After yesterday’s sleepy stage, Stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia provided the sparks: EF Education-EasyPost’s 22-year-old Irishman Ben Healy took the biggest win of his career today (Saturday), in a stage where for the first time the contenders for the win faced off against each other. The second and Primoj Roglic managed to reduce a few seconds from Ramko Avenpol. Canadian Derek G of Israel Premier Tech finished second. Andreas Lakensund managed to keep another day on the pink jersey.
Today’s section was a leg-breaking 207-kilometer section in the Apennines, from the city of Tarni to the town of Fossombrone. The route started with a ten kilometer climb, and continued all day with ups and downs, including two graded peaks.
The pace was terrible from the start, and after about ten kilometers a small breakaway group was formed which included Healy and G. Dabuka continued to ride fast after the escapers, with the average speed in the first hour being close to 50 km/h. But, after the intermediate sprint at the 50th kilometer, Dabuka calmed down and allowed the gap to the escapers to grow.
Watch the decisive moments of the segment:
A group of riders managed to bridge the gap and the leading group increased to 13 riders. About 50 kilometers to the end, towards the first ascent to the summit of Cappuccini Island – a 2.8 kilometer category 4 climb, with difficult gradients that reached 19% – Healy opened a gap from the rest of the escapers.
The Irishman is one of the discoveries of the season. After impressing in the Ardennes and finishing fourth in Liège-Baston-Liège, he arrived at the Giro as one of the hot names. He lost a lot of time in the first few days, so he said he would wait for a chance to win the segment. Today it happened, thanks to a particularly impressive riding display. The margin at the end was the biggest victory in a section of the Giro in five years.
G, who achieved the best result of his career and gave Israel Premier-Tech its best result in the race of the year, said after the segment that it felt like a victory. “I was hoping to get a podium and I’m really happy. At the beginning of the Giro I thought there was no chance and I was just hoping to survive and gain experience. It’s really unbelievable.”
While the escapees were fighting for the victory, the battle for the general classification was reignited. The Dabuka reached Cappuccini about five minutes after Healy, and the Bora Hansborough team tried at the beginning of the climb to put pressure on the other riders for Lennard Kamena and Alexander Vlasov. But it was Roglich who took control of things, looking great, moving forward and opening a gap on Owenpool. At first Kamena and Lansund rode after him, but he managed to escape from them as well.
Avenpole continued to ride at a steady pace and it seemed that he was closing the gap from the Slovenian, but towards the end of the climb it was Teo Geigo Hart and Grint Thomas who managed to bridge the gap to Roglic and ride with him on the descent to the end of the section.
Avenpole finished 14 seconds behind them, along with other senior riders, including Joao Almeida and Damiano Caruso. Lekansund finished 20 seconds behind Avenpol, along with Vlasov and Kamena, and retained first place in the overall standings. Tomorrow, in the section against the clock, he is expected to return the pink shirt to Owenpool.
Preparing for section 9:
Tomorrow is expected to be a very significant day – a completely flat anti-clockwise section of 35 kilometers from Swiniano sul Rubicon to Cesena. Four years ago, in a segment of similar length, Roglich won. However, then he did not compete in Owenpool. If the Belgian displays a dominance similar to the one he showed in the first section this year, he can gain a very large advantage over his rivals. If he feels tired after the day, the other riders can hope to close the gaps. One of the prominent candidates for victory in the segment, Filippo Gana, retired this morning after being found positive for Corona.
Results of the first five riders in section 8:
1. Ben Healy (Ireland – EF Education-EasyPost) 4:44:24
2. Derek G (Canada – IPT) + 1:49
3. Filippo Zanna (Italy – Jayco AlUla) 1:49
4. Warren Bergil (France – Arkéa Samsic) 1:49
5. Carlos Verona (Spain – Movistar Team) 2:12
5. Primož Roglic (Slovenia – Jumbo-Visma) – 3:10
The first six riders in the GC general standings after segment 8:
1. Andreas Lakensund (Norway – DSM) – 33:52:10 hours
2. Remko Avnapol (Belgium – Soudal – Quick Step) + 0.08
3. Primož Roglic (Slovenia -Jumbo-Visma) + 0:38
4. João Almeida (Portugal – UAE) + 0:40
5. Gairnet Thomas (Wales – INEOS Grenadiers) + 0:52
6. Theo Gaigan Hart (England – INEOS Grenadiers) +0:56
The shirt wearers after segment 8:
Pink shirt (the leader of the column) – Andreas Lekansund Team DSM
White shirt (the leading young rider) – Andreas Lecansund Team DSM
Blue shirt (the top climber in mountain ranking) – David Bais EOLO-Kometa
Purple shirt (the leading sprinter in the ranking) – Yonatan Milan Bahrain Victorious