Cima breaks through for ‘dream of a lifetime’ Giro stage win

Santa Maria di Sala: Italian cyclist Damiano Cima has earned his first professional victory by winning the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia, while Ecuadorian cyclist Richard Carapaz retained the overall lead.

Cima, who rides for Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane, had been part of a three-man breakaway which was caught by the peloton in the final metres of the mainly downhill, 222-kilometre route from Valdaora to Santa Maria di Sala on Thursday.

Damiano Cima heads toward his first victory in the Giro.Credit:EPA

However, the 25-year-old Cima held on in the bunch sprint to get his team's first Giro victory, in his first grand tour.

"I can't believe what just happened," Cima said.

"I've spent so many kilometres in breakaways during this Giro. I thought I'd never make it but I've won today. It's insane. It's the dream of a lifetime."

Pascal Ackermann was second, with Simone Consonni third.

Ackermann, who was bidding for a third stage victory in this year's race, hit his handlebars in frustration as he was pipped to the line by Cima.

"For sure I'm a little disappointed I did not win," the German said.

"If you saw how the breakaway went, for sure he's a lucky winner today. He was the strongest today. They were fighting really hard against our team when they were pulling."

The best Australian on stage 18 was Mitchelton-Scott's Lucas Hamilton in 68th, while Lotto-Soudal's Adam Hansen finished 73rd.

Carapaz remains one minute and 54 seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali and 2:16 ahead of Slovenian favourite Primoz Roglic.

"It's been a quiet stage but a long one, intense at the beginning only," said Carapaz, who rides for Movistar.

"I've had a good support from my team again. Tomorrow will be an important test but I'm confident to keep the maglia rosa."

Australian team Mitchelton-Scott's Simon Yates is 7:13 off the general classification lead in eighth.

Hamilton is the best-placed Australian overall but he's still 1:02:59 off the pace, while only four seconds behind him is countryman Ben O'Connor, riding for Dimension Data.

Fellow Australians and Team Sunweb riders Christopher Hamilton and Jai Hindley are 1:09:23 and 1:20:56 behind Carapaz, respectively.

The Giro heads back into the mountains for Friday's 19th stage, a 151km route from Treviso, with an uphill finish to San Martino di Castrozza.

The three-week race finishes in Verona on Sunday.

AP

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