Diminutive Italian Domenico Pozzovivo struck another big blow for Italian pride by winning stage eight of the Giro, the second in two days for the home nation.
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The Colnago CSF rider was the first to attack on the final climb to Lago Laceno and so deserved the stage win. There was never any reaction from the big names behind him, in fact the three Liquigas riders on the front of the leading group, lead by Sylvester Szmid, barely even blinked.
Benat Intxausti (Movistar) eventually went after Pozzovivo, and although he stayed clear of the group behind to take second, he never looked like he was going to catch him. Not even the short descent to the finish line could slow Pozzovivo the pocket rocket down.
The descent should have favoured the group behind, but with no urgency they made little inroads to Pozzovivo’s lead as he churned a surprisingly big gear to finish alone and move himself up to within a minute of the lead.
It was another surprisingly tough day on the race as a groupetto came in well down on the leaders. The favourites at the front looked comfortable enough, all apart from Ryder Hesjedal. The race leader fought all the way up the final climb to hold on to the group, at times he was last man, throwing his bike around desperately trying to hold the wheel in front.
Earlier in the stage a group of four riders had jumped away from the peloton, but it was doomed from the start. Movistar rider Andrey Amador – one minute 16 seconds down on the overall – got himself in to the group and the others let him stay there. The peloton was never going to let him ride in to pink in such a soft way, so their gap was pegged and the group brought back well before the finish.
Giro d’Italia 2012, stage eight: Sulmona to Lago Laceno, 229km
1. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox in 6-06-05
2. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 23 secs
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 27 secs4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
5. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox
8. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp
9. Jose Rujano (Col) Androni Giocattoli
10. John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale all same time
11. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 27 secs
13. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 27 secs
Overall classification after stage eight
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda in 32-23-25
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 9 secs
3. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana at 15 secs
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 35 secs
5. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 35 secs
6. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 40 secs
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 45 secs
8. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 46 secs
9. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at 48 secs
10. Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 52 secs
11. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 53 secs
Ryder Hesjedal kept hold of the pink jersey, albeit with a reduced margin
Pozzovivo wins the stage
Giro d’Italia 2012: Latest news
Giro d’Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d’Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win
Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d’Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Giro d’Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide