After nine days of racing through wet and wild conditions on the roads of Italy, CCC Team headed into a well-deserved first rest day of the 2019 Giro d’Italia with Amaro Antunes sitting in an impressive seventh place in the general classification.
Making his grand tour debut, the 28-year-old Portuguese rider pushed through heavy rain and wind in Sunday’s predominantly uphill Stage 9 time trial to finish 3:54 off the winning time and preserve his top-10 GC standing.
“Today was a hard day for me,” said Antunes who powered his Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike with a set of pre-production aero wheels labeled #overachieve through the driving rain and a 12km category 2 climb in the 35km TT course in Riccione. “When I started, the rain was really heavy and on the short downhill sections it was very complicated and it wasn’t possible to get any more speed with all of the water. Tomorrow is the rest day, so I am looking forward to relaxing my legs before we start to focus on the climbing to come.”
Spaniard Victor de la Parte posted the fastest time among CCC Team riders in the critical time trial stage, finishing 16th. He now sits 21st overall in the GC.
The first week of the 102nd Giro d’Italia was marked by a number of long stages. Antunes joined a breakaway on the 238km Stage 6, showing his strength on the rolling roads to San Giovanni Rotondo. He ended up finishing 10th and moving up to sixth overall in the GC.
“There was a big fight to make it into the breakaway and we were all trying at the beginning,” Antunes said. “Once the group of 13 riders formed, we were all working well together because we knew there was a big possibility that the breakaway would go all the way today.”
CCC Team sports director Gabriele Missaglia said the team’s main objective coming into the Giro was to race aggressively and look for breakaway opportunities. He was pleased with Antunes’s performance in his first-ever grand tour.
“I am happy with Amaro’s performance today,” Missaglia said after Stage 6. “It was a long and hard stage, but he did a great job in the breakaway all day. We knew we needed to have someone in there, so we were trying right from the beginning of the stage and thankfully our efforts paid off. Amaro was looking good and although he wasn’t able to go with the winning move, we can take a lot of positives out of his effort.”
After a rest day on Monday, the Giro continues with Stage 10 on Tuesday. Following two flat stages for the sprinters, Stage 13 heads into the mountains with a summit finish atop the Colle de Nivolet. From there, riders will face the mighty Passo Gavia and Passo del Mortirolo in the coming days. The three-week race concludes June 2 in Verona.