Soudal Quick-Step again in the spotlight at the Italian race.
Mauro Schmid took over the leader’s jersey in Italy from teammate Rémi Cavagna, after another podium finish, this time on the aptly named “Muur di Belvedere” – the 800m climb averaging 11% which awaited the peloton in Longione, at the end of the 172.5km stage 2.
The race was shaped by the penultimate ascent, where a strong group containing the 23-year-old Mauro Schmid set off in pursuit of the breakaway. Featuring many GC riders, that move easily reeled in the escapees and continued to push a strong pace that soon turned into an insurmountable lead for the chasers, who had to say goodbye to their hopes for the stage.
Two kilometers from the finish, things started heating up, attacks coming left and right, and one rider managed to snap the elastic. At the one kilometer to go mark, he had a gap of 18 seconds, but Mauro Schmid rode admirably behind, throwing any caution to the wind to bring back the lone leader and remain in contention for the victory. The Swiss made the catch with 200 meters to go, and despite the gargantuesque effort, he could still finish on the podium, just behind Sean Quinn (EF Education-EasyPost), a result that elevated Mauro to the top of the standings.
“When the attacks came, I just followed and stayed in the wheels, as Rémi was still in the bunch. I began pulling once I heard he got dropped and had my eyes on the stage win, but then Brambilla attacked and the group stopped working. Nevertheless, I pulled hard to close the gap, but then I maybe waited a bit more to start my sprint. On the other hand, I took the leader’s jersey, and even though the margin is small, I will try my best to keep it, especially as the final stage time trial suits me”, said Mauro – the fourth different Soudal Quick-Step rider to lead a stage race this year.
Photo credit: ©Sirotti