26 May 2022

Buitrago wins mountain stage at Giro

After a ride over 168 kilometres and almost 4000 meters of ascending, Santiago Buitrago got to celebrate the biggest success yet in his career in Italy. Team Bahrain Victorious’s young Colombian rider won the mountain stage from Ponte di Legno to Lavarone solo. And Wout Poels dug deep to assist Mikel Landa in his fight for the GC podium at the Giro d’Italia.

The overall standings of Grand Tours mostly only take a definitive shape throughout the third week. As for the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious, they are looking stronger than ever in the Dolomites after the third rest day. The riders in red, orange and black already rode an aggressive race throughout stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia. With four long climbs and more than 5000 meters of aggregate climbing, this stage offered plenty of opportunities to put the rivals for the overall standings to a test. Early on a breakaway went up the road while Team Bahrain Victorious focussed on supporting its captain Mikel Landa. At first Domen Novak, Wout Poels and Santiago Buitrago upped the pace of the group of GC contenders, and then it was up to Pello Bilbao as the last domestique to help Mikel Landa in the finale. The stage win was for a rider from the breakaway, and Mikel Landa had to settle for 6th place when a high-class chase group sprinted for 3rd place in Aprica, neither gaining nor conceding any time.

One day later the riders had to ride another tough mountain stage in the Dolomites. Right from the start, the route went up the Passo del Tonale, and it was here that 25 riders went up the road to form a large breakaway. From the perspective of Team Bahrain Victorious, Santiago Buitrago had made it into this group just three days after finishing 2nd in another mountain stage. But with about 80 kilometres to go Buitrago crashed in an s-bend on wet roads at the end of the descend from the Giovo. For a short moment, the promising scenario seemed ruined - all the more so as Buitrago looked to be in quite some pain in his right shoulder and elbow. But he was back in the saddle quickly, fought his way back to the other riders of the breakaway and was one of the better climbers again on the next climb. Since he took no risks on the next descent, the young Colombian went into the last, steep climb of the stage with a deficit of 1min30 to a duo in the race lead.

At first Santiago Buitrago only marked the accelerations of Hugh Carthy and Jan Hirt, but then he dropped both of them with a strong attack and started his chase for the race leaders. It did not take him too long to catch up with Mathieu van der Poel and drop him right away, but Gijs Leemreize put up a bigger fight. But Buitrago also caught up with him and dropped the Dutchman at the second attempt and just before cresting the climb. From there Santiago Buitrago powered on to an undisputed solo win in Lavarone. As for the group of favourites for the overall win at this year’s Giro d’Italia, both Team Bahrain Victorious and the Ineos Grenadiers took turns in keeping the speed high, finally managing to break Joao Almeida on the last climb. As the last domestique, Wout Poels properly emptied himself for Mikel Landa, but no matter how they tried the two could not drop Richard Carapaz and Jai Hindley. At least Landa moved up to 3rd in the overall standings, and Team Bahrain Victorious took over the lead in the team classification.

1. Santiago Buitrago, COL/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:27.41 hours
2. Gijs Leemreize, NED, + 0.35
3. Jan Hirt, CZE, + 2.28

1. Richard Carapaz, ECU, in 73:19.40 hours
2. Jai Hindley, AUS, + 0.03

1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR, in 220:10.02 hours
2. Bora-Hansgrohe, GER, + 0.14
3. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, + 52.38

Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency