Giro d’Italia: Jungels fights for white jersey
On the last five-star stage of this year's race, the Luxembourger rode bravely despite suffering midway through the course and remained in contention for the best young rider classification.
Passo Pordoi, Passo Valparola, Passo Gardena, Passo di Pinei and Pontives, just say these names and they make you shiver. Add this to the fact they were all packed in a short 137km-long stage featuring in the final week of the Giro d'Italia, on a day that had more than 4000 meters of vertical gain, and you can get a better picture of the ordeal the riders still present in the race had to face Thursday afternoon, when the Dolomites loomed with their majestic and threatening climbs on the horizon.
The climbing started early and at a furious pace, so it came as no surprise that by the end of the day there were some important changes in the general classification. Another mammoth group went clear in the first kilometers and built a two-minute gap on the peloton, but despite none of these men being dangerous for the top 10 riders, things weren't serene behind, as several teams moved to the front of the bunch and applied a ferocious pressure to thin the pack.
Bob Jungels, a stage winner last week in Bergamo, was dropped on Gardena five kilometers from the finish, but as he did in all the difficult moments encountered in the past three weeks, he kept his composure and rode his own tempo, without going into the red, a wise decision considering there were still two tough climbs left on the course of stage 18.
While on the front Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was outsprinting Mikel Landa (Team Sky) to take the victory from the escape, the 24-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider soldiered on and continued to use every ounce of energy he could find, showing an incredible fighting spirit and overcoming the pain and the lactic acid before eventually concluding the day less than three minutes down on pink jersey Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
"I had a bad day and the legs didn't feel so good on the first three climbs , so I was dropped from the main group. I had to chase alone for the last 50 kilometers of the stage, where I began feeling better, but overall it's a very disappointing day for me", said the Luxembourger.
Tenth in the overall standings with three stages left, Bob had to concede the white jersey in Ortisei/St. Ulrich, but with only 28 seconds separating him from Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), everything is still possible. His teammate, Fernando Gaviria, made it to the finish in a group that also included Dries Devenyns and Iljo Keisse, and retained the maglia ciclamino.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele