Nikolay Mihaylov finished in 36th place on Stage 18 of Giro d’Italia. Philippe Gilbert took the win on another demanding day in the Italian Grand Tour.
Stage 18 was expected to be the last chance for the escapees. This is why so many riders made an attempt to get in the break. The attacks began soon after the start and they didn’t stop until 40 kilometers into the stage. This is when a 14-man group broke clear. It included Chad Haga (Giant Alpecin), Davide Villella (Cannondale Garmin), Matteo Busato (SouthEast), Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge), Damiano Cunego (Nippo Fantini), Roberto Ferrari (Lampre Merida), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM), David De La Cruz (Etixx Quick Step), Philippe Gilbert, Amael Moinard (both BMC), Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani CSF), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) and Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2r La Mondiale). Also Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Fabio Felline (Trek) wanted to bridge across but the gap was too large and they were forced to let it go.
Ferrari and Cunego, who were riding in the front, were involved in a crash with motorbike. The former didn’t hurt himself significantly and tried to catch the group and the latter had to abandon the race.
Eventually, the day’s main breakaway consisted of 12 riders. It gained over 13 minutes advantage, with 53 kilometers to go. It was obvious that the winner will be selected from the escape.
Before the only categorized climb of the day (Monte Ologno, 10,4km, 9% avg, 13% max, cat.1), a big crash occurred in the peloton. One of the riders involved was Grega Bole. The Slovenian hurt his shoulder but decided to continue.
On Monte Ologno, the leading group split and GC leader, Alberto Contador launched an attack from the bunch. He quickly created a gap and reached the top 7:40 minutes behind the leading four – Siutsou, De la Cruz, Moinard, Bongiorno – and 1 minute ahead of chasers (with no CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders among them).
On the descend towards the finish Nocentini, Gilbert, Chavanel and Bursato joined the leaders. Gilbert didn’t wait too long with his move and attacked right away. He maintained his lead all the way to the finish and soloed to victory. He arrived 47 seconds ahead of Bongiorno and 1:01 ahead of Chavanel. Alberto Contador came in 6:05 behind the winner and 1:13 before his biggest GC rivals.
The highest ranked rider of CCC Sprandi Polkowice on the stage was Nikolay Mihaylov, who finished in 36th place (14:45 back). Despite crashing, Bole completed the stage. He sits 41st overall.