Thursday 29 May 2014 - 17:12

Giro d'Italia Stage 18: De Gendt Goes on the Offensive, Uran Well Supported

Giro d'Italia Stage 18: De Gendt Goes on the Offensive, Uran Well Supported

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team continues to race aggressively at the Giro d'Italia. With Rigoberto Uran sitting 2nd in the GC (+1'41") behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar), they placed three riders in support of Uran on the final, Cat. 1 climb Rifugio Panarotta (Valsugana). The climb had a 7.9% avg. gradient, with a 14% max ramp.

However, OPQS also had other ideas. Thomas De Gendt, for the second consecutive stage, went into the breakaway of the day. The 14-rider escape group once again stayed away from the Maglia Rosa group, though the leaders were down to just a few on the last climb. De Gendt launched his attack on the group approaching the bottom of the final climb. He was eventually caught by Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) and Fabio Duarte (Team Colombia) with 6.1km to go. The duo passed him for a short time, but he caught up to them along with Franco Pellizotti (Androni - Giocattoli - Venezuela). Riders from the original breakaway kept trying to bridge, but only a couple were successful. De Gendt attacked one more time, but was unable to hold off his fellow escapees.

Arredondo launched his winning attack with about 4 kilometers to go in the stage, going on to cross the line solo. Duarte was 2nd, Philip Deignan (Team Sky ProCycling) was 3rd. De Gendt, after a long day of attacks, was 6th.

Uran - who had support from Wout Poels, Gianluca Brambilla, and Serge Pauwels — sat well placed behind the lead group as Movistar and Team Europcar worked on the front. Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) launched an attack at 5.3km to go and due to the high pace, and steepness of the climb, GC riders such as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) were distanced from the Maglia Rosa group. Uran was not, as he was well supported by Poels. Poels even went to the front to help chase down Rolland.

Uran crossed the line on the wheel of Quintana, in 11th place. He now is the only rider in the GC with a gap of less than 3 minutes to Quintana. There was a shuffle in the GC, as Rolland is now 3rd and Fabio Aru (Astana) is 4th.

OPQS looks next to a crucial 26.8km Stage 19 uphill time trial, from Bassano de Grappa to Cima Grappa.

“I’m happy about what we did today,” Uran said “I did a good race, but the team did a correct and strong performance. We said already the Giro is not finished, and we will fight until the end. Today I had help for the entire climb. I tried to also accelerate. The feeling was good, and tomorrow is another important stage. It’s an uphill time trial. It’s very demanding. But I feel good and have the will to do really well.”

“Today I attacked for Uran, to help him on the last climb,” De Gendt said. “But then we had seven minutes, then the team leader said I could take my own chance. On the final climb that was not too steep, I thought I had a good chance to win or get on the podium. When we went to start the climb it was pretty steep. I did my own tempo. I think Basso was first in the wheel. But then he dropped the wheel. So I said OK, I can go full gas until the start of the climb. I knew after 1 kilometer it was a little bit downhill. When I have 20” at the start of the climb, I can have the advantage if the riders don’t work behind me. That was a little bit the plan. But I was not thinking about it at 5 kilometers before the climb. It was just a certain moment that I decided to go. It was the best decision, because if I wait for the others to attack, maybe I can’t
follow. So, I am happy with my 6th place given that I made the right choice to be aggressive. As for tomorrow, I don’t know what I can do. I need to do the recon and see how steep it is and if it’s OK, and if my legs are OK. If that’s the case, I will try to do a good time trial. But I have to say, I’m better now in the third week. I always seem to be better in the third week at Grand Tours.”

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