Live coverage of stage 9 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia, which ends on Blockhaus for the second summit finish of the race.
Hello there, and a warm welcome to Cyclingnews' live race centre for full live coverage of stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia.
One word: Blockhaus.
Yes, you join us on a hugely important day at this Giro. It's the second summit finish of the race and, after the anti-climax on Mount Etna on Tuesday, there's a real sense of occasion building here for the latest instalment in the battle between the overall contenders.
The crowds are gethering in th start town of Montenero di Bisaccia. The team buses have arrived and the riders are signing on, with the stage set to get underway at 13.00 local time.
Before we go anywhere, this is essential reading from our very own Barry Ryan, who takes a close look at Blockhaus with the help of Astana's local lad Dario Cataldo. As he explains, the Giro has been up the climb five times - one of which saw Eddy Merckx claim his first ever Grand Tour stage win - but never from this side, which might just be the toughest of the lot.
It's worth noting that the Blockhaus ascent is officially 13.65km long, but there's more to it than that as the road actually starts rising from 26km out, with a gentler rise and then a dip down preceding the climb proper.
From there, the gradients ramp up and then become really serious in the last 10km, barely relenting all the way to the top at 1665 metres. As Cataldo points out, it's a pure climber's climb.
Here's how the GC looks heading into this all-important stage
1 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors 38:21:18
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:06
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:10
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
8 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
9 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
10 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
11 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
12 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky
13 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac
14 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:14
15 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:23
Here's the race leader, Bob Jungels. Will he be able to hold on to that maglia rosa today?
Big things expected of this man today
The riders roll out of the start town towards kilometre-zero.
Yesterday we saw a fast and furious start to proceedings as it took 60km for a breakaway to form, and there is sure to be plenty of interest in getting up the road again today. Jan Polanc won from the break on Etna, and the GC teams won't want to over-exert themselves today ahead of Blockhaus.
The flag is waved and stage 9 is officially underway. Here we go.
A few moves flying off the front of the peloton in the early kilometres.
A group of around 10 has a slim lead. More riders juming from the peloton now, though.
Here are the 9 riders in the break.
Alexey Tstatevich (Gazprom-RusVelo), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), Jan Tratnik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Matteo Busato (Wilier-Triestina) and Iljo Keisse (Quick-Step Floors).
Bardiani-CSF have missed the boat and they're on the front of the peloton, driving hard to bring this back. THe gap is 35 seconds.
Keisse isn't working in the break. We have an early intermediate sprint today, coming up in a couple of kilometres, and we could see the Quick-Step rider hit out to collect some points, protecting the points classification jersey on the shoulders of his teammate Fernando Gaviria.
130km remaining from 149km
No fight for the points as the breakaway passes through the intermediate sprint point. Keisse remains glued to the back.
The gap has come down to 18 seconds. Bardiani are off the front now but others like Cannondale are looking to send riders up.
There are three riders with a gap over the peloton. It's Pierre Rolland for Cannondale, the Frenchman following a move from Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal), along with Sacha Modolo (UAE Team Emirates).
The peloton seems to ease up now. After doing all that work, Bardiani have missed another chance.
The trio are in no-man's land at the moment, with a big fight on their hands.
The nine-man break is now a minute clear of the peloton, and that trio is bang in the middle.
117km remaining from 149km
The nine leaders are increasing their advantage, and it stands at 2:30 at the moment. Meanwhile the chasing trio are 30 seconds behind.
We've had a close look at Blockhaus in our stage preview, but what about some analysis of the GC battle so far and discussion of what we can expect from the pink jersey hopefuls on this summit finish. Daniel Benson and Dane Cash link up to talk it all through in the latest episode of the Cyclingnews podcast. Here it is:
Calm no more in the peloton. Canndonale are lined out on the front - yes, chasing down their own rider. That's because the nine leaders are pressing on with no interest whatsover in hanging around to let the chasing trio come across.
111km remaining from 149km
It's the nine riders in the break vs the six or so Canndonales on the front of the bunch. And so far the break is winning, with the gap at 4 minutes.
Some of the riders up front, understandably, aren't too keen on the prospect of such a strong and experienced mountain rider as Pierre Rolland joining their ranks. He'd be the hot favourite if the break were to make it all the way.
Luis Leon Sanchez appears to be the patron of this break, and he urges his companions to work, shaking his head as they see 10 seconds shaved off their lead.
Here's a first shot of the break
Cannondale begin to make inroads. They have cut the gap to the front of the race to 3:07. The Rolland trio is now 40 seconds behind the front of the race.
The problem with the stubbornness in the break is that the longer Cannondale work, the less likely it is they'll be able to pull out a sufficient advantage by the foot of Blockhaus so as to entertain hopes of a stage win.
So it seems to be 'let the Rolland trio join and reduce your own personal odds, or face the risk of not having an opportunity to speak of in the first place'.
96km remaining from 149km
Less than 100km to go and the break has three minutes now.
What can we expect from Team Sky today?
Mikel Landa inflicted a minor shake-up yesterday with an unexpected late attack, suggesting Sky will seek to race inventively with their two co-leaders. Geraint Thomas is the other one, less of a pure climber than Landa, and it will be interesting to see how they dovetail their efforts on Blockhaus. Here's Dave Brailsford on that Landa attack and the new, less formulaic Team Sky.
@daniellloyd1 Sun, 14th May 2017 12:15:08
Rolland, Marczynski, and Modolo are now just 20 seconds behind the break.
They're going to do it. They can see the tail end of the break.
90km remaining from 149km
So, we now have 12 riders out front.
And Cannondale disappear from the front of the peloton. Job done.
Rolland is panting as he hangs on to the back of the break. The break might have lost that one, but they'll have taken something out of the legs of the Frenchman, which could prove important later on.
87km remaining from 149km
Movistar are on the front of the bunch now. The foot hasn't been taken off the gas.
Movistar are on the front of the bunch now. The foot hasn't been taken off the gas.
83km remaining from 149km
The gap to the break stands at just 2:30 as Movistar continue to work. The Spanish team seem interested in setting up Quintana for the stage win today - and not just for gains over the other GC guys.
“Because of the rest day after Blockhaus, it allows people to attack more, but I never calculate about the following day - if I have good sensations on Blockhaus, then I’ll attack."
Thibaut Pinot and his FDJ team were prominent yesterday, and there's plenty of excitement at what the Frenchman can do today - and in this race in general. Yesterday he spoke about today's stage - here's the full story.
Movistar lead the peloton
69km remaining from 149km
The gap comes down to 2:04. A frustrating one for today's breakaway men.
@willfoth Sun, 14th May 2017 12:16:54
As Alasdair Fotheringham informs us, there are still snodrifts on the banks of the roads at the top of Blockhaus. Clear skies up there but it's still chilly.
66km remaining from 149km
The breakaway riders are about to start a short, uncategorised climb to Chieti, where they'll find the second intermeidate sprint of today's stage.
Bob Jungels is paced back to the bunch after stopping for a comfort break. The Luxembourger is facing a big test today if he wants to hang onto the maglia rosa.
"It's about time for the main favourites to show themselves. As for myself, it's going to be about hanging on just to see how far I can go," he said in the post-stage press conference yesterday. Here's the full story.
Chieti is one of the oldest cities in Italy. No doubt many of the riders will feel equally old by the end of the day.
58km remaining from 149km
With 58 km still to go, the gap is back up to 2:49.
Fraile jumped from the group to take the second intermediate sprint, which was at the top of a climb within the city. Sanchez started to go with him, as he had won the first sprint, but soon let the Dimension Data rider go alone.
The peloton crosses the line 2:38 later, with Movistar, LottoNL-Jumbo and Trek Segafredo all at the front.
The field has turned up teh speed again and is not longer bunched up together. The gap is going back down and the led group is starting to show some stress.
Movistar continues to pull the field along, with the gap at 2:01 with 46.4km to go.
The gap keeps dropping dramatically, at 1:34 with 41km left on the day.
Only about 15 km left before the climb starts.
This may not be a real climb but the road at the moment is definitely not flat.
Nibali is trying something new today for this fearsome closing climb -- 38x30. He has used it in training but never before in a race.
The final climb comes closer and closer, and the gap is only 1 minute now.
Stefano Garzelli rode up (most of) the Blockhaus in a recon for RAI television in March (he had to stop 2.5km from the top due to snow). “Very few people really know this climb,” Garzelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve realised that because I’m getting a lot of phone calls. Bramati called me looking for information on it for Jungels, and he wasn’t the only one.”
30km remaining from 149km
47 seconds is the gap as we head into the final 30km.
More from Garzelli...
“This is the hardest climb of Giro 100. There are abrupt changes in rhythm, the road is narrow. The central part is very exposed and then it’s more sheltered in the forest. There aren’t hairpins but there are a lot of bends. It’s not as steep as the Zoncolan but paradoxically you can open bigger gaps: the people who are feeling good and climb at 12-13kph will gain more on those who are going at 8kph. It’s for light riders, like Quintana or Pozzovivo.”
Movistar are still on the nose, though other teams are getting organised, BMC and Sky among those creating mini-trains and pushing their way forward.
26km remaining from 149km
The pace is high because we're about to start climbing. It's not the official start of the final climb, but the road does rise significantly for the next 12 or so kilometres ahead of the real thing.
24km remaining from 149km
Marczysnki attacks from the break as he sees the peloton closing in. Tratnik follows as the others throw in the towel.
Rolland joins them, so we have three left out front. 10 seconds is their gap.
23km remaining from 149km
Rolland drops away and is swallowed by the Movistar-led peloton.
22km remaining from 149km
I say all together...The breakaway is done and dusted, though riders are starting to get spat out of the back as Movistar maintain a high pace on this gentle incline.
Here's a more detailed look at the Blockhaus climb
20km remaining from 149km
20km to go now and just under 7km until we hit the final climb proper. The Movistar train still leads the way.
A final call for our stage preview, which takes a detailed look at Blockhaus with the help of local lad Dario Cataldo.
As Barry Ryan writes: "The opening slopes of the climb are relatively gentle, flitting between 7 and 4%, but the real hostilities begin once the road kicks up to above 9% with a shade under 10 kilometres to go. From there to the summit, the average gradient is a tough 9.4% and the Blockhaus quickly becomes an unremitting grind."
17km remaining from 149km
The GC riders are moving up and making sure they're in a good position for the start of the climb. Sky move up on the left with nearly a full train. BMC have a strong position behind Movistar.
The police motorbike has taken out a huge swathe of the peloton, including many Sky riders.
Geraint Thomas is down. He's back on his feet but his Giro is surely over.
Yates also involved
Landa also caught up. Sky's Giro is in tatters.
The police moto was stopped on the side of the road. It wasn't quite on the grass verge and the riders on the left shouldered into it, causing many riders to come down.
13km remaining from 149km
The race goes on. Movistar are still drilling it.
Yates is chasing with teammates. It doesn't look like he came down - maybe just caught up. He faces a huge battle to keep his hopes alive.
Thomas and Landa are both back on their bikes. Landa is up ahead with a teammate and struggles on. Thomas is well, well back but isn't throwing in the towel.
Another motorbike incident. Thankfully no one has been seriously injured but it is awful to see these incidents have such a huge impact on the outcome of the race.
12km remaining from 149km
Movistar were in the middle of the road at the time of the crash and they're pressing on, riding hard up the mountain.
@quickstepteam Sun, 14th May 2017 14:17:34
It was Wilco Kelderman who hit the moto first, it seems. Tom Dumoulin was unaffected, I believe.
Thomas now has two teammates with him.
Quintana looks calm tucked behind his teammates. Nibali is up there just behind with a couple of teammates.
Thomas is 2:30 down as he and his teammates try to make their way back up.
Landa dropped. It seems like the Giro hopes are over for the Spaniard.
9km remaining from 149km
It's really thinning out now in the peloton. Anacona on the front for Movistar.
Thomas, Landa, Yates the only three riders disrupted by that crash, it seems.
Thomas has just Sebastian Henao with him now. They're 2:40 back.
Bob Jungels is struggling...
8km remaining from 149km
The maglia rosa is losing contact here.
The peloton continues to thin. We're starting to see a real selection now.
Yates is in the cars. We don't have a time check for him at the moment.
11 or 12 left out in front.
Movistar lead the way with two riders for Quintana. What a day they've had. Nibali is fourth wheel without a teammate. Then it's Kruijswijk, Pinot, Mollema, Pozzovivo, Formolo, Dumoulin.
And Zakarin at the back of the group.
Van Garderen dropped!
The American loses contact and joins forces with Jungels.
Zakarin struggling now. The Katusha rider has lost the wheel, along with Formolo.
7km remaining from 149km
Plenty of damage already done and stil a long way to go on this climb.
We have a clear selection of nine riders. Two of them are teammates for Quintana, who's the only one with support here.
Van Garderen is in a small group with Jungels and Pelizotti. They;re lsoing time though.
6km remaining from 149km
Nibali, arms tucked over his bars, closes the gap in casual fashion. Pinot also follows.
Those three out in front. The others can't follow.
Pinot accelerates now
Quintana follows while Nibali stays calm and closes the gap slowly but surely.
Kruijswijk is in trouble. He's losing the wheel of the chase group now, which is being led by Dumoulin.
6km remaining from 149km
Quintana, Nibali, and Pinot have 20 seconds.
Quintana attacks again!
Nibali looks incredibly calm. The Italian, tucked down low, remains patient and claws his way steadily back to the Colombian.
Dumoulin, Pozzovivo, and Mollema have formed a chasing trio.
Jungels and Van Garderen are 1:10 down now.
An update on Thomas. He's still 2:35 down. He's diggin in admirably but this has been nothing short of disastrous.
Quintana accelerates again
5km remaining from 149km
The gradients ease under the 5km to go banner but we have some seriuously steep gradients coming up.
Dumoulin, Mollema, and Pozzovivo are at 15 seconds. They're riding well here.
Quintana puts in a big attack now as the gradients hit the double digits.
This time Nibali has a real job on his hands to close him down again....but he's looking good for it, again.
But Quintana kicks again. And this time the elastic is stretching...
4km remaining from 149km
Quintana has a gap now and Nibali hands over to Pinot.
Quintana is away. The Colombian, who's going for the Giro-Tour double, said he'd get stronger in the third week of this race, but he's clearly near his best here.
Nibali is in trouble. Pinot accelerates and, sensing weakness, kicks again.
Pinot rides away from Nibali.
Jungels and Van Garderen are 2:10 down.
Thomas is 2:15 down.
No time check on Yates.
Dumoulin and Mollema have dropped Pozzovivo and they're closing in on Nibali.
3km remaining from 149km
Quintana is out in front, and out of the saddle as he reaches the 3km to go banner. He leads Pinot by 18 seconds.
Big trouble for Nibali. He can't keep up with Dumoulin and Mollema.
Quintana drives out of the saddle again as Pinot looks like he's fading.
Dumoulin and Mollema claw their way back to Pinot. Great riding from the Dutch duo.
So, Quintana leads the stage by 30 seconds over Pinot, Dumoulin, and Mollema.
Nibali has been dropped.
Kruijswijk, Pozzovivo, Zakarin, Van Garderen, Jungels, and others all dropped and at various points on the mountain. We don't have time checks for them all.
2km remaining from 149km
2km to go for Quintana, who continues to make his way up the mountain with poise.
Pinot finds a second wind and opens a gap on the Dutchmen.
@inrng Sun, 14th May 2017 14:45:45
@pierre_carrey Sun, 14th May 2017 14:44:58
Dumoulin grabs the wheel of Pinot once more. A gap opens to Mollema, whose tongue is out as he's forced to really dig in.
This is quite some ride from Dumoulin, whose work on his climbing seems to have paid huge dividends, no matter the damage to his time trialling. He's leading Pinot here, with Mollema losing ground.
1km remaining from 149km
Quintana takes the flamme rouge with a lead of half a minute. He's heading for the stage win, which will bring with it 10 bonus seconds.
Quintana springs out of the saddle once again, takes one last swig of his bidon before chucking it aside, and makes his way through the barriered section. This is going to be a famous win.
Nibali already a minute down. Damage limitation now.
Nairo Quintana wins stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia
The Colombian rounds a fast bend as the road dips downhill before sprinting for every single second.
Herre come Pinot and Dumoulin. Pinot takes second place. They were 24 seconds back.
Here comes Mollema. He loses 40 seconds.
Nibali in the home straight now. 59 seconds is the damage.
Next up is Pozzovivo, alone, who finishes 1:17 down.
Tanel Kangert is the next rider home.
Zakarin comes to the finish now. He stops the clock 2:13 down on Quintana.
Davide Formolo finishes 2:35 down.
And now Kruijswijk finishes with Quintana's teammate andrey Amador, 2:45 down.
Here comes the maglia rosa, Bob Jungels. He sprints for the line with Jan Polanc, but the pink jersey is gone. 3:30 is the damage.
Van Garderen is paced to the line by a teammate. He has lost 3:45 today.
Here's Yates in a small group. The white jersey, who crashed in that moto incident. 4:37 lost.
Thomas, jersey open, grazes all over his body, comes to the line now. A brave fight, but 5:05 conceded.
What a stage we have seen!
The moto, Sky's disaster, Quintana's superiority, Nibali's weakness, Dumoulin's strength....
So much to talk about after this stage. We'll be keeping this live blog open for a good while yet to bring you all the reaction from the mountainside.
Stage top 10
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
4 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team
8 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
9 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
10 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac
Remember last year at the Tour de France, when Froome, Porte and Mollema crashed into a moto on Ventoux? Organisers re-set their times on that day. This was a different situation, with the crash coming before the climb had even begun, but there are similiarities.
Sky, who benefited from the decision that day, have now seen their entire Giro plans wiped out by an incident beyond their control.
Here's how the GC now looks
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 42:06:09
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:28
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:30
4 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:51
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:10
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:28
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:28
8 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:02:45
9 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:02:53
10 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:03:06
Our first finish line shot is in
Eurosport grab a word with Jose Luis Arrieta, Movistar DS.
"It was the first really tough stage where you could make dfiferences. The whole team worked really well," he says, before rushing to put the handbrake on his car as it starts rolling backwards precariously close to the edge of the mountain.
About the crash, he added: "We were just sticking to the plan we had from the start. We wanted to take it up from far out and we carried on with that. It's really bad luck for them [Sky]."
A crowd of reporters gather around Geraint Thomas, including Cyclingnews' Barry Ryan.
"It’s ridiculous," begins the Sky rider.
"That shouldn’t happen. We were all racing to the bottom of the climb, and next thing I know someone hits a moto and we go down. My shoulder popped out as well. I felt good but then I crashed and that was it – race over.
As for what his hopes now are for this Giro: "I don't know. It’s too early to think about that at the moment. Just let it settle down. I’m a bit angry at the minute. We need to sit down and work out what we're going to do."
Tom Dumoulin speaks now. A really strong ride and result for him but his teammate Wilco Kelderman has abandoned the Giro after being the first rider to hit the moto.
“I’m feeling shit because we lost Wilco. Wilco was feeling very good and i was really comfortable with him. Now I cannot be happy today because he would have been be so important in the final week and I’m really disappointed for him. My own performance was good, and I’m happy with that, but losing Wilco is a real shame.
"I don't know what the stupid motorbike was doing there. I’m so disappointed. I could just avoid it, I saw it at the last moment but I was luck that I was 2cm to the right of Wilco. They say it happens but it shouldn't happen."
Quintana heads out onto the podium to spray the champagne and then out again to collect the maglia rosa.
"We knew that this stage could go well. We worked all day, we were up for it, and we made a good selection. Then I gave it everything."
Our man Alasdair Fotheringham is among the throng of reporters getting the reaction of Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford.
"These things happen in sport. You have to stay calm and not overreact," he sayd. "It’s obviously emotional. My role is to keep the guys calm and look at how we go on from here. It would’ve been nice to see how Geraint and Mikel got on today – we were confident in them – but we’ll never know. Sometimes the goalposts move… they always move, and you just have to react and respond properly.
"The moto shouldn’t have been there but, equally, I’m sure the guy driving it knows that too. We leave it at that, but we have to go back and ask why it happened. We fight on."
Brailsford is asked where his team goes from here.
"The best thing to do is take stock, calm down, and think about where we go from here. We have to keep going. That’s the nature of this sport. You get knocked down and you keep going."
The new maglia rosa
We've rounded up the snap post race reaction into one handy place.
Here's our report page, with a comprehensive account of the action and chaos, along with full stage results and plenty of photos
This is the moment Quintana made the stage-winning attack
Tomorrow is a rest day and a chance to take stock, but coming right up after that is another big GC day - the 40km stage 10 time trial.
It was said Quintana, relatively weak against the clock, might need to take today's opportunity to gain time, and he has done so, but Dumoulin surely fancies his chances of putting 30 seconds into the Colombian to take the maglia rosa. Even Pinot, at 28 seconds, has improved greatly against the clock and will be looking to gain time on his rivals rather than limit his losses.
We'll be back here for full live coverage of that time trial. In the meantime, keep your eyes on the www.cyclingnews.com for all the reaction to today's chaotic stage - and there's plenty of it to come. Thanks for your company today.
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