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Gallery: Bonza Blockhaus battle on Giro d'Italia Stage 9 as true contenders emerge

Will Strickson
16 May 2022

Jai Hindley takes redemptive stage win as Juanpe López clings onto pink and Yates loses over 11 minutes at Giro d'Italia

We waited through eight stages of leg-saving and second guessing for the 2022 Giro d’Italia general classification battle to truly kick off and Stage 9, the last day of the official first week, proved to a true cliffhanger.

Although the day’s breakaway featured some strong riders in Matthew Holmes, Nans Peters, Eduardo Sepulveda, Filippo Zana, Joe Dombrowski, Felix Gall, James Knox, Jonathan Caicedo, Diego Rosa – who bagged himself the climber's maglia azzurra – and Natnael Tesfasion – who had a slightly scary crash on a descent though thankfully got back on his bike – the brute of a finale up the 13.6km Blockhaus meant they’d need a huge gap on the favourites to take the stage.

In the end, the last man standing Dombrowski, who won a stage at last year’s race, was caught just before the last climb, so we were all but guaranteed a showdown.

Ineos Grenadiers took their natural position at the head of a ferocious mountains train, with help from UAE Team Emirates’ Rui Costa, and slowly massacred what was left of the peloton.

The biggest casualties were Wilco Kelderman, who was suffering after a mechanical on the final descent led to a tough chase back on, and Simon Yates.

Oh Simon, it’s just not meant to be is it? Having crashed on the stage to Etna, it seemed to be his heavily strapped knee that was causing him difficulty but the Brit admitted after he crossed the line that the heat was his downfall. Losing 11 minutes, the GC battle is over for BikeExchange-Jayco’s leader.

Just after the final Ineos domestique, Richie Porte, pulled off it was team leader Richard Carapaz to attack first, splitting the remaining group into what seems like the great and the good, with Romain Bardet and Mikel Landa – who actually hit the deck on a descent earlier on – equal to the Ecuadorian’s attacks.

After each of those three frontrunners had their go at attacking, they settled down and allowed those behind – João Almeida, Jai Hindley and Domenico Pozzovivo – to catch up.

Hindley took to the front for the final corner and led the sprint out from a long way. Bardet and Carapaz challenged, taking it almost to a photo finish, but the Australian held on for redemption. After a torrid year that led most to write his 2020 Giro second place off as an outlier, he is truly back.

Trek-Segafredo’s Juan Pedro López had a heroic ride to save the maglia rosa by just 12 seconds, with the top seven now separated by just 29 seconds. The Giro has arrived.

While we’re contemplating all of that on the second rest day – also known as Monday, absolutely not a rest day for most of us – here’s Chris Auld’s gallery of highlights from Stage 9’s Blockhaus bonanza.



Tickets were hot for the front row seats.

Eolo-Kometa’s Diego Rosa, last seen lighting up ‘the easiest race’ Mathieu van der Poel has ever done, was active in the breakaway chasing KOM jersey points on his Aurum Magma.

Other notable escapees were Drone Hopper’s Natnael Tesfasion, who ended up going head first into a bush, and Astana’s Joe Dombrowski, who was the last one caught.

It was also a big day out for the sprinters trying to stay inside the time cut and they all succeeded, the last man coming home 11 minutes inside the limit. Easy.

Fiat 500 gender reveal is a go.

It was vintage Grand Tour racing.

The word ‘Appenines’ is thought to come from the Celtic word penn, meaning ‘mountain’ or ‘summit’. That explains the amount of green on show.

Can’t beat cycling’s natural amphitheatre.

Alex Dowsett is content.

All aboard.

Juan Pedro López lost a chunk of time – partially due to being held up by slowing riders on one of the hardest parts of the climb – but he fought on heroically and kept his maglia rosa.

These three – Romain Bardet, Mikel Landa and Richard Carapaz – looked by far the strongest, but eventually allowed the chasing riders – Domenico Pozzovivo, Jai Hindley and João Almeida – back on.

The aforementioned warriors.

And it was Hindley who took the race on, leading out the sprint and coming out on top at the summit of Blockhaus. Aussie…

Aussie…

Aussie (team.) Oi, oi, oi. That's what we imagine Simon Yates must’ve been thinking as attention was all in on his suffering up the mountain. He'll be back with a vengeance, whether that’ll be at the Giro is another matter.


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