For the second consecutive day in Italy, the course suited the breakaway and therefore it was no surprise to see an intense battle to find the right move start almost immediately after the flag dropped.
After 85 kilometers of the 185-kilometer course, and countless attacks, both big and small, off the front of the peloton, the race was still all together but as the pressure continued to mount, riders started to lose contact.
CCC Team was well-represented though with Antunes, de la Parte, Josef Černŷ, Łukasz Owsian, and Francisco Ventoso all in the main bunch, 1 minute 30 seconds behind a new 12-rider group with 70 kilometers and the day’s only categorized climb still to go.
At the top of the category two ascent, Le Svolte di Popoli, the ten remaining leaders were still just a little over two minutes up the road. However, while the gap was still relatively small, the remaining six leaders were able to maintain it approaching the 10-kilometer to go mark.
As predicted at the start of the day, the stage win went to a rider from the breakaway with Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) attacking on the 1.3-kilometer long kick up to the line to take the day’s honors.
Behind the fight for first place, the General Classification favorites were pushing hard but, Antunes and de la Parte were both able to stick with the further increase in pace in the final kilometers to finish in the Maglia Rosa group, 1 minute 7 seconds back.
With no changes to the General Classification at the end of the day, Antunes remains sixth overall 2 minutes 45 seconds behind Valerio Conti (UAE – Team Emirates).
Quotes From the Finish Line
“Today was a very hard stage and some of the guys were just too strong when we were trying to follow some of the early moves. I could feel my long day in the breakaway yesterday in my legs but I arrived in the main bunch with Víctor today so I am happy. I also think we can be happy as a team because we are in a good situation overall.”
“The guys were really able to help Víctor and me today and then in the final kilometers, it was just the two of us there. But at that point, the pace was maybe a little lower as some of the guys were starting to look to one another as we knew already that the breakaway was going to win.”
Víctor de la Parte:
“We thought it was going to be a really fast stage and one for the breakaway and that’s what we saw. As a team, we stayed up at the front of the peloton all day. It was not easy but I think the team did a great job to make it possible for me and Amaro to be in that position.”
“The guys did a really good job for us today. They fought to stay up at the front with us. I don’t think it was always easy for them but at the end of the day, I think we were one of the teams with the most riders up there.”
Stage 7: Vasto > L’Aquila (185km)
Top 3: 1. Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) 2. Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) 3. Davide Formolo (BORA – hansgrohe)
CCC Team Top 3: 37. Víctor de la Parte 40. Amaro Antunes 80. Francisco Ventoso