The general classification at the Giro d’Italia has been blown wide open with Primož Roglič well and truly in the driving seat.  After Caleb Ewan took the win in stage 8, Roglič decimated his GC rivals in the second of the Giro’s individual time trials, with Victor Campenaerts the only one to get within a minute of him.

On the eve of the individual time trial there were plenty of sprinters wanting to make amends for what had been a difficult opening week of racing.  The likes of Arnaud Demare, Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani had all missed out on stage success and were eager to make up for that on the 239km route from Tortoreto Lido to Pesaro.  The first 100km or so were largely flat, but the second half of the stage was lumpy before the flat finish; providing any breakaway riders with at least a little hope for an upset.

Elia Viviani is the surprise rider to have no stage wins to his name as we arrive at the first rest day of the Giro d’Italia, photo Sirotti

Damiano Cima of Nippo Vini Fantini-Faizane and Marco Frapporti of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec formed the break of the day, with the duo holding a 5.38min lead with 154km remaining.  On the front of the peloton Mitchelton-SCOTT, BORA-Hansgrohe and Groupama-FDJ led the way, with the maglia rosa of Valerio Conti safe in the peloton.

The break’s lead was not expected to last on the run in to the finish although it did climb to 6 minutes briefly before being brought back to heel.  With 100km to go the formation in the peloton was basically the same as the breakaway pair held an advantage of 4 minutes.  Lotto Soudal, with Thomas De Gendt on the front, contributed to the chase effort, but the bunch needn’t have been in a hurry and it wasn’t until less than 90km to go that the break’s lead began to come down again.

With 75km to go the break’s lead was at 3 minutes with the peloton patiently working their way towards them.  At 60km to go the gap had come down to 2 minutes as De Gendt continued on the front.  Also on the front was Jack Bauer of Mitchelton-SCOTT, sitting in the black and yellow train protecting Simon Yates.  45km from the finish the break’s advantage dropped to a minute and it was clear that it was virtually game over for the breakaway as the race got ready for the sprint finish.

Frapporti was the last man standing from the breakaway, and he looked like he would be caught a surprisingly long way from the finish.  But instead Giulio Ciccone of Trek-Segafredo briefly took the role of breakaway companion as he bridged across in search of KOM points.  Together the duo lasted until about 30km to go and from there it was all on for the finish with still a good chunk of racing to go.

Caleb Ewan celebrates his first victory of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, photo Sirotti

Groupama-FDJ, BORA-Hansgrohe, Lotto Soudal and Mitchelton-SCOTT had collectively decided that the best place to be was on the front and they drilled the pace on the front of the peloton. Ciccone was again in the mood for KOM points later on in the stage, as he went up the road with AG2R La Mondiale’s Francois Bidard and Louis Vervaeke of Team Sunweb.  The trio had a 17 second lead with 21km to go, growing to 47 seconds with 19km left.

It would be an interesting battle for the stage, with the leaders enjoying a reasonably healthy lead and the roads being pretty technical.  With 10km to go the trio were still holding on to a lead of 16 seconds as the peloton tried to make sure that the stage wasn’t going to slip away from their hands.  Their cause was helped by Vervaeke dropping back from the break just briefly, with Ciccone and Bidard being just a bit too strong.  On the front of the peloton Lotto Soudal took up the pace, with Caleb Ewan looking very strong in the peloton.  Pascal Ackermann of BORA-Hansgrohe was also paying close attention to the front of the peloton; with Ackermann and Ewan looking very much like the strongest of the sprinters.

Jumbo-Visma took over the pace-setting on the front and finally brought the break back in with 6.5km to go.  As soon as they did Deceuninck-Quick Step began to move forward.  They led the way through 3km to go, but with 2.5km to go BORA-Hansgrohe moved to the front of the peloton.  With 2km to go Ackermann, Ewan, Demare and Viviani were all poised and ready to strike, with Ackermann best placed in third place; with Ewan on his wheel with 1.5km to go.  

With 1km to go it was Deceuninck-Quick Step vs BORA-Hansgrohe on the front as Viviani and Ewan briefly looked blocked out of the sprint.  With 700m to go Deceuinck-Quick Step held the lead in the peloton as they got ready for the final right-hand bend.  BORA-Hansgrohe surged forward and provided the perfect lead out for Ackermann, but it was Caleb Ewan who launched perfectly from Ackermann’s wheel and resisted Viviani to take the stage with Viviani second and Ackermann third; well clear of Fabio Sabatini fourth and Manuel Belletti fifth.

Stage results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1EWANCalebAUS       LOTTO SOUDAL 5:43:32
6DEMAREArnaudFRA       GROUPAMA – FDJ 5:43:32
10SELIGRüdigerGER       BORA – HANSGROHE 5:43:32

160BAUERJackNZL       MITCHELTON – SCOTT 5:55:25
Jack Bauer in action during the individual time trial in stage 9, photo Sirotti

Roglič denies Campenaerts, as GC rivals suffer

To stage 9, the final day before the Giro d’Italia’s first rest day, the 34.8km from Riccione to San Marino would provide a very stern challenge for the GC challengers before even the first serious mountain stage had been introduced.  The stage featured a category 2 climb of 12.5km in length at the end of the stage, making large time gaps a likelihood.

Nico Denz of AG2R La Mondiale got matters underway, with Jack Bauer of Mitchelton-SCOTT one of the early riders to start the race against the clock.  Bauer, a former national time trial champion, was the 23rd of the 164 riders to start and set one of the early fast times in 57.26mins.  But it was Victor Campenaerts of Lotto Soudal, who started seven minutes after Bauer, who set the time to beat.  Campenaerts stopped the clock in 52.03mins but was held up by a bike change part way through the stage.  It was a pause that would cost him the stage despite the fact that at that point he’d finished 2.26mins up on the next best placed rider at that point.

Victor Campenaerts came oh so close to winning stage 9, with a bike change ruining his chances, photo Sirotti

Conditions weren’t favourable as the day wore on, but Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain Merida and Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo were the best of the GC riders early on, going 49 seconds and 54 seconds slower than Campenaerts respectively.  Incredibly though, given his emphasis on his time trial ability recently, it was Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Simon Yates who suffered greatly against the clock.  At the end of the day Yates would have sacrificed over 3 minutes to his fiercest rival, losing over 2 minutes to Nibali and Mollema.

Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma went into the stage as the one rider most likely to challenge Campenaerts for the win, and his race started well, if not extraordinarily.  The Slovenian went through the time check at 22km with a 51 second deficit that put him in a provisional third place on the stage.  But it was from here that Roglič came into his own, not needing a bike change, and powering up the climb; just as Yates did the opposite.

Simon Yates lost significant time in the general classification, photo Sirotti

In the end Roglič crossed the line 11 seconds up on the world hour record holder.  It would be enough for the stage but it wouldn’t be enough for the overall lead.  Valerio Conti of UAE Team Emirates put in a valiant effort to keep his maglia rosa.  He conceded 3.34mins to Roglič but kept his overall lead by a solid 1.50mins.

Stage results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1ROGLIČPrimožSLO       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA 0:51:52
4NIBALIVincenzoITA       BAHRAIN – MERIDA 0:52:57
6HAGAChadUSA       TEAM SUNWEB 0:53:06


General classification after stage 9:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1CONTIValerioITA       UAE TEAM EMIRATES 36:08:32
2ROGLIČPrimožSLO       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA 36:10:22
3PETERSNansFRA       AG2R LA MONDIALE 36:10:53
4ROJASJoséESP       MOVISTAR TEAM 36:11:05
6AMADORAndreyCRC       MOVISTAR TEAM 36:11:11
7ANTUNESAmaroPOR       CCC TEAM 36:11:37
8MADOUASValentinFRA       GROUPAMA – FDJ 36:11:59
9CARBONIGiovanniITA       BARDIANI CSF 36:12:02

140BAUERJackNZL       MITCHELTON – SCOTT 37:12:06


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