Giro d'Italia Stage 8: Alex Dowsett wins ITT as Bradley Wiggins' GC hopes take another setback
British national TT champ Dowsett takes biggest win of career, but Wiggins' dominance fails to materialise...

Sir Bradley Wiggins' hopes of adding the overall win in the Giro d'Italia to the Tour de France title he won last year have taken a big setback as his expected domination of the Stage 8 individual time trial from Gabicce Mare to Saltara failed to materialise this afternoon. The stage was won by another Briton riding a Pinarello, national TT champion Alex Dowsett of Movistar, taking the biggest win of his career in his maiden Grand Tour.

Wiggins, who early on during today's ride switched from the much-hyped Pinarello Bolide to the more familiar Graal, had gone through the second intermediate time check 59 seconds behind Dowsett, but he dug in deep on the final climb to finish 10 seconds behind his former Sky team mate.

Astana's Vincenzo Nibali, expected to lose big time to Wiggins today as happened during the individual time trials in last summer's Tour de France, set the fastest time at the first intermediate time check and finished fourth.

He ceded just 11 seconds to his rival , who after yesterday's crash in the final kilometres of Stage 7 to Pescraa had started the day 1 minute 27 seconds behind the Sicilian, and it's Nibali who takes over the race leader's maglia rosa from Movistar's Benat Intxausti this evening.

The 24-year-old Dowsett had already set what would be the day’s winning time of 1 hour 16 minutes and 27 seconds for the 54.8km course by the time Wiggins set off.

The time he had lost yesterday had seen him fall to 23rd place overall, meaning he was out on the course today well before the likes of Cadel Evans defending champion Ryder Hesjedal and Nibali, who had been second on GC at the start of the day.

While taking nothing away from Dowsett’s well deserved victory – he tweeted afterwards that it had been the hardest TT of his life – Olympic champion Wiggins would surely have won the stage today had a slow puncture not forced him to make a bike change a little over a quarter of an hour into the ride.

Twice he signalled to the team car to draw alongside, dismounting and tossing that new Bolide into the bushes at the side of the road, returning briefly to retrieve his water bottle, before setting off again on his Graal.

The episode cost Wiggins perhaps 15 or 20 seconds, and with the road on the ensuing descent made slippery by a downpour that had abated shortly before he set off, the Sky rider, nerves perhaps on edge as a result of that crash yesterday, again took things very cautiously.

As a result, his time at the first intermediate time check, taken at the foot of that descent in Pesaro, was only the seventh fastest with another 22 riders still on the road behind him, 52 seconds down on Dowsett.

While the remainder of the parcours perhaps suited his style better, things hadn’t improved by the second time check either as he went through in the ninth quickest time, now 59 seconds down on his younger compatriot.

A huge effort on a difficult 3.5 kilometre climb to the finish, with ramps of 14 per cent towards the top, meant Wiggins clawed back all but 10 seconds of his deficit to the Movistar rider.

It was good enough for second place today, but nowhere near enough to get him into the maglia rosa that many had expected him to be wearing after the stage, even despite the time he had lost yesterday, and Team Sky moved quickly to deny rumours that Wiggins is suffering from illness.

That Wiggins wasn’t able to build more of an advantage over Nibali and Evans – he took 11 and 29 seconds out of them, respectively – was as much due to the storming rides they put in as it was to the Briton’s misfortunes.

Both attacked what was a very technical and difficult course from the start, Evans nearly bouncing of a wall as he took an early corner at speed. Nibali, unsurprisingly, flew down the same descent where Wiggins had earlier held back, helping the Sicilian set the fastest first intermediate split of the day.

In the hot seat at the finish, Dowsett, aware of how close he was to securing his biggest win to date, puffed his cheeks, unable to do anything but watch; briefly, he was joined by a beaming Mark Cavendish, showered and changed, to help distract him.

Nibali’s team mate Tanel Kangert threatened to overhaul Dowsett’s time but struggled on the final part of that last climb, finishing 14 seconds down, enough to secure the third best time of the day, one place ahead of the new race leader.

Among the other big names challenging for the GC, Michele Scarponi of Lampre-Merida, awarded the victory in the 2011 race following Alberto Contador’s ban, perhaps has most cause for celebration – not the strongest man against the clock, today he posted the 10th fastest time, 53 seconds off Dowsett’s pace.

Less happy will be defending champion Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp, who came home 2 minutes 23 seconds behind Dowsett’s time, and Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Samuel Sanchez, who lost more than 3 minutes.

As expected, the stage ends with a big shake-up in the GC as the overall contenders come to the fore - besides Nibali taking the maglia rosa, Evans moves second 29 seconds behind while Blanco's Robert Gesink, who rode a solid time trial today, lies third, 1 minute 15 seconds down on the leader.

Wiggins is just 1 second further back in fourth place, but the pre-race expectations in the Sky camp must have been that he would have finished the Giro's second Saturday with a comfrotable lead, and ahead of a tough looking stage into Florence tomorrow, this evening is likely to see the British team focus on planning how to turn Wiggins' Giro around.

Giro d'Italia Stage 8 result  
1  DOWSETT Alex        MOV 01:16:27
2  WIGGINS Bradley     SKY    00:10
3  KANGERT Tanel       AST    00:14
4  NIBALI Vincenzo     AST    00:21
5  CLEMENT Stef        BLA    00:32
6  DURBRIDGE Luke      OGE    00:35
7  EVANS Cadel         BMC    00:39
8  BOARO Manuele       TST    00:45
9  HENAO Sergio        SKY    00:53
10 SCARPONI Michele    LAM    00:53
11 GESINK Robert       BLA     1:22  
12 URAN Rigoberto      SKY     1:48  
13 GRETSCH Patrick     ARG     1:48  
14 KELDERMAN Wilco     BLA     1:57  
15 SERGENT Jesse       RLT     2:00  
16 NIEMIEC Przemyslaw  LAM     2:13  
17 OLIVIERA Nelson     RLT     2:17  
18 HESJEDAL Ryder      GRS     2:23  
19 GARATE Juan Manuel  BLA     2:28  
20 POZZOVIVO Domenico  ALM     2:34  
Overall Standings after Stage 8  
1  NIBALI Vincenzo     AST 29:46:57
2  EVANS Cadel         BMC    00:29
3  GESINK Robert       BLA    01:15
4  WIGGINS Bradley     SKY    01:16
5  SCARPONI Michele    LAM    01:24
6  HESJEDAL Ryder      GRS    02:05
7  HENAO Sergio        SKY    02:11
8  SANTAMBROGIO Mauro  VIN    02:43
9  NIEMIEC Przemyslaw  LAM    02:44
10 URAN Rigoberto      SKY    02:49

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.


pastaman [275 posts] 2 years ago

Great ride by Dowsett, but Wiggo appears to have his work cut out now. Interesting that less than a minute separated the top 10 over 54 km - I'm sure in the bad old days there would have been minutes between people. Wonder if this is a sign that there's less doping going on / its at a lower level, or that everyone else is copying Sky's coaching & 'marginal gains' approach?

Also, if this is the case, does this mean the balance has swung away away from dominance in TT as the route to GC victory, back to climbing? Will be fascinating if it is. On the other hand I could imagining this!?

zedand3 [19 posts] 2 years ago

Why does Alex Dowsett not wear a GB time trial champions jersey? He is reigning champion isn't he?

mintimperial [18 posts] 2 years ago

Why does Alex Dowsett not wear a GB time trial champions jersey? He is reigning champion isn't he?

zedand3, he did wear a GB champs skinsuit riding the TT, he just put a Movistar jacket on to keep warm or keep the sponsors happy whilst sat in the hotseat.

zedand3 [19 posts] 2 years ago

Mintimperial, Correct, my mistake, an excellent tradition, IMHO

Gkam84 [9042 posts] 2 years ago

A couple of things, Wiggo didn't seem to have a puncture, It looked like more of a gearing issue, What does his Graal run? Because the Bolide had 56/42.

Also, those aero brake covers should be UCI illegal.

BUT, I thought aero bottles had been outlawed....lots of the big guys running them.  39

VERY surprised that Henao and Kelderman didn't get some time penalties, drafting each other from the half way point and kept swapping....

Gkam84 [9042 posts] 2 years ago
Leviathan [1717 posts] 2 years ago

Was AD's skinsuit really that bad? I've seen plenty worse. I wouldn't mind Cav's all pink skinsuit from the TTT, stylish.

So some questions:
1: did Brad's bike change really only cost him 15/20 seconds, surely the slowing down/speeding up and loss of aero effect was more (though maybe the road bike on the uphills was not all bad for him.)
2: What is the bonus time situation? I see Nibali defending until the end of big climbs then easily out sprinting everyone on the last ramp to grab time.

a.jumper [843 posts] 2 years ago

Come on, he won: how about spelling his name right in the subheading?

And I thought it slowed Wiggins by more than 20 seconds too.

lookmanohands [119 posts] 2 years ago

Throwing your bike in the hedge.....thats the way to go old boy

Simon_MacMichael [2426 posts] 2 years ago

"Come on, he won: how about spelling his name right in the subheading?"

- It is, briefly yesterday it wasn't... if you're still seeing the typo it's probably a caching issue at your end, sorry.

"though maybe the road bike on the uphills was not all bad for him."

- He was on a TT bike, the Graal, which he switched to after the Bolide.

"What is the bonus time situation? I see Nibali defending until the end of big climbs then easily out sprinting everyone on the last ramp to grab time."

- Exactly, and that's why the original game plan would have been for Wiggins to get to this morning with a healthy lead, he needed that buffer. It's not just Nibali either, there are riders like Evans who I think have that punch to go for the 20 bonus seconds. Could be that Sky will look to Henao and Uran to try and limit the losses?

BTW They're still forecasting thunderstorms this afternoon in Florence... if that happens, I can see Wiggins losing more time I'm afraid.

G-bitch [321 posts] 2 years ago

Well, we'll certainly see what he's made of now.