First Grand Tour victory for Van Garderen, no harmony between GC contenders in the finale.
Tejay van Garderen claimed his first Grand Tour victory, outsprinting Mikel Landa in Ortisei at the end of Stage 18 of the Giro100. It was also a spectacular finale among the GC contenders as Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali attacked in the hills but Tom Dumoulin reigned them in to show his strength. The top three GC riders all gave way to Thibaut Pinot who rode away with Domenico Pozzovivo to move closer to the podium.
1 – Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) – 137km in 3h54’04”, average speed 35.118km/h
2 – Mikel Landa Meana (Team Sky) s.t.
3 – Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) at 8″
4 – Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) s.t.
5 – Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) at 11″
Today’s stage winner Tejay Van Garderen said: “Something just didn’t feel right last week. I had a couple of bad days, but in a Grand Tour, you can’t afford any bad days. I’m happy to come back and show the form I have. I’m disappointed for the GC, but I make up for it with a stage like today. I love Italy. I love the Giro. I used to live in Lucca, Tuscany, and for several years, I’ve had training camps up the road from here, staying at Chalet Gerard, a lovely hotel. This area in particular feels like home. Italy is beautiful, people are passionate and positive. I’m surprised it has taken this long in my career to come to the Giro and I’ll certainly be back.
“[Mikel] Landa is a very good bike rider and a very quick sprinter, so it was a bit tactical there at the end. I had to be patient and not excited. I knew it was a downhill finish. I had to do it from the front. He closed on me a bit but I told myself: ‘if I crash, I crash but I’m not going to brake’. Luckily, I didn’t crash and I’m delighted I took my first Grand Tour stage win here. However, I’m not giving up on riding Grand Tours for GC. Things might change in getting full support of the team. Maybe I can’t climb with [Nairo] Quintana on top of the Blockhaus but I see myself as a similar rider to Dumoulin, I just need to avoid having bad days.”
The Maglia Rosa Tom Dumoulin said: “I don’t know if I was the strongest today but I was definitely with the few strongest of the day. They attacked me but it didn’t work out. It was good day for me. My rivals launched very strong attacks and it wasn’t easy to close on the Gardena but I was able to. I was never really in trouble. In the finale, I was not completely happy with the situation. With just four kilometres flat or pretty flat till the finish, it would have been good for Nibali, Quintana and me to stay together, that’s why I was frustrated, disappointed and angry at them. At the end it’s a good situation for me. Quintana is the strongest climber here, sometimes I can follow him sometimes not. The watts/kg he developed on the Blockhaus one of the best in recent years. Today at the end of the last climb, I wanted to test my rivals. I saw they were tired. I was still feeling ok, but they weren’t tired enough that I could drop them. Piancavallo tomorrow won’t be the last obstacle. I only know the climb from the book, but there will be two more very hard days coming up, everyone knows them, especially the Monte Grappa on stage 20 is very hard. If I go at my own pace, I don’t lose much, but if I have a bad I could lose a lot.”
Stage 19 – San Candido/Innichen-Piancavallo 191km – total elevation 3,000m