Giro d'Italia (st. 18)
Valverde unsuccessfully tries to make up gap to Kruijswijk (TLJ) into Pinerolo's finale, tackles Alps stages just 23" short of second place. Agnello and Risoul coming up on Friday
It was a surprise, last-minute winning move by Matteo Trentin (EQS) to surge past team-mate Gianluca Brambilla and CPT's Moreno Moser to claim the win on stage 18 of the 2016 Giro d'Italia. The longest route in this year's Corsa Rosa started in the outskirts of Milano (Muggiò) and finished in Pinerolo after crossing the city of Turin -where the race will come to an end on Sunday- and climbing three demanding hills with Pramartino (Cat-2) and the two-stroke, cobbled Principe di Acaja / San Maurizio.
A 24-man breakaway overshadowed the field of favourites as they ammassed almost 15 minutes of advantage over the Movistar Team peloton. Rojas and a much-recovered Visconti acted as best domestiques for Amador and Valverde into the final climbs. Battaglin's (TLJ) pace through the Pramartino avoided any attacks and made the favourites, Alejandro among those, trying it only into the final ascent of San Maurizio. Despite Alejandro's efforts in both the cobbled kick and the final sprint, so as to get a gap over the GC leaders, all members of the overall top-ten came across the line together.
'Bala' still sits in third overall, 3'23" down on Kruijswijk -and just twenty-three seconds behind Chaves (OGE, 2nd)-, with Andrey in 8th at 8'53", as the Giro enters the French Alps for its decision from Friday's stage nineteen. The Colle dell'Agnello, this year's 'Cima Coppi' at 2,744m above sea level, and a very long descent will take the riders to the Risoul ski resort (Cat-1). A 162km trek where everything will be at stake yet again.
Alejandro Valverde: “It was quite comfortable for most of the stage, but the finale ended up being really hard. Another day over for us – long racing today, with such a steep finish. Tomorrow's stage is a key one and we must try to keep the front, not to lose anything against the podium rivals and gain something, if it's possible. Just like Saturday's, it will be a decisive stage, though I think Saturday's will be the hardest as the wear and tear from tomorrow will play a massive impact. It will be difficult to get to pink jersey position, but that's been our task from the very start of this Giro.
"Lotto-Jumbo has a superb team for the flat, and they protected Kruijswijk well also into the Pramartino climb. We knew there weren't going to be much gaps today either. Kruijswijk again proved to feel really strong, as did Chaves, Nibali and myself. There might be some changes between the first five overall until Saturday evening, but I don't think there will be much. I don't feel the Giro is over, though; anything could happen in this final weekend. Legs felt quite well today and I hope they continue this way for the remainder of the race."