Campenaerts battles through the rain for Qhubeka-ASSOS' third Giro win

Victor Campenaerts took Qhubeka-ASSOS' third win of the Giro d'Italia and his first in a WorldTour race, winning a two-man sprint into Gorizia ahead of Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix).

104th Giro d'Italia 2021 - Stage 15

Victor Campenaerts salutes the win on Stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia ahead of Oscar Riesebeek. Source: Getty

By the end of the 147-kilometre stage, it was a large breakaway that was fighting it out for the victory. After the attacks began from 31 kilometres out, a decisive surge from Campenaerts forced a move including Riesebeek and Albert Torres (Movistar). 

Torres was just unable to hang on over the top of the main climb of the day, the 1.7 kilometre ascent of Gornje Cerovo, and it was just Riesebeek and Campenaerts left at the front of the race, with 30 seconds lead on their former breakaway companions. 

Riesebeek put in multiple attacks on the run-in to the final, steep pinch on the course, three kilometres from the line, but was unable to shake Campenaerts. The world hour record holder put in his own attack on the steep slopes and Riesebeek was only just able to claw the Belgian back with just over a kilometre to go. 

A spirited chase was mounted behind, with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) nearly crashing out as he led the pursuers down the descent in the pouring rain. 

It was clear the race was coming down to a sprint between the front pair however, and while Campenaerts led into the final few hundred metres it was Riesebeek who opened up the sprint early. While it looked initially that the Dutch rider had a bit more power, it was Campenaerts who outlasted him to the line to claim his first WorldTour win.

“It was fantastic,” said Campenaerts. “This morning at breakfast we said ‘what else can we do to make this Giro greater for the team?’ Three victories are just epic, we went all-in for today as it was the last chance to get a good result with the team we have.

“Three guys in the breakaway and we were just so committed. We all had a good result and I took the victory. We try to give everything for each other and we did an amazing race. We were very motivated for the stage.

"Team Qhubeka Assos had a hard time to stay alive and we did. We now have three great victories from this Giro and I think this is an amazing chance to get a new sponsor for the team."

Campenaerts was put in the odd position of having to make the breakaway twice in the race, having jumped in an early move before a mass crash in the peloton prompted a neutralisation and then a restart of the race. 

As a result of the carnage, four riders retired before the conclusion of the stage. Emanuel Buchmann (BORA–hansgrohe) was the highest-profile casualty, sixth on the general classification before the stage and was joined by Natnael Berhane (Cofidis), Jos Van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) and Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education–Nippo).

“We gave everything at the start, it was quite dramatic with the crashes," said Campenaerts. "We were already away in the first few kilometres but we did the same thing again."

The peloton showed little interest in chasing after the initial fight to establish the breakaway and they rolled in over 17 minutes behind the stage winner, with Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) retaining the leader's pink jersey ahead of a series of stages in the high mountains.

The Giro d'Italia continues with Stage 16, the queen stage of the 2021 edition of the Giro d'Italia that will see the riders crest three summits over the 2,000 metre above sea level mark. With rain predicted and some tricky descents as well as the tough climbs on the agenda, it will be a big challenge for those looking to win the stage and the overall race. Watch all the action from 1840 AEST on SBS OnDemand, with the SBS VICELAND coverage starting at 2120. 

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4 min read
Published 24 May 2021 at 7:48am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS