De Bondt completes the breakaway’s plan with Tiger Leap

Giro: Late moment of shock for Hindley


Dries De Bondt (Alpecin – Fenix, left) narrowly wins on the 18th stage of the Giro. | Photo: Cor Vos

26/05/2022 | (rsn) – On the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia, a breakaway sprint team duped. After 156 kilometers, Dries De Bondt (Alpecin – Fenix) narrowly beat his companions Eduardo Affini (Jumbo – Visma) and Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Eduction – EasyPost) in the sprint. The pink jersey remains on the shoulders of Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) ahead of the crucial stages of this Tour of Italy.

When De Bondt, Affini, Cort Nielsen and Matteo Gabburo (Bardiani – CSF – Faizanè) broke out of the field after a few kilometers, the sprint teams could still be optimistic about being able to manage such a small group. This optimism turned to panic in the last 50 kilometers as it became more and more clear that the gorge could no longer be closed.

“Our cooperation was fantastic. There was never a moment’s doubt. No one missed a lead, everyone gave everything until the finish line. It has been said that this is a sprint tape. It was almost written in the stars. But the four of us made a plan during the race – we held on to it and managed it, “De Bondt revealed about the breaker’s recipe for success.

De Bondt with Tiger Leap for the biggest win of his career

At the last kilometer, it was finally clear that today’s victory should go to the front runners. “The pressure was on Magnus because he is the fastest, has won the biggest palmares and has also won Grand Tour stages. It was logical that he was the first to drive the last few kilometers, “said De Bondt, describing his successful strategy. Eventually, a brave tiger leap weighed in favor of the former Belgian champions.

“It has always been a dream for me, but since I started cycling, it has kept telling me: I have dreams, the dreams become goals, the goals have been reached. I had bigger dreams, set them goals and achieved them. Now I wanted to win a stage here, and I succeeded too, ”said the 30-year-old De Bondt, delighted with his first Grand Tour stage victory. Alpecin – Fenix ​​was also able to celebrate victories with three different riders in this Giro.

As we enter the decisive weekend, Carapaz still has a lead of three seconds over Jai Hindley (Bora – Hansgrohe) and 1:05 over Mikel Landa (Bahrain – Victorious). Emanuel Buchman slipped to an overall seventh place due to Joao Almeida’s (UAE Team Emirates) Covid-related retirement.

Hindley stopped with a puncture on the last three kilometers

The day also became more hectic than expected for the favorites. Due to a severely mistimed tackle, Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek – Segafredo) spent some time on the grass writhing in agony before he could get up and continue the game. He was able to defend his position at the top of the junior class, but had to let Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux) pass him in the overall standings. Hindley also did not escape unscathed: the Australian had a defect in the last three kilometers, but was then classified over time for the group of favorites according to the rules.

In the sprint classification, Arnaud Démare (Groupama – FDJ) was able to extend his lead in sixth place. Should he not fall out of the time limit in the next few days, the Frenchman should almost certainly take Maglia Ciclamino home. In the mountain classification, Koen Bouwman (Jumbo – Visma) continues to lead. Bahrain Victorious remains ahead of Bora in the team classification – hansgrohe.

This is how the race went:

After Almeida, who was fourth overall, was unable to start the stage due to a positive coronate test, 152 riders started the race in a mix of sun and clouds. De Bondt, Cort and the two local professionals Affini and Gabburo quickly broke away from the field, giving no resistance but so resolutely preventing a series of counter-attacks.

At the first of the two mountain classifications in the 4th category, which De Bondt secured without a fight in front of Affini after 25 kilometers, the lead for the refugees to the field was led by the sprint teams a little more than two minutes. After this, the pursuers kept the cord even shorter, at the first intermediate sprint of 75 kilometers, where Gabburo got the maximum number of points, the distance between the drivers and the field was a little over 1:30 minutes.

It did not change much over the following kilometers. The top quartet initially maintained this lead and even extended it to about three minutes up to Muro di Ca dell Poggio (4th cat.), Today’s second mountain classification. At the end of the 12 percent steep climb, De Bondt also got the day’s last mountain prize with 54 kilometers to go, followed by the field, which, however, split on this stage of the race. Lopez, the wearer of the white jersey, Bouwman, the mountain king, and Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), one of the promising sprinters, were left behind.

Division in the field saves the escaped themselves to goal

In the last 50 flat kilometers, the sprinters’ helpers increased the pace, but during the bonus sprint that De Bondt got, the hole had shrunk to less than two minutes. When it came to the final lap of about 22 kilometers, the escaped had still defended their lead by 1:20 minutes.

At the first crossing of the finish line, after which there were still 13 kilometers left, the quartet had lost another 20 seconds, while the second field with Lopez and Bouwman was already about 2:30 minutes behind. In the final, however, the breakaways maintained their lead, though Groupama, DSM and Quick-Step all tried their best to catch the breakaways.

De Bondt laughs third, moment of shock for Hindley

At home, Affini then started the sprint from Cort’s rear wheel, but De Bondt sprinted past his competitors on the final meters and could be celebrated as a laughing third.

Hindley experienced a moment of shock in the first field when he lost the connection due to a puncture. But when the accident happened to him within the last three kilometers, the Bora captain was able to roll relatively casually into goal behind his teammate Patrick Gamper and was then classified at the same time as Carapaz and the other favorites.

The second field with the two German sprinters Bauhaus and Rick Zabel (Israel – Premier Tech) followed almost three minutes after they had given up their attempt to force a connection with the hunting group on the last kilometers.

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