Domenico Pozzovivo of Colnago-CSF Inox, the diminuitive climber who comes from the Basilicata region in the instep of Italy's boot, attacked on the steepest part of today's final climb to win Stage 8 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia at Lago Laceno on the day the race reached its southernmost point this year. Movistar's Benat Intxausti had tried to go after the Italian on the last part of that final climb but couldn't close the gap and fiished second. Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez grabbed eight bonus seconds for finishing third. Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal chased back on after suffering a puncture ahead of that final ascent and retains the overall lead.
Pozzovivo had shown his climbing form last month in winning the Giro del Trentino, and displayed it again today as he crested the Colle Molella, the ascent of which had begin began some 19km out, with an advantage of nearly half a minute over the chasing group.
The 29-year-old had launched his attack 7km from the line, and behind him Movistar’s Intxausti had also got off the front of the bunch and was leading the chase as the road levelled out for the final 4 kilometres to the finish.
The last time a Giro d’Italia stage finished here, in 1998, eventual overall winner Marco Pantani would be overhauled by Alex Zülle inside those closing few kilometres.
There was to be no repeat of that disappointment for the tifosi today, however, as Pozzovivo maintained his advantage to win by 23 seconds from Intxausti, with the main group including the other GC contenders a further 4 seconds back.
Pozzovivo wins at Lago Laceno (Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Prior to that final ascent, there was trouble for maglia rosa Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Barracuda as he punctured 25km out and faced a desperate chase to rejoin the main bunch, not helped by the fact he was caught up in the team cars following the main group.
Eventually, he managed to find his own team’s vehicle and got a big draft which enabled him to catch team mate Jack Bauer, who paced him back to the bunch.
Those exertions seemed to have taken their toll, however, and Hesjedal, the first Canadian to wear the maglia rosa, was struggling to stay in contact with the bunch as it hit the hardest part of the climb with 7.5km remaining. He recovered, however, to cross the line with the main group and hold onto the jersey, much to his evident delight.
Another day in pink for Hesjedal (Gian Mattia d'Alberto - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
At 229km, today’s stage was the second longest of this year’s race, and as the 2012 Giro headed towards the southernmost point it will reach this year ahead of swinging back north tomorrow, it will also have been one of the hottest, with temperatures of more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stage 8 scenery (pic Daniele Badolato - La Presse - RCS Sport)
It took time for the day’s break to form. Once it did, it comprised four riders, Andrey Amador of Movistar, AG2R’s Julien Berard, Tomasz Marczynski of Vavansoleil and Euskaltel’s Miguel Minguez.
Inside the final 60km – and with the quartet having already spent well over 130km at the front of the race – Amador, born in Costa Rica to a Russian mother, and Polish champion Marczynski apparently decided that their fellow escapees weren’t doing enough to maintain the margin over the peloton, hich had been slashed from more than ten to four minutes, and jumped off on their own.
Shortly afterwards, it seemed as though the race might be held up as the pair in front headed towards a demonstration being staged by employees of bus manufacturer Irisbus, with race officials and police on hand to ensure that the Giro would not be interrupted.
Happily, the demonstrators seemed content with getting their message across via the TV cameras rather than disrupting the race, the leading pair passing through unhindered, as did the peloton some four and a half minutes later.
Over the following kilometres, the advantage the leading pair enjoyed would tumble and they were caught on the early part of the day’s final climb, some 18km from the finish, with Astana among the teams prominent at the front of the peloton.
Two men failed to take the start in Sulmona this morning, RadioShack-Nissan’s Daniele Bennati, suffering from a fever, and the Rabobank rider Dennis Van Winden, who had occupied the 192nd and penultimate place in the General Classification following yesterday’s stage.
Stage 8 start in Sulmona S8 start (Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Giro d’Italia Stage 8 Result 1 POZZOVIVO Domenico COG 6:06:05 2 INTXAUSTI Benat MOV 0:23 3 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin KAT 0:27 4 DE GENDT Thomas VCD same time 5 CATALDO Dario OPQ 6 CARUSO Damiano LIQ 7 BRAMBILLA Gianluca COG 8 HUZARSKI Bartosz APP 9 RUJANO Jose' AND 10 GADRET John ALM 11 HESJEDAL Ryder GRM 12 TIRALONGO Paolo AST 13 URAN Rigoberto SKY 14 CUNEGO Damiano LAM 15 SCARPONI Michele LAM 16 BASSO Ivan LIQ 17 KREUZIGER Roman AST 18 SCHLECK Frank RNT 19 HENAO Sergio Luis SKY 20 PARDILLA Sergio MOV
Ryder Hesjedal at Stage 8 Start (Fabio Ferrari - LaPresse - RCS Sport)
Overall Standings after Stage 8
1 HESJEDAL Ryder GRM 32:23:25
2 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin KAT 0:09
3 TIRALONGO Paolo AST 0:15
4 KREUZIGER Roman AST 0:35
5 INTXAUSTI Benat MOV 0:35
6 BASSO Ivan LIQ 0:40
7 CARUSO Damiano LIQ 0:45
8 CATALDO Dario OPQ 0:46
9 SCHLECK Frank RNT 0:48
10 CAPECCHI Eros LIQ 0:52
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.