Stage 8: Foligno to Montecopiolo, 179km
In a gripping medium mountain stage, Diego Ulissi put in a well-timed attack amidst a flurry of activity to win the stage while the climbs gave ‘Bling’ the sling and put Cadel Evans into pink.
A race within a race
The great thing about mountain stages is that there are often two or three races happening all at the same time, but in different places on the parcours. Today, we had two such races being played out across the three climbs in the last quarter of the stage.
From a ten-man break to four in the blink of an eye on the Campagna, the first cat 1 of the stage, it soon came down to a war of wills between Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) and Julian Arredondo (Trek). While Pirazzi might have been the more flamboyant in his riding and little digs off the front, it was the Colombian who finally took the climb by the scruff of the neck and rode away from all his breakmates, picking up mountain points along the way, until he finally ran out of steam 2km from the finish, much to the heartbreak of Twitter fans everywhere. Swept up by Europcar’s Pierre Rolland, it was then attack after attack until the last minute when Ulissi went past Trek’s Robert Kiserlovski for his second stage victory in this Giro.
Concurrent with the race for the stage win was the fight for pink. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) might have been in the maglia rosa at the start of the race but no one, least of all himself, thought he would be at the end. And everyone was right. He wasn’t. Cadel Evans (BMC) ended the day in the leader’s jersey, coming in with a select group of riders, including Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Ivan Basso (Cannondale), and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
The loser today? Michele Scarponi (Astana), who lost nearly 10 minutes and is now 41st overall. The interesting thing about this group? None of the big contenders seemed able to attack once Ag2r and BMC started chasing the break on the final climb. Methinks they’re saving themselves for the high mountains, the ones where Evans might crack.
VeloVoices rider of the day
Diego Ulissi might have taken the stage win – and it was a perfectly timed win, no doubt about that – but it was Julian Arredondo who animated the race for much of the final 50km or so and got the fans screaming. He was in the break almost the entire stage, set out on his own on the first of the three climbs of the day and stayed out until the final 2km, taking the mountain points to put himself in the maglia azzurra. That’s worthy of rider of the day, if you ask me.
Stage 8 result
1. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 4:47:47
2. Robert Kiserlovski (Trek Factory Racing) same time
3. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) +0:06
4. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) s/t
5. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:08
1. Cadel Evans (BMC) 34:22:35
2. Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +0:57
3. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) +1:10
4. Steve Morabito (BMC) +1:31
5. Fabio Aru (Astana) +1:39
6. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) +1:43
7. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) +1:44
8. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +1:45
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Trek) +1:49
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) +1:50
Points leader: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).
Mountains classification: Julian Arredondo (Trek).
Best young rider: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Team classification: BMC.