Adam Blythe described Bora–Hansgrohe’s tactics on Stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia as “the most ridiculous thing I've seen”.
There was drama at the finish of Stage 19 of the Giro after the fancied Andrea Vendrame (G2R Citroen Team) misread the final corner and crashed in a calamitous finish. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage, with Mauro Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) second and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) third.
In comparison, there was little drama in the fight for pink. Jai Hindley’s Bora-Hansgrohe team attempted to apply pressure to Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) following the early withdrawal of chief lieutenant Richie Porte through illness, but his Bora team faded on the final climb.
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Australia’s Hindley was able to follow attacks from the pink jersey Carapaz and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) on the final climb, and the GC contenders would cross the line four minutes shy of the lead group.
Robbie McEwen - speaking on The Breakaway - said that the riders were probably preparing for Saturday’s five-star stage from Belluno to Marmolada.
“In the back of all their minds while they're racing today, is what they've got on the menu tomorrow,” began McEwen, “with the finish up the Marmolada…”
However, Blythe cut in to question the tactics of Bora–Hansgrohe.
“Why are Bora riding on the front?” began Blythe. “It is one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in a long time where they don't have the responsibility, they can leave it all to Ineos. But, yet they took up riding on the front, not for a stage win, not for bonus seconds, just to ride on the front.
"If they made Ineos ride [on the front], they would have been a man down after Richie (Porte) abandoned, and Bora would have been in a great place to really take advantage
"So throughout the whole stage, I was just questioning whether they were going to try something, but with 10km to go they just sat off after spending all day on the front.
“What's the point?"
- Vendrame misses out in catastrophic moment on final turn as Bouwman wins Stage 19
- 'Not a fair sprint’ – Schmid after calamitous Stage 19 end saw him finish as ‘first loser’
- Highlights: Bouwman seals Stage 19 win after chaotic finish, as you were in GC
- ‘That was a risk!’ - Vendrame nearly veers off as he launches attack
It was a statement that Dan Lloyd agreed with, taking up the argument.
“I think that's when we were questioning it” said Lloyd.
"The stage win was not in play, but they were right on the front. So clearly Jai Hindley, we thought, was feeling good, and he wanted to take control of the race by setting a really high tempo on the last climb. And hopefully make a big enough difference that he can go into the pink jersey.
"So, when they stopped riding before they even got to that last climb, we thought, what on earth was the last 150km for? Because it seemed to be for absolutely nothing.”
The GC battle resumes on Saturday’s five-star Stage 20, which includes three tough peaks in the Dolomites including the Passo Pordoi – the highest of the race – and the double-digit gradient of the final ascent of the Passo Fedaia to Marmolada.
Highlights: Bouwman seals Stage 19 win after chaotic finish, as you were in GC
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