The first summit finish of the Giro d’Italia, the final stage of action in Sicily provoked the beginning of the GC battle. Tom Dumoulin held onto the group of favourites to take 8th on the stage and remain 2nd overall.
The first mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia, the action was hot from the gun and with interest to get into the breakaway was high, it was an eventual group of 30 riders that managed to go clear after 55 kilometres of racing. With all of the big teams represented, Team Sunweb sent Chad Haga and Sam Oomen up the road to keep an eye on proceedings. Whilst the group’s lead went out to three minutes, the remainder of the team stayed with Tom Dumoulin in the bunch protecting him for the looming first GC battle of the race on the slopes of Mount Etna.
As the race reached the rising road, the leading group still held onto a lead which looked like it may prevail. Attacks in the break rid all but one rider, with Sam Oomen dropping back to help Tom Dumoulin in the Maglia Rosa group on the climb. The GC battle really began with two kilometres to go as one rider jumped clear and opened up enough of a gap to bag the race lead. Tom Dumoulin continued to pace his way up the climb at his own tempo, finishing the stage amongst the GC favourites in 8th position. He remains 2nd overall and is now at 16 seconds from the overall lead. After his efforts in the breakaway, Sam finished the day in a solid 14th place.
Tom said: “There were a lot of attacks today but only Yates had the legs to really pull on. I decided to spice things up a little bit and see how everyone was doing. I felt like I had something left, not a lot but some, and I wanted to know if I was the only one feeling like that. I wasn’t super today but I was there so it was alright. It was good that with not the best legs I could still hang on. I still have a good position int he GC but today I wasn’t the best. It was a difficult final climb, really long and challenging. It’s difficult to draw conclusions based on today.”
Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “It was a hard start today and took a long time before the break left. A big group of 26 riders went with Sam and Chad. The time gap went never above 3 minutes and 30 seconds and BMC controlled things. We protected Tom well in the group and kept him in good position towards the final climb. Sam was in front with the strongest and did a really good ride and when Tom came with the favourites at Sam, he could still chase a group down. Because of that Tom could finish in the group of favourites in the end on the line. Tom is still 2nd, now behind Yates at 16 seconds. Sam put in a great ride to take 14th.”