With 50km to go in stage eight of the Giro d’Italia, Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) dared to dream of the stage win and the pink jersey, but ended up empty-handed after being “too enthusiastic” and crashing in the final kilometre.
Conti looked the strongest and led into the white-walled hilltop town of Peschici. But on a right-hand hairpin it all went wrong, as his tyres lost grip and he hit the deck, allowing his three escape companions to ride away, with Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) winning the stage.
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“I was thinking of the pink jersey so much, so I spent more energy than the others in the escape,” Conti said standing by the UAE Emirates team bus.
“Taking the pink would’ve been bigger than the victory for me. But the chase group was moving in, and I was thinking only of the win. In the end, I didn’t get either of the two.”
Conti, beads of sweat running down his face as though he’d just showered, looked behind the cameras to the fans who cheered for him as if he had won the eighth stage from Molfetta along the coast in Italy’s Puglia region.
“I know that there are not many occasions like this. I needed to take more advantage of it. I did everything well, but in the decisive moment in the final, I made a mistake. It was my fault,” he said.
“All it takes is one little thing and you’re on the ground, above all on these roads that are a little bit slippery. I’ll repeat it though, it was my fault. I hope in the future that I don’t make the same error.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia stage eight highlights
Being Italian, from the country’s capital in Rome, Conti had his dreams. A chance to put on the famous maglia rosa in the race’s 100th edition could have been a career changing day for the 24-year-old.
He had found himself with a chance after bridging across to the day’s main break midway through the stage, then escaping with a group together with Izagirre, Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana).
“When we had four minutes or so, I began to think of the pink jersey. Then the group came down hard on us and I was thinking of the victory. The others knew about it, I was skipping out on some turns. Then I made a mistake, and I finished on the ground.
“When it’s there, you just want to win it. I made a mistake, I was maybe too enthusiastic. I crashed and lost.”
Instead of first, Conti finished 43rd, although the race jury at least gave him the same time as the stage winner.