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Giro d'Italia: Riesebeek rues missing the chance of a lifetime

Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) in the final of stage 15 with eventual winner Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos)
Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) in the final of stage 15 with eventual winner Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Alpecin-Fenix rider Oscar Riesebeek rued that he had missed the chance of a lifetime after being outsprinted by Qhubeka Assos' Victor Campenaerts in the final of stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday.

The Dutchman was the only man to stick with the UCI World Hour Record holder as the pair got away from the rest of the early breakaway in the final hills of the 147-kilometre stage set in and around the eastern border with Slovenia.

Campenaerts looked stronger on the last, rain-soaked rise before the finish, getting a gap before Riesebeek made his way back in time for the sprint on the cobbled road in Gorizia. Riesebeek went first, seeking a second stage win to add to teammate Tim Merlier's stage 2 victory, but was unable to outpace Campenaerts to the line.

"I think it was a once in a lifetime opportunity," he reflected in the immediate aftermath of his defeat.

"I just made a mistake. Of course, he was also really strong. It's hard after 15 days to say something good about it. At the moment I'm really disappointed."

Riesebeek, 28, turned pro with Roompot back in 2017 and joined Alpecin-Fenix last season but only has last year's 2.2-ranked Tour Bitwa Warszawska on his palmarès thus far. This evening, a second place at his debut Grand Tour will be filed alongside a runner-up spot at the 2018 Druivenkoers-Overijse.

The latter part of the stage was marked by heavy rain as the riders tackled the Gornje Cerovo fourth-category hill just across the border in Slovenia. 

Riesebeek said it was a dangerous finale as he and Campenaerts rode away from Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Nikias Arndt (Team DSM), and the remainder of the break, but his mind clearly lingered on the events of the closing metres.

"It was really slippery the last 10 kilometres. It was unbelievable. We took some risks, but I tried to stay in the wheel and come back in the last kilometre.

"Then I tried to sprint from his wheel. I must've gone too quickly back on the saddle, then Campenaerts came, and I can't say anything about it anymore."