Giro d'Italia Stage 18: De La Cruz Top 10 in Stage for the Breakaway
Etixx - Quick-Step rider David De La Cruz finished 6th out of an original 12-rider escape group that decided the 170km 18th Stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday, from Melide to Verbania. De La Cruz tried his best to chase down a solo Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), who attacked inside 20km to go in the stage. However, the advantage was too big and the Belgian rider crossed the finish line alone as the winner. Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani - CSF) finished 2nd as a lone chaser, and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) was 3rd out of the De La Cruz chase group.
The Giro peloton rarely allowed breakaways significant advantages so far in the 2015 edition. However, the breakaway including De La Cruz was given more than 12 minutes of a gap inside 68.6km remaining, which was more than enough to make sure the attackers would decide the stage with only one categorized climb. The group split, and De La Cruz was one of four riders ahead for a good amount of time. The chasers eventually dragged themselves back to the former break mates before Gilbert attacked.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) also attacked out of the peloton on the big climb of the day, putting even more time into his GC competitors as leader of the race. He now holds a 5'15" advantage over Mikel Landa (Astana) in 2nd overall, and Fabio Aru (Astana) in 3rd (+6'05").
Fabio Sabatini crashed during the stage, but without consequences.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to 236km Stage 19 on Friday. This high mountain stage could create even bigger gaps between GC competitors. There is a Category 3 climb followed by three consecutive Category 1 climbs, including the summit finale in Cervinia.
"At the beginning of the race there were a few attacks, and then at a certain moment a group formed at the head of the race," De La Cruz said. "It was a breakaway formed due to all the riders having strong legs. We had the green light from the peloton for once. They didn't immediately pull to close the gap. We knew after a few kilometers that the winner of the stage would come from our group. So, we collaborated very well. But in the break we had some dangerous guys like Chavanel, Nocentini and Gilbert. Everyone knows their skills. So when we reached the Category 1 climb I decided to accelerate, do a good tempo, and try to put those guys in difficulty. We went away with four riders, but the Gilbert group didn't give up. They were always there at maybe a minute down. So we descended, and then there were two small but steep climbs. I thought maybe we could try something, but there wasn't good collaboration at that point. Bongiorno tried to go solo a few times. Maybe we could have all worked together a bit better to keep the Gilbert group behind us, but it wasn't possible with such a small gap. They came back, and Gilbert did a great effort. So, I was there at the end to try for a podium place. I think I did a good race and it is important to know I have good legs. Of course when you are there the goal is to always try and win. It didn't work out, but it was nice to be in a breakaway of a big Tour like the Giro, and to be there to fight against big champions. It's a big boost of confidence for me and I think as a team we will keep trying to do something in these last days of the race."