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Monday, May 16, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

Whenever a man's friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old. - Washington Irving

Tour de France: the Inside Story

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Giro d'Italia stage nine reports

We posted the report from second-place Romain Bardet's Team DSM with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Jai Hindley's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

With 5,000 meters of altitude and a brutal mountain finish, stage 9 was the first of three very tough stages in this year's Giro and an important day for the GC before the second rest day. It was therefore to be expected that the fight for the pink jersey would be in full swing today. After the last of the escapees was caught with 15km remaining, the stage came down to a battle between the favourites. Unfortunately, due to an untimely mechanical, and despite his best efforts, Wilco Kelderman was unable to catch up with the reduced field and as a result, the Dutchman was unable to mix things up in the finale.

Under the high tempo set by Ineos Grenadiers, some GC riders fell back, but Jai Hindley and Emanuel Buchmann managed to stay in the ever-reducing leading group. After an attack by Carapaz on the steep section 5km from the finish, only Landa and Bardet were able to follow at first. Behind the trio, a small group including Jai was within striking distance and attempted to follow this attack. At this moment, Emanuel Buchmann was unfortunately a little too far behind to get involved.

Eventually, the chase group with Jai managed to catch up with the leaders and an uphill sprint on the Blockhaus ensued. Jai opened his sprint early and took the victory ahead of his fast-approaching opponents. Teammate Emanuel finished seventh, just 16 seconds in arrears. After today's stage, Jai sits in fifth overall, while Emanuel is in 9th position. Lennard Kämna tried to fight for the pink jersey for quite some time, but wasn’t able to drop the current leader Lopez and fell back somewhat over the last kilometers.

Stage winner Jai Hindley. Sirotti photo

"I didn't really expect to take the win today. I was on the edge all the way up the mountain, trying to survive as best I could. In the last kilometre everything came together and I knew about the right turn before the finish so I went through there first and just gave it my all until the finish. I rode my own pace, and suffered pretty badly in the end. We came here with three leaders and big ambitions and you shouldn't write anyone off at this point. Also, this win is incredible because last year was not an easy season for me. I had to leave the Giro early in 2021, so it was great to win today, especially in Abruzzo where I raced so often as an amateur." - Jai Hindley

"It was a really tough stage today, and we had also discussed that in detail as well prior to the stage. It was the first day this year that we had to deal with 30 degrees or more on the flat section. Of course, that affected everybody. So I think the team has ridden this Giro very well so far, and of course that's important for the motivation. What I have to add is that Jai definitely put in an incredibly good performance on this tremendously hard climb. He was always up there when the race exploded on the last part of the climb. He rode his own pace and was able to re-join the three leaders when they tried to shake him off. Unfortunately Wilco had a mechanical at a critical moment when he was riding in a stretched out bunch in a fast downhill section. In cycling you should never give up until the end. And I think that should be the motivation for everyone from now on." - Enrico Gasparotto, Sports Director

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Here's the report from GC leader Juan Pedro Lopez's Team Trek-Segafredo:

Juan Pedro Lopez surprised everyone on the Blockhaus and kept the Maglia Rosa in Stage 9

While the stage win and general classifiation battle played out at the top of the grueling Blockhaus climb, behind a young Spaniard was fighting like never before to keep his dream alive – and stealing our hearts.

When Juan Pedro Lopez crossed the line at the end of Stage 9 at the Giro d’Italia, he had accomplished something no one expected – not even himself:  keeping pink.

It looks like Lopez left nothing on the road as he crosses the finish line. Sirotti photo

“This is a dream for me. I don’t believe in this moment,” said an emotional Lopez. “For sure I didn’t believe I would be here, at the top of Blockhaus, before the rest day, with the Maglia Rosa.”

At eight kilometers to go on the Blockhaus climb, the jersey fight appeared over: A touch of wheels with the rider ahead of him and Juanpe nearly crashed.  Ten seconds, maybe more, were lost. His rhythm was broken on the steep grades.  But Juanpe did not give in and battled on.

“Unfortunately, this was a very difficult moment for me mentally. I needed to stay focused. I needed to put my mind 100% into the race, and I told myself that I need to push my tempo again so to stay another day in pink.”

Lopez regained his focus and settled in. He held the GC favorites to 30 seconds and the dream was alive again. Until, that is, the GC contenders began to attack.

In the final kilometers, the gap grew. And it looked like pink was fading away.

With time bonuses on the line for the top three finishers, it was coming down to seconds. Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) lead a group of five across the line for the win, and the clock started its countdown.

The pink jersey came into view. When Lopez crossed the line the clock showed 1 minute and 46 seconds.  Confirmation came into his earpiece, and Juanpe punched the air. He had done it – by a mere 12 seconds!

“My dream was to stay another day in pink. And now this is real,” said an emotional Lopez.

With the rest day scheduled for Monday, the Team and Juanpe can enjoy a race-free day with the Malgia Rosa.

“Finally, we have a rest day,” said a tired Jaunpe. “We need to enjoy the dinner… and every moment. My team is like a second family, I have a good relationship with the soigneurs, mechanics, everyone.  I spend a lot of time with them outside my home – for sure we will enjoy this together.”

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Third-place Richard Carapaz's Team INEOS Grenadiers posted this report:

Richard Carapaz sprinted to third at Blockhaus to move up to fourth on GC after a superb team performance to animate the stage and cause a GC shake-up heading into the second week. 

Richard Carapaz (center) was close to winning. RCS Sport photo

Carapaz sprinted from a small six-rider group to finish third after the gruelling climb which saw the Grenadiers combine well to reduce the peloton before the Ecuadorian attacked in the closing kilometres which led to the small group sprint.

The result leaves the Olympic champion just 15 seconds behind race leader Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek - Segafredo) ahead of the second rest day.

Earlier, excellent work on the flat part of the stage to keep the early break in check by Jonathan Castroviejo was followed by Salvatore Puccio and Ben Swift who increased the pace on the lower parts of the final climb to Blockhaus.

As numbers started to dwindle in the peloton, Jhonatan Narvaez, Ben Tulett and Pavel Sivakov maintained the tempo to reduce the lead group to around 20 riders.

Richie Porte then came to the fore and used all his experience to increase the pressure and setup Carapaz to launch his his attack. Only Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) and Romain Bardet (Team DSM) were able to follow the move, with the trio quickly amassing a short lead.

However, the chasing group were able to bridge to the leaders, which saw a group of six sprint for the line, where Carapaz finished third behind stage winner Jai Hindley (Bora Hansgrohe).

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Here's the report from GC second-place Joao Almeida's UAE Team Emirates:

Joao Almeida put in a determined display on the slopes of the Blockhaus to take 5th place on Stage 9 of the Giro D’Italia.

The peloton is about to set off on a brutal day in the mountains. Sirotti photo

The hardest climbing stage of the race so far saw the riders go from Isernia to Blockhaus (191km) which packed over 5000 metres of climbing. There was a strong pace set in the bunch as it splintered on the early slopes of Blockhaus with Rui Costa setting the pace and Davide Formolo in support of Almeida into the last 10km.

Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the win from the reduced group of favourites, with Almeida fighting his way to 5th and setting himself up nicely for the General Classification.

Almeida and UAE Team Emirates now go into the rest day tomorrow in 2nd place overall, just 12’’ down on race leader Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo).

Almeida : “I was not feeling so good all day. I was suffering a lot but I managed to save the situation. I’m happy I could finish with the front group, I was on the limit but I looked around and saw that everyone was struggling too. In the end it was a great race today and I suffered through and made the best of it. ”

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