April 19, 2018
Schachmann wins Stage 18 of the Giro D'Italia, Yates is tested in the Maglia Rosa
Stage 18: Abbiategrasso to Prato Nevoso, 196km
Quickstep added a fifth stage win when Grand Tour debutant Max Schachmann took the stage win on Prato Nervoso.
24 year old Maximilian Schachmann was the best of a breakaway of 12 riders that made the slopes of Prato Nervoso 16'21" ahead of the peloton. The German beat veteran 38 year old Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) by 50 metres with Mattia Cattaneo third (Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec), after the trio had battled it out up the ramps of the ferocious 1607m climb.
Speaking seconds after the stage finish, the stage winner, Maximilian Schachmann, said: “I couldn't imagine more than what I've achieved in the Giro so far. After the first rest day, I suffered a respiratory infection. I recovered on the second rest day. We knew we had a chance today. I have to say a huge thank you to Michael Morkov. The breakaway was already gone and he bridged over with me. I was confident to win against my final rivals.”
While the break cooled down back down the hill the GC situation was turning white hot in the form of an attack by young rider competition leader Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) intent on consolidating his position. This set off a series of counter sorties by the GC contenders.
Sky's Chris Froome, aided by Wout Poels motored ahead, pulling with him Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain Merida) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), third and second on GC at the beginning of the day. The seemingly inevitable counter by Simon Yates amazingly never came and the group opened up 25 seconds.
On the line Yates had lost 28" to Dumoulin, halving his overnight lead. The normally upbeat maglia rosa was clearly rattled and gave the shortest of answers to TV shortly after the finish: “I just had no legs at the end. But it's ok. I did the best I could and I'm still happy with the remaining lead I have. I'm still ahead so it's fine with me.”
The stage winner, Maximilian Schachmann, later said: “We knew it was probably going to be a good day for a breakaway, although so far none had worked. The first nine attackers went pretty early. I have to say a big thank you to Michael Morkov who took me on his wheel to jump as the last two riders to reach the front group. I knew I had quite good legs, so I tried to bring home the victory in a safe way. I tried to keep energy for the last few meters before the finish line. I knew the last 2km would be fine for me. I didn’t panic when [Ruben] Plaza came across. He’s an experienced rider but I believed he’d be dropped again. With this victory, I’m already pretty close to the top of world cycling. It’s the most enjoyable part of my career but I know it’ll be harder in the future.”
The Maglia Rosa, Simon Yates, said: “Today it was an explosive big effort, which is not my forte. After Tom Dumoulin’s first acceleration, I looked at him to see how he was. When he went the second time, I couldn’t close the gap. I was tired. But I’m ok with it. I have no regret to have spent a lot of energy earlier in the Giro because this is what I needed to do. If I didn’t race so aggressively before, I would be behind Dumoulin. I collected almost 50 seconds in time bonuses – that’s more than my overall lead now. I only felt bad for one kilometre today. I’m still in the lead and the coming two mountain stages suit me much more than today’s.”
The next two days are big mountain stages and though while the terrain favours the slighter Yates with his confidence knocked the defensive strategy he planned on might prove risky. Realistically Froome and Dumoulin are not in conflict and some form of cooperation would favour both. Dumoulin could eqaully team up with Pozzovivo and Baharain Merida for similar reasons. It's all to play for
Stage 19 is 184km from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia, highly mountainous crossing the 2178 Colle delle Fenestre, and finishing with 1908 Bardonecchia
Race Results - Stage 18 and GC