In a thrilling finish to what was supposed to be the final opportunity for the sprinters in this year's Giro d'Italia, Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini) spoiled the fastmen's day on stage 18 by hanging on from the breakaway just in front of the charging herd. The 25-year-old Italian claimed the stage win narrowly in front of Bora-Hansgorhe's Pascal Ackermann, who reclaimed the ciclamino points jersey from Groupama-FDJ's Arnaud Demare with his runner-up result.
Cima and fellow breakaway riders Nico Denz (AG2R la Mondiale) and Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF) rode into the final 1,500 metres with a slim lead over the hurtling peloton. The lead trio's cat-and-mouse games looked to be endangering their chance for a stage win until Denz finally took the initiative and drove the pace toward the line before he and then Maestri were swallowed up by the field. It appeared that Cima would be next to fall, but he had just enough power left in his legs to hold off the field and take his first Grand Tour stage win.
Despite the exciting finale, stage 18 proved to be a day for the general classification contenders to recharge their batteries before big climbing days on Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday's final 17km individual time trial.
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