The sprinters control the finale on stage one of the Giro d’italia U23

Fri 8 Jun 2018

Stage one of the 2018 Giro d’Italia U23 concluded in the anticipated bunch sprint in downtown Forli despite the efforts of Australian Robert Stannard who attacked late on the final descent and tried to shake things up for Mitchelton-BikeExchange.

A slightly rolling 137kilometre stage ran north along the Adriatic coast from Riccione to Forli and after numerous early attacks, a five-man breakaway formed and held their advantage over the peloton until the closing category three climbs that came with 20kilometres to go.

With the gap to the leaders at less than a minute Stannard was part of a move out of the bunch along with for others that simultaneously brought the break back and kick started the race on the switchback descent that led to the finish in Forli.

Leading into the final five kilometres, Stannards group was caught before the line by a marauding peloton intent on a bunch sprint with Giovanni Lonardi (Zalf-Euromobil-Fior) taking the stage win and Stannard holding on for a top 20 finish.

Robert Stannard:

“I was feeling really good today and I’m happy to begin the race well. It’s fair to say that it was full gas from start and pretty hectic, but after yesterday’s prologue I came in with good legs and all the guys in the team did well yesterday and again today.”

“The late attack wasn’t premeditated, it was just a case of positioning. The bunch went hard over the last couple of climbs and was up near the front when the splits came. As we were on the descents you could look back around the switchbacks and see riders losing contact, so we went for it and bridged across to the original breakaway quite easily.

“We were only caught with two kilometres to go but I stayed up near the front and out of trouble along with Sam Jenner, we are all feeling really positive and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Sport director James Victor:

“It was quite a typical opening stage really, quite hectic and full of adrenalin through the start which was wet, and I was happy to see all the guys come through ok.”

“There were no real surprises and Rob did well to have a dig late on and the small group he was in came close to staying away, although tomorrows finish will suit a small group more than today and could favour Rob and Sam.

“I am pleased with the way the boys have started, they positioned themselves well throughout and Rob and Sam are both looking really good and showing positive signs of the work they put in leading up to the Giro.”

Giro d’Italia U23 stage 1 results:

1. Giovanni Lonardi (Zalf-Euromobil-Fior) 03:21:11

2. Gerben Thijssen (Lotto-Soudal-U23) ST

3. Jasper Philipsen (Hagens-Bermans-Axeon) ST

19. Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) ST