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Giro d’Italia 2017: Movistar’s Gorka Izaguirre wins stage eight while Jungels stays in pink

Pete Muir
13 May 2017

A rolling stage sees Team Movistar get their first win

In a fast and frenetic stage, Movistar’s Gorka Izaguirre managed to slip away from a four-man breakaway on the final climb to win the team’s first stage of the 2017 Giro d'Italia.

The race was destined to be won from a break thanks to the rolling terrain, and numerous attacks meant that the virtual pink jersey changed hands several times during the day.

However, Quick-Step Floors managed to control the pace enough to keep GC contender Bob Jungels in the leader’s jersey going into a mountainous stage on Sunday.

Giro d'Italia stage eight: How it happened

After a week of racing, the Giro d’Italia headed for the ‘ankle’ of Italy, with a 189km stage along the east coast from Molfetta to Peschici.

The first 90km were almost pan flat before hitting the category-2 climb of Monte Sant’Angelo. After that the final 90km were lumpy and technical, making it the perfect stage for a win from a breakaway.

In the early stages, a lot of the smaller teams were keen to get into the break, while the teams with GC contenders were determined to control the size and make-up of that break.

The ensuing battle for position meant that it took 60km for a successful break to form, and the first hour of the stage was raced at a breathless 56kmh.

Finally a break of 16 riders formed, but it never managed to get much time on the main peloton.

Teams Gazprom-Rusvelo and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia both failed to get a rider in the break, so they chased hard at the front of the peloton in the hope of closing the gap.

When the race hit the bottom of the Monte Sant’Angelo climb, Astana’s Luis León Sanchez went off the front, leaving his breakaway companions behind.

With the peloton just 1:10 behind, attacks started coming from within its ranks in an attempt to bridge to the break, meaning that by the time Sanchez reached the summit, there were riders all over the mountain.

As he began the descent, Sanchez had over a minute on his nearest chaser and almost two minutes on the maglia rosa group, however he was soon swallowed up by the chasers, who all came together to form a lead group of 16 riders.

In that group was Valerio Conti of UAE Team Emirates, who was only 2:10 behind Quick-Step Floors’ Bob Jungels in the GC.

Back in the peloton, Quick-Step had to decide whether to chase Conti down or let him take the race lead in the run-up to the next stage, with its summit finish on Blockhaus.

With 50km to go, the break had built a gap of 4:30 over the peloton, putting Conti in virtual pink.

Quick-Step, aided by Katusha, eventually decided to chase the break down, dragging the main pack back to within two minutes with 37km to go.

Conti then attacked again, taking four other riders with him, including Sanchez, Bahrain-Merida’s Giovanni Visconti and Movistar’s Gorka Izaguirre.

They managed to increase the gap to three minutes over the main group over undulating territory, although Quick-Step pulled the peloton back to within two minutes by 15km to go, protecting the pink jersey for Bob Jungels.

With 10km to go, the five at the front started testing each other, while Team Sky’s Mikel Landa attacked out of the main peloton. He put himself briefly into the virtual maglia rosa before being pulled back by the bunch.

At the front of the race, four riders – Conti, Sanchez, Visconti and Izaguirre – played cat-and-mouse in the last few twisting kilometres. On the final climb, Conti slipped over on a bend, leaving the other three to contest the finish.

Izaguirre managed to ride away from his rivals to eventually give Movistar their first win of the Giro. The main pack arrived soon after, with no real gaps to shake up the GC.

 

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