Eddie Dunbar finished the Giro d’Italia stage 12 in Pinerolo “a bit disappointed” despite playing for a stage win in his debut Grand Tour.
Dunbar (Team Ineos) escaped with the breakaway, attacked with the best, including new race leader Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) and was in the fight for the stage win.
He finished third behind victor Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida).
“I’m a bit disappointed really, I wasn’t the quickest but I was certainly one of the strongest,” he said.
“At the finish I had [Gianluca] Brambilla and Eros [Capecchi] there and I knew them being Italian they’d be a bit more keen to get to the finish than me so I gambled a bit and then got caught by the two guys behind but that’s bike racing I guess. You live and learn.”
Dunbar looked over his shoulder in the closing metres as the trio made it to Pinerolo first, but the others from the early move were clawing back – including Benedetti.
The 22-year-old Irishman only received a last minute call up for the Giro d’Italia 2019 team when Egan Bernal broke his collarbone. However, he raced like an experienced Grand Tour professional against riders 10 years older.
“I didn’t feel super and I was worried about what gear to pick. I thought if I started at the back I could see who is strong and normally guys can feel it on the climb so I waited and if I can get to the top two I thought I might have a chance,” he continued.
“At the end it was literally who can push the biggest gear, the other guys had the experience on me and that extra bit of endurance but it’s a start for sure for me.”
The team is focused on the overall with Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart without Bernal in the Giro d’Italia.
However, given it is such a young roster – averaging 25 years old – management is giving them freedom.
Dunbar took his chance today with Ineos team-mate Christian Knees in a large escape of round 20 men. The breakaway succeeded in what is supposed to be one of the last days for opportunists before the general classification battle truly begins.
On stage 12, the race climbs to above 2000 metres for its first summit finish at Lago Serrù.