'Winning a Giro d'Italia stage is realising a lifelong dream': Damiano Cima reflects on a successful breakaway

Cima says he tried to look ahead, and not back, as the peloton closed down

Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini) has said he "realised a life-long dream" with his Giro d'Italia stage 19 win in Santa Maria di Sala.

Cima did the seemingly impossible: the last survivor of a long three-man escape holding off the sprinting bunch.

"I've realised a life-long dream," said the 25-year-old from Brescia, following the 222 kilometre long stage which was always meant to end in a bunch sprint.

"Any boy who starts racing dreams of winning a stage at the Giro d'Italia one day," he said.

>>> Giro d’Italia 2019 route: stage-by-stage analysis, elevation and maps

Cima formed part of an early move as the peloton travelled from the Alps down to the Po Valley.

It was only late into the stage that it began to seem like he and his two companions - Nico Denz (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) - would survive.

The peloton edged closer as they flew along the flats to Santa Maria di Sala, the last sprint stage in the 2019 Giro d'Italia.

The trio had just a 15 second advantage coming into the final kilometre, and Cima's companions were swallowed in the final metres, but the Nippo-Vini Fantini rider held on for his second professional win.

"I want to say thank you to Nippo Fantini Faizané who gave me this opportunity and believed in me by allowing me to become a professional cyclist," he added.

"I've tried it on so many occasions, I've been on the attack but this victory is worth much more than all the kilometres I've raced in the escapes."

Inside the final 4 kilometres of the race, Denz had attacked, whilst Cima and Maestri saved their energy for the sprint.

"We knew the group was coming, I tried to stay calm," he said.

"I knew I was fast enough, I waited, I waited and at 300 metres, I started at full speed."

In the sprint, Groupama-FDJ led the group behind for Arnaud Démare but Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) placed second on the wheels of Cima, banging his bars in frustration, but celebrating afterwards with the maglia ciclamino jersey.

"In the last kilometres; I tried to just look ahead, never thinking about not getting to the finish line ahead of the bunch," Cima said.

"You saw, I never looked back. In the last curve, when I got there, I played my only card, waited for the sprint.

"Besides from giving the team visibility, I pulled off a win for Nippo, a second division team in the Giro."

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