Welcome to the latest episode of our Baby Giro Diaries! We're getting to the business end of the race now and stage 7 was one that appears to have been a decisive one in setting the GC pecking order for the remaining three stages.
Taking the riders from Sondrio to Lago di Campo Moro, it was a short one at 120 kilometres, But it was also brutal, featuring over 3000 metres of ascent. For hors d'oeuvres, it served up 2 category 2 climbs but without a doubt, the main course was the challenging 28.8-kilometre climb to Lanzada | Lago di Campo Moro.
It was another stage where the break took a long time to form, with five riders eventually getting away. They reached the foothills of the final climb but by the time they had reached the steepest ramps, they had been caught and overtaken by a new front group of five made up of the Maglia Rosia Juan Ayuso, Colombia's Jesus Peña and the riders lying 2nd, 3rd and 4th on GC: Tobias Halland Johannessen, Henri Vandenabeele and our diarist Tom Gloag. The imperious Ayuso forced the rhythm, gradually, detaching all but Jesus Peña, who he then dropped with a stinging acceleration, propelling him to his third stage victory of the race.
Peña finished in second, 52 seconds back, while Vandenabeele, Tom and Johannessen finished in that order a further 22 seconds behind. Ben Healy was 20th, nearly five minutes back, while Harrison was 28th, almost six minutes down.
On GC, Tom remains 4th overall, just five seconds from a podium spot. Healy drops to 9th, and Harrison is up to 23rd.
Stage 8 from Aprica to Andalo is another short one at 116 kilometres. It's not as fearsome as the one we've just had but has enough climbing to allow more GC action, especially coming on the back of such a tough stage. It will certainly be a tough start, with the opening 30 kilometres all uphill. The stage is then mainly downhill until the final 15 kilometre climb to Andalo. Our preview writer Jospeh Doherty says it’s a little harder than the average grade of 5% suggests thanks to some false flat kilometres that allow riders to recover before the final few clicks to the line.
In our diary section, we hear from Harrison, who had another good day, making more gains on GC. He talks about how his day went and discusses how he'll approach the remaining stages and the balance between riding for GC and looking to make it into the breaks. No entries as we speak from an understandably tired Tom and the continually hectic Callum, but if that changes we will of course stitch their entries into this episode as soon as we can.