Giro d’Italia: Nicolas Roche comes close as Bettiol triumphs

Irish rider came home in third in Stradella a day after Dan Martin claimed stage win

One day after his cousin Dan Martin won his first stage at the Giro d'Italia, Nicolas Roche went agonisingly close to achieving the same feat on stage 18. The Team DSM rider was one of the strongest out of the day's 23-man breakaway, prominent when the group fragmented under attacks on the lumpy run-in to the finish and attacking several times. However Roche was ultimately forced to settle for a distinguished third place in Stradella, 17 seconds behind the solo winner Alberto Bettiol (EF Education - Nippo).

Bettiol has been a strong ally for team leader Hugh Carthy in the Giro and is a former winner of the prestigious Tour of Flanders. He displayed the same qualities that saw him take that Classic on Thursday, riding powerfully on a non-dissimilar race profile in the finale. He was clear with Roche in a small splinter group with 30 kilometres to go, missed a subsequent attack by Frenchman Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) when their group was reeled in four kilometres later, then set off in pursuit with 15 kilometres remaining.

Roche almost got across to him then and finally made the junction with just under 11 kilometres to go. They were less than 20 seconds behind Cavagna at that point, but Bettiol proved too strong for Roche and rode away from him with eight kilometres left. He bridged to Cavagna soon afterwards and immediately attacked him; Roche too passed the tiring Frenchman and set about trying to close down Bettiol on the downhill and flat roads to the finish, but it was a very difficult task.

Bettiol was 18 seconds clear with five kilometres to go and while a hard-chasing Roche held him at that gap for some time, he couldn’t haul him back. He was in turn pursued by several others and dug deep to try to hold them off before the finish.


Italian rider Simone Consonni (Cofidis) managed to get by him just before the line for second. Roche hit the line just ahead of teammate Nikias Arndt for third.

“I was really scared of Cavagna because he is such a strong guy and a really good time trialist,” said Bettiol. “But on the last climb, when I saw him in front of me, I tried to go deep and I caught him. I immediately attacked to try to hit him mentally, because the last opportunity was to try something on the climb. I am really, really happy.”

Roche has two Grand Tour stage wins to his credit, both in the Vuelta a España, and wanted to add a third victory in a three week race. His previous best at the Giro was fourth on the Monte Zoncolan stage in 2014.

“I think the race went pretty well,” said Roche. “It was important for us to have numbers in the breakaway and we managed to get three guys in there, which was pretty good. In the finish I bridged across to Bettiol which took a while. Then he was really strong and rode away on the last climb. I managed to take third place at the finish, with Nikias behind in fourth which is a good result for us after a hard day out.”

The break was of no threat to the overall contenders, who finished over 23 minutes back in the main peloton. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) maintains his two minute 21 second advantage over closest rival Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) heading into two tough mountain stages. Wednesday’s stage winner Dan Martin moves up one place to 10th overall after the injury-provoked withdrawal of Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) before the stage.

Giro d’Italia, Italy (WorldTour) Stage 18, Rovereto to Stradella

1, Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo) 231 kilometres in 5 hours 14 mins 43 secs, 2 S Consonni (Cofidis) at 0.17, 3 N Roche (Team DSM), 4 N Arndt (Team DSM), 5 D Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), 6 S Battistella (Astana-Premier Tech) all same time

Other Irish: 78 D Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) at 23.30 (bunch time)

Teams: 1 Team DSM, 15 hours 47 mins 19 secs, 2 Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 2.31, 3 Astana-Premier Tech, at 27 mins 46 secs

Other: 13 Israel Start-up Nation, at 47.06

General classification after stage 18

1 Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 77 hours 10 mins 18 secs, 2 D Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) at 2.21, 3 S Yates (Team BikeExchange) at 3.23, 4 A Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 6.03, 5 H Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) at 6.09, 6 R Bardet (Team DSM) at 6.31

Irish: 10 D Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) at 13.37, 46 N Roche (Team DSM) at 1 hour 44.21

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

Mountains classification: 1 Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën Team) 180, 2 E Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 109, 3 D Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) 79

Young riders classification: 1 Egan Bernal Gomez (Ineos Grenadiers) 77 hours 10 mins 18 secs, 2 A. Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 6.03, 3 D. Martinez Poveda (Ineos Grenadiers) at 7.17

Combativity classification: Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) Sprints classification: Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix)

Breakaway classification: Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)

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

Other: 4 Israel Start-up Nation

Teams classification: 1 Team DSM, 231 hours 54 mins 18 secs, 2 Ineos Grenadiers at 5.09, 3 Trek-Segafredo, at 13.20

Other: 16 Israel Start-up Nation, at 3 hours 25.57