Gianluca Brambilla gives an exciting performance in the breakaway as Bauke Mollema holds strong amongst the GC contenders.
Everyone was saying the Giro d’Italia begins today.
And it didn’t disappoint. It was a thrilling race that saw the breakaway fight for stage glory, and the GC contenders begin the first of many uphill battles.
Gianluca Brambilla represented the team in the large 25-rider escape that gained over 15 minutes and in the end, he played the finale to his strengths, using both the category-one climb and the short, steep cobbled climb in the last kilometers to vie for victory. However, in the closing two kilometers, faster finishers caught back and he settled for 4th place.
Meanwhile almost 12 minutes behind the breakaway leaders, the GC contenders began to flex their climbing legs on the first significant uphill of this year’s race. Bauke Mollema fought a stiff battle with his rivals on the category-one uphill, and with help from Giulio Ciccone, he was able to arrive to the finish with the favorites’ group.
Mollema moved into 6th place overall.
I tried to make a difference on the [category-one] climb; I tried to go fast but still save some energy to drop some guys. We were 4 and then back to 8 for the last kilometers.
I knew I had to play my cards on the steep cobbled climb. I went full gas from the bottom to the top, and I was together with Eros (Capecchi), and we didn't play smart, but we were playing for a Giro stage victory. At the end, I started the sprint too early, but I had to as Eros was already gone, and then the others came from behind. I am a bit disappointed, but happy that the condition is good. Everyone is saying today starts the Giro, and if the start is this one, I am happy like that.
When they started to attack I couldn't follow the accelerations. I asked Giulio to make a regular tempo and that was better for me. We lost 10-20 seconds in the last kilometer when they attacked again. Luckily Giulio was with me and he did a really good job. We chased in the downhill and last flat part and came back. I felt a little better on the last steep cobbled climb with 3kms to go. In the end, I didn't lose time, and it was a pretty good day.
It is good that the jersey stays in the team, but my goal was a stage victory and that is still my goal.