Last year’s winner sprints onto the podium after the lead group with Mollema and Brambilla was led off course.
Toms Skujins was not expected to be in a position of sprinting for the podium, but when a lead group of 17 riders that contained some big-hitters, including Gianluca Brambilla and Bauke Mollema, was led off-course on the last lap, the bunch was back in business. Including last year’s winner Skujins.
“I don’t think there’s a plan B in a situation like this,” explained Skujins about the misfortune that happened. “I did a huge pull coming into the Montello climb with one [lap] to go because we missed the [lead] group that was really strong. That really made me suffer a lot, but luckily, we saved ourselves because Brambi and Bauke managed to get across.”
Today was a day of a few lives for me, thankfully I didn’t have to use nine, I managed to get back with three!
When a dangerous 14-rider move went clear with many favorites and no Trek-Segafredo rider, it was Skujins who made a big effort and decreased the gap from 30 seconds to five and allowed first Brambilla to jump across, and soon after Mollema. With Sanchez already up the road, the two Trek-Segafredo riders were now in a good position in the chasing group of 17 riders that were not far behind. That is until misfortune happened with just over 12 kilometers to go, and they instead found themselves behind the peloton and out of the picture.
“Unfortunately, their group took a wrong turn, and I ended up being in the [first] group on the road behind Sanchez. There was nothing I could do but just try and hang on. I got gapped on the last steep climb again but made it back. Today was a day of a few lives for me, thankfully I didn’t have to use nine, I managed to get back with three!” exclaimed Skujins.
When the peloton got word its pace immediately increased. With the error, Sanchez was gifted a more prominent lead of 40 seconds, but with some stiff climbs to go, he was eventually caught on the last uphill by a group of 20 that also included Skujins.
On the final uphill kick before the road dropped to the finish line, Primoz Roglic countered just as everything had come together, and easily held on for the victory. Behind, the group sprinted for the minor podium steps with Skujins able to unleash a brilliant sprint for third.
“I made it to the final and played it pretty smart,” added Skujins. “I knew that you had to keep something in the bag for the last sprint. Unfortunately, Roglic was already with a gap, but he was just stronger, and there’s nothing I could do for that. So, I played the [sprint] game and came with momentum from the back, and one guy got past me, and one came really close, but at the end of the day, I am really happy with the third.”
For Trek-Segafredo, who teetered on the brink of coming up empty-handed with the misfortune, it was a result worth embracing.