Stefano Oldani picked up the first win of his career on Thursday after the Alpecin-Fenix rider secured a sprint finish at the end of the race’s longest stage, the 204-kilometre trek from Parma to Genoa.
After a frenetic start, Oldani and teammates Oscar Riesebeek and Mathieu van der Poel set off on the day’s 25-man breakaway, with the stage winner enjoying the chance to play the numbers game.
The breakaway broke on La Colletta, the penultimate climb of the day, following an attack by Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), but with all eyes on the favorite before Van der Poel stage, Oldani was able to make the bridge with his almost unnoticed Italian compatriot, taking with him just Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma).
Having taken a lead of about a minute over a group of four pursuers composed of Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange-Jayco), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), the trio worked well together before going all the way to the finish line in Genoa.
With the sum total of zero pro wins between the three riders, few knew what to expect on the straight, until Dutchman Leemreize opened the sprint from some distance. Oldani responded and managed to hold off a surging Rota to win the stage by half a bike length to make it two straight wins for the Italian riders after Alberto Dainese’s sprint victory on Wednesday.
“I knew I was fast, but it wasn’t easy,” Oldani said. “Lorenzo Rota, who is my friend, is also fast. So I kept watch. The presence of Mathieu van der Poel was crucial for me to make the final three-man breakaway. I find it hard to believe that my first pro victory comes at the Giro d’Italia. It’s wonderful.
“Our plan was not to make the same mistake as in Naples when Mathieu was alone in front. At the end of the day, we were the only team with three riders in the lead group. Obviously, I worked for Mathieu, bringing him bottles and gels. I accompanied the movement and we had a gap, then it happened as it happened. If we had stayed [in the break] together, many runners would have watched Mathieu.
“He hugged me after the race. It’s fantastic to learn from a great champion like him. Winning here confirms that Milan-Sanremo is a race that I can win in the future by getting stronger because I can handle the climbs very well. This is definitely the race of my dreams.
Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) finished safely in the peloton 9min 8sec behind, the Spaniard retaining the pink jersey he will wear for a ninth consecutive day on Friday as overall leader.
The Giro d’Italia continues on Friday with the 150km 13th stage from Sanremo to Cuneo and ends in Verona on May 29.