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The German team is dominating the top end of GC with leadership trio Wilco Kelderman, Emanuel Buchmann and Jai Hindley all in the frame. And as a bonus that Bora maybe didn’t expect, Lennard Kämna is up there too.
With four riders in the top-25, the beats are banging loud on the speakers of the Bora bus.
“The mood in the team is amazing. We expected to be with three guys on GC already and now we’re with four. It’s so much more than we expected,” mountain domestique and former MTB pro Ben Zwiehoff told VeloNews. “We’re lucky to have it like this, now we just want to try to keep it that way.”
- Breakaway king Kämna makes good on Bora-Hansgrohe faith at Giro
- Bora-Hansgrohe goes big with Giro ‘triple threat’
Bora Hansgrohe brought one of the strongest lead lines to the start of the Italian tour. Kelderman and Hindley both hit the Giro podium before, and Buchmann came close to the Tour de France top-3 in 2019.
With all three less than one minute back on “leader in the clubhouse” Simon Yates after the opening eight stages, Bora-Hansgrohe wants to keep each prong of its trident in place.
And since Kämna stormed up GC with his Etna attack earlier this week, Bora might as well keep him up there too.
“We’re not focussing on one [leader] rather than the other right now, but we will see. We don’t really have a top rider or rank. Ideally we’ll keep all the guys there after tomorrow [stage 9 to Blockhaus, ed.],” Zwiehoff said. “That would be the perfect situation.”
A summit finish on Blockhaus brings the first phase of the Giro to a brutal close Sunday.
The extra-steep cat.1 climb closes an attritional Abruzzan mountain stage that could call time on Bora’s four-way play.
“It’s a super tough stage again, especially with the weather, it’s super hot. And then we have 5,000 meters of climbing,” Zwiehoff said. “Maybe we’ll have a first real GC day. We’re expecting a hard, fast race as always, let’s see.”
Four leaders means only four helpers. Bora-Hansgrohe’s domestiques have their work piled high in protecting a quartet of captains.
“It’s difficult with four leaders and we try to look after them all as best as possible. For example, yesterday, I needed to cover the first two hours. And that was really hard for sure,” Zwiehoff said.
“We have different roles for different days, but we all try to stay together to make it easier. I give all I have for all the leaders and hopefully, one of them can reach the podium.”
Blockhaus could show just how far Bora’s four-way attack – and its four domestiques – can go.
Breakaway king Këmna and the Cape Epic comeback
Bora-Hansgrohe’s hot start to the Giro isn’t all about GC.
Këmna’s breakaway win on Etna on stage 4 gave the team its first grand tour victory since last year’s Tour de France and confirmed the comeback of one of its home stars after a spell of physical and emotional strife.
Zwiehoff was celebrating hardest for Kämna on top of Etna.
The MTB ace had a helping hand in Këmna’s return to racing when he paired up with his countryman in a “YOLO” ride through the Cape Epic mountain bike race last fall.
“We developed a real strong friendship after Cape Epic. I’m super happy for him that he come back so strong now, so it was super cool to see what he did on Etna,” Zwiehoff said.
“If you compare Lennard from the Cape Epic to Lennard now, it’s completely different, it’s unbelievable how strong he is already. This guy is so talented it’s crazy.”