Bob Jungels sprinted to his maiden World Tour victory Sunday afternoon, when a wild stage unfolded at the Giro d’Italia as soon as the flag was waved. In doing so, the race’s white jersey became the first Luxembourger in 56 years to score a stage victory at the Corsa Rosa
The 24-year-old, who enjoyed a five-day stint in the maglia rosa before moving into the white jersey, put in a brutal attack on the cobbled climb of Bergamo Alta, his huge acceleration catching many of his opponents off guard and forcing an important selection.
After instigating that move on the short and steep hill which last year featured on the route of Il Lombardia, Jungels was joined on the descent by defending champion Giro d’Italia Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), race leader Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), among others, and the newly-formed group powered ahead to the finish line, which was less than four kilometres away.
Nibali pushed hard to distance the others, but it was to no avail, as the select group stayed together and continued to ride at a huge speed, stretching their lead over the chasers. In the last kilometre, they pulled back a combined attack of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R), before Jungels took the front of the group, driving it to the finish.
The stage concluded with a sprint between the GC contenders, and Jungels carefully bided his time and came out of the slipstream of Pozzovivo with 150 metres to go, making use of his huge time trial power and roaring over the line arms aloft, ahead of Quintana and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). It was a victory for the history books, as the 24-year-old became only the second Luxembourger ever to win a stage at the Giro d’Italia, after Charly Gaul in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
“I’m very happy for this win, but I must admit I still can’t realize what happened. I am super proud for taking such a big and historical success in the colours of my country. This victory is for my team and for Luxembourg, I hope I gave my countrymen something to celebrate about today”, said Jungels.
“I had strong legs, felt good on the climbs, but wasn’t thinking of this outcome. When I saw Nibali moving up on that hill, I decided to have a go and attack; the atmosphere on the climb was incredible and I couldn’t hear Davide Bramati in the earphones, who was encouraging me from the car. I knew it was going to be tight, as all the riders in the group would be interested in the win and the bonus seconds. Fortunately, I also had a bit of luck, being in a perfect position in the last meters and launching the sprint from the wheel of Pozzovivo. To take a stage at the Giro in front of such a quality field is really incredible”, explained the best young rider of the race.
“It’s an exceptional Giro d’Italia for us and I am proud not only of the results, but also for showing a great team spirit since the start. This adds extra motivation for the final week. Today the course was similar to the one of a classic and it really suited me, but I know that the remaining stages will be very tough and demanding. The plan is to take it day by day and see how things pan out”, concluded Jungels after the team’s 30th victory of the season.