Portal: We will keep fighting

13 May 2018

Portal: We will keep fighting

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Sport Director Nico Portal was upbeat about Chris Froome’s chances of winning the Giro d’Italia following a setback to the Team Sky leader’s challenge on stage nine.

Froome was forced to dig deep on a brutal finale to reduce his losses as race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) extended his overall advantage with victory on the Gran Sasso d’Italia summit finish.

Yates picked his moment to attack a group of favourites in the closing metres to seal his second stage win after Froome had lost ground on the leaders in the closing kilometres, crossing the line in an elite chase group which also contained Wout Poels. 

But despite the result pushing Froome out of the top 10 overall, Portal insisted that the team’s battling mentality, coupled with the large number of stages remaining in the first Grand Tour of the season, could change the tide.

He said: “It’s not what we hoped as [Froome] was looking good the last couple of days, but we need to stay optimistic. 

“There are two long weeks coming up, so hopefully we will have better days.. Nothing is done.

“They all deserve a good rest day and hopefully we can quickly forget this stage.

“In general, when you talk to the riders you can tell everyone wants to win. They won’t switch off, for sure this isn’t great news but they will keep fighting. Morale is strong and that’s what we like to see.”
Nico Portal

Nico Portal

When you talk to the riders you can tell everyone wants to win.
Unlike Saturday’s dogfight to establish the break, stage nine saw a large group escape the bunch and establish a large lead of over eight minutes early on. 

The 15-strong break contained GC threat Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) as well as Mickael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale), Davide Ballerini and Fausto Masnada (both Androni–Sidermec–Bottecchia), Manuele Boaro (Bahrain-Merida), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Simone Andreetta (Bardiani CSF), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tim Wellens (Lotto Fix-All), Natneal Berhane (Dimension Data), Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) and Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina).

It looked as thought the break would contest the stage between them until the Calascio climb where Astana picked the pace up - ably assisted by Vasil Kiryienka - to bring the gap to the breakaway down significantly, as the escapees were unable to maintain their healthy lead.   

Then as the final ascent up to Gran Sasso Italia really kicked in, just six riders from the break were able to stay clear - Carthy, Boaro and Visconti Brambilla, Cherel and Masnada - with the Italian Androni rider going solo with 15km to go. 

Masnada was able to  stay away from his fellow escapees, but the peloton snapped him up with an agonising three kilometres to go as Yates came out on top in a battle of general classification contenders.

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