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All hell breaks loose


After yesterday’s unexpected lack of action on the climb towards Campo Imperatore, the peloton decided to make up for it in the Terni-Fossombrone stage. Those same fireworks that failed to materialise on a historic climb such as the Gran Sasso d’Italia suddenly exploded on a 4th category KOM such as I Cappuccini which, strategically located at 6 km from the finish, pushed at least some of the GC men to finally make a move and test their rivals.

However, first and foremost is the umpteenth outstanding performance this year by Ben Healy who, after proving his skills in the Ardennes finishing 2nd in the Amstel Gold Race and 4th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, interpreted today’s stage as a northern classic, i.e. full throttle right off the bat. The Irishman had been trying to get into a decent breakaway since the start of the Giro, but was never given the go-ahead by the peloton, which waited until his GC delay had dropped to 30 minutes. Better not to take risks with a guy like this.

Without Tadej Pogačar or Remco Evenepoel in his way, Ben had pretty much no one to counter him. After 130 completely flat kilometres, the 22-year-old Irishman bid everyone farewell on the first available ramp, namely that of I Cappuccini (on the first passage of the two), and with 51 kilometres to go he was pretty much gone for good. Within a few kilometres, his gap over his former breakaway companions had grown to more than a minute: mastering the ups and downs of the Marche was child’s play for him at that point. Once in Fossombrone, he had plenty of time to enjoy his first success in a Grand Tour. The first, quite certainly not the last!

Behind, they did not go wild with 50 km to go as they did in front, but rather waited until the second and last passage on I Cappuccini climb before unleashing hell. Action came from the hornets, from Primož Roglič himself, who launched the first razor-sharp attack on his great rival Remco Evenepoel. The Slovenian increased the pace in the steepest section of the climb, with the first response coming from the increasingly surprising Maglia Rosa, Andreas Leknessund, who, galvanised by the leadership symbol, was the only one to hold Roglič’s wheel at first.

Evenepoel, perhaps surprised by the sudden attack, perhaps not on his best day, was put into difficulty, tried to respond, but was unable to close the gap. Instead, what Ineos Grenadiers managed to do was to perfectly handle all the ups and downs and launch their British aces, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas, right on the final metres of the climb. The two caught up with Roglič and stuck with him to the finish, gaining 14 seconds on Evenepoel and the other favourites. This might be nothing compared to what awaits us in the coming days, as the small crack shown by the Belgian will give plenty of motivation to all his rivals, but today’s stage definitely provides some interesting food for thought to riders, teams, and fans alike.

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