Italy’s Alberto Bettiol has stormed to an impressive maiden victory with an attack on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia, a 231-kilometre ride from Rovereto to Stradella, while Egan Bernal safely retained the overall race lead.
EF Education-Nippo’s Bettiol and Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) fought for the win on the longest stage of the race before Bettiol caught up on the final ascent and overtook him as Cavagna cracked.
Frenchman Cavagna eventually finished ninth while Simone Consonni (Cofidis) came home second, pipping Nicolas Roche (Team DSM) close to the line.
“I really wanted a victory like this. I had already come close on a couple of occasions,” Bettiol said after his team’s first stage win this year.
“I was sure that Cavagna would try something. Luckily, I caught him and attacked him immediately. I tried to hit him mentally and it paid off.
“It means really, really a lot for me, for my team, and for the people that always believe in me.
“It’s a gift that I want to go to my former agent, Mauro Battaglini, who passed away last year, and was like a second father for me, so this victory is for him. For sur,e he looks on me from the sky.”
A disappointed Cavagna admitted he may have broken away too soon.
“We wanted to take the last opportunity before the time trial. We tried, maybe it was a bit far out… I was mentally feeling good,” Cavagna said.
The peloton finished about 20 minutes later with Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) retaining the leader’s Maglia Rosa on what proved a quiet day for the race leaders after some recent dramatic afternoons in the mountains.
The Colombian leads the general classification, 2 minutes 21 seconds ahead of Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) in second. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) remains third, 3:23 behind the leader.
Friday’s 19th stage has been modified to bypass the top-category climb of the Mottarone after Sunday’s cable car disaster there killed 14 people.
The revised, slightly-shorter route nevertheless includes three categorised climbs – including a top-classed one to the finish – on the 166-kilometre leg from Abbiategrasso to Alpe di Mera.