The expected drop out of the general classification in the first summit finish of this year’s Giro d’Italia never came as Italian rider Davide Bais took a surprise win on stage seven of a breakaway.
More than three minutes after Bais (Eolo – Kometa) took his first professional victory, the main contenders arrived together at the top of the Gran Sasso d’Italia, simply ensuring that there was no gap in time between them. World champion Remco Evenepoel led the group at home. It was far from the expected drama as the main contenders squandered an opportunity to race, an unexpected truce between rivals who remain huddled in the standings behind overall leader Andreas Leknessund.
A stage that ended above the snow line was a stage where the weather could have added to the drama, but instead Geraint Thomas of Team Ineos said the wind deterred one of the big names to move. “There was a super strong headwind,” said the Welshman. “Everyone was really waiting, nobody wanted to pick up the pace, in the wheels it was a lot easier. It was a bit of a dead end. We kind of wanted to run a bit, but those weren’t the conditions. to do it. I feel good, I feel better, we can see when the race really starts last week.
Leknessund, enjoying its third day in the pink maglia, called the scene “a bit boring” after bracing for attacks that never came. “We were very lucky to see how the day went,” said the Norwegian. “At the end of the day, it was only full of gas in the last kilometers, but we are grateful for that because we have more pink days.”
Few people gave a small breakaway much hope when they came out of the front line early on, but the breakaways’ victory reflected the cautious tactics of those with bigger ambitions behind them. When Simon Yates won in pink on this mountain in 2018, it was a day for favorites.
All the ingredients were there. The day started in wet conditions, with the threat of standing water on the road and reports of snow on the finish. The fact that few riders liked the breakaway was understandable, but many of those who sat out would have kicked themselves six hours later.
Bais attacked with Simone Petilli (Intermarché–Circus–Wanty), Karel Vacek (Team Corratec) and Henok Mulubrhan (Green Project–Bardiani–CSF–Faizanè) and they had 10 minutes, enough to make Petilli the virtual leader of the race.
Mulubrhan would fall back, but it became apparent that the top three would fight for the stage. As they began the first of two consecutive climbs that made it a 45km drag to the summit, their advantage was still over 10 minutes.
Petilli tried to attack six kilometers from the end, but the three were still together in the last hundred meters. Petilli went first again, but Bais passed him as Vacek came on for second.