Giro d’Italia | Stage 9



Here's a repeat of that nail-biting finale

Sit back and let it play out in front of you... We're truly experiencing a golden age of cycling!
Giro d'Italia
Opinion: The unbearable weight of Van der Poel’s massive talent

What a day... so many stories and subplots

The return of Jai Hindley as a Grand Tour force... Italian veterans Nibali and Pozzovivo rolling back the years... Juan Pedro Lopez digging deep to retain the pink jersey... Mikel Landa, Romain Bardet and Richard Carapaz looking mightly strong... and Simon Yates cracking on Blockhaus... Natnael Tesfatsion crashing in dramatic circumstances... It's going to take a while for the dist to settle on this one.

Juanpe Lopez rallies to retain pink jersey

A stirring ride there from the Spaniard who battles to 15th place at 1:42 - and that means it's the Trek-Segafredo rider who will go into the second rest day with a 12-second lead over Joao Almeida at the top of the standings. Romain Bardet is up to third at 14 seconds and Richard Carapaz fourth at 15 seconds. Stage 9 winner Hindley is now fifth at 20 seconds. It's amazingly tight up there in the fight for pink - what a race this is turning out to be.

Victory for Jai Hindley on Blockhaus

Aerial replays show that the Australian took that by half a bike! He led out the sprint from the front and managed to hold off both Carapaz and Bardet as they almost reeled him in before the line. What an amazing finish.

Wow! Photo finish in the mountains as Hindley punches the air

It's not often you see that as Bardet, Carapaz and Hindley all cross the line together after an uphill sprint deluxe on Blockhaus! It's the Australian Jai Hindley of Bora-Hansgrohe who thinks he's done it - but we will await confirmation...

16:18 - Final kilometre

Bardet is in the form of his life! The Frenchman signed a contract extension last week and he's repaying Team DSM with a really promising performance. He attacks from the front but the others stick with him - and as they slow, the three chasers return to the fold. So it's six on the front who will contest this stage win now. What a treat.

16:15 - Six out in front... Pozzovivo attacks!

2km to go: Almeida, Hindley and Pozzovivo have joined Landa, Carapaz and Bardet with just two klicks to go. It's then the veteran Pozzovivo who puts in the first atack before Bardet responds with a dig of his own - taking Landa and Carapaz with him. So, we're back to as it was with the same three being chased by the same three others.

16:10 - Almeida leads the chase

3km to go: It's the Portuguese rider who leads a chasing quartet that includes veteran Italians Nibali and Pozzovivo and the Australian Hindley. Behind, Valverde digs deep to return to the fold. Bardet has been looking to push on because the his advantage with Landa and Carapaz isn't huge, and they have done with the steepest sections of this climb.
Nibali is the first to be dropped from the chase group as they enter the trees ahead of the finish. The maglia rosa is 1:20 back and so we will have a new leader tonight - but Lopez has ridden doggedly and with passion. He's with Fortunato, a stage winner last year on the Mortirolo - or was it the Zoncolan?

16:06 - Carapaz attacks!

4.5km to go: This is wonderful display of selfless pacing from the Aussie veteran who is doing such a shift for teammate Carapaz that no one has been able to put in anything resembling an attack. No one, that is, except the Ecuadorian himself! It's Carapaz who makes the first move and he takes Landa and Bardet with him.

15:58 - Porte pulling for Carapaz

7km to go: This lead group contains Porte, Carapaz, Bardet, Landa, Nibali, Buchmann, Hindley, Pozzovivo, Valverde, Arensman and Almeida. Taaramae is a bit behind with Fortunato, while Bilbao rides with Lopez, the pink jersey, at 30 seconds. Yates is now 1:35 back.

15:53 - Maglia rosa dropped after touch of wheels

8km to go: Lopez is fading when he clips another rider's back wheel and is forced to unclip and then remount. He now has a gap to close - but he hasn't given up just yet. Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert still have both Pozzovivo and Taaramae here, while Lorenzo Fortunato is still here for Eolo-Kometa, ditto Thymen Arensmen for DSM and Almeida. The second Bora rider here isn't Kamna but Buchmann - but not for much longer for he's going backwards...

15:50 - Superb ride from Juanpe Lopez

9km to go: The pink jersey is still in this main group which is really impressive. He reminds me of Joao Almeida in his debut ride in 2020 when he wore the pink jersey for two weeks on his way to a fourth-place overall. Pello Bilbao is battling on at the back, while the likes of Bardet, Formolo, Martin, Landa, Valverde, Hindley and Kamna are still here. Vincenzo Nibali, too. Ineos has Sivakob and Porte on the front for Carapaz. But Landa is right in the mix while Yates is limiting his losses behind. Hugh Carthy is about to be dropped...

15:46 - Kelderman the latest GC rider to pop

10km to go: Wilco Kelderman is off the back and now Pello Bilbao looks in trouble... The Spaniard crashed earlier today and he's on the back with three Bahrain Victorious teammates. Koen Bouwman, the blue jersey, is going backwards. There are about 25 riders left in this GC group. Yates is rallying at 22 seconds so it's not all over for the Briton just yet.

15:43 - Ciccone, Dumoulin, then Yates all get dropped

11km to go: And the damage is being done early on with local rider Guilio Ciccone being distanced before Tom Dumoulin fades fast to confirm that it is stage wins, not the GC, which he is targetting. But then comes the big surprise with the elastic snapping for Simon Yates of BikeExchange-Jayco. It's Rui Costa of UAE doing the pace-setting although he's followed by the Ineos train...

‘Oh my word!’ – Yates' GC hopes at Giro unravel on Blockhaus

15:38 - All over for the breakaway as Carapaz takes a bonus second

14km to go: Dombrowsky, the last man standing, is caught before the second intermediate sprint at Roccamorice at the foot of the final ascent of Blockhaus (13.6km at 8.4%). And it's Ineos who lead the pack over the line with Richard Carapaz crossing in third place to take a single bonus second. It could - perhaps should - have been three seconds for the Ecuadorian, but perhaps he feels there are bigger fish to fry.
The last time the Giro came to Blockhaus was in 2017 when Nairo Quintana took the win on a day Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas crashed just before the clmb thanks to a badly parked race motorcycle.

15:31 - Dombrowski the lone leader

18km to go: It's the American from Astana who now leads the race after Dombrowski caught and past Rosa, who now rides 22 seconds down with Peters. They are the last three of the escapees left ahead of the pack, who are now just 30 seconds down on the front. UAE Team Emirates have now come to the front alongside Ineos Grenadiers...

15:29 - Tesfatsion back on his bike

20km to go: We've had confirmation that the Eritrean has noth withdrawn after that horror crash on the descent of the Passo Lanciano. Here's what happened when he left the road at high speed and ended up in a bush.

Tesfatsion crash: Terrifying moment Eritrean flies off road and into bushes

15:23 - Ineos Grenadiers closing in

22km to go: Rosa's closest challenger now is Dombrowski after the American drops Peters and Sepulveda on this climb that precedes the final official climb to the finish. Ineos have six riders on the front of the pack as they pull the peloton to within 1:10 of the lone leader. You have to feel for the gruppetto, who would have been aware that a slight turn off the top of the Passo Lanciano would have taken them to the finish at Blockhaus; instead, they have to tackle the long descent before the road sweeps up the other side of the mountain.

15:12 - Mechanical for Wilco Kelderman

28km to go: Problem for the Dutchman, who is Bora Hansgrohe's main GC leader. He needs to swap bikes after a puncture and will have a big fight to get back with the peloton ahead of the final climb. Rosa, meanwhile, has finished the descent and is already going uphill again. There's another 15km of uphill before the final climb officially starts. It's going to be a tough final hour for everyone.

15:09 - Still no news on Tesfatsion

31km to go: He was on his feet but showed no desire to get back on his bike - which is hardly a surprise given the huge scare he just had. Diego Rosa would have seen that happen just in front of him which makes his continued descent all the more impressive: the Italian is 25 seconds clear of Peters, Dombrowski and Sepulveda as he approaches the final section of this fast, fast, fast downhill. The peloton is 2:15 back and primed to pounce.

15:02 - Oh no! Terrible fall for Tesfatsion

37km to go: Complete disaster for the Eritrean who completely misjudges a corner and leaves the road at high speed and then crashes over his handlebars and into some bushes. That could have been far, far worse given the speed that he was travelling at. He really misjudged that and came into the corner in the apex and way too far. He braked too late and his wheels locked up - and luckily he continued his trajectory and found a cap between a wall and the barriers before being thrown into the bushes. A soft landing but that could still be the end of his race.

14:58 - Rosa into the virtual blue jersey

43km to go: Tesfatsion does the honourable thing and lets Rose lead them over the Passo Lanciano to pocket another 40pts. That puts the Italian onto 83pts in the KOM standings and so he's surpassed Koen Bouwman's 68pts in the mountains classification. Barring something very strange, Rosa will be the new maglia azzura tonight. Behind, Dombrowski has caught Sepulveda and Peters; they ride 50 seconds in arrears with the pack now at 3:05.

14:50 - Dombrowski chases on his own

46km to go: Rosa and Tesfatsion are around 2.5k from the summit of the Passo Lanciano and have 30 seconds over Peters and Sepulveda with Joe Dombrowski at 50 seconds after striking out alone from the chase group. Back on the front of the pack it's still Ineos Grenadiers setting the tempo through Salvatore Puccio. They trail the front by 3:15.

14:40 - Rosa goes clear with Tesfatsion

49km to go: The Italian catches and them almost instantly passes the leaders as he rides off in pursuit of the KOM points which could put him in the blue jersey tonight. Tesfatsion manages to return to his back wheel but, once again, he shakes his head when Rosa asks him to come forward. The young Eritrean isn't making many friends today... But he's riding a very canny race. We all thought Biniam Girmay would be the first Eritrean and black African to win a stage in the Giro - but we may have to revise that opinion this afternoon...

14:35 - Rosa closing in on leaders, Landa in trouble

50km to go: Diego Rosa has kicked clear of the chasers in pursuit of the leading trio. What's the bet he's now regretting that flat solo effort in the breakaway three days ago? The Italian is 10 seconds down with the others at 45 seconds. The peloton, meanwhile, is at 2:25 with Mikel Landa off the back after the mechanical. The Spaniard is being paced back by his Bahrain Victorous teammates. Pello Bilbao crashed earlier so it's been a tough day for the team.
"What are they like in this breakaway," says Sean Kelly, "it's like watching a junior race." The king isn't impressed with the three leaders, who thinks they can take a leaf out of Rosa's book.

14:27 - Peters attacks on Passo Lanciano

54km to go: The Frenchman - a stage winner in both the Giro and the Tour - attacks as soon as the road heads up at the start of the Cat.1 Passo Lanciano (10.3km at 7.6%). Sepulveda can't respond but Tesfatsion - a double winner of the Tour of Rwanda - manages to claw his way back. And then, remarkably, so too does Sepulveda, who seemingly effortlessly passes Peters and comes to the front on the steepest 14% part of this climb.
Behind, James Knox has a mechanical and needs to stop on the side of the road to sort out an issue - a big blow, what with the peloton now within 2:30 of the front of the race and with Ineos Grenadiers setting a hefty tempo.

14:24 - Beef continues in the leading trio

55km to go: Nans Peters now finds himself outnumbered two-to-one in this trio after Sepulveda - who looked done and dusted a few minutes ago - joins his teammate Tesfatsion. But still the Drone Hopper duo refused to pull! Still, the Peters-powered trio are now 40 seconds clear as they negotiate the short descent ahead of the official start of the climb. Caicedo and Dombrowski were leading the chase behind but it seems like they've decided to sit up.

14:19 - Peters getting frustrated

58km to go: It's Nans Peters who is doing all the pulling on the front and on numerous occasions he urges Tesfatsion to come through but the Eritrean stonewall ignores him - probably because he had a teammate behind. But then so does Peters, who gesticulates wildly in frustration. They have 25 seconds on the chasers where Sepulveda has just attacked in a bid to rejoin his teammate up the road.
It's crazy tactics from the Drone Hopper duo with Tesfatsion now the one gesticulating as he looks behind and sees that it's Sepulveda who is closing the gap on him, and not the others...

14:14 - Peters and Tesfatsion go clear

60km to go: No sooner had Tesfatsion rejoined the leaders than Peters put in a big attack and it's the Eritrean who follows. The duo quickly open up a gap of 20 seconds before Diego Rosa cajoles the chasers into action. Sepulveda is back on so we have seven in pursuit. They're not yet onto the categorised part of the Passo Lanciano but a little uphill amuse-bouche.

14:10 - Drone Hopper duo distanced

62km to go: We're not even on the Passo Lanciano proper but Tesfatsion and Sepulveda have already gone into the red after Nans Peters puts in a big effort on the front of the break. Six of the break bridge over but the Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli pair can't initially follow. The Eritrean soons return to the fold but it looks like curtains for the Argentine after his earlier effort in the intermediate sprint.

14:00 - Ineos Grenadiers primed

68km to go: The gap has dropped to 2:45 for the nine leaders after both Jonathan Castroviejo and Ben Swift come to the front to tap out tempo with the remainder of their train tucked in just a little behind. It's clear that they intend to put down a marker today - and so they might: Ineos have won three of the previous four Giri, and the one they didn't win was won by a rider who is now there's in Carapaz.

13:48 - The first attacks start in the break

76km to go: Natnael Tesfatsion has just stretched his legs a little ahead of this next climb and his acceleration sees him gain a few bike lengths. He's pegged back by two riders before the other six managed to bridge over. A sign of things to come. It will be interesting to see how Drone Hopper and Ag2R-Citroen use their numerical advantage today - particularly in the light of the last two days when Jumbo-Visma and Lotto Soudal benefited from having two or three men in the break.

13:40 - Porte: Carapaz is motivated for today

80km to go: We spoke to veteran Australian Riche Porte this morning ahead of the stage and he talked us though Ineos Grenadier's options for today, bigging up his leader's chances.
"I'm pretty motivated. Obviously, we have Richard Carapaz here who's very motivated for today's stage. I think it's going to be the first real GC battle up the Blockhaus. We're going to assess the situation once we're there but in Richard we have a guy that we're all in for. He can perhaps do something today - and when you have such morale in the team, when the foot's on the throat, then you go for it.
"It's obviously his [Carapaz's] big target for the year. He's great to be around. He's a good leader - he comes on the bus, pats us on the back, he's a great guy to be around. Look, we're never going to throw it away but today, I know my job. If I have to sacrifice myself, I'm willing to do that. I'm 37, I'm not really here to take any more stress than I need to. I love the race but we're going to take every day as it comes."

13:34 - Sepulveda wins intermediate sprint

87km to go: The Argentine climber kicks clear on the ramp in Filetto to secure the cash prize and 12 ciclamino points (not that he's after the sprinters' jersey) in the intermediate sprint. No one really contested that and Eduardo Sepulveda was able to take that unopposed with Felix Gall leading the others over behind. The gap for these nine riders is down to 3:45 which probably won't be enough for them to contest the stage win once the GC battle kicks off behind.

13:23 - Castroviejo comes to the front

95km to go: Ineos Grenadiers have sent Spain's Jonathan Castroviejo to the front of the peloton which is interesting - it's the first time the British team have shown their hand today. The Spaniard is covered in bandages after his big fall a couple day ago.

13:15 - Cataldo and Ciccone the local riders

98km to go: Trek-Segafredo duo Dario Cataldo and Giulio Ciccone hail from Lanciano and Chieti respectively - both a 40km ride from today's final climb at Blockhaus, which they will know well from there training. Bodes well for the team of the current maglia rosa.

13:08 - Carapaz making his way back

102km to go: Richard Carapaz, who won the 2019 Giro for Movistar before joining Ineos Grenadiers, is riding back through the peloton after apparently dropping back to speak to his DS or answer a call of nature or pick up a bottle. The possibilities are endless - you choose. The Ecuadorian looks fine so there's no concern there. He'll be one of the big favourites today for the win at Blockhaus. To move in to pink, though, he'll have to take two minutes from Juanpe Lopez and also drop Simon Yates, whom he trails by 24 seconds currently.

12:58 - One debutant; two riders with zero pro wins

108km to go: Felix Gall is the only rider in this breakaway who is tasting the Giro for the first time this year. The Austrian is also one of two of the nine leaders who has never picked up a pro win in his career, the other being Britain's James Knox. May that change today? Knox is certainly one of the strongest climbers in this move...

12:53 - Today's earlier flashpoint: Bilbao's crash

112km to go: While the day's break was forming, an incident in the main pack saw a handful of riders hit the deck going over a small brow halfway up the second climb today. The most high-profile rider to go down was Spain's Pello Bilbao, who bashed his hip, cut his elbow and ripped the back of his jersey to shreds. Here's what happened...

‘Big crash!’ – Handful of riders wiped out on Stage 9 at Giro d’Italia

12:45 - Three previous Giro stage winners in the move

118km to go: Of the nine escapees Nans Peters, Joe Dombrowski and Jonathan Caicedo have all won stages at the Giro before. Frenchman Peters soloed to victory in Anterselva in Stage 17 of the 2019 race; Ecuador's Caicedo won atop Mount Etna in Stage 3 in 2020; the American Dombrowski won Stage 4 at Sestola last year, one day before he crashed out of the race in the high-speed spill that also ended Mikel Landa's race. Here's the highlights from that day last year...

Highlights: Landa crashes out as Ewan wins Stage 5

12:35 - The calm before the storm

122km to go: The gap is down to 4:42 for the nine leaders as they continue this long slog towards the intermediate sprint. They're onto a slight uphill rise that punctuates the gradual descent to the foot of the uncategorised climb which spirits them up to that sprint.

12:15 - Trek and Team DSM control the pack

141km to go: There's a slight lull in proceedings as the riders negotiate a 15km plateau following the last climb. It's followed by a long descent and then an uncategorised climb towards the intermediate sprint at Filetto, which comes with around 87km to go. After some rolling roads it's then the Passo Lanciano ahead of the final ascent to Blockhaus. The gap for the nine leaders is 5:15 as they start that long descent...
The Trek-Segafredo teammates of pink jersey Juanpe Lopez are on the front of the pack with the DSM train of Romain Bardet tucked in behind. Frenchman Bardet is in good form having won the Tour of the Alps and he's currently 11th on GC at 2:06. All of the sprinters are back in the peloton which is very good news for those fearing the time limit today.

12:02 - Mechanical for Buchmann

150km to go: The peloton crests the summit at Roccarosa five minutes behind the nine leaders. Germay's Emanuel Buchmann needs to stop to sort out an issue with his bike and he gets a little help from his Bora-Hansgrohe mechanic. Buchmann is one of Bora's four GC men who, so far, are all within striking distance of the race lead. They are: Lennard Kamna (2nd at +0:38, Wilco Kelderman (7th at +1:55), Jai Hindley (15th at +2:16) and Buchmann (23rd at +2:23). A really strong showing for the German team.

11:58 - Rosa zips clear to secure KOM points

153km to go: It's clear what Diego Rosa is after today - a slightly darker blue jersey than the Eolo-Kometa one he already has on his back. The Italian is taking no chances as he strikes out from distance to add another 18pts. So that takes his haul for the day to 40pts on top of the 3pts he already had in the KOM standings. So Rosa is now level with Lennard Kamna on 43pts so he just has Koen Bouwman ahead on 68pts.

11:40 - Leaders onto the third climb

160km to go: The Cat.2 climb of Roccaraso is 7.3km long at an average gradient of 6.1%. The best placed rider in the general classification from the leaders is the Austrian Gall, who is 6:48 down on pink jersey Juanpe Lopez in the standings. No threat for now, which is why Trek-Segafredo don't seem overly concerned.

11:37 - Nine riders on the front of the race

162km to go: The two groups have come together so we now have nine ahead of the peloton with a gap of 4:30 as they approach the third climb of the day. Things have settled - and eased - enough to allow Caleb Ewan to rejoin the peloton, so the pace can't be too zippy.
The nine leaders are: Felix Gall and Nans Peters (Ag2R-Citroen), Joe Dombrowski (Astana-Qazaqstan), Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF), Natnael Tesfatsion and Eduardo Sepulveda (Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) and James Knox (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). Nine riders from eight different countries - it's a veritably cosmopolitan move.

11:26 - Trio ahead after Rosa bags KOM points

171km to go: Diego Rosa went over the top of the second climb to pocket the maximum 18pts. That puts him up to fifth place in the KOM standings with a total of 25 points, 22 of which he has picked up on today's two climbs. Dutchman Koen Bouwman still leads the climbers' classification with 68pts.
Tesfatsion and Dombrowski have caught Rosa on the descent and it will only be a matter of time before the six chasers - Gall, Peters, Zana, Sepulveda, Caicedo and Knox - catch them. The peloton is 3:10 in arrears.

11:20 - Knox joins chasers; Bilbao receives treatment

174km to go: James Knox kicks clear of the pack and joins the Caicedo chase group, which is 1:05 down on Rosa, who has 25 seconds over Dombrowski and Tesfatsion. The peloton has really knocked it off - perhaps as a result of that crash earlier. Bilbao receives some treatment from the doctor off the back - his got a gash to his left hip, a cut to his elbow and his jersey is fairly torn up. The pack is 2:45 down and so they have let these moves go for now.

11:12 - Crash in the pack; Bilbao down

177km to go: There's an incident in the peloton as the speed goes up on a flattish section that punctuates this second climb. Pello Bilbao is the biggest name who goes down in a heap, just after a brow following a corner. Around six or seven riders hit the deck there, with Jorge Arcas also down - the Spaniard who contested the four-way sprint at yesterday's finish. Nothing serious but hardly ideal for those involved.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EastPost) is trying to bridge over to Dombrowski and Tesfatsion, who have dropped Gall. They trail lone leader Rosa by 25 seconds with the main field a further minute in arrears. Caicedo is actually now in a chasing quintet alongside Gall, Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF), Nans Peters (Ag2R-Citroen) and Eduardo Sepulveda (Drone Hopper). Things are far from settled.

11:05 - Rosa clearly likes solo breaks

180km to go: The terrain today is admittedly better suited to the 31-year-old's strengths than that long, flat coastal schlep the other day. The Italian has 10 seconds on a chasing trio of Felix Gall (Ag2R-Citroen), Joe Dombrowski (Astana) and Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper). The main pack is at 30 seconds but loads of riders have gone out the back, including Biniam Girmay and Wout Poels, both of whom involved in yesterday's break in Naples.

10:58 - Already onto the second climb

182km to go: The three leaders are onto the Cat.2 Rionero Sannitico but their gap is only 20 seconds on the Bouwman-Kudus-Van der Poel chase group, which includes around 15 riders, but which has almost been tagged back by the pack. Perhaps aware of this situation behind, Diego Rosa strikes out solo and rides clear of Holmes and Tasfatsion. The Italian was in that long break on Thursday's stage to Scalea where he never stood a chance of denying the sprinters a bunch finish.
Talking of which, the man who won that day, Arnaud Demare, the ciclamino jersey, has already been shelled out the back. It's going to be a long day for the Frenchman and the other riders in the gruppetto...

10:54 - Holmes pockets KOM points

186km to go: It's a trio out ahead now with Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal) taking the 9pts over the summit of the climb ahead of Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) who takes 4pts and Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli) who settles for 2pts. There's a total of 125pts in the maglia azzurra competition up for grabs today.

10:51 - Blue jersey Bouwman on the move

188km to go: We're straight onto the Cat.3 Valico del Macerone climb (3.1km at 5.8%) and we have five clear: Jaakko Hanninen, Luca Covili, Natnael Tesfatsion, Diego Rosa and Matt Holmes. Friday's winner Koen Bouwman, the blue jersey, has bridged over to a chase group that includes - wait for it - Mathieu van der Poel, Davide Villela and Merhawi Kudus. Behind, Ben Swift has got himself into another group riding ahead of the peloton, which is all strung out. A very active start.

10:45 - Stage 9 under way

191km to go: With the peloton passing under the entry sign into the town of Isernia, the flag drops and this tough ninth stage gets going. Five riders ping off the front from the outset with a host of others trying to bridge over on this very short flat section before the first climb.

Last day in pink for Lopez?

The Spaniard is 38 seconds clear of Lennard Kamna on GC with Estonia's Rein Taaramae lurking in third and Guillaume Martin, after yesterday's exploits, up to fourth at 1:06 and ahead of Simon Yates, who is the best placed of the GC favourites at 1:42. It's going to be tough for Juanpe Lopez to retain his lead today. He could be waving goodbye to the pink jersey today...

Lotto Soudal mirror Jumbo-Visma to bounce back

Never mind it being a decade since Thomas De Gendt’s first Grand Tour stage win, it was just one day since we saw a rider celebrate fourth place with as much gusto as Harm Vanhoucke. Belgian veteran De Gendt’s victory from a four-man move in Naples – mirroring Jumbo-Visma’s coup a day earlier – saw Lotto Soudal get the stage win that has eluded them so far through sprinter Caleb Ewan.
It was a case of very recent history repeating itself on the sunny Campania coast yesterday with Lotto Soudal pulling off a near identical coup as Jumbo-Visma just 24 hours earlier. Seldom do you see riders finishing fourth from a four-man move cross the line with such beaming smiles on their faces – but this has now happened twice on successive days on the Giro.
Just as , Harm Vanhoucke did the honours for Thomas De Gendt in Naples – even if the latter had initially been working for the former in a thrilling game of cat and mouse in the streets of the pizza capital of Italy.

Lotto Soudal and Jumbo-Visma celebrate

Image credit: Getty Images

Riders ready for hardest day so far in Abruzzo

Well, it’s certainly the hardest start to a Grand Tour stage we have seen in quite some time, with the road ramping up from the outset with a short Cat.3 climb followed by back-to-back Cat.2 ascents and separated with only very short descents. Those climbs all hit double digit gradients and they precede a long descent and some lumps and bumps ahead of the main course of the Passo Lanciano (10.3km at 7.6%) and the summit showdown on Blockhaus (13.6km at 8.4%).
GCN anchor Dan Lloyd – who hated these kinds of days during his time as a pro – tweeted this last night about what’s in store for the first hour or so today, citing the opinion of BikeExchange-Jayco DS Matt White:
It makes last week’s first summit finish on Mount Etna look like a walk in the park in comparison – and although there’s not as much total climbing as there was in that pulsating seventh stage on Friday, the climbs are far tougher and the gaps between the GC favourites will be much larger. No disrespect to Juanpe Lopez but it would be a miracle if the Spaniard is still in pink for tomorrow’s rest day…
Here’s the profile in full, described just now by Sean Kelly as "savage":

What happened yesterday?

Ten years after his historic win on the Stelvio, Thomas De Gendt soared to a second Giro d’Italia stage win with an emphatic victory on the streets of Naples thanks to a little help from his Belgian compatriot and teammate Harm Vanhoucke.
The Lotto Soudal duo were part of a four-man move that extricated itself from a stellar breakaway that featured a third Lotto Soudal rider in Sylvain Moniquet as well as the likes of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates).
On an absorbing 153km circuit race that had the feel of a mini world championships, the day’s breakaway built up a maximum lead of over four minutes during four lumpy loops around Bacoli, the picturesque peninsula to the west of Naples.
Read the full report here

How can I watch?

Each and every stage will be broadcast in its entirety on Eurosport, and GCN+, bookended by The Breakaway, presented by Orla Chennaoui and Dan Lloyd. Rob Hatch and Hannah Walker will be in the commentary box with regular contributions from pundits Robbie McEwen, Sean Kelly and Adam Blythe, with Bradley Wiggins doing his thing on the back of a motorbike.

Stage 9 profile and route map
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