Nothing to be done. Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) did what he could on stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia, attacking repeatedly from the breakaway on the rugged run through Basilicata, but the last four men standing had almost punched themselves out by the time they reached the final haul towards Potenza.
In the final reckoning, the balance was tipped in stage winner Koen Bouwman’s favour by two factors. His rapid finishing speed made him the favourite in the event of a sprint and the presence of Jumbo-Visma teammate Tom Dumoulin in the winning move helped to ensure that scenario materialised. Formolo had to settle for third on the stage behind Bouwman and another Dutchman, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).
“I wanted to try to get in the break at all costs today, because I knew it would go the distance. Once I was in there, I tried on the climbs and I tried on the descents too,” said Formolo, who briefly forged clear of his companions on the ascent of La Sellata with 26km to go only to be brought back by Dumoulin and Mollema.
“I saw that the two Jumbo riders were waiting for one another, obviously, they were very strong, so it was impossible to get away alone, because they were waiting for each other and helping each other.”
Dumoulin stalled the pace sufficiently atop La Sellata to allow Bouwman to latch back on, and the four leaders pedalled together towards the sinuous climb through the streets of Potenza. Formolo tried again there, and Dumoulin was briefly dropped, but the 2017 Giro winner returned to the front after the road levelled out and then proceeded to lead-out the sprint for Bouwman.
“By the end, the power was quite similar between everybody in the front, and we saw it was not possible to make a gap,” said Formolo. “We saw that Bouwman was the fastest and with Dumoulin helping him it wasn’t possible to get away.”
Along with Giacomo Nizzolo, who placed third in the bunch sprint in Messina, Formolo is the only Italian rider to come close to a stage victory in the opening week of this Giro, and the home nation’s travails have been drawn into sharper focus by the news that Vincenzo Nibali will hang up his wheels at the end of this season.
Nibali is already out of the general classification picture on this Giro after conceding ground atop Mount Etna, and it remains to be seen if Giulio Ciccone (20th at 2:32) can begin to deliver concretely on his potential over three weeks. The current drought at the Giro follows a subdued Classics campaign for the country’s riders. For now at least, Italy is short on riders who can challenge for the honours in the biggest races.
“In the past we had twenty Italian riders who could win Monuments, and now it’s only two or three,” Formolo said. “In my own small way, I went close to winning a Monument more than one time, and I’m sure we’ll be performing again next year.”
Formolo, for his part, had general classification ambitions at the Giro in years past, placing 10th overall in both 2017 and 2018, but he has increasingly been deployed as a deluxe domestique since joining UAE Team Emirates in 2020. The Verona native helped Tadej Pogačar to victory at the past two Tours de France, while he rides the Giro in the service of João Almeida.
“Between 2017 and 2019, I wanted to be in the top five on GC and it wasn’t wrong to try to do that,” Formolo said. “But now I’m on a team with a lot of strong captains like Almeida, who can finish on the podium here, or Tadej, who can win every race he does, so it’s only right that I take on other roles.”
On this Giro, and despite his duties on Almeida’s behalf, Formolo will hope to carve out further opportunities between here and Verona – though not, he confirmed, on the hilly stage around Naples on Saturday. “I’ll need to spend a day sheltered in the bunch to recover after this,” he joked. “It would have been better to win today, obviously, but we’ll try again”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.
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