Roelandts Tests His Legs in the Sprint After Quiet Day at the Giro d’Italia11. May 2018, Praia a Mare (ITA) — Road Team
The first week of the Giro d’Italia came to a close with a quiet day of racing along the Calabrian coast which saw the peloton enjoy the flat terrain before a hectic sprint finish, with Jürgen Roelandts crossing the line in ninth place.
After a 10km battle for the breakaway, three riders went clear and the breakaway sat up to allow the trio to gain a maximum advantage of four minutes.
Having spent the last four days defending the Maglia Rosa, BMC Racing Team’s riders took things easy while still positioning Rohan Dennis well to stay out of trouble.
The sprint teams didn’t increase the pace in the bunch until the final 40km and by the time the breakaway hit the 20km to go mark, their advantage was down to one minute.
The catch was made with 14km remaining to set the stage for the battle for positioning heading towards Praia a Mare.
Roelandts made his way to the front of the bunch and positioned himself in the top 20 riders heading into the final kilometer, before moving from wheel to wheel on the finishing straight.
Despite being well-placed, the chaotic sprint saw Roelandts boxed in with 200 meters to go and in the end, the Belgian settled for ninth place behind winner Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe).
Dennis crossed the line safely in the bunch to remain in sixth place overall, 53 seconds behind race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT).
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was a slow start, except the first 8km, but then it was easy. It was nice to have a day off because we were riding the whole week in the front with the pink jersey and that takes a lot of mental strength. I think of the 160km, I was 140km in the back today, which was quite a relief for the head. I was hesitating to the do the sprint because I thought maybe I was less fresh than the others but of course, they also had to do yesterday’s stage. So, I was free wheeling through the peloton trying not to catch too much wind. I was in position, I think I had a free chance to go but I looked up and it was still 350m to go which was a bit too far to go for the win. I really wanted to go for the win, not just go to show myself and end up fifth or sixth. So, I waited a bit but then got boxed in which is the chance you take in a split second.”
Stage 7 Pizzo > Praia a Mare (159km)
Top 3: 1. Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe), 2. Elia Viviani (Quickstep-Floors), 3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida)
BMC Racing Team top 3: 9. Jurgen Roelandts, 64. Francisco Ventoso, 76. Rohan Dennis