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Sunday, May 15, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Les Woodland's book Tour of Flanders: The Inside Story - The rocky roads of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Giro d'Italia stage eight reports

We posted the report from Arnaud Dèmare's Team Groupama-FDJ with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Thomas De Gendt's Team Lotto Soudal:

Thomas De Gendt has added a new memorable victory to his palmares. In the eighth stage of the Giro, with start and finish in Naples, De Gendt, together with teammates Harm Vanhoucke and Sylvain Moniquet, were part of a breakaway of over twenty riders.

Thomas De Gendt wins stage eight. Sirotti photo

On a difficult local circuit around Monte Procida, the early breakaway was steadily thinned out and after a tactical game, five riders slipped away, including teammates De Gendt and Vanhoucke. The five riders never had much advantage on the first chasers and in the final kilometres, the duo Van der Poel - Girmay almost made it back. In the end it was Vanhoucke who started the sprint for De Gendt, who launched a powerful acceleration and took his second Giro stage win, ten years after his first on the Stelvio.

"Today I really had a great day and with three teammates in the breakaway we could play a bit" De Gendt said afterwards. “We played it out perfectly. Due to illness and bad luck, I wasn't able to perform the way I wanted the last few years and that's why this win feels maybe even more special than the one on the Stelvio."

"I even doubted whether I would come to the start of this Giro in good shape. But this victory proves that I'm back at it. This stage reminded me of the stage in Barcelona during the Volta a Catalunya. The succession of climbs where it is difficult to recover suits me well, so I rode a tight pace up all the time to not really give anyone a rest."

"I know I'm fast after a stage like this, felt still strong and gambled on the sprint. Harm played the team game perfectly in the final kilometres with Van der Poel and Girmay coming really close. At three hundred metres from the finish I gave it my all and that was enough to take the win," De Gendt concluded.

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Fifth-place Biniam Girmay's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team posted this report:

After four places of honor in the sprint in the Giro d’Italia, Biniam Girmay achieved a fifth place in the eighth stage this Saturday thanks to a breakaway on a hilly circuit around Naples.

Biniam Girmay gets his bike before the stage start. Sirotti photo

The Eritrean 22-year old, who’s making his Grand Tour debut, joined a group of 21 riders immediately after the start. The advantage of the group stagnated around 2 minutes for a long time on a local circuit containing the Monte di Procida (2km at 6.1%).

On the fourth and last passage on this climb, Girmay reacted to an acceleration of Mathieu van der Poel and was then on of the actors in an exciting final battle between two quartets.

15 seconds after the winner, Biniam Girmay won the sprint for fifth place and thus acquired his fifth top five in eight race days.

In addition to this new good result, Girmay scored maximum points in the intermediate sprint, decreasing the gap to Arnaud Démare to 27 points in the battle for the maglia ciclamino.

Rein Taaramäe crossed the line in the peloton and stays third in the general classification on the eve of a mountain stage to Blockhaus.

At the end of this eighth stage, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux conquered the lead in the team classification and this for the very first time in a Grand Tour.

“This was an incredible day! I'm very satisfied with my performance today. My Grand Tour debut is a journey of discovery. I'm impressed about what I was capable of today after such a hard day yesterday. We rode full gas from start to finish. In the final it was difficult tactically, because everyone was watching Mathieu van der Poel and myself. I'm happy to achieve another good result for the team. In addition, I won important points in the battle for the maglia ciclamino. Today I seized a nice opportunity and I'm convinced that more will come in the next two weeks...” - Biniam Girmay

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GC leader Juan Pedro Lopez's Trek-Segafredo team posted this:

The coveted pink jersey is on the shoulders of Juan Pedro Lopez, but it is teamwork that is helping keep it there.

Juan Pedro Lopez is still in pink. Sirotti phot

In Saturday’s Stage 8 in the Giro d’Italia, a strong breakaway ensured that Trek-Segafredo could never ease off the pace from the peloton. With almost every team happy with the representation in the front, Trek-Segafredo had little help in controlling the gap. If they wanted to keep pink, they had to do the work.

One rider in the leading group – Guillaume Martin – sat just over four minutes from Juanpe’s lead. The Team maintained the gap to the leading group of 21, which also had Mattias Skjelmose for company, to under three minutes.

“It took a while to get the numbers in the break, and it was not the plan to have Mattias there, but when he was there, he could stay,” explained director Greggy Rast. “When we saw Martin was there and only 4 minutes behind, we set the pace and tried to keep it under control, but it was not easy because all the teams were fighting for positioning because of the tricky parcours.”

Everything was good until the heavy punchers in the breakaway started hitting in the last 40 kilometers. When the gap grew to within seconds of making Martin the virtual leader, it was too close for comfort. The order from the team car was simple.

“I said to the team that was still there – Eddie (Theuns) and Jacopo (Mosca) had already done a lot of work and were dropped – to pull. So Otto (Vergaerde), Bauke (Mollema), and we called Mattias back from the breakaway, pulled, and when the gap came down to three and half minutes, and Martin was a bit dropped in the front, we knew we had it under control,” continued Rast.

The Team’s effort decreased the distance between the front and bunch, nullifying one threat, but Lennard Kamna – 38 seconds behind Juanpe – tried to play off the Trek-Segafredo effort, hoping to catch the Team on its back foot.

But the Maglia Rosa was ready.  “In the meeting in the morning, we spoke about if Kamna attacks, that I need to follow. I had good legs again today, and I had no problem to follow him,” said Juanpe.

Rast added: “When Kamna attacked, our guys dropped a bit, which was not so good for us. Then Cicco also had to work a little to keep control. We did not get a lot of help from other teams, which is normal as it was not their business. If we want to keep the jersey, we need to pull. In the end, it was all good.”

It was all good: Trek-Segafredo managed to keep the pink firmly in the Team – at least for one more day.

“At one point, I was a little worried about keeping the jersey. But I have a really, really good Team – my teammates, my staff, everyone made my day,” praised Juanpe. “Again, my teammates gave 100%, and we were able to have another day in pink. This jersey is not just mine – it’s the whole Team’s.”

Stage 9 is the first mountain summit test, and it’s a doozy, tackling the fearsome Blockhaus climb twice. The race heads up its steepest side to the finish line, and it will be the first significant GC fight of the race. Blockhaus will test everything the young Spaniard has in his arsenal.

“We will see tomorrow, and for sure I will give 100% like every day, and tomorrow after the stage we will see. If I keep the jersey, I will be very happy, but if I lose it, I am also happy. But I do my 200% on the road,” answered Juanpe.

If Lopez is feeling the pressure, he’s not showing it.  And he shouldn’t. He has already succeeded beyond his dreams in the 2022 Giro after finishing second in Stage 4 and claiming the Maglia Rosa.

If he takes the pink into the rest day, it would be the cherry on top of an already delicious cake. And, as always, it will be because of a Team effort.

“It has been a huge success so far. It is thanks to my Team that I can live this dream,” he ended.

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And Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

After a demanding day yesterday, a short but still tricky stage was on the menu today. With many small climbs the terrain went up and down all day on the 153km around Naples.

Ahead of tomorrow's challenging stage, with its mountain finish atop the Blockhaus, it was all about saving energy for BORA - hansgrohe today as well as bringing their GC riders to the finish without losing any time. Soon after the start, a large breakaway group broke free, working well together during the day and were able to keep the field at a distance until the end. Eight km ahead of the finish, Lennard Kämna tried to go clear but was quickly followed by Juan Lopez, the current leader in the GC, and so the German rider had to give up his attempt. Thomas de Gendt took the win from the leading group while all GC riders of the squad from Raubling crossed the finish line safely.

Racing thorough the streets around Naples.

"Today's eighth stage in Naples was far from easy. The peloton decided to let the big breakaway go early. Back in the field there was a big fight for positioning and I think we did a good job there. The whole team was 100% ready to fully support our GC riders and keep them out of any difficulties. We fully implemented our plan and we can be satisfied with the outcome of today before tomorrow’s hard stage.” - Enrico Gasparotto, Sports Director

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