Hugo Hofstetter’s day started with him wearing a pink souvenir Giro d’Italia t-shirt on the IPT team bus in appreciation of this great race. It ended with the Frenchman finishing fifth in Cento, his best Grand Tour result since his first spell with the team in 2020 and 2021.

Hofstetter’s final position might have been even better were it not for him getting boxed in trying to pass fading riders and lead-out men approaching the line.

“For sure I feel really happy,” says the French sprinter. “Of course, the emotions always change in cycling: a few days ago [when he finished 13th in Francavilla al Mare] I would have been really happy with fifth. Today I’m happy but in the situation I was in, I think I could have gone for the podium. I had to stop the sprint at 50 meters to go but managed to get some speed back.

“But it’s important to remember that there are a lot of good sprinters here, the best in the world, so I feel really happy today.”

Hofstetter credited his strong result to a change in tactic for Friday’s finish, which came following a pan-flat stage in Emilia–Romagna that was briefly illuminated by crosswinds that split the peloton into three groups.

“The last sprints I was maybe too near to the front, too much in the wind, because I didn’t want to be blocked,” he says. “Today I told myself to gamble a little bit more, and stay a bit further behind in the final.

“Also, with the echelons, I knew the sprinters’ teams had spent a lot of energy so they’d be in trouble for the last kilometer.

“At the end, the guys were really good – they gave me the bottles and helped me whenever I needed it. [Simon] Clarkey kept me in position in the final kilometers, then I managed to stay where I wanted to approaching the line.”