Alejandro Valverde took his first ever stage win at the Giro d’Italia in style, outsprinting Steven Kruijswijk and Ilnur Zakarin in a demanding stage finish at Andalo. In an extremely hard-fought stage averaging 44.270km/h, despite lumpy terrain, the Dutchman took his third straight second place but, more importantly, increased his overall lead over arch-rivals Esteban Chaves, who fought hard to regain position, and Vincenzo Nibali, who lost contact with the front of the race after starting the hostilites early on.
RACE RESULTS – STANDIGS
Alejandro Valverde declared in the press conference: “I came to the Giro with two goals: to win a stage and to finish on the podium. Half of the mission is now accomplished and I’ve moved into the top three for now, although I’m aware that Nibali who is a born attacker will try and knock me off the podium. From what we’ve seen today, Kruijswijk is the strongest and I believe he’ll be the champion at the end of the race. However, my first victory at the Giro is a great emotion. I am really enjoying this race!”.
Maglia Rosa Steven Kruijswijk said in the press conference: “It may have looked like I was in control, but there were a lot of attacks in the first part of the race. I reacted rapidly to the attacks from Nibali, Valverde, etc. I was always in a good position. With ten riders at the front, it was an ideal situation for me. It was a short stage and maybe not the race of my life, although, to keep my leadership this week, I think I’ll have to ride all the stages as if they were the race of my life!”.
Maglia Bianca Bob Jungels: “I saw at last year’s Tour de France that I can be really good in the last week of a Grand Tour. Yesterday I felt really good… on the rollers! Therefore, I wanted to give it a try today as the day after a rest day is harder for the older guys (laugh). There were a lot of attacks, so we went full gas all day long. I kept my rhythm. This is my weakness and my strength: I’m able to maintain a high rhythm but I struggle when it’s too steep with changes of rhythm. If I finish seventh of the Giro, I’ll say this is crazy but I prefer to keep my feet on the ground. There are two stages at a really high altitude to come and I hope the weather will be OK so it’ll help me defend my position overall and the Maglia Bianca”.