Giro d'Italia: Jungels defends white jersey on Oropa
The Luxembourger sits in ninth place overall after the race's third summit finish, one week away from Milan.
Bob Jungels continues to lead the maglia bianca standings after 14 stages at the Corsa Rosa, having overcome another tough test, the iconic Santuario di Oropa, a climb averaging 6.2% over 11.8%, which witnessed only Italian wins at the previous five visits. A big showdown was expected there, and when it came to crunch time on the tough slopes ramping up to 13%, a full throttle pace at the front decimated the peloton, leaving only ten riders in contention for stage honors long before the top.
Once he lost contact with the main group, Bob Jungels paced himself in the closing kilometers of the stage before teammate Laurens De Plus – one of Quick-Step Floors' three Grand Tour rookies – came strong from behind and helped him overcome the stiff gradients of Oropa and limit the losses.
21-year-old De Plus, who was part of a breakaway which made it all the way to the finish earlier this week, buried himself for the Luxembourger, putting in an impressive ride on the climb made famous by Marco Pantani nearly two decades ago and fighting the pain in order to bring Bob home only 1:22 down on race leader Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), who nabbed the win at the top ahead of Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin).
With Saturday's strong and composed ride, De Plus – who climbed to 22nd in the overall standings – reasserted himself as one of the most fascinating prospects of the future generation. Jungels, who crossed the finish line on the wheel of his teammate, also had reasons to smile at the end of the day, as he retained the white jersey which he hopes to take to Milan, where the race will come to a conclusion, next Sunday.
Ninth in the general classification, Bob is one of the two Quick-Step Floors riders to hold a jersey at the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia, where Fernando Gaviria is in firm control of the maglia ciclamino and has big hopes of becoming the first ever Colombian to win the points classification at a Grand Tour.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele