Italian Alberto Bettiol wins stage 18 of Giro d'Italia from the Breakaway

Alberto Bettiol of EF Education won the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia, the longest of the race at 231 kilometres, on Thursday in Stradella. No change in the GC as the race heads back into the moutains before the final Milan Time Trial

Italian Alberto Bettiol wins stage 18 of Giro d'Italia from the Breakaway

Bettiol hunted down Frenchman Remi Cavagna of Deceuninck who had escaped from a big breakaway group with 26 kilometres to go and finished 15 seconds ahead of fellow Italian Simone Consonni.

The main peloton, including the overall leader, Colombian Egan Bernal of Ineos, finished 23 minutes and 30 seconds after Bettiol.

The breakaway of 23 riders took shape in the first hour of the race on a large flat stage from Rovareta to Stradella which gave the main contenders a chance to recover before the Giro heads back into the mountains.

Cavagna, a time trial specialist, burst clear with 26 kilometres to go.

But Bettiol chased the Frenchman down through the vineyards of Oltrepo, and Cavagna cracked on final short climb.

Bettiol rode the last seven kilometres alone for the third victory of his career and his first in Italy. It was also his team's first in this year's Giro.

The Tuscan also gave the host nation its fifth victory since the start in Turin.

"I really wanted this one," Alberto Bettiol said, "I’d missed out a couple of chances and so I needed this. It’s really difficult to get into the break in the third week but I know I can do well when my legs are better than my luck."

Egan Bernal said after the steady ride to Stradella and the finale of the Giro, "It was a long day but we tried to recover as much as possible, I think we did. The finale of Giro will be very difficult. We’ve got a block of three days that will decide the Giro. We’ll try to do our best, we’ve got two hard mountain stages  and then the time trial."

"We’ve got a gap but we saw a bad day can cost you everything. We’ve got to ride with our heads and not lose everything we’ve gained so far. If I could have attacked in the past, I did. Now I don’t need to do attack. I can trust my teammates." 

On Friday, the 166km 19th stage from Abbiategrasso finishes with a tough climb up Alpe Merra but has been rerouted to avoid the climb of the Mount Mottarone, out of respect for the victims of the cable car accident there last Sunday.

Alberto Bettiol paid tribute to the victims of the Mottarone cable car crash as well as his former agent who passed away last year after winning his first Grand Tour stage.

VIDEO: 2021 Giro d'Italia Stage 18 Highlights

2021 Giro d'Italia Stage 18 Top 10

1 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo 5:14:43
2 Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis 0:0:17
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM
4 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM
5 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6 Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
7 Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
8 Natnael Tesfazion (Eri) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
9 Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:0:24
10 Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:12

2021 Giro d'Italia GC after Stage 18 Top 7

1 Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 71:32:05
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:02:21
3 Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange 0:03:23
4 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech 0:06:03
5 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo 0:06:09
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM 0:06:31
7 Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:07:17

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