Giro Stage 8 Report / Discussion: Roglič scores top marks in climbing test as Healy wins big from the break
Ben Healy was one of the shining lights of the hilly Spring Classics and came to the Giro d’Italia promising more thrilling entertainment. He’s a meticulous rider, bold in his choice of moves and confident in his power, and it seemed clear he had a plan for stage 8, a parcours that proved absolutely perfect for the man who finished best of the rest behind Tadej Pogačar at Amstel Gold.
“I had good legs today and just gave it a good go,” Healy said, calmly letting his achievement sink in. “On the first little dig, I could see that I went solo and just pushed onto the finish from there.
“I was pretty comfortable the first time up and wanted to test the legs on the steep kicker to the top of the climb, and no one came with me. I knew I can time trial to the finish pretty well and I was confident in myself to do that, so I just paced myself to the finish, and it worked out alright.”
The Irishman worked alongside his 12 breakaway companions until the classified climbs began just outside the last 50 km of the 207 km stage, using the first ascent of the punchy I Cappuccini climb (2.8 km at 7.8%) as his launchpad. A couple of riders tried to respond, but Healy gave them the slip and went solo, showing his formidable strength by finishing 1:49 ahead of the runner-up.
As Healy soared to his first WorldTour victory, the overall competition ignited on the second time up the I Cappuccini climb inside the last 8km. It was on the steepest gradients that Primož Roglič put his rivals to the test with a stinging acceleration, and though he only gained 14 seconds by the finish, it was a significant psychological attack on his rivals, most notably Remco Evenepoel who was left exposed and struggling in the finale – he finished 19th amidst a small handful of GC favourites.
After digging deep to follow Roglič on the climb, the world champion found himself empty and slid backwards, forced to watch as Ineos Grenadiers pairing Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas bridged up to the Slovenian and joined him in taking back precious seconds before Stage 9’s pan-flat 35 km individual time trial.
“It just wasn’t my best day. I tried to follow Roglic and made a mistake by pushing too hard instead of riding at my own pace,” Evenepoel said in his team’s post-stage release. “The legs didn’t quite feel like on the other days, but there is no need to panic, I just have to remain calm and focused. The Giro is still long. Today was just another valuable lesson that I learned. Fortunately, I still have an advantage of half a minute on the general classification and hopefully on Sunday I will manage to gain more time on the others.”
Discussion – have your say in the comments:
– How far can Ben Healy go? Is he a future grand tour contender?
– Evenepoel’s dropping off the pace on the short, sharp climb was his first sign of weakness at the Giro, even the whole season so far. How worried should he and Soudal Quick-Step be? Or is he simply feeling the effects of his crash on stage 6?
– Remco is likely to take back the maglia rosa tomorrow (with the usual disclaimers). But does Soudal Quick-Step want the responsibility of leadership going into a tough week of climbing?
– The stage was super intense – 43.7 km/h for 4 hours 45 minutes. What effect might this have on tomorrow’s TT?
- Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost)
- Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) @ 1:49
- Filippo Zana (Jayco AlUla)
- Warren Barguil (Arkéa Samsic) all same time
- Carlos Verona (Movistar) @ 2:12
- Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM)
- Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) :08
- Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) :38
- João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) :40
- Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) :52