Giro d'Italia

Meet Sam Bewley, the tall Kiwi helping defend Giro pink

One of the keys to Simon Yates's success so far in the Giro has been steady support by tough domestiques like Sam Bewley.

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PRATO NEVOSO, Italy (VN) — The towering Kiwi Sam Bewley rarely sees the pink jersey, even though it rests on his teammate’s shoulders.

He is either on the front of the peloton, nose to the wind, or he’s been dropped on the summit finishes while the little climbers fight for the overall. Bewley’s tireless work at the sharp end of the Giro d’Italia peloton has ensured that his Mitchelton-Scott leader Simon Yates remains in control.

Since Yates took the lead on Mount Etna two weeks ago, the story has been the same. The six-foot-four Bewley drives the race daily with Canadian teammate Svein Tuft. Yates rides comfortably tucked in behind.

“Life’s pretty good,” Bewley told VeloNews in a rare down moment. “It’s been a hard few weeks for sure, but we are on the front foot and that makes life more enjoyable. We have a few more days, and hopefully, we can roll into Rome in the pink jersey.”

As Bewley spoke, Yates exited the bus to a roar of applause and cheers. Yates has dominated the Giro d’Italia, but that would not be possible without his seven teammates.

“My job is to look after our leaders, to make sure Simon’s always safe and in good position,” Bewley continued. “And now, that we have the leader’s jersey, it’s about controlling the race and making sure the right breakaways are away. If it’s a breakaway that needs to stay close, then we are on the front, turning away with my boy Sven Tuft and keeping it under control.”

Bewley already escorted Yates through other stage races and grand tours. He defended the British star when in 2016, he rode to sixth overall in the Vuelta a España. That placing revealed Yates’s potential. Never, though, has Bewley had to defend a GC lead for such a long time.

“The way we approach a race doesn’t change a lot because we came here to try to win the Giro anyway. Our job’s been more or less the same since day one, but now we have the added pressure of sort of having to dictate the race a little bit more.

“If it’s a breakaway up the road and something needs to be shut down, the pressure falls on us, but when you are leading to the finish and getting close to the finish, it’s nothing but honor to do that.”

The comparisons have been made to Team Sky and its control of grand tours. Instead of Vasil Kiryienka and Christian Knees, it is Bewley and Tuft, or Jack Haig and Roman Kreuziger in the mountains and not Wout Poels and Sergio Henao leading. And instead of Chris Froome, Yates is in control.

“We are in view a lot more, but I think that everyone sort of steps up when you are leading the race. You have no option but to step up and do your job, and a little bit more if you can. The morale in the team is super high,” Bewley added.

“Team Sky? They are always a strong team. You can see they are motivated team still, maybe they are not as strong as they have been in the past in the Tour de France, but they are keeping in mind that they are also focusing on the Tour de France in July.”

Although Yates’s lead over Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) was cut in half Thursday on stage 18‘s summit finish, the Brit remains in pink, so Bewley will keep driving the pace at the head of the peloton with three stages left in the Giro.