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The man you don’t expect

12/05/2023

At international level, this guy had never won a single race nor stepped up on a podium, and not only among the pros, but also at U23 and junior level. But today, Davide Bais decided to break into mainstream cycling straight through the front door: the Giro d’Italia. The Trentino rider won at Campo Imperatore, on the finish line that had previously crowned Marco Pantani, in 1999, and Simon Yates, in 2018.

Who knows if this morning, while lining up at the start in Capua, he would have even remotely imagined himself fighting for victory on a finish like this, he who is not even a pure climber. Usually, in stages such as Capua-Campo Imperatore, it is not at all impossible for a breakaway to arrive, perhaps a big one featuring a whole array of big names who dropped out of the GC in favour of stage hunting. Instead, only four riders got the green light: Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Henok Mulubrhan (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Karel Vacek (Team Corratec-Selle Italia) and Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty).

“4 of them? Forget about it” almost everyone thought. Instead, their margin quickly rose to 12 minutes and remained so until well into the last 50 km, when it slowly began to shrink, also due to the loss of Mulubrhan, who raised white flag on Roccaraso ascent. At that point, Bais really began to believe in it, but with him was Petilli, a pure climber way more accustomed to efforts like the one required by the Gran Sasso d’Italia.

But the Lecco rider was not on his best day and, also due to the headwind on the way up to the summit, he was unable to make the difference. Bais and Vacek kept his wheel and, in the last 500 metres, they were still all together. Only at that point did Davide realise that the deal was done, he pulled out his finisseur skills and headed for the iconic Campo Imperatore finish. “I was in the breakaway to wait for a possible attack by Fortunato, and instead I won. Incredible,” said a still incredulous Bais shortly after crossing the line.

Of course, a big word of thanks must go to the peloton, which for 90% of this stage opted for an amateur pace and only opened the throttle in the last 1500 metres, getting ready for the final sprint. Remco Evenepoel outsprinted Primož Roglič, but these are small matters, the head-to-head clash is postponed until a later date.

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