Giro d’Italia 2022 : Stage 8 – Bearded Belgian De Gendt Wins, Lopez Holds On For Another Day

Welcome to VeloVoices’ Stage 8 recap, powered by Vanilla Coca Cola, COVID-19, and Fever Dreams of Extra Thick Milkshakes. In what can only be described as an ultimate showing of power, talent, and general beardedness, Lotto-Soudal’s Thomas De Gendt took his second-ever Giro d’Italia stage win out of a small breakaway group. After nearly single-handedly pulling his companions clear of an eager chase group that featured Alpecin-Fenix’s Mathieu Van der Poel and Bini Girmay (Wanty-Intermarche), De Gendt crossed the line ahead of Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) and Jorge Arcas (Movistar). Harm Vanhoucke, De Gendt’s teammate, finished fourth, arms raised in celebration.

There was no change of the jerseys and very little change in the GC, other than Mr. Guillaume “Philosopher” Martin catapulting himself 24 places up to fourth overall after a day in the breakaway, cutting his deficit of 4.06 at the start of the stage by 3 full minutes. Trek’s Juan Pedro Lopez maintains the maglia rosa for at least one more day.

My Beloved, The Bearded Belgian

Say what you will about Thomas De Gendt. Sure, sometimes he fails to come off as the best team player, often sitting at the tail end of the peloton when not working for himself. But when he does his thing, it’s hard to say anything bad about him.

The initial plan being to set up Vanhoucke, De Gendt rode selflessly inside the closing 30 kilometers, taking one massive pull after another to keep the likes of van der Poel and Girmay at bay. As the kilometers ticked by, it became more evident that he was the strongest in the group, yet comfortable to play the role of a sacrificial lamb nonetheless.

All was rewarded in the end, however, as Vanhoucke acknowledged he wouldn’t have the ability to outfox Gabburo and Arcas. In a stunning turn of events, Vanhoucke took to the front in the finale to ensure the fast-approaching chasers wouldn’t get back on. In the kick for the line, De Gendt quickly opened an impressive gap of several bike lengths, granting himself the time to sit up and savor his well-earned victory.

The celebration, only his second ever at the Giro, comes 10 years after he took the race by storm to win solo atop the Stelvio and finished third overall, behind Ryder Hesjedal and Joaquim Rodríguez. Good news for Lotto-Soudal, as well. With Caleb Ewan having bad Giro luck and a lack of wins in the spring classics, the team could very well be up for relegation at the end of the season if their record doesn’t get better. Let’s hope this is a start to more winning ways.

Here are your stage highlights:

Van der Poel v Girmay

I begrudgingly say this, as I don’t much care for van der Poel, but the battle between him and Girmay has easily been the most engaging and entertaining of this opening week. With a stage profile that looks like it was taken straight from the Ardennes Classics, today opened a magnificent opportunity for the two superstars to battle it out in the breakaway. And boy, did they.

Well, kind of. . .

Although both men infiltrated the day’s large breakaway and appeared to be dead-on favorites for the win, neither could quite find the right formula to cross the line first. Mathieu tried his damnedest, though. . .

It was just that – a tactical mistake – that caused both of their downfall. Mathieu launched a wickedly brutal attack out of the breakaway with 40 kilometers to go, bringing Girmay and a handful of others with him, but was caught soon thereafter by the likes of De Gendt, Vanhoucke, Gabburo, and Arcas. When the quartet counter-attacked over the top of them, neither MvdP or Girmay had the legs to respond.

Here’s where the tactical error arrives: as De Gendt powered the group away, those left behind quickly became disorganised and allowed the gap to swell to 30 seconds, then 45 seconds, essentially watching their chance at victory vanish up the road. While the duo had a ferocious ride in the finale, at one point bringing the gap to the leaders as low as 9 seconds in the final two kilometers, there was nothing they could do to outmatch those up front.

Imagine that. Mathieu van der Poel outridden, out-tacticked, and overpowered by none other than Thomas de Gendt. Ha!

We ought to give a tremendous round of applause to Bini, however. After what can only be described as a historic Classics campaign, the young man is in his first grand tour and has racked up FIVE top-five finishes in the first eight stages. Good on ya, Biniam, we love you!

The Philosopher’s Ponder

One does have to wonder about Guillaume Martin. Credit to him, he’s relatively predictable in grand tours and seems to have found the secret formula for consistently finishing these three week stage races in the top 10. But is spending excessive energy in the breakaway the day before a day of massive climbing that is sure to shake up the general classification really the best idea? Well, that’s one for the philosophers to ponder. Which is what Guillaume is, I guess.

What happens to him tomorrow remains to be seen, but he does deserve a heartfelt chapeau for his efforts today. After all, he did successfully catapult himself up to fourth overall in the general classification, pushing Romain Bardet out of the top 10 (for now). While I’m not holding my breath for him to do something spectacular again tomorrow, he does seem to be quite good at this bike racing thing.

Last Word

I hope they had some nice pizza on that boat. Mmmm, pizza.

All the results

Stage results 

1 Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 03:32:53

2 Davide Gabburo (Bardiani CSF Faizanè) same time

3 Jorge Arcas (Movistar Team) s.t.

4 Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) +0:04

5 Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) +0:15

GC Top 10 

1 Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) 32:15:31

2 Lennard Kämna (BORA-hansgrohe) +0:38

3 Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) +0:58

4 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +1:06

5 Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) +1:42

6 Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) +1:47

7 Wilco Kelderman (BORA-hansgrohe) +1:55

8 Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +1:58

9 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) +2:00

10 Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:04

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo)

Points jersey : Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)

King of the Mountains: Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma)

Best young rider: Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo)

Team : Trek-Segafredo

For full race results, go to CyclingNews

Official Giro d’Italia website is here

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