As Germán Tivani (Agrupacion Virgen De Fatima) celebrated his surprise win at the Vuelta a San Juan on the podium, with the thousands of local spectators cheering his name, the big-name WorldTour sprinters who had failed to catch him could only bow their heads, let their disappoint fade and try to gracefully accept defeat.
Bora-Hansgrohe, UAE Team Emirates, Dimension Data, Movistar, Oscar Sevilla's Medellin team and even Deceuninck-QuickStep worked hard in the chase of Tivani, his teammate Daniel Zamora, Dyer Quintana (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia) and fellow local rider Daniel Diaz. But they motored to the finish on the San Juan Villicum Autodromo and held off the peloton by 12 seconds.
Tivani grabbed the glory as the WorldTour giant killer. Several of the biggest sprinters in the world could only sprint for fourth place and were understandably not too happy about it.
Fernando Gaviria (UAE) seemed the most upset. He missed out on a possible third stage victory at the Vuelta a San Juan and made his voice heard with his new teammates as they changed in the pits of the motor racing circuit. It was a lesson learned about how to control a breakaway when all your rivals expect you to lead the chase.
"The team worked well. They rode full gas, but it was a really fast stage and it was difficult to control and catch the three guys," Gaviria said diplomatically, preferring not to criticise his teammates or rival teams.
"There's not a rule in cycling that says the biggest riders always win, that every flat stage ends in a sprint, and that's cycling. It's good that a San Juan guy won. I'm happy for him; he's a good guy. He can enjoy the day and San Juan can enjoy his win.
"I'm happy. I'll sleep OK. Tomorrow [Sunday] is the last stage, and we'll try to win again."
Sagan: It's good for the sport that the little guy won
Peter Sagan sacrificed his chances to help Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Sam Bennett, dragging the peloton onto the motor racing circuit with four kilometres to go and doing a huge turn on the front. He posed for dozens of selfies with the fans who invaded the pit lane, but was a little unhappy to have nothing to show for racing 153km at an average of 47.6kph.
"In the last five kilometres, everybody was tired up front, and so I sacrificed myself for our sprinter, Sam. It would have been better if all the other teams had done that, but it didn't happen. In the end, it was what it as, and we didn't catch the break," Sagan said.
"We made a little mistake – us and the other teams – because we were going for the sprint but in the end we had to sacrifice everybody, otherwise we'd have pulled for nothing all day.
"It's not good for us, but it's good for the sport that the little guy won."
Maximiliano Richeze was riding to set up Deceuninck-QuickStep sprinter Alvaro Hodeg, but was happy that a fellow Argentinean sprinter had taken the victory. He put the blame on the other sprinters' teams.
"We didn't help with the chase because we've done a lot of work in the last few days," he pointed out.
"We tried to close them down when they were close on the circuit, but the sprinters' teams messed things up a bit today. We rode hard in the peloton but the attackers were even stronger."
Richeze briefly put national pride before team loyalty, praising Tavani for his win.
"Tivani is the king of San Juan tonight. He's their local hero and he deserves this," Richeze said.
"Tivani has raced in Europe and is a great rider. I only hope that this win helps him find a team at the highest level because he's a classy rider and a huge talent."
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