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As expected, the stage to the summit of Blockhaus provided a blockbuster ending on stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia, with a major shake-up in the overall standings.
Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) may have kept a slender lead in the maglia rosa but the 13km ascent proved to be the most testing terrain of the race so far with the first significant sort out.
Ineos Grenadiers set a blistering pace on the climb, blowing away Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) on the early slopes. That in itself was no surprise but when Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) began to struggle less than a kilometer onto the climb, alarm bells began to ring as a number of overall contenders started to struggle.
A brief acceleration from Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) on the front of the peloton saw Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) put into difficulty almost immediately. The British rider came into the stage with doubts over his health following a crash earlier in the race, and a potentially injured right knee. No one, however, expected the pre-race favorite to lose ground with 11.8km to go, and although he fought to limit his loses, he would eventually go on to ship 11:15 on stage winner Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohë) and drop to 25th overall, 11:11 down on López. His overall ambitions are over for another year.
Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohë) was the next GC rider to stumble, with the former podium finisher losing a massive 10:53 on the stage. He will support his teammate Hindley for the remainder of the race.
The next major selection came with 8.6km to go when Richie Porte hit the front. The Australian strung out the remnants of the lead group with 11 riders left in contention when the Ineos rider dipped into the final 5km of the climb.
Out the back went Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) with the British rider losing 3:48. Ivan Sosa, and briefly João Almeida, were next before the UAE Team Emirates rider clawed his way back into contention.
The maglia rosa, who was already on the rivet, then lost contact after a touch of wheels and he was properly distanced as Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) launched a stinging attack with 4.6km to go. Only Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) could follow as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) began to struggle.
A regrouping took place with 2.2km to go, and even another assault from Bardet, Carapaz and Landa couldn’t budge Hindley who came back before winning a closely fought sprint.
Hindley, Bardet, Carapaz, Landa, and Almeida finished on the same time with Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux) three seconds back. Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohë) battled back to remain in contention, with Nibali and Valverde both finishing inside the top ten.
In the race for the overall title, López has just 12 seconds over Almeida with Bardet at 14, and Carapaz at 15 seconds, respectively. Hindley, runner-up in 2020, is at 20 seconds, while Guillaume Martin rounds out the top six overall. Mikel Landa is at 29 seconds, and Pozzovivo at 54 seconds, meaning there is less than a minute separating the top eight.
For Yates and Kelderman, the race for the overall classification is over.