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Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage 8: Movistar’s Richard Carapaz takes surprise win on final climb

The young rider from Ecuador takes his first Giro stage, while Simon Yates stays in pink

Pete Muir
12 May 2018

Young Ecuadorean rider Richard Carapaz (Movistar) exploded out of the main pack on the final climb to win Stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia.

Wearing the white 'Best Young Rider' jersey, Carapaz managed to break away from the peloton as it closed on the remnants of the breakaway, which had been out in front all the way to the final couple of kilometres.

Team Sky's Chris Froome seemed to struggle to control his bike on the wet upper slopes of the climb, but managed to stay in the top ten on GC at the finish, while Britain’s Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) retained his pink jersey.

The story of the stage

Stage 8 of the 2018 Giro d’Italia was tailor-made for a breakaway win.

Running for 209km from Praia a Mare to Montevergine di Mercogliano on southwest coast of mainland Italy, the stage was a lumpy affair. With over 3,000m of climbing, it included a pair of punchy ascents near the beginning, followed by a long flat section, and ending on a 17km climb at around 5% average gradient.

After a fast start, a break of seven riders finally formed. Of them, the best placed on GC was Slovenian rider Jan Polanc of Team UAE Emirates at 8 minutes 15 seconds. Alongside him, potentially his main rival for the stage win (should the break stay away) was his Slovenian compatriot, Matej Mohoric of Team Bahrain-Merida.

Back in the peloton, once the break was safely up the road, the pace dropped and the GC contenders settled in for a day of saving energy and protecting positions.

Mitchelton-Scott rode at the front of the main pack, looking after the pink jersey of Simon Yates. They allowed the break to gain a gap of around five to six minutes, and then held them there during the flat central section of the stage. 

When the road started to tilt up again, with about 40km to go to the finish, the breakaway was still around five minutes ahead of the peloton.

As the final climb approached, and with rain making the roads dangerous, the big teams in the peloton began to fight for position at the front of the pack. As such, the gap to the break started to come down quickly.

At the bottom of the 17km climb to Montevergine, the break's advantage had reduced to 2'28". Within the space of 2km, that gap had been whittled down further to 1'38".

With 14km to the finish, the riders in the break started to attack each other, with Lotto-Soudal's Tosh Van der Sande having a go, followed by Bahrain-Merida's Mohoric. However, attacks we well covered and the seven riders were still together with 12km remaining.

By 10km to go, the break had reduced to four men: Polanc, Mohoric, Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Matteo Montaguti (AG2R). They managed to hold the main pack at just under a minute behind for the next few kilometres.

The quartet at the front managed to work together as they weaved through the hairpins towards the top of climb. However, that didn't stop the peloton closing in, such that the gap was just 30 seconds with 5km to go.

At that point, Team Sky's Chris Froome suffered a minor crash as his bike slipped from under him on the wet road, however rival teams were not inclined to attack and he quickly made it back into the pack.

With 3.8km left to go, LottoNL's Bouwman attacked and managed to get about 100m on his three breakaway companions. He dug deep and pushed on alone towards the finish line.

The peloton, however, smelled blood and upped the pace so that Bouwman's advantage was just seven seconds at 1.5km to go.

From nowhere, Richard Carapaz (Movistar) attacked out of the pack, and flew past all the remaining breakaway riders. The Ecuadorean, wearing the Best Young Rider jersey, eventually crossed the line alone seven seconds ahead of the field, followed by Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Thibaut Pinot (FdJ).

The other big names came in shortly after, with Simon Yates retaining his pink jersey for another day.

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