AFP/ Treviso, Italy
Belgian Dries De Bondt won stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia yesterday as a quartet of escapees defied a frantic bid from the sprinters to reel them in over the final kilometre.
The final flat stage on this 21-day slog around Italy was supposed to be the last chance for sprinters such as Arnaud Demare and Mark Cavendish, but in a rare event the mass bunch sprint was denied by the escape group. “It’s a we question, not an I question. It was a collaboration (working together) until the last kilometre,” De Bondt said.
“Everyone said Cavendish or Demare or (Alberto) Dainese was going to win – it was written in the stars. But there was no moment of doubt, nobody skipped one turn,” he said of the escape.
The powerfully-built 30-year-old De Bondt outsprinted Jumbo’s Edoardo Affini for a photo finish as Magnus Cort of EF was third and Davide Bardiani of CSF fourth after they had worked together over two laps of a tight downtown circuit at Treviso.
The sprint pack started that 20km slog with a deficit of only 2 minutes, and would have caught the quartet on a less technically demanding circuit. Frenchman Demare of FDJ still leads in the sprint points rankings with a tally of 254 while the 37-year-old Cavendish is second on 132.
Fast and furious
Ecuadorian former Giro winner Richard Carapaz of Ineos maintains his 03sec lead in the overall standings on Australian Jai Hindley.
“Today was a fast stage. We thought it was going to be relaxed and easy but it went quickly today,” said Carapaz, who had been hoping for a slower run ahead of the finale.
Bahrain Victorious leader Mikel Landa is third at 1min 05sec.
Today’s ride from Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmont features four climbs.
But tomorrow’s high altitude affair will be the real showdown as it climbs over 2,000m altitude three times.
Sunday’s final stage is a medium length 17.4km individual time-trial into Verona where Carapaz claimed overall victory three years ago. Joao Almeida’s hopes of finishing on the podium ended overnight as he withdrew due to testing positive for Covid-19 when he was just 49 sec off third-placed Mikel Landa.
1. Dries De Bondt (BEL/Alpecin) 3hr 21min 22sec, 2. Edoardo Affini (ITA/JUM) same time, 3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (DEN/EF1) s.t., 4. Davide Gabburo (ITA/BAR) s.t., 5. Alberto Dainese (ITA/DSM) at 14sec, 6. Arnaud Démare (FRA/GFJ) s.t., 7. Davide Cimolai (ITA/COF) s.t., 8. Mark Cavendish (GBR/QST) s.t., 9. Fernando Gaviria (COL/UAE) s.t., 10. Simone Consonni (ITA/COF) s.t.
1. Richard Carapaz (ECU/INE) 76hr 41min 15sec, 2. Jai Hindley (AUS/BOR) at 03sec, 3. Mikel Landa (ESP/BAH) 1:05., 4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 5:48., 5. Pello Bilbao (ESP/BAH) 6:19., 6. Jan Hirt (CZE/INT) 7:12., 7. Emanuel Buchmann (GER/BOR) 7:13., 8. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/INT) 12:30., 9. Juan Pedro Lopez (ESP/TRE) 15:10., 10. Hugh Carthy (GBR/EF1) 17:03.
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