Although Stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia took until the final 30km or so to really take off, take off it did. The climb to the summit finish on the infernal Blockhaus saw much-touted GC names dropping off the back to the consternation of the commentators, the maglia rosa fighting with every fibre of his being to save pink for another day, and a surprise sprint to the finish line. The GC changed so much, only one rider kept his place from yesterday.
Where to start?
So much happened before we get to what happened on Blockhaus, I’ll just give you a snapshot.
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) crashes within 15km of the start. Road race and scrapes on his skin, tarmac, dirt and blood on his jersey. He got back up and continued on.
One final thought is Pello Bilbao – amazing comeback from him after his crash to only finish 1.08 down, amazing resilience as he looked pretty banged up at the time #Giro105
— Katy M, Giro Edition (@writebikerepeat) May 15, 2022
Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) had a mission today and that was to take the KOM jersey from the back of Koen Bouwman (Jumbo). Either solo or with one or two other riders, Rosa ended up taking maximum points on the second climb of the day, Rionero Sannitico, the Roccaraso and the Passo Lanciano. The KOM jersey was his, even without the Blockhaus.
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) May 15, 2022
One of Rosa’s fellow breakers, Drone-Hopper Natneal Tesfatsion spent a good part of the first half of the day being a thorn in Nans Peters side, along with his teammate Eduardo Sepulvedo, never letting the Ag2r get away but also rarely helping him keep the chasers at bay. Unsure about those tactics but that was the race on the day. Once Tesfatsion crested the Lanciano with Rosa, he took off on the descent like a rocket. But he misjudged one of the corners and flew into thick shrubbery. Thank God there was a break in the guard rails at that section or he could have been severely injured. He was able to get back onto his bike, finishing 91st on the stage.
"He's off the road!" 😱
— Eurosport (@eurosport) May 15, 2022
Ineos ramps it up
Remember that wonderful freedom the riders at Ineos seemed to have during the spring classics? Chopping and changing, wheeling and dealing their way to some big wins, including Paris Roubaix? Well, old Ineos is back and you could hear the Imperial March getting louder and louder as they hit the long start of the Blockhaus.
— 🎾 Angelic Scootus 😇 🚵♂️ (@evilscootus) May 15, 2022
No breakaway was going to win THAT summit finish, dammit! They set their usual blistering pace, winnowing the peloton down and down and down. The names of those we had hope for in the GC started being called … as going backwards. Trek’s Giulio Ciccone, Bora’s Wilko Kelderman and, much to the consternation of Rob Hatch, Simon PHILIP Yates were all broken on Blockhaus early on. (Yates lost 11min by the time he rolled over the finish line.)
Yet again Simon Yates comes into a Giro looking amazing and then suddenly having an absolute shocker #Giro
— Tim Bonville-Ginn (@TimBonvilleGinn) May 15, 2022
Then Richard Carapaz had only Richie Porte left to continue the winnowing. But even Richie’s pain face couldn’t shake Romain Bardet and Mikel Landa, who stuck to Carapaz’s wheel and stayed with him the whole way up the climb.
The three unlikely lads
After a few attempts at attacks from Carapaz couldn’t shake off Bardet and Landa, they worked together riding up the final 8 or so kilometres, hoping to put the race out of the reach of any GC hopeful left in the bunch. Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali and Domenico Pozzovivo were the ones that were keeping within shouting distance of the trio (well, until Valverde and His Nibs fell by the wayside). Oh, and Bora’s Jai Hindley and Joao Almeida (UAE)
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) May 15, 2022
The maglia rosa wearer, Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek), had an incident at a critical point with (it seems) Jumbo’s Sam Oomen and had to unclip to steady himself, losing the momentum of the climb and finding himself distanced from the front group. And distanced. And distanced.
Bardet, Landa and Carapaz go under the flamme rouge and start faffing around. Bardet didn’t want to lead out, neither did Landa. Carapaz wasn’t in the mood for it, so everything started to go in slo-mo … almost track stops at one point! Which gave the chasing group plenty of time to catch them! Jai Hindley decided not to wait around for the other guys and started his sprint (a SPRINT at the finish of Blockhaus – Giro, you’re really spoiling us). Bardet and Carapaz had to settle for second and third respectively.
He ain’t lettin’ go yet
Somewhere down the road, Lopez was NOT LETTING GO. The time kept ticking away but he kept turning the pedals, climbing out of the saddle to give little bursts of energy, but he kept pedalling. Coming up to the finish line, he put in that extra little burst of speed and as he went over the line to practically collapse in his soigneur’s arms, he found out he kept the pink for another day.
Here are the post-race interviews for both Hindley and Lopez – Hindley giggling uncontrollably, he’s so excited and astonished by his win; Lopez sounding on the verge of tears, apologising to Oomen for his burst of anger before saying anything else. It’s a hard heart that wouldn’t be touched by both of these interviews. It’s what I watch cycling for!
Big GC shakeup
So now, we have a GC top 10 that is starting to look like a GC top 10. Lopez was the only rider who kept his position, while everyone else is either new or shifted around. From first to tenth, there’s only a gap of 1.22 – the top 5 are only a handful of seconds apart.
Honestly think he's gonna win this Giro. Normally he's very good in week 3. https://t.co/pcil0t8mHT
— Rasmus Nowak Franklin (@NowakFranklin_) May 15, 2022
No one does the knackered legs apart post stage pose like Romain Bardet pic.twitter.com/ApAxYc8kyM
— Journal Velo (@JournalVelo) May 15, 2022
All the results
1 Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) 05:34:44
2 Romain Bardet (Team DSM) same time
3 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) s/t
4 Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) s/t
5 Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) 32:15:31
2 Joao Almedia (UAE Team Emirates) +0:12
3 Romain Bardet (Team DSM) +0:14
4 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:15
5 Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) +0:20
6 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:28
7 Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +0:29
8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +0:54
9 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe) +1:09
10 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) +1:22
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey : Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo)
Points jersey : Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
King of the Mountains: Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa)
Best young rider: Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo)
Team : Bora-hansgrohe
For full race results, go to CyclingNews
Official Giro d’Italia website is here