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In the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia Koen Bouwman has come close to what could have been the best win of his career. The Dutchman rode in the lead in the mountain stage through the Abruzzi until four hundred metres before the finish, when he was passed by the group of favourites. He eventually finished in fifteenth place followed by Tobias Foss in eighteenth place. The Norwegian also holds this position in the overall standings.
The stage to Campo Felice turned into a real fight from start to finish. The pace was high from the start and there was never an easy moment. Just like yesterday, it took a long time before a breakaway got away. When that happened, a large group got established with next to Bouwman also George Bennett for Team Jumbo-Visma. On the penultimate climb Bennett paved the way for Bouwman, who first had to close a gap on Geoffrey Bouchard on the final climb. For a moment it looked like Bouwman was on his way to victory, but the group of favourites decided otherwise.
"When I saw Bernal coming, you know it’s over. He really flew by like a missile. He went really fast."
Afterwards Bouwman had a déjà vu to 2018 when he also seemed to be on his way to victory in the eighth stage, but was then passed by Richard Carapaz. “This really sucks. Especially when you are so close. When I saw Bernal coming, you know it’s over. He really flew by like a missile. He went really fast. It was a brutal stage. In the beginning I tried a number of times to go with the breakaway, but it took a really long time before George and I got away with the right guys. However, on the penultimate climb I didn’t feel really fresh anymore. I tried to save myself as much as possible by jumping from wheel to wheel. At the top I managed to get through and I was able to join Mollema and Storer. On the final climb I took my chance and attacked. I joined the Frenchman in the penultimate kilometre, but the stage was just 400 metres too long. The gravel there was no way to go. This is a pity and dissapointing. But at least my form is good and there are still several opportunities to come. I’ll keep trying.”