Pinerolo, Italy, May 26, 2016 (AFP) – Matteo Trentin took a brilliant victory on the Giro d’Italia 18th stage as race leader Steven Kruijswijk comfortably held onto the pink jersey on Thursday.
Italian Trentin was part of a four-man chase group behind Etixx team-mate Gianluca Brambilla and Moreno Moser coming into the finish.
But as Brambilla played the team game sitting in Moser’s wheel, Trentin made up a 15-second deficit before flying straight past the two leaders with less than 300 meters left to take the victory.
It was the first Giro victory in the 26-year-old’s career, although he won stages on the Tour de France in 2013 and 2014.
“Moser is very fast in the sprint and when I realized that Brambilla wouldn’t be overtaking him, I went for it. It’s my first win in Italy,” he said.
It was a painful moment for Moser, who admitted he had not seen the coup coming.
“I let a wonderful opportunity slip there. I felt certain I could beat Brambilla in a sprint and I just didn’t see Trentin closing in. I had no idea he was that close. I saw him pass me 200 metres from the line and it was just too late,” he lamented.
Dutchman Kruijswijk comfortably monitored any potential threats to his lead and finished in the group of overall contenders some 13 minutes adrift of the winner.
He maintained his three-minute lead over Esteban Chaves in the overall standings, while Spaniard Alejandro Valverde is third ahead of former winner and 2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy.
Friday’s stage features some challenging climbs, including a 21km ascent of the Col d’Agnel to an altitude of 2,744 meters, followed with a 13km ascent to a summit finish at the French ski station of Risoul.
The overall leader Kruijswijk seemed relaxed about the energy-sapping altitude at the end of a long tour and also about the climbs.
“I’ve been training for major climbs,” said the 28-year-old. “And I felt good last Saturday when we were at 2200m.”
1. Matteo Trentin (ITA/ETI) 5hrs 25min 34sec,
2. Moreno Moser (ITA/CAN) same time,
3. Gianluca Brambilla (ITA/ETI) s.t.,
4. Sacha Modolo (ITA/LAM) at 20sec,
5. Nikias Arndt (GER/GIA) 30,
6. Ivan Rovny (RUS/TIN) 34,
7. Matteo Busato (ITA/SOU) 1min 10sec,
8. Christian Knees (GER/SKY) 1:16,
9. Axel Domont (FRA/ALM) 1:24,
10. Davide Malacarne (ITA/AST) 4:28.
1. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/LNL) 73hr 50min 37sec,
2. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) at 3min 00sec,
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 3:23,
4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 4:43,
5. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) 4:50,
6. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 5:34,
7. Bob Jungels (LUX/ETI) 7:57,
8. Andrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 8:53,
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/A2R) 10:05,
10. Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR/DDA) 11:16
Photos: Cor Vos