After 8 stages, an Italian at last leads the Giro d’Italia. On a Strade Bianche-type dirt-track climb, Gianluca Brambilla of Etixx-Quick Step rode away to the stage win and the Maglia Rosa. More than 1’40” after he finished, eleven GC contenders arrived together at Arezzo. Former race leader Tom Dumoulin was not among them. He could not hold the pace on the crucial sector of the race and finished 38th in the stage, conceding 2’51” to the new Maglia Rosa.
Gianluca Brambilla said in the press conference: “I was first to go away on a wet descent. Twelve riders came across to me and I later told my team-mate Matteo Trentin that I’d attack on the gravel uphill because I was feeling good. He sacrificed himself for me. The Maglia Rosa is new to me but I’m not new among the top contenders. This year, I’m more confident in my capacities. I want to do a good Giro. The Maglia Rosa wasn’t part of the plan but that’s always hard to plan, although it has always been my dream. Being 58kg, I’m not exactly a time trial specialist but I did well at Barolo two years ago and tomorrow’s course is a facsimile of that one. I’ll ride flat out and if I lose the Maglia Rosa, it won’t be a drama. There’ll still be two more weeks of racing to come, and some very hard stages”.
The Maglia Rossa, André Greipel: “The beginning of the race was very fast today and it wasn’t a flat stage at all. I saved myself in the main climb although it was tricky to get up. It wasn’t easy to guide the bike on the gravel road. I wasn’t worried about the Maglia Rossa. I knew I was going to keep it anyway”.
The Maglia Azzurra, Tim Wellens: “I wasn’t feeling super today so I preferred to save energy for some very nice upcoming stages. Without fighting for it, I kept the Maglai Azzurra. I didn’t score any points today but my competitors weren’t at the front either”.
The Maglia Bianca, Bob Jungels: “Today’s result definitely makes me happy even though I didn’t have the legs to follow the big guys. It’s a big day for our team. We’ve played it really well with Matteo [Trentin] and Gianluca [Brambilla] in the front group. It’s a great scenario for Etixx-Quick Step. Other teams had to work but nobody wanted to accept the responsibility, so Giant-Alpecin was isolated. I didn’t finish too far off so I’ll have something to play tomorrow. It’ll be a really hard time trial. There’ll be big gaps I think but that also depends on the weather. It’s one of the critical points of the Giro. Most importantly, we finish the first week with the pink and the white jersey, that’s wonderful”.