Il Giro: Van Wilder digs deep on legendary summit
Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the climb forever linked with Eddy Merckx’s incredible exploits at the 1968 Giro d’Italia, hosted the penultimate showdown between the GC favourites, setting a pecking order ahead of Saturday’s individual time trial. Back after nine years, the ascent took the riders to more than 2000 meters, with the finish line at Rifugio Auronzo, after 7.2 kilometers averaging 7.6%.
It was the fifth classified climb of the day, and Ilan Van Wilder punched above his weight for the umpteenth time at this edition, staying with the best until three kilometers to go, when the big moves came on the gruelling double-digit gradients. The Belgian dug deep once the elastic snapped and every man was for himself, and just like on the previous mountain stages, he impressed with his pacing and determination. This cemented his position in the general classification and brought him just a couple of seconds from 12th place, where Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), the stage 19 winner, sits at the moment.
“Just like on the other days, I rode my own tempo once things began heating up in the kilometers to the finish, so I’m pretty satisfied with how things went. The last climb was just horrible, not very much to my liking, because it was too short and too steep, but I did my best. That’s another reason for me to be content at the end of the day. Now I will try to recover and give everything in the individual time trial, which is going to be very tough”, said Soudal Quick-Step’s 23-year-old, who is close to taking his best result in a Grand Tour.
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