As it happened: Ben Healy takes solo win on Giro d'Italia stage 8 as GC disrupted
Giro d'Italia 2023 stage 8 preview
Giro d'Italia 2023 route
Giro d'Italia 2023 current standings
As it happened: Davide Bais wins Giro d'Italia stage 7 as GC contenders hold fire on Gran Sasso
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia.
After yesterday’s damp squib of a stage, in which none of the GC riders made any attacks on the first proper mountain top finish of the race, we’re hoping for more excitement today. Although this one doesn’t finish with a climb, the punchy uphills in the finale could draw the pink jersey contenders out, while the terrain should incentivise strong riders to get into the breakaway.
The day has certainly got off to a dramatic start. News has broken this morning that Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) has had to withdraw from the race.
The Italian is a victim of the dreaded Covid virus, that has already put paid to three other riders’ race at his Giro. You can read more about it here.
Ganna’s positive comes the day before what was one of his main targets for the Giro, the stage nine time trial. But on another scale it also sparks fears of a more widespread Covid outbreak in the peloton. There will be an awareness in the the peloton that any riders’ Giro could come to an end in an instant.
Filippo Ganna will regrettably not line up to contest today’s Stage 8 of the 2023 #Giro, after testing positive for Covid-19 and displaying mild, flu-like symptoms. Filippo will now rest and recover fully before resuming his remaining 2023 race programme. pic.twitter.com/90rVQyhIQ7May 13, 2023
While Ganna isn’t starting today (nor Lars van den Berg, another non-starter), 167 riders still are, and they’ve just set off in the neutralised zone.
The weather looks quite mild for now, with none of the rain that has affected the race so much so far.
The stage is set for a real fight to get into the breakaway once the flag drops in a few minutes time. The road tilts up with an uncategorised climb from the start, and the parcours as a whole looks in the sweet spot of being too hard for the sprinters and not hard enough for the GC men. And after Davide Bais was the surprise victor from yesterday's stage, perhaps more riders will be encouraged to try and follow in his footsteps today?
207KM TO GO
And we're off!
Attacks right from the off led by Mads Würtz Schmidt
Jake Stewart is now pushing on the front and has a couple of riders behind, plus many more smaller groups in pursuit
Now about 20 riders have formed a group at the front, including, surprisingly, race leader Andreas Leknessund
They’ve been dragged back by the peloton and the race has come back together.
An EOLO Kometa rider is at the front of a new group of over a dozen riders that’s now at the front, but the elastic isn’t snapping
Meanwhile at the back of the peloton, David Dekker has been dropped
Brandon McNulty and Ben Helay are two big names looking especially lively during this opening. Both are around the first wheels at the front of the race still trying to go clear
195KM TO GO
Four riders have managed to reach the top of the unclassified climb with a gap: Ben Healy, Derek Gee, Valentin Paret-Paintre and Carlos Verona
Primož Roglič was briefly caught the wrong side of a split in the peloton, but his Jumbo-Visma teammates helped bring them back together
The leading quartet are committed and working well together, but the rest of the peloton aren’t done yet and riders are still attacking each other to try and also get up the road
It's now about a twelve second lead for the quartet. Erik Fetter and Samuele Battistella briefly pursed the out of the peloton, bt have been reabsorbed now
175km TO GO
Try as they might, Healy, Gee, Paret-Paintre and Verona can’t get a definitive gap. The peloton still has them in sight, and are now just a few seconds behind
Mark Cavendish is having a lengthy talk to the commissaire’s cars at the back of the peloton. He’s quite animated, and clearly isn’t happy about something. Not clear what he’s talking about though…
The advantage might just be swinging towards the leading quartet. There’s visible frustration in the front of the peloton, where moves are constantly being shut down but no inroads are being made to the leaders, who are now almost 20 seconds ahead
Astana have been particularly active in attacking today, with multiple riders trying to get up to the leaders, but so far no dice. They’re now leading the chase in the peloton, which is still at about 20 seconds adrift.
Now Jayco-AlUla have taken over from Astana. Do they have their eyes on the intermediate sprint coming up in a few kilometres, for Michael Matthews?
Jayco-AlUla’s pace has had an effect, too, bridging the gap back down to about 10 seconds. It’s small enough in fact for Toms Skujiņš to bridge over to them on his own, meaning we now have a leading quintet rather than quartet.
Could this be it? The pace has slowed drastically in the peloton, and the gap is up to almost 20 seconds again
Not if Jake Stewart has anything to do with it. He’s attacked from the peloton and is trying to bridge up alone.
160KM TO GO
Stewart’s now been joined by an Astna rider, but they’re struggling to make any inroads. This is looking good for the leading group, especially now they have an extra man in Toms Skujiņš
Now the spriters get active for the intermediate sprint. Jonathan Milan comes past Mads Pedersen at the line, with Groves and Matthews behind. They caught Stewart and the Astana rider in time, meaning Milan sprint sees him take sixth place in the sprint behind the leaders
That means Milan takes 3 points, Pedersen 2, and Groves 1. Milan slightly extends his lead in the points classification
That sprint inevitably saw the peloton eat into the leaders’ gap, but they’ve re-established their advantage in the aftermath. In fact, it’s now the biggest it’s been so far, and is approaching half a minute
Here’s a glimpse of our break earlier in the day, before they were joined by Skujiņš
148KM TO GO
The peloton still hasn’t given up. UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty is back on the front and setting a pace, and the gap is back down to about 10 seconds.
Even Michael Matthews is having a go at attacking from the peloton. Mads Pedersen is right on his wheel though, marking his for his Trek-Segafredo teammate up the road, Toms Skujiņš.
A six-man chase group has now formed in pursuit of the leaders, including Italian champion Filippo Zanna
The formation of that chase group might finally have taken the impetus out of the peloton. The pace has slowed down and the chase group has daylight over them.
138KM TO GO
That's it! At long last, after almost two hours of exhausting racing and countless attacks and counter-attacks, the peloton has sat up.
...or is it? Yet more riders have tried their luck with attacks from the peloton, prompting them to chase again
There’s still about 20 seconds between the leading quintet and the chasing sextet. Here’s a full run-down of the pursuers:
Filippo Zana (Jayco-AlUla), Alessandro Iacchi (Team Corratec - Selle Italia), Samele Battistella (Atana Qazaqstan), François Bidard (Cofidis), Mattia Bais (EOLO-Kometa) and Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Behind the chase group is Warren Barguil, who is going hard in a last ditch attempt to join them
Unfortunately there are a couple of abandonments to report. Florian Stork (DSM) and David Dekker (Arkéa Samsic) are out of the race. The latter was hurt in the finish line crash a few days ago that Cavendish fell at
Good news for Arkea's teammate Warren Barguil, who has joined the chase group. Impressive stuff considering he had nobody to help him
Meanwhile the peloton has now, definitively, sat up. They're now 3 minutes behind the leaders
There is still one rider out there in between the chase group and the peloton: Oscar Riesebeek. He’s ploughing a lonely furrow, though, stranded over two minutes ahead of the peloton, but also a minute behind the chase group.
With the peloton having eased up, the big question now is whether the two front groups will merge. You sense the leading five won’t want to allow so many more riders into contention for the stage win, let alone when now among them is a rider as strong as Warren Barguil.
127KM TO GO
That question has been answered very quickly. The chase group has joined them, meaning we now have a new leading group of twelve riders.
DSM are at the front of the peloton and riding tempo, allowing the gap to grow to over four minutes. Warren Barguil is the highest-place rider on GC in the break at 6-39, so they can’t afford to let them have too much leeway in protection of Leknessund’s pink jersey, but you suspect they will be happy at the make-up of the group.
Although the break has been allowed up the road with a proper gap, that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to contest for the stage win. There still might be team eager to bring them back for the punchy stage finale to go for a stage win, and DSM are currently keeping the gap pegged at 4 minutes.
With a lull in the racing here at the Giro, now’s a good time to check out what’s going on in the rest of the cycling world. Over in the Basque Country, the second stage of the women’s Itzulia has just concluded. You can read about what happened here
We’d forgotten all about him, but Oscar Riesebeek has just appeared in the leading group, having seemed condemned to no-man’s land. An incredible effort by the Dutch rider
Mattia Bais, whose brother Davide won yesterday’s stage, has gone over the intermediate sprint first in the break, ahead of Alessandro Tonelli and Alessandro Iacchi. Only three, two, and one bonus seconds were available at this one, and nothing in the points classification
Bike change for Carlos Verona in the breakaway. Is it a tactical switch to take on the upcoming steep climbs?
103.5KM TO GO
We’re at the halfway point of the stage! That was certainly a much more eventful first half of the stage than anything yesterday offered, but why was there so little action? Weather conditions seemed to have been the thing to blame, with both GC front-runner Remco Evenepoel, and one of his main rivals Geraint Thomas, both offering that as the reason.
Another bike change for Verona. Maybe he is having technical problems rather than tacical switches
This is what the peloton looked like for much of the first half of the stage: all strung out, as riders tried and failed to break free. It’s much more calm now though, with DSM still setting a steady pace to keep the gap between four and five minutes.
Evenepoel’s looking very relaxed in the peloton, sharing a few words with a Soudal-QuickStep teammate. He’s not exactly inconspicuous in the rainbow stripes, but has eased some of the attention and pressure on himself since passing on the pink jersey a few days ago.
90KM TO GO
There’s still about 40km of gentle descending until the climbing begins, with a finishing circuit that takes in two ascents of I Cappuccini and one of Monte delle Cesane. We can expect things to be quiet until then, before the peloton starts jostling for position on the run-in.
A similar finale also featuring the Cappuccini climb was also used in a 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico stage, which gives us some indication as to what to expect at the end of this stage. The gradients are very steep, which will favour the climbers in the break, and were also hard enough for Primož Roglič to go clear from the peloton with just a few other GC contenders. So there’s potential for some GC action today.
Of the riders in the break, Barguil has the best climbing pedigree, with multiple stage wins at both the Tour and the Vuelta to his name. He needs one in the Giro to complete the clean sweep.
But on these types of punchier climbs, Ben Healy might be the one to watch. These were the kind of climbs the Irishman looked so good on during the Ardennes Classics, and, given how aggressively he’s already raced today and throughout the whole week, an attack from him seems almost guaranteed.
75KM TO GO
As we get closer and closer to the next climb, the break's advantage is up to over five minutes
Unusually, two of the riders in the break have brothers who have already won stages at this year’s race: Valentin Paret-Paintre’s brother Aurélien, and Davide Bais’s brother Mattia
Mattia can also do his brother a favour today by hoovering up some King of the Mountains points on the upcoming climbs. Davide usurped Thibaut Pinot as the leader of that classification after yesterday’s mountain top stage win
Cavendish is having a long chat with Trek-Segafredo’s Otto Vergaerde. He looks much happier this time compared with his remonstration with the commissaire car earlier.
This Cappuccini is one brutal climb.#Giro pic.twitter.com/vwJr8yvDZcMay 13, 2023
Here's what the riders will come up against in about 15km time
60KM TO GO
The riders are preparing themselves for the climbs now. DSM are no longer at the front, with Ineos Grenadiers replacing them with a notably quicker pace.
Other teams keeping themselves right at the front include Jumbo-Visma, JaycoAlUla, UAE Team Emirates and Soudal-QuickStep.
Puncture for Pieter Serry. Evenepoel is down one rider for the time being.
Serry is back in the peloton, despite the fast pace in the peloton on the approach to the climb
The increase in pace has seen the gap come down to under five minutes for the first time in a while. That’s still a big lead though, and there’s enough quality in the group to ensure the likelihood of their survival.
51KM TO GO
Here we go then, the break are on the Cappuccini for the first time. The stage's endgame begins.
Unsurprisingly, Barguil has moved to the front and is setting the pace on the climb. Already others are struggling, with Iacchi only just hanging on.
Barguil’s pace is quick, but it doesn’t look like he’s trying to explode the group.
Now the peloton are on the climb, being lead by Soudal-QuickStep
Healy accelerates at the top of the climb, and he’s got a gap
Healy’s really going for it, and he reaches the top with several seconds over the rest.
Pavel Sivakov is increasing the pace in the peloton for Ineos Grenadiers. Are the British team looking to put Evenepoel and co under pressure, or just to better position themselves ahead of the descent?
A line of four Ineos riders lead the peloton. This is another display of strength by the team.
Sivakov leads the peloton over the top of the climb. The group is still big, without too many casualties.
Meanwhile out front, Healy is alone and committing to this long-range solo move.
Healy’s gap over the rest of the break is around 40 seconds as he crosses the finish line for the first time. We know how strong he was during the Ardennes Classics, and long-range wins have been in vogue recently, but this is a long way out to fully commit.
A crash for Skujiņš on the run-in to the next climb. He's back on his bike but will need to chase hard to rejoin
The peloton are now at the finish line. They remain about 4 minutes adrift from the breakaway group, but five minutes from Healy, who's on a mission
A small problem in the peloton as Jay Vine almost goes down alongside the barrer with a few other riders. He's had to swap bikes
40KM TO GO
The riders are all climbing again, on the Monte delle Cesane. Healy has 1-15 over the chasers, and 5-32 on the peloton
There’s tension in the chasing group as Zana remonstrates with Bais. They’ll need to get organised if they’re to bring Healy back, who looks very strong on this climb
Back in the peloton, Jumbo-Visma have taken over at the front. Does Primož Roglič have anything planned on this climb?
There’s no love lost between Zana and Bais. Zana is gesticulating towards him again.
There aren't many riders left with Zana and Bais in the chase group anymore: just Gee, Verona and Barguil. The rest have been dropped.
This is a quick pace being set by Jumbo-Visma, and it’s thinning the peloton out. They’ve also just brought back Iacchi, who was dropped from the break on the first climb
Far from fatiguing, Healy looks great and his lead is getting bigger and bigger. It’s now over 1-30 over the chasers.
Healy reaches the top of the climb and his lead is 1-44. If he can descend well, he’ll take some stopping.
Michel Hessmann's long turn at the front for Jumbo-Visma comes to an end, and Ineos Grenadiers resume control. Many GC riders have been rid of several domestiques, but the group's still about 40-riders strong with all the GC favourites present.
Ineos lead the peloton over the top of the climb. With a deficit of over 5 minutes to Healy, they won’t be contesting the stage today, but that work from Jumbo-Visma suggests there might still be some GC action on the final climb coming up next.
30KM TO GO
Healy is descending quickly but not recklessly. His lead is holding steady at 1-40.
Ineos Grenadiers are continuing to set the pace in the peloton. There's no real urgency though, and some riders who were dropped on the climb are rejoining
25KM TO GO
Healy is nearing the bottom of the descent now, with a slightly reduced lead of 1-30. There's a small uncategorised rise and some flat kilometres before the next and final climb of Cappuccini.
Healy's done descending and is now on the unclassified climb. His lead’s holding steady at 1-40
Out of the saddle ad rocking side to side, it might look like Healy is struggling up this climb, but we’ve quickly grown accustomed to this racing style of his — he’s still flying along, as proven by the time gap, which has grown to 1-50
Having been distanced earlier, Carlos Verona is back in the five-man chase group and leading them on the unclassified climb. The pace is nowhere near enough to eat into Healy’s lead, however.
Jumbo-Visma are back pace-setting in the peloton, this time with Koen Bouwman on the unclassified climb.
15KM TO GO
Just 15km left now for Healy. Surely he has this in the bag, even with the Capuccini still to climb again.
There’s still at least 30 riders left in the peloton. It’s been a hard day, but not hard enough yet for any real selections. Andreas Leknessund looks as though he should defend his pink jersey, but things might yet explode on the Capuccini.
10KM TO GO
Even on the flat section leading to the final climb, Healy is still increasing his lead. It’s now nearly two minutes to the chasers, and six minutes to the peloton.
Primož Roglič was briefly in the cars out the back of the peloton, but whatever the reason, he looks very relaxed.
8KM TO GO
Healy’s about to start climbing Capuccini again, where he first made his solo attack almost 30km ago. Will he finally show any sign of fatigue and give the chasers even a smidgen of hope?
Zana, Barguil, Verona, Bais and Gee all remain together in the chase group two minutes behind.
Further back behind them, Riesebeek, Bidard, Tonelli and Skujiņs are still the best part of a minute adrift
A new sight at the front of the peloton as Bora-Hansgrohe lead onto the foot of the final climb. They have three riders ahead of team leader Aleksandr Vlasov.
Healy's lead is getting even bigger on the climb. It's now nearing 2-30. He could be set for not just a stage win, but one with a rare huge winning margin
The chase group are surely racing for second-place now, but that hasn’t stopped Zana from attacking. He’s got a small gap over the others
Vocal crowds out at the top of Capuccini, and they’re all cheering Healy on as he rides over the summit.
Bob Jungels leading the peloton on the climb with Bora teammates Kamna an Vlasov in toe
Attack by Roglic!
Roglic is going clear with Kamna and Leknessund
Evenepoel fourth on the road, a few seconds behind
Kamna's been dropped, leaving Roglic in the lead with Leknessund a few bikelengths behind, and Evenepoel a few more behind him
Evenepoel's caught up to Leknessund, but the pair is still a little behind Roglic
Evenepoel and Leknessund have been caught by a small group including Ineos' Thomas and Hart. He might have gone too deep trying to catch Roglic
Leknessund has also tired, and it's Hart and Thomas who are charging after him as the peak approaches
Hart and Thomas have latched onto Roglic's wheel, and the trio have a gap of several secods over Evenepoel, Almeida and Caruso. Leknessund is further back
Back at the front, Healy is already on the finishing straight...
Healy wins stage eight of the Giro d'Italia!
For a while the question hasn't been if he will win, but by how much. We'll find out in a few minutes
Back to the GC riders, and the race is really on. Roglic is pushing on on the descent, and has Thomas and Hart to help him from now until the finish. They all look set to gain some time
Gee wins the sprint for second ahead of Zana and Barguil, in what remains of the chase group
More riders joining the Evenepoel group, including Carthy
Caruso and Almeida dropped Evenepoel on the descent, and are a few seconds ahead
Roglic, Hart an Thomas are on the finishing straight.
They cross the line, and the countdown is on...
Evenepoel arrives in a small group about 15 seconds behind
Now here comes the pink jersey in a four-man group a few seconds behind. That will be enough to keep the jersey
What a ride that was by Ben Healy. A huge stage win on what was just his eighth ever day racing at Grand Tour level
The time gaps weren’t huge between the GC riders, but we got a real insight as to who is climbing the best. The real surprise was seeing the formerly imperious Remco Evenepoel struggle to keep up not only on the climb, but also on the descent. He limited his losses to just a few seconds to Roglic, but the Slovenian and the other GC contenders will be encouraged by this rare show of weakness
There’s also been a rejig in the hierarchy between the favourites too. The Ineos duo of Hart and Thomas timed themselves on the final climb perfectly, not trying to follow Roglic initially, but charging back up to him as the summit approached. With both riders being the only contenders to not lose any time to Roglic on GC, they look very well positioned for an assault on the pink jersey
Evenepoel remains second on GC 8 seconds behind Leknessund, but Roglic has reduced his deficit to just 38 seconds in third, while behind Almeida in fourth (at 40 seconds) Thomas and Hart have moved up to fifth and sixth respectively.
Make sure to read our detailed report of the stage here
Six other riders finished with Evenepoel, in the group behind Thomas, Hart and Roglic. They were: João Almeida, Damiano Caruso, Jack Haig, Jay Vine, Eddie Dunbar and Pavel Sivakov
Ben Healy! That was some way to take your first-ever grand tour stage win. pic.twitter.com/QUNxVYhw6mMay 13, 2023
We'll leave you with today's victor Ben Healy standing triumphantly on the podium after a truly outstanding victory. Join us again tomorrow for the time trial, for what is sure to be a crucial stage in a race for the pink jersey which really ignited today.