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Giro d'Italia 2018 stage 7: Sam Bennett trumps Viviani to claim victory

Martin James
11 May 2018

Bora-Hansgrohe man overhauls Quick-Step Floors favourite in high-speed finish

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) outsprinted favourite Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) to win Stage 7 of the 2018 Giro d’Italia in Praia a Mare, coming off the Italian's shoulder in the run for the line at the end of a flat 159km stage from Pizzo in southern Italy.

Viviani was taken to the finish in textbook fashion by his Quick-Step teammates, but after hitting the front didn't have enough speed to hold Bennett at bay.

Overall Giro leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) finishing alongside all his GC rivals in the main peloton to maintain his 16-second advantage over Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), with Mitchelton-Scott teammate Esteban Chaves third, 26 seconds down.

How the stage unfolded

After back-to-back mini-breaks in Israel and Sicily, the rolling carnival that is the Giro d’Italia crossed the Strait of Messina for a 159km jaunt from Pizzo northwards to Praia a Mare.

And with a near-pan flat stage along the Mediterranean coastline in the offing, it must have felt like a bit of a holiday on two wheels for much of the peloton, particularly Mitchelton-Scott and new overall race leader Simon Yates.

Yesterday’s expedition up Mount Etna delivered a one-two finish for Yates and Chaves, putting the former in pink and the latter in the blue of mountains classification leader.

Today, though, the focus would be on the leader of the other major classification, Viviani of Quick-Step Floors in the purple jersey of points leader.

With a pair of stage wins to his name already in this Giro, it was less a case of wondering whether Viviani could make it three than wondering how anyone could stop him, particularly with the Quick-Step ‘Wolfpack’ ready to hunt down any potential rivals.

Before we’d have the answers, though, there was the customary matter of a group of sacrificial lambs heading down the road to claim some TV time for the sponsors for a couple of hours, only to get reeled back in by the peloton around the 10km to go mark.

Today it was Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin) and Markel Irizar Aramburu (Trek-Segafredo) who drew the short straw, and duly took up station three minutes in front of a peloton happy to go through the motions while taking in the sea views.

Belkov won a Giro stage for Katusha back in 2013, but even he probably wasn’t thinking he had much chance of a repeat performance today.

And so it proved. In the end the peloton were feeling in more of a hurry than usual and the catch was made well before the 10km flag. But the end result was the same - the peloton was back together.

The final 10km were a tense affair, with the sprint trains and GC trains fighting for position at the front of the peloton, and speeds at times approaching 80kmh.

But Quick-Step took it all in their stride, edging towards the front with 3km to go then pushing to the front to put their man in place to unleash another sprinting masterclass, only to have victory snatched from their grasp at the death.