Giro d’Italia: Jai Hindley takes major stage 9 win on Blockhaus as GC takes shape
Australian takes the stage win on a key GC day that sees Simon Yates drop out of contention.
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Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) won stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia after an epic day in the mountains that saw Simon Yates (BikeExchange Jayco) lose all hope of winning the race.
Hindley was dropped on the slopes of the final climb of the Blockhaus but fought back to win ahead of Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers).
Yates, meanwhile, was unable to recover after he was dropped 12km from the finish as the Ineos-Grenadiers set a fierce pace at the front of the peloton.
Also read: Simon Yates sees Giro d’Italia challenge collapse on Blockhaus
“I was pretty blocked the whole climb, I was trying to survive the best that I could,” said Hindley.
“I knew it was flaming out in the last kilometers, I knew there was a right-hander near the finish with 200 to go. I just wanted to take the corner first and gave everything to the line and here we are.”
Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) hung on to keep the maglia rosa but there were significant changes in the overall standings with several GC contenders dropping out of contention ahead of Monday’s second rest-day.
As well as Yates, Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohë) all lost contact on the slopes of the Blockhaus climb.
At the front of the race, Carapaz attacked with 4.6km to go, with only Bardet, and Landa able to follow though João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Hindley, and Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) later bridged across. In the final 500 meters, Hindley led out the sprint and was able to hold off Bardet and Carapaz for the win.
How it unfolded
Stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia saw riders tackle the formidible Blockhaus, a climb famous for initiating Eddy Merckx’s reign as a GC master after the Belgian won there in 1967.
The stage got off to a bit of a messy start in Isernia with a crash that saw Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) roughed up a bit, raising questions about a change in leadership within the team, a position Bilbao shares with Mikel Landa, questions resolutely answered by Landa’s performance on the Blockhaus later in the day.
Lotto Soudal’s Matthew Holmes took the first mountains points on the early Valico del Macerone climb before a breakaway was swiftly established which included some formidable climbers and interesting characters: GC threat Felix Gall and the always aggressive Nans Peters (AG2R- Citroën), former stage winner Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazakstan Team), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education First), and James Knox (Quickstep Alpha Vinyl) as well as stage six breakaway legend Diego Rosa (Eolo Kometa), young upstart Filippo Zana (Bardiani CSF), and two Drone Hopper notables, Eritrean Natnael Tesfatsion, and Movistar alum Eduardo Sepúlveda. From that break, Rosa took the subsequent mountains points on the Rionero Sannitico and Roccaroso climbs.
The peloton kept the group within five minutes on the long, serpentine descent from the top of the Roccarosa, where the action lulled as Ineos started to control the pace in a way that could be described as wary rather than punishing. Unchallenged, Sepúlveda took the intermediate sprint points.
With 60 kilometers to go, as the time gap evaporated to just around two minutes, Peters upped the pace, taking Tesfatsion with him, the Eritrean later being reunited with his teammate Sepúlveda.
This set off a series of counter-attacks that caused the breakaway to fracture into pieces on the Lanciano climb, leaving only Rosa and Tesfatsion ahead, the former snatching the KOM points at the crest. In a particularly frightening moment, Tesfatsion, taking every risk on the descent to drop Rosa, slid off the road. And then there was one.
On the descent, the peloton split and rejoined, led by Trek-Segafredo before Ineos took things up again. The final, decisive climb loomed. The gap evaporated. It all came back together.
Onto the Blockhaus
At the foot of the Blockhaus, the teams lined up for the intermediate sprint, of interest to the GC men. Ineos Grenadiers snagged all intermediate sprint points and bonus seconds, making sure no one else was in contention. As the gradient ticked up, notable riders fell off the back almost immediately: Mauri Vansevenant (Quickstep Alpha Vinyl), Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo Visma), Ciccone and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) being some of the first victims. But the real shock came when Yates, one of the biggest contenders for GC, was dropped.
He never came back, and his Giro GC campaign is effectively over. The casualties continued with each gruesome kilometer. Riders like Koen Bouwman, Sam Oomen (Jumbo Visma), Guillaume Martin, (Cofidis) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education EasyPost) lingered painfully only to drop later. Juan Pedro Lopez, the maglia rosa, put on a real show of courage after he had an unfortunate touch of wheels and gave everything to get back on, though he never did regain touch with those ahead. Ineos Grenadiers controlled the race at the front for the majority of the climb. Richie Porte and Richard Carapaz made it look easy.
With 4.6km to go, Carapaz detonated an explosive attack, with only Bardet and Landa able to follow. Almeida and Hindley tried to bridge the gap with Nibali and Pozzovivo.
Carapaz, despite another dig, was unable to dispose of his companions on the steepest section of the climb at 14 percent gradient. With 2.8 kilometers left to go, Nibali couldn’t hold on, closing out a valiant effort from the Italian in his last season as a professional. Almeida, Pozzovivo, and Hindley eventually bridged, and as soon as they did, Pozzovivo took a chance on an attack which was countered by a resurgent Bardet.
Wily games were played, the six riders watched each other with wariness. Under the flamme rouge, the group slowed. After being able to recover a bit, Jai Hindley led out the final sprint with a charging Carapaz and Bardet in his wheel. Out of the saddle, he eked by, taking the win after what was a difficult, grueling day out. Bardet took second place and Carapaz third.
In a remarkable twist, Juan Pedro Lopez was able to hold onto the maglia rosa for another day ahead of João Almeida, and Romain Bardet.
Results will be available once stage has completed.