LUK BENIES/Getty Images
Gorka Izagirre notched his first win of the 2017 Giro d’Italia on Saturday after he blazed a trail to victory in Stage 8 of the competition, although Quick-Step Floors’ Bob Jungels maintained his place as general-classification leader.
The Movistar representative timed his final push to perfection to deny home favourite Giovanni Visconti the honour of becoming the first Italian to win a stage in this year’s Giro, settling for second instead.
Luis Leon Sanchez took third place on the Stage 8 podium after sticking to the front of the pack for almost the entirety of Saturday’s showdown in what was an impressive display of staying ability.
Here’s a look at the top 10 finishers from Saturday’s race:
|2017 Giro d’Italia: Stage 8 Top 10|
|1||Gorka Izagirre||Movistar Team||4:24:59|
|2||Giovanni Visconti||Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team||0:05|
|3||Luis Leon Sanchez||Astana Pro Team||0:10|
|4||Enrico Battaglin||Team LottoNL-Jumbo||0:12|
|5||Michael Woods||Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team||,,|
|7||Vincenzo Nibali||Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team||,,|
|9||Steven Kruijswijk||Team LottoNL-Jumbo||,,|
|10||Bob Jungels||Quick-Step Floors||,,|
And here is how the upper echelon of the general classification looks following Stage 8, via cycling Twitter account Gran Fondo Guide:
#GIRO100 LIVE: Top Ten Overall after Stage 8. Follow here https://t.co/sZUpaAvODR https://t.co/IekOsH0huE
5/13/2017, 3:10:04 PM
A twisting finished awaited Izagirre on the path to Peschici, where Saturday’s stage reached its climax, but the Movistar rider held his nerve to break free of his pursuers and snatch a slim victory.
Riders set off from their starting point in Molfetta and enjoyed a flat, 80-kilometre drive toward Stage 8’s midpoint, where the daunting Category 2 climb up Monte Sant’Angelo posed an intimidating 9.6-kilometre ascent at an average gradient of 6 per cent.
More than a dozen riders formed the breakaway, which led the peloton by roughly one minute and 35 seconds heading over its peak, with Sanchez leading from the front.
Sanchez eventually pushed to carve out a sole lead of around 30 seconds ahead of the breakaway, but his peers appeared content to allow the leader his time in the sun considering he entered Stage 8 in 53rd place.
Without the help of any team-mates, his cushion was soon cut down descending Monte Sant’Angelo, as the official Giro d’Italia Twitter account showcased a new 10-rider lead group building toward Saturday’s second climb:
Giro d’Italia @giroditalia
New situation. 10 riders ahead. Gap: 3’06. 62 km left. Follow live: https://t.co/22UIsMVDvs #Giro100 https://t.co/LjD23mvNd1
5/13/2017, 1:29:06 PM
The Coppa Santa Tecla is a less fearsome Category 4 climb but features a much hillier surrounding setting, and it was again Sanchez who made his push over its peak fastest, having stuck with the more crowded breakaway.
The views of the Adriatic Sea running alongside Saturday’s race made for a glamorous setting, but there was little glamour in the melee, as Valerio Conti and Izagirre were among a new pack making a run at an increased lead.
That same group led for much of the final 30 kilometres before a demanding 12 percent gradient arose at the end of the stage, but with the peloton two minutes behind, Izagirre had the gap he needed to capitalise.
That gulf proved sufficient, as he powered into a three-second lead at the head of the queue going into Peschici’s final climb, with both Conti and Sanchez missing out, via Eurosport UK:
Eurosport UK @Eurosport_UK
Gorka the Great!!
Izagirre powers his way to a first ever @giroditalia stage win for @Movistar_Team 🙌#Giro100 https://t.co/6VrvtXq1B2
5/13/2017, 3:06:49 PM
Giro d’Italia triumph runs strong in the Basque star’s family, as pointed out by Gracenote Sports following Saturday’s win:
Gracenote Olympic @GracenoteGold
Gorka is the first Izagirre to win a stage in the #GirodItalia since his brother Ion on 22 May 2012, when he won stage 16 @Movistar_Team
5/13/2017, 3:08:40 PM
Izagirre celebrated a maiden Giro d’Italia stage victory three years after his previous—and only—Grand Tour stage triumph, which came in the team time trial of the 2014 Vuelta Espana.
The up-and-down nature of Saturday’s blockbuster played to his advantage, while Visconti and Conti were left waiting on a home win for the Italians and missed out by a small margin.