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Israel Start-Up Nation’s Alex Dowsett rode to an impressive solo victory on the eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia. The former world hour record holder is no stranger to riding alone, and once the time trial specialist got daylight, the race was over.
Behind him, the race for second came from the remains of the days breakaway and was taken by Salvatore Puccio of the Ineos Grenadiers, followed by Matthew Holmes of Lotto Soudal.
João Almeida rode safely across the line in the peloton almost 14 minutes behind the winner and will remain in pink for the start of the ninth stage. The rest of the main GC contenders finishing in the main group as well, with the only major change to the GC picture coming before the stage started as Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates left the race after testing positive for COVID-19.
How it happened
The stage started full gas as many of the opportunistic riders smelled the potential for a successful breakaway. With the race ending in hilly circuits, the finish was not quite a sprint finish, and with no major climbs on the stage, the most likely outcome would be a successful breakaway. Many riders wanted to get in the break, and 25 km into the race still no riders had made it clear of the peloton. However, soon after a group of six slipped away.
Salvatore Puccio, Joey Rosspkopf (CCC), Simone Ravanelli (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), and Matthews Holmes found themselves off the front with two Israel Start-Up Nation riders, Alex Dowsett and Matthias Brändle.
As the breakaway entered the circuits that would finish off the race their advantage over the peloton was hovering around 11 minutes, and with only less than 25 km to go, it was highly unlikely the peloton would catch those out from. The steep climb at the beginning of the circuits is where the camaraderie of the breakaway crumbled and it became a race of six.
On the first ascent of the circuit climb, Puccio and Holmes started the attacks. Behind the two Rosskopf hovered, and eventually was able to make it back to the two escapees.
After the descent, on a flat section of the circuit, Dowsett, Ravanelli, and Brändle closed the 13 seconds to the three out front, making it a single breakaway once more. Not for long, however, as Dowsett immediately made his move. No one reacted as Dowsett attacked with 18.5 km to go.
As the remaining riders hit the climb again Holmes and Puccio once again separated themselves from the remains of the break. Rosskopf was once again caught out on the climb, and once again he was able to catch the two in front just after the climb.
With 4.5 km to go Dowsett had 37 seconds on the chasing three of Rosskopf, Holmes, and Puccio. Even with the three working together Dowestt continued to extend his advantage.
At the finish line, Dowsett had over a minute to truly enjoy his victory, and also avoid
a stray dog who had found his way onto the course. In the sprint for second Salvatore Puccio was the fastest, followed by Mattew Holmes and in fourth Joey Rosskopf.
“This year has been so hard. I have a baby on the way in January and I don’t have a job for next year currently, so I just needed this so badly”, a tearful Dowsett said at the finish.
This is Dowsett’s second Giro stage victory, the first being in the 2013 stage eight time trial.
Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) retained his lead in the mountain classification, with only one point separating himself from his closest rival, Jonathan Caicedo (EF). The Maglia Ciclamino remained on the shoulders of the French National Champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ). As the top rider under the age of 25, João Almeida also holds the white youth jersey going into stage nine.
1. Alex Dowsett ISN, 4:50:09
2. Salvatore Puccio IGD, +1:15
3. Matthew Holmes LTS, st
4. Joey Rosskopf CCC, st
5. Matthias Brändle ISN, +2:10
6. Simone Ravanelli ANS, +2:13
7. Michael Matthews SUN, +13:56
8. Fernando Gaviria UAE, st
9. Mikkel Bjerg UAE, st
10. Andrea Vendrame ALM, st
1. João Almeida DQT, 29:52:34
2. Pello Bilbao TBM, +0:43
3. Wilco Kelderman SUN, +0:48
4. Harm Vanhoucke LTS, +0:59
5. Vincenzo Nibali TSF, +1:01
6. Domenico Pozzovivo NTT, +1:05
7. Jakob Fuglsang AST, +1:19
8. Steven Kruijswijk TJV, +1:21
9. Patick Konrad BOH, +1:26
10. Rafal Majka BOH, +1:32