A devastating loss for Alessandro De Marchi (Jayco-AlUla) and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech). A redemptive victory for Mads Pedersen of Trek Segafredo.
The breakaway duo — and former teammates — De Marchi and Clarke were out all day, taking a gap of 30 seconds into the final three kilometers. It appeared the sprinters teams had failed their math class. Trek-Segafredo had done the bulk of the work for their man Pedersen but they’d left it too late.
Only then, suddenly, unexpectedly, in the last kilometer the gap went to 15 seconds and then to nothing. De Marchi refused to lead out Clarke, the faster man in a sprint. They slowed, gambling, looked around and played with fire. In short, they were willing to lose to win.
The peloton blew past at 200 meters to go. In the launch to the line, Movistar’s Fernando Gaviria went early up the left side. A more patient Pedersen, who’d been stymied all week in his search for a victory, waited just a beat before he accelerated past the Colombian.
Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) finished third, with Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) fourth and Gaviria in fifth. Slow pedaling in, Clarke gave De Marchi a pat on the back, then dropped his head in disappointment.
The veteran summed up the loss up in one word: “Devastating.” It’s not a nice way to lose,” said Clarke. He admitted he’d rather have been caught at 10k instead of the final 200 meters. “We needed another 10-15 seconds.”
Pedersen, on the other hand, was ecstatic, throwing both arms straight up in the air. He finally had a Giro d’Italia stage win to complete the set along with his Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana victories.
“It was pretty close in the end. It was not easy to catch them. All the sprinters had to use all the guys,” said Pedersen. As for Clarke and De Marchi, the Dane offered his condolences. “I feel sorry for those guys.”
Such are the calibrated risks and decisions that must be made when the peloton bears down. When to stop working, how many game should you play? Reviewing the tactics, EF Education Easypost team principal Jonathan Vaughters laid out the difficulty.
“De Marchi, if they went equal pull, equal pull, he’s going to lose 95 times out of 100. So realistically he was already resigning himself to finish second,” he said. “He’s at the end of his career so to him all that matters is win or nothing. He got nothing.”
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