April 19, 2018
Bennett storms to victory as Viviani is outwitted.
Pizzo to Praia a Mare, 159km
Bora Hansgrohe's Sam Bennett claimed his first Grand Tour Stage win as he bested Elia Viviani in Praia a Mare
The Giro finally made it to the mainland for a stage taking it up the west coast, with the racing taking place on a route parallel with black sand beaches and volcanic outcrops.
The main feature of the day was a three man breakaway formed with 151km to go comprising Davide Ballerini of Trek Segafredo, Maxim Belkov of Katusha, and Markel Irizar Aramburu of Andrioni TFS. Their lead went out to 4 minutes 20 seconds after 20 km but then started to slip back.
The peloton being controlled by Quick-Step, Willier and Mitchelton Scott obviously with the former aiming to put Elia Viviani in prime position come the finish. The break held steady until at 14km to it was finally reeled in.
At the finish it was the inevitable sprinters day and with Elia viviani in the lead with in the last 100m it looked like the Italian was going to add another victory to his growing list but it was actually 27 year old Sam Bennett riding for Bora Hansgrohe who came round the Italian to take the win, the first for the Irishman at the Giro d'Italia or indeed at any Grand Tour. Third spot went to Niccolo Bonifazio who had a puncture with just a few kilometres to go and had to fight his way back through the peloton to be in contention.
Sam Bennett described his reaction, "I feel relieved I've been so close so many times at the Giro to get really get the timing right was key with so many fast sprinters here and it's not easy to beat Viviani because he really knows what he's doing but my time came, thoughs at one point I thought it would never come. I really want to thank the whole team they have got to this point. The key was to get that wheel of Viviani and have a bit of patience as well. I had to freewheel for a moment because I knew you was just that bit too early but when the time came I really took it on."
Sam Bennett win is only the fifth top spot for Irish riders at the Giro. The first one was Seamus Elliott in 1960; the last one was Stephen Roche in 1987 in stage 22 (the conclusive ITT in Saint-Vincent). Interestingly, Roche took the Maglia Rosa for good in 1987 at Sappada where the Giro returns this year for the first time, on May 20, for the 15th stage.
The result had no impact on the top of the general classification with Simon Yates of Mitchelton Scott finishing safely and retaining the Maglia Rosa head of stage 8.
Race Results - Stage 7 and GC