Photo Credit: Cor Vos
As the riders rolled out from Foggio earlier this afternoon, a tricky 170 kilometre long stage in the hills and mountains awaited, and one that looked perfect for the breakaway to chase glory. It was an incredibly fierce and attacking start to the day with numerous unsuccessful breakaway attempts formed and then brought back, with Michael Storer and Nicholas Roche particularly active. Eventually after 60 kilometres of hard racing a nine rider group escaped and the elastic snapped, with Nikias Arndt riding strongly to make the move for the team.
The gap to Arndt’s group continued to rise as they made their way onto the first categorised climb of the day, standing at seven minutes with around 70 kilometres to go. With the bunch happy to let them go, it became clear the breakaway would fight it out for the stage win. On the long descent and run in to the final climb, it was an incredibly tactical affair, with Arndt trying several times to get away; either alone or with another rider but the rest of the group were quickly onto his back wheel.
In the end, things were all together as they made the turn onto the final climb where the winning move was ultimately made. Arndt used his experience to full effect, riding the climb at his own tempo and not going into the red. Following the wheels of some others, he was able to unleash his trademark seated sprint in sight of the line, taking a brilliant third place for the team at the finish; after what was a hard and fast day out over the climbs.
Back in the peloton the team did a good job of staying safe throughout the day and going onto the final climb, where it remained status quo between most of the GC contenders, with Romain Bardet coming home safely in that group. Unfortunately, Jai Hindley was held up behind a crash at around one kilometre to go, losing a handful seconds to those ahead. Tomorrow sees another tricky day of climbing and a hill top finish in Campo Felice which feature some gravel roads for good measure.