Friday the thirteenth brought a lot of luck to Lotto Soudal as the Belgian cycling team obtained a third stage win in a row in the Giro d’Italia today. André Greipel was the fastest in the seventh stage. He won in a stunning way against Giacomo Nizzolo and Sacha Modolo. It’s the second victory for the Gorilla in this Grand Tour. Greipel is also the new leader in the points classification because of this win.
The speed was very high right from the beginning of the stage. Three riders managed to get away but after the first climb they were already caught by the first part of the peloton, which had been split in three groups. Tim Wellens obtained four points on the summit of that climb and therefore he’s the new leader in the KOM classification. The break of the day was eventually formed, six riders stayed in front for a long time. In the meantime, the three groups in the peloton rejoined and the race eased up. Stefan Küng, the only escapee left, was caught at seven kilometres from the finish as the peloton prepared itself for a mass sprint. The whole team positioned Greipel very well at the front of the peloton and the German won the sprint in a very nice way. It’s the third consecutive victory for Lotto Soudal in this Giro, an incredible performance of the entire team.
André Greipel: “After several kilometres, I thought that we would ride with a Grupetto to the finish. The peloton split in three on the first climb and it seemed that the first group had gone clear. But the race eased up as the six escapees got away from that first peloton so the groups came back together. After that, Jelle Vanendert and Pim Ligthart did a great job to control the gap together with the riders of FDJ. There were a few very good riders present in the front group, including Küng. Then, it would depend on how we would survive the final climb. The pace was very high during the final kilometres before the summit, but we had to make sure that the gap wasn’t too big after that climb as the final 40 kilometres of the stage went slightly downhill. Tim Wellens made a great effort by closing the gap to the escapees. After that, Adam, Lars, Sean and Jürgen positioned me really well. It was a tricky finale which contained some dangerous roads; therefore it was extremely important to be at the front of the peloton. I really gave my all in the sprint and that resulted in another victory for the team.”
“It’s the third stage win for the team and the second victory for me in this Giro. In my opinion, that’s a rather unique result. It’s true that not everything went according to plan during the first stages in the Netherlands, but we’ve showed that things can change quickly. It’s just fantastic to watch a team that does everything for each other, although most of the riders don’t race together that much. We must be very proud on the performances of the past few days. We also obtained the red points jersey and the blue KOM jersey, which is a nice surplus. Now we will try to maintain this level of racing, but first we are going to enjoy the victories. After that, we’ll see how the race evolves.”
Tim Wellens: “Yesterday, I said that the mountains jersey wasn’t a goal beforehand and that’s still the case. But on the first climb of the day, I saw the riders of Nippo-Vini Fantini pulling at the front of the peloton to position Damiano Cunego as he was the leader in that classification. I was only one point behind so I sprinted for the remaining points on that climb, as I knew that I could get that blue jersey. That wasn’t planned, but I only had to do one effort and then I would be able to wear that jersey for at least one day, so I thought that it was a good idea. I’d rather win a second stage then winning the KOM classification though. We’ll see what will happen during the next few days.”
Bart Leysen: “I never won three consecutive stages as a sports director, certainly not in a Grand Tour. I already said before the start of this Giro that it’s probably the strongest Giro-selection I have ever travelled with. The first days didn’t go according to plan, we couldn’t be satisfied with the results before our departure to Italy. Nevertheless, we didn’t doubt about the abilities of our riders. Besides, only three stages were covered and there were still eighteen stages to go. The past few days, every rider gave his all and then you see how things can change in the professional sport. We won three stages now, which gives an enormous boost to our confidence. I hope that our riders use this positive ‘flow’, we want to show ourselves during the following stages although that isn’t necessary anymore as we already won three stages. Another advantage is that all our riders will have an opportunity to do something in the next few stages, without exception. That’s something you can’t do in every Grand Tour.”