Alberto Bettiol paid tribute to the victims of the Mottarone cable car crash as well as his former agent who passed away last year after winning his first Grand Tour stage on stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia 2021.
Bettiol (EF-Nippo) has shown throughout this race that he has been one of the strongest riders on almost all terrain, solid time trials, supporting his leader Hugh Carthy in the mountains and performing well on the flat and hilly stages too.
Just a day after looking after Carthy in the mountains, where he was the last man with him, staying by the British rider's side all the way to the line, the Italian Bettiol went into the breakaway and put in a sensationally strong showing.
Speaking after the stage he said: “It really means a lot for me, for my team and for the people that always believe in me. It’s a gift that I want to give to my former agent Mauro Battaglini who passed away last year, he was like a second father to me so this victory is for him. For sure, he looks at me from the sky. I also want to give a thought to all the victims in the Mottarone cable car and all the families."
It looked for all the world that Bettiol was going to be fighting it out for second place after French time trial champion, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) went on the attack with 26km to go, but Bettiol worked at it and soloed over the Frenchman before dropping him on the final climb.
“I’m also one of the best time trialists in the world," Bettiol fired back, "But no, the final was really hectic because a lot of guys looked at me with everyone in my wheel and I was sure that a strong guy like Rémi Cavagna would try something.
“But fortunately it’s the third week of the Giro d’Italia and fortunately the final was really hard so I can use my legs that have come back after struggling earlier in the race.
“In the end I caught him and I immediately attacked. I was really at a block but I tried to hit him mentally. In the end, I was scared of Nico Roche, he is also a friend of mine but in the final, he didn’t really help me, which is okay.
“I had Matti Breschel in the car to help me and drive me really well, he was one of my team-mates when I won the Tour of Flanders and now he’s my sports director so it’s also a gift for him.”
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