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Caruso Dreams Come True Finishing Second at Giro d’Italia

It was a tale of two races at this year’s Giro d’Italia for Bahrain Victorious. Ultimately, it was a dream ending with Damiano Caruso turning the team’s fortunes around after a difficult start to the race.

With the team all in for Landa in the GC, who showed signs of promise on stage 4, it soon turned to disappointment after crashing out on stage 5. However, it was a sign of things to come from Bahrain Victorious, with the team showing incredible fighting spirit and bouncing back the next day with a stage win for Gino Mäder in the breakaway.

With team spirit on the rise, it was more unfortunate news for the team as key rider Matej Mohoric crashed on a descent on stage 9 and was forced to abandon the race, leaving only six riders for the remaining 12 stages. Despite this, Caruso showed leadership and maintained consistency throughout the race, keeping a level head and quietly moving into third in the GC.

It was more bad news for the team after Gino Mäder was forced to abandon on stage 12. However, team morale never dropped, as Jan Tratnik put in an incredible performance from the breakaway on Monte Zoncolan, narrowly missing out on the win and finishing second.

From then on, it was a fight for the podium as Caruso’s determination moved him into second in GC on the shortened Queen Stage. From then on, the GC rivals looked to get stronger, and much of the talk was surrounding Simon Yates (Bike-Exchange) challenging the Maglia Rosa. But, Caruso continued to fight till the very end and have “his day like a champ” on the penultimate stage, riding to victory after impressive teamwork from Pello Bilbao.

From that moment on, Caruso only needed to better Yates’ time trial to secure second place and match the team’s best finish in a Grand Tour. Caruso put in the fastest time trial against his rivals, reducing the gap further and showing his fight till the very end. The team took the ‘fair play’ award for the fewest penalties as a reward for the collective hard work to cap it off.

The story of Caruso going from a domestique to leader and achieving so much has no doubt captured the hearts of many at this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Damiano Caruso commented on his achievement: “It’s an incredible moment for me. It isn’t easy to find the words to describe the emotions that I’m feeling now. It was something unexpected at the start of this Giro because we had a different plan. Then, day by day, the awareness that I could achieve something great increased, and now I’m here to celebrate this podium. In the final time trial, I focused on my performance: I tried to go full gas without taking any risks. Then on the last km, I enjoyed it, knowing that everything was accomplished. Two of my dreams became true here at Giro, a Grand Tour stage win and a Grand Tour GC podium.
A second place at the Giro d’Italia, who would have thought it? I have to express my gratitude to my teammates and the whole team and to my family too. If I’m here now, it’s due to them.”

Giro d’Italia 2021 – 104th Edition – 21th stage Senago – Milano 30,3 km – 30/05/2021 – Damiano Caruso (ITA – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

Bahrain Victorious Head Sports Director, Gorazd Štangelj, shared his thoughts about the excellent results achieved by the team in this Giro:
“It’s something unbelievable. The results speak for themselves, especially the wins. The guys did an amazing job, and we achieved more than expected”.

Bahrain Victorious Technical Director Vladimir Miholjević thinks back on the past three weeks:
“We experienced a mix of emotions. We are happy because we achieved the objective we came here for, namely the final podium, although not with the rider we planned. Anyway, we knew we had more than a rider capable of competing at the highest possible level. At the same moment, we are also a bit sad, and we have regrets because we know that we could do even much better and win races like a Grand Tour. We will come back, for sure”.

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @ChrisAuld @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

A solid fourth place for Aleksandr Vlasov at the Giro d’Italia – Astana

A solid fourth place for Aleksandr Vlasov at the Giro d’Italia

The 104th edition of the Giro d’Italia has ended today in Milan with a 30-kilometer-long individual time trial.

The leader of Astana – Premier Tech Aleksandr Vlasov spent a good day on his Wilier Triestina Turbine TT bike, taking a 19th place on this final stage. This result was more than enough to secure his fourth place in the final General Classification of the Italian Grand tour.

“Honestly, I am quite happy with my performance here at the Giro d’Italia. I mean it was my first Grand tour where I came fully focused for the result as a 100% leader of the team and I was able to finish fourth, really close to the podium. The final podium would be a super success for me, but anyway the result I’ve got here in Italy brings me a lot of motivation and satisfaction. Together with our team we spent three great weeks at the Giro and lived many good moments. With the experience I got here I know I can move further ahead”, – said Aleksandr Vlasov.

“I want to congratulate all the team, riders, staff and management with a solid result we showed at the Giro d’Italia. The team performed absolutely great during these three weeks and we gave our best for the best possible result. We were up there in front, fighting for the General Classification with quite a young roster and a young leader. The fourth place we reached here – is a very nice and promising result”, – said Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director of Astana – Premier Tech.

The Colombian Egan Bernal became the overall winner of the 2021 Giro d’Italia with Damiano Caruso and Simon Yates completing the race podium.

The Italian Filippo Ganna took the final stage victory, winning today’s individual time trial, while Matteo Sobrero once again proved he feels really good in this discipline, scoring a fourth place in Milan just 14 seconds behind the stage winner.

Giro d’Italia, Stage 21. Senago – Milan, 30,3 km.

Stage Top-3: 1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers); 2. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick Step); 3. Edoardo Affini (Team Jumbo-Visma).

Astana – Premier Tech stage Top-3: 4. Matteo Sobrero; 19. Aleksandr Vlasov; 30. Luis Leon Sanchez.

GC Top-3: Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers); 2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain – Victorious); 3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange).

Astana – Premier Tech GC Top-3: 4. Aleksandr Vlasov; 19. Gorka Izagirre; 33. Luis Leon Sanchez.

Photo credit: @Getty Images

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com

Giro d’Italia, Stage 20. Aleksandr Vlasov takes seventh on the last mountain stage – Astana

Giro d’Italia, Stage 20. Aleksandr Vlasov takes seventh on the last mountain stage

The last mountain stage of the 104th edition of the Giro d’Italia was held today with riders facing two big climbs over 2000 metres above sea level before hitting the final ascent to Alpe Motta.

The decisive move came from the Italian Damiano Caruso and his teammates, who attacked on the descent from the first climb of the day – Passo San Bernardino. Caruso established a 40-second gap over the pink jersey group and was never caught back, taking the stage win and securing his second place in the General Classification.

The leader of Astana – Premier Tech, Aleksandr Vlasov attacked on the second climb of the day, the Passo dello Spluga, but the rivals caught him back on the descent. On the final climb Vlasov, having great support from his teammates, stayed well-positioned in the group of the pink jersey, but with three kilometres to the top he was forced to continue with his own rhythm, finally taking seventh place at the finish line, one minute and 13 seconds behind the stage winner.

“I just gave my best today, pushing as hard as I could. In the final I just missed a bit to stay with Bernal. I was dropped from the pink jersey group but continued on my rhythm to the top trying to finish as high as possible. Well, it was a hard day and once again I had great support from my team. Now I hope to recover in the best possible way to show my maximum in the time trial tomorrow”, – said Aleksandr Vlasov.

“It was another very hard day in the mountains and our team did an excellent job for Aleksandr Vlasov, protecting him the whole day and bringing him in a good position on the last climb. Aleksandr did his best and we have nothing to regret. I am really proud of our team at this Giro d’Italia as we rode all together really well during these three weeks. Now we are looking forward to the time trial in Milan. It will be a very tough challenge, but we just try to do all we can tomorrow”, – added Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director of Astana – Premier Tech.

With only one stage to go in this Giro d’Italia Egan Bernal keeps the pink jersey on his shoulders having 1’59” on Damiano Caruso and 3’23” on Simon Yates. Aleksandr Vlasov is still fourth, 7 minutes and 7 seconds behind the race leader.

Giro d’Italia, Stage 20. Verbania – Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta, 164 km.

Stage Top-3: 1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain – Victorious); 2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers); 3. Daniel Martinez (INEOS Grenadiers).

Astana – Premier Tech stage Top-3: 7. Aleksandr Vlasov; 16. Vadim Pronskiy; 19. Harold Tejada.

Photo credit: @Gettysport

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com

Giro d’Italia (19) – Hermans et Pasqualon infatigables, Jan Hirt 14ème à Alpe di Mera

La dix-neuvième étape du Tour d’Italie, partie ce vendredi depuis la ville métropolitaine milanaise de Abbiategrasso, proposait une nouvelle arrivée au sommet. Le juge de paix, au bout des 166 kilomètres, se nommait Alpe di Mera (9.6 km à 9%). Outre l’ascension finale, le peloton devait gravir l’Alpe Agogna et le Passo della Colma aux abords des rives du Lac Majeur. 

Après un énième départ d’étape rapide, six hommes ont composé l’échappée du jour. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux était une fois de plus bien représentée à l’avant de la course, et la seule équipe à avoir placé deux hommes : Quinten Hermans, qui a donc pris la bonne échappée pour la quatrième fois sur ce Giro, et Andrea Pasqualon, déjà présent aux côtés du Belge deux jours plus tôt. 

Les coureurs du classement général étaient cependant déterminés à se départager les honneurs dans cette arrivée au sommet, et ils n’ont octroyé que 4 minutes aux fuyards. Opposant une admirable résistance, Hermans et Pasqualon tiendront à l’avant de la course jusqu’au pied de l’Alpe di Mera, à huit kilomètres de l’arrivée.

S’ensuivit alors la bagarre pour la victoire d’étape, et le Britannique Simon Yates a triomphé devant Almeida et le maillot rose Bernal. Monté à son rythme, le grimpeur tchèque Jan Hirt a rallié la ligne en 14ème position, à 3 minutes du vainqueur du jour. 

Quinten Hermans :
« Les grosses équipes avaient clairement jeté leur dévolu sur cette étape et nous savions que les chances de l’échappée seraient minces. L’étape d’hier était ma dernière chance de gagner, mais je voulais honorer les couleurs de l’équipe à l’avant. Secrètement, il y a toujours l’espoir que le peloton laisse partir. Notre groupe de tête était intéressant en lui-même, mais maintenir l’écart avec six coureurs est très difficile. Après trois semaines, je n’ai pas faibli dans mes sensations et je me sens toujours très bien. J’espère pouvoir me répéter après l’étape de demain, car l’effort consenti aujourd’hui va forcément peser. Quoi qu’il arrive, je sortirai grandi de ce Giro. Une expérience comme celle-ci me sera grandement bénéfique pour l’avenir. »

Jan Hirt :
« Le rythme était très élevé depuis le départ, et j’ai tout simplement géré dans la montée finale car je savais que cette journée allait être difficile. Je m’attends à la même chose demain, car ce sera la dernière opportunité pour les coureurs du général de faire la différence dans la montagne. Cela ne change rien par rapport à notre approche, nous allons essayer de prendre l’échappée et tout tenter pour remporter l’étape, indépendamment de la bagarre entre les favoris. Aujourd’hui, nous avions encore deux hommes devant. Nous pouvons être fiers de notre course jusqu’ici. »

Etape 19 :
1. Simon Yates 
2. Joao Almeida +11
3. Egan Bernal +28
14. Jan Hirt +3:23
35. Simone Petilli +8:11
39. Andrea Pasqualon +11:16
40. Quinten Hermans
101. Rein Taaramäe +25:06
113. Wesley Kreder 
117. Taco van der Hoorn +26:11
121. Riccardo Minali +26:34

Classement général provisoire :
1. Egan Bernal
2. Damiano Caruso +2:29
3. Simon Yates +2:49
30. Jan Hirt +1:29:07
35. Rein Taaramäe +1:45:46
42. Quinten Hermans +1:54:14  
49. Simone Petilli +2:05:18
70. Andrea Pasqualon +2:55:57
109. Taco van der Hoorn +3:59:50
127. Wesley Kreder +4:23:14
144. Riccardo Minali +4:56:44

— mseWGG to intermarche-wantygobert.eu

Giro d’Italia, Stage 18. Samuele Battistella takes sixth after day in the breakaway – Astana

Giro d’Italia, Stage 18. Samuele Battistella takes sixth after day in the breakaway

Two Astana – Premier Tech riders, Samuele Battistella and Gorka Izagirre found themselves among 23 riders who broke away clear somewhere after first 30 kilometres of the race. Both riders of the Kazakh-Canadian team rode well throughout the 231-kilometres stage, which was the longest stage of 104th edition of the Giro d’Italia. Inside the last 30 kilometres of racing, on the hilly profile with several short but steep climbs, it was Samuele Battistella who tried to attack first. When he was caught back, it was Gorka Izagirre’s turn to try something. The next move came from the Frenchman Remi Cavagna, who was able to open a good gap of some 30 seconds. But at the end of the day, it was Alberto Bettiol, whose counterattack brought him a solo victory on Stage 18.

Samuele Battistella finished 18 seconds later in the first chasing group, taking a strong sixth place after his first ever breakaway at his debut Giro d’Italia.

“Today, we were free to try to go in a breakaway as we knew this stage could suit an escape. Finally, it was me and Gorka who joined the right group. We spent a good day in front, it was a long one, but I still enjoyed it. In the final part I tried to anticipate the attacks of our rivals with a move on the first climb. It did not work out as the others were able to follow me. Then, it was Gorka who attacked, but it also did not work. Well, at the end I was trying to do my best fighting for the highest possible result. The sprint from our group was a bit chaotic, but I managed to take a nice sixth place. I’d prefer to fight for a stage victory today, however, I think it was a valuable experience for me”, – said Samuele Battistella.

Gorka Izagirre finished 21st, while the peloton crossed the finish line 23 minutes and 30 seconds behind the stage winner.

The stage did not impact the General Classification of the race: Egan Bernal still leads the race, while Aleksand Vlasov is sitting fourth, 6 minutes 3 seconds behind the leader.

Giro d’Italia, Stage 18. Rovereto – Stradella, 231 km.

Stage Top-3: 1. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education – Nippo); 2. Simone Consonni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits); 3. Nicolas Roche (Team DSM).

Astana – Premier Tech stage Top-3: 6. Samuele Battistella; 21. Gorka Izagirre; 45. Aleksandr Vlasov.

Photo credit: @Getty Images

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com

Giro d’Italia, Stage 16. Aleksandr Vlasov takes seventh on the queen stage, remains fourth in the GC – Astana

Giro d’Italia, Stage 16. Aleksandr Vlasov takes seventh on the queen stage, remains fourth in the GC

With three climbs all over 2000 metres above sea level, the 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia had been positioned as the queen stage of the race but extreme weather conditions on two out of three climbs, Passo Fedaia and Passo Pordoi, forced the race organizers to exclude them from the route. The revised stage profile featured just 153 out of 212 kilometres with only La Crosetta climb at the start and Passo Giau as the Cima Coppi (2233 metres above sea level) in the final before the descent to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The rain and cold all day long still made this stage challenging for all the riders, impacting the General Classification of the race significantly.

After multiple attacks, a group of 24 riders went away on La Crosetta, while later a new leading group of six counterattacked, finally, to create the breakaway of the day with Gorka Izagirre being one of the most aggressive riders up there. The group of Izagirre opened a six-minute gap, while Astana – Premier Tech leader Aleksandr Vlasov stayed well protected in the peloton, surrounded by his teammates.

At the bottom of Passo Giau, Vlasov suffered a mechanical incident when a jacket was caught in his wheel, forcing him to stop and lose time at a crucial point in the race. Vlasov tried to come back to the significantly-reduced GC favourites group, supported by Matteo Sobrero and then by Gorka Izagirre, who dropped back from the breakaway to help his leader.

“The team worked really well all day long. Despite last-minute change in the stage route we prepared a good plan both for the staff and the riders, so everything went in the right way. Gorka Izagirre was in the breakaway, while Aleksandr Vlasov was well protected by the teammates. Then, bad luck impacted us a lot when Vlasov got a jacket in his wheel at the bottom of Passa Giau. Matteo Sobrero gave his all to bring Aleksandr back to the group and they missed just a little to bridge to the front before the decisive attack of Egan Bernal. And also Gorka Izagirre did a phenomenal job coming back from the breakaway to lead Vlasov to the top of the climb trying to minimize our loses. At the end of the day, we lost two minutes to Bernal and around a minute and a half to the others. It is a lot, but we still saved our day and despite bad luck we are still in the mix for the podium. Let’s see what happens after the second rest day,” – said Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director of Astana – Premier Tech.

Bernal attacked from the GC favourites group, at the end of the day taking a solo victory in Cortina d’Ampezzo and increasing his lead in the overall standings.

Vlasov finished seventh, 2 minutes and 11 seconds behind Bernal while Gorka Izagirre was eighth.

Going into the second rest day, Bernal leads the race with a 2’24” advantage on Damiano Caruso and 3’40” on Hugh Carthy. Vlasov maintains fourth overall, 4 minutes 18 seconds behind the race leader.

“When I started to take off my jacket, somehow a sleeve touched my wheel, immediately blocking it. I had to stop to solve the problem but fortunately our car was not far behind, so I got help from our mechanic. Well, with support of my teammates I tried to come back to the group, but it did not work out because I was quite far behind. It’s a disappointing moment, but it was how it was, nothing I can do about it. We did our best to the finish line but I still lost time to my rivals. I felt really good today and my teammates did a great job for me, but the luck was not on our side today. However I am not going to give up and I will keep on fighting in the third week”, – said Aleksandr Vlasov.

Giro d’Italia, Stage 16, Sacile – Cortina d’Ampezzo, 153 km.

Stage Top-3: 1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers); 2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM); 3. Damiano Caruso (Barhain – Victorious).

Astana – Premier Tech stage Top-3: 7. Aleksandr Vlasov; 8. Gorka Izagirre. 26. Matteo Sobrero.

Photo credit: @Getty Images

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com

Giro d’Italia (15) – L’impressionnante échappée de Quinten Hermans

À la veille de l’étape reine du Tour d’Italie (2.UWT), le peloton faisait escale ce dimanche à la frontière italo-slovène, pour une quinzième étape longue de 147 kilomètres. Après un départ depuis la lagune de Grado en Frioul Vénétie-Julienne, le peloton s’est dirigé vers la Slovénie pour rencontrer l’unique difficulté de la journée, l’ascension de Gornje Cerovo (1.1 km à 8,1%), à parcourir à trois reprises. 16 kilomètres séparaient le dernier passage au sommet de l’arrivée désignée à Gorizia.

Cette étape a d’abord connu un faux départ, avec une chute massive à l’arrière du peloton qui venait à peine de quitter Grado. Les organisateurs ont décidé de neutraliser temporairement la course, et permettre à l’ambulance de panser les plaies. Aucun coureur de Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux n’a été impliqué dans l’accident. 

Une fois le cours normal de l’étape retrouvé, une échappée de 15 coureurs s’est constituée. Le Belge Quinten Hermans, actif depuis les premiers jours du Giro, faisait partie du groupe de tête. Le peloton leur a rapidement accordé une avance conséquente, celle-ci culminant à 12 minutes à 75 kilomètres de l’arrivée. À nouveau sur ce Tour d’Italie, les coureurs dirigés par Valerio Piva et Steven De Neef avaient donc réussi à intégrer l’échappée qui allait se disputer la victoire d’étape. 

Les premières accélérations entre les hommes de tête ont démarré à 30 kilomètres de l’arrivée. Trois coureurs ont anticipé la dernière ascension de Gornje Cerovo, prenant rapidement 30 secondes d’avance. Hermans, le plus fort de la poursuite, a accéléré dans les pentes les plus raides de la montée longue de 1100 mètres. Il s’est ensuite engagé tambour battant dans la descente rendue dangereuse par une soudaine pluie torrentielle. 

Campenaerts (Qhubeka) et Riesebeek (Alpecin), les deux hommes en tête, ont finalement résisté au retour du groupe Hermans, et le premier cité est sorti vainqueur d’un sprint à deux. Quinten Hermans, qui dispute son premier Grand Tour, a franchi la ligne à Gorizia en cinquième position, à 7 secondes de Campenaerts. 

Quinten Hermans :
«Nous avons reçu dix généreuses minutes de la part du peloton, et à partir de là, je savais que certains coureurs de l’échappée commenceraient à en garder sous la pédale. Avec une avance plus faible, chacun aurait accompli sa part de travail et aurait moins calculé. J’ai trouvé cela dommage car cela a permis à certains coureurs d’arriver plus frais dans la finale. En cours de route, j’avais décidé de tout miser sur la dernière ascension de Gornje Cerovo. Là, j’ai réalisé un bel effort, mais Campenaerts et Riesebeek étaient déjà hors de portée. J’avais de bonnes sensations dans les montées mais je n’ai pas reçu beaucoup d’aide. Je tire mon chapeau aux deux hommes qui se sont disputés la victoire. La semaine prochaine, je me vois bien essayer quelque chose dans l’étape qui mène à Stradella. Mais avant, il faudra survivre à l’étape de demain. »

Etape 15 :
1. Victor Campenaerts
2. Oscar Riesebeek
3. Nikias Arndt +7
5. Quinten Hermans
53. Rein Taaramäe +17:21
93. Andrea Pasqualon
105. Simone Petilli +17:39
120. Riccardo Minali
126. Wesley Kreder
131. Jan Hirt
141. Taco van der Hoorn +17:52

Classement général provisoire :
1. Egan Bernal
2. Simon Yates +1:33
3. Damiano Caruso +1:51
18. Rein Taaramäe +16:04
32. Jan Hirt +48:13
46. Quinten Hermans +1:03:41  
62. Simone Petilli +1:27:44
91. Andrea Pasqualon +2:00:06
107. Taco van der Hoorn +2:17:03
145. Wesley Kreder +2:56:30
154. Riccardo Minali +3:12:12

— mseWGG to intermarche-wantygobert.eu

Nizzolo departs the Giro d’Italia with maiden Grand Tour stage victory in hand

Following the completion of stage 14 of the 104th Giro d’Italia finishing atop the Monte Zoncolan, Team Qhubeka ASSOS’ European and Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo has withdrawn from the race.

The 32-year-old won his maiden Grand Tour stage in sensational fashion taking victory in stage 13 in Verona, ending a near decade-long wait for the victory and sparking emotional scenes.

Nizzolo had specifically prepared for the sprint opportunities at the Giro in order to finally achieve his goal of winning a stage. After finishing a tough stage on Monte Zoncolan the decision was taken for him to withdraw, in order for him to rest and recover and then, together with the team, focus on his upcoming goals.

It concludes an excellent race for the Italian after also twice finishing second – on stages two and five – while also wearing the leader’s jersey for the points classification, the maglia ciclamino.

Nizzolo’s win came just two days after that of debutant Mauro Schmid in Montalcino, and in addition to strong individual performances from Victor Campenaerts and Max Walscheid.

Giacomo Nizzolo

Everybody knows how much I love this race, and what it means to me. To finally win a stage here has been a dream come true, and the raw emotion at the finish line in Verona showed that. I will treasure that memory for the rest of my life.

I came into the race in good condition, with fast legs and focus on the flat sprints, but have been struggling on the climbs which has really taken its toll. So we decided it would be best for me to stop, and to recover to look forward to the future.

For our team this has been an incredible Giro d’Italia so far. We speak about the spirit of Ubuntu within our squad – “I am because we are” – and I think it’s evident for everyone to see in the way we are racing just how tight we are as a group and organisation.

My win in Verona wasn’t just a victory for me and those behind the scenes but as importantly it continued to showcase our team’s purpose in riding for something more, for the impact that bicycles can have in changing lives which we are doing everyday together with the Qhubeka Charity.

— Jean Smyth to teamqhubeka.com

Jan Tratnik just a step to the win on the epic stage to Monte Zoncolan, and Damiano Caruso keeps the 3rd position in GC after Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia.

Who would’ve expected that Jan Tratnik would pick Monte Zoncolan to try to take one more career victory on Giro d’Italia? Team Bahrain Victorious Slovenian rider and Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) made this monumental Giro stage even more attractive until the very end. Both riders were part of the day’s breakaway that split on the ramps of the iconic Zoncolan ascent in the finale. Tratnik was the first to attack with about 10km to go, with only Fortunato managing to close the gap. Then, with 2.5km to go, the Italian debutant’s decisive acceleration at the Giro earned him a legendary solo win. Jan Tratnik came to the finish in second place, 26” adrift.

The steep and brutal slopes of the Zoncolan – with gradients up to 27 percent – seemed never going to end for Jan Tratnik, especially when he was chasing the race leader in the final kilometers. The Slovenian rider expressed his thoughts after an exhausting stage under heavy conditions: ” For me, for sure, it was the longest three kilometers in my life. It was just a never-ending story. So hard. I saw my rival in front of me all the time that little ahead, but it was simply the strongest one. Otherwise, I wanted to follow, but there was no power anymore in me for that cherry on a cake. As a team, we didn’t plan to go into the breakaway, but our tactics were to go to the front and be a safeguard to Damiano Caruso, our GC. It just happened that I was at the right place at the right time, and things opened up to me to go there for it.  I gave my all, and I am really satisfied with a 2nd place”. 

Giro d’Italia 2021 – 104th Edition – 14th stage Cittadella – Monte Zoncolan 205 km – 22/05/2021 – Damiano Caruso (ITA – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

It was a good day for Team Bahrain Victorious. Besides the exciting ride from Tratnik, the team was delighted by the excellent ride of its captain Damiano Caruso. The Italian rider scored a top ten result, and above all, he maintained his 3rd place overall on a brutal day. 

Damiano Caruso: “These steep gradients don’t suit me. Nevertheless, I was able to manage the situation. I think that climbing at his own pace was the best thing to do. I never faced the climb on the other side of the Zoncolan, but I hope to have never to ride it if it is like this one. It is an ascent worth of its reputation. No doubt”.

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) kept the Maglia Rosa and has shown resistance to the attack from Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) in the last few hundred meters. Yates took the second position in GC over Vlasov with 1:33, and Damiano Caruso kept his third position with 1:51 seconds behind Bernal.

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

Damiano Caruso moves up into 3rd position in the GC after a dusty Stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia

Swiss rider, Mauro Schmid (Team Qhubeka Assos) won today’s Stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia, 162km from Perugia to Montalcino.

From the early breakaway of 11 riders, Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) finished second and third respectively.

Damiano Caruso and Pello Bilbao were the main protagonists of Team Bahrain Victorious. Damiano Caruso had great support in the right moments from all of his teammates, especially from Pello Bilbao. The Basque rider kept his eyes on him in the right moments on the gravel sections. Then he supported him to keep his position with the Maglia Rosa group, where Damiano was able to move up four positions in the GC into third.

Team Ineos Grenadiers led the head of the peloton throughout the stage, working hard for Maglia Rosa, Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), who crossed over the finish line 3’09” adrift from the winner but gained more time against his GC competitors.

Giro d’Italia 2021 – 104th Edition – 11th stage Perugia – Montalcino 162 km – 19/05/2021 – Damiano Caruso (ITA – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

Damiano Caruso shared his thoughts after the considerable effort: “I’m super happy because today was a key stage of this Giro. It was a tough and complicated one. In the end, I felt good, although when Maglia Rosa went, I couldn’t follow him. But I think I did a good race anyway. I want to say a big thank you to the whole team, both staff members and riders. Now it’s time to recover from the stage. Then we will see day by day. We need to keep calm, and at this moment, I want to think only about recovering well.”

Giro d’Italia 2021 – 104th Edition – 11th stage Perugia – Montalcino 162 km – 19/05/2021 – Pello Bilbao (ESP – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

Pello Bilbao was protecting and helping the team captain throughout the race: “I discovered the white roads only this season when I rode “Strade Bianche” for the first time in my life. I must admit that it became my favorite race, and today I got the confirmation that I really enjoy riding on the gravel roads. Although it was a hard day and we had difficult situations, we tried to solve them together with Damiano, who did a great job. We did our race, and we controlled the situation in the best way possible.”

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com