Victor Campenaerts sprints to Stage 15 victory in Giro d’Italia

Belgian rider outsprints Riesebeek to earn the first Grand Tour stage win of his career

Victor Campenaerts celebrates his stage 15 victory in the Giro d’Italia. Photograph: Luca Bettini/Getty/AFP

Victor Campenaerts celebrates his stage 15 victory in the Giro d’Italia. Photograph: Luca Bettini/Getty/AFP

 

World hour record holder Victor Campenaerts nabbed the first Grand Tour stage win of his career on Sunday, proving best at the end of stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia.

The Belgian rider outsprinted Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) after they took turns attacking each other on the run in to the finish in Gorizia. Riesebeek led out the sprint but Campenaerts had more oomph, easily passing him for the win.

The victory was Qhubeka-Assos’ third stage win in five days, extending a remarkable run of success for a team left under real pressure to find sponsorship prior to the season. “It was fantastic,” Campenaerts said.

“This morning at the breakfast we said ‘what else can we do to make this Giro even greater for the team?’ Two victories was amazing, three victories is just epic.”

He crossed the line raising his arm and fully extending his thumb and fingers, replicating the symbol on the South African team’s jersey. He then cited the team’s motto in the post-race interview, using the Zulu word emblazoned on the collar of the squad’s jerseys. “We raced ‘Ubuntu - I am because we are.’ We tried to give everything for each other, we did an amazing race.”

The stage started in Grado and criss-crossed the border into Slovenia on several occasions. A big crash very early on downed several riders, including Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe), who had started the day sixth overall. The German was forced to withdraw due to his injuries.

The race medical crews were tied up treating riders and that led the Giro organisers to stop the stage for a while. Soon after the restart, 15 riders broke away and steadily gained time over the peloton.

Campenaerts then attacked from this group with approximately 21 kilometres remaining and was joined by Riesebeek and Albert Torres (Movistar).

The latter cracked on a climb five kilometres later, with Campenaerts and Riesebeek trading attacks on the wet, slippery run in to the line.

Campenaerts launched a big surge on the final climb but his slight lead was negated with just over a kilometre to go; Riesebeek then sat on his wheel before launching the sprint, but Campenaerts had too much left in the tank and came past again to win.

“I think it was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” a disappointed Riesebeek said.

“Maybe I made a mistake. Of course he was also really strong. It is hard after 15 days to say something good about it, at the moment I am really disappointed.”

The race lead of Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) wasn’t threatened by the day’s break and the bunch allowed the gap to soar. The peloton finally came home 17 minutes 21 seconds back, with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) maintaining his one minute 33 second advantage over Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange).

Dan Martin moved up one place overall to 12th due to the withdrawal of Buchmann.

He is seven minutes 50 seconds behind Bernal heading into Monday’s most difficult stage of the Giro, a gruelling mountain leg to Cortina d’Ampezzo. It includes three climbs over 2,000 metres, as well as the threat of sleet and snow.

Giro d’Italia, Italy (WorldTour)

Stage 15, Grado to Gorizia: 1 Victor Campenaerts (Team Qhubeka Assos) at

3 hours 25 mins 25 secs, 2 O Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) same time, 3 N Arndt (Team DSM) at 7 secs, 4 S Consonni (Cofidis), 5 Q Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), 6 D Cataldo (Movistar Team) all same time

Irish: 64 D Martin (Israel Start Up Nation) at 17.21, 127 N Roche (Team

DSM) at 17.39

General classification after stage 15:

1 Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 62 hours 13 mins 33 secs, 2 S Yates (Team BikeExchange) at 1.33, 3 D Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) at 1.51, 4 A Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 1.57, 5 H Carthy (EF

Education-Nippo) at 2.11, 6 G Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) at 3.03

Irish: 12 D Martin (Israel Start Up Nation) at 7.50, 55 N Roche (Team

DSM) at 1 hour 16.57

Points classification: 1 Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135, 2 D Cimolai (Israel Start-up Nation) 113, 3 F Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 110

Mountains classification: 1 Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën Team) 96, 2 E Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) 57, 3 B Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 53

Young riders classification: 1 Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 62 hours 13 mins 33 secs, 2 A Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 1.57, 3 R Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 3.52

Combativity classification: Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) Sprints classification: Umberto Marengo (Bardiani CSF Faizanè) Breakaway classification: Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)

Fair Play classification: 1 Bahrain Victorious, 2 Team DSM, 3 Jumbo-Visma

Other: 5 Israel Start-up Nation

Teams classification: 1 Trek-Segafredo, 186 hours 43 mins 31 secs, 2 Ineos Grenadiers, at 10.12, 3 Movistar Team, at 14.53

Other: 5 Team DSM, at 19.33, 16 Israel Start-up Nation, at 2 hours 12.23

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