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.
Quick-Step Floors played it cool to deliver Elia Viviani his fourth victory after a day of frantic action. With the maglia ciclamino still in play and never quite the right combination of riders in the break, BORA-hansgrohe and Mitchelton-Scott chased every attack and kept any move on a tight leash. Sam Bennett was boxed in on the run to the line, his late kick only enough for second place. Niccolo Bonifazio rounded out the podium. The GC contenders finished together, just pleased to have survived a day of full-gas action.
Rohan Dennis more than made up for his disappointment on stage one with a masterful display to take his first Giro victory and move to sixth overall. Fastest at every intermediate time check, BMC’s captain powered around the course 14 secs faster than long-time leader Tony Martin. However, all eyes were on the duel between the maglia rosa Simon Yates and a be-rainbowed Tom Dumoulin. The World champion finished 3rd on the day – one minute and 15secs faster than Mitchelton-Scott’s captain, but not fast enough to take the lead. Yates rode a blinder and goes into the mountains with nearly a minute in hand.