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Having joined a 24-rider breakaway, Trentin regained contact with Moser and his teammate Brambilla a few hundred metres from the line, sprinting past the pair to win stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia; Kruijswijk retained the lead

Photo: Etixx-QuickStep / Tim De Waele














26.05.2016 @ 17:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) confirmed his status as one of the best stage hunters in the peloton as he added stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia to the two wins that he has already taken at the Tour de France. Part of a 24-rider breakaway, he dug deep on the two climbs in the finale to stay within touching distance and then regained contact with Moreno Moser (Cannondale) and his teammate Gianluca Brambilla a few hundred metres from the line before sprinting past the pair to take the win. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) was never under pressure and easily retained his lead.


In 2013, Matteo Trentin became a surprise winner of a transitional stage at the Tour de France when he emerged as the strongest from a breakaway. One year later he confirmed his class as he added another stage to his palmares by beating Peter Sagan in a reduced bunch sprint.


Trentin is not a prolific winner but when he comes out on top he usually does it on the biggest scene. In addition to his two Tour stage victories, he has won Paris-Tours and taken another WorldTour win at the Tour de Suisse.


Trentin went into this year’s Giro d’Italia on the back of a classics campaign that was marred by bad luck and was hoping to get his opportunities in the second half of the race after having worked for Marcel Kittel in the beginning. After missing out in yesterday’s sprint stage, he again showed his stage hunting potential as he won today’s very long 18th stage of the race.


Trentin joined forces with teammate Gianluca Brambilla in an early 24-rider break that was allowed to build a 13-minute advantage and decide the stage. The Belgian team did it perfectly as they had Brambilla follow Moreno Moser on the steep Pramartino climb whose summit came just 19.6km from the finish. Meanwhile, Trentin limited his losses and with his teammate in front, he had a free ride in the four-rider chase group that formed.


Trentin made his move on the brutal wall with 2km to go and slowly started to approach from behind. Apparently, Moser was unaware of the fact that he was getting close and so the Cannondale rider rode slowly on the front in the final kilometre. That allowed Trentin to make the junction just with a few hundred metres to go and with a surprise move, he sprinted past his compatriots to take a convincing win.


Further back, there was ceasefire between the favourites and so Steven Kruijswijk got a relatively easy day in the saddle. Only Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) lost a few seconds in the finale, meaning that the top 10 was largely unchanged.


The early break was made up of Axel Domont (AG2R - La Mondiale), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Stefan Kung, Daniel Oss (BMC Racing), Moreno Moser, Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale), Gianluca Brambilla, Matteo Trentin (Etixx- Quick Step), Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Andrey Solomennikov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling), Sacha Modolo, Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida), Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal), Genki Yamamoto, Gianfranco Zilioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) , Nikias Arndt, Albert Timmer (Giant-Alpecin), Christian Knees (Team Sky), Pavel Brutt, Jay McCarthy, Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff), Julen Amezqueta and Matteo Busato (Wilier-Southeast) and after a bit of attacking on a small wall, it was Navardauskas, Oss, Domont, Knees, Modolo, Arndt, Domont, Busato, McCarthy, Rovny, Brambilla and Trentin who hit the Pramartion climb in the lead.


Navardauskas emptied himself for Moser on the lower slopes and when he swung off, his teammate launched the first attack Brambilla shut it down but the attack ended the day for Knees who fell off the pace.


Rovny was the next to try and he was joined by Brambilla and Moser. McCarthy tried to bridge the gap but as Brambilla dropped the hammer, the Australian never made the junction. Instead, his teammate Rovny was dropped, leaving just Moser and Brambilla to press on. Meanwhile, Rory Sutherland (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE) led the peloton onto the finishing circuit 13.37 behind the leaders. Moments later they hit the wall where Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) made the group explode.


Moser and Brambilla increased their advantage while Busato, Domont, Rovny and Arndt gathered to form a chase group. The German even rode away from his rivals, proving that he is more than a sprinter.


Moser tried to get rid of Brambilla by setting a brutal pace but as they entered the final kilometre of the climb, it was the Etixx rider who hit the front. Meanwhile, an impressive Arndt reduced the gap from 25 to 15 seconds.


Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) ked the peloton onto the climb 13 minutes behind the leaders before Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r) took over. However, it was Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) who created the first selection.


Brambilla led Moser over the top while Arndt was third after having been joined by Rovny. However, the pair had lost a bit of ground and was now 28 seconds behind.


Battaglin created a huge selection in the peloton, reducing the group to less than 30 riders. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) was the big names to get dropped as the Italian slowly whittled down the group. Close to the top, only Pozzovivo, Nibali, Scarponi, Kangert, Uran, Cadoso, Siutsou, Jungels, Amador, Visconti, Valverde, Chaves, Zakarin, Taaramae, Kruijswijk, Battaglin, Ulissi, Majka, Roche had survived and they quickly sped past Ligthart. However, the Irishman lost contact just metres from the top.


Modolo and Trentin joined Arndt and Rovny and the quartet entered the final 10km with 35 seconds to make up. Meanwhile, Battaglin led the group to the top 12.38 behind the leaders.


Brambilla and Moser still had a 17-second advantage as they entered the final 5km. It was down to 12 seconds when Brambilla led the pair onto the wall.


Rovny rode straight into the barriers as the chasers hit the wall and so lost contact with the chasers. Further up the road, Moser attacked hard but Brambilla rode strongly to counter the move. Moser had to dig extremely deep to stay with his compatriot and it was pure pain as he made it to the top with his rival.


Further back, the chase group had split and it was Trentin who gave chase. Moser was completely unaware of the fact that the Etixx-QuickStep sprinter was approaching from behind so he just rode slowly on the front as they entered the final kilometre.


The slow pace meant that Trentin was coming fast and he made the junction just a few hundred metres from the line. Moser clearly hadn’t seen the Italian coming and so he failed to react in time. Trentin sprinted past the pair and easily won the stage, with Moser having to settle for second. Modolo reached the line on his own to take fourth, followed by Arndt and later Rovny.


While the rest of the break arrived in small groups, Dupont, Montaguti, Ulissi, Anton and Pirazzi made it back to the peloton and Anton went straight to the front to work for Siutsou who could gain time on Fuglsang. Together with Battaglin, he set the pace until the Italian led the group onto the wall.


Visconti attacked from the bottom and was joined by Montaguti but it was Kruijswork who did the damage. As Valverde upped the pace near the top, only Kruijswijk, Chaves, Nibali, Zakarin, Majka, Pozzovivo and Jungels could follow but Uran made it back on the descent.


Valverde and Nibali set the pace in the technical finale before Kruijswijk and Valverde sprinted for the minor placings. The Spaniard easily came out on top.


Kruijswijk finished safely and so retained his 3-minute advantage over Chaves.He faces a much sterner test tomorrow in the first of two stages in the Alps. After a flat start, the riders will tackle the Colle del Agnello, the highest mountain of this year’s race. The top is located 55.6km from the finish and leads to a long descent. In the end, the riders will tackle the climb to the finish in Risoul which averages 6.9% over 12.9km.


The longest stage

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was time for the longest stage in the Giro d’Italia which brought the riders over a massive 240km from Muggio to Pinerolo on the outskirts of the Alps. The first part was a flat run along the Po Valley but the stage had a nasty sting in its tail. On the 28.1km finishing circuit, the riders faced the brutally steep Pramartino climb which averaged 10.5% over 4.7km and whose summit was located just 19.6km from the top. From there, it was a technical descent and a flat run to the finish that was interrupted by a brutally steep 20% wall with 2km to go.


Manuel Belletti (Wilier) who almost collapsed two days ago, did not show up this morning, but the rest of the field was ready to for the longest stage as they rolled out under a sunny sky. As expected, there were lots of attacks right from the start, but the hour-long battle never came. Quite early, Stefan Küng (BMC) and Andrey Solomennikov (Gazprom-RusVelo) escaped and they were soon joined by more riders until  a 24-rider group was gathered with a lead of 25 seconds.


24 riders get clear

The group consisted of Axel Domont (AG2R - La Mondiale), Davide Malacarne (Astana), Stefan Kung, Daniel Oss (BMC Racing), Moreno Moser, Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale), Gianluca Brambilla, Matteo Trentin (Etixx- Quick Step), Olivier Le Gac (FDJ), Andrey Solomennikov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling), Sacha Modolo, Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida), Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal), Genki Yamamoto, Gianfranco Zilioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) , Nikias Arndt, Albert Timmer (Giant-Alpecin), Christian Knees (Team Sky), Pavel Brutt, Jay McCarthy, Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff), Julen Amezqueta and Matteo Busato (Wilier-Southeast), and while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had mechanical problems, they increased the gap quickly. After 23km of racing, it was already 4.18, and as it was LottoNL-Jumbo setting the pace, there was no chase at all.


After 34km of racing, the escapees had a gap of 7.50, and it had grown to 9.40 after the first hour, during which no less than 48.4 kilometers were covered. Since the gap stabilized at around 9 minutes but then it started to grow again. When Modolo beat Trentin, Ligthart, Oss and Küng in the first intermediate sprint it was a massive 11.10.


LottoNL-Jumbo in control

As the riders hit the last 100 km, the big break was 11.20 ahead of the peloton and it was the LottoNL-Jumbo team that kept the gap stable at around 11.30 as they approached hillier terrain. Jos van Emden, Maarten Tjallingii and Twan Castelijns did the work to keep the situation under control for the Belgians.


As the break approached the second intermediate sprint, Ligthart surprised the faster riders by attacking from afar and he managed to hold off Modolo, Trentin and Oss while Navardauskas rolled across in the line in fifth. The peloton rolled across the line 11.45 later.


Oss makes a move

No one shows any interest in bringing the break back so it was left to Tjallingii, Castelijns and Van Emden to keep the gap just below the 12-minute mark. Nonetheless, the breakaway was not holding anything back and kept riding fast, forcing the Dutch riders to ride fast.


Entering the final 55km, the gap was still 11.45. Here they hit a small climb and this was the chance for Oss to launch an attack. He was joined by Zilioli, Domont, Mohoric and McCarthy but the move didn’t work.


Küng goes down

Instead, Oss’ teammate Küng tried but he had no luck either. However, it had the effect that Ligthart and Küng were dropped.


Timmer and Domont went clear over the top of the climb but they were brought back on the descent. Here Mohoric moved clear while Küng had bad luck to crash out of the break. The Slovenian showed great descending skills but he failed to stay clear and as they hit flat roads, they were back together.


Brutt gets clear

Things calmed down and as Oss tried to slow the group down, Küng slowly regained contact. Kluge and Ligthart also made it back and the big German tried an immediate attack. However, he had no success either.


Brutt and Le Gac surged clear just as they entered the 40km mark. However, the Frenchman fell off the pace and so it was the Russian who was left alone with a 10-second advantage.


Navarduaskas in control

The chase group calmed down before Trentin and Knees tried to bridge the gap to Brutt. However, Navardauskas sacrificed himself for Moser and brought the pair back.


Timmer and Mohoric were the next to try but Navardauskas and Yamamoto brought them back and it was the Lithuanian who continued to ride on the front 10 seconds behind Brutt. At this point, the peloton was a massive 13.30.


The group splits up

Entering the final 30km, Ligthart had again been dropped from the chase group that was led by Navardauskas. At the same time, the fight for position started in the peloton as lots of teams lined up next to LottoNL-Jumbo.


Brutt crossed the finish line for the first time with an advantage of 19 seconds and then hit the small wall that also featured in the finale. Navardauskas led the group onto the small ascent which set his teammate Moser up for an attack. The Italian was joined by Brambilla and Trentin and they caught Brutt. Oss, Mohoric, Domont, Arndt, Rovny, McCarthy and Brutt made it back and also Busato regained contact.


While more riders arrived from behind, Domont tried to get clear. However, Navardauskas was back in the group and continued his work, neutralizing an attack from Brutt who exploded completely. The Lithuanian led the group onto the climb where he whittled down the escape and then left it to Moser to battle it out for the win. However, it was Trentin who came out on top.



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