photo credits @ Giro d”italia
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) won stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia today, after the Colombian ride commenced with an explosive attack along the steep gravel section of at Campo Felice.
As a result of this victory, Egan takeover the maglia rosa from Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), after the Hungarian ride was dropped earlier on the final climb.
Meanwhile, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Alexander Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) were second and third respectively at seven seconds back, followed by Remo Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) who came in a further three seconds later in fourth to retain his second-place position in the overall classification.
In the meantime, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) finished alongside Evenepoel, and a couple of seconds behind them came in another group featuring many of the GC contenders, including Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious).
Bernal darted from the wheel of his teammate Gianni Moscon inside the final kilometer of the stage, which featured seven climbs with a total of 3,400 meters of climbing.
Bernal blasted past the last two remaining escapees – Koen Bouwman and Geoffrey Bouchard – with such venom that he forced the Dutchman to flinch so much that he changed his line and almost rode into his French companion. Before then, that leading duo had been part of a 17-man move which had finally emerged from the peloton following a fast and furious opening two hours of racing
Both Bouchard and Mader of Bahrain-Victorious had been very much to the fore earlier in the stage after numerous attempts to form the day’s break were thwarted by a rampaging peloton. Mader seemed to have taken the early initiative when taking maximum points over the Passo Godi before being joined by teammates Damiano Caruso and Matej Mohoric, after the former darted clear of the pack in pursuit of a large faction of riders near the summit.
But Bahrain-Victorious’ world came crashing down just moments later when Mohoric – riding in second wheel behind Mader on the descent – crashed terribly on the descent. The Slovenian skidded before catching his front wheel in a pot-hole, the impact sending him head over heals and snapping his bike in two as Caruso expertly avoided his sprawling body.
While he was up and back on his feet quickly, Mohoric was stopped from getting back on a replacement bike and taken to hospital on a stretcher with his neck in a brace as per the sport’s concussion protocol. It was a cruel blow for Bahrain-Victorious, with Mohoric having been so integral to Mader’s victory the day after their leader Mikel Landa crashed out earlier in the race.
Alert to the danger posed by Caruso – just 39 seconds down in the standings and in sixth position entering the stage – the peloton chased down the move and the counter was reset to zero once again. And when a new break finally formed – and then stuck – Bouchard was at the center of operations once again.
The initial 14-man move was made up of Tony Gallopin and Bouchard (both Ag2R-Citroen), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana-Premier Tech), Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF), Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Simon Carr and Ruben Guerreiro (both EF Education-Nippo), George Bennett and Keon Bouwman (both Jumbo-Visma), Tanel Kangert (Team BikeExchange), Michael Storer (Team DSM), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates).
Einer Rubio of Movistar has managed to bridge before Giovanni Visconti (Bardiani-CSF) then Eduardo Sepulveda (Androni Giacattoli) also joined the party before the Groupama-FDJ team of pink jersey Valter came to the front and finally put a lid on the breakaway jack-in-the-box with 85km remaining.
The gap grew to three minutes where it remained as Bouchard picked up maximum points going over the Cat.3 Forca Caruso and Cat.3 Ovindoli climbs. With storm clouds looming on the horizon alongside that novel gravel finale, Ineos Grenadiers took up the chase behind – effectively sounding the death-knell to the break.
Bouchard joined Carr in the lead after the British rider had jumped following an earlier acceleration from his teammate Guerreiro – winner in the Appenines in Stage 9 in last year’s Giro. Bouwman, Mollema and Storer combined behind as the other escapees tailed off on the approach to the ski resort of Rocca di Cambio.
King of the mountains in his debut Vuelta in 2019, Bouchard clearly had similar designs for his debut Giro – and the Frenchman dropped Carr on the second intermediate sprint ahead of the final climb with perhaps a stage win as a bonus to his blue jersey aspirations. He held a 20-second gap on the chasers at the start of the final 6km climb with Ineos reducing the peloton’s deficit to 1’40” as Valter began to feel the pinch on the back.
Emerging from a long tunnel ahead of the final dirt-road climb, Bouchard held a slender gap over Bouwman with the pack now just 30 second in arrears. The two riders came together on the gravel climb but they were a sorry sight compared to the Ineos duo of Moscon and Bernal behind, the Italian burying himself for the cause before the Colombian kicked clear inside the final kilometer to sweep past the leaders and shed his GC rivals in his wake.
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