Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team (Italy) – The 24-year-old captured the biggest victory of his career, Quick-Step Floors' 80th Grand Tour stage triumph.
Maximilian Schachmann put on a dazzling performance on the first summit finish of the third week and rode to a magnificent solo win on Pratonevoso – a 12.9km-long climb averaging 7.2% which featured in the race for just the third time in history – landing the 35th German success in the Corsa Rosa, one that came after a day that belonged to the breakaway, where Quick-Step Floors was represented by the second-year pro and Michael Mørkøv, one of the most experienced riders in the peloton.
"I feel truly amazing, it's great to win a stage on my first Grand Tour", said Maximilian Schachmann.
"This is a really hard Giro, which makes it even nicer to be on top on such a stage. Michael played a big part in this victory, he's my roommate at this race and a great rider from whom I learned a lot, and what he did for me today underlines again our fantastic team spirit", said Max, only the third German rider to win a summit finish at the Giro d'Italia, after Rudi Altig (1966) and Udo Bolts (1992).
Many riders had the goal of making it into the break on the first stage of this week's brutal Alpine triptych, and for that reason attacks came in quick succession soon after the start in Abbiategrasso, a move taking shape only after 30 kilometers. At the feed zone, the twelve men – which included Mørkøv and Grand Tour debutant Schachmann – were 15 minutes ahead and it became clear there were going to make it, especially as Pratonevoso, despite being a long ascent, wasn't excessively steep.
On the first ramps of the climb, the front group was halved, but both Max and Michael made the cut before a double-pronged attack of Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni-Sidermec) left only the two and Schachmann on the front. Inside the last three kilometers, the 24-year-old German put in a searing attack which dispatched Plaza and continued to do most of the work. His opponent tested Max with a brace of attacks, but the Quick-Step Floors rider responded with remarkable ease, before powering clear some 500 meters from the finish, where he raised his arms in celebration, as he became the first rider to win a Grand Tour mountain stage on disc brakes.
After helping Quick-Step Floors write history as the first team in the modern era to score at least five stage victories in four consecutive Grand Tours, Max explained how much this win meant for him: "I was aware that my opponents were experienced, so I kept an eye on them and their moves, but knowing that my legs were strong gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to play it cool in the final, and that's why I opened my sprint so early. This race already was a great experience that I'll never forget, helping Elia in the sprints and enjoying so many fantastic moments with my teammates, but winning a stage at my first Grand Tour presence is something special that serves as confirmation of all the hard work and progress I made since turning pro."
The 196km-long stage, which concluded with 80th Grand Tour stage victory of Quick-Step Floors since the squad's inception, saw Elia Viviani retain the lead in the points classification, three days from Rome, where the Giro d'Italia will draw the curtain on the 101st edition.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images.