Giro d’Italia 2019: Stage 7 – Pello Bilbao triumphs in L’Aquila

A fast and furious stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia ended with a first Grand Tour stage win for Astana’s Pello Bilbao. The Basque rider launched a perfectly timed attack in the final kilometre. His rivals hesitated and that was all the advantage he needed to stay ahead of Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale)and Davide Formolo (BORA-hansgrohe). Valerio Conti and his UAE-Team Emirates team survived a stressful day, with a little help from Trek-Segafredo, to retain the maglia rosa, but there were some changes within the top 10 on GC.

This stage had breakaway opportunity writ large in red ink across Il Garibaldi (the Giro’s Roadbook) and boy-oh-boy was the battle to get into a successful move fierce. The peloton was in constant flux. Like a swarm of angry bees as attempt after attempt moved clear only to be brought back. It took over 100kms of the 180km stage before a group went clear that everyone was happy with. Or perhaps, they were just too tired to fight it any longer, because there were some interesting and surprising names in the break that eventually went all the way to contest the finish. This meant the pace didn’t ease at all as the leader’s team chased hard to keep them within a manageable gap, the whole stage was raced at an average speed of 45kph – OUCH!

Or as VeloVoices favourite cycling reporter Chad Haga (Sunweb) explains…

Rider of the Race

I thought long and hard about this because I love the way Pello rides and attacks. I was THRILLED to see him grab his chance and add a much-longed for Grand Tour stage to his palmares. However, it’s another member of the breakaway that takes the honours today, my rider of the race goes to Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas. Here he is celebrating the stage victory of teammate Richard Carapaz on stage 4.

Embed from Getty Images

Eleven times the strong Spainard has made the podium in Grand Tour stage, the latest a third place yesterday, but not once has he stood on the top step. Here’s the thing that impresses me – he doesn’t stop trying.

After his exploits in the break on stage 6, only two minutes and twelve seconds stood between him and the leader’s jersey. He  made the break again today and as UAE-Team Emirates struggled to keep the pace high he came within one second of the virtual race lead. It wasn’t to be, but it never stopped him from laying it all out on the road. He battled to stay in touch on only significant climb of the day Le Svolte di Popoli (I love saying that). He was distanced on one of the many inclines on the rolling run to the line, only to come roaring back on a descent. There may have been no prosecco or pink confetti canon after a hard day in the saddle, but his efforts move him up to second overall, 1:32 behind Conti. The translation of his tweet reads:

For a moment I dreamt of sleeping in pink. Intense hard day and leaving every ounce of effort on the road!

Never stop dreaming Senor Rojas!

Pello Pello Pello

Pello Bilbao’s winning attack came straight out of the textbook. The lay off, the dive to the side, the sudden acceleration – brilliant execution. We’ve watched him perform out this manoeuvre many times, but it doesn’t get any less thrilling.

The sheer joy.

The Giro ends here for….

Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) has been forced to retire with a painful right knee. A shame for the Giro but a wise decision if we wish to see him grace the sprint finishes later on in the season.

Jumbo Visma have lost a key rider for the podium ambitions of  Primoz Roglic as Laurens De Plus abandoned the stage. The Belgian had been unwell for several days but had been hoping to make the rest day. Unfortunately the fast pace today proved one step too far.

We wish all the the riders a speedy recovery.

Mr Breakaway

Lotto Soudal’s Thomas de Gendt has been saying all week that he is not looking to get into the breakaway. I guess today was one of those days when the strongest riders rise to the top and the familiar stance and stone face was spotted in the ranks.

What does it take to get into the break on a day like this?

It appears Mr de Gendt is pacing himself this year as he’s taking on the challenge of riding in all three Grand Tours for the first time in his career. Who better to get advice about that particular adventure than teammate and Mr Grand Tour Adam Hansen.

Stage results – top 5

1 Pello Bilbao (Astana) 4:06:27

2 Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:05

3 Davide Formolo BORA-hansgrohe) same time

4 Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton Scott) +0:09

5 Mattia Cattanea (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) same time

General Classification – top 10

Embed from Getty Images

1 Valerio Conti  (UAE-Team Emirates) 29:29:24

2 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) +1:32

3 Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF) +1:41

4 Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale +2:09

5 Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) +2:17

6 Amaro Antunes (CCC) +2:45

7 Fausto Masnada (Androni Giacattoli – Sidermec) +3:14

8 Pieter Serry (Deceuninck – Quick Step) +3:25

9 Andrey Amador (Movistar) +3:27

10 Sam Oomen (Sunweb) +4:57

All the Jerseys 

Maglia rosa – Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates)

Maglia blanca – Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF)

Maglia azzurra – Giulio Ciccone (Trek – Segafredo)

Maglia ciclamino – Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe)

For full stage review and race results, go to cyclingnews

Featured Image: copyright – Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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