Lopez finished first among all favorites and 11th at the stage, 10 minutes 48 seconds behind the breakaway group which played the stage victory.
- I saw a possibility to attack and I just did it. It was Carapaz, who tried first, but I was able to answer quickly and later I found myself in a good position to continue. Honestly, I wanted to win more time on my rivals, but anyway, it is ok for today. I did my best on this climb, which was quite fast. The hardest stages are still to come, let’s see what will happen, - said Miguel Angel Lopez.
A big breakaway group was able to go away on the first part of the stage. With no interest in the peloton to take the responsibility in the race, the break took a huge advantage over 15 minutes. That was enough for the leaders to arrive at the finish before the main group and to fight for a stage victory, for the first time in this Giro d’Italia.
The German rider Maximilian Schachmann was the strongest today, taking a win after attacking his breakaway companions inside the final 500 meters. The Spaniard Rubén Plaza was second, while Mattia Cattaneo did third.
There was a big fight among the GC favorites behind the shoulders of the breakaway. It was Astana’s Pello Bilbao, who attacked first, followed by the Dutch Wout Poels. Later Richard Carapaz made a strong move, but Miguel Angel Lopez answered very fast to catch him and to make a new counterattack. Finally, Astana Pro Team rider was able to go away solo, taking important time on his rivals: Dominico Pozzovivo, Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome finished 15 seconds later, Carapaz lost 35 seconds, the pink jersey Simon Yates lost 43 seconds, Thibaut Pinot finished 48 seconds behind Lopez.
- Today, we wanted to save some energy, so we did not come in front to control the race. Next days will be crucial for this Giro d’Italia, so we will need all our forces for Friday and Saturday. On the last climb Miguel Angel felt quite good, so, he decided to try and he did a nice attack. But, that was only the first of three stages. The Giro is still far from the end, - added sports director Dmitri Sedoun.
Thus, after today’s stage 18 Simon Yates holds the maglia rosa with a small advantage of 28 seconds on Tom Dumoulin, second in the general classification. Miguel Angel Lopez moved up to 6th place, 4 minutes 54 seconds behind the race leader. Pello Bilbao holds his 8th position, +5.54.
A very tough stage 19 will be held tomorrow: 184 km from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia with the highest climb of this edition of the Giro d’Italia Colle delle Finestre as the Cima Coppi in the middle of the stage.
Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto