An undulating parcours welcomed riders back to the Giro d’Italia after its first rest day. The 177km stage featured four short but steep categorized climbs, but with the hardest of these being third category, this wouldn’t slow the peloton down too much as they headed towards the finish in Tortoreto. On a day that would suit the Classics riders, there was no surprise when Peter Sagan was among the riders trying to get in the break. Brought back once, it looked like the Slovak rider had missed his chance, with a group of five heading off up the road, but after Matteo Fabbro made his move and was pulled back, Peter slipped away and managed to bridge across. In the scramble for places in the escape group, their number went up and down until settling on seven, barely allowed much more than thirty seconds on the peloton in these early stages, before extending this to five minutes at its peak, after the peloton had called off the chase. Making the most of being in this lead group, Peter set about claiming the maximum points in the intermediate sprint, before settling in for the race to the finish. With some distance still to go, the break started attacking one another with 30km remaining, as these efforts brought the peloton nearer, the gap less than a minute at the 20km to go point and shrinking steadily. Seven riders became two before, with 12km to go, there was one left – Peter Sagan – the BORA-hansgrohe rider having attacked in true Classics style on the last climbs. Dipping into the final 10km, he had a slim lead over the peloton, pushing his bike-handling skills to the limit on the wet and slippery roads. With just twenty seconds’ lead on the peloton, the final kilometre came into view and by now, everyone knew that Peter was going to take his first win at the Giro d’Italia in spectacular style, not only taking the win, but one of the most memorable both of his career and of the Giro d’Italia – finally having taken victories in all three Grand Tours. In the excitement of the finale, Rafał Majka and Patrick Konrad crossed the line with top-ten finishes to move up the GC, Patrick now in sixth and Rafał eighth.
01 P.Sagan 4h01’56”
02 B.McNulty + 0:19
03 J.Almeida + 0:23
06 R.Majka + 0:23
07 P.Konrad + 0:23
“I’m very happy with this victory which also has a special meaning to me since it is my first one ever at the Giro d’Italia. My previous victory was last year at the Tour de France, so I had to wait a bit to get this result. The team and the fans had their expectations, so I owed them a victory. I was on the podium a lot of times but there is a big difference between first and second place. We knew that going in the breakaway would be important today but I can guarantee you it wasn’t easy at all. It was very hard, it took a lot of effort and I think the escapees today were the ones with the best legs. On top of that, once our group was formed we had to work hard for a long time because the peloton, with Groupama-FDJ in front, also tried hard to bring us back. It took us a long time to build an advantage. In the final climbs, especially the last one, I knew I had to give it my all because I needed to have a gap and then make sure I didn’t crash in the last descent. I lost a bit of time there and in the final 7km it was important to go on the limit because behind me there was a group of 10-15 riders that certainly wanted to catch me.” – Peter Sagan
“Today our two goals were to go for a stage win with Peter but at the same time always stay alert and protect our two GC riders. We were aware it would require a very strong effort and that we wouldn’t have a lot of collaboration from the other teams. We would have to control the first part while at the final 60km, which were constantly up and down with some steep sections of 20%, we would need to have the legs. In the first 40km, Paweł and Cesare did a brilliant job in controlling. At some stage, there was a very big break, but it was too messy and Peter decided to follow Ganna’s attack on the climb. There had to be a selection in the breakaway because it was too big a group to collaborate. From that point, the rest of the teams in the peloton took turns in the front, trying to bring the escapees back. First, it was Groupama-FDJ, then UAE Emirates, and finally NTT but it was impossible to catch them. Peter went on to a solo victory and I’m very happy about that. He was very strong today.” – Jan Valach, Sports Director