- Koen Bouwman wins first grand tour stage of his career
- Overall race leader Juan Pedro López retains maglia rosa
- Britain's Simon Yates best (fourth) of pre-race favourites
- Stage-by-stage details | Remaining riders | Latest results
- UCI WorldTour: Team-by-team guide to the season
Tom Dumoulin helped Koen Bouwman claim his first career grand tour victory from a breakaway as Jumbo-Visma's switch to target stage wins delivered quick results on stage seven of the Giro d'Italia.
After a brutal day in southern Italy, in which the peloton tackled a rolling stage featuring 4,500 metres of climbing at an often relentless pace, Bouwman had the power to ride clear of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) on the short, sharp climb to the line.
Three days after losing nine minutes on Mount Etna to show he is not in shape to contend for the overall title this year, 2017 Giro winner Dumoulin played a key role in his team-mate's victory before rolling over the line in fourth place.
They finished just under three minutes ahead of the chasing peloton with no major splits between the overall contenders, meaning that Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) retains the pink jersey for another day. Britain's Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) sits fourth, 1min 42sec down and the best placed of the overall favourites.
Though ranked as a medium-mountain stage, this day would have felt worse than many of the big climbs still to come given the unrelenting nature of the terrain on the 196km road from Diamente to Potenza.
A furious fight to form a breakaway meant there was no let up in pace for well over an hour as attacks flew, and no group being able to establish itself until seven riders finally got away with a little under 130km to go.
They built a lead of over five minutes which held until the two biggest tests, Monte Sirino and the Montagna Grande di Viggiano, were behind them and they began to attack each other with 30km to go.
Dumoulin and Bouwman worked it nicely to ensure they still had the numbers on the descent towards Potenza, and that advantage was crucial as the games began approaching the ramp to the finish, with Dumoulin setting a place Bouwman could force the others to chase by letting his team-mate's wheel go.
"It's unbelievable," said Bouwman, who was the only rider in the front group without a grand tour stage to his name, and only one previous professional win.
"I can't believe it. It was such a hard day. Tom did a superb job in the last two kilometres and I found myself feeling quite good. One time on the climb I had trouble but I could come back so I was confident for the sprint.
"It was steeper than I thought when I started my sprint but I felt I had so much power left. I looked behind me and saw I had a big gap, perfect."
This day was one for the sprinters simply to survive, but there was bad news for Mark Cavendish before it even began as Michael Morkov, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl's supreme lead-out man, did not start the stage after developing a fever overnight.
Bouwman wins stage seven at the Giro d'Italia!
Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) finishes the job off in style. What a performance that was today from the Jumbo-Visma duo who played the numbers game to absolute perfection. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) finishes second, while Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) is third. Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) takes fourth spot following what was a man-of-the-stage performance from the general classification leader-cum-domestique-deluxe.
A delighted Bouwman, said: “It's unbelievable. This is only my second pro victory. It feels the same as in the [Critérium du] Dauphiné five years ago. I've been in trouble on the climb but I came back. I got great help from Tom Dumoulin in the last 2km.
“I was confident that I would win the sprint but I didn't expect the finish to be that steep. After the disappointment we had at Mount Etna, we decided to chase stages and that's what we did today.”
Almost three minutes later the peloton rolls in. There are no time gaps in the bunch and so Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) will keep hold of the leader's pink jersey, the Spaniard will wear that for a fourth successive day on Saturday. Bouwman, as mentioned earlier, will wear the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, tomorrow after taking the lead in the mountains classification having scooped up maximum points atop three of the day's four classified climbs.
Assuming Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) finishes within the time limit, he will again wear the maglia ciclamino as points leader.
The Giro d'Italia continues on Saturday with the 153km eighth stage around Naples and concludes in Verona on May 29.
27km to go
Next to attack is Davide Formolo. The Italian gains a decent sized lead within seconds, Tom Dumoulin shakes his head as if to suggest he is cooked. Dumoulin, however, is a rider who reacts to explosive attacks in his own slow, but steady, style. He will not panic, but instead stick to riding at his own measured pace.
30km to go
Once again Tom Dumoulin presses a little harder down on those pedals, as if to test the rest. Almost immediately, Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost) pops out the rear of the group. Next to go is Davide Villella (Cofidis). Davide Formolo is glued to Dumoulin's wheel, refusing to roll through as the road continues rising. Dumoulin is riding with confidence here. You love to see it.
35km to go
Salvatore Puccio tows the Ineos Grenadiers train along, before Ben Swift takes over on the front. Tucked in behind is Jhonatan Narváez, then at fourth wheel former winner Richard Carapaz. As a result of the work being done by the team who has won three of the last four editions of the Giro, the breakaway's lead is slashed to 3min 39sec.
40km to go
Still some distance to the finishing line, but there is plenty of looking around in the leading group. One rider rises out of his saddle to put a bike length or two into the group, before he his countered. Seem to recall Bauke Mollema winning a stage like this at last year's Tour de France when he pounced on the descent while the others dithered around watching and waiting, but refusing to ride at full pelt.
42.5km to go
Bravo to Davide Villella who bridged over to the stage leaders on the descent. Further back, Ineos Grenadiers appear to be driving things on on the front of the peloton, as a result the breakaway's lead has dropped to 5min 15sec. If the stage were to end now, Juan Pedro López would keep hold of the pink jersey.
61km to go
Koen Bouwman is first over the top of the Montagna Grande di Viggiano, scooping up 18 points in the mountains classification.
As a result, the 28-year-old becomes the new virtual leader in the competition. Davide Formolo rose out of his saddle before launching an attack, but the Italian was no match for Bouwman.
62.5km to go
The asphalt looks fresh, but the gradient on the steeper part of the Montagna Grande di Viggiano looks rotten. The stage leaders have gained around 45sec, with Koen Bouwman regaining the virtual lead – by just 6sec. Tom Dumoulin is barely breathing, the Dutchman who a few days ago looked spent, is riding impressively.
63km to go
Diego Camargo fought his way back into what is now the leading five-man group alongside Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Their lead has grown slightly to 5min as they tackle the steepest section of this climb.
64.5km to go
The breakaway's lead has dropped by around a minute, while Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost) and Davide Villella are the latest to start struggling after, a few minutes ago, Wout Poels was dropped. Moments after falling off the back of the group, Villella stopped to talk with a mechanic who appeared to struggle adjusting his seat height.
70km to go
Koen Bouwman rolls through the intermediate sprint first to pick up 12 points, the Jumbo-Visma rider is looking supremely relaxed. Next up is the category two Montagna Grande di Viggiano which although short, is one of the toughest in today's stage with gradients that pitch up to 15% and has over 3km that does not dip below 11%.
72.5km to go
Woet Poels looks to be struggling. The strong Dutchman – one of four in the breakaway – drops off the back before recovering and getting back on. Moments later he drifts back while appearing to stare intently at his stem. He may have an issue with his bike, not really sure. Either way, he is currently riding fairly erratically.
73.5km to go
The seven-man breakaway inches its way up the short climb towards the first intermediate sprint of the day in Viggiano. There's barely a flat section of road in this stage, once beyond the intermediate they will be heading in the direction of the category two Montagna Grande di Viggiano. Their advantage is holding at around 5min 15sec.
Dumoulin gaining on general classification rivals . . .
Speaking ahead of this stage, Jumbo-Visma more or less said they were riding for Tobias Foss and Sam Oomen now after Tom Dumoulin tumbled down the standings following the first summit finish of the race on Tuesday. Dumoulin, however, has very quietly gained 5min 30sec on virtual general classification. I suspect the 2017 champion does not have the form to challenge this year, but you have to ponder if he is riding his way back into contention here.
90km to go
Trek-Segafredo are riding on the front of the peloton, despite having Bauke Mollema up the road in the breakaway. BikeExchange-Jayco are tucked in behind the team of the current maglia rosa as they look to keep their general classification rider Simon Yates well positioned. Mollema, by the way, started the day 19sec behind Koen Bouwman on general classification and so he also stands a chance of taking the pink of her were to do what Bauke Mollema often does and drift off the front in a solo move towards the end of the stage. However, if Trek-Segafredo cannot really rely on that happening, hence them setting the pace in the bunch.
95km to go
Not only could Koen Bouwman take the leader's jersey in the mountains today, but the 28-year-old, who started the day 5min 30sec down on general classification and currently sits in the breakaway 5min 25seac up the road from the peloton, may also wrestle the pink jersey off the shoulders of race leader Juan Pedro López. There's an awful long way to go yet though.
106km to go
Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) scoops up 40 points on the summit of Monte Sirino, the only category one climb of the day. Depending how the next climb plays out, the Dutchman could be taking hold of the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, off the shoulders of mountains classification leader Lennard Kämna later this afternoon.
108km to go
Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) is the latest rider the drop back out of the peloton. The 2017 Giro d'Italia champion took a quick bike change, the Dutchman swapping out his climbing bike for a more aerodynamic machine. Unsure whether that was a tactical decision, or that was the only bike ready for him on top of his team car.
109.5km to go
The peloton is around 5km from the summit of Monte Sirino which at 24km, is the longest, but not the most difficult, climb in this year's race. Davide Villella (Cofidis) briefly lost contact with the breakaway before inching his way back on. The Italian, along with Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost), Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Woet Poels (Bahrain Victorious), now lead the peloton by 4min 38sec.
118.5km to go
Race leader Juan Pedro López lets the peloton it is time for a comfort break. Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) appeared happy enough to oblige, while further down the road the maglia rosa's team-mate Giulio Ciccone is spotted talking to his team car. The Italian climber may have had a mechanical, so I'm guessing López was instructed to call a halt to proceedings. And with Bauke Mollema up the road in the breakaway, that cheeky little move will play into the hands of the three-time grand tour stage winner who would complete the set if her were to prevail here today.
As it stands . . .
Fast, frenetic and fascinating start to today's stage. There were a flurry of attacks from the starting flag before Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) forged a narrow lead over the peloton. The Belgian breakaway specialist, however, was soon reined in before counter-attacks followed. De Gendt's friend Alessandro De Marchi (Israel-Premier Tech) put in an attack with the Italian who wore the maglia rosa last year spending some time out in front all on his lonesome.
Once onto the first climb of the day, the 9.4km-long Passo Colla, a small group led the stage before, once the road pitched up to its steepest gradient, Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) counter-attacked. The former Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner gained up to around 30sec on the peloton, while further back attacks came and went as riders marked each other.
The entire peloton is on high alert, teams and riders watching every move. Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) clipped off, but the German was pounced on by race leader Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) who is clearly in no mood to give up his maglia rosa without a fight. Richard Carapaz and his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Jhonatan Narváez ghosted off the front on a descent to cause panic back in the bunch, but again the south Americans were soon reunited with the reduced peloton. The opening 75km of the stage has been raced at a very high tempo, causing the grupetto to firm earlier than may have been expected. If they keep riding at this speed, there may be some riders leaving the race this afternoon if they fail to finish within the time limit.
Speaking of rider who will not be on the start line on Saturday, Michael Morkov (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) was a non-starter, Mark Cavendish's lead-out man has been suffering with a fever overnight. Owain Doull (EF Education-EasyPost), Sergio Samitier (Movistar) and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), meanwhile, abandoned during the early couple of hours of the stage.
Back on the road, Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Woet Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Davide Villella (Cofidis) bridged over to Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) at the front of the race, while Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) set off in pursuit of the leading quartet before the Dutchman was joined by compatriot Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost). That chasing trio finally bridged over, to swell the leading group to seven with 122.5km of this barn-stormer of a stage to go.
What's on today's menu?
With four categorised climbs of varying difficulty, and its razortooth profile today will be, as former Lotto-Soudal sprinter Adam Blythe said on Eurosport / GCN Race Pass yesterday "hell, hell, hell'' for any rider who wakes up this morning in Calabria with tired legs. For those with diamonds – or should that be Diamante? – in their legs, today could be their moment to glisten. Almost 200 kilometres of racing awaits, from Diamante to Potenza, featuring 4,510 metres in vertical elevation and so this is not one for the feint of heart. Interestingly, there is a sharp kicker at the very end of the stage, so if a small group goes all the way to the line, a puncheur may prevail.
Historically, every man and his dog would be predicting Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) would be getting himself into the breakaway, but I'm not so sure. If a big break clips off up the road and sticks together, the finale may suit someone like Magus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) or Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), although in reality I could probably list 20 or more riders who could win.
In addition to the stage win, the mountains classification competition is likely to spark into life, particularly on the 24km-long Monte Sirino where there are 40 points up for grabs – mountains classification leader Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) starts with 43 points – while there are 18, 18 and nine available on the Passo Colla, Montagna Grande di Viggiano and La Sellata.
So, what does the stage look like?
Here's what the roadbook says about the stage...
A very challenging stage across the Southern Apennines. The start along the sea is the only flat stretch. Past Maratea, the route undulates continuously, with milder or harsher gradients. After climbing the Passo della Colla and reaching Lauria, the stage tackles the Monte Sirino. The route then hits Viggiano, clears the challenging Montagna Grande di Viggiano, and then takes in the final ascent of Sellata before reaching Potenza. Throughout the course, the roads are usually narrow and can be damaged at points, twisting continuously along the mountainside.
The final kilometres (see below) are raced entirely on urban roads. The route runs uphill across the inner city, with sharp gradients at points, and then descends along wide and well-paved avenues. There is a short tunnel at the ‑2 km marker, leading into the finish avenue. The last 350m have an average 8% gradient, topping out at 13%. The finish sits on Tarmac.
Catch up: Highlights from Thursday's stage
It was a languorous day in the saddle for most of the peloton, with just Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) braving his arm, the Italian riding out in front on his lonesome for 140km, before the sprinters' teams came to the fore. With the bunch approaching the outskirts of Scalea, the prospect of a mouth-watering three-way battle between in-form sprinters Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) had most viewers licking their lips in anticipation. In the end it was Démare who was able to celebrate after a photo-finish, the Frenchman completing back-to-back wins having pipped Ewan to the line, while Cavendish, who may have opened up his sprint a little too early, had to settle for third. Anyway, here are the highlights from the stage . . .
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage seven at the Giro d'Italia, the 196-kilometre run from Diamante to Potenza.
Following two back-back-back sprinters' stages, today appears to designed for the baroudeurs of the pack, those tough riders who are able to get in a breakaway on hold it over rolling, and occasionally, rough terrain. Those targeting the general classification may not be seen at the pointy end of the stage today, but they will be on high alert throughout what should be a gripping afternoon of racing. But before we have a look at the course, let's have a quick recap of the standings in the top classifications, in other words the competitions where jerseys are awarded to the leaders.
Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) will wear the maglia rosa, or leader's pink jersey, for the third successive day after finishing Thursday's stage safely in the bunch on the same time as Démare.
There were no changes at the top of the points classification on Thursday, and so Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) will wear the maglia ciclamino, cyclamen jersey, for a second successive day.
Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) will once again be dressed in the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, as mountains classification leader.
López also leads the youth classification, but Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) will wear the maglia bianca (white jersey).