Pozzovivo wins Giro’s stage 8; Hesjedal defends maglia rosa

Canadian retains overall lead, but Rodriguez moves to nine seconds back on the GC

LAGO LACENO, Italy (AFP) — Italian Domenico Pozzovivo of the Colnago-CSF Inox team capped a superb solo performance with victory on the hilly eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia Sunday.

Pozzovivo wagged his finger as he crossed the line in Lago Lacena ahead of Movistar’s Beñat Inxtausti. The win was the biggest-ever for the second division Colnago-CSF Inox team.

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) retained the race leader’s pink jersey despite struggling to keep pace with the chasing bunch on the final climb of the 229km ride from Sulmona to Lago Laceno.

Diminutive, but known for his climbing skills, Pozzovivo attacked 2km from the summit of the Colle Molella, whose summit was around 7km from the finish of the stage, to open up a gap of around 30 seconds on the chasing bunch.

As some riders struggled with the pace, Intxausti counter-attacked, and despite doing well to open up a gap on the peloton, he finished second at 23 seconds behind Pozzovivo.

“There’s a lot from winning to taking second, but to I’m really happy, to be honest, because the day turned out really well, we took some seconds back… At the climb, I saw nobody was moving due to the pace by Szmyd and I gave it a try, though Pozzovivo had already too much gap,” said Intxausti. “The only goal is riding day-by-day, because it’s obvious that there’s some guys really more experienced than me, always at the fore in the Giro. We’ll try to keep these performances coming, profiting from chances like today’s and searching for a stage win.”

It was 29-year-old Pozzovivo’s maiden win on the Giro in what is his sixth participation and comes after a notable overall win at the Giro del Trentino last month.

Overall contender Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) led the peloton over the finish line a few seconds later, with Hesjedal — who struggled on the steepest pitches of the Molella climb — just saving the race lead. The 31-year-old Hesjedal, who became the first Canadian to wear the race’s pink jersey when he took the race lead Saturday, now holds a lead of just nine seconds on Rodríguez.

The race’s ninth stage on Monday takes the peloton back to flatter terrain for a 166km ride between San Giorgio nel Sannio and Frosinone, to the south of Rome. It should entice sprinters like world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky),
who has already claimed two stage wins in this edition.