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“We knew today stage could be dangerous because of a hard climb and the complicated descent. So we had a plan to send a rider in a break to later to have somebody for support for our leader."

Photo: A.S.O.

GIRO D'ITALIA

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ILNUR ZAKARIN

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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YURY TROFIMOV

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28.05.2015 @ 20:35 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Despite not being a mountaintop finish, today’s stage 18 in the 98th Giro d’Italia provided plenty of drama and excitement for the general classification. With a break well up the road and 12 minutes in hand, race leader Alberto Contador attacked on the climb, widening his winning margin by another minute.

 

With two climbing stages still to go, the other GC riders had to measure their efforts and limit their losses as they look to challenging days ahead.

 

“We knew today stage could be dangerous because of a hard climb and the complicated descent. So we had a plan to send a rider in a break to later to have somebody for support for our leader. With this in mind, Maxim Belkov went away and later when he was caught he did a good job for our leader Iurii Trofimov. In the end we tried to attack but it was impossible to get a good gap. Iurii came to the finish with all his direct GC rivals and that's good.

 

“Today’s stage showed that every day is important in this race and that something can happen at any time. This means we have to be focused and fully concentrated in every moment. We still have 2 really hard stages in the mountains. Our goal is to protect the position of Iurii Trofimov and we will try to do it,” said team director Dmitry Konyshev told the Katusha website

 

The stage win went to former world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) who bridged to the remains of the break and flew off the front solo to earn his second stage victory in this year’s Italian tour. After just over four hours of racing on the 170 km stage from Melide to Verbania, Gilbert sprinted in for the win at 47-seconds to Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani) and 1.01 to IAM Cycling’s Sylvain Chavanel.

 

Contador rode in with former Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) at 6.05. It was another 1.13 before Trofimov’s group of favorites came across the line, giving Contador his additional time on the overall.

 

The large break that included Maxim Belkov went clear to hold a massive gap of almost 13 minutes. With the climb of the day coming near the 45 km mark before a long descent broken up by yet another small pitch, it looked like the GC riders were willing to let the break succeed.

 

But Contador had other plans and struck out alone on the climb with little response from riders other than Hesjedal. Astana’s Mikel Landa and Fabio Aru, second and third on the classification, tried to limit their losses, but it was a gain of more than one-minute for Alberto Contador. After more than 72-hours of racing, the gap to Landa is 5.15 and to Aru it is 6.05. Iurii Trofimov remains in a solid fifth place at 9.40. Hesjedal’s efforts moved him to ninth place.

 

Only 3 stages remain in the 2015 Giro d’Italia with two of them summit finishes. Friday is one of the longest stages at 236 km. It begins in Gravellona Toce and ends uphill in Cervinia.

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