Pello Bilbao third on the opening of the Giro d’Italia
It was a strong start for Team Bahrain Victorious on the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia as Pello Bilbao showed they had taken an impressive third place.
The Grande Partenza of the 105th edition in Hungary saw the riders cover a 195km course from Budapest to a tricky final climb to Visegrád. The 5.6km climb had an average gradient of 4.2%, meaning only a handful of sprinters would be battling for the Maglia Rosa. The peloton had an easy day in the saddle until this final, controlling the two-man breakaway that was brought back with 14km to go.
On the final climb, attempts by Naesen (AG2R-Citroën) and Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) to anticipate a selected sprint were futile, and as expected, few riders battled for the first stage victory of this Giro. Among them was our climber Pello Bilbao, who has proven himself on fast finishes. The favorites of the day, Girmay (Intermarchè-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), accelerated in the last hundred meters alongside Ewan, who fell just in front of our Basque rider. Bilbao finished its sprint in 3rd position, behind the winner and first Maglia Rosa Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Girmay (Intermarchè-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), who crossed the line in 2nd position.
Pello Bilbao: “It was not easy to fully understand how I felt today because the stage was going relatively easily. Therefore, I didn’t know how I could be on the final climb. I knew today could be a good day for me, and in the last 30 kilometers I rode focused on my goal. Phil gave me great support, positioning me before the right corner. In the end, I lost position with a fall 2 km from the finish, but luckily I recovered and was ready for the final attack. Taking 3rd place in the sprint is a good way to start the Giro”.
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