Giro d'Italia: De Bondt wins stage 18, relief for Hindley after late puncture

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Dries De Bondt sprinted to victory on stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia, as Jai Hindley remained three seconds adrift of race leader Richard Carapaz despite a late puncture.

It was De Bondt among a breakaway quartet who had the pace to take his maiden victory in a Grand Tour race in Treviso on Thursday.

The Alpecin-Fenix rider pipped Edoardo Affini, with Magnus Cort Nielsen third and Davide Gabburo just missing out on a podium at the end of a 156-kilometre route from Borgo Valsugana.

That group of four riders made an early move and there was no catching them on a day Belgian De Bondt will never forget.

The 30-year-old's win was his first since crossing the line first in the Belgian National Road Championships in September 2020.

There was drama when Hindley suffered a puncture, but the BORA-Hansgrohe rider did not lose time in the general classification battle as the mechanical issue came within three kilometres of the finish.

Carapaz finished 20 seconds after De Bondt as he retained the maglia rosa, with Mikel Landa staying in third place behind Hindley.

"I checked Landa and Hindley all the time as I knew there could be some gaps. I want to keep the maglia rosa till the end, I trust in my legs." INEOS Grenadiers rider Carapaz said.

Almeida ruled out after positive COVID-19 test

Joao Almeida was fourth in the GC standings, but the Portuguese rider's race is over after he tested positive for COVID-19 following stage 17.

UAE Team Emirates team principal Mauro Gianetti said: "We are obviously deeply upset because Joao and the supporting team were doing an excellent race.

"Our goals were the podium of the Giro and the white jersey as best young rider, and we were fighting to win them both.

"It is bad news, but this is the reality we have been living every day for two years. We have to accept it and look forward. Now the most important thing is that Joao recovers as soon as possible."

STAGE RESULT

1. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) 3:21:21
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-EasyPost) same time
4. Davide Gabburo (Bardiani CSF Faizane) same time
5. Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) +0:14

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 76:41:21
2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 254
2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 132
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 124

King of the Mountains

1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 218
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

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