Matteo Trentin of Etixx-Quick Step put in a huge surge at the end of Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia to win this afternoon in Pinerolo, overhauling his team mate Gianluca Brambilla and Cannondale’s Moreno Moser just short of the line.
Meanwhile, LottoNL-Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk has maintained his leadership of the race ahead of two big mountain stages as the race crosses the border into France for the next two days.
Already the winner of two Tour de France stages, Trentin’s maiden victory in his home Grand Tour came at the end of what was, at 240km, the longest stage in this year’s race, and one that began in Muggiò.
He had been in a a big breakaway group that got away early on what at 240km was the longest stage of this year’s race, and with none of its members a threat on the general classification, it was one that the maglia rosa group was happy to let go.
Moser and Brambilla attacked on the day’s sole categorised climb, the Pramartino, with the remains of the break splintering behind them, and as the pair headed back into Pinerolo for the finish, Trentin was in a four-man group looking to bridge across.
Coming into the home straight, the front two looked destined to fight it out for the win, but Trentin appeared with a late charge, eating up the distance to them at an impressive rate.
With Moser seemingly poised for victory, Trentin stormed past him to take the win – much to the delight of third-placed Brambilla, who had already bagged a stage and, with it, the maglia rosa, earlier in the race.
Moser explained afterwards that he had no idea of Trentin's late charge since his radio earpiece wasn't in place.
“I finally believed I would win with 350 metres to go when I saw that they didn’t start sprinting early," said Trentin.
"I didn't ride so much as one metre with them. It was key that I saw the stage finish today [with one lap to go]. They were two great riders ahead of me: Moreno, who has won what he won and is now getting back to his level, and Gianluca who has been doing great since the beginning of the season.
"When they rode away, my goal was to reach the top of the climb with a small deficit. Having Gianluca at the front, I didn’t have to ride with [Nikias] Arndt, [Sacha] Modolo and [Ivan] Rovny. Eventually I was able to attack them and make it across.
"I don’t think Moreno even saw me coming from behind but Gianluca knew as he was told via radio to stop pulling because I was right there.”
Kruiswijk came across the line nearly 13 and a half minutes later with the overall contenders' group and retains a three-minute advantage over Orica-GreenEdge's Esteban Chaves.
The race leader said: “It was a really long stage. My team did a perfect job today, with two guys pulling on the flat, others who brought me to the climbs, and Enrico [Battaglin], who did the whole climb by himself.
"We knew a breakaway would go to the finish, and also which riders and which teams would make it. It’s always more predictable at the end of the Giro. We controlled the race and stayed safe.
"I have been the team leader since the beginning, and I still have the same role in the team, although the Maglia Rosa gives me more confidence. I’m enjoying every moment in it.
"I hope I have made the race very attractive in the last week. I have received lots of support from the Italian fans, so I don’t think I’ve spoiled their party.
"As for tomorrow and Saturday, I’m looking forward to them. I’ve trained a lot in long climbs like this and I showed last week that I cope well with the altitude”.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.