almost 25 minutes.

Reflecting on his sixth career Grand Tour victory, Froome said: “I’m lost for words, it’s such an emotional feeling to be here in the pink jersey after a rollercoaster race for me. Just taking a step back and putting everything into perspective, just thinking about winning three Grand Tours consecutively - the Tour, the Vuelta and the Giro, it’s just an amazing feeling.

"It was great to be able to soak up the atmosphere here in Rome. The monuments, the crowds - it was a great atmosphere out on the road."

Chris Froome

Chris Froome and the Giro d'Italia trophy.

Asked where he realised what he'd achieved, Froome added: "I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. I'm sure it will over the next few days once I've had time to reflect. Obviously for any cyclist this is the dream - to have all three leaders jerseys in the space of 10 months. It's an incredible feeling.

"I've always been a little bit afraid of coming here and really targeting (the Giro) just because of the demands of the race. It's so different to any other race that exists. To be here in this position now and to have won the race - I can't quite believe it myself."

As a final note, Froome dedicated his sixth Grand Tour victory to his pregnant wife Michelle. He explained: "My wife has been at home battling a pregnancy. It's a different toughness altogether to get through that. We're really excited about the new addition to our family, it's going to be coming in August, so I dedicate this victory to her."

Courtesy of picking up major points on his long-range stage 19 attack, Froome also ensured Team Sky won the maglia azzurra mountains jersey for a third time in a row (Mikel Nieve 2016, Mikel Landa 2017).

Due to tricky conditions on the streets of Rome the final stage was neutralised after three laps, allowing Froome and his team-mates a more relaxed run for home. There was still a bunch sprint after 10 laps, won by Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).

After helping mastermind Froome’s victory from the team car, Sport Director Nicolas Portal told Eurosport: “It’s just unbelievable, it’s a dream come true. It’s nice because we needed to keep dreaming and it’s fantastic for the team and for Chris to achieve this.

“I don’t know what will [be seen as] the key moment, but halfway through the second week we kept focusing on [his rivals] times and we still believed that we would win or get on the podium. But if you are going to get on the podium at the back of your mind you hope to the best.

“Chris never gave up and we could see that everything came together. He recovered from his first crash, the guys were feeling better and then Chris was also feeling better and it was perfect.”

Second-place Tom Dumoulin's Team Sunweb sent me this Giro update:

After a valiant effort, Team Sunweb have secured two top 10 placings in the general classification at the Giro d'Italia, as Tom Dumoulin finishes 2nd and Sam Oomen finishes 9th. An eight-man relentless ride over the 21 stages sees the German team take their second consecutive podium finish at the Giro d'Italia in as many years.

Dumoulin said: "I am super proud of myself and the team. We've got a superb three weeks behind us and we tried everything that we could to take the win. This is by far the heaviest Grand Tour I have ever raced so I can definitely live with my second place. I'm really happy; we did everything well, the team work was great and I'm very thankful for everything that the guys did for me. We rode brilliantly over these three weeks and I'm super proud of what we have achieved. We couldn't have done anything differently so we can leave being really happy with second overall."

Tom Dumoulin

The final podium: Tom Dumoulin, Chris Froome & Miguel Lopez

Oomen said: "I'm proud of myself, proud of the team and proud of Tom. I had the job to be deep in the final with Tom so that automatically caused me to be up there in the GC. After my work with Tom I rode my own pace to the finish which meant that I was in the top 15, that's what I had expected to achieve here. This last week was amazing and I managed to jump up into the top 10 which is really incredible for me, alongside Tom's place on the podium."

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said: "We came with the confidence that we could fight for the podium and we leave with just that, so we can be very proud of what we have achieved here. The team have had a fantastic three weeks and it's been a great experience for us to be the defending team for the first time in our history. The work that we saw from each of the guys was fantastic, and the dedication to our shared goal was untold, both with riders as well as staff. Taking two top 10 finishes in a Grand Tour is a brilliant result, and although we would have liked the win, we leave Rome feeling super proud of what we have achieved in Italy."

BMC sent me this final 2018 Giro summary:

27 May, 2018, Rome (ITA): The 101st Giro d'Italia came to a close with a 115km circuit stage through the heart of Rome which saw Jempy Drucker sprint to third behind the stage winner, Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe), after a hectic run into the finish line.

Due to concerns over rider safety out on the course, the time was neutralized on stage 21 and as a result, the race split in two with the Maglia Rosa and the main General Classification contenders dropping off the back of the main bunch which was being driven by the sprinters' teams.

Once this decision was made, Francisco Ventoso went out as part of a large breakaway with the final two riders from this group caught at around the 12km to go mark in anticipation of the fast finale.

Despite a late attack, the main bunch was all together going under the flamme rouge, and as the wind up to the sprint began, Drucker was able to position himself well, moving up the bunch before surging to third place behind Bennett and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).

After what has arguably been one of the toughest editions of the Giro d'Italia in recent years, BMC Racing Team finished the race with a stage win courtesy of Rohan Dennis, who powered to victory in the stage 16 individual time trial, and four days with Dennis in the Maglia Rosa from stages three to six.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis spent four days in pink.

Solid teamwork throughout the race allowed Dennis to maintain a position in the top ten until stage 19 when the 4000m of climbing proved too much for Dennis in his first attempt at the General Classification in a Grand Tour.

Dennis crossed the finish line in Rome in the first group to secure 16th overall behind winner Chris Froome (Team Sky). Alongside Drucker and Dennis, Roelandts, Alessandro De Marchi, Kilian Frankiny, and Francisco Ventoso completed BMC Racing Team's roster in Rome, after Nicolas Roche and Loïc Vliegen were forced to abandon on stage 15 due to sickness.

Quotes from the Finish Line in Rome

Jempy Drucker:
"It's nice to be up there. I knew I could do that during the whole Grand Tour but I never had the opening or the opportunity. Today, Rohan set me up really well and that helped me to save some energy for the sprint. I had some good feelings over the last couple of days and I knew I could do a good sprint here so, it's nice to finish the race off like this."

"Overall, it was a hard time here but we made it to Rome so I'm happy. We had a nice three weeks, a super good start with Rohan in the pink jersey, then afterward he won a stage also. So I think as a team we did a good job. It was a nice experience in Italy."

Rohan Dennis:
"A success is probably the best way to sum it up. I didn't expect too much out of this Giro d'Italia, to be honest. I didn't want to put too much expectation on myself after last year's disappointment so I sort of came here hoping that it would be a lot better and it has been."

Alessandro De Marchi:
"This is my fourth Giro d'Italia and I think I can consider it the hardest and the fastest. I'm quite happy for the three weeks. I showed that I was ready in the good moments, and for me and the team, I'm happy with the whole race. I missed really what I was looking for, a stage win, but I' still confident that I'm on the right path. Sometimes it's not only about me, but about the race, the peloton, and these kind of things. So, I'm finishing with a smile and I look forward to the rest of the season."

Kilian Frankiny:
"For sure it is special and a very good feeling to be here in Rome and finish the Giro d'Italia after the crash last year in the Vuelta a Espana. Most of the guys have said that it has been the hardest race so I'm even more proud to finish it. I still felt good in the last week on the three days of climbing so I think that is a good sign for me. Maybe next year I can come again and throw myself even more into it. It was also really nice to start in Israel and to have the pink jersey with Rohan. I think I will never forget riding for the pink jersey. It was amazing."

Jurgen Roelandts:
"It was, of course, a good start with the pink jersey. In the beginning, I was a bit disappointed that we missed it by two seconds on the first day, but then to take it on day two was really nice. I think we did a good Giro d'Italia. For my personal goals, I think I did a good sprint. My goal before the Giro was already the Imola finish. I was up there but you don't always have it like you want it. For me, and for the team, it was a successful race."

Francisco Ventoso:
"I'm tired for sure. This is one of the fastest Giro d'Italia that I have ever done. Every single day was really, really fast and we didn't have one easy day. So. it was a really difficult Giro for everybody. I'm happy for the result of the team, for the pink jersey, and the stage win from Rohan Dennis. I think we made a really good Giro so I'm really happy."

Maximilian Sciandri, Sports Director:
"When I was doing the long transfer last night and this morning on the way to Rome, I passed by Fiumicino airport where I took the plane a month ago going to Jerusalem and it came to my mind that I was pretty excited and I didn't really know what I was going into. We went to Jerusalem for the Giro d'Italia with the plan for Rohan Dennis to go for the General Classification. After one month I can say that I am really happy. Happy because we had a great win in the time trial, we missed out on the prologue by two seconds, but then we got the Rosa the day after the prologue for four days."

"The GC side of things was an unknown for all of us, especially with the third week being a new area for Rohan to explore. The last three stages in the mountains had around 4000m of climbing every day, and if you look at all of the riders in front of him they are all Grand Tour winners or climbers. If you look at some of the other riders, like Yates, Aru, Pinot, and Chaves, you saw a lot of riders struggle, so I don't think we failed. It was a test for us and we can take a lot away from this year's Giro d'Italia. All of the guys were given opportunities, which is something we said from the beginning, so guys like Jurgen Roelandts and Jempy Drucker went for the sprints, Alessandro De Marchi was in the breakaway. Now we are here in Rome and I think we can be happy with our performance over the last three weeks."

And here's Mitchelton-Scott's final Giro report:

Australian-registered WorldTour team Mitchelton-SCOTT has concluded the first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d’Italia, in Rome this evening with five stage wins, including three in the pink jersey, and 13 days in the race lead.

The eight-man team fought through the glorious highs and the difficult lows of cycling to finish the Italian three-week race having animated much of the first two weeks, before eventually walking away with one of the best performances of the team’s history.

Starting with the highest of highs:
In a dream start, Mitchelton-SCOTT took the first mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia, day six up to Mt Etna, by the horns to claim a memorable one-two on the stage to move Simon Yates into the race lead.

In what is one of the best days in the team’s history, Esteban Chaves and Jack Haig escaped in a large breakaway before Chaves attacked solo with 5.5km remaining. As the GC group moved closer, Yates attack from behind to join his teammate in the front of the race before honouring him a well-deserved stage win and moving the Mitchelton-SCOTT duo to first and third overall.

Leading from the front:
With the race lead but still plenty to ride for, particularly extra seconds ahead of time trial specialists Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Chris Froome (Team Sky), Yates and Mitchelton-SCOTT led from the front.

The aggressive tactics made for spectacular racing, scarce hope for breakaway attempts and a legion of fans across the roads of Italy. But more so, it resulted in three impressive stage victories to Yates in the Maglia Rosa, a feat not accomplished since Gilberto Simoni in 2003.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates in the pink jersey he would have to give up late in the race.

13 days in Pink - an invaluable learning curve:
Despite having twice been in the position of race leader, at both the 2018 Paris-Nice and 2017 Tour de Romandie, the Giro d’Italia was the first time in his short professional career that Yates was able to defend it.

The 25-year-old did so, in impressive and aggressive fashion, to excite fans for 13 days before he slipped off the pace on stage 19. More so, it was the way Yates handled the increased responsibility, attention, post-race procedures and media that bodes well for future Grand Tour feats.

Bouncing back from the lows:
In a test of character truer than any efforts whilst riding the highs of the first 18 days, was the team’s ability to bounce back from the lows of stage 19.

Suffering from exhaustion, Yates slipped off the back of the bunch on the first climb and out of the pink jersey just three days from Rome. But rather than accept the disappointment as a conclusion, the team showed incredible strength to refocus the following day and position Mikel Nieve in the breakaway and to an eventual solo victory on the penultimate day.

Signing off from Rome:
After 21 days, the race rolled around Rome for a ceremonious start with the pink jersey firmly on the back of Chris Froome (Team Sky). The start in earnest kicked off after three laps when a large breakaway with Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Chris Juul-Jensen made their bold attempt. As expected, the sprint teams controlled proceedings and the eventual bunch sprint was won by Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Matt White – Head Sport director:
“We came to the Giro with ambitions of winning our first Grand Tour. We went about it in an aggressive style of racing that has not been seen for a long time. Our four stage wins, with three in the pink jersey, really created an incredible buzz around the cycling world.

“The team was 100% behind Simon and although he lost the jersey so close to the finish we are all so proud of how he represented the team in one of the world's biggest sporting events.

“Then to cap off and incredible win by Mikel Nieve, directly after the disappointment of losing our dream, shows the real character of this team and this Giro will never be forgotten. Even with five stage wins and 13 days in the pink jersey we will go back and analyse the race and come back hungrier for more success in 2019.”

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