Giro Stage 18: Breakaway Victory

Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol wins stage 18 after a thrilling finale between thee of the riders in the days breakaway, Pink jersey and peloton finish 23 minutes behind the winner

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Giro Stage 18: Breakaway Victory

With three GC days ahead, two summit finishes and a time trial, today was the last opportunity for the GC riders for an ‘easy day’. It wasn’t that easy as the stage was the longest one of the race at 231 kilometres and the fight to establish a break saw a fierce battle with attack after attack failing to stick.

Eventually a large group of 23 riders gained an advantage of around 20 seconds over the peloton after 30 kilometres but that gap remained small whilst means who missed the move continue to chase it. That chase eventually had to stop and the breakaway was let off the leash and quickly started to open a huge gap on the peloton. The last 35 kilometres of the stage saw a lot of little climbs which were to have their effect on the race.

On the first ascent the attacks started and the rider who had the most sucess was Quickstep’s time trial specialist Cavagna. He went from a long way out, probaly too far, and soon he was being chased down by Bettiol with Nicholas Roche doing his best to stay in contact with the Italian. The stage had one climb too many for Cavagna as he was caught by Bettiol who attacked the Quickstep rider who very quickly parked up as Roche continued his chase after Bettiol.

The Italian Bettiol however was on a special day and whilst Roche was caught by the chasers, Alberto Bettiol solo’d his way all the way to line with a long celebration showing just what the victory meant to him.

Alberto Bettiol:, Stage 18 winner hasn’t won a lot but he has won quality races, Tour of Flanders, a stage in the Giro today and a stage in Etoile de Bessèges. He also won a stage of Tirreno in the team time trial. he said afterwards: “Yeah, it means really, really a lot for me, for my team, and for the people that always believe in me. It’s a gift that I want to go to for my former agent, Mauro Battaglini, that passed away last year, and was like a second father for me, so this victory is for him that for sure he looks on me from the sky. And I also want to spend a thought to all the victims of the Mottarone cabin, and this is a thought for all the victims and their families.

Q: You had to catch Rémi Cavagna, who is one of the best time triallists in the world]. A: Yeah, but I am also one of the best time triallists in the world, so… No, the final was really hectic because a lot of guys looked at me, everybody were in my wheel, and I was sure that a strong guy like Rémi Cavagna tried something to anticipate, but fortunately it’s the 3rd week of the Giro d’Italia, and fortunately the final was really, really strong and really, really hard, and I could use my legs that I find back after struggling for a period, and in the end I catch him, and I immediately attacked.

The breakaway

“I was really, really ‘àn bloc’, but I tried to hit him mentally. And in the end it pays me back. I was scared of Nico Roche, he is also a friend of mine, but in the final didn’t really help me, it’s OK, like, but I dropped him on the last climb. Matti Breschel from the car helped me, drive me really, really well. Was one for my teammate two years ago when I won Flanders, so he’s my sport director so it’s also a gift for him.”

Nicholas Roche: “I think the race went pretty well. It was important for us to have numbers in the breakaway and we managed to get three guys in there, which was pretty good,” explained Roche after the stage. “In the finish, I bridged across to Bettiol which took a while. Then he was really strong and rode away on the last climb and I managed to take third place at the finish, with Nikias behind in fourth which is a good result for us after a hard day out.”

Egan Bernal: Did the fast start help you understand if you had recovered from yesterday? “I hope so. It’s difficult to know because it was really fast but I was in the wheels, so it was a bit easier behind, so… yeah, I hope I recovered well. I felt much better than yesterday on the bike, and, yeah, tomorrow will be another day.

No Colombian has had 10 days in the Maglia Rosa before? A: Yes, something special, but the most important is to arrive with the Maglia on the last stage. It’s difficult to say that I’m super-confident. I’m just having to do my best, you know? It’s… you can’t say you are overconfident because we saw yesterday and in the past years that in just one bad day, you can lose everything, so I have a lot of respect for the other guys and I need to be focused and just try do my best and that’s it”.

Diego Ulissi (5th): “The team did a great job today from the start to get me into the breakaway. It was a very strong break and we worked well together. Bettiol had the best legs today. I‘m happy with my form here in the last week and we’ll keep pressing on for that win soon.”

Rémi Cavagna (9th): A fierce battle between the 23 riders in the breakaway started inside the last hour of racing, when they began showing their cards in an attempt to make that winning move. Cavagna waited patiently for the only classified climb of the day (4th cat), where he attacked from the fragmented group and quickly opened a 25-second advantage by the time he reached the top of Castana. All-in on the descent, the Frenchman – fully committed to his effort and in full time trial mode – continued at the front also on the penultimate climb, which featured some stinging gradients, that halved his lead. Rémi emptied himself on the rolling roads of Lombardia and stayed at the front despite the strong headwind until an agonizingly 400 metres to the summit of the last hill, where he was caught and dropped by Alberto Bettiolwho took the win.

“The goal was to join the break, because it was the last opportunity to try something. When I attacked, I gave everything and had a solid gap with 15 kilometers to go, which made me believe in my chances, but I missed something in the end. I knew there were better climbers than me in the group and you could see that. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being at the front today, although the result was frustrating”, Cavagna said after coming home ninth in Stradella.

Samuele Battistella (6th). “Today, we were free to try to go in a breakaway as we knew this stage could suit an escape. Finally, it was me and Gorka who joined the right group. We spent a good day in front, it was a long one, but I still enjoyed it. In the final part I tried to anticipate the attacks of our rivals with a move on the first climb. It did not work out as the others were able to follow me. Then, it was Gorka who attacked, but it also did not work. Well, at the end I was trying to do my best fighting for the highest possible result. The sprint from our group was a bit chaotic, but I managed to take a nice sixth place. I’d prefer to fight for a stage victory today, however, I think it was a valuable experience for me”

Stefano Oldani (12th) “Maybe this was my last chance, but I played my cards and I gave my all today! Every rider knew this was going to be a good day for the breakaway so there was a big fight and eventually, a lot of riders got up the road. Of course, I would have liked to get a better result but I did the best I could and I have no regrets. I am enjoying the race so far, I also think I am doing a pretty good #Giro but it’s not finished yet. I am definitely happy!”



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