29 May 2023

Santi Buitrago wins Queen’s stage of Giro

After the early stage win by Jonathan Milan and three more 2nd places for the same rider in bunch sprints, it was up to Santiago Buitrago to score a second stage victory for Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS on what was the third-to-last day of this Giro d’Italia. The Colombian rider was the strongest climber of a large breakaway, winning solo at the iconic Tre Cime di Lavaredo. With Damiano Caruso in 4th, the team also has a rider in the top 5 on GC.

With more than 5400 aggregate meters of ascending, four categorised climbs and a mountaintop finish in the shadow of the iconic Tre Cime di Lavaredo, stage 19 was the Queen’s stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia. Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS went into this stage with three main objectives: Safeguard the top5 position of Damiano Caruso on GC and make sure that Jonathan Milan as the leader in the points classification, makes it to the finish safely and within the time limit. The third objective was to hold on to the lead in the team classification. Within the first hour of racing a 16-rider breakaway took shape as a result of multiple attacks, and Santiago Buitrago managed to force his way into this group. The young Colombian was not only the best-placed of the attackers on GC but also likely the strongest climber.

After the lead of the breakaway had reached 8 minutes, the chasers upped their pace. As expected, Santiago Buitrago proved to be one of the strongest climbers on the steep slopes of the Passo Giau. When Warbasse attacked before the final ascent, Buitrago did not panic, closed the gap and soon was riding with Michael Hepburn and Derek Gee as last companions. The latter tried his luck with an early attack, but Buitrago kept the gap small and with 1.3 kilometres to go, he closed the gap and dropped his rival right away with a searing acceleration, distancing Gee by 51 seconds on the finish line. Thus just like last year, Santiago Buitrago managed to win one of the mountain stages at the Giro d’Italia. For Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, this was the second stage win in this year’s Giro.

But that’s not all yet, as the fight for the top spots on GC was raging a couple of minutes further down the road. After having performed a bit less in yesterday’s finale, Damiano Caruso was back in good shape. And he only had to let the three leading riders on GC go when these started to attack each other, crossing the finish line in 7th place. This was enough to move back up to 4th on GC, a position he had lost to Eddie Dunbar one day earlier. And since Edoardo Zambanini stepped up to fill the void caused by an off-day of Jack Haig, Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS managed to keep its lead in the team classification at 20 minutes with two stages to go in this Giro d’Italia.

Two days earlier, Jonathan Milan had missed out on a second stage win by the width of a tire at the end of the 17th stage. Despite having lost the rear wheel of his lead-out man Andrea Pasqualon in a frantic finale with plenty of corners, not being amongst the first ten riders to reach the finishing straight in Caorle. Once again, Milan, who has been wearing the Maglia Ciclamino of the leader in the points classification since winning stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia, flew past more than ten of his rivals only to be beaten by his compatriot Alberto Dainese by a very slim margin. Two more stages need to be ridden before the end of this year’s Giro, with a brutally hard mountain time trial on Saturday and a short stage to Rome on Sunday that is likely to end in a bunch sprint.

1. Santiago Buitrago, COL/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 5:28.07 hours
2. Derek Gee, CAN, + 0.51
3. Magnus Cort, DEN, + 1.46

1. Alberto Dainese, ITA, in 4:26.08 hours
3. Michael Matthews, AUS, st

1. Jonathan Milan, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, 215 points
2. Derek Gee, CAN, 160 points
3. Pascal Ackermann, GER, 95 points

1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR, in 245:35.12 hours
2. Ineos Grenadiers, GBR, + 19.59
3. Team Jumbo Visma, NED, + 33.47

photos: Sprint Cycling Agency