Damiano Caruso moves up to 2nd
The Giro d’Italia is the first Grand Tour of the cycling season, and the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious continue to impress: Damiano Caruso crossed the finish line of the shortened Queen’s stage in 3rd place, moving up to 2nd in the overall standings before the second rest day of the race.
Team Bahrain Victorious is showing a courageous race at this year’s Giro d’Italia, almost making its fans forget that it has already lost three out of eight riders due to crash-related injuries. At the brutal mountaintop finish atop Monte Zoncolan, Jan Tratnik had surprised even himself by finishing in 2nd from the day’s breakaway. One day after, the 15th stage of the Giro was routed through the Friuli region and into Slovenia to finish in the city of Gorizia. Right after the start a passage on a wind-exposed, narrow road provoked a large pile-up in the peloton. Luckily Jan Tratnik was the only rider of Team Bahrain Victorious who got involved in this crash without too much harm. A large breakaway soon took charge of things in this stage that first saw large crowds waving Slovenian flags along its course and then a hefty downpour in the last hour of racing. In the end, the peloton took it easy and conceded more than 17 minutes to the stage winner.
Every rider who still had some ambitions for the overall standings tried to conserve as much power as possible in stage 15 - after all the Queen’s stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia was scheduled for the next day. But due to bad weather and low temperatures, the race organizers had no choice but to shorten the stage by about 60 kilometers and to cancel the passages of the Passo Fedaia and the Passo Pordoi as the highest categorized climb of this year’s race. Still the stage featured a climb cresting at over 2200 meters above sea level with the Passo Giau. Soon after the start 22 riders went up the road in successive attacks, and from this large group six strong riders attacked in a bid for the stage win - and to claw back some time that they had lost in the first two weeks of racing. Team Bahrain Victorious sent Jan Tratnik into the large initial group while all other riders focussed on supporting Damiano Caruso.
The group of favourites kept the deficit to the race leader at 6 minutes before increasing its pace and slowly reducing the gap to the breakaway. On the lower ramps of the Passo Giau, the group of favourites had shrunk to about ten riders. When the breakaway got within reach the Magia Rosa Egan Bernal accelerated so hard that no one could follow. In this situation Damiano Caruso decided to stick to his own pace and to rely on his vast experience. This was the right decision as Caruso crossed the top of the Passo Giau in 2nd place. With Romain Bardet only one rider managed to get back to him on the descent to the finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo, where Caruso crossed the finish line in 3rd place, 27 second behind Bernal but gaining time on all other rivals. Thanks to this strong performance in severe conditions, Damiano Caruso gets to enjoy the second rest day of the Giro d’Italia as the 2nd placed rider in the overall standings.
104TH GIRO D’ITALIA, STAGE 16: SACILE - CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, 153KM
1. Egan Bernal, COL, in 4:22.41 hours
2. Romain Bardet, FRA, + 0.27
3. Damiano Caruso, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
OVERALL STANDINGS ON THE 2ND REST DAY:
1. Egan Bernal, COL, in 66:36.04 hours
2. Damiano Caruso, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 2.24
3. Hugh Carthy, GBR, + 3.40