It is hard to smile after this stage. Arnaud Démare performed a splendid sprint – his third in this Giro – at the finish in Cuneo, but all thoughts can only be on Romain Bardet and his sudden withdrawal from the race. The Frenchman began to feel ill during yesterday’s stage, overnight the situation worsened but today he still tried to ride. After a few tens of kilometres, however, he stopped at the side of the road, pale, drained from his stomach problems, and boarded the flagship car. Au revoir Giro d’Italia!
A farewell that hurt for countless reasons: Bardet seemed to have regained his best form, the one that had allowed him to finish twice on the Tour de France podium. Romain had experienced a couple of rather dark seasons, which almost made him lose the will to ride, crushed by the pressure of having to race the Tour in the colours of a transalpine team like AG2R. With Team DSM, however, he had rediscovered his drive and serenity, and after a year of settling in, this season he was back at truly exceptional levels.