Damiano Cima of Nippo-Vini Fantini has won Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia in Santa Maria di Salora – his team’s first ever victory at the race – on an afternoon that had been expected to end with a rare sprint finish but instead saw the peloton give the three riders in the break enough leeway for them to contest the victory.
The Italian was one of three riders who formed the day’s break together with Nico Denz of Ag2R-La Mondiale and Mirco Maestri of Bardiani-CSF, and crossed the line with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Pascal Ackermann breathing down his neck.
After the exertions in the mountains of the past week or so and another big two days of climbing to go before Sunday’s time trial in Verona, the peloton took it easy today, with a relaxed mood as riders chatted to each other.
Belatedly, the main group seemed to realise that they had a breakaway to catch, and at 20 kilometres to go, the trio up front still had a lead of 2 minutes 30 seconds.
Going under the 10 kilometres to go banner, they still had 1 minute 15 seconds and, with a realistic chance of prevailing, the three riders up front rode hard but their advantage tumbled in the last couple of kilometres as the peloton ratcheted up the pace – but not enough to reel in Cima.
Ackermann, in the German national champion's jersey, showed his frustration at being unable to overhaul the Italian escapee, but his second place saw him get back into the lead of the points classification, overhauling Groupama-FDJ's Arnaud Demare, eighth today.
Stage winner Damiano Cima
“To give my team visibility throughout breakaways was one of the roles I was assigned by my team. In addition to the visibility, today I delivered the stage victory. It wasn’t easy to make the breakaway today because many riders were playing according to the Maglia Ciclamino [the points jersey].
"We were three at the front and I thank my breakaway companions for the good co-operation we had. I remained as calm as I could in the last kilometres. I never looked back. I waited as much as possible to give it all in the last few hundred meters.”
Maglia Rosa Richard Carapaz
“I’m serene... I’m in my best shape! Joking, but knowing that I was going well, I asked for a pink bike even before I took the Maglia Rosa and it arrived yesterday for my birthday. I’m confident ahead of the last three stages. I feel a lot of emotions because there are a lot of mountains to come. I hope to deal with it the best possible way. I know that my country is paralysed now because of people watching the Giro.”
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.