Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia.
We're in Fiuggi for stage 8 this morning with the riders already starting to form as a peloton on the start line. Ahead of them, 186km and the race's second summit finish of the race. All eyes will of course be on race leader Alberto Contador as he looks to defend his slender advantage over Fabio Aru (two seconds) after his serious fall on stage 6. The Tinkoff leader dislocated his shoulder twice - once in the fall and a second time just before the podium presentation - and today will be stern test of his shoulder.
Contador's natural style on the bike is rise from the saddle, especially in the mountains, and even when the pace can slow, so we'll see today if he needs to change that approach and how much pressure he can put on his left side. Any weakness or hesitation will surely be punished by Aru and Richie Porte who sit behind the Spaniard in GC.
Here's how the GC looks as head into the stage, which rolls out in just over five minutes from now:
Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 27:48:00
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:20
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:22
5 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:28
6 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:37
7 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:56
8 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:01
9 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:15
10 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:01:18
Today's stage to Campitello Matese pulls in two categorized climbs, the second category Forca d'Acerto, and the final ascent, classified first category.
The Forca d'Acero is almost 30km in length and although it shouldn't pose any serious questions of the GC riders it will see the peloton thin out, and we could see the likes of Rigoberto Uran isolated if his team display the form they've carried through in the race so far. The final climb has a stiffer gradient of around seven per cent but is 16km in length.
As Alasdair Fotheringham writes in his stage preview: "The hardest 'ramp' of the entire climb, a stretch of about 100 metres at 12 per cent, then follows, about five kilometres from the finish just before the road enters a slightly straighter section. Although the team buses will be parked on the side of the road at this point, the riders still have more climbing to tackle before they can turn round and head towards a well-earned rest in their team vehicles: another steepish section of eight per cent in the closing kilometres awaits before a final slight descent brings the race to the finish."
You can read the full preview, here.
And we're rolling. Alberto Contador near the head of the peloton as we leave the start line, ahead of him and the rest of the peloton 186km of racing, and that summit finish to Campitello Matese.
Jackets and leg warmers are the order of the day for the riders today too. Tinkoff Saxo on the front as we head through the neutralized zone. Their sole job will be to stay with Contador all day and lead him to the foot of the climb. From there Rogers and Kreuziger will need to stick with him for as long as possible. Easier said than done, and Astana will show no mercy if the Spaniard shows any weakness. This is a massive test of Contador's mettle.
From the start the peloton have fairly rolling terrain to deal with before a long descent and the valley before the first climb of the day.
The rain continues to fall on the peloton, which Contador won't be too pleased with. He would have preferred another flat transitional stage in order to facilitate his recovery.
If you're just joining us, waking up, or coming online the news from California is that Peter Sagan won the individual time trial and has now taken the race lead. The stage was modified and cut in distance due to snow but the Tinkoff rider picked up the win and the leader's jersey ahead of the mountain stage. You can read all about his win, right over here.
Back to the Giro d'Italia and Robert Millar has penned this excellent piece on the race so far. Robert will be sharing his thoughts on the race over the next two weeks.
Tinkoff have left a few riders jump clear in the early stages of the race. Tom Danielson kicks clear and he's joined by a number of riders, including Belkov. This could be the move of the day.
9km into the race and the break are doing their best to pull clear. The new few minutes are going to be crucial for their chances as more and more riders try and make the junction. The GC teams, though, seem willing to let this move stick.
Here's what Sagan had to say about his TT win in the US, by the way: “I was feeling in great shape today and this shorter race course helped me. This morning I was feeling confident and I believed I could make it. I was aiming at the yellow jersey without focusing on a stage victory but I got both. I tried, I gave my best and I'm happy with the result. My sports director Patxi Vila was following me in the team car and as he was giving me my intermediate times, I saw I was getting faster, which made me confident in the fact that I would have a big advantage."
Back to the frenetic start here to stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia and the men on the move are - in no particular order - Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni), Branislau Samoilau (CCC), Roger Kluge (IAM), Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal), Ruben Fernandez (Movistar), Eduard Grosu (Nippo Fantini), and Elia Favilli (SouthEast). Danielson helped kick things off but he's not made the final cut it seems. However there are still more riders trying to go clear from the peloton.
@ystavrakakis Sat, 16th May 2015 11:35:45
Danielson has made the cut, having bridged over and we have nine men in the move. They have 26 seconds after 15km of racing.
Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni), Branislau Samoilau (CCC), Roger Kluge (IAM), Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal), Ruben Fernandez (Movistar), Eduard Grosu (Nippo Fantini), Elia Favilli (SouthEast), Thomas Danielsoln (Cannondale Garmin) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha).
Still a slender lead for the break, their advantage under a minute as the peloton rolls along at pace behind them. Team Sky patrol near the front with a relaxed Porte well positioned near Eisel - a crucial rider in situations like this. Aru is being led to the front by Astana - arguably the strongest team in the race, while Contador gently taps out his own pace. Three men, one goal. It's building up be another exciting day in the Giro d'Italia.
@drstip Sat, 16th May 2015 11:53:33
And the race continues to split with the fast pace reducing the main field to between 40-50 riders. The early break has been caught and there's a real fight for supremacy at the front of the race. How long can this brutal pace last? Certainly no easy ride for the maglia rosa today.
The front group, that contains the main race favourites has 1:05 on the rest of the peloton. We've not even reached the first major climb of the day and already the race is split.
And Contador isn't there. It was hard to pick him out with his rain cape on but he's lost contact with the leaders and he's one minute down on the first group.
We're going to wait for complete confirmation over race radio but that would be massive news if the maglia rosa was already cut adrift on the stage. He came into the stage hoping for a gentle start before the climbing began but his opponents have hit him early, and hard.
The weather seems to be playing havoc with race radio... still awaiting official confirmation as to Contador's position.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Sat, 16th May 2015 12:01:48
More and more riders have made it to the front group, and we've gone from 45 riders to more like 100. Still looking to pick out Contador who started in his rain jacket. Reports are that he's now made the front group.
Contador has made the front group but it's come at a price and he's already lost a couple of teammates. Down to five possibly six teammates in the front group.
The pace is still fast and furious at the front of the race. Contador dropped his rain jacket and with around 120km to go Astana and Saxo are on the front
127km remaining from 186km
127km to go and we also have a few riders darting off the front. The peloton has slowed for a comfort break, finally, and the race situation will settle. There are around ten men on the attack though and they have arounda minute on the peloton.
Tinkoff move to the front and line out at the front of the peloton. Containment is the aim for the Russian team at the moment after a frantic start to the race.
Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) is leading the race at the moment, even head of the large break that has started to form. The Dutchman came into the race with overall aspirations but his nearly ten minutes in GC.
There are around 50 riders left in the maglia rosa group with the break pushing their advantage out to nearly four minutes.
Contador is climbing, and out of the saddle as we see him alongside Rogers. The pace drops at the front of the bunch and the group swells again. Steven Kruijswijk has 5'25 over the maglia rosa group, a group of around ten men roughly thirty seconds down on the lone leader.
Contador now has his entire team back together and on the front of the peloton. A few more jackets are coming off and the pace lifts slightly.
We're on the lower slopes of the Forca d'Acero with Kruijswijk still setting the pace at the head of the race. The Dutchman looks in decent form as he moves out of the saddle and the gradient rises. The chase group are roughly a minute down but they have over four minutes on the maglia rosa.
@Ride_Argyle Sat, 16th May 2015 12:45:05
Riders in that second group are Pellizotti (AND), Bongiorno (BAR), Samoilau (CCC), Reichenbach (IAM), Niemiec (LAM), Intxausti (MOV), Finetto (STH), Danielson (TCG), Zakarin (KAT), and Vandewalle (TFR)
Kruijswijk pushes on ahead though, not waiting for the main break as he looks set to at least pick up some KOM points for his efforts. That could be a realistic target for the Dutch rider in the race.
113km remaining from 186km
The LottoNL rider has 6'33 over the Tinkoff led peloton. Astana are sitting just behind Contador's team and laying in wait.
The break aren't working and they're losing time to the lone leader so Pellizotti skips out of the saddle and accelerates away from the likes of Danielson. A few too many riders were just sitting on in the group.
The Italian gains just a few metres and it looks like he will be brought back by the rest of the group.
6'44 for Kruijswijk as Pelizzotti continues to chase with Betancur for company. If those three can link up it might become interesting in terms of a possible stage win. Still 110km to go though.
Kruijswijk now has seven minutes on the peloton as Betancur and Pellizotti work together.
There's a bit more organisation from the Danielson group but they continue to concede time to the three men up the road. Kruijswijk has 7;30 over the Contador group.
Scrap that. The third group kick off another wave of attacks with Zakarin, winner of the Tour de Romandie on the move.
Over the top for Kruijswijk who picks up the KOM points at the top of the climb. Polanc currently leads that competition but hasn't made the break today so the jersey is up for grabs.
Zakarin has been caught by the rest of the chase group.
The main field are about to crest the top of the climb with Tinkoff Saxo still doing all of the work. The gap to Kruijswijk is still around 7:40.
No risks from Contador on the descent as he gingerly follows the pace set by his teammates. It's a chance for some of his men to take on some food. Most of his team are wearing rain jackets but Contador has opted to keep his off.
In the valley and away from the descent and Contador sits at the back of the Tinkoff train. So far so good after that early scare for the maglia rosa. Kruijswijk has linked up with Betancur and Pellizotti at the head of the race, 86km to go.
Behind the leading trio are the rest of the chase group and they're at 44 seconds, the peloton at 7'50.
Not sure why but Fantini are on the front and setting the pace for the peloton, giving Tinkoff a bit of a breather from their efforts.
The Italian team missed out on the break so that might be one reason why they're on the front but it could be a bit more calculating than that.
It's been confirmed that Contador picked up two seconds at the earlier intermediate sprint, just before the first climb. So he now has four seconds advantage over Aru in GC.
This just in from Barry Ryan at the race:
Daniele Colli is to file a criminal complaint while his Nippo-Vini Fantini team is likely to open a civil case in search of compensation following the crash in the finishing straight of stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia that left the Italian rider with a broken arm.
Colli was the first faller and worst-affected rider in the crash in Castiglione della Pescaia that saw maglia rosa Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) suffer a dislocated shoulder. Television images show that Colli’s crash was caused by a spectator on the roadside who had leant across the barriers to take a photograph in the final 200 metres.
“Daniele will file a criminal complaint today as the injured party, and afterwards we could lodge our own civil complaint for compensation for the damage caused to the team,” Nippo-Vini Fantini manager Francesco Pelosi told Cyclingnews in Fiuggi on Saturday.
@Lotto_Soudal Sat, 16th May 2015 13:47:44
The Trek rider is closing so we could see the break all form up before the final climb of the day. It's undulating terrain between now and the last ascent. The gap between the first break and the peloton is just under eight minutes.
78km remaining from 186km
78km to go an we now have four riders in the lead group as they take on a 3km climb. Not categorized but it's going to see the a few men start to drop off the back of the main field. The rain is holding off as the moment but there are a number of clouds in the sky. The gap to the magalia rosa group and the four leaders is now out to nine minutes.
That's a really strong foursome at the head of the race with Kruijswijk, Pellizotti, Vandewalle and Betancur 50 seconds up on the chase. Przemyslaw Niemiec 5:10 down on GC is the virtual leader on the road.
The Lampre rider is virtual leader on the road, 3'34 up on Alberto Contador.
The peloton pass through the feedzone, still with Vini Fantini on the front and setting the pace for.... Cunego perhaps.
Tosatto tracks himself up to Contador in order to check on his team leader. The experienced Italian domestique will help steady the Tinkoff ship today on the flat and undulating sections before peeling off at the foot of the final climb. He's the team's Eisel. Sky meanwhile are having an easy ride and are looking after Porte a little further back in the peloton.
@LottoJumbo_road Sat, 16th May 2015 14:02:08
The four leaders have 9'22 over the peloton but there's a long way to go until the final climb of the day.
For when Przemyslaw Niemiec eats a banana.... he probably doesn't live at 29 Acacia road but he's looking strong at the moment as he wolfs done some food and takes a turn on the front of the break.
Just 25 seconds between the two break groups so on this flatter section we could see the two moves merge into one.
There's a little bit of rain starting to fall now as the two leading group move to within ten second of each other. Tinkoff Saxo set the pace for the peloton now with 60km to go.
Contador has stopped to put on a rain jacket as it continues to fall. More and more riders are drifting back to team cars to put on extra layers.
Contador now on the radio to talk to his team. We're about 45km from the foot of the final climb and the first real test for the Spaniard's shoulder.
It's Fantini again on the front of the peloton. Not sure how happy Contador is with their pace setting. Aru doesnt seem to pleased either as we hit a long drifting descent for the lead group of four.
Aru's had enough of this and puts a single man on the very front of the peloton - an indication that he wants to dictate the pace.
Pellizotti has gone back to the second group on the road.
The rain has eased and the second group have the three leaders at 15 seconds.
The peloton have the leaders pegged to 8'30 with 46km to go.
45km remaining from 186km
The second group can't pull the leading trio back though, and they push their advantage out to 32 seconds. How much will they have in the tank when it comes to the final climb?
The three leaders now have 47 seconds. Betancur wants to sit up and wait but Kruijswijk isn't having any of it and the Dutchman wants to push on.
Contador out of the saddle. He doesn't look totally comfortable as he rides with Rogers on his rear wheel. The leading trio have 8'10 on the peloton with around 25km until the foot of the final climb.
The rain has eased off as we head to an uncategorized climb before the final ascent. That could be point where Astana move up and look to take control of the peloton.
The rain may have eased but the roads are wet and Betacur almost loses his back wheel on a corner. He just about holds it together though.
Tosatto takes over at the front of the peloton for Contador and his men. Fantini sit up, their work done for the day, as Kruijswijk leads the first break through the intermediate sprint.
The gap to the Danielson group is 32 seconds.
Team Sky have more of a presence on the front of the field as they gather around Porte. A few riders drop back and pick up the last set of bidons as Contador sheds his cape and takes shelter behind his team. The pace has increased but the gap to the break moves out to 9;10.
32km remaining from 186km
32km to go so around an hour of racing left in today's Giro d'Italia stage. The peloton starts to line out as we head towards the final climb and summit finish at Campitello Matese.
The second group on the road still can't make inroads into the leading trio's lead, which holds at 40 seconds.
The break have a real chance of taking the win today, there are a number of strong climbers in the leading groups but they need to hold this eight or so minute gap on the peloton when they hit the lower slopes of the climb.
Tinkoff bring the gap down to 7'10 with 29km to go so the gap is dropping and we've not hit the climb yet, we're still around 12km from that point.
The Betancur group have one minute on the chasers. It looks like the peloton are being told to slow down with a red flag infront of them. I think that's because they're bringing some of the team cars through the race before the final climb.
As expected Astana take up the pace setting on the drag before the final climb. They've hit the front in move long move and now Tinkoff Saxo move back.
24km to go and the race has changed once more with Aru's men setting a furious pace. This could spell the end for the break.
Rosa is doing the early pace setting for Astana but they have their entire team on the front of the peloton and the gap is down to around six minutes. Contador may have expected such a move but the pressure will be on once we hit the final climb. Will he attack? Can he attack? Or will it all be about defence on the second summit finish of this year's race.
Riders from the bunch are being dropped and this is on a downhill section. The gap to the break is down to under six minutes with Astana punishing everyone in the race.
Up from the three leaders are at least pulling away from the Danielson group. Their gap at 1'23 with 18km to go.
Rosa pulls off, another Astana rider take over as Aru readies himself by tightening his shoes. He's going to attack.
The three leaders are about 3km from the foot of the final climb.
Contador and Porte are wise to all this and settle near the front with their respective teams around them. It's all hotting up with the climb about to start.
All Astana on the front though. FDJ are trying to get into the mix, so are Lotto and BMC for Caruso but Sky, Tinkoff and Aru's men remain the most dominant teams.
The three leaders about to hit the final climb, their gap to the bunch at 5'28. Not sure they'll make it at this rate, it's going to be close.
@Lotto_Soudal Sat, 16th May 2015 15:17:10
12km remaining from 186km
Betancur leads the pace, but the gap to the peloton is down to 4'28. Meanwhile Etixx move Uran back to the front of the peloton.
Tinkoff have moved to the front of the peloton as Vandewalle starts to struggle.
The incline starts to rise and a few riders are dropping off. Contador is second wheel at the moment but he's not got that many men around him.
Basso on the front as Astana move alongside. Leon Sanchez moves up for Aru as Zakarin attacks from the chase group. Has he left it too late?
The Katusha man is matched by the rest of the group, however.
Aru's men are back on the front as Betancur attacks with 11km to go.
That was a huge attack but Kruijswijk counters and now he's clear on the final climb. Good move from the Lotto rider.
He has around 10 seconds on the AG2R rider already but the second group is splitting as Astana accelerate again. Contador has just two men left with him. Thats' not a good sign for the Spaniard.
Up ahead and the Dutch rider has a really good gap but Betancur is trying to pull him back. Six Astana riders on the front of the bunch, the gap down to less than three minutes with 10km to go.
10km to go for the lone leader who has been on the attack for most of the stage. He climbs in the saddle and taps out a strong pace. Back in the bunch and Astana look so dominant. Contador is on the back foot and he needs to make sure he stays with Aru and Porte and not be distracted by other attacks.
There are around 50 riders left in the maglia rosa group. Contador on Cataldo's wheel for now, as he's the last man on the Astana train. Kruijswijk has 3'16 over the maglia rosa group, so not sure he has much of a chance if the pace continues like this.
The Lotto rider moves out the saddle and tries to keep his pace up as we see Uran about halfway down the maglia rosa group.
Kruijswijk has 1'16 on those chasing him with 8.5km to go. Pellizotti has been caught by the main field as Contador ties up his shoes, using his left arm, I may add.
Kruijswijk to be fair is holding the Astana train at 3'18, a very admirably effort. As Basso is dropped, leaving Contador with Rogers and Kreuziger. Hesjedal is there, and riding alongside Uran.
Chaves is also there. 6th overall for the Orica rider.
Kruijswijk only lost 3 seconds in the last 300 meters so he's still holding it together but Betancur has totally blown and his slipping back.
7km remaining from 186km
40 riders left in the maglia rosa group as Contador moves out of the saddle as he takes a corner. He looks comfortable for now.
Reichenbach and Beñat Intxausti are now the second group on the road. Kruijswijk still leads, his gap at 3'07 with 7km to go.
The chasing two have a minute to close on Kruijswijk as they catch and drop the hapless Betancur.
Kruijswijk is starting to grimace, the pain starting to show as his shoulders begin to rock. He still has three minutes on the main field though.
As Astana lift the pace once more. Contador hasn't sat down in a long while as he holds the pace.
Astana down to four men as the gap to the leader finally drops to under three minutes. Can the LottoNL rider hang on?
Astana down to four on the front now with 6km to go. Porte still has two men with him, same for Contador.
Aru is second wheel at the moment so Contador will need to be on his guard if the Astana leader attacks from a long way out.
The Astana leader looks so comfortable at the moment though.
Uran has also moved up and is just behind Contador and Porte. The maglia rosa has just lost Rogers.
Astana look unbreakable right now. The lead to Kruijswijk down to 2'26.
5km to go for Kruijswijk but he's losing time, constantly as the gradient moves out to 12 per cent.
The wheel are coming off for Kruijswijk. He's in trouble.
The chasers are now 28 seconds down on Kruijswijk, the maglia rosa group at 1;59.
And Aru attack. His team chase with Cataldo and Contador needs to respond.
It's Landa and Porte, Uran and Contador are struggling with 4.5km to go.
Those five are now together.
Landa attacks now and he could take pink as Contador and Porte, and Uran just watch Aru.
More riders come back to the maglia rosa group and Konig sets the pace for the group.
3km remaining from 186km
Intxausti and Beñat Intxausti lead but now the Movistar rider has attacked and gone clear with 3.3km to go.
Beñat Intxausti has 53 seconds on the maglia rosa group with 2.8km to go.
Beñat Intxausti looks good for the stage but Landa is still pushing on and putting in time to Contador and Co.
Will Contador or Porte try and attack from this position?
Attack from Cunego from the maglia rosa group.
Beñat Intxausti has 30 seconds on Landa with 1.1km to go.
Again Aru goes and Porte and Contador match him. Cunego is caught.
Only four left in the maglia rosa group.
Beñat Intxausti takes the win.
A well calculated ride from the Movistar rider as Landa takes second.
Aru takes fourth. Contador and Porte and Uran in his group.
A fine win for the Movistar rider but the story of the day is surely how Contador matched the attacks from Porte and Aru in the mountains. The Spaniard is warming down now on the rollers.
Contador even managed to double his lead to four seconds over Aru thanks to the intermediate sprint seconds he won during the stage.
Astana threw all they had at Contador in a bid to drop him. First by setting the pace on the final climb. Aru attacked several times, so did Landa, but Contador stuck with the Italian. At one point he looked in trouble but he didn't panic. Porte also attacked near the end with a strong acceleration but there wasn't anything to separate the main GC contenders.
Uran looks to be improving too. He matched the main attacks and remains a genuine contender with the long time trial still to come.
1 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team 4:51:34
2 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:20
3 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:00:31
4 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:35
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step
8 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini 0:00:45
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
Aru's first attack with 4.6km to go was brutal. Landa was first with him then Contador Porte and Aru. The Italian just couldn't finish it off.
Contador on the podium and his arm is well enough to pull on the maglia rosa. Was this a significant psychological win for the Spaniard? Only time will tell. He looked to be suffering today but he still managed to match his rivals.
General classification after stage 8
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 32:40:07
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:04
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:00:22
4 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:30
5 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:42
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:00
7 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:01:16
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:24
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