Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won his second stage in four days, in what was a spectacular day’s racing at the Giro d’Italia.
Ulissi outsprinted Croatian national champion Robert Kiserlovski (Trek) in the final uphill sprint, having caught early escapee Pierre Rolland (Europcar) in the final kilometre.
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Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) was dropped on the first of three climbs, meaning the pink jersey passes to Cadel Evans (BMC).
The real drama of the stage lay in whether escapees Julian Arredondo (Trek) or Pierre Rolland (Europcar) would make it to the finish. Arredondo was one of ten riders in the break of the day, and attacked alone on the Cippo di Carpegna some 40kms from the finish.
Rolland set off in pursuit on the descent of the Carpegna, one by one catching the remnants of the initial break (including Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen), and utilising the support of his teammate Perrig Quemeneur on the way.
After a particularly long chase, Rolland eventually caught a tiring Arredondo on the final climb to the finish in Montecopiolo. The pair were clearly exhausted by this point, but Rolland still managed to break clear.
The gap to the peloton began to tumble as BMC’s Steve Morabito took over from Ag2r – who had led for most of the day’s uphill kilometres – and soon Arredondo was caught.
Danni Moreno (Katusha) then attacked in the final kilometre, catching Rolland and agonisingly ending the Frenchman’s hopes of victory.
There was another twist, however, as Moreno’s legs failed him, leaving Kiserlovski and Ulissi to pass him. The Italian timed his sprint to perfection, coming round the Croatian in the final metres and winning comfortably.
There wasn’t much action between the GC riders, and only seconds separated the favourites at the end. There was one major loser, however, in the form of Michele Scarponi (Astana). The 34-year-old was dropped on the Carpegna and ended up losing several minutes, ruling him out of the running for the pink jersey.
Giro d’Italia 204, stage 8: Foligno – Montecopiolo 174km
1. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 4-47-47
2. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek at st
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 0-06
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at st
5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 0-08
6. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r all st
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 0-14
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0-17
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp at st
Overall classification after stage eight
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC in 34-22-35
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 0-57
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1-10
4. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC at 1-31
5. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 1-39
6. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 1-43
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 1-44
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 1-45
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek at 1-49
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r at st
168. Ben Swift (GBr) Sky at 1-07-33
Photos from stage seven of the 2014 Giro d'Italia, won by Nacer Bouhanni. Photos by Graham Watson
Cadel Evans says that his Giro d'Italia has started well, and looks to have put the past two bad seasons