Bilbao: No one deserved the Giro d’Italia stage victory more than Caruso
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) was a key team-mate for Damiano Caruso in his daring long-distance attack on stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia and expressed his pride in being able to contribute to the Italian’s remarkable solo triumph over the last mountain of the race. step.
Bilbao was present with Caruso from the moment the two launched a joint attack on the descent of the Passo San Bernardino to get closer to a three-way movement by Team DSM led by Romain Bardet, until taking the last corner for Caruso on the lower slopes of the ascent to Alpe Motta.
Caruso showed his appreciation for Bilbao’s hard work by putting a friendly hand on his shoulders as he soared with Bardet over the Alpe Motta, and the Basque all-rounder explained to Cycling that he was particularly delighted to be able to help a teammate like Caruso, normally a collaborator, but who now has a chance to shine on his own account.
Bilbao also explained that the two-man attack was partly due to DSM’s action earlier and partly due to their realization that the Ineos Grenadiers were not paying all the attention. He and Caruso seized the moment and it was the race.
“It was DSM who lit the fuse, we saw that the Ineos were all there with their waterproof jackets, well wrapped and a little distracted.”
“There were gaps appearing in the line, and when I saw them [Ineos] were losing the other guys’ wheels, I took Damiano up front and off we went. “
After meeting the previous forwards, Bilbao said there was a good collaboration up front, especially between Team DSM and Bahrain Victorious, and that the stage course was really good to gain ground, wet in the descents and with a lot of climbing.
“We were able to keep Ineos at bay and in the end we got a spectacular victory for Damiano. Apart from Bernal you could say that Caruso was the most consistent rider in the whole Giro, he took a big bet today … for sure, no one deserved the victory more than him. “
One of the top five in the overall Giro standings himself, Bilbao experienced what he called a very varied Giro. There were “days when I suffered a lot, days when I had to receive a lot of treatment from physiotherapists, but days like today when everyone is at the limit, it is them that I do the best.
“And being able to ride for a guy like Damiano, who always runs incredibly hard for his teammates and doesn’t have a huge track record, I really like that.”
For Bahrain Victorious, as well as Gino Mäder’s stage victory in week one, Caruso’s performance at the GC was even more special and important given the appalling crashes and retirements suffered by Mikel Landa and Matej Mohorič.
“We remember them a lot and we tried to maintain the team spirit throughout;” Bilbao concluded. “And winning that way on the last mountain stage, with an aggressive attack, couldn’t be a better end of the race for us.”