Skip to main content
Live coverage

Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage 8


Hello and welcome to stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia, a 229km test from Sulmona to Lago Laceno. It's another tough day in the saddle for the riders with the climb of the Colle Molella just before the finish.

To bring you right up to date with the action, we've raced just under 30km and the Garmin led bunch is still together.

Giro Bluffers Guide: The second Sunday sees the Giro reaches its southernmost point. It starts at Sulmona (World capital of… confetti) for 220 bruising, sweaty kilometres on heavy southern roads. At its conclusion a hard-core 9 kilometres ramp up to Lake Laceno will decide all. In the 1970s, the back end of Italy’s “economic boom”, this place was ultra-fashionable for well-to-do trekkers. Apparently it’s trendy again, but regardless it’ll play host to a brutal, spectacular last hour. Not to be missed…

Bergonzi says: “As ever when the Giro starts abroad, it’s Southern Italy which pays. The climb will make some holes in the GC, and it’ll be about power more than anything else. Last time the Giro came here was in 1998, Pantani’s Giro. Alex Zülle won that day, and I expect a similar rider to do well here.”

A similar rider to Alex Zulle? I'm not sure such a creature exists. That day Zulle was impressive, dropping a group that contained Marco Pantani, Michele Bartoli and Luc Leblanc in the process of winning the stage. Zulle went on to win the TT a few days later in Trieste but on stage 17 the Swiss rider blew, losing nearly 5 minutes to Pantani. He fought back the next day but on stage 19 he lost over 30 minutes.

Two riders failed to start this morning Bennati and van Winden.

Today's stage is divided into three segments. The first crosses the Piano delle Cinque Miglia plateau until Isernia, with the first categorized climb Valico di Macerone –cat 4, 684m, after 65.5km. The second segment runs along the main road to Benevento with the intermediate sprint in San Giorgio del Sannio after 164.3km. The route then covers winding roads with continuous twists and turns up to Montella. The last 15km climbs steeply to the Lake Laceno plateau, with the final four kilometers on flat road.

Lake Laceno hosts the second mountain finish of this year’s Giro d’Italia. The Colle Molella climb to the lake ends at an altitude of 1087m high, is 9.9km long, with an average gradient of 6.0% gradient. After leaving Bagnoli Irpino, the first part of the climb includes several hairpins with gradients of between 10% and 12%. The climb ends four kilometres from the finish line. The finishing straight is 300m long and the road is 6.6m wide.

The sun was shining in Sulmona this morning but rain showers are possible during the stage, with a temperature of 19 degrees centigrade expected for the finish at Lake Laceno.

After yesterday's stage Ryder Hesjedal leads the race. He's the first Canadian to ever lead the Giro but he wont have much time to relax. He looked in good form yesterday but a number of riders will be fancying their chances on today's final climb. It's a different finish to yesterday but Scarponi will be surely looking to distance Basso once more.

34km remaining from 229km

Here's a look at where we stand on GC: 

After a week of racing there's not much in it. The only GC rider out of contention - for now - is Gadret, who is 2:38 down on the maglia rosa. However a lot of that time was lost in the TTT. He's not out of the running yet as we still have a tough final week where he should be among the top climbers.

185km remaining from 229km

Amador is the most dangerous rider on GC, just 1:26 down on Hesjedal. The lead for the break is up to 9 minutes now so the plucky Movistar rider is the virtual leader on the road - and by some distance. The Garmin team wont mind that though, like yesterday, we'll see the likes of Lampre and Liquigas want to take charge of the peloton.

Basso had his Liquigas team do a lot of the work yesterday. He was trying to keep out of trouble and safe but also tire out some of the specialist climbers before the race reached the final climb. He lost over 20 seconds to Scarponi though due to the time bonuses so it wasn't the most successful day for the two-time winner. However when you consider the state of his form before the Giro started he'll be more than satisfied with the opening week of racing.

168km remaining from 229km

Amador, the virtual leader on the road, has yet to win a race since turning pro in 2009. In 2008 he won the prologue in the Tour de l'Avenir in Chalette sur Loing. I think David Millar did the exact same thing around 10 years earlier, but since then Amador has failed to pick a podium. This is his third grand tour though, having finished both the Giro in 2010 and then last year's Tour de France.

Marczynski is 28, don't you know, but this is his first crack at a grand tour. He's the reigning national TT and road champ for Poland. I'm pretty sure David Millar has never won either of those two events. YET!

Berard, turned pro with AG2R win 2010, having spent part of 2008 with them. This is is second Giro and like Amador he's won a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir. His win came in 2009 when he beat Sicard and van Winden in the first road stage. van Winden quit the Giro this morning.

The break passes over the 4th cat climb. The peloton haven't seemed too interested in mounting a chase yet.

In his second blog for Stephen Roche, winner of the Giro-Tour double in 1987, talks about the possibility of another riding repeating the feat. Pantani did it in 1998 but no rider has managed it since. You can read Roche's thoughts on it right here.

Do you think a rider from the current peloton can pull off the Giro-Tour double? Let me know at

More news on Bennati pulling out the race : “Daniele had fever after the stage yesterday and his temperature didn't go down in the evening and the night, on the contrary,” said RadioShack-Nissan doctor Nino Daniele. “It's not wise to race with fever, so there wasn't really another option but to withdraw."

Hesjedal is the first genuine GC contender to pull on the maglia rosa this year. The Canadian, has finished in the top ten of the Tour de France and entered this year's Giro as a good bet for the top 5. So far his team have won a stage, and put two men in the leader's jersey.

Hesjedal (from yesterday):

138km remaining from 229km

Taylor Phinney riding safely in the bunch. It looked as though, if I'm honest, he'd pull out after losing pink. All those crashes seemed to have taken a lot of out of him but he's rallied in the last couple of days and survived. So he's still on course to finish his maiden Giro d'Italia.

It's a long way off but Phinney may already have an eye on the final TT on the last stage. Olympic qualification hasn't been announced and a strong ride on the 31.5km course in Milan will do his chances the world of good. Right now a lot of his rivals for the US TT team are in California.

Speaking of the Tour of California, tune in later for complete coverage from the first stage. Charles Pelkey will be running complete coverage for the first stage, and we're really pleased to welcome him onto the CN team.

You can check out our complete pre-race coverage from the Tour of California, right here.

We're roughly half-way through the stage with the gap down slightly to 10 minutes. It had peaked at just over a 11 minutes but the bunch started to react once they came through the feedzone.

A reminder on today's finish:

However the final flat section could be crucial. Once over the top of the climb the riders have a 4km flat ride to the line.

Frank Schleck is a rider we've not mentioned so far today. The RadioShack leader was a last minute inclusion in the race after Fuglsang was ruled out through injury. So far Schleck has ridden well, finish 3rd in yesterday's stage and doing better than a number of GC rival in the TT and TTT. As the race goes on he'll be looking to improve his form.

We're inside the final 100km for today's stage. It's a similar pattern to yesterday with a break clear of a rather relaxed peloton and a uphill climb towards the finish still to come. The gap is now down to 9:30 so the bunch are slowly starting to peg things back but Amador is still the leader on the road.

The race continues to wind its way south, as the break approaches Benevento.

A stage finished in Benevento in 2009. Michele Scarponi won that day, with I think Danny Pate, then at Garmin, in third.

Katusha, and Liquigas have started to work on the front, joining Garmin in the chase. It's having an effect with the lead beginning to drop further. The four men out front now have less than 7 minutes.

Once the race passes through Benevento it's pretty much rolling terrain all the way to the finishing climb with a number of unclassified climbs along the way.

75km remaining from 229km

Katusha are starting to work more. They did a lot of pace setting yesterday but Rodriguez lacked his usual acceleration and wasn't able to respond when Scarponi and Tiralongo attacked together. He's still capable of winning today and with 20 bonus seconds for the win, he's within a shout of the maglia rosa.

The gap is down to five minutes.

58km remaining from 229km

Berard has either run out of gas or decided he cant' be bothered. He's sat up but immediately the three remaining riders begin to attack each other.

Marczynski won the sprint at the intermediate sprint after 160km of racing.

Minguez has now popped. So Marczynski and Amador are the only two men at the head of the race.

54km remaining from 229km

Scarponi is looking very comfortable near the front of the field, a number of Lampre men around him.

The two remaining men at the front of the race are at least working together now but the gap is still coming down. The Movistar rider calls his team car up and grabs a quick word with his DS.

The police are forced to keep a road side protest from getting in the way. Just a handful of folk involved.

Astana and Saxo Bank have started to take control of the bunch but the pace is still quite relaxed.

Less than 50km to go and the gap has gone out again to 4:35.

With Astana leading the chase Garmin can move back and save their legs. With three men in the top ten they'll be looking to protect their standings in the teams classification.

Phinney is starting to slip off the back of the bunch

The leading pair have stretched their lead to 5 minutes.

Cavendish at the back of the bunch. He'll ride to the finish and simply look to survive. It's not a hugely difficult day for him so far and there's still a number of stage wins he can win in the second week.

Cavendish at the back of the bunch. He'll ride to the finish and simply look to survive. It's not a hugely difficult day for him so far and there's still a number of stage wins he can win in the second week.

Astana have pulled off from the front with Katusha, Liquigas and then Lampre moving up.

Boss drifting off the back, with Cavendish slipping a bit as well. He's got a few teammates around him though and they'll look to shepherd him to the finish inside the time cut.

Katusha have really picked up the pace and Rodriguez has put the entire team to work on the front of the bunch. This will really test Hesjedal's mettle.

The Cavendish group is trying to come back to the bunch but it's going to tough with Katusha setting such a hard pace.

Phinney is in the Cavendish group.

36km remaining from 229km

Under 3 minutes for the leading break so it looks like they'll be caught before the climb.

Meier hits the deck but he's back up and chasing with the help of Impey.

And Garmin join the chase again, moving a rider to the front of the peloton.

Jack Bauer doing the work for Garmin and Hesjedal with the gap now down to 2:22.

29km remaining from 229km

And BMC are bringing Pinotti to the front of the bunch to mix it with the other GC leaders. The Italian rode well yesterday, proving he's recovered from the major injury he sustained in last year's race.

Two Colnago men take over from Bauer on a descent, as we close in on the final climb of the day.

Stetina has to get a new wheel and Robbie Hunter is quick to stop and help.

It's a long winding descent but it was Hesjedal who needed a new wheel, not Stetina. The Canadian is a good 100-150 meters off the back so he's got a lot of work to do.

The race leader is behind the Garmin team and finally makes it to the bunch. Now he needs to move to the front , and do it quickly.

Correction of a correction: It was Stetina all along, not Hesjedal. The American white jersey holder is still chasing back to the bunch while the Canadian team leader is at the front of the bunch.

17km to race and the gap to the break is at 5 seconds.

And the break has been caught.

Remember the lower slopes are some of the most difficult parts of the climb so we could see a number of attacks early on. Right now Astana are setting the pace on the front.

And Liquigas line their train alongside the Astana one.

Astana shut them out though. it's all about position as we head towards the foot of the climb.

Netapp have moved two of their men to the front. They've really shown themselves in the race so far.

Astana lead into the front. Gasparotto doing the work at the moment. The bunch is still around 100 strong but riders are dropping one by one.

Scarponi is on his own, with no teammates and he's just sitting next to Basso.

Rubiano has been dropped.

Astana  continue their work on the front and it's putting more and more riders under pressure. All the main favourites are still there though.

Gasparotto still sets the pace on his own. The Amstel winner has been in very good form over the last few weeks.

10km remaining from 229km

Now we're into steeper sections again, with 8.6km to go.

Pinotti is leading the bunch, while a few more riders have come up to help Scarponi.

Still no attacks though, as Liqugias move up and take over the pace setting, Basso is second.

Scarponi on Basso's wheel

Cunengo and Rujano are both up there, Gardet, Rodriguez too.

Frank Schleck is a bit further back but no sign of Hesjedal at the moment.

Szmyd is doing all the damage on the front.

Stetina has lost contact with the leaders.

Uran is with the leaders for Sky.

Basso has two men setting the pace, Scarponi on his wheel.

Hesjedal is suffering and he's already at the back of the lead group. That's not a good sign at all.

Hesjedal is suffering and he's already at the back of the lead group. That's not a good sign at all.

The Canadian is suffering towards the back of the group. The maglia rosa could be up for grabs.

And Pozzovivo has attacked with 6.8km to go.

Liquigas haven't flinched yet but a number of riders have been dropped from the peloton, which is down to less than 30 riders.

The Colnago was so strong in Trentino and he's laying down the law again. He already has a gap of around 15 seconds.

That looks like Vande Velde suffering at the back of the bunch. The pink jersey is still there, but only just.

Now an attack from Movistar

Pozzovio has 32 seconds already on the Basso group.

And Cunego is starting to go backwards

As Hesjedal comes a bit closer to the front.

Intxausti is the Movistar rider off the front, with 5km to go.

The lone leader has 45 seconds on the Basso/Scarponi group.

Intxausti is bringing the Colnago rider back though.

Both riders have crested the top of the climb

The peloton go over the top too.

Pozzovivo isnt the best descender in the bunch but he has 23 seconds on the chaser and another 10 seconds on the bunch.

Less than 3km to go  as Hesjedal moves to Basso's back wheel.

The Colnago climber looks good for the stage win now. He has 42 seconds on the maglia rosa.

Pozzovivo has 300 meters to go.

The climber is turning a huge gear

The climber is turning a huge gear

he's not just racing for the stage, he's racing for a possible crack at the pink jersey.

Pozzovivo takes the stage.

Intxausti takes second.

And the bunch coming over the line just a few seconds down.

Rodriguez took 3rd and bags 8 seconds in time bonuses.

The pink jersey remains with Hesjedal but Rodriguez closes to within 9 seconds and Pozzovivo is within a minute of the lead too, just behind Scarponi in GC.

1 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 6:06:05
2 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
3 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:27
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
5 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
6 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox
8 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp
9 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli
10 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:09
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:35
5 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:35
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:40
7 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:48
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:54

Thanks for joining us today. Stay tuned tomorrow for stage 9 of the Giro and of course later today we'll bring you live updates from the Amgen Tour of California.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1