|Tour de France - Caruso climbs to fourth [19-07-18 09:02 by staff GoNBike.com]|
Caruso Climbs to Fourth on First Summit Finish of the Tour de France
18 July, 2018, La Rosière (FRA)
Damiano Caruso looked strong during the first summit showdown of this year's Tour de France and after going on the attack early into the 108.5km course, and riding at the front of the race all day, he eventually crossed the line fourth.
Caruso, who finished just outside the top 10 on an almost identical stage during this year's Critérium du Dauphiné, was one of the first to attack and his burst of acceleration drew out a five-rider group that the peloton looked to be letting go after 8km of racing.
However, with tensions high in the opening kilometers of the short but sharp stage, a large group of around 40 riders, including Stefan Küng and Tejay van Garderen, split off the front of the peloton in an attempt to bridge across on the first of two consecutive hors catégorie climbs, the Montée de Bisanne.
Van Garderen was one of the first riders from the large chasing group to jump clear and make contact with the leaders and, as they edged closer to the summit of the 12.4km climb, the breakaway swelled to over 20 riders while, the peloton with Van Avermaet, who started his eighth day in yellow expecting it to be his last, sat around five minutes back.
On the fast descent into the bottom of a two-pronged climb, made up of the 12.6km Col du Pré and the 5.7km category two Cormet de Roselend, three riders opened up a small gap but as the road began to rise, the front group came back together with Caruso, van Garderen and Küng three of the thirty riders leading the way.
The slopes of the Cormet de Roselend, which had an average gradient of 6.5%, began to take their toll and just 13 riders from the breakaway remained out in front with Caruso looking strong going over the top with 38.5km to go before starting to push the pace on another fast descent.
After a short section in the valley, Caruso and the four remaining leaders reached the base of the final category one ascent to the finish line in La Rosière with an advantage of 35 seconds over the first chasing group and two minutes over a select group of General Classification contenders.
It was on the 17.6km long climb, which had an average gradient of 5.8% and a middle section with pitches close to 9%, that the GC battle started to heat up while up ahead attacks began to split the front group.
Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-SCOTT) went solo inside the final 10km of the day and Caruso continued to work hard behind to keep the gap around the 30-second mark before being joined by Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) with 4km to go.
At the flamme rouge, the gap to Nieve had shrunk to just 20 seconds and this allowed Thomas, who started the day 2'22" back on the General Classification, to make his ultimately decisive move, bypassing Nieve in the closing meters to take the stage win.
Caruso, who showed today that he has come into the Alps in strong form, eventually crossed the line fourth, 20 seconds behind the stage winner and he now moves up into the top twenty overall.
After an impressive eight days defending and honoring the yellow jersey, Van Avermaet crossed the line around twenty minutes behind Thomas, who also inherited the race lead in La Rosière.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
"I was really motivated this morning and wanted to go in the breakaway. I was able to do that and then, we went 'à bloc' all day. On the last climb, I tried to do my best but the GC guys caught us almost at the top of the climb. For me, it is not a victory but for sure, it is a good sign and it shows that I am in good shape. So, if I feel good tomorrow I can maybe try to go in another breakaway or take an easy day and wait for another occasion."
"I finished 13th here at the Dauphiné and fourth today so maybe next time I will win this stage. I knew the stage really well and I knew what to expect this morning so, it was a little advantage for me. It was a different race today and with a higher level than in June so, I am happy and I think the team is happy too."
Greg Van Avermaet:
"It will be strange to go back to my normal jersey. I like this jersey and I like my bike but tomorrow it is back to normal. These were great days at the Tour de France, I'm happy with how I raced with the yellow jersey and for me, it was one of the nicest moments of my career that's for sure. It was super hard today. I felt like I didn't have great legs but you still have to do the parcours, and even just doing the parcours was pretty hard."
Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"It was nice for Damiano to try today. He is in good shape and he is motivated. It's a shame that from behind the race for the GC really started. But we expected this. You never know and it is better to try. It's important that he showed good condition. In the end, he was fighting for the win. We will try again. I'm sure that Damiano is motivated for another breakaway."
"Of course we said at the moment when the race became really hard that we would stay with Greg, and that's what Michi, Paddy, and Simon did. We made it without trouble and within the time limit."
Tour de France
Stage 11: Albertville > La Rosière, 108.5km
Top 3: 1. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) 3. Chris Froome (Team Sky)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 4. Damiano Caruso 49. Stefan Küng 53. Tejay van Garderen
::BMC Racing Team - Press Release::
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