The 2018 Giro’s first Italian stage finished in beautiful Caltagirone, a city famous for its ceramics. The town’s centerpiece, a 142-step staircase decorated with ceramic tiles, was decked out for the Giro with potted pink geraniums in the shape of a bike racer and three giant flowers, and a ceramic bike was on display in the stage headquarters.
A huge crowd cheered Tim Wellens on as he made the winning move on the steep rise to the finish line.
Thibaut Pinot’s face showed the strain of his strong finish in a small group of GC favorites.
Stybar with helicopter:
The next day, I went to the stage start in Agrigento, but skipped the finish in favor of a visit to the Greek Temples at the Valle dei Templi.
It was a bit of an adventure getting to the stage six finish area on Etna, since the stage headquarters and press parking were 3.5 kilometers from the finish, and the press shuttle could only go about half that distance because the sponsors’ caravan was snaking its way through the clogged road. After a short hike, though, I made it to the finish line in plenty of time to see Esteban Chaves win the stage with his teammate (and new maglia rosa) Simon Yates just behind.
While everyone else looked back to see if they’d dropped Froome (they hadn’t), Pinot took third place on the stage, picking up a four-second time bonus.
Henao and Elissonde finished about 30 seconds later, 15th and 18th on the stage.
Rohan Dennis put up good fight, but ceded just over a minute, and the maglia rosa, to Simon Yates.
Louis Meintjes was 32nd on the stage, 3’30” down on Chaves and Yates:
Even the podium girls’ megawatt grins couldn’t compete with Chaves’s million-dollar smile.
Yates looked pretty happy, too!