Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) won his first stage of the Giro d’Italia 2019 beating Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in a sprint finish.
After the 7km technical descent to the line, which Tony Gallopin had called “dangerous” at the start of the day, passed without incident, Bora-Hansgrohe led out Pascal Ackermann as the German looked to take his third stage of this year’s race.
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Despite a number of Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders at the front of the race, Viviani chose to follow Ewan’s wheel. After swinging around the last bend, Ackermann jumped from his lead-out man’s wheel in the 200m finishing straight, but Ewan and Viviani came round him in the final few metres, with the Australian finishing strong to take the win.
After switching to Lotto-Soudal to try and win more Grand Tour stage victories, Caleb Ewan has delivered his first Grand Tour win of what he hopes will be many for the Belgian outfit.
Fabio Sabatini then finished fourth followed by Manuel Belletti in fifth.
Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) remains in the pink jersey heading into tomorrow’s stage nine time trial before Monday’s rest day.
How it happened
Stage eight threw up the longest day of racing at the 2019 Giro, with 239km for the riders to take on, but it also provided the shortest finishing straight of just 200m.
Before the rollout the finish of the stage, a 7km technical descent culminating in ten hairpins in the final 3km of racing, was proving controversial. With rain threatening the finish town of Pesaro, Tony Gallopin called the finish “dangerous” before he signed on in the morning. Rumours of riders and teams calling for the race jury to neutralise the final 6km fell on deaf ears as the organisers took no precautionary action.
The breakaway went within the first 10km, with Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) , Nathan Brown (EF Education First) and Damiano Cima (Nippo Vini Fantini) making the move, until Brown sat up not long after, deciding he’d rather spend the day in the pack.
The Italian duo stretched out a gap of just under six minutes during their nearly 200km out front before they shook hands with 40km to go signalling the end of their break.
However, as Cima was caught Ciccone launched from the peloton in an attempt to claim the three king of the mountains points at Monteluro, catching Frapporti and giving his fellow Italian a second wind.
The pair duked it out to the top but Ciccone won out and had the added effect of creating a 10 second gap over the peloton, which they kept up for the next few kilometres.
The bunch all back together, Louis Vervaeke (Sunweb) attacked towards the summit of Gabicce Monte, with Ciconne quickly taking up his wheel, soon to be joined by François Bidard (Ag2r La Mondiale).
Ciccone once again took maximum points, further consolidating his blue climber’s jersey, with the group of three 14 seconds ahead at the top and deciding to keep the pace on, soon seeing their advantage increase to 30 seconds, then 45 seconds with 20km remaining.
The sprinters’ teams clearly did not want to chase on the uncategorised climbs, worried about dropping their contenders for the stage win, so let the leaders have their gap, waiting for the road to flatten out a bit before they gave chase.
Raindrops appeared on the camera lens with 17km to go, but for the most part the road was dry, despite the earlier warnings of inclement weather at the finish.
With 10km to go, the three leaders still had an advantage of 17 seconds over the peloton, and as the bunch closed in Ciccone tried one last attempt to stay away. But, with the GC teams now coming to the front, their move was doomed.
The peloton got through the first half of the 7km descent without incident, as the sprinters teams came to the fore in the final three kilometres.
Bora-Hansgrohe drove the peloton into the last two kilometres, looking to set up Ackermann for his third stage win, but after launching from his lead-out man’s wheel in the short finishing straight, Caleb Ewan came past him, dragging Viviani in his wheel, with the Australian holding the Italian champion off to take his first Grand Tour victory for Lotto-Soudal.
Giro d’Italia 2019, stage eight: Tortoreto to Pesaro (239km)
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, in 5-43-32
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
6. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
8. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo Vini Fantini
9. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
10. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at same time
General classification after stage eight
1. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, in 35-13-06
2. José Joaquín Rojas (Esp) Movistar, at 1-32
3. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, at 1-41
4. Nans Peters (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 2-09
5. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-17
6. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team, at 2-45
7. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 3-14
8. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 3-25
9. Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar, at 3-27
10. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb, at 4-57