A breakaway animates Stage 19 at the Giro d’Italia which was reduced by 134 kilometers after riders’ protests.
It was supposed to be a long, flat day for the sprinters. Instead, it turned into a condensed and speedy stage for the breakaway after riders’ protests under pouring rain delayed the start and forced the Giro race organization to cut the 258-kilometer race to 124.
When the race finally got underway, it was full gas from the gun. Eventually, a 14-rider breakaway forged clear with Jacopo Mosca represented. Initially, the peloton chased, keeping the escapees close, but when the few sprinters teams threw in the towel, the gap quickly swelled.
“It was a strange day since the beginning,” said Mosca, “and also after we have ridden this entire Giro to protect Vincenzo, it was strange to have the freedom to attack today and be in the breakaway. Today I was happy to have found this chance and happy I was able to exploit it with a good result.”
While Sunweb led the bunch at a leisurely pace, the breakaway, with 10 minutes in hand, knew they were fighting for the stage win, and the attacks began with 30 kilometers remaining. Under the pressure of accelerations, the group split into two. Mosca found himself with five others in front while the rest were caught out and left chasing behind.
With 22 kilometers to go, the next attack proved to be the winning one. Josef Cerny (CCC Team) jumped and was gone. He built a small lead over the four chasers – five when Iljo Keisse (Deceuninck-Quick Step) bridged across – but with less than full cooperation in the pursuit, Cerny’s lead grew to 45 seconds.
“It was a really fast stage – two and a half hours full gas,” explained Mosca. “It started fast until the breakaway was gone. The bunch let us go, but honestly, we didn’t have good cooperation in the front all day.
“Cerny went at a good moment, and I immediately thought the race was gone. He attacked very strongly, and without cooperation in our group, he immediately took enough of a gap.”
The gap reduced to 24 seconds with five kilometers to go, and it was looking like the chasing group had finally coordinated enough to gain the upper hand. But three kilometers later, Cerny still had 20 seconds. There was not enough real estate left to close to the CCC rider, and in the last 500 meters, Cerny had enough time to sit up and savor a hard-earned win.
Victor Campenaerts (NTT) jumped away with just over one kilometer to go, too late for anything but second place, and Jacopo Mosca out-sprinted the rest of the group for third.
“For me, I thought only to play my chances in the sprint,” added Mosca. “The other riders were too strong to think a different action, so I thought to save my big effort for the end. I had a good sprint, but in the end, it was only for third.
“When you get so close to a win, you always have a small disappointment, but I want to smile and see the glass half full. I am still quite happy. It was a good result, but even without it, I’m happy for what I did and the experience I gained in this Giro. It was precious. I learned a lot and hope the team is satisfied with what I’ve done.”