The final day of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali delivered a memorable victory for Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck-QuickStep), with the Danish rider taking his first professional win on stage 5 after an unrelenting battle to stay at the front of the race.
The 24-year-old rider took victory in the 166.2-kilometre stage ahead of overall winner Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), taking out the two-rider sprint to the line after the pair got away inside the last 10 kilometres on a technical descent. Honoré also secured second on the overall classification behind his break companion. Teammate Shane Archbold then took third on the stage and GC as he led the chase group over the line.
That final sprint was far from the first time the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider had been out the front on the final stage of the 2.1-classified Italian event, starting a day of aggressive racing around a circuit in Forli from the early kilometres.
“We talked this morning that with two guys sitting in the upper part of the GC it should be all or nothing for us, so we were keen on trying something and going on the attack,” said Honoré. “The circuit was hard, but I went clear ahead of the first climb and was later joined by six other riders, together with whom I worked well.”
The gap which at one stage crept up to three minutes, didn’t look like it was going to last through the final lap of seven and was swept up ahead of the last climb of the Rocca delle Caminate with 17 kilometres to go.
“In the final part of the stage, we lost some guys and the gap came down rapidly, but I kept pushing, and even after getting caught on the last ascent I remained confident,” said Honoré. “That’s why I jumped together with Jonas on the technical descent and we immediately opened a consistent gap over the chasers.
“In the finale, I could get the victory and I have to say that it’s an incredible feeling to have my first win with the pros here in Italy.”
Honoré – who last year started edging closer to the step with multiple top-ten results at the Giro d'Italia including third on stage 2 – is the 94th different Deceuninck-QuickStep rider to claim a victory for the squad since 2003, the year that the team was created. While it is the first win for the third year professional, it is the 13th for the team in 2021.
The young rider said Kasper Asgreen’s victory at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic was fresh in the mind when he was caught with 17 kilometres to go and then attacked again just seven kilometres later.
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