Giro d’Italia #8: Unlucky O’Connor fights back after late crash, Meintjes holds steady

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Richard Carapaz (Movistar) won stage eight of the Giro d’Italia, ahead of Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).

Stage eight ran from Praia a Mare to Montevergine di Mercogliano, spanning 209km. With the summit finish running over 17.1km with a 5% average gradient, it was a challenging climb to end the day on. A break of seven riders made it away after numerous attacks were neutralized. The break consisted of Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Fix All’s), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Rodolfo Torres (Androni), Davide Villella (Astana), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida, and Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates).

Racing was evenly paced, with the lead stretching to six minutes as race unfolded. Once the final summit of the day began, the break started to fracture on the climb, as did the peloton. The escape group was whittled down to four riders. Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) then attacked the leaders and managed to build-up an advantage, but Richard Carapaz (Movistar) struck from the peloton in the last two kilometers and managed to catch Bouwman and solo to victory.

With the rain falling as the riders ascended, Chris Froome crashed in front of Ben O’Connor, our best placed rider at the start of the race. Ben experienced a mechanical issue because of the crash, and lost time due to it. He finished 28 seconds behind the winner, slipping down five places in the GC. Louis Meintjes stuck wth the GC group and was our best placed rider for the day, crossing the line seven seconds behind the winner.

Ben O’Connor – Rider

Today was a little disappointing. The guys did a really good job today looking after me and when it started to rain in the finale I wanted to be near the front and I was, with Ben King putting me in the top 20 wheels. I didn’t want to stress about the slippery conditions by being in front and the climb wasn’t too difficult either. So I was just sitting in and biding my time, nothing was going to go early as we waited for the break to come back. With about 5km to go, Alex our DS said there were more hairpins so I wanted to move up to be even closer to the front. I was keen to try something and get that white jersey.

Sadly, Froome fell in front of me at that point and I had nowhere to go, so I went into a wall. My chain came off and got stuck in the frame, my brake pads were out of alignment so I lost a fair chunk of time. Ben King and Natnael were there to help me, and they did as much as they could before I had to go alone for the last 2 or 3km. When I got back to the group I was pretty cooked and then they started sprinting to the mountain top, and I just couldn’t sprint after the effort to get back. So it was a bit disappointing but tomorrow is a big day, and if I feel like I did today, I’d like to try be on the move.