Zana, wearing the tricolore Italian national road champion’s jersey and riding his Giant Propel Advanced SL team bike with a CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem, outsprinted breakaway companion Thibaut Pinot at the end of a mountainous 160km stage to earn the win on home turf. It was the 24-year-old’s first grand tour stage victory.
Following a sprint day on Wednesday, it was a return to the mountains for Stage 18. The action started early with plenty of attacks, and the peloton exploded over the Category 1 Passo della Crosetta. That’s where Zana joined a seven-rider breakaway that would hold its advantage until a trio of climbs in the final 30km.
In the end, the stage came down to a duel between Zana and the veteran Pinot. The two distanced themselves from the chasers on the final climb, holding a gap of about one minute as they hit the steeps of the final climb. Zana played it to perfection, launching his final sprint with about 200 meters to go.
“I tried to stay behind until the last moment as I thought that an occasion such as this is quite rare, and I wanted to give it everything,” said Zana. “It was a 50/50 opportunity but in the end I had something extra. It’s an incredible feeling, to win a stage at the Giro d’Italia wearing the Italian national champion jersey.”
Meanwhile, just behind the battle for the stage win, Zana’s teammate Eddie Dunbar, also riding with a CADEX 50 Ultra WheelSystem, was having a terrific day as well. A first-year rider on Team Jayco AlUla, riding in only his second grand tour ever, the 26-year-old Irishman keeps moving up the ranks. He climbed from eighth to fifth overall on an impressive day in the mountains two days prior, and then gained another spot on Stage 18 with another brilliant climbing performance.
“When [Primož] Roglič attacked, I just went at my own pace, and I knew [João] Almeida was coming across,” Dunbar said. “When they caught me I just sat on them as much as I could. We’re taking it day by day. These victories don’t come around that often and I think this victory is just a credit to everyone on the team. Chapeau!”