Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) threw everything he had at the Giro d’Italia‘s 18th stage on Thursday, infiltrating the day’s main breakaway and then surviving to be among the final three fighting for victory on the summit finish at the Prato Nevoso ski resort.
The 38-year-old Spaniard came up just short of adding a Giro d’Italia stage to his collection of Grand Tour stage wins, however, finishing second to winner Maximillian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) with a gritty performance that saw him twice come back to the leaders after losing the pace in the closing kilometres.
“I finished completely dead,” Plaza said after the line, still catching his breath from the effort.
Plaza previously won stages in the Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France, and he said before the race that he wanted to add a Giro win to his palmares, and he put in a mighty effort to keep the promise. Plaza had been fighting to stick with the slowly shrinking breakaway since the road began to climb after a long day of flat terrain, but he jumped from his rivals with 8.7km to go as the leaders’ advantage on the pink jersey group remained above 12 minutes.
Schachmann quickly put the clamps on Plaza’s first acceleration, bringing across a group of five that included Androni-Sidermac’s Mattia Cattaneo and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Christoff Pfingsten.
The Spanish rider’s second move only launched Schachmann and Cattaneo into a duo move, with the pair trading attacks but unable to drop one another. Plaza lingered just a few seconds back, but he wasn’t done yet.
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