The Tour Take | GIRO D'ITALIA Stage 9
1st – Simon Yates
2nd – Thibaut Pinot @s.t
3rd – Esteban Chaves @s.t
This being the last stage before the rest day, the organisers weren’t afraid to ramp the difficulty up. A category 2 climb, the Roccaraso, followed by two category 1 climbs back to back, finishing atop the Gran Sasso D’Italia. The last of these category 1 climbs was 25km long, and though only averaging around 4%, the last 4.5km averaged 8%. At 225km, this stage was an epic, and the last half was very, very tough.
Simon Yates holds the Maglia Rosa, extending his gap thanks to the time bonus and Tom Dumoulin being gapped. Esteban Chaves now sits in 2nd, 36 seconds back, with Dumoulin in 3rd. Yates also takes the KOM Jersey from Chaves. Viviani holds the Points Jersey, and Carapaz holds the Young Riders’ Jersey.
A large break went away early including Gianluca Brambilla, Giovanni Visconti, Simone Andreetta, Fausto Masnada, Hugh Carthy, Manuele Boaro, Alex Turrin, Davide Ballerini, Natnael Berhane, Cesare Benedetti, Tim Wellens, Maxim Belkov, Mickael Cherel and Laurent Didier. They got a maximum gap of 8 minutes, which came with around 80km to go
The Final Climb
The break still had around 4 minutes lead at the foot of the final climb, and over the first half of it, the group was reduced to Brambilla, Carthy, Cherel, Masnada, Boaro and Brambilla, while their gap was reduced to 2:30. Masnada was the first to launch a proper attack, which he did with 17km to go, while Manuele Boaro got caught in no man's land, between Masnada and the group.
By 5km to go, when the hardest section began, he had only 1:20 to the peloton, and Boaro and Carthy, the last of the small group, were swept up shortly after. The peloton was still surprisingly large thanks to a strong headwind, with around 30 riders left. Masnada lasted only until the 3km to go point, as the group of favourites fought out the finish.
The Winning move
With gruppo compacto in the last 3km, a stage win was on the line. Ciccone was by far the most aggressive, attacking several times. But Pozzovivo took up the pace with 700m to go and dropped everyone bar Yates, Chaves, Carapaz and Pinot. With 200 to go, Pozzovivo slowed and Yates came around the outside, holding off Pinot to take a win in the Maglia Rosa and his first Giro Stage.
The GC Movers and Shakers
Several GC contenders were found out on the climb to Gran Sasso, with the most significant names being Froome and Aru, who lost 1:07 and 1:14 respectively. The chances of both look done, thanks to lost time and poor form.
We’ve quite clearly seen who the top 5 climbers are - Pozzovivo, Yates, Chaves, Carapaz and Pinot; those 5 look a fair bit better than everyone else right now. You’d say Dumoulin is in the next level of climbers, but with his TT ability, he can afford to lose a little bit of time. Guys like Bennett, Lopez, Woods and Bilbao are going to be sniffing the top 10, while Rohan Dennis is still in 8th too, again riding smartly.
A great result for Ben O’Connor in 11th on the stage – he’s climbing superbly and closing in on the top 10.
11th – Ben O’Connor @ 0:26 (14th on GC @ 2:36, 3rd on Young Riders)
21st – Rohan Dennis @ 1:02 (8th on GC @ 2:05, 8th on Young Riders)
32nd – Jack Haig @ 2:16 (38th on GC @ 20:34)
96th – Adam Hansen @25:58 (90th on GC @ 1:04:01
100th Chris Hamilton @ 25:58 (119th on GC @ 1:18:15
115th – Zak Dempster @ 25:58 (131st on GC @ 1:21:12)
121st – Mitch Docker @ 25:58 (159th on GC @ 1:35:05)
The NExt Stage
It’s a rest day now – looking ahead to Tuesday we should have a sprint. A cat 2 climb comes early, followed by a cat 3 climb, and a Cat 4 climb comes 30km from the end, but it's not an overly hard stage. The sprint looks technical; two 90 degree corners with 1.2km to go, followed by a right-hand nearly hairpin and another 90-degree corner to the right. The last 700m of road has a long curve to the left, and a straight final 300.
You want a strong team for the finish – QuickStep should be that, but haven’t been the well-oiliest of well-oiled teams so far. Viviani likely knows he cant coast to sprint wins now, having been beaten by Sam Bennett in Praia a Marie. Back him to bounce back.