Caruso Eighth At Giro d'Italia; Gilbert 'Most Aggressive'


Damiano Caruso of the BMC Racing Team finished eighth Sunday at the Giro d'Italia while teammate Philippe Gilbert earned "most aggressive rider" honors and was also awarded the Bonacossa Trophy for his two stage wins.

Caruso's result was a career-best in a grand tour, bettering his ninth place at the Vuelta a España last year. He finished 12:08 behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), who won the Giro d'Italia for the second time.

"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 my goal."

Gilbert took the most aggressive title by three points over Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo). With the help of teammates Marcus Burghardt and Silvan Dillier, Gilbert attacked about four kilometers from the special sprint line to overtake Kruijswijk in the special classification that combines points for sprints, climbing and race finishes.

"This morning at the meeting, we saw he could get this prize," BMC Racing Team 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 took home the Bonacossa Trophy, as voted on by a jury of journalists, for producing the "best exploit." He won on the uphill finish at Monte Berico in Vicenza on Stage 12, then soloed to victory from 19 kilometers out in Verbania on Stage 18. Gilbert joins Cadel Evans (2010) as the only two BMC Racing Team riders to earn the honor.

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the team achieved everything it aimed to - and more - during the three-week race.

"We certainly have a lot to be proud of," Ochowicz said. "We wanted to win at least one stage while getting Damiano in the top 10. And we ended up winning two stages in a good display of teamwork both times. So we exceeded our expectations. It is really a tribute to the riders, as well as the sport directors and the staff who worked hard to support them during three good weeks."

Baldato said he was proud of the eight riders who pedaled their BMC teammachine SLR01s all 3,486 kilometers of 21 stages. Only Stefan Küng, who crashed out on a rain-soaked descent on Stage 12, did not make it to Milan.

"The team was really good this entire Giro," Baldato said. "We are really happy because this was not an easy Giro. Every day, we saw the guys giving everything and doing whatever we asked of them. It is nice to see us have the success because everyone worked so hard."

Besides Caruso, two other BMC Racing Team riders were in the top 20: Amaël Moinard was 15th (30:35 behind) and Darwin Atapuma was 16th (40:36). The BMC Racing Team also finished second in the team classification behind Astana Pro Team.

Rick Zabel, the youngest rider in the race, joined teammates Atapuma, Brent Bookwalter, Burghardt, Caruso, Dillier, Gilbert and Moinard as the BMC Racing Team's other finishers. It was the first Giro for Burghardt, Dillier and Zabel.

Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step) won the final stage ahead of Luke Durbridge (ORICA-GreenEDGE) as the pair broke away on the final circuits in Milan during the 178-km stage.