On paper, stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia seemed to be one of the easiest. Easy or not, it was definitely eventful. ISN missed the first group, chased, came back, crashed, chased, came back again, and sprinted with Rudy Barbier to 6th place.
The wind in the rural parts of the south of Italy played a significant role in the race, and even though everything came together in the final, many legs were already tired from the massive efforts exerted throughout the day. Understandable when you note that the riders set a record average speed of more than 51 km/h over the 143 kilometers in this stage.
There were cross tailwinds straight from the start, the peloton was split into at least five pieces, and ISN was one of the teams chasing. Halfway into the race all echelons regrouped, but that did not mean the fight was over.
ISN was, unfortunately, involved in a big crash with 45 kilometers to go. Sprinters Davide Cimolai and Rudy Barbier hit the deck, Matthias Brändle and Rick Zabel were also in the mix. They all continued, and started chasing the peloton again.
Barbier praised how the team worked for him when they were trying to come back to the pack and when he reached the front group with a few kilometers to go, it was Rick Zabel in particular guiding him to the front.
“He was super strong today,” Barbier recapped. “In the last few kilometers we gained so many positions. By doing so, the team ultimately gave me the chance to sprint.”
The French sprinter gave it a go in the last few hundred meters and brought ISN its second-best result this Giro, so far: sixth.
Our injuries from the crash do not seem too bad. Barbier said his wrist and knee hurts a little bit, Cimo said everything is alright. Brändle and Zabel did not hit the deck themselves and were only stopped by the massive tumble – they did not suffer any major injuries.