Giro shorts: Stage 8 review

Stage 8 – Sulmona to Lago Laceno, 229km

Stage profile:  The second-longest stage of the 2012 Giro features just two categorised climbs but is constantly undulating throughout. The final climb of the category two Lago Laceno represents the most southerly point of this year’s race. The 14.25km climb has a steep middle section which exceeds 10%, and then a flat 4.4km run to the finish.

Top three: 1. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF), 2. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) +0:23, 3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:27.

Who was in the breakaway?: Andrey Amador (Movistar), Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale), Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) built a lead of 11 minutes. Marczynski and Amador went clear with 58km remaining, but they were caught 17km from the finish.

How the stage was won: Much like yesterday, the peloton kept the breakaway on a long leash, only reeling them in at the base of the final climb. Astana then drilled it on the front for their man Roman Kreuziger, with Liquigas and Lampre right behind them. Enrico Gasparotto put lesser riders under pressure with his strong pulls in front, but most of the main contenders stayed the course. Liquigas took over the work on the approach to the steep part of the climb, with Sylvester Szmyd setting a blistering pace for team leader Ivan Basso, causing maglia rosa Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) to yo-yo around the front group. Then with 6.8km to go Colnago’s Domenico Pozzovivo took off, quickly put in a decent gap and never looked back, winning with a gutsy solo ride. Movistar’s Benat Intxausti took off after him but there was never a danger of him catching up. Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez won the sprint for third and eight bonus seconds which moved him up to second overall.

Quote of the day:

Sean Kelly’s advice for anyone riding this year’s Tour of Connemara with Bernard Hinault:

Whatever you do, don’t go past him. Ride on his wheel.

Odd occurrences: Nuns and the red flag of industrial protests. The nuns were well-behaved and waved to the boys in lycra from outside their convent. The industrial protest was by employees of bus manufacturer Irisbus, waving red flags, but staying docile behind the police cordon – no revolution today. Sean Kelly lamented the lack of spirit in protests these days, reminiscing about the times when Bernard Hinault would take strike action into his own hands (and fists). Best part of the Eurosport commentary today!

VeloVoices rider of the stage: It has to be the diminutive Pozzovivo – he took off on the steepest part of the climb and never looked back. It was a big ride from a rider who tweeters noted looked about ten years old.

General classification:

1. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) 32:23:25

2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:09

3. Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) +0:15

4. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) +0:35

5. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) +0:40

Points leader: Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE).

King of the Mountains leader: Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela).

Tomorrow: Stage 9 – San Girogio nel Sannio to Frosinone, 166km. The sprinters will be delighted to see there are no major climbs on a largely flat route, but a bunch sprint is by no means a foregone conclusion. Heavy legs throughout the peloton will give a breakaway a fighting chance of survival. Even if they are reeled in, three small hills in the final 10km – with the last being the toughest of the trio – provide ample opportunity for a small group or solo chancer to make an attack stick. The final 2km is slightly uphill too, averaging 1.1% – enough to potentially draw the sting from the sprinters’ lead-out trains.

And here is Cycling the Alps‘ fly-over of the route:

Link: Official website

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