There will celebrations galore for Australian WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott with stage wins at both the Giro d’Italia and Tour of Norway on Friday. Within minutes of Colombian Esteban Chaves winning Stage 19 in brilliant breakaway fashion, Italian teammate Edoardo Affini was celebrating his first ever pro win in similar style.
The 22-year-old neo-pro managed to keep just enough in the tank to out-muscle his four remaining fellow breakaway riders to hold off a surging peloton bent on closing the gap and vying for the Stage 4 win in Sandefjord.
“It was a big fight between the breakaway and the bunch and we managed to stay away just enough,” Affini explained to Eurosport after spending 167 kilometres at the front of the longest stage (224km) of the six-day race.”When I did the last corner I could see the finish line and knew it was now or never, so just did my sprint and I am happy with my first win.”
Break-mates Anders Skaarseth (Uno-X Norwegian Development Team), Armée Sander (Lotto Soudal), Rasmus Quaade (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team) and Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling Academy) all crossed the line on the wheel of Affini, with Alexander Kristoff leading the field seven seconds behind.
Tom Scully (EF-Education First), one of the original breakaway riders, fell off the front in the final circuit, leaving the five survivors to fight for the finish.
When asked if he ever felt confident of taking the break to the line, Affini admits he had an inkling, but he did not allow himself to become overly optimistic due to the rapid closing capacity of the chase.
“When I saw the gap was almost five minutes, I thought maybe,” said Affini, who joined Mitchelton-Scott this season after two years with Dutch Continental team SEG Racing Academy. “But with the bunch, it is always super hard because they go super fast and can close like this [snaps fingers]."
Previous stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data), remains in the overall leader with Affini up 30 places into second tied on time with the three-time race winner, while opening stage winner Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) and current points leader Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) are third and fourth respectively, seven- and eight-seconds adrift of the yellow jersey.
The race resumes on Saturday with the potentially race-deciding penultimate stage — a 159.7km mountain stage from Skien to Drammen.
For full stage and race results, click here.