Josef Černý was part of a four-rider breakaway that went clear in the first ten kilometers but as soon as the strong winds came into play, causing echelons, the leading quartet was quickly caught as the front group fought to distance the two chasing groups.
With Ilnur Zakarin caught in the third group on the road, his teammates dropped back and helped with the chase and eventually, after a huge fight, made their way back to the bunch approaching 60 kilometers to go.
A heavy crash with 45 kilometers remaining held up more than half of the peloton and almost all CCC Team riders, including Zakarin and Pavel Kochetkov who went down hard on his side. Kochetkov will undergo X-Rays to analyze the extent of his injuries.
With multiple riders down, a gap of more than one minute quickly opened up between the unscathed peloton and the chase groups which saw CCC Team take control of the chase to bring Zakarin back to the first group with 22 kilometers remaining.
With the peloton back together, the sprinters’ teams started to fight for position ahead of the flat run into the finish in Brindisi where Arnaud Démare (Groupama – FDJ) took his third win of the Giro d’Italia while Černý crossed the line in 14th place.
Zakarin finished in the peloton to remain in 13th place on the General Classification, 1:44 down on race leader João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was a really nervous stage because the wind was really dangerous. We had some problems and had to fight to come back but we were able to do this and I think the team did a good job to protect Ilnur. We hope to keep fighting in the next days. In the sprint, I tried to finish well but I was à bloc and just did what I was able to do. I hope the next stages will be better.”
Gabriele Missaglia, Sports Director:
“Today was a really hard day. We knew the wind could play a big role in the stage so our plan was to stay around Ilnur all day and make sure he didn’t lose any time. When the echelons were formed, we had riders in the second group so we sent them back to the third group, where Ilnur was, to help with the chase. Then when the crash split the field with 45km to go, we saw another strong display of teamwork to bring Ilnur back. I am really happy with the teamwork I saw today, without the work of these guys we would have seen a very different outcome at the finish.”
Stage 7 Matera > Brindisi (143km)
Top 3: 1. Arnaud Démarre (Groupama -FDJ), 2. Peter Sagan (BORA – hansgrohe), 3. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)
CCC Team top 3: 14. Josef Černý, 35. Ilnur Zakarin, 72. Attila Valter