Max Schachmann of Quick-Step Floors took his maiden Grand Tour victory on a day the breakaway contested the stage win for the first time this Giro. However, the headlines are all about what happened behind him. Stage 18 saw the first of three summit finishes that will decide the destination of the maglia rosa and who gets to share the podium in Rome. Simon Yates had his first bad day finishing with his advantage over Tom Dumoulin slashed to just 28 seconds to set up a nail-biting finale.
Another day in beautiful Sicily with the tifosi, another tricky undulating stage with a punchy finish which everyone was hoping would be as exciting as yesterday’s. And.It.Was. Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) used his disappointment with yesterday’s third-place to fuel his sprint victory today, surging strongly across the line ahead of Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) and Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin). Pretty much all the GC contenders, including race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC), finished safely in the peloton except for Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) who ran off the road into the long grass in the last 5km and lost 42 seconds.
Tom Dumoulin started the 101st Giro the same way as he finished the 100th edition – popping prosecco on the top step of the podium clad in pink! Resplendent in rainbows the World Time Trial Champion mastered the twisty, lumpy parcours, to finish two seconds faster than long-time leader Rohan Dennis. Victor Campenaerts fought his body, bike and the clock all the way to the line to finish just a sliver of a second slower in third. Chris Froome was among the riders who crashed heavily during the reconnaissance of the course in the morning and finished 37 seconds off the pace.