Jumbo-Visma bounce back in style as Koen Bouwman lands Giro d'Italia stage win and takes lead in mountains

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·23-min read
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Koen Bouwman (centre) won a tough stage, finishing ahead of Bauke Mollema (right) and Davide Formolo - REUTERS
Koen Bouwman (centre) won a tough stage, finishing ahead of Bauke Mollema (right) and Davide Formolo - REUTERS

Tom Dumoulin helped Koen Bouwman claim his first career grand tour victory from a breakaway as Jumbo-Visma's switch to target stage wins delivered quick results on stage seven of the Giro d'Italia.

After a brutal day in southern Italy, in which the peloton tackled a rolling stage featuring 4,500 metres of climbing at an often relentless pace, Bouwman had the power to ride clear of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) on the short, sharp climb to the line.

Three days after losing nine minutes on Mount Etna to show he is not in shape to contend for the overall title this year, 2017 Giro winner Dumoulin played a key role in his team-mate's victory before rolling over the line in fourth place.

They finished just under three minutes ahead of the chasing peloton with no major splits between the overall contenders, meaning that Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) retains the pink jersey for another day. Britain's Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) sits fourth, 1min 42sec down and the best placed of the overall favourites.

Though ranked as a medium-mountain stage, this day would have felt worse than many of the big climbs still to come given the unrelenting nature of the terrain on the 196km road from Diamente to Potenza.

A furious fight to form a breakaway meant there was no let up in pace for well over an hour as attacks flew, and no group being able to establish itself until seven riders finally got away with a little under 130km to go.

They built a lead of over five minutes which held until the two biggest tests, Monte Sirino and the Montagna Grande di Viggiano, were behind them and they began to attack each other with 30km to go.

Dumoulin and Bouwman worked it nicely to ensure they still had the numbers on the descent towards Potenza, and that advantage was crucial as the games began approaching the ramp to the finish, with Dumoulin setting a place Bouwman could force the others to chase by letting his team-mate's wheel go.

"It's unbelievable," said Bouwman, who was the only rider in the front group without a grand tour stage to his name, and only one previous professional win.

"I can't believe it. It was such a hard day. Tom did a superb job in the last two kilometres and I found myself feeling quite good. One time on the climb I had trouble but I could come back so I was confident for the sprint.

"It was steeper than I thought when I started my sprint but I felt I had so much power left. I looked behind me and saw I had a big gap, perfect."

This day was one for the sprinters simply to survive, but there was bad news for Mark Cavendish before it even began as Michael Morkov, Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl's supreme lead-out man, did not start the stage after developing a fever overnight.
PA

03:05 PM

Bouwman wins stage seven at the Giro d'Italia!

Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) finishes the job off in style. What a performance that was today from the Jumbo-Visma duo who played the numbers game to absolute perfection. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) finishes second, while Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) is third. Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) takes fourth spot following what was a man-of-the-stage performance from the general classification leader-cum-domestique-deluxe.

A delighted Bouwman, said: “It's unbelievable. This is only my second pro victory. It feels the same as in the [Critérium du] Dauphiné five years ago. I've been in trouble on the climb but I came back. I got great help from Tom Dumoulin in the last 2km.

“I was confident that I would win the sprint but I didn't expect the finish to be that steep. After the disappointment we had at Mount Etna, we decided to chase stages and that's what we did today.”

Almost three minutes later the peloton rolls in. There are no time gaps in the bunch and so Juan Pedro López​ (Trek-Segafredo) will keep hold of the leader's pink jersey, the Spaniard will wear that for a fourth successive day on Saturday. Bouwman, as mentioned earlier, will wear the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, tomorrow after taking the lead in the mountains classification having scooped up maximum points atop three of the day's four classified climbs.

Assuming Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) finishes within the time limit, he will again wear the maglia ciclamino as points leader.

The Giro d'Italia continues on Saturday with the 153km eighth stage around Naples and concludes in Verona on May 29.

03:04 PM

500 metres to go

Tom Dumoulin rides on the front towards the line, but there's this nasty kicker incoming.

03:03 PM

1.5km to go

Tom Dumoulin drifts off the front, Koen Bouwman allows the gap to grow out forcing the others to chase and burn up some vital energy.

03:02 PM

3km to go

Tom Dumoulin has managed to get back on as a result of a great bit of teamwork from the Jumbo-Visma boys, but will they benefit from having numbers in the finale?

03:01 PM

4km to go

Koen Bouwman, Davide Formolo and Bauke Mollema fly through the winding streets, Tom Dumoulin may be gaining as his team-mate appears to slow the group down, glass cranking it on the front.

02:59 PM

5km to go

Tom Dumoulin is around 13sec down on the leading trio, the peloton another 2min 45sec down the road.

02:58 PM

6.5km to go

Davide Formolo fought his way back onto Bauke Mollema's wheel along with Koen Bouwman. As it stands, Tom Dumoulin has been distanced.

02:57 PM

7km to go

Once again, Bauke Mollema attacks and take the bonus second at the second intermediate, but he will not be too concerned about that: today is all about the stage win.

02:56 PM

7.5km to go

Tom Dumoulin kept his cool before winding the trio back in.

02:54 PM

8.5km to go

And the road pitches up to a very steep gradient. Tom Dumoulin rises out of his saddle, before Bauke Mollema, not for the first time this afternoon, responds in kind with a vicious little kick. Koen Bouwman counter-attacks taking with him David Formolo who is glued to his wheel.

02:52 PM

9km to go

Ineos Grenadiers continue to control the pace on the front of the peloton, while one or two DSM riders chat with some BikeExchange-Jayco colleagues who are also up near the head of the field.

02:48 PM

13km to go

Koen Bouwman, Tom Dumoulin, Davide Formolo and Bauke Mollema press on, each taking a turn, each eyeing up his rival. Here's the finale which, remember, pitches up to 13% at the finishing line.

potenza
potenza

02:45 PM

16km to go

The breakaway flies down through a small, well-populated, town. Plenty of support at the roadside for this gang of four.

02:41 PM

20km to go

Once over the top of that climb, David Formolo rolled through before assuming position of the front going into the descent.

02:38 PM

23.5km to go

Koen Bouwman extends his lead in the mountains classification atop the Sellata. Providing he finishes the stage within the time limit, he will take the blue jersey off the shoulders of Lennard Kämna.

02:36 PM

24km to go

Can Koen Bouwman take maximum points atop this climb?

selenta
selenta

02:34 PM

25km to go

Game over for Davide Formolo. For now. Tom Dumoulin and Bauke Mollema have caught the Italian, while a third Dutchman Koen Bouwman managed to get back on just shy of the summit of the final categorised climb of the day.

02:32 PM

26km to go

Davide Formolo is grimacing, fighting with his bike and gravity. Tom Dumoulin and Bauke Mollema nibbling away, gaining metre-by-metre on the UAE Team Emirates climber.

02:30 PM

27km to go

Next to attack is Davide Formolo. The Italian gains a decent sized lead within seconds, Tom Dumoulin shakes his head as if to suggest he is cooked. Dumoulin, however, is a rider who reacts to explosive attacks in his own slow, but steady, style. He will not panic, but instead stick to riding at his own measured pace.

02:26 PM

28km to go

Tom Dumoulin is roared on by a team helper at the roadside as he puts in yet another effort, but Bauke Mollema counter-attacks on the steeper section. The Trek-Segafredo rider gains a few bike lengths on Dumoulin and Davide Formolo, but Koen Bouwmanis unable to hold their wheels.

02:25 PM

29km to go

Race leader Juan Pedro López​ has just one team-mate for company, the Spaniard tucked in behind Ineos Grenadiers at the front of the peloton 3min 30sec off the pace of the four-man breakaway.

02:22 PM

30km to go

Once again Tom Dumoulin presses a little harder down on those pedals, as if to test the rest. Almost immediately, Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost) pops out the rear of the group. Next to go is Davide Villella (Cofidis). Davide Formolo is glued to Dumoulin's wheel, refusing to roll through as the road continues rising. Dumoulin is riding with confidence here. You love to see it.

02:11 PM

35km to go

Salvatore Puccio tows the Ineos Grenadiers train along, before Ben Swift takes over on the front. Tucked in behind is Jhonatan Narváez, then at fourth wheel former winner Richard Carapaz. As a result of the work being done by the team who has won three of the last four editions of the Giro, the breakaway's lead is slashed to 3min 39sec.

02:07 PM

39.5km to go

Tom Dumoulin rolls off the front, team-mate Koen Bouwman stoically refuses to chase forcing Bauke Mollema into doing some of the heavy lifting. Back in the bunch, Ineos Grenadiers has its entire team lined out on the front riding like bosses.

02:05 PM

40km to go

Still some distance to the finishing line, but there is plenty of looking around in the leading group. One rider rises out of his saddle to put a bike length or two into the group, before he his countered. Seem to recall Bauke Mollema winning a stage like this at last year's Tour de France when he pounced on the descent while the others dithered around watching and waiting, but refusing to ride at full pelt.

01:57 PM

42.5km to go

Bravo to Davide Villella who bridged over to the stage leaders on the descent. Further back, Ineos Grenadiers appear to be driving things on on the front of the peloton, as a result the breakaway's lead has dropped to 5min 15sec. If the stage were to end now, Juan Pedro López​ would keep hold of the pink jersey.

01:53 PM

46km to go

The breakaway is flying down the descent. The road looks to be in reasonable condition, but a little technical in places. Davide Villella is working hard to chase back on: the Italian is just 18sec behind now.

01:50 PM

50km to go . . .

. . . and the breakaway's lead has increased further still. Not only is Koen Bouwman leading the mountains classification as it stands, but he is also the virtual leader of the Giro d'Italia.

01:35 PM

61km to go

Koen Bouwman is first over the top of the Montagna Grande di Viggiano, scooping up 18 points in the mountains classification.

As a result, the 28-year-old becomes the new virtual leader in the competition. Davide Formolo rose out of his saddle before launching an attack, but the Italian was no match for Bouwman.

01:31 PM

62.5km to go

The asphalt looks fresh, but the gradient on the steeper part of the Montagna Grande di Viggiano looks rotten. The stage leaders have gained around 45sec, with Koen Bouwman regaining the virtual lead – by just 6sec. Tom Dumoulin is barely breathing, the Dutchman who a few days ago looked spent, is riding impressively.

Tom Dumoulin - GETTY IMAGES
Tom Dumoulin - GETTY IMAGES

01:26 PM

63km to go

Diego Camargo fought his way back into what is now the leading five-man group alongside Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Their lead has grown slightly to 5min as they tackle the steepest section of this climb.

01:24 PM

64.5km to go

The breakaway's lead has dropped by around a minute, while Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost) and Davide Villella are the latest to start struggling after, a few minutes ago, Wout Poels was dropped. Moments after falling off the back of the group, Villella stopped to talk with a mechanic who appeared to struggle adjusting his seat height.

01:16 PM

66.5km to go | Crash!

Davide Villella (Cofidis) overcooks a left-hander and goes off road. Fortunately, though, the Italian managed to find a soft landing in the grass verge at the side of the road. He will probably need a quick bike change so his first-choice steed can be looked over by a mechanic.

01:10 PM

70km to go

Koen Bouwman rolls through the intermediate sprint first to pick up 12 points, the Jumbo-Visma rider is looking supremely relaxed. Next up is the category two Montagna Grande di Viggiano which although short, is one of the toughest in today's stage with gradients that pitch up to 15% and has over 3km that does not dip below 11%.

Montagna Grande di Viggiano
Montagna Grande di Viggiano

01:04 PM

72.5km to go

Woet Poels looks to be struggling. The strong Dutchman – one of four in the breakaway – drops off the back before recovering and getting back on. Moments later he drifts back while appearing to stare intently at his stem. He may have an issue with his bike, not really sure. Either way, he is currently riding fairly erratically.

01:00 PM

73.5km to go

The seven-man breakaway inches its way up the short climb towards the first intermediate sprint of the day in Viggiano. There's barely a flat section of road in this stage, once beyond the intermediate they will be heading in the direction of the category two Montagna Grande di Viggiano. Their advantage is holding at around 5min 15sec.

12:53 PM

Dumoulin gaining on general classification rivals . . .

Speaking ahead of this stage, Jumbo-Visma more or less said they were riding for Tobias Foss and Sam Oomen now after Tom Dumoulin tumbled down the standings following the first summit finish of the race on Tuesday. Dumoulin, however, has very quietly gained 5min 30sec on virtual general classification. I suspect the 2017 champion does not have the form to challenge this year, but you have to ponder if he is riding his way back into contention here.

12:48 PM

80km to go

Mikel Landa - GETTY IMAGES
Mikel Landa - GETTY IMAGES

12:37 PM

90km to go

Trek-Segafredo are riding on the front of the peloton, despite having Bauke Mollema up the road in the breakaway. BikeExchange-Jayco are tucked in behind the team of the current maglia rosa as they look to keep their general classification rider Simon Yates well positioned. Mollema, by the way, started the day 19sec behind Koen Bouwman on general classification and so he also stands a chance of taking the pink of her were to do what Bauke Mollema often does and drift off the front in a solo move towards the end of the stage. However, if Trek-Segafredo cannot really rely on that happening, hence them setting the pace in the bunch.

Simon Yates (centre) is shepherded by a pair of team-mates - GETTY IMAGES
Simon Yates (centre) is shepherded by a pair of team-mates - GETTY IMAGES

12:31 PM

93km to go

Another bike change for Tom Dumoulin who switches back to his climbing bike. I'm guessing that that must mean he switched to the more aerodynamic bike earlier while his mechanics did some work on his first-choice frame for the stage.

12:29 PM

95km to go

Not only could Koen Bouwman take the leader's jersey in the mountains today, but the 28-year-old, who started the day 5min 30sec down on general classification and currently sits in the breakaway 5min 25seac up the road from the peloton, may also wrestle the pink jersey off the shoulders of race leader Juan Pedro López. There's an awful long way to go yet though.

12:20 PM

106km to go

Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) scoops up 40 points on the summit of Monte Sirino, the only category one climb of the day. Depending how the next climb plays out, the Dutchman could be taking hold of the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, off the shoulders of mountains classification leader Lennard Kämna later this afternoon.

12:13 PM

108km to go

Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) is the latest rider the drop back out of the peloton. The 2017 Giro d'Italia champion took a quick bike change, the Dutchman swapping out his climbing bike for a more aerodynamic machine. Unsure whether that was a tactical decision, or that was the only bike ready for him on top of his team car.

12:06 PM

109.5km to go

The peloton is around 5km from the summit of Monte Sirino which at 24km, is the longest, but not the most difficult, climb in this year's race. Davide Villella (Cofidis) briefly lost contact with the breakaway before inching his way back on. The Italian, along with Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost), Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Woet Poels (Bahrain Victorious), now lead the peloton by 4min 38sec.

12:04 PM

110km to go

Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) was just spotted dropping back to his team car, the Briton looked to be getting the tension tightened on his pedals. Perhaps they were a little too loose for his liking.

11:50 AM

118.5km to go

Race leader Juan Pedro López​ lets the peloton it is time for a comfort break. Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) appeared happy enough to oblige, while further down the road the maglia rosa's team-mate Giulio Ciccone is spotted talking to his team car. The Italian climber may have had a mechanical, so I'm guessing López was instructed to call a halt to proceedings. And with Bauke Mollema up the road in the breakaway, that cheeky little move will play into the hands of the three-time grand tour stage winner who would complete the set if her were to prevail here today.

11:45 AM

As it stands . . .

Fast, frenetic and fascinating start to today's stage. There were a flurry of attacks from the starting flag before Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) forged a narrow lead over the peloton. The Belgian breakaway specialist, however, was soon reined in before counter-attacks followed. De Gendt's friend Alessandro De Marchi (Israel-Premier Tech) put in an attack with the Italian who wore the maglia rosa last year spending some time out in front all on his lonesome.

Once onto the first climb of the day, the 9.4km-long Passo Colla, a small group led the stage before, once the road pitched up to its steepest gradient, Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) counter-attacked. The former Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner gained up to around 30sec on the peloton, while further back attacks came and went as riders marked each other.

Wout Poels - GETTY IMAGES
Wout Poels - GETTY IMAGES

The entire peloton is on high alert, teams and riders watching every move. Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) clipped off, but the German was pounced on by race leader Juan Pedro López​ (Trek-Segafredo) who is clearly in no mood to give up his maglia rosa without a fight. Richard Carapaz and his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Jhonatan Narváez ghosted off the front on a descent to cause panic back in the bunch, but again the south Americans were soon reunited with the reduced peloton. The opening 75km of the stage has been raced at a very high tempo, causing the grupetto to firm earlier than may have been expected. If they keep riding at this speed, there may be some riders leaving the race this afternoon if they fail to finish within the time limit.

Speaking of rider who will not be on the start line on Saturday, Michael Morkov (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) was a non-starter, Mark Cavendish's lead-out man has been suffering with a fever overnight. Owain Doull (EF Education-EasyPost), Sergio Samitier (Movistar) and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), meanwhile, abandoned during the early couple of hours of the stage.

Back on the road, Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Woet Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Davide Villella (Cofidis) bridged over to Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) at the front of the race, while Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) set off in pursuit of the leading quartet before the Dutchman was joined by compatriot Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost). That chasing trio finally bridged over, to swell the leading group to seven with 122.5km of this barn-stormer of a stage to go.

07:36 AM

What's on today's menu?

With four categorised climbs of varying difficulty, and its razortooth profile today will be, as former Lotto-Soudal sprinter Adam Blythe said on Eurosport / GCN Race Pass yesterday "hell, hell, hell'' for any rider who wakes up this morning in Calabria with tired legs. For those with diamonds – or should that be Diamante? – in their legs, today could be their moment to glisten. Almost 200 kilometres of racing awaits, from Diamante to Potenza, featuring 4,510 metres in vertical elevation and so this is not one for the feint of heart. Interestingly, there is a sharp kicker at the very end of the stage, so if a small group goes all the way to the line, a puncheur may prevail.

Historically, every man and his dog would be predicting Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) would be getting himself into the breakaway, but I'm not so sure. If a big break clips off up the road and sticks together, the finale may suit someone like Magus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) or Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), although in reality I could probably list 20 or more riders who could win.

In addition to the stage win, the mountains classification competition is likely to spark into life, particularly on the 24km-long Monte Sirino where there are 40 points up for grabs – mountains classification leader Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) starts with 43 points – while there are 18, 18 and nine available on the Passo Colla, Montagna Grande di Viggiano and La Sellata.

So, what does the stage look like?

Stage seven
Stage seven

Here's what the roadbook says about the stage...

A very challenging stage across the Southern Apennines. The start along the sea is the only flat stretch. Past Maratea, the route undulates continuously, with milder or harsher gradients. After climbing the Passo della Colla and reaching Lauria, the stage tackles the Monte Sirino. The route then hits Viggiano, clears the challenging Montagna Grande di Viggiano, and then takes in the final ascent of Sellata before reaching Potenza. Throughout the course, the roads are usually narrow and can be damaged at points, twisting continuously along the mountainside.

The final kilometres (see below) are raced entirely on urban roads. The route runs uphill across the inner city, with sharp gradients at points, and then descends along wide and well-paved avenues. There is a short tunnel at the ‑2 km marker, leading into the finish avenue. The last 350m have an average 8% gradient, topping out at 13%. The finish sits on Tarmac.

finale
finale

07:35 AM

Catch up: Highlights from Thursday's stage

It was a languorous day in the saddle for most of the peloton, with just Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) braving his arm, the Italian riding out in front on his lonesome for 140km, before the sprinters' teams came to the fore. With the bunch approaching the outskirts of Scalea, the prospect of a mouth-watering three-way battle between in-form sprinters Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) had most viewers licking their lips in anticipation. In the end it was Démare who was able to celebrate after a photo-finish, the Frenchman completing back-to-back wins having pipped Ewan to the line, while Cavendish, who may have opened up his sprint a little too early, had to settle for third. Anyway, here are the highlights from the stage . . .

07:35 AM

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage seven at the Giro d'Italia, the 196-kilometre run from Diamante to Potenza.

Following two back-back-back sprinters' stages, today appears to designed for the baroudeurs of the pack, those tough riders who are able to get in a breakaway on hold it over rolling, and occasionally, rough terrain. Those targeting the general classification may not be seen at the pointy end of the stage today, but they will be on high alert throughout what should be a gripping afternoon of racing. But before we have a look at the course, let's have a quick recap of the standings in the top classifications, in other words the competitions where jerseys are awarded to the leaders.

Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) will wear the maglia rosa, or leader's pink jersey, for the third successive day after finishing Thursday's stage safely in the bunch on the same time as Démare.

There were no changes at the top of the points classification on Thursday, and so Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) will wear the maglia ciclamino, cyclamen jersey, for a second successive day.

Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) will once again be dressed in the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, as mountains classification leader.

López also leads the youth classification, but Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) will wear the maglia bianca (white jersey).

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