In cycling the winner takes it all but sometimes winning is all about being first into the final corner. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) knew that and so made sure he was first into the tight left hand turn in the shadow of Santuario di Castelmonte.
While other riders went straight on and into the deviation area for Giro d'Italia race vehicles, the Jumbo-Visma rider could sprint to the finish line and celebrate his second stage victory. He also won in Potenza on stage 7 after a day in the breakaway.
“I didn’t make a mistake. I deserved this victory,” Bouwman said afterwards.
Bouwman is an out-and-out climber but was confident of his chances in a sprint finish despite facing some serious rivals from the break of the day. He also knew about the late tight left turn.
"But I don't want to change and I don't want a different role. I'm happy being who I am and winning like today.
"I do have a good sprint, after a hard day I'm one of the fastest in a front group, so I waited. I've already got one stage win, too, so I gambled and that helped," he explained.
"I knew there was the left hand corner at 100 metres to go. The only chance for victory was to go first into the corner. I started my sprint from fourth from the group and went over them.
"But I didn't know the corner was that tight and I went into it with a lot of speed, around 40kph. I had to brake and so did the guys behind me. Nobody crashed. I don't think I made a mistake."
Bouwman had to wait in the podium area for around 20 minutes until the race commissaires studied the replay of the finish video and declared him the winner.
"I didn't do anything wrong," he insisted.
"I went over [second-placed Mauro] Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) in the sprint. I didn't design the parcours, the organisers put a corner in. I just sprinted to win it."
Bouwman was joined by Jumbo-Visma teammate Edoardo Affini in the podium and they hugged when Bouwman was declared the winner.
"Half of this win belongs to Edoardo and half to me," Bouwman said. "He and the others guys pulled massively early on and even on the valley roads to make sure the break stayed away."
Bouwman now holds the top spot in the King of the Mountains classification with 294 points, while second placed Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is second with 103 points. Bouwman just has to survive Saturday's stage in the Dolomites and he will take the blue jersey.
"I took my first career win at the Dauphine in the mountains jersey and so it's nice to win again in the mountains jersey at the Giro," he explained.
"I'm the fourth Dutch guy to win it in a Grand Tour. It's special."
"I keep attacking because I once lost a mountains jersey by just two points. I don't want to let that happen again. I also wanted to win the stage. It's great to have both."
The loss of Tom Dumoulin as Jumbo-Visma leader in the race transformed Bouwman's Giro d'Italia, freeing him up from his usual domestique duties.
"We have good leaders in every race and we almost always go for the GC and finish on the podium. To be honest, I like to have a domestique role," he explained humbly.
"I've won stages at the Giro and maybe I'll have more freedom to go in breaks. But I don't want to change. I'm happy being who I am and winning like today."
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