Koen Bouwman won stage seven of the 2022 Giro d'Italia from the breakaway after some expert teamwork with Jumbo-Visma team-mate Tom Dumoulin.
The pair had survived an attritional climbing day in the break, and approached the finish along with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates).
A clearly fatigued Dumoulin then sacrificed his chances to lead the group into the final kilometre, where a stinging ramp to the line with 600m to go welcomed them.
Bouwman was the first to launch his sprint with Mollema following, but there was little he or Formolo could do to stop the Dutchman from holding the gap he'd made and reach the line to claim his first Grand Tour stage win.
There was little general classification action, with Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) retaining the pink jersey after finishing in the peloton 2-59 down.
How it happened
Stage seven of the Giro d’Italia 2022 looked to be the most gruelling of the race so far, with 196km of almost constant up and down from Diamante to Potenza.
The sheer amount of climbing on the route (over 4000m), including four classified climbs, meant the day looked setup for early attacks to form a breakaway; stark contrast to the action on stage six.
Numerous attacks from the peloton came in the opening kilometres, including from GC contender Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and second on GC Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The first man to get away in earnest was Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious), who forged on alone approaching 155km to go. Eventually the Dutchman was joined by riders who had counterattacked from the bunch, and with 120km remaining the peloton allowed seven riders to get away.
Those joining Poels included Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Koen Bouwman and Tom Dumoulin (both Jumbo-Visma), Davide Villella (Cofidis), Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost), and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). They quickly began to build a lead and by 75km to go the group had 5-30 on the main bunch.
Ten kilometres later and some riders in the break began to struggle. Poels, Villella and Camargo were all distance on the climb to Viggiano, though the latter two were able to return to the break while Poels was permanently distanced.
The gap decreased towards four minutes before reaching over six approaching 40km to go, but as Ineos Grenadiers took control of the peloton it started to slip back down to four minutes and under.
On the La Sellata climb the break really began to fall apart under the strain of the two Jumbo-Visma riders. Camargo was the first to go, before Villella joined him out the back. The attacks then started from the break with Dumoulin kicking things off at 30km to go.
That attack was short lived, as were those from Mollema and Formolo, save for briefly distancing Bouwman at one point. In the end though the four breakaway riders reached the summit together with around 24km to go, and it was clear they would be fighting it out on the final ramps to the finish; the gap still at 3-20 to the bunch.
With two steep climbs, including one to the line, within 9km to go, there were inevitably more attacks. Mollema went with 8.5km to go, but everyone came back to him, even if Dumoulin was now looking to be in trouble.
Mollema attacked again 7.2km, but was marked by Bouwman and Formolo. The attack did finally distance Dumoulin, though the Dutchman was able to return to the leading three with 3km remaining.
From there, Dumoulin clearly sacrificed his chances to enable Bouwman to sit in approaching the line. It was Bouwman in fact who launched his final sprint first on the steep ramps to the line. He went early, but the gap he created to Mollema and Formolo was enough to deliver him to the stage victory, the first in a Grand Tour in his career.
Three minutes later the peloton rolled in, and while Kämna tried to get a last ditch gap to move up in GC, it was all together for the main contenders with the pink jersey staying on the shoulders of Juan Pedro López.
Giro d'Italia 2022, stage seven: Diamante to Potenza (196km)
1. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-12-30
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 2s
3. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at same time
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 19s
5. Davide Villella (Esp) Cofidis, at 2-25
6. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-59
7. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Eolo-Kometa
8. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates
9. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
10. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, all at same time
General classification after stage seven
1. Juan Pedro López (Esp) Trek-Segafredo, in 28-39-05
2. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 38s
3. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, at 58s
4. Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco, at 1-42
5. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, at 1-47
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-55
7. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-58
8. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 2-00
9. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 2-04
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM, at 2-06
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