Giro 8: The Pink Sticks

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A brave breaker!
Hilly. Hard. Demanding. 
A typical Giro's stage rich of ups and downs where you can't relax one second. Summit finish at Campitello Matese, a 1st category climb.

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Hard stage
Forca d'Acero (2nd cat) Kruijswijk is solo with an advantage of 1'06" on Betancur and Pellizotti and 1'30" on the 2nd chasing group, including Bongiorno (BAR), Samoilau (CCC), Reichenbach (IAM), Niemiec (LAM), Intxausti (MOV), Finetto (STH), Danielson (TCG), Zakarin (KAT), and Vandewalle (TFR).
In the descent Carlos Betancur and Franco Pellizotti join Steven Kruijswijk and that's only good for him who can't go to the line all alone. Kristof Vandewalle gets off the group and tries to bridge. 75 km to go he reaches the front group.
With 68 km to go the 4 leaders have 54" advantage on the 8 chasers and 9'26" on the peloton. 60 km to go Pellizzotti is caught.
Sora, intermediate sprint and Alberto Contador goes getting a few seconds.
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Domenico Pozzovivo on the stage 
30 km to go and the gap is only 56" for the break-away. Peloton at 7'34". The second group still can't make it to the leaders who holds a 40'' advantage
13 km to go, approaching the last climb in Campitello Matese (1st cat): 13 km, average gradient of 6.9% and 12% max. Chaser Ilnur Zakarin attacks. In front Kruijswijk
goes solo again. Vandewalle chasses, then Betancur. Astana sets the pace and the peloton catches Pellizzotti. Intxausti and Reichenbach gained a slight advantage, join and pass Betancur.
Big selection in the favourites' group and Contador is fine but the most isolated, while Porte, Aru and Uran has got some mates.
Intxausti and Reichenbach joined Vandewalle.
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On the attack!
4 km to go Aru attacks with Landa, Contador responds, Porte follow and Uran is there. They slow down and Landa attacks. They let him go. Cataldo and Kiryenka bridge. The group is back together.
The first chasers caught the leader: four riders in front. 3 km to go Intxausti goes solo. Landa joins and passes everybody at a double speed but in fron there is still Intxausti.
1,3 km to go Cunego gets off the group.
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The winner
Last km: Aru attaks again but can't go away. Cunego caught. Porte goes in conter: on his wheel Contador, Cataldo and Uran. 
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The favourites clash
Intxausti crosses the line solo. Landa is 2nd. Reichenbach is 3rd. Aru wins the sprint in the favourites group. Contador keeps the Pink Jersey. Not bad for an injuried rider!!
Note that Rigoberto Ciccio Uran is back in the GC.

Benat Intxausti:
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Uran is there too
"I knew that those in the front would be strong so I just had to wait, and wait and conserve my energy. It worked for me. I was getting time gaps all the time and knew that when we had 1:30 that I had to attack and that I couldn’t wait anymore. It felt like an age to me but I managed and I enjoyed getting there on my own.
I’m here to win stages. That’s why I came here. I had a bad day and lost nine minutes in the heat so I’ll take advantage of my win today and we’ve got a long way to go. I’ll also go for the mountains jersey."

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Still in Pink
Alberto Contador:
"I’m really happy. Yesterday and today have been really hard days. Today it was incredible until the break went. Then at the end Astana made it difficult for us. Aru and Richie both wanted to attack but I think that I responded quite well. Now I’m off to rest.
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Intxausti in Blue
It was obvious that Aru was going to attack today. Richie and Fabio are both here to win and that’s what they’re trying to do. They tried to get me, they tried to attack me and despite the fall I’ve been able to respond."

Fabio Aru:
"I had a fantastic team and you could see the work that they’ve done. We managed to get Landa out there and I’m really happy with how it’s gone today. I think Contador is fine, there’s nothing wrong with him."

Kristof Vandewalle:
“Actually it was not planned to go in a breakaway today because of the mountain finish,” explained Vandewalle. “Tomorrow we have a much better chance to fight for the win, but I felt good. If the climb was less hard at the end I am pretty sure I could have fought for the win.
It was a really hard stage and the start was just crazy. The peloton split on a little climb 20 kilometers in.  I was the only one for the team in the front, and I felt good and just decided to follow if there was a big group. The first group of 20 Tinkoff-Saxo did not let go until we finally had a group of 12 guys.
But the problem was Niemiec of Lampre Merida was there and he was too close in the GC and so there was a lot of complaining in our group. Kruijswijk was still in the front leading and two guys bridged to him on the climb, and then I had to make a decision whether to stay in the big group, which was not working well together or go on my own. After the descent, I decided to try and make the bridge to the three guys and in the valley I closed a gap of I think one minute.  It went well with us four and then in one moment Pellizotti was gone, it was strange – I think he went back to the big group.
The group was never far behind and I was with real climbers going into the last climb, which was very hard, but I felt good. I saw that Betancur was not riding well, and so I just went my own speed and tried to keep Kruijswijk in sight. I was hoping he might slow down, and I would have a chance for the win, but then when the others strong climbers came from behind, okay, it was done. Then the morale is gone and it was just a matter to get to the top and finish the stage.”

Steven Kruijswijk:

“I decided to attack on the first long climb of the day. I was planning to try something today and I was feeling good. Behind me, a chasing group full of good climbers arose, but they didn’t work together so well. That’s why I chose to hold my own pace.
I had to push as hard as I could to have a chance. I was hoping that they were going to fall apart behind me, but I broke! That’s a pity, but I thought that this was the way for me to win a stage. And I wasn’t far off in the end. I know that reaching the top ten in the general classification is almost impossible and that’s why I want to attack and try to grab a stage victory. I feel that I’m good enough for that and I’m going to try it another time, next week, for sure.”

Richie Porte:
“People have been asking questions about the team but we haven’t had to ride, it wouldn’t have made sense. They’ve been taking care of themselves until now. We saw Alberto was isolated there. Astana had the numbers but Landa was up the road, I’m not sure what that was all about.
But I’m so happy with how today went. From the start, Sebastien Henao was great and to have König and Nieve put in that effort for me was great to see. I’m feeling good too, and it was good to put in a bit of a dig.
He’s in the jersey, isn’t he, so all he has to do is cover the moves. I think he would have liked to have had a few more guys up there but they’ve taken the race on in the first week and that obviously takes a fair bit out of you doing that. 
We have to see: I don’t think you can be in too much difficulty if you’re still riding up that climb that fast. But we’ll see day by day, and see how it goes. I’ve got big respect for Alberto, he’s a big fighter and I don’t think he’s going to show how much pain he’s in anyway.
Obviously there’s Rigoberto as well, who’s back from whatever was wrong the other day and he can time trial as well, so if they [Contador and Aru] are just looking at me, they’ve got a bit of a shock coming. There are more guys to worry about than just the ‘Three Tenors’ or whatever they’re calling it.
We’ve seen it already on stage 3 and 4, they were probably the most exciting stages. A stage like today everybody was marking one another but tomorrow could just be a full-on war again. It’s obvious that Astana smell a bit of blood and they’re going to go for him [Contador], and I’m happy to sit back and profit from that.”

1 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team 4:51:34
2 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:20
3 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:00:31
4 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:35
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step
8 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini 0:00:45
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
11 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team
12 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:53
13 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
14 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky
15 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team
16 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal
17 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:11
18 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
19 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
20 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 32:40:07
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:04
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:22
4 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:30
5 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:42
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:00
7 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:01:16
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:24
9 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:01:34
10 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:01:38
11 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:44
12 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team 0:02:09
13 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:15
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini 0:02:24
15 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:02:32
16 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:02:47
17 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:03:14
18 Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:03:55
19 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team 0:04:45
20 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:01

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