Having initially missed the day's breakaway, Luis Leon Sanchez put in a show of strength to bridge across the leaders and finish off stage eight of the Giro d'Italia with third place. The Astana man was riding alongside Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), and Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) inside the final twisty kilometre to Peschici when Conti lost his wheel and Izagirre was the quickest to react.
A multiple Tour de France stage winner, Sanchez was second in the Valdobbiadene time trial on his Giro debut back in 2015 and again came close on his return to the corsa rosa. The 33-year-old explained that ahead of the first key GC stage of the race to Blockhaus, he saw the day as one for the breakaway and gave it his all to get to the front of the race.
"It has been a very fast and chaotic start today. I wanted to enter in the break and I've tried several times, then when the group of 13 men took an advantage, we worked very hard as a team to reduce that gap and I jumped in the break with other 2 men," Sanchez said.
Soloing over the category 2 Monte St Angelo, Sanchez found himself as the leader on the road as the chase group started to disintegrate behind. However, the chasers managed to pull together and joined Sanchez on the descent as the Astana rider explained that he realised his best chances would come with strength in numbers.
In the tactical finale, the attacks came thick and fast in the finale with Sanchez yoyo-ing before showing his legs on the climb into Peschici. Despite missing the win and Astana's chance to dedicate a win to Michele Scarponi, Sanchez explained the performance bodes well for his plans to snag a stage before the Milan finish.
"I saw that 4 strong guys were following me and I waited for them and in the final two of them had something more than me to spend: I did my best and I'm sorry not to have been able to win of course," he added. "On the other hand, I've found out today that my condition is growing so I'm really positive for the next two weeks of the race. I'll try again for sure."
Stage 8 highlights