Saturday 16 December 2017

De Clercq sneaks first victory

Rookie Bart de Clercq clung on for his first career victory at the Giro d'Italia yesterday, winning stage seven by half a wheel on the first summit finish of this year's race.

The 24-year-old Omega-Pharma Lotto rider took off seven kilometres from the finish on the Montevergine di Mercogliano climb, but his lead evaporated as a 26-strong pack of favourites raised their pace behind.

But De Clercq held on to claim a narrow victory ahead of Italian overall contender Michele Scarponi and Czech Roman Kreuziger. Pieter Weening remains in the overall lead for a third successive day.

Riding his first major Tour, an emotional De Clercq dedicated his win to fellow Belgian Wouter Weylandt, who died on Monday in a high-speed crash.

"It was too close a finish for me to show it when I raised my arms, but this win is for Wouter and his family," De Clercq said. "I didn't think I would be able to make it to the finish, but somehow I made it."

Spain's Alberto Contador said there had been no chance to gain any advantage at the top of the overall standings.

"The last climb was very long, but it was so steady there wasn't a chance of making any real difference between the favourites," said Contador, who finished ninth on the stage.

Giro d'Italia,

Live, British Eurosport, 1.30

Irish Independent

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