The leader’s jersey remains on the Swiss’s shoulders with one stage to go.
Mauro Schmid showcased again his remarkable consistency, racking up a third runner-up spot in four days of racing at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali after another strong ride on the hardest day of the week, which took in seven climbs for more than 2500 vertical meters.
A numerous group animated the day, opening up a gap of three minutes on the peloton where Soudal Quick-Step made sure of setting a steady tempo that didn’t allow the move to become dangerous. The likes of James Knox and Stan Van Tricht buried themselves for Schmid – who remained out of the wind until the penultimate hill – bringing back the escapees one by one.
An injection of pace followed by a series of sharp attacks with 15 kilometers to go led to a strong chasing group being formed behind lone leader Alexis Guerin (Bingoal). Mauro Schmid showed there is a reason why he is wearing the leader’s jersey, responding with ease and joining this move that came very close to bringing back Guerin, who in the end made it for a mere three seconds.
Second on the stage meant more valuable bonifications for our rider, who enters the final day ITT with a margin of 14 seconds over James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost). A strong time trialist – gold medalist in the discipline with the mixed team relay at last year’s Worlds – Schmid will look to put in another solid ride and seal what would be the second GC success of his career.
“The whole team did a great job the whole day. We had a tough climb in the beginning and an 18-ma breakaway, so we had to chase full gas as nobody helped. In the end I just had to make sure that I didn’t lose too much time. I think I had quite good legs, I wanted to try to win the stage but it was a bit risky as I had two EF guys with me. If I pulled too hard and I lost time it could have been difficult for the last stage, so I just focused instead on taking the bonus seconds. Saturday’s time trial is flat, quite technical, but nothing too crazy, so I can be confident about my chances”, Schmid explained after the stage.
Photo credit: ©Sirotti