Despite the road rising for the first 30 kilometers, of the 222-kilometer stage, the race got off to a fast start with the peloton covering almost 50 kilometers in the first hour of as the fight to make the day’s breakaway played out.
Eventually a group of three riders went clear and, with the road descending almost all the way to the finish line, the main bunch was happy to allow them to extend an advantage of over six minutes at one point.
After going over the day’s only categorized climb, a fact that came a relief for much of the peloton, the chase began to pick up with CCC Team was sticking together up near the front in order to stay out of trouble whilst also trying to conserve energy ahead of the next two big days of climbing to come before the final time trial.
In the final 10 kilometers, it looked like the catch was inevitable but a late attack from Cima saw him narrowly hold off the rest of the field, where Černý, as well as Ventoso, were testing their legs and trying their luck in the sprint for the line.
The Czech national champion, who is racing his first Grand Tour, showed that he still has some power in his legs going into the final days of the three-week race, battling to 15th on the line while his Spanish teammate crossed the line 20th.
Łukasz Owsian was involved in a crash inside the final 70 kilometers of today’s race but fortunately he escaped without any serious injury, suffering from only some abrasions and contusions.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“At the beginning of the day, we tried to make it into the breakaway. There was a lot of chances but in the end, three riders went away on the downhill and from there, some of the sprinters’ team started to control the race while, we sat in a comfortable position to save energy for the days to come.”
“At the end of the stage, me and Fran wanted to try get into a good position for the final sprint but at this late stage in the race, we just didn’t have the legs and we couldn’t help each other as much as we would have liked to. However, I think both of us finishing in the top twenty is not bad for today especially because you can definitely feel all of the kilometers that we have done already in the legs.”
Stage 18: Valdaora/Olang > Santa Maria di Sala (222km)
Top 3: 1. Damiano Cima (Nippo – Vini Fantini – Faizane’) 2. Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe) 3. Simone Consonni (UAE-Team Emirates)
CCC Team Top 3: 15. Josef Černý 20. Francisco Ventoso 45. Víctor de la Parte