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Jai Hindley wins on Blockhaus ahead of Romain Bardet
Simon Yates plummets down rankings on cruel climb
Pre-race favourite Richard Carapaz up to fourth overall
Juan Pedro López keeps hold of leader's maglia rosa
Simon Yates saw his hopes of winning the Giro d'Italia ripped to shreds on Sunday after the Briton lost 11min 15sec on the final climb of the 191-kilometre ninth stage from Isernia to Blockhaus.
Having won the stage two time trial in Budapest on the opening weekend of the three-week race, Yates showed he had the form needed to launch a genuine challenge for the jersey held for 13 days in 2018 before a dramatic collapse with just two stages to go. During a fall on Etna stage last Tuesday, however, Yates knocked his knee and has subsequently struggled to regain his early race form.
"It's causing me a lot of problems, so I stopped trying to hide it," Yates said on Sunday, while conceding "I've lost the race".
Indeed, after finishing the stage 11min 15sec behind stage winner Jai Hindley (Bora–Hansgrohe), Yates dropped 20 places on general classification and goes into Monday's rest day 11min 11sec down on general classification behind race leader Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo).
Speaking after his disappointment, Yates said his knee injury was not his only concern on Sunday. "I really struggled in the heat again," he said. "I was hopeful of still being able to try and do something, but I've been in a lot of pain since Etna, so I've been trying to manage it as best as possible. But like I said, it wasn't my only problem today. I also suffered in the heat so yeah...
"We'll see what happens now," he added . "We've got the rest day and I'll see how I pull up from the stage today. I don't know yet."
Hindley, who held the leader's pink jersey for a single day in 2020, beat Romain Bardet (DSM) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) in an uphill sprint to win the stage at the summit of the brutal 13.9km long Blockhaus climb.
"I was just trying to survive as best I can," Hindley said. "I knew there was a right-hander before the finish at about 200 metres to go and I just wanted to hit the corner first, I gave everything and here we are. It's pretty incredible."
López, who was dropped by the leading group on Blockhaus, rallied before limiting his losses and will take a narrow 12sec lead over Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) into Monday's rest day, while Bardet is third at 14sec.
The Giro d'Italia continues on Tuesday with the 196km 10th stage from Pescara to Jesi and concludes in Verona on May 29.
Giro d'Italia stage nine: As it happened . . .
Race leader López offers heartfelt apology . . .
"I want to say sorry to Sam Oomen because after we touched each other and I had to put one foot on the ground, I threw my bottle. When I came to my first Giro I didn't expect to have the maglia rosa so it was hard to believe my soigneur who told me that I still have it. I'm very tired but luckily I have a rest day tomorrow."
Stage winner Hindley speaks . . .
“I wasn't feeling well the whole climb so I just tried to survive. I knew it was flattening a bit in the last kilometres. I also knew I had to take the last curve in first place. Then I gave it all. I went through hard times last year so... winning here… I'm lost for words."
Leading standings going into Monday's rest day . . .
Yates out of contention in the race for pink
Simon Yates (BikeExhange-Jayco) finished the stage 11min 15sec down on stage winner Jai Hindley. Having arrived in fine form, as we saw last week when the Briton won the stage two time trial in Budapest, Yates was involved in a crash during stage four where he took a knock to his knee. Starting to think that may have been a little more serious than initial reports. What a heartbreaking afternoon for Yates that must be, you really have to feel for him.
López keeps hold of pink jersey
Overnight leader Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) did brilliantly to limit his losses, finishing 1min 46sec down on Jai Hindley in 15th place and as a result will take the maglia rosa into Monday's rest day.
Hindley wins stage nine atop Blockhaus!
The Aussie has done it. What a dramatic finale to the stave that was, Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) opened up the sprint, but it looked as if Romain Bardet (DSM) or Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) were going to deny him. In the end, though, the 26-year-old held on to win the stage ahead of Bardet, with Carapaz taking third.
500 metres to go . . .
Joao Almeida, Jai Hindley and Domenico Pozzovivo have regained contact.
1km to go
The leading trio are swinging left to right, nobody wanting to take first wheel. And the other three are closing in. Nail-biting stuff.
1.2km to go
Romain Bardet attacks again, but Richard Carapaz goes straight through.
1.4km to go
Cat-and-mouse riding from the leading trio.
1.5km to go
Landa jumps onto the wheel of Bardet, taking with him Carapaz.
1.8km to go
Domenico Pozzovivo puts in a little dig, but it is countered by Bardet.
2km to go
And then there were six. Mikel Landa, Richard Carapaz and Romain Bardet have been caught by Joao Almeida, Jai Hindley and Domenico Pozzovivo.
2.5km to go
Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) are inching closer to the stage leaders. Incredible riding from the second trio on the road.
3km to go
Vincenzo Nibali drops out of the chasing group, while Simon Yates is almost four minutes down on the stage. What a disastrous day for the Briton.
3.7km to go
A slight acceleration from Romain Bardet sees the Frenchman drift to the front, before moments later Richard Carapaz rolls on through. The chasing group containing Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Jai Hindley (Bora_Hansgrohe) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) are 11sec down.
4.3km to go
Mikel Landa takes over on the front, ahead of Richard Carapaz and Romain Bardet. Suspect there will be further attacks, but perhaps not for a while yet. Simon Yates, meanwhile, is 2min 30se down the road.
4.6km to go – Carapaz attacks!
And only Romain Bardet and Mikel Landa are able to respond.
5km to go
Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) is doing a sterling job of limiting his losses, trailing by 35sec which, as it stands, would keep him in the maglia rosa – but five kilometres on these nasty climbs will feel like an eternity.
5.5km to go
Simon Yates is almost two minutes down on his general classification rivals. The Briton could be seeing his chance of winning the overall general classification going up in smoke this afternoon.
6km to go
Richard Carapaz sits on the wheel of Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Richie Porte. The 2019 winner is looking relaxed, while stuck on his wheel is the in-form Romain Bardet, then Mikel Landa, Jai Hindley. Who is going to attack from this group? Another veteran, the 39-year-old Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) is also in this group along with Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali.
Yates is going backwards . . .
. . . the Briton trails the stage leaders by 1min 28sec win 6.5km of the stage remaining.
7km to go
Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) is in the leading group now, as is Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), Vincenzo Nibali, Valverde, Jai Hindley (Bora_Hansgrohe)
8km to go
Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Romain Bardet (DSM) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) lead the way. But it is bad news fro Simon Yates who is almost a minute off the pace. The maglia rosa Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) has also been dropped, but the Spaniard is doing his best to chase back on.
9km to go
Mikel Landa is riding second wheel, along side Richie Porte, while further back Hugh Carthy is struggling and is losing ground on thsi steep, steep climb.
Yates trails by 24sec
Simon Yates is not completely out of this just yet. His gap on the Pavel Sivakov-powered leading group is holding steadily, he has not blown up. Perhaps he had a mechanical issue, or simply struggled finding his rhythm?
10km to go
Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) is the latest rider to get dropped on Blockhaus thanks to the infernal pace being set by Ineos Grenadiers. Against all odd, the elder statesmen of the peloton Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) and Alejanro Valverde (Movistar) are holding on and are still in the reduced bunch at the head of the stage.
Yates is dropped!
Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) has his jersey unzipped, flapping in the wind, as he rises out of his saddle fighting against gravity as he attempts to get back on after the Briton is dropped. Crikey.
12km to go
Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), the Italian who was targeting the general classification, has been dropped.
13km to go
Ben Tulett pulls on the front of the peloton, just ahead of Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), with Ineos Grenadiers team-mates Pavel Sivakov, Richie Porte and Richard Carapaz next in line. Carapaz gains a 1sec time bonus, but missed out on the chance of taking more after Tulett and Covi rolled through ahead of him.
15.5km to go
Game over for Joe Dombrowski. Time for the general classification riders to come to the fore. Will we be seeing a new race leader this afternoon, or can Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) hold on on this nasty looking climb?
17km to go
Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan) is burying himself, but he will not be holding off the charging peloton. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), who earlier today claimed he was not feeling too well, has moved up towards the front of the group. There will be bonus seconds up for grabs at the second and final intermediate sprint of the stage.
17.5km to go
Jhonatan Narváez has taken responsibility on the front of the peloton, the Colombian towing along the remainder of the Ineos Grenadiers riders with Briton Ben Tulett tucked in behind him, just ahead of their main general classification rider Richard Carapaz.
19.5km to go
I'm thinking this may be one last roll of the dice from Joe Dombrowski who has rolled off the front, leaving Nans Peters and Diego Rosa in his wake. Surely it is only a matter of time before the pair are caught by the Ineos Grenadiers-led peloton.
20km to go
Joe Dombrowski and Nans Peters have bridged over to Diego Rosa at the head of the race, but their advantage over the peloton has plummeted to just 42sec following a huge effort on the front of the peloton from Ben Swift.
22km to go
The road will continue to rise for another 8km before the start proper of the fearsome Blockhaus climb which is 13.9km long with an average gradient on 8.4%.
25km to go
Ben Swift, the British national champion, takes over on the front of the peloton as it reaches the flattish section on the run-in to the bottom of Blockhaus. The gap between stage leader Diego Rosa and the Ineos Grenadiers-powered group of general classification riders is down to just 1min 30 sec now. I think kit is safe to say, the Italian will be getting caught on this incoming climb.
27.5km to go
Bike change for Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) on the descent. The Dutchman should regain contact with the peloton before it reaches the bottom of the day's final, and hopefully decisive, climb.
30km to go
Following Natnael Tesfatsion's crash, Diego Rosa is the lone leader. Joe Dombrowski, Nans Peters and Eduardo Sepúlveda trail by 29sec, with the peloton a shade under two minutes further down the road.
Crash! Tesfatsion goes off road!
Natnael Tesfatsion has taken a fall. The Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli rider went into a left-hand bend a little too fast, but went straight ahead.
— Alex Rasmussen (@alexfalkeman) May 15, 2022
Fortunately for the Eritean, there was a small gap with what looked like a narrow track for him to ride onto, before he somersaulted over his handlebars into a bush. He soon got back to his feet, but looked a little dazed and confused.
41.5km to go
Now over the category one Lanciano, the road drops by over 1,000 metres in elevation before kicking up for one last time: Blockhaus awaits where I am expecting / hoping for this stage to spark into life.
43.1km to go
Joe Dombrowski has managed to bridge over to the chasing pair of Nans Peters and Eduardo Sepúlveda. That's some ride from the 31-year old. Further up the road, Diego Rosa crests the Passo Lanciano ahead of Natnael Tesfatsion to add another 40 points to his tally in the mountains classification, making him the virtual leader in that competition.
Correction: Dombrowski has not been dropped . . .
. . . but instead dropped Jonathan Caicedo and Felix Gall. The Astana Qazaqstan rider is 51sec off the lead of Diego Rosa and Natnael Tesfatsion, while Eduardo Sepúlveda and Nans Peters are 37sec behind the stage leaders.
47km to go
Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan), a stage winner at last year's Giro d'Italia, has been dropped by the chasing group. The American is one minute off the pace being set by Diego Rosa and Natnael Tesfatsion. The peloton, meanwhile, is starting to string out in a long line after Ineos Grenadiers appear to have increased the pace a little.
48km to go
Diego Rosa manages to go over to the leading group, just Natnael Tesfatsion is able to hold his wheel as the Italian pushes on, while Eduardo Sepúlveda and Nans Peters struggle to hold the pace. A little further back, the chasing group is starting to splinter as the road ramps up.
50km to go
Eduardo Sepúlveda, Natnael Tesfatsion and Nans Peters lead Diego Rosa by 11sec, with Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan), Felix Gall (Ag2r-Citroën), James Knox (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) and Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) another 33sec down the road. Perhaps more importantly, though, the peloton is just 2min 30sec off the pace of the stage leaders.
52km to go
Not for the first time, Eduardo Sepúlveda and Natnael Tesfatsion have reeled stage leader Nans Peters back in. The trio has 30sec on Diego Rosa who has decided to try and bridge over.
54km to go
Once again, Nans Peters puts in an effort to put some distance between himself and the Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli duo of Eduardo Sepúlveda and Natnael Tesfatsion. Further back and James Knox appears to have had a mechanical issue. The Liverpool fan was forced to stop, it looks like he will not be getting involved in any shoot-outs on the incoming Passo Lanciano climb.
55.5km to go
Having looked to be struggling a few minutes ago, Eduardo Sepúlveda has ridden over to team-mate Natnael Tesfatsion and Nan Peters. The trio leads what is now a six-man chasing group by 21sec, while the peloton is another 2min 10sec down the road.
58km to go
Eduardo Sepúlveda (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) was dropped by the remnants of that breakaway on the carpet-smooth roads on the approach to the Passo Lanciano, but the Argentine manages to claw his wayc back into the rear of the seven-man group. Nans Peters and Natnael Tesfatsion lead by just 20sec, but the Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli rider is refusing to take a turn.
61km to go
Nans Peters (Ag2r-Citroën), who has just two wins on his palmarès – one at the Giro, the other at the Tour de France – attacks off the front of the break. Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) is the only rider to respond, the Eritrean bridges over to Frenchman.
62.5km to go
A pre-stage interview with Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) was broadcast a few minutes ago, with the Portuguese saying he was not feeling well today. The 23-year-old who wore the leader's pink jersey for 14 days on his grand tour debut in 2020, admitted his priorities may have changed as a result with his focus now being on making the podium, rather than winning the overall general classification.
The breakaway's lead has dropped to 2min 27sec.
68.5km to go
The breakaway appears doomed. Their lead over the peloton has dropped to below three minutes for the first time for a couple of hours. With two tough climbs incoming, I'm predicting it will be caught before the stage is contested on Blockhaus this afternoon.
75km to go
Having descended from Filetto, the nine-man breakaway have again started to climb having reached the lowest point in today's stage. It is up, up, up now for the next 35km or so, including this nasty looking climb, the Passo Lanciano which is 10.8km long with an average gradient of 7.2%, but reaches ramps of 14% in the fifth kilometre.
83.5km to go
Eduardo Sepúlveda (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) drifted off the front of the breakaway group to take 12 points in the race for the intermediate spring classification, but once past the line the nine-man group came back as one. Around 3min 30sec down the road, Jonathan Castroviejo is still towing along the peloton that includes all of the mains general classification contenders.
92km to go
Not a great deal happening right now, the nine-man breakaway continues to press on as the road rises towards the day's first intermediate sprint in Filetto. Decent crowds pepper the roadside as the route skirts through villages under clear blue skies with the usual smattering of pink balloons attached to fences, while il Tricolore flies proudly in what looks like a light breeze.
Here they come . . .
Jonathan Castroviejo, who was part of the Ineos Grenadiers' winning teams in the last two editions of the Giro d'Italia (Tao Geoghegan Hart, 2020 and Chris Froome, 2018), has taken over on the front of the peloton. Many are predicting that the Spaniard's team-mate Richard Carapaz could win today, but there's an awful long way to go yet.
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) May 15, 2022
100km to go
It looks like a very warm day out in central Italy, a number of riders – including race leader Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) – have been spotted rideing with their jerseys undone in an effort to keep cool. Staying hydrated and correctly fuelled will be key to getting through this tough stage in one piece, while those hoping to contest the stage will not want to see their glycogen levels drop too much.
As it stands . . .
The riders out on the road have chalked 81 kilometres of this 191km-long stage and have already crested the first three of the five categorised climbs – Valico del Macerone, Rionero Sannitico and Roccaraso – where Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) added 40 points to his tally in the mountains classification. As a result, the Italian has moved up to third overall in that particular competition with 43 points) behind Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma, 68pts) and Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe, 43pts). Suspect the 33-year-old will be moving above Kämna later on this afternoon, but can Rosa wrestle the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, off the shoulders of Bouwman?
After going solo for a short while once over the first climb, Rosa was later joined by Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan) before the leading group finally grew to nine riders including Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Felix Gall (Ag2r-Citroën), James Knox (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Nans Peters (Ag2r-Citroën), Eduardo Sepúlveda (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane). Their advantage on the peloton has been holding at around the 5min mark.
There has been one crash of note, which saw Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) hit the deck. The Spaniard appeared to to land on his left hip and needed to drop back to the race doctor, from whom he received some medical attention.
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage nine at the Giro d'Italia, the 191-kilometre run from Isernia to Blockhaus.
Following yesterday's stage around Naples, won by the evergreen Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) from a breakaway, there were no changes atop each of the major classifications and so Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) will be dressed in the pink, cyclamen and blue jerseys respectively as leaders in the general, points and mountains classifications. As second-placed rider in the youth classification, Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) will wear the white jersey on López's behalf.
For anybody that missed stage eight, here are the highlights . . .
Today's stage has been described as the toughest in this year's race and features five categorised climbs, including the nasty looking final schlep up Blockhaus. There is barely a centimetre of flat road on a day which should see some sort of shake-up in the general classification. Whether or not another breakaway prevails remains to be seen, but it will take a strong man to win this brutally hard stage.
So, what does the stage look like?
Here's what the roadbook says about the stage...
A queen stage across the Apennines, with a 5,000-metre elevation gain. Shortly after the start, the route clears the Valico del Macerone and the challenging Rionero Sannitico ascent, continuing uphill all the way to Roccaraso. A long undulating descent follows (nearly 90km), leading to the foot of the first ascent to Passo Lanciano (coming from Pretoro). Next, the route drops into Lettomanoppello, cutting across a few urban areas, and starts to go up again in Scafa. The final climb (13km) begins past Roccamorice.
The last 13km go up steadily on narrow road, with several hairpins. Gradients are over 9% for almost 10km, with peaks reaching as high as 14%. There is a very short counter-sloping stretch 500 m before the finish. The home straight (200m long, on 6m wide Tarmac) has an uphill gradient of approx 8%.
Live commentary of today's stage to get under way at 1pm (BST)