Eurosport expert Brian Smith laid into Bora-Hansgrohe for their tactics on Stage 3 at the Giro d’Italia after Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) claimed a sensational win from the breakaway.
On a stage that was expected to be for the sprinters, Bora took control of the peloton in a bid to help star rider Peter Sagan – but only after letting eight riders go clear to form the day’s break.
After driving a relentless pace on the climbs, Bora found little support from their colleagues at Cofidis and UAE Team Emirates, who were protecting Elia Viviani and Fernando Gaviria respectively.
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Bora's early exertions proved costly as help arrived too late, allowing Van der Hoorn – the sole survivor from the break – to hold on for a memorable triumph on his Giro debut.
Smith, speaking on The Breakaway, said he could not believe the team had abandoned the basics – especially given they also had a general classification hopeful in Emanuel Buchmann.
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“In a sprint stage, you don’t let eight riders go down the road,” he said.
“Four at the max. It’s a numbers game. You’ve got eight in every team and if you’ve got a sprinter and GC, that leaves you six riders. Six against eight is always going to be difficult.
“You have to think ‘are the other teams going to help?’. When Sagan puts his mark – ‘I want to win this stage’ – then he puts the whole team on the front. The team just didn’t have the legs to finish that final part off.
“And then it was UAE and Cofidis trying to scramble and try and get it back in the end, which kind of helped Sagan. But getting in that breakaway on a day that is marked for Sagan, you think your chances are very much nothing.
“Taco van der Hoorn was so, so strong in the end and to pull that off was magnificent. But I go back to the basics – if you’ve got eight riders in a team, you don’t let eight riders go down the road.”
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After his team expended so much on the stage, Sagan did not even win the race for second – finishing behind Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) on the podium.
And Smith questioned why Bora were so insistent to drive the pace, effectively ruling out help from other teams.
“Because of the tactics of Bora-Hansgrohe everybody else sat back,” he said.
“They rode so hard on the climbs, Cofidis and UAE just decided, ‘well if you’re going to ride that hard, we’re not going to help you because it’s going to put Viviani in jeopardy, Gaviria in jeopardy’.
“If you do ride hard, like they did, no one else is going to help you. They’re going to say ‘we want to protect our sprinter’. So there were a lot of mistakes made today.”
Bora will have the chance for redemption on Stage 4, which finishes with a punchy climb into Sestola after 186km of racing.
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