Ben Healy wins stage 8 of the Giro and the favorites start to show their strengths
The first battle between Remco Evenepoel, the INEOS Grenadiers and Primoz Roglic overshadowed the spectacular victory of Ben Healy who gave us a tremendous solo ride of 50 kilometers after releasing the rest of the members of a breakaway of great quality.
Remco Evenepoel shows weakness in early attacks
Another marathon day in the Giro d'Italia in which the race dawned with the hangover of yesterday's stage. On the one hand the numerous criticisms of the lack of combativeness of the favorites in what should have been the first day with influence on the general classification and, on the other hand, the topic on everyone's lips was the very long evacuation from the summit of Gran Sasso and the subsequent kilometer-long transfer to the hotels. The controversy was fueled by the transfer of some riders, such as the Jumbo-Visma, by helicopter, an aspect that even the UCI itself criticized in a statement a few hours later.
Filippo Ganna's withdrawal from the stage, affected by Covid19, left us without one of the main attractions for tomorrow's time trial.
Ahead, 207 km of medium mountain terrain with a final part that invited to fight with three passes in the last 50 kilometers, the last of them, I Capuccini, which was also the first pass of the final triple, being crowned only 6 kilometers from the conclusion on its second pass.
The stage started fast with numerous riders trying to find the breakaway in view of the last two days in which the adventurers have had a chance to win. In the end, as is often the case on these occasions, the breakaway that consolidated was of high quality, with names like Carlos Verona, Tom Skujins, Paret-Peintre or Ben Healy, or even Bais, but not Davide, the winner of yesterday's stage, but his brother Mattia.
The race went quietly once the breakaway was defined but, unlike the previous days' quietness, today we would see action. On the first pass through I Capuccini the escapees started the hostilities and Ben Healy, with his non-conformist style, did not hesitate to go solo in a long ride to the finish. Meanwhile, behind, INEOS-Grenadiers took command of the peloton again to force the pace on this climb.
Meanwhile, Ben Healy continued to show the class he had already shown in the Ardennes and was opening the gap to the rest of the escapees. Spoiler: They would not see him again until the finish line despite the good understanding in the chase.
INEOS-Grenadiers continued its hardening work on the second of the final passes, Monte delle Cesane, classified as 2nd category, which left the main peloton at the top in just 40 or 50 riders and allowed us to sense that today we could see some battle for the general classification.
On the approach to the second and final climb to I Capuccini, the approach is experienced as if it were the preparation for a sprint in a flat stage. Logical on the other hand as it is an extremely narrow road and despite its short length has long stretches sustained above 10%. In the meantime, Healy ahead remained impassive in his ride, accumulating a lead of almost 2 minutes.
And finally we see movements among the favorites. Almost at the beginning of the climb Primoz Roglic who starts without fear. Kamna and the leader Leknessund respond while Remco, we don't know if it's because of cold blood or lack of explosiveness, is closing the gap at a steady pace. Roglic saw him approaching and started again, not once, but twice, the first time to get rid of Kamna and the second to release the leader who was defending the pink jersey.
When it looked like Remco was going to close the gap, he had to lift his foot a little, perhaps suffocated by the strong pace, and was caught by Geraint Thomas and Tao Geohegan who released him and managed to reach Roglic just at the top.
We had some really spectacular final kilometers with the trio trying to make good the advantage gained at the top and behind agonizingly chasing, Remco Evenepoel, Damino Caruso, Joao Almeida and Leknessund. Almost at the same time, Ben Healy crossed the finish line victorious after his 50-kilometer exhibition.
As usually happens on these occasions it is more the show we can enjoy and the psychological effect than the real result. Finally the income with Remco and Almeida is just 14 seconds while the leader loses 24 seconds and gets to wear the maglia rosa one more day by just 8 seconds.
This stage leaves us with a lot of unknowns for the great moments that await us in the next two weeks and that we will have to begin to elucidate tomorrow in the decisive time trial in which Remco Evenepoel should try to get the biggest possible cushion in order to defend himself as easily as possible in the mountains.
Stage 8 Classification
- Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) 4h44’24”
- Derek Gee (Israel-PremierTech) +1’49”
- Filippo Zana (Jayco AlUla) +1’49”
- Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) +1’49”
- Carlos Verona (Movistar) +2’12”
- Mattia Bais (Eolo-Kometa) +2’37”
- Toms Skuji?š (Trek-Segafredo) +3’51”
- Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) +3’56”
- Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Deceuninck) +4’00”
- Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) +4’34”
- Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) 33h52’10’’
- Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) +8”
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +38”
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +40”
- Geraint Thomas (Ines Grenadiers) +52”
- Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), +56”
- Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën) +58”
- Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1’26”
- Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +1’39”
- Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1’54”