Not everyone can aim to win the Giro d’Italia. That was certainly the case for BMC Racing and Trek Factory Racing, two teams that came to the Giro with specific goals that did not include the pink jersey.
Both squads came away satisfied with their Giro haul. BMC scored two stage victories with Philippe Gilbert and Damiano Caruso reached his pre-Giro goal of a top-10 result, finishing eighth overall. Trek secured the red points jersey with Giacomo Nizzolo, who played a nervous tactical game in Sunday’s final sprint into Milano.
Nizzolo and Lampre-Merida’s Sacha Modolo were close on points at the start of the stage, and when a two-man breakaway pulled clear on the final laps in Milan, Trek had to make some quick calculations: chase down the break to try to set up Nizzolo for an elusive stage win, and possibly risk losing the points jersey, or, let the break stay clear, all but securing the top spot on the podium.
“We decided to go for the jersey, and let the breakaway be. I could have lost everything if we arrived all together,” Nizzolo said. “We wanted to put pressure on Lampre in the chase, and they tried, but they didn’t have enough to bring it back. … For sure to win both, the stage and the jersey, would have been the perfect scenario, but anyway, I can be happy with this jersey in Milan.”
Nizzolo was third in the bunch sprint behind winner Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) to secure his first points jersey of his career. Gilbert was second, with Modolo taking third in the points race.
The 26-year-old Italian came into this Giro with the double goal of winning the points jersey (he was second in 2014 to Nacer Bouhanni) and a stage. He’s come close, with four times runner-up in 2014, and two more times second during this Giro.
BMC, meanwhile, also leaves the Giro satisfied. Caruso delivered on his promise of leading the team in the Italian grand tour, bettering his career-best of ninth in last year’s Vuelta a España with a solid eighth at the even more demanding Giro.
“This is definitely a highlight of my career,” Caruso said. “This was a very hard Giro, and I was fighting to keep in the top 10 every day. I have my teammates to thank for helping me achieve this goal.”
Gilbert entered the Giro intent on making up for a less-than-expected spring classics campaign, when a crash at Flèche Wallonne set him back in his early-season goals. The Belgian raced to win in the four stages that fit his abilities, securing third in stage 3 and winning stages 12 and 18 in masterful tactical strokes.
On Sunday’s finale, Gilbert pulled another coup and snagged the “most aggressive prize” that combined points from sprints, climbing, and race finishes by going on the attack with teammates Marcus Burghardt and Silvan Dillier 4 kilometers from the day’s special sprint.
“[Sunday] morning at the meeting, we saw he could get this prize,” BMC sport director Fabio Baldato said. “Philippe was only two points behind and it was only a sprint and a finish today, so we thought we would give it a try. It was our motivation for the day.”
Gilbert also was awarded the Bonacossa Trophy, awarded by a jury of journalists, for delivering the “best exploit.” Amael Moinard (15th) and Darwin Atapuma (16th) both pushed into the top 20 overall, giving BMC second in the team rankings behind Astana.