Giro d’Italia stage 7: Koen Bouwman wins from remnants of break to take first grand tour stage win

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Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) won stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia from the remnants of the breakaway, distancing Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) in the closing, uphill final meters.

Bouwman was distanced on the final climb as several big attacks came off the front, but he worked his way back to the front before the group reached the summit.

On the run into the finish, his teammate Tom Dumoulin, who had also made it into the breakaway, then led Bouwman into the base of a 350-meter-long “wall” that averaged 8 percent and maxed out at 13 percent.

“I can’t believe it! The stage was super hard. At one point, I felt less well but I regained my [composure]. Then, in the sprint, I felt strong and everything went as I wanted. It was a perfect sprint,” commented the 28-year-old Dutchman.

Behind, the main group shaved enough of the margin to the breakaway to ensure no changes to the GC, with Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) continuing as the overall race leader.

How it happened

The 196km route featured four categorized climbs and a total elevation gain in excess of 4,500m.

After 70km of hard racing, the break of Dumoulin, Bouwman, Mollema, Formolo, Davide Villella (Cofidis), Diego Andréas Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost), and Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) was able to get away, and with 100km to go, the group had nearly five-and-a-half minutes.

Protecting the race leader López, Trek-Segafredo led the peloton with Ineos Grendiers keeping tabs on Richard Carapaz’s progress.

Villella had a minor tumble off the side of the road at 70km to go and had to get a bike change a few meters later, after remounting, but he was unable to reconnect with the six remaining at the front.

Poels was distanced from the break on the third climb of the day and tried to claw his way back from between 66km and 64km to go. However, he was unable to get back to the group.

Bouwman accelerated through the KOMs point along the stage taking maximum points in the climbing competition.

The pace on the front accelerated over the summit of the third climb and distanced Villella — who had tried to ride back onto the front group — once and for all.

With 40km remaining, the Dumoulin, Mollema, and Bouwman were doing all the pacemaking, and it was clear the sole UAE Team Emirates rider was not going to work.

More pressure from the front of the race finally broke Camargo at 30km remaining. Dumoulin sensed a moment of complacency and attacked, but Formolo and Mollema were quick to respond as Bouwman kept his powder dry and drifted a few meters off the back of the small bunch. Moments later, he surged forward to take the final KOM points on offer for the stage.

The four remaining breakaway riders had 15km of racing left and a 3:30 gap to the chasing maglia rosa group on the final climb, with 5km to the summit. A few attacks were thrown, but nothing stuck on the way to the top of the final categorized ascent on the stage.

Coming over the top of the climb, Formolo got a small gap, but this did not last long, and with fewer than 9km to go, the four pressed forward and were left to sort out the stage win.

Racing in his 20th grand tour, Mollema attacked again at 8.4km to go, with Dumoulin and Formolo responding, while Bouwman was distanced for a few hundred meters and had to grind his way to the top before regaining contact.

Mollema again threw another attack one kilometer later and again temporarily distanced Dumoulin. Formolo countered at 6.5km and again nothing stuck. With 5km remaining, the cat-and-mouse games were full-on.

Dumoulin led the quartet into the final 1,000m and into the final climb after a right turn into the home stretch.

The 2017 Giro champ opened the sprint. Bouwman launched from his teammate’s wheel and distanced Mollema and Formolo in the closing meters.

“Tom was a great help because there were two of us, I’m really happy how it all went,” said Bouwman. “As we came to the line I knew it was mine to win.”

What’s to come

Stage 8 is a 153km route that features a four-lap 19km finishing circuit near Naples, which looks designed for the puncheaurs.

Giro d’Italia Stage 7 Results

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