Campenaerts prevails in Gorizia in a new stage of transition for the peloton, which loses Buchmann, sixth overall

Campenaerts celebrates victory on stage 15.REUTERS

Egan Bernal he feels strong and pletrician, each day more robust, each day closer to reaching Milan in pink, and the review of what remains of Giro further fuels his optimism. There are still four of the five high mountain stages scheduled for this edition and on this Monday, you will enter your terrain, a dolomatic ‘tappone’ with three peaks above 2,000 meters of altitude, almost the patio of your house. Marmolada, Pordoi and Giau for your use and enjoyment, unless someone dares to say otherwise. So far, no one has.

Bernal is the undisputed patron of this Giro, a generous patron whose ambition is simply the ‘pink jersey’ and he focuses on it. Winning stages is secondary, among other things because he has already won one and his partner Filippo Ganna other. And for this reason, the Ineos lets it be done day after day. Let whoever they want to escape as long as it is not dangerous for the general and fight for the stage victory if their forces are sufficient. Bernal is calculating, a Colombian with a mentality chiseled in the UK, and he shows it daily. The same in a stage in which it can make differences as in those that are mere transition to the outcome of the race.

This Sunday was one of the second and the squad faces it as such, with Puccio and Ganna alternating from start to finish in the head to set a calm and affordable pace for all and to arrive no less than 17 minutes after the first classified. Those who dream of winning a stage smell that so and seek their war almost from the initial flag. And that is the only moment in which accelerations and risks appear for the large group. Normally, they are harmless. This Sunday, on the way to Gorizia, it was not going to be like that.

Five minutes after the start was given, a massive fall affects a good part of the squad. About twenty runners go to the ground and, as often happens, there is a man from the general classification among them. Emanuel Buchmann, who was sixth, falls and does not get up. As it also happens to Jos Van Emden already Natnael Berhane (later he would also abandon Rben Warrior). The chaos is total and the Giro has no choice but to stop the race for half an hour. Medical care for the fallen leaves the organization without sufficient ambulances. And without ambulances you can’t run.

Standing half an hour

When the race resumes, so does the fight for the breakaway. It is made up of 15 runners who immediately know that victory is among them. Before them, a circuit between Slovenia and Italy with three passes through Gornje Cerovo, a two-kilometer wall and ramps that reach 15% unevenness. The most skilled uphill, like Mollema, Cataldo Y Hermans, they know they have to wait for those slopes to play their options. Others know that they are dead there. And that is why Campenaerts breaks the deck in the absence of 20 kilometers and is accompanied by two other rollers, Riesebeek Y Albert Torres, the ‘pistard’ of Movistar.

The Belgian, ‘record holder’ of the hour, knows that he is facing his great opportunity. He has been one of the best time trialists in the peloton for years, but his cachet in the specialty has plummeted in recent times and the online stages continue to resist him, barely one in his entire career. It seemed like a now or never, despite the fact that the rain made an appearance with great force then, turning the road into a slippery track in which accidents were more likely than possible.

The best news is that there was none, neither in the escape nor in the peloton, who with the first drops blatantly took his foot off the gas to minimize risks. But Campenaerts kept pressing, because the stakes were enormous. In the last passage through Gornje Cerovo, Torres yields without remedy. In the final tack of Nova Gorica, in Slovenian territory, Riesebeek He does it too, but manages to re-engage in the absence of a kilometer. Too much effort against such a shooter, who surpasses him in the final sprint to give Qhubeka its third victory of this Giro after those of Schmid Y Nizzolo, who by the way decided to go home. Now it is the climbers’ turn, so that Bernal finds out if someone can discuss hegemony with him.

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