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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 7: No-hope breakaway delivers miracle victory

Three riders hung on after attacking with 200km to go and delivered the surprise on Gran Sasso ahead of the cruising GC favorites.

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Davide Bais rode out of a 200km-plus breakaway to attack with 200 meters to go to deliver a miracle win in Friday’s summit finale at the Giro d’Italia.

The Eolo-Kometa rider won out of the most unlikely breakaway in the 2023 Giro after the main GC contenders were content to save their legs for another day.

Three riders — Bais, Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), and Karel Vacek (Corratec-Selle Italia) — peeled away early, and never looked back.

Even when the lead was wider than 20 minutes, no one ever expected the leaders to hang on. A lot of teams and riders thought the same, and didn’t bother to chase the early attack.

The leading trio hung on to the red kite to race for the spoils on the Cat. 1 Gran Sasso summit still choked in snow, and delivered the once-in-a-career miracle win.

“Finally my first pro win has arrived. It was unexpected because I went into the breakaway to prepare for an attack by Lorenzo Fortunato,” Bais said. “He was the inspiration for our team to go for a mountain stage victory since he made it at Monte Zoncolan two years ago.

“In the finale I knew I was the fastest so I waited for my time to come to do the last effort. I thank everyone that made this possible.”

Bais played it patient, and the 25-year-old Italian saved it all for one winning surge to fend off the others to snag the victory, his first in his pro career.

There was almost no movement among the GC favorites until Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) opened up in the closing 500m. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was glued to his wheel, and there were no conclusions to draw from the dampened day of racing.

Overnight leader Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) was more than happy with the stage dynamics, and finished with the main bunch to stay another day in pink.

“There were super strong headwinds, and nobody wanted to ride,” said Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), who remained safely tucked in the top-10. “It was a bit of a stalemate. I kind of wanted to race a bit, but there wasn’t the conditions to. I feel alright. I am feeling better, and we’ll what happens when the race kicks off in the final week.”

When the no-hope attack actually works

All alone at the front. The three hit the final ramps with everything in play. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Everyone expected Friday’s first summit finale to deliver the first signs of who’s good and who’s not, so not many teams were willing to test the breakaway.

Four riders dared to defy the odds, and Bais, Petilli, and Vacek were left hanging on with the biggest chance of their respective careers.

None had won a pro race, and the trio hit the closing 5km with a chance to make their Giro dreams come true.

Strong winds buffeted the bunch as it tapped away behind the leading trio. The gap was shrinking, but it wasn’t shrinking fast enough.

The four riders peeled away early, and the surviving three rode at the front for more than 200km to hit 10km to go with a lead north of six minutes.

“With the strong headwind and the long stage, there wasn’t much action,” said EF Education-EasyPost rider Hugh Carthy. “I am looking forward to the next few days. It’s one of those things, people have different interests in the stage today. DSM wanted to keep the jersey and they played it well.”

The long, grinding climb to Gran Sasso didn’t really present a chance to break up the peloton. The top GC riders hovered at the front, but it was a race of a attrition all the way to the snowy summit.

There were some late-stage flares when the last 5km kicked up, but the breakaway defied the odds, and delivered another Giro dream.

Another chance for a breakaway

The 2023 Giro continues Saturday with the 207km eighth stage from Terni to Fossombrone. The stage ends with a circuit course, hitting the Cat. 2 Monte delle Cesane (7.8km at 6.5%) once, and the Cat. 4 I Cappuccini (2.8km at 7.9%) twice.

With Sunday’s looming time trial, the profile suits a non-threatening breakaway to have a chance for the spoils.

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