GIRO’19 Stage 18: Cima Surprises the Sprinters

Race Report: Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia looked like it was going to be one for the sprinters, and it nearly was. Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane) managed to hold his day-long lead and stay out of the grip of the peloton. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the sprint inches behind Cima, for second place, and took the points jersey back from Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ).

At last, a win for Cima

The Giro d’Italia will be decided in the coming days, but Thursday’s stage 18 had a surprise ending. The sprinters thought they had their last chance of a stage victory into Santa Maria di Sala, but the day didn’t go to plan for the fast finishers. Arnaud Démare and his Groupama-FDJ team also lost out on the points jersey as his 8th place to Ackermans 2nd was not good enough.

Last chance for the sprinters – Arnaud Demare looking cool at the start

Stage 18 – Valdaora / Olang-Santa Maria di Sala 222km – total elevation 1,100m

This level stage is downhill almost all the way. After a mild climb to Valico di Cimabanche, a long descent leads all the way to Ponte nelle Alpi, to take in the uncomplicated categorised climb to Pieve d’Alpago. Another long descent leads all the way to Conegliano, where the route flattens out, rolling on wide and straight roads until the finish.

Final kilometres
The last 10km are completely flat, with some 90-degree turns on roads that are wide and well paved. The home straight is 2,000m long, on 7.5m wide asphalt road.

Roglic fans at the start

Damp start in Valdaora

Pink bike for Carapaz

The fight to make it into the ‘break of the day’ gave us a lightning fast start. 50 kilometres were covered in the first hour of racing. Because of this it took a long time before a leading group managed to form. After 60 kilometres Nico Denz, Mirco Maestri and Damiano Cima escaped the peloton. The Israel Cycling Academy was on the front of the peloton as they also wanted to be in the front split, but missed out.

Only one climb today

Typical mountain architecture

Cima was keen to be in the break as long as he could manage, so he could beat his fellow countryman Marco Frapporti in the Fuga Pinarello, the prize for the rider with the most break kilometres. The difference between the two riders before the start of stage 18 was only 56 kilometres, meaning that Cima would rack up the Ks on the road to Santa Maria di Sala. The three leaders took a maximum lead of 6 minutes, but Israel Cycling Academy and Bora-Hansgrohe didn’t let them get any further away. It was clear that Pascal Ackermann wanted to make a last shot at the points jersey.

Mirco Maestri leads the break

The climb of the day would soon be over

One problem for the German: the break was not being caught. The three leaders had more than 2 minutes with 20 kilometres to go. With this gap Denz, Cima and Maestri started to believe more and more in their chances, while Israel Cycling Academy and Bora-Hansgrohe became more and more nervous. The lead was still 1 minute 10 kilometres out.

Damiano Cima in the break again

Downhill to the finish in Olang-Santa Maria di Sala

Denz, Cima or Maestri – one of these three riders was going win. Maestri was the power-house and kept pounding away on the front. Cima was hanging on bravely, but the cunning and strong Denz looked in the best condition. The German tried to jump his fellow escapees 3 kilometres from the finish line, but Maestri – with some difficulty – pulled him back.

It was close for Ackermann, but he took the points

Nice day, but hard for everyone

With this move from Denz, the three leaders started looking at each other. Cima and Maestri eventually started to pull again, so they still had a chance as the peloton came closer and closer, due to the work of Davide Formolo. Bora-Hansgrohe wanted to pilot their sprint leader Ackermann to the victory. The lead got smaller and smaller. So small that Cima, Maestri and Denz could no longer mess around for a sprint. Cima managed to keep his head and with all he had left in the tank he managed to stay out of the grip of the fast-finishing Ackermann.

The bunch was on Cima’s heels

Cima managed to hold them off

The German hit his fist on his handlebars with disappointment, but the Bora-Hansgrohe rider had done enough to take back the lead points classification. His big competitor Démare was ‘only’ 8th in the final sprint.

It was close

A very happy Nippo team

Stage winner, Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane): “I can’t believe what just happened. I’ve spent so many kilometres in breakaways during this Giro. I thought I’d never make it but I’ve won today. It’s insane. It’s the dream of a lifetime.”

Pascal Ackermann – Back in the Maglia Ciclamino

Race leader, Richard Carapaz (Movistar): “It’s been a quiet stage but a long one, intense at the beginning only. I’ve had a good support from my team again. Tomorrow will be an important test but I’m confident to keep the Maglia Rosa.”

Will Richard Carapaz be celebration on Sunday evening?

Giro d’Italia Stage 18 Result:
1. Damiano Cima (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane in 4:56:04
2. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
4. Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
7. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
8. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
9. Sean Bennett (USA) EF Education First
10. Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF
11. Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R-La Mondiale
12. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
13. Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo
14. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane
15. Josef Cerny (Cze) CCC
16. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
17. Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
18. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
19. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
20. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) CCC
21. José Rojas (Spa) Movistar
22. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
23. Jan Bakelants (Bel) Sunweb
24. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
25. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 18:
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar in 79:44:22
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 1:54
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 2:16
4. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar at 3:03
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 5:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 6:17
7. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 6:48
8. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 7:13
9. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos at 8:21
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 8:59
11. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 9:20
12. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 10:32
13. Hugh John Carthy (GB) EF Education First at 14:51
14. Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First at 15:44
15. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 19:45
16. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 23:43
17. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 25:26
18. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott at 26:05
19. Victor De La Parte (Spa) CCC at 26:12
20. Tanel Kangert (Est) EF Education First at 28:42
21. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 32:42
22. Edward Dunbar (Irl) Ineos at 37:20
23. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 44:03
24. Sebastian Henao (Col) Ineos at 46:45
25. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 47:43.

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