Stage 8 already; where has the time gone? Just two stages left to go now and then it will time for some well-earned rest. The riders might need a lie down too.
Anyway, with that terrible joke out of the way, let’s get stuck into the stage round-up. Stage 8 from Aprica to Andalo was another mountain stage, featuring 2300 metres of climbing. A good chunk of that climbing began immediately, with the riders tackling the first category Passo del Tonale almost from kilometre zero. It was on these early slopes that a large group of no less than 36 riders made their escape over the Maglia Rosa group. The two Bens – Healy and Turner – were in there, as was our diarist Harrison Wood, making good on his objective to get in the breaks.
Before the break reached the final 15-kilometre climb to Andalo, Ben Healy escaped from that lead group with the Swiss Racing Academy rider Andréa Mifsud. Healy soon dropped Mifsud, stretching out a lead of over a minute on the chasers. On the final climb, Healy was joined by Riccardo Ciuccarelli, Harrison’s teammate Marco Frigo, Didier Merchan and Yannis Voisard. The Irishman eventually lost contact, however, as Ciuccarelli went on to take an impressive solo win. Behind, there was once again nothing to separate the main GC men, with Ayuso, Vandenabeele, Johannessen and our diarist Tom all finishing a minute and 37 seconds back. Fellow diarist Harrison was also in that group – a great day out for him – while Ben Turner was just 6 seconds further back. Impressive. Healy faded to 41st, but hats off to him for such an aggressive display.
On GC, Tom stays 4th, Healy drops to 13th and Harrison is up to 21st.
Stage 9 – the penultimate stage – will be another mountainous day for the riders. With the final stage a fairly flat affair, this is probably the last opportunity for the GC hopefuls to gain time on their rivals. The last chance for Tom to leap up to the podium.
There are no killer climbs as such but like stage eight the opening kilometres are uphill to the category one Passo Valles. Then after a long descent, there is a category 3 climb before the riders tackle the final climb of Nevegal twice. No easy day out, especially with eight days of frenetic racing in the riders’ legs.
In our diaries, we hear first from Harrison who talks about his day in the break and finishing with the top GC guys. Tom’s back again too. He shares his recollections from stages 7 and 8 and ponders whether he can make up the seconds he needs to make it on the podium.Support the show (https://thebritishcontinental.shop)