Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane) snatched victory with a sprint finish, holding off a late charging peloton in Thursday’s 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia.
Cima had been part of a long range breakaway and edged Pascal Ackermann, who headed up the charging peloton, on the line after nearly five hours in the saddle, with Simone Consonni third.
Ackermann could later console himself after regaining the sprint points jersey, while the winner was left in a state of euphoria.
“I can’t believe what just happened. I’ve spent so many kilometres in breakaways during this Giro. I thought I’d never make it but I’ve won today,” said the rider from Brescia. “It’s insane, the dream of a lifetime.”
There was no change among the general classification with Movistar’s Richard Carapaz holding his 1min 54sec advantage over Vincenzo Nibali, with Primoz Roglic third at 2min 16sec.
“It’s been a quiet stage but a long one, intense at the beginning only,” said Carapaz. “I’ve had good support from my team again. Tomorrow will be an important test but I’m confident of keeping the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey).”
It was an eventful stage which got underway in Valdaora in the Dolomites.
Cima formed a three-man breakaway after 50km along with Mirco Maestri and Nico Denz, building up a maximum advantage of four and a half minutes on the pink jersey group.
The 222km stage gave the remaining sprinters a final chance as the route dropped to sea level, through the Venetian hinterlands to Santa Maria di Sala, concluding with a 2km sprint for the line.
Friday’s 19th stage returns to the mountains with a 151km run between Treviso and San Martino di Castrozza, concluding with a final 13.6km climb with a 5.6 percent gradient, on the eve of the big stage in the Dolomites.
Giro d’Italia 2019 – stage 18 results (Valdaora – Santa Maria di Sala):
|1||Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane)|
|2||Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|3||Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates)|
|4||Florian Senechal (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|5||Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data)|
|6||Manuel Belletti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)|
|7||Davide Cimolai (Israel Cycling Academy)|
|8||Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)|
|9||Sean Bennett (EF Education First)|
|10||Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF)|
|11||Nico Denz (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|12||Paolo Simion (Bardiani-CSF)|
|13||Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo)|
|14||Juan Jose Lobato (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane)|
|15||Josef Cerny (CCC)|
|16||Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|17||Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates)|
|18||Rüdiger Selig (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|19||Jenthe Biermans (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|20||Francisco Ventoso (CCC)|
Giro d’Italia 2019 – general classification after stage 18:
|1||Richard Carapaz (Movistar)|
|2||Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)|
|3||Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)|
|4||Mikel Landa (Movistar)|
|5||Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)|
|6||Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)|
|7||Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|8||Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|9||Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos)|
|10||Davide Formolo (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|11||Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates)|
|12||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|13||Hugh Carthy (EF Education First)|
|14||Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First)|
|15||Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ)|
|16||Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)|
|17||Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)|
|18||Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|19||Victor de la Parte (CCC)|
|20||Tanel Kangert (EF Education First)|