The Tour Take | GIRO D'ITALIA Stage 8
1st – Richard Carapaz
2nd – Davide Formolo @ 0:07
3rd – Thibaut Pinot @ 0:07
209km long, Stage 8 was about the final climb, the Montevergine di Mercogliano. 17km at 5%, it’s a fast climb, not a hard one. The early part of the stage was rolling with some uncategorised ascents, but the Cat 2 finale was the one true test of the day. Aside from being a long day, it was a wet day, as rain fell in the final hour of the day.
No change to any of the jerseys. Mitchelton Scott’s dominance continues with Yates wearing Pink, and Chaves wearing Blue. Viviani holds the Sprint Jersey, while Richard Carapaz stretches his White Jersey advantage.
Without a leg breaking finish today and harder days on the horizon, it looked like the break was going to be allowed to fight for the stage finish. It took a while to get established with a winning break looking likely. The final break included Davide Villela, Matteo Montaguti, Rodolfo Torres, Matej Mohoric, Koen Bowman, Tosh Van der Sande, and Jan Polanc.
The group got a max gap of 5 minutes; and it looked like the break would be allowed to stay away. But with 30km to go, other teams joined Mitchelton-Scott in the chase and the gap started to close quickly. At the foot of the final climb it was only 2 minutes, and halfway up it was down to 55 seconds.
The Winning move
Koen Bouwman attacked from a group of Montaguti, Polanc, and Mohoric with 5km to go as the gap was still coming down. He held a 15-second gap over the peloton with 1.5km to go, but his old breakaway members had been caught by the peloton. That was all the temptation that Ricand hard Carapaz needed, attacking from the main group, passing Bouwman with a kilometre to go, flying up the final slopes while the group rode tempo behind. Some action in the final few hundred metres behind saw Pinot and Formolo take bonus seconds, and the gap to Carapaz finish at 7 seconds.
The GC Movers and Shakers
Is Richard Carapaz really for real? He kinda seems so right now, even if he's young and unknown. The Ecuadorian is now one of the big stories from the final week, such is the surprise to see him at the front. He won the Vuelta Asturias earlier this spring, finished 11th at Paris Nice and looks another south American rider for the future. His time trialling looks questionable but not terrible, so the stage 16 TT might hurt, but there’s just so many summit finishes here, so there's time for him to make.
Chris Froome rides like the sort of guy who crashes uphill, and he only went and done it on the final climb. The old rain/slick roads/hairpin combo provides problems on the way downhill usually, but with rain pouring on the final climb it was getting sketchy. Froome’s wheels slipped out with about 3km to go, and despite getting back to the front of the peloton easily, looked super uncomfortable around corners for the rest of the way. He’s losing time everywhere right now, it’s hard to see him recovering from this.
Davide Formolo recovered from a disappointing Etna stage to finish second – that’s a big boost for the Italian’s hopes after Patrick Konrad probably overtook him in the Bora pecking-Hansgroherder.
13th – Rohan Dennis @ 0:07 (6th on GC @ 0:53)
36th – Ben O’Connor @ 0:28 (17th on GC @ 2:00, 3rd on Young Riders)
50th – Jack Haig @ 1:49 (48th on GC @ 18:08, 8th on Young Riders)
82nd – Chris Hamilton @ 14:07 (161st on GC @ 1:08:57
95th – Adam Hansen @ 15:12 (85th on GC @ 37:53)
126th – Mitchell Docker @ 16:28 (130th on GC @ 55:04)
137th – Zak Dempster @ 16:28 (117th on GC @ 52:07)
Stages 6 and 8 saw some big climbs, but this is the first stage with multiple ascents. The first climb of the day is the cat 2 Roccaraso, a grinding 9km climb with a max of 12% near the top, but the finale is super tough. The stage finishes at over 2000 metres, with two consecutive category 1 climbs and no descent between them.
The first climb to Calasico is 15 kilometres long averaging 6% with a section at 10% near the top. From the top, the road continues on flat roads for 5km, at which point the Gran Sasso D’Italia begins. A fairly irregular climb that lasts 16.5km with a few small descents in the middle, the last 5km averages 7.4% with a section of 13% coming 1.5km from the line.
This stage looks super hard with the last 50km essentially one climb. With the hardest part of the Gran Sasso coming near the top, you’re looking to your flyweight climbers as favourites. Pozzovivo has been in good form, but Simon Yates has been super and knows he needs more time over Tom Dumoulin before the ITT, and will be trying to take it anywhere he can. If a break goes, Tim Wellens won a Giro stage finishing on Roccaraso two years ago, while Reuben Plaza and Jan Hirt might like the finish and both enjoy breakaways