Fernando Gaviria doubled his Giro strike rate with victory on the streets of Messina. The Colombian sprint prodigy stayed glued to the wheel of wing-man Maximiliano Richeze in the chaotic final kilometres, before launching late to give Quick Step their 60th Grand Tour win. Sam Bennett, who had opened the sprint, was just pipped to second place by the young Italian speedster Jakub Mareczko. Bob Jungels finished safely in the bunch to retain the maglia rosa.
Rider of the RaceEmbed from Getty Images
We’ve all done it haven’t we? Made a fool ourselves and wished the floor would open up and swallow us whole. A few of us may have been unfortunate enough to have experienced this in public, but I warrant not many will have experienced it in the full glare of publicity that Bahrain Merida’s Luka Pibernik has today.
Coming into Messina to complete one loop of the finishing circuit, the young Slovenian rode away from the front of the peloton. I watched him with a growing sense of apprehension as he put every last drop of energy into churning the pedals to stay ahead of the peloton as they approached the finish line for the first time. He glanced behind him with that tell tale action of the hunted in search of a famous victory. Three hundred metres to go, two hundred, one hundred – surely he would realise. I mean there were no finish line photographers for a start.
With the sound of a racing heartbeat thudding in his ears and the clanging of the one-lap-to-go bell in everyone else’s he sailed over the line. Arms outstretched and resplendent in the red and gold kit of local hero and team captain Vincenzo Nibali. The outpouring of joy and relief was short-lived as he realised his mistake. The peloton caught him and he slipped backwards through a sea of familiar faces to complete the stage in 148th place.
Nibali explained a little more post race to Italian TV station Rai…
The problem is that his radio battery was flat and so he didn’t hear us call him. He didn’t know there was a lap to go and so the gaff happened. He’s young, thing like that can happen.
Reactions on social media varied, but I’m going with these
So do we. Head up young Luka, and enjoy the podium at VeloVoice Towers. We know it’s not a Wolfie but we’ll pop the Prosecco and hope our rider of the stage award goes some way to making it all just a tiny bit bearable.
Not only did Quickstepper Gaviria take his second stage win, but his third place at each of the two intermediate sprints en route gave him enough points to take the maglia ciclamino from Lotto Soudal’s Andre Greipel. A fact which the Gorilla acknowledged beautifully with a handshake after the finish, he’s such a gentleman. Post stage Fernando said,
This victory isn’t just for me; it’s for my team and my family and everyone that supported me. My family is here and it’s beautiful to give them this gift. The whole team worked perfectly. We were able to take the win here, now we’ll leave the islands and head to the mainland and we’ll see what happens.
It seems he and Bob Jungels had to race for the ferry after the press conference. Run guys, run!
1 Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) 3:40:11
2 Jakub Mareczko (Willier Triestina-Sella Italia) same time
3 Sam Bennett (BORA-Hansgrohe) s/t
4 Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) s/t
5 Phil Bauhaus (Sunweb) s/t
GC Top 5
1 Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) 23:22:07
2 Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:06
3 Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) +0:10
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) same time
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) s/t
All the jerseysEmbed from Getty Images
Leader’s jersey: Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)
Points jersey: Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)
KOM jersey: Jan Polanc (UAE-Emirates)
Best young rider: Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)
For full review of the stage, go to Cycling News
Header Image: Fernando Gaviria with win number two © Tim de Waale/ Corbis via Getty Images