Inconceivable. Absolute outsider on Giro trained a group of sprinters

Place: 222 kilometers from the Dolomites to the Po Valley. Stage mostly downhill. A day literally born for sprinters. For so many days, Pascal Ackermann, Arnaud Demare , and other survivors of the fast men of the peloton in the high mountains, could now have it once more in a mass spurt. About Thursday’s stage and the purple jersey of the king of the scoring competition.

Expected scenario? With the clear vision that the sprinter teams are closely guarding this stage and that it will end up in mass spurt, no one will even want to escape. Then somebody gets away but gets pulled back in time.

That’s exactly what happens. Except for the attraction.

Three men run away in front of the peloton.One of them will be the hero of the day.

Here he is.

He ranked 503th on the UCI World Ranking before the stage. Over and over again, he plunges into leaks, often hopeless, over and over again and his efforts are liquidated. He spent a total of 930 kilometers in front of the peloton, most of all cyclists. “I’ve tried it so many times, and I’ve been hit so many times,” he says.

His best finish this year was 96th in the stage over Mortirolo.In all the others, it didn’t even make it to the top 100.

But it will all stop on Thursday. from the AG2R team and Mirco Maestri from the Bardiani second-division team, it is never much more than five minutes during the stage. Everything looks controlled, calculated from the point of view of the peloton. But when this lead over the last 40 kilometers starts to fall rapidly, it is not. Despite the huge efforts of the peloton.

They are downloaded for 2:50 minutes at 30 kilometers to the finish. But then the refugees will step up their efforts and again have four and a half minutes. This will cause panic in the peloton. Sprinter teams look back at each other: What’s going on?Ackermann’s Bora, Israel Academy and Dimension Data take turns at the top of the package, and Quick-Step will be added later, while Demar’s FdJ waits in the background.

The peloton will fly again.

“I think it was the fastest 20 kilometers I’ve ever traveled,” concludes Pascal Ackermann.

only the last three kilometers remain and the trio still has 33 seconds. Cima’s Nippo teammates, Vini Fantini, are trying to disrupt the coherence of the sprinter chasers at the head of the peloton.

“I tried to look just in front of me.I have forbidden to think that we wouldn’t have to reach the finish line before the peloton, ”he says. “Go, go, they’re not approaching fast enough, you can prove it,” shouts sportsman, Mario Manzoni, on Cima’s radio.

Passing the last kilometer. The threesome still warms ahead of 18 seconds.Between the fields, they drive to a destination on the outskirts of Santa Maria di Sala in the Venetian periphery.

“We knew the peloton was coming very close,” Cima will tell of these tense moments. “Still, I tried to stay calm. I waited for the last 300 meters and then leaned in. ”Just 250 meters and 10 seconds ahead of the peloton.

A squadron squad is now an octopus stretching its tentacles to the refugees. , engulfing Maestri, engulfing Denz, Pascal Ackermann is reaching for Cim at the head of this squad, but…it’s too late! full of frustration. The last of the refugees did it!

Audience is mad.Cima with his Nippo Vini Fantini teammates leaps as senses of deprivation. After all, their team has been receiving wild cards for Giro since 2015, but they have never reached the stage before.

“I have fulfilled my dream of life today,” explains Damiano Cima. “Any Italian boy who starts racing on a bike dreams of winning the stage on Gir once.”

Crazy day.Absolutely crazy.

“The victory belongs to all who believed me, for everyone on the team, for my girlfriend Veronika, and for people who are no longer among us, my friend Pierin Farimbelle, ”says the stage winner.

Who would expect such a drama? that chased them and spun to the top, ”says Czech driver Josef Cerny, fifteenth in the finish. He thought that only victory would allow him to reclaim the purple jersey from Arnaud Demar.He does not have well calculated points.

“I was so disappointed about the goal,” Ackermann admits later. “The whole team worked for me today, doing a fantastic job. I was hoping the guys weren’t going too much to turn it off. ”

Then they tell him: You have maglia cicalmino, a purple jersey. Second place was enough, because Demare finished eighth after having to deal with two minor collisions in the spurt.

Suddenly Ackermann’s face brightened. “We did not withdraw the whole leak, but we got maglia ciclamino, and that was our main goal. I am overjoyed, ”he changes the mood dramatically.

Runs a 13-point scoring competition.No, he is not yet sure that he will stay in the Gira Verona goal in purple, but he is close.

“Demar is strong, he can earn a premium spurt on Friday. And I have to finish both stages in the limit, ”he recalls. On Friday’s mountain stage, the premium spurt will be at 86 km after the 3rd grade climb. The Frenchman could still get there. That will be his last chance.

But it will be.

On Thursday it was a wonderful cycling tale about how a little Italian David, sorry, actually Damiano, matured on a bunch of muscular It was the intermezzo between the battles of the mountain titans.

On Friday we will return to them in the Venetian Alps.The battle for the title culminates. Movistar’s Richard Carapaz holds a maglia dew and refuses to hand it over. “I am an ambassador for Ecuador on a pink mission,” he says.

Also, Primož Roglič, driven by thousands of Slovenian fans arriving from outside the border, refuses to lay down his weapons.

But so many questions are yet to be answered.

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