With yesterday’s final rest day behind them, the bunch rolled out from Salò this morning ahead of what has been billed as the queen stage of the race. Faced with a leg-numbing 5000 metres of climbing throughout the 202 kilometre route that featured the ascents of Goletto di Cadino, Passo de Mortirolo and Valico di Santa Cristina, and a stinging uncategorised climb to the intermediate sprint – it was set to be a brutal day out.
As expected, it was a fast start to the stage with multiple attacks at the head of the race and a big fight to form the day’s breakaway. Despite a smaller group going clear, the peloton kept them close and heading onto the first ascent of the day the full breakaway formed with Thymen Arensman and Chris Hamilton riding well to make it for the team.
On the valley road before the Mortirolo the breakaway split, with Arensman and Hamilton both alert to make the front group, rotating well and increasing the gap to those that missed out. Once onto the famous ascent itself, Hamilton came to the front and didn’t look back, setting a strong tempo to keep a now charging peloton at bay. After a monumental effort, Hamilton swung off towards the summit of Mortirolo, with Arensman and the rest of his breakaway companions forging on.
The group continued to work well together but approaching the steep uncategorised climb the peloton upped the pace and dramatically cut the gap from five to under three minutes as they hit the valley road ahead of the final ascent. On the descent, Kämna had attacked and built up a lead of over 45 seconds on Arensman’s group with 16 kilometres to go. Initially working together on the lower slopes, Arensman felt the pace slowing and attacked the rest of the group, setting off in pursuit of Kämna, with Hirt doing the same not long after.
As each rider battled on the steep slopes, the trio eventually came together at eight kilometres to go where Arensman immediately went on the move, with his stinging attack dropping Kämna. He and Hirt pushed on together but at the same time they sized each other up with probing moves before Hirt pressed on the pedals once more, and Arensman had to let go of the wheel. Not giving in, Arensman fought all the way to the top of the climb inside six kilometres to go, crossing the KOM point 17 seconds behind Hirt. Putting his technical skills to great effect, Arensman gained and gained on Hirt down the treacherous and wet descent before the flat run to the line, but it would be just not enough to take stage win as Hirt crossed seven seconds ahead of him.
Nonetheless, it was an incredible fighting display by Arensman to take second place at the finish, his best result at WorldTour level, after what was some superb work by Hamilton earlier in the stage – with the team showing their resilient character and fighting spirit.
|1||HIRT Jan||Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||5:40:45||100|
|2||ARENSMAN Thymen||Team DSM||0:07||40|
|3||HINDLEY Jai||BORA - hansgrohe||1:24||20|
|33||HAMILTON Chris||Team DSM||24:06||-|
|40||TUSVELD Martijn||Team DSM||27:58||-|
|52||DENZ Nico||Team DSM||33:32||-|
|111||COMBAUD Romain||Team DSM||48:14||-|
|121||DAINESE Alberto||Team DSM||,,||-|
|1||CARAPAZ Richard||INEOS Grenadiers||68:49:06|
|2||HINDLEY Jai||BORA - hansgrohe||0:03|
|3||ALMEIDA João||UAE Team Emirates||0:44|
|12||ARENSMAN Thymen||Team DSM||10:23|
|36||HAMILTON Chris||Team DSM||1:27:46|
|44||TUSVELD Martijn||Team DSM||1:46:32|
|106||COMBAUD Romain||Team DSM||3:36:44|
|118||DENZ Nico||Team DSM||3:53:56|
|125||DAINESE Alberto||Team DSM||4:03:08|
|1||DÉMARE Arnaud||Groupama - FDJ||238|
|2||CAVENDISH Mark||Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team||121|
|3||GAVIRIA Fernando||UAE Team Emirates||117|
|5||DAINESE Alberto||Team DSM||81|
|34||ARENSMAN Thymen||Team DSM||19|
|65||TUSVELD Martijn||Team DSM||8|
|75||HAMILTON Chris||Team DSM||6|
|1||ALMEIDA João||UAE Team Emirates||68:49:50|
|2||LÓPEZ Juan Pedro||Trek - Segafredo||9:11|
|3||ARENSMAN Thymen||Team DSM||9:39|
|37||DAINESE Alberto||Team DSM||4:02:24|
|2||CICCONE Giulio||Trek - Segafredo||99|
|10||ARENSMAN Thymen||Team DSM||39|
|31||DENZ Nico||Team DSM||12|
|41||TUSVELD Martijn||Team DSM||6|
|61||HAMILTON Chris||Team DSM||1|
|1||BORA - hansgrohe||206:33:39|
|2||Bahrain - Victorious||6:58|
|3||Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||32:14|
|5||Trek - Segafredo||1:21:09|
|6||Astana Qazaqstan Team||1:26:31|
|7||UAE Team Emirates||1:46:03|
|8||Team BikeExchange - Jayco||2:02:02|