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Gallery: Bettiol wins a Classic on Stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia

The 231km stage proved a climb too far for some as the breakaway once again provided the entertainment

Will Strickson
28 May 2021

There's a reason why Milan-San Remo is so long. It's the same reason why Grand Tours insist on having 231km stages in the third week of a gruelling race. After that distance all expectations go out the door and only the toughest of the tough come out on top. 

If Milan-San Remo was shorter, sprinters would win every time and wins like Jasper Stuyven's would be almost impossible. And if Stage 18 of the 2021 Giro d'Italia was shorter, Remi Cavagna would've won. 

Alas, Cavagna's enormous effort to distance himself from the 23-man breakaway proved a tad early and he hit the wall just as EF Education-Nippo's Alberto Bettiol powered away from him.

Bettiol was locked in and looked unstoppable, putting on a tremendous display in a great kit to ride away from the break, Nicolas Roche and finally Cavagna to take his first Grand Tour stage win.

Shop EF Education-Nippo's 2021 Giro d'Italia kit now on Rapha

With his only other professional victories coming in the Tour of Flanders and an Étoile de Bessèges time-trial, the Italian only wins big and his Giro win was as close as you can come to a Classics win as you'll get in a stage race.

Meanwhile 23 minutes behind, the peloton sauntered in as if it was a Classic, undoubtedly saving themselves for the two big days ahead.

Here are the great Chris Auld's best images from Bettiol's Big Day: