Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini Fanzine) took a very unlikely win on Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia today as the breakaway barely held off the quickly gaining peloton in a nailbiting finale.
Cima launched his sprint with about 200m to go, beating not only his two break companions but also holding off a hard-charging Pascal Ackerman who finished in second and Simone Consonni (UAE-Team Emirates) who came third. The remaining members of the breakaway, Nico Denz (AG2R La Mondiale) and Marco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), finished further down after being swept up in the final meters.
Stage 18 was a final day of respite from the mountains for the Giro d’Italia and thus the last day sprinters had a chance at a stage win. The only two major sprinters left in the race, Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the peloton around them misjudged the chase and blew the chance.
Demare was the current occupier of the Maglia Cicclamino holding a 13 point lead over Ackermann. Both had also won two stages a piece.
With that in mind, both teams happily allowed a small break of three to escape. After-all, the 222km stage was almost entirely flat if not downhill, no break would stay away. The gap was allowed to hover around just 4 minutes, everything was in its place.
At the intermediate sprint Demare beat out Ackermann to increase his Cicclamino lead by one point.
At around 22km to go the break had about three minutes advantage. The peloton started riding hard to chase but the break seemed to have them matched.
Despite the effort up front, with every meter the time gap seemed to be dropping. The breakaway appeared doomed. With 5km left, the gap had been whittled down to the 50-second mark. With 1km to go, the peloton was visibly preparing to sweep the group up, but despite the odds Cima just barely hung on.
By finishing second, with Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) only getting eighth, Ackermann put himself back into the points leader’s jersey. With only more two mountain stages and a time trial remaining in the 2019 Giro d’Italia, it should be his to keep.
Quick note that Valerio Conti who spent time in the pink jersey earlier in the tour and was in 22nd place following stage 17 did not start stage 18 due to saddle sores.
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamEmiratesUAE) May 30, 2019
Stage 18 Highlights
Intermediate Sprint 62km
Intermediate Sprint 20km
Finish Alternate Angle
Your Shirt Has Ruined the Show
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) May 30, 2019
Asshole Throws Bike In Front of Riders
— Ciclismo Ignorante (@Ciclignorante) May 30, 2019