Giro d’Italia stage 8: Ben Healy pounces for solo win, Roglič claws back fistful of seconds on Evenepoel

Evenepoel struggles to match a searing attack by Roglič, Thomas, and Geoghegan Hart in a late-stage climb in first sign of GC cracks.

Photo: Getty Images,

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Ben Healy jumped early and never looked back to win in a stunning solo move Saturday across the short but steep climbs in stage 8 at the Giro d’Italia.

The EF Education-EasyPost rider attacked out of a breakaway group with more than 50km to go on the climb-heavy circuit course.

The Irishman bravely forged alone and fended off the chasers to win his first grand tour stage in the best possible way all alone in the photograph.

“If you can go solo, it’s always better. I know big groups like this, group dynamics can play a big role, and I didn’t want to take any chances,” Healy said. “I knew I had good legs, and I gave it a bit of a go, and no one came with me.”

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The win caps a breakout spring campaign that included second at Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race, and fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The 22-year-old Healy lived up to the hype and expectations with a spectacular victory Saturday.

“The past couple of months have been a whirlwind, so to top it off with this is just incredible,” Healy said. “Italy has the sort of racing that I like and it suits me well.”

Another grand tour rookie Derek Gee (Israel Premier Tech) won the sprint out of the chasing group to finish second at 1:49 back, with Filippo Zanna (Jayco-AlUla) hitting third.

Roglič, Ineos gap Evenepoel on climb

Roglič powered clear of the GC group on the final climb. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

There were two races in one in the rollercoaster stage across the hilly Marche region along the edges of the Apennines.

Behind the stage-hunters, the GC battle finally came to life.

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) jumped on the final climb to gap Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step). The acceleration put everyone on the limit, and Evenepoel slowly tapped away to keep him on a close leash in what served as a preview of what lies ahead in the longer climbs.

Evenepoel looked to be under control until he was swarmed by the chasers, and then couldn’t hold the pace on the 12-percent grades of the fourth-category climb.

” I tried to follow Roglic and made a mistake by pushing too hard instead of riding at my own pace,” Evenepoel said. “The legs didn’t quite feel like on the other days, but there is no need to panic, I just have to remain calm and focused. The Giro is still long.”

Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) both bridged across to Roglič, and the trio had all the reason to collaborate to drive a wedge to Evenepoel.

The GC group was splintered on the final climb, and the leaders came across in small groups.

Roglič and the Ineos pair pushed across the line 14 seconds ahead of the chasing Evenepoel, perhaps revealing the first chinks in the Belgian’s armor.

Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) hung on to defend pink for one more day, with Evenepoel remaining in second, now at 8 seconds back.

Roglič bounced into third and is breathing down the neck of Evenepoel at 30 seconds behind the Belgian. João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) remained in fourth at 40 seconds back, with Thomas and Geoghegan Hart both bouncing up on the same day that Filippo Ganna was forced to withdraw with COVID-19.

Does the slight gap show the first signs of a crack for Evenepoel? Sunday’s time trial could put the ball back in his corner going to conclude the first week of racing and carry the Giro into Monday’s rest day.

The Giro continues Sunday with the 35km individual time trial from Savignano sul Rubicone to Cesena. The power course will favor the likes of Evenepoel and Roglič to widen their gaps to their GC rivals.

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