Trek-Segafredo's effort was there, but they leave the Italian Grand Tour empty-handed
It was the worst results for Trek-Segafredo in the Giro d’Italia since the team’s conception in 2014, but with sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo recovering from injury and team leader Gianluca Brambilla only finding his top form in the last week after pneumonia sidelined him in his preparation, it was a hard ask for the WorldTour team that saw a tight-fisted Giro give little opportunities for breakaways.
There was no doubt the motivation, effort, and team spirit were high as Trek-Segafredo joined many escape attempts during the three weeks, but it wasn’t until the penultimate day – the final mountain stage – that Brambilla could finally break into the top five.
“It was a really, really hard week and also a really, really hard Giro, every day à bloc,” explained Brambilla. “I said to the guys that for me this is my 12th Grand Tour and it was the toughest. Never a breakaway and all day full gas – from the tempo to also the long transfers.”
Director Steven de Jongh agreed: “Well it’s disappointing that we didn’t win a stage, that’s for sure, but we were also unlucky because we needed to ride for wins from breakaways and not many breakaways arrived this year. It was a particular edition: only two breaks arrived, and the rest ended up in bunch sprints or controlled and decided by GC riders, so that was hard for us.”
Even with the lack of opportunities, the team was resilient. One of only a few squads to finish with all eight riders, they took a beating every day, like most, but never relented. Without a pure sprinter and a GC leader and few occasions in between, the team focused where they could to vie for a result.
Right to the final stage Sunday.
After hauling his non-climber’s body through three successive grueling days in the mountains, Ryan Mullen, whose self-proclaimed hashtag was #84kg during the Giro, gave it one last go at the start of the final lap in Rome.
Update on the #84kg pre-Giro. I'm #81kg as of today. Still not a climber.
- Ryan Mullen
His attack drew out three others, including three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) and they made life a whole lot harder for the teams chasing behind.
They were eventually tagged back with just over three kilometers remaining, but it showed that Trek-Segafredo had not thrown in the towel – they were going out fighting to the end.
“As a team, we did very well,” continued de Jongh. “Also today, we had a plan to not wait for the sprint and try to do something to go away in the final, and I think they did a good effort on the parcours here. Ryan had an all-in go but was caught with 3.5 to go, and then it was another bunch sprint. But the guys worked really well together, and we can only say chapeau for that. And we finished with eight riders, and that is always something special.”
All eight Trek-Segafredo riders crossed the final finish line in Rome Sunday as the 101st Giro d’Italia came to a close. It was a battle for three weeks. From the youngest rider in the peloton Mads Pedersen bumping elbows in the fast finishes and bearing nasty road rash for a few days from a crash, to veteran rider Gianluca Brambilla finally finding a breakaway that made it to the end on the penultimate stage, through it all, Trek-Segafredo never lost its spirit.
“It was a tough Giro for us,” summed up General Manager Luca Guercilena. “We arrived here believing we could be good in the stages, but the general strategy was very tough – few breakaways went to the finish line.
“Gianluca yesterday tried to make what we should have done in other stages. Obviously, we were expecting something more, but now reflecting on these three weeks, we need to use what we gained here to be ready for the next part of the season where we must make results.”
We are finishing with all 8 riders, and that says something. We were strong mentally, and we never gave up. And for me, even though I was not super in the first week, I stayed focus to find a result in the final days. If we continue in this way, the results will come."
- Gianluca Brambilla