Sam Bennett wins a third stage
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Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) might have won the points jersey as well the biggest haul of stage wins, but it was Sam Bennett who finished the Giro’s final day as the quickest sprinter.
In a manner similar to his first stage win back in the first week, the Irishman stayed glued to Viviani’s wheel throughout the run-in to the line, and had the kick to go past him when opening up his sprint.
Viviani knew he had been beaten, and sat up before Bennett crossed the line in celebration.
Quick-Step Floors had timed their lead-out to perfection, with a three-man train lead by Zdenek Stybar appearing from nowhere to take control of the peloton 1.5km from the line. But Bennett remained resolute and positioned himself expertly, and was ultimately the quickest man in the sprint.
The result further solidifies his new status as one of the best bunch sprinters in the peloton. If Bora-Hansgrohe can find room in their Tour de France team alongside Peter Sagan either this year or next, a sprint win in the biggest race of them all is conceivable.
Riders unhappy with the course safety
The day got off to a very slow start as the riders ambled their way through the first few laps, and it soon became clear that there were misgivings about the nature of the course.
First the maglia ciclamino was seen speaking vociferously with a commissaire, before finding the maglia rosa of Chris Froome to relay to.
Froome then talked the situation through with the same commissaire, and came to an agreement – the GC race would be neutralised altogether at the end of the third lap, while the race of the stage win would play out as usual.
After the third lap was completed the race finally got going, with optimistic riders escaping up the road in the forlorn hope of holding off the bunch for a stage win.
Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha-Alpecin) and Chris Juul-Jensen – who had been so impressive riding for Mitchelton-Scott in support of Simon Yates earlier in the race – spent most time at the front, but they were reeled in comfortably just before the race entered the final lap.
The Giro returns to Rome
For the first time since 2009, the Giro ended with a visit to the nation’s capital city.
It was hardly an unqualified success, with some of the stage having to be neutralised – the pretty, twisty cobbled streets were aesthetically beautiful, but lacked the practicality and safety for a proper bike race.
The neutralisation ensured that there would be no surprise drama in the race for the GC – unlike nine years ago, when pink jersey holder Denis Menchov’s overall victory was briefly plunged into doubt when he somehow conspired to crash during an individual time trial in Rome.
Still, the capital inevitable proved to be a picturesque setting, with famous locations like the Colosseum, Pantheon and the Vittorio providing a stunning backdrop to the racing.
Hopefully the Giro can return again here so in less controversial circumstances.
Froome a busy man at the podium ceremony
It wasn’t just the pink jersey that Froome ascended to the top step of the podium to collect after today’s stage – he was also awarded with the blue jersey as winner of the mountains classification.
In a similar manner to how he became the unlikely winner in points classification at the Vuelta last year, victory in the competition came as something of an afterthought, after he found himself picking up enough points to take over the jersey during his mammoth solo breakaway on stage 19.
In truth the King of the Mountains contest was one of the few disappointments at this Giro, with no ongoing battle taking place for it, and only really Bardiani CSF’s Giulio Ciccone (who finished second, and wore the blue jersey today while Froome wore pink) targeting the competition.
For Sky, however, it is yet another Grand Tour classification prize to add to their current hot streak, and a third consecutive King of the Mountains at the Giro following Mikel Landa and Mikel Nieve’s wins in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
Adam Hansen makes it 20
The final stage always serves as a reminder of how great an achievement it is simply to finish a Grand Tour.
Of the 176 riders to have started in Jerusalem, 149 successfully made it to Rome today, and there was a jubilant atmosphere of both joy and relief as the riders crossed the finish line for the final time, at last putting an end to three weeks of pain and suffering.
If finishing one Grand Tour us such an achievement, then how great is finishing twenty in a row? That’s the record that Adam Hansen (Lotto-Fix All) set today, an astonishing feat of commitment and consistency. Yet again he survived three weeks without getting seriously ill or injuring himself in a crash, continuing what has been one of the most admirable and improbable ongoing sagas of recent years.
Now seems a good time to reflect upon how great a feat this has been, as the Australian has announced his intention to skip the upcoming Tour de France and thus finally bring the run to an end.