Flat, hilly, tortuous: Giro Stage 8 had it all and the pace was fast and furious throughout. The route demanded patience and power and the winner delivered with Gorka Izagirre picking his moment to take his first Grand Tour stage win. Mikel Landa launched an attack near the end, threatening the lead of Bob Jungels, but a diligent QuickStep team helped the Luxembourg rider retain the pink. Astana’s Luis León Sánchez offered his tribute to his late teammate Michele Scarponi by soloing on a long breakaway and just missing out on the win.
At the end of a Giro d’Italia which has revelled in its daily unpredictability, it was fitting that the concluding sprinters’ stage instead came down to a straight mano a mano between two of the peloton’s unsung powerhouses. Iljo Keisse finally delivered something for his Etixx-Quick Step team to celebrate at the end of a lacklustre three weeks, edging out Luke Durbridge who narrowly failed to provide a victory that would have neatly bookended a successful race for Orica-GreenEDGE, the dominant squad in the opening stages.
Alberto Contador finished safely to confirm his seventh grand tour victory. He joins Bernard Hinault as the only rider to have won all three grand tours at least twice.
It was a long, hard day in the saddle with plenty of fireworks on the final climb, but probably not quite what everyone was expecting. Fabio Aru attacked from the leading group of contenders to take a solo victory, leapfrogging teammate Mikel Landa to reclaim second place overall. Landa came in with race leader Alberto Contador, who passed up the chance to battle for stage honours today.