American Chad Haga tipped his hat to his Sunweb team-mate Tom Dumoulin, saying he did the best impression of the former world champion to win the Giro d’Italia’s closing time trial in Verona.
The winner of the 2017 Giro d’Italia Dumoulin had to abandon the race after a crash in the first week.
Haga beat Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) and held off favourites including Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in the 17km time trial.
“I’m glad I could pull this off,” Haga explained. “I did my best Tom impression today. Everything I did, I thought, this is what Tom would be doing.”
Dumoulin, winner the 2017 World Championship time trial, used that strength to finish second overall in both the Giro and the Tour de France.
He began the Giro as a favourite to repeat his 2017 win but fell in stage four and left shortly after stage five rolled out.
“My victory is a consolation prize, and it was a way to redeem our Giro. We came here in top form to support Tom, but unfortunately he was forced to leave,” Haga said.
“Our Giro was not over, and we took our form and legs, and tried to shift it in other ways. I am glad I could make good on that.”
Haga clocked 22-07 minutes over the course that finished at the Verona Arena. He topped Campenaerts by four seconds, those two held the top spots for the remaining hours while the overall favourites finished. No one came close.
“Today I felt like I was going extremely fast. When I went so well in stage nine, which didn’t suit me as well, I thought that today could be a possibility. I never stopped believing that I could win,” Haga added.
“I waited for the other time trial riders who are generally better than me for them to wear themselves out, and I had to be patient so I could be as strong as possible.
“It’s very special to represent the USA in the Giro, and to win a stage. I take pride in showing the American flag in the bike races.”