Giroud 2022: Santiago Buitrago beats Gijs Limerese in the mountain stage, led by Matteo van der Poel
Santiago Buitrago (victor of Bahrain) won the seventeenth stage of the Giro d’Italia since the early split. He defeated the Colombian Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) on a 168-kilometre mountain stage and reached Lavarone. The decisive attack put Buitrago before the summit of the final climb to Monteroferre. For a moment it looked like Mathieu van der Poel was going to win the stage, but he collapsed on that final climb.
The start of the stage was very challenging, because the riders started right from the start – in the pouring rain – on the nearly nine kilometer Paso del Tonale. This is where the 25-a-day leadership group was formed into several segments. Remarkably, there were no mountain points on the Tonale, but that does not mean that Koen Bouwman, Giulio Ciccone and Diego Rosa (top 3 in the mountain rating) jumped on the trip.
Five Dutchmen and a Belgian in a big leadership group
Also in attendance were Matthew van der Poel, Thaymine Arinesmann, Sam Omen, Gijs Limries, and Morey Vansvenant, as well as climbers such as Jan Hurt, Guillaume Martin, Felix Gall, Hugh Carthy, Santiago Buitrago and Attila Walter. They were given the group space, with Ineos Grenadiers maintaining a three- to four-minute lead down the descent and valley toward Giuvoo’s Category Three climb.
On Gifu, the runners’ lead grew about five minutes. At the top it was Bowman who got off the wheel and captured the farthest nine mountain points. On landing they took off hard and the leading group split into two. Van der Poel, Martin, Carthy, Bowman, Omen, Limeries, Vancevenante, Ciccone, Lorenzo Fortunato, Alessandro Covey and Antonio Pederero all moved away, but the chase group with Arensmann and Hurt managed to return.
Van der Poel makes the choice
Meanwhile, the score advanced to seven minutes, putting Hurt (in 7.42 minutes off the pink jersey) almost close to captain Richard Carapaz. According to van der Poel, cooperation at the front was not good enough. Gal, Martin, and Covey reacted, after which the four walked away from the rest. This meant that Jumbo-Visma had to catch up to keep Bowman in the race for his mountain jersey.
The four leaders started the final with a difference of 1.20 minutes, which started with Paso del Vitriolo (12 km with 7.6%). Carthy, Bouwman, Buitrago, Hirt and Vansevenant sped up from the background and that was too fast for Ciccone. The Italian wanted to follow him, but he overstepped his bounds and had to release him early in the ascent. Leemreize managed to join that group, although the difference with the Van der Poel group remained half a minute.
The mountain points of Bowman, Lomrez and Van der Poel are receding rapidly
Clearly, Carthy, Hurt, Bowman and Buitrago were the best climbers. Two kilometers from the summit, they established a connection with the wonderful Martin, Gall and van der Poel, who helped set the pace for this column in the Alps. Moments later, Limerezi also fought back. Bowman then obtained a large area from his fellow refugees to seize the 40 mountain points and thus expand his advance even further.
In the peloton, it was Bahrain victorious who took the lead on behalf of Mikkel Landa. The favorite group largely crossed over to Paso del Vitriolo five minutes after Bowman. In the landing, Van der Poel and Leemreize managed to create a 30-second gap with the rest. They took a lot of risk and almost paid for it by diving over the security barrier, but both Dutchmen corrected themselves in time.
Struggle to win the stage: Leemreize and Buitrago relive Van der Poel
With a difference of 1.30 minutes, Van der Poel and Limeries started the last climb to Monterofery (7.9 km with an average of 9.9%), because the chase did not start at all. Van der Poel was unleashed on his compatriot’s release early on, while Carthy, Hirt, and Buitrago narrowly approached. The job was done for Baumann, and he drove quietly to the end.
But in the meantime, Van der Poel was on the road alone, although Limerese kept the difference small. Three kilometers before the summit, the young climber Jumbo-Visma joined the MVDP and immediately accelerated. Van der Poel’s resistance seemed broken, because Leemreize immediately made a hole. Meanwhile, Buitrago was hunting down the Dutch alone. He met Van der Poel two kilometers before the summit. Then Leemreize was 40 seconds ahead.
On the last kilometer of the climb, Leemreize felt Buitrago’s hot breath on his neck. The Colombian made a smooth step and closed 500 meters before the summit. Buitrago tried to escape, but Leemreize resisted. The Dutchman had to leave the second gear. This means that Buitrago started the descent towards Lavarone with a slight lead, despite having a bullish piece in the absolute final stage.
The difference between Buitrago and Limerezi in the final was about twelve seconds. The Jumbo-Visma rider didn’t give up, but he couldn’t keep up with his Colombian rival’s pace. Buitrago ran to 25secs on the hard part towards Lavarone and thus was allowed to prepare for a stage win. Leemreize crossed the finish line after 35 seconds. Van der Poel was captured in the final stage by Hirt, Carthy and the Knights of the Rankings; Finally stranded in twelfth place in the daily score.
Favorite battle: Carapaz vs. Landa vs. Hindley
In the group favourites, Almeida struggled at Monteroveri after accelerating from Bahrain Victorious. Of all the rating riders, Carabaz, Landa and Hindley once again proved themselves the best. Richie Porte and Wout Poels were the only helpers they could follow. Landa’s double attack dealt more damage, although Carapaz and Hindley were able to follow up well.
Just before the summit there seemed to be some cracks at Carabaz and Hindley, but they still made it past the top in the Landa and Boyles wheel. The finalists did not give space to each other. Rivals Joao Almeida, Vincenzo Nibali and Domenico Pozovivo were long gone at that point.
In the end, the candidates crossed the finish line in less than three minutes from Buitrago. Carapaz made a long sprint to fifth, but Hindley did well at the wheel in the pink jersey. Landa could not participate in this sprint and lost about five seconds to his direct competitors. Almeida lost nearly 1.10 minutes to Carapaz, and Nabali conceded more than two minutes.
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