Giro d'Italia | Stage 8
Here's how Thomas De Gendt took the win
Ten years on from his historic victory on the Stelvio, the Belgian breakaway specialist is a Giro d'Italia winner again. What a burst of pace from De Gendt!
Former champion Dumoulin abandons Giro
'Dream decade!' - De Gendt produces another breakaway win in 'sensational style'
Martin up to fourth on GC
Confirmation that the Frenchman is now in fourth place in the standings at 1:06 after his superb ride today. That was quite some coup given the circumstances - and he now finds himself ahead of the other race favourites, knocking down Simon Yates to fifth at 1:46 ahead of tomorrow's summit showdown on Blockhaus.
A frustrating fifth for Girmay
The Eritrean had to settle for fifth place there after Van der Poel sat up and dropped to eighth seventh Mauro Schmid. Wout Poels, Guillaume Martin and Fabio Felline complete the top 10. The peloton came home at 3:33 and so Martin will soar up the standings into the top five. But the day belongs to Thomas De Gendt - 10 years after his historic win on the Stelvio.
One silver lining for Biniam Girmay, mind, is that he pockets another six points to help him cut the deficit to Arnaud Demare in the maglia ciclamino standings...
Victory for Thomas De Gendt!
An astonishing win for the Belgian veteran who launched his sprint first and had too much power for his rivals. He started to celebrate early and had a slight heart-in-mouth moment when he saw Davide Gabburo return - but the Italian could only take second with Jorge Arcas in third. And Vanhoucke celebrates his fourth place and teammate De Gendt's victory behind - just like Tom Dumoulin yesterday.
16:14 - Final kilometre
Van der Poel and Girmay can't afford to play any games now because they still need to catch and pass the quartet ahead, who have just gone under the flamme rouge... And I don't think they will do it - they have given up on the home straight!
16:12 - Just 10 seconds now for leaders
2km to go: Van der Poel and Girmay have the leaders in their sights. They need to combine together and then sprint for the spoils... What a finish!
16:09 - It's far from over...
5km to go: After a big acceleration from Mauro Schmid there's another increase in tempo in the chase group and the gap comes down to 15 seconds. It's going to be a nail-biting finish today with one of those four leaders far from guaranteed the spoils.
16:07 - Lopez responds to Kamna attack!
7km to go: Oh, hello! Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) tries his luck with an attack from the peloton in a bid to put the pink jersey under pressure. The German is just 38 seconds down on the Spaniard in the GC and has been nibbling away at his lead these past few days. Lopez is a match for him and it comes to nothing - but that was an intriguing subplot to the drama on the front of the race today.
16:05 - Martin now leads the chase
8km to go: The Frenchman will bound up the general classification today but he's also still hoping for a stage win. It's Martin who leads the chase from the five-man move behind the leaders as they tackle this final climb. The gap is down to 25 seconds.
16:00 - Van der Poel looks tired
12km to go: He went early on solo and then put in the attack which resulted in this four-man move going up the road. But the Dutchman is only human and he looks to be really struggling now. And that's perhaps why this chasing quintet cannot make any in-roads - that and the brute force of Thomas De Gendt up the road. The Belgian, along with compatriot and teammate Vanhoucke, the Italian Gabburo and the Spaniard Arcas, have 38 seconds to play with ahead of this final short climb. It will be a surprise if one of these four don't win - and of the four, De Gendt is the only rider who knows what it's like to win a professional bike race...
15:53 - Trek-Segafredo pull in the peloton
16km to go: We haven't seen much of the peloton since all those moves started going but it's the Trek team of Juanpe Lopez doing the work to protect the Spaniard's pink jersey, which is being threatened by the Frenchman Guillaume Martin. Martin is in this five-man chase group which still trails the four leaders by 35 seconds. Have they left it too late?
15:48 - Van der Poel unhappy about growing gap
20km to go: With the quartet's lead up to 38 seconds on the penultimate climb, the Dutchman decides to put in a dig. It was his attack earlier that provided the springboard for the leading quartet and it looks like one of those four will win. Can Lotto Soudal do today what Jumbo-Visma did yesterday and use their numerical advantage?
15:40 - Five-man chase group forms
25km to go: After an acceleration from Schmid on the short but sharp third-to-last climb, a new chase group forms when Van der Poel, Poels, Martin and Girmay ride over. They trail the De Gendt quartet by 25 seconds and have 20 seconds on the others.
15:35 - De Gendt the only winner
28km to go: Thomas De Gendt is the only rider in this four-man move who has won a stage in the Giro before. In fact, none of his three colleagues - Harm Vanhoucke, Jorge Arcas and Davide Gabburo - have ever won a professional race at all. Will that change today? Their advantage is up to 35 seconds on the reformed chase group behind. They have firepower, but their time is running out...
15:32 - De Gendt takes the KOM points
32km to go: It's the Belgian who leads the quartet over the summit to pocket the three KOM points - not that he will be unduly concerned about those. They have 23 seconds over the Van der Poel-Girmay chase group, which also includes Guillaume Martin, who will rocket up the standings today: the peloton is now 4:06 behind, which is the same time the Frenchman lags behind Juanpe Lopez on GC.
15:27 - Van der Poel leads the chase on the climb
35km to go: It's the fourth and final ascent of Monte di Procida and it's the Dutchman who sets the tempo in the chase group, which has been whittled down to just a handful of riders. Girmay, Schmid and Moniquet are still there, ditto Poels, Ulissi, Vendrame and a few others. They have just caught Ravanelli, who couldn't keep up with the pace being set by De Gendt up the road.
15:23 - Gap grows for quintet
37km to go: The chasers start to look at each other because there's no cohesion and a lot of passengers in this move. Ahead, the five leaders now have 25 seconds and this is something of a coup for Lotto Soudal, who have two riders involved in De Gendt and Vanhoucke. The peloton, meanwhile, is 3:35 back.
Incidentally, amid all that we had the second intermediate sprint at Bacoli where Vanhoucke took the bonus seconds ahead of his teammate De Gendt.
15:18 - Five clear with small gap
41km to go: Davide Gabburo, Simone Ravanelli, Thomas De Gendt, Harm Vanhoucke and Jorge Arcas have 10 seconds over a 10-man chase group that includes Van der Poel, Girmay and Ulissi. They're onto another punchy climb on this draining curcuit, which they will complete for one more time before heading back into the city centre.
15:16 - Poels helps bring it back together
43km to go: Wout Poels also joined Schmid and Girmay in bringing Van der Poel to heel, but the likes of Calmejane, Tejada, Zardini, Maestri and Rivi are still distanced. Now Gabburo puts in a fresh attack, followed by Arcas and a few others. After a long lull, it's got pretty feisty.
15:11 - Van der Poel attacks!
46km to go: The Dutchman decides to go long and he accelerates on the little climb that follows Monte di Procida. He opens up a gap and splits this break to smithereens. Following are Mauro Schmid and that man Biniam Girmay... What a finish we have in store.
Van der Poel vs Girmay for the win?
The Dutchman and the Eritrean are the standout favourites for today's stage being as they are classics riders with a powerful sprint. They were the ones to watch before the stage and that's still the case after both managed to get into the move - Girmay as a response to seeing Van der Poel go solo up the road. But other riders worth watching are Andrea Vendrama and Diego Ulissi, who are also both fast finishers...
15:07 - Third time up the climb
49km to go: The gap is down to 2:27 as the break hits Monte di Procida for the third time. There will be one more ascent of the climb and then a handful of other climbs on the way back into central Naples, including the climb where Van der Poel lauched his initial attack but tackled in reverse.
14:54 - Gap up to three minutes
58km to go: For the first time today the advantage of the 20 leaders edges above three minutes - putting Frenchman Guillaume Martin just 1:06 away from the virtual pink jersey.
14:48 - Cavendish momentarily tailed off
62km to go: The Manx Missile is starting to feel the pinch and he's off the back with two Quick-Step teammates. Jonathan Castroviejo of Ineos Grenandiers - who crashed badly yesterday - is also there. It's going to be a tough couple of hours for these riders - they need to finish within 20 minutes of the winner to avoid the cut today. But, look, as a type, Cavendish has ridden back on, taking advantage of the pack slowing around one of the numerous tight corners.
14:38 - De Gendt drives the pace
68km to go: The Belgian breakaway specialist led the break over the summit of the Monte di Procida for the second of four ascents on this 19km circuit around Naples. He then continued his pacing down the descent and beyond to string out the break, whose lead is still 2:40. Off the back of the pack is Jonathan Castroviejo, who crashed badly yesterday. The Spaniard from Ineos needs a bike change.
Check this out for a quite the view from a train, from fellow cycling journalist Simon MacMichael, who is currently holidaying in Naples...
14:30 - Bahrain Victorious still on the front
74km to go: The boys in red are still dictating play on the front of the pack doing their best, it seems, to keep their GC men Mikel Landa and Pello Bilbao out of trouble. After last year's DNF from Landa that's no huge surprise. But you wonder if it also has something to do with the fact that their only man in the move is Wout Poels, who must be knackered after his efforts in the breakaway yesterday. The gap is up to 2:40.
14:18 - Accelerations in the break
82km to go: One of the Lotto riders - Moniquet, I think; certainly not De Gendt - is pulling off the back of a climb and he strings things out with Van der Poel in his wake. The 20 escapees have seen their lead grow to 2:20 as we start to see some of the pure sprinters - Cav and Ewan notably - suffering on the back of the pack. No surprise: these kickers are super steep and it's hot out there.
14:10 - Break down to 20 men
89km to go: Jasha Sutterlin has sat up and will be caught by the peloton. It's an odd one, that. Either Bahrain Victorious want him back for the chase or he's just not feeling so good. Perhaps he had a mechanical? The team still has Wout Poels in the break, whose lead is still 2:03.
14:05 - Fast average speed so far
91km to go: In the first hour and half of racing the average speed was 45kmh which is pretty zippy. They're onto the climb of Monte di Procida (2.1km at 6% with a maximum gradient of 11%) which will feature in each of these four circuits around Naples. I'm afraid this chap is somewhat destined to lose his Strava KOM today...
13:58 - Still two minutes for the leaders
95km to go: There's a fair bit of tension in the pack as they negotiate these narrow, lumpy roads. Many of the GC teams have come to the front to keep their men out of trouble. They're about to hit the circuit which they will ride four times before the finish. The gap is 2:08 for the 21 leaders with Van der Poel taking a pull.
13:50 - Castroviejo on the back
100km to go: Jonathan Castroviejo is right at the back of the peloton as the race negotiates a technical downhill back towards the coast. The Spaniard at Ineos Grenadiers crashed yesterday and bashed his hip. He finished second last in the stage in a gruppetto that came come 42 minutes in arrears. It will all be about survival for him before Monday's second rest day. Tomorrow's rendez-vous on Blockhaus will be a terrible test for Castroviejo.
13:40 - Pink jersey back with his team car
109km to go: Juanpe Lopez is not on the bike he started the stage on after that earlier change. He's just dropped back to chew the fat with Trek DS Jaroslav Popovych but he seems happy not to change back on his original steed. His jersey looks fairly secure despite Martin's presence in the move. Indeed, the gap is down to 2:00 now as Bahrain Victorious come to the front alongside Trek, despite their having two riders in the move in Poels and Sutterlin.
13:31 - Girmay wins intermediate sprint
115km to go: The Eritrean is the only rider who shows interest in the sprint and he pockets 12 points to help him slash the gap on Arnaud Demare's lead in the maglia ciclamino standings. The Frenchman has 147pts in that classification after his back-to-back wins but Girmay, his nearest challenger, is now up to 106pts. The race now heads south back towards Naples via Bacoli.
13:26 - Martin the only GC threat in the break
119km to go: The Frenchman Guillaume Martin is the only rider within realistic reaching distance of the maglia rosa in this move. He is 4:06 down on Lopez in the GC while the next best-placed rider is Diego Ulissi who is a further 13 minutes behind. The gap is now 2:25 as the intermediate sprint approaches...
The moment Van der Poel made his move
Here's that early acceleration from the Dutchman which sparked the response behind and saw this large breakaway form early on today...
Van der Poel attacks alone… with 146km remaining!
13:21 - Trek-Segafredo lead the chase
123km to go: It's the Trek teammates of pink jersey Lopez who are on the front of the pack and leading the chase just ahead of the BikeExchange-Jayco train of Simon Yates. The gap has grown to 1:53 for the 21 leaders as the race heads north out of Naples towards the intermediate sprint at Lago Patria.
13:12 - Gap creeps above the minute mark
130km to go: This break of 21 escapees oozes class and quality but the peloton is not letting it go lightly - and that may have something to do with the presence of Frenchman Martin in the move; the Cofidis rider is only four minutes down on GC and, given his climbing qualities, he's something of a dangerman.
The leaders are: Andrea Vendrame and Lilian Calmejane (Ag2R-Citroen), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Fabio Felline and Harold Tejada (Astana-Premier Tech), Wout Poels and Jasha Sutterlin (Bahrain Victorious), Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Simone Ravenelli and Eduoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli), Mirco Maestri and Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Thomas De Gendt, Sylvain Moniquet and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal), Jorge Arcas (Movistar), Mauro Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates).
Tom Dumoulin with the red number
The Dutchman was awarded the combativity award yesterday after be fought back on numerous occasions in the breakaway before setting up teammate Koen Bouwman for the win. Dumoulin's fourth place was arguably just as impressive as any of his big stage wins in the past - although you can be sure that he'll want to be punching the air in celebration of his own win before the end of this Giro, rather than merely a win for a teammate.
13:05 - Van der Poel caught by the chasers
138km to go: The Dutchman gives up the ghost and is absorbed by the break, which has 35 seconds on the pack. Jorge Arcas of Movistar has been very active, ditto the Lotto Soudal pair of De Gendt and Slyvain Moniquet. That suggests they don't believe their sprinter Caleb Ewan can win today. Danish powerhouse Magnus Cort missed this move and it's the EF rider who is driving the pace behind in a bid to bring these leaders back.
12:58 - Trouble for the maglia rosa
141km to go: Juan Pedro Lopez, the pink jersey, was off the back after a mechanical issue. Better now than later, for sure, but it's going to be a tough ride back for the Spaniard, who will need some of his Trek-Segafredo teammates to come back and help. That's because the race is well and truly on. Van der Poel has 10 seconds on a big chasing group that includes the likes of Andrea Vendrame, Wout Poels, Guillaume Martin, Diego Ulissi, Biniam Girmay and Thomass De Gendt. The pack is currently one minute behind the flying Dutchman.
12:53 - Van der Poel, a man on a mission
146km to go: The Dutchman went early with Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and then a load of others, including Harold Tejada of Astana. But with Biniam Girmay one of many trying to bridge over to this leading group, Van der Poel decides to take matters into his own hands by riding clear. Is he going to try and solo to victory from 146km out? Amazing scenes here in Naples...
One non-starter: Simon Carr
The EF Education-EasyPost climber has not taken to the start today. Illness must be tearing through the team because they lost Owain Doull yesterday, so only one of their three British riders left: Hugh Carthy, who is currently 17th on GC at 2:20. He may not be the last DNF today given what's in store...
12:45 - Stage 8 under way!
153km to go: After a slight delay which only serves to increase the tension, the flag is waved and the first attacks come in thick and fast. And look at that - Mathieu van der Poel is one of the riders who zips off the front... This bodes well.
Riders ready and correct on the start line
Ciao ragazzi! Today is a mini world championships-style circuit race in and around Naples, which the Giro visits for the first time in nine years. It culminates with four laps of a lumpy circuit around the iconic coastal city in southern Italy. Just 153km but many lumps and bumps - for a total of +2,000m of climbing - it's one for the likes of Mathieu van der Poel and Biniam Girmay, you may think...
The riders have completed a short neutral section through town and have assembled on the start/finish line ahead of today's intriguing stage, which will play out in bright sunshine and with fans aplenty on the side of the streets against a backdrop of the Mediterranean sea and Mount Vesuvius...
Why is Stage 8 going to be 'absolutely bonkers?'
Saturday sees a short, sharp Stage 8 - a 153km traipse around Napoli - that will culminate in a sprint along the Via Caracciolo seafront after four laps of a 19km circuit between Bacoli and Monte di Procida. It contains 2,130 metres of climbing over an undulating terrain, so should be one for sprinters who are not averse to a little bit of climbing. Adam Blythe, speaking on The Breakaway, described the stage as "absolutely bonkers".
"It is going to be brilliant," began Blythe.
"We're going to have a proper little one-day race. It is going to be fast, furious, with little laps, [there will be] climbs, descents. [Plus there are] terrible roads around Naples - there's dogs running everywhere as well, and there's garbage fires in the middle of the road. Everything is going to be absolutely bonkers.
"It's going to be like a little classic race in the middle of a Grand Tour. It's just going to be fast, furious, and I think it's going to be open to attacks, maybe even a sprint, maybe Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel–Premier Tech) might be there? Who knows? I'm rubbing my hands for it. I can't wait."
What happened yesterday?
A stage for the ages in the Southern Apennines saw Jumbo-Visma bounce back from their early disappointments with a maiden Grand Tour stage win for Koen Bouwman and a stirring performance from the Dutchman’s teammate and compatriot Tom Dumoulin.
The 2017 Giro champion was a key cog in the day’s breakaway and then battled back into contention on numerous occasions during a thrilling finale before helping to tee up Bouwman for the win. The 28-year-old Bouwman kicked clear from the wheel of his teammate to make light of the final double-digit ramp to the line and deny compatriot Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Italy’s Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) in Potenza.
The biggest win of Bouwman’s career was supplemented by the blue jersey after he secured maximum points over three of the day’s four categorised climbs – despite being distanced halfway up the final climb of the day following some scattergun attacks from both Mollema and Formolo.
It was the outgoing blue jersey of Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) who led the main field home just under three minutes in arrears as Spain’s Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) secured the race leader’s pink jersey, which at one point was in the virtual hands of that man Bouwman.
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