Bouwman 'lands a big one' with Giro d'Italia stage win
Dutch fisherman pays tribute to teammate Dumoulin for breakaway work
As he faced the press after winning stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia, keen amateur fisherman Koen Bouwman recognised he had "netted a big one" with his first Grand Tour victory. He also pointed out that "when two of you are fishing for something in a group of four, you're more likely to catch something."
Bouwman was referring to his Jumbo-Visma teammate Tom Dumoulin who was part of the four-man breakaway and who proved instrumental in helping his compatriot to land that fish in a day of hot and mountainous racing through southern Italy.
Dumoulin's role in shaping a positive outcome on stage 7 for his team represented a huge boost to his morale after his GC hopes imploded on the slopes of Mount Etna.
Bouwman expressed confidence, too, that after such a strong fight back, Dumoulin's chances of his going for stage wins remain more than possible through to the Giro's final time trial in Verona.
It was not a straightforward victory for Jumbo-Visma despite their superiority in numbers in the break. Bouwman and Dumoulin were dropped at different points in the finale, with Bouwman suffering on the last third-category ascent some 20 kilometres from the finish, and Dumoulin cracking on the series of small rises through the centre of Potenza.
But with the break already whittled down to four by that point, Bouwman regained contact before the summit of the last climb, while Dumoulin was able to hook up again just before the final kilometre and lay down a steady pace to wear out Bouwman's rivals.
"For sure Tom didn't have the goal today of being in the break, although after he gave up on GC, he had to press reset," Bouwman, who repeatedly thanked Dumoulin for his assistance, told reporters.
"When the break went, he was behind blocking for me after I'd gone. But then he jumped across chasing down two guys who got through and we decided we'd try and have some fun together.
"I got dropped but then the last climbs were shorter and not so steep and I started to believe in my possibilities again.
"So I asked Tom to ride as hard as he could after he got back on. I couldn't believe that it actually happened and I got the win."
Starting the stage 5:30 down on overall leader Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), Bouwman also had hopes of taking pink as well as opting for the stage win as the breakaway's lead soared to over six minutes.
In the end, the Trek-Segafredo team of leader López reduced the gap to just 2:59. However, Bouwman claimed the top spot in the King of the Mountains classification after winning three of the four primes, so he will start tomorrow's stage with a classification leader's jersey of a different colour.
"There was a point when I thought about dropping back to ask the director if they had a spare 54-size bike painted up in pink in the team truck, but I never got the chance," Bouwman said with a grin.
"But this blue jersey [of King of the Mountains leader - Ed.] is a big bonus. I'm very happy with this victory, my memories of this will last forever. But riding tomorrow in blue in a Grand Tour - it is the cherry on top of the cake."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.