Our 22-year-old remains in the lead ahead of the race’s second summit finish.
The season’s second Grand Tour went ahead Saturday afternoon with a lumpy 200km stage that took off from Giovinazzo, passed through Barletta – the small town located just 15 kilometers from Cannae, where Hannibal inflicted on Rome its worst military defeat – hugged the Adriatic coast and finished in Vieste. Lying at the eastern tip of the Gargano promontory, this charming marine resort returned on the Giro d’Italia 32 years from the previous visit, when it hosted a team time trial.
It took just a few skirmishes in the opening kilometers for a breakaway to form, and when it did, six men built enough of a lead to put them in the driving seat for victory. The peloton’s lack of interest in the stage honours became even more obvious on the categorised climb of Monte Sant’Angelo, where the escapees stretched their lead to a hefty ten minutes.
As on the previous days, the Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders took over pace-setting duties after the break established and swapped pulls at the front, with João Almeida – resplendent in his pink jersey – safely tucked on his teammates’ wheel and at all times out of trouble. The Portuguese, who tops the Giro d’Italia general classification since the start of the week, enjoyed a stress-free day in the bunch, maybe the quietest since donning the maglia rosa.
The peloton rolled home some 14 minutes behind Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation), who took the win from the breakaway after attacking inside 20 kilometers to go, and overall leader Almeida made his way again to the podium, where both the maglia rosa and the maglia bianca were awaiting him.
“Today was a quiet day, during which we could rest our legs for tomorrow, as nobody wanted to chase the attackers. The last seven days have been pretty hard and stressful, so the teams wanted to have an easier stage ahead of Sunday, which will be quite a hard day with a lot of climbing. It’s going to be an important stage for the general classification and I’m sure riders will go on the offensive in order to gain time, while I will try to defend my maglia rosa. Together with the team we’ve worked very hard in this past week and I’ll give my best to keep the jersey”, said João, who is now the Portuguese rider with the most days (six) in the lead at a specific Grand Tour.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images