Stage eight was too difficult for Diego Ulissi

His words, not mine. I wouldn’t dream of describing it that way being as he won.

A fast finisher, Ulissi is an even better climber than I thought he was, for this was a proper mountain stage. It was officially classed as ‘medium mountains’ but this was the day when the Giro reverted to type. Let’s have a quick list to show why that was the case.

  • Good weather
  • Stage dominated by a Colombian (Julian Arrendondo in this instance)
  • A vague sense that Domenico Pozzovivo was somehow relevant
  • A peloton that ended up being just a small group of main contenders
  • 4,696 attacks from King of the Nutcases contender, Stefano Pirazzi
  • Pain and anguish writ large on the faces of breakaway riders as they strove to hold off their chasers
  • Breakaway riders ultimately succumbing when painfully close to the line

What more could you want?

General classification (GC)

Everything’s looking a bit clearer now. As anticipated, Michael Matthews shed his pink jersey and won’t be seeing it again – except on the start line, wrapped around someone else.

The first person to inherit it is Cadel Evans, who now leads the race by almost a minute. Here’s the current top five:

  1. Cadel Evans – 34:22:35
  2. Rigoberto Uran – 57 seconds behind
  3. Rafal Majka – 1m10s
  4. Steve Morabito – 1m31s
  5. Fabio Aru – 1m39s

For the record, Domenico Pozzovivo is tenth, 1m50s down. Ulissi is sixth, but today’s stage surely represented the limit of his climbing ability. Tougher days this coming week should see him drop.

Stage nine

Another medium mountains stage and another hilltop finish, but the gradients aren’t as tough as yesterday. I wouldn’t discount Ulissi taking a third stage, but it could also be a day for Team Breakaway (by which I mean the assorted riders who make up the break – it’s not a new team named after a 1980s biscuit).