A decade after his first Giro d’Italia stage victory, Belgian cyclist Thomas De Gendt claimed his second on the eighth stage on Saturday and Juan Pedro Lopez remained wearing the pink jersey.
De Gendt was helped by Lotto-Soudal teammate Harm Vanhoucke and edged out Davide Gabburo and Jorge Arcas in the sprint at the end of an undulating 153-kilometer (95-mile) route that started and finished in the seaside city of Naples.
The 35-year-old De Gendt sat up and pumped his fist in celebration as he crossed the line.
“I was working for Harm that he could attack on the climb but he said he didn’t have good legs anymore so I said the last three kilometers to him, ‘You ride full and I’m sure I will win the sprint, I’m sure.’ And he did it perfectly until 300 meters to go, so I have to thank Harm a lot,” De Gendt said.
“Today was one of those days that suits me but if you’d asked me two weeks ago if I was able to win a stage in the Giro I would have said no because I was in so bad shape, and now the good legs are coming.”
All four riders were part of a 21-man breakaway that got away in a fast start, driven by Mathieu Van Der Poel, who was keen for the stage win.
The route took in four laps of a 19-kilometer (12-mile) circuit in the volcanic surrounding area.
It was on the penultimate lap that Van Der Poel tried to attack, but he was caught by other riders from the breakaway. Shortly after, the quartet that contested the final sprint managed to get clear with 40 kilometers remaining.
Most of the overall contenders crossed the line together, about 3 1/2 minutes behind De Gendt.
Lopez maintained his 38-second advantage over Lennard Kamna after moving into the overall lead on Tuesday. Rein Taaramae was third, 58 seconds behind Lopez.
Sunday’s ninth stage is one of the toughest in this year’s race. The 191-kilometer (119-mile) route from Isernia finishes atop the fearsome Blockhaus, with double-digit gradients along a series of hairpin bends leading to the line.
Stage seven: Juan Pedro Lopez keeps lead
Friday May 13 – Diamante to Potenza, 196km
Juan Pedro López kept hold of the pink jersey after the Trek-Segafredo rider survived his first mountain test as overall leader at the Giro d’Italia on Friday.
Having finished safely in the bunch on the same time as the rest of the riders at the top of the general classification, the Spaniard takes a 39sec lead into the second weekend of the three-week race.
Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage after the Dutchman got into the day’s breakaway alongside team-mate and compatriot Tom Dumoulin, who played a pivotal role in the 28-year-old’s first grand tour stage victory.
Benefiting from having a team-mate in the reduced four-man breakaway during the finale of what was a tough stage in the southern Apennines, Bouwman jumped away from Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and David Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) on what was a brutal uphill drag to the line.
Having scooped up maximum points atop three of the day’s four classified climbs on a stage that featured over 4,500 metres in vertical elevation, Bouwman moved to top of the standing in the mountains classification, while Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) finished within the time limit to keep hold of his points jersey.
The Giro d’Italia continues on Saturday with the 153km eighth stage around Naples and concludes in Verona on May 29.
Stage six: Démare makes it back-to-back wins
Thursday May 12 – Palmi to Scalea, 192km
Arnaud Démare completed back-to-back wins at the Giro d’Italia on Thursday when the Groupama-FDJ sprinter pipped Caleb Ewan to the line at the end of the 192km stage from Palmi to Scalea.
Following what was a largely uneventful stage in which Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) rode solo for 140km, the pace in the bunch finally wound up on the approach to the finishing line, setting up a mouth-watering three-way battle between in-form sprinters Démare, Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl).
Cavendish opened up his sprint first, having been delivered to the flat finale by lead-out man Michael Morkov. The Manxman, however, provided Ewan and Démare the perfect launchpad allowing the diminutive Australian to pounce, before the Groupama-FDJ followed with the pair battling almost shoulder-to-shoulder for the stage win. Having lunged towards the line, a few nervous minutes followed before a photo-finish declared Démare stage winner.
“It was very tight. I had the feeling that I had won but it was hot so I waited for the photo-finish,” Démare said. “A win is sometimes decided by very little. It’s on my favour today. The team has done a tremendous job today. My positioning was excellent at every roundabout. It’s another great team victory. I only had 100 metres to overhaul Cavendish. I threw my bike on the line and it made the difference. Many people underestimate me but it’s my 86th victory today, my 7th at the Giro d’Italia. It counts. It’s wonderful.”
Juan Pedro López will wear the leader’s pink jersey for a third time on Friday after the Trek-Segafredo rider finished safely in the bunch on the same time as Démare to hold on to his 39sec lead.
Stage five: López keeps hold of leader’s jersey
Wednesday May 11 – Catania to Messina, 174km
Arnaud Démare of Groupama–FDJ came through a packed field to win stage five of the Giro d’Italia, a 172-kilometre ride from Catania to Messina, on Wednesday.
Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), looking to win his second stage of this year’s Giro, and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) were heavily fancied to be front-runners in Sicily, but dropped out of contention on the only climb of the day, the 20km Portella Mandrazi which topped out just under 100km from the finishing line in Messina.
The peloton then eased off with Cavendish and Ewan out of contention, with a huge group forming at the front with 10 kilometres to go.
The victory was anyone’s for the taking, with Groupama-FDJ getting Démare into position before a tight final corner, with the Frenchman taking his sixth career Giro stage win ahead of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) in second and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) in third.
Youngster Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) came of age on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna on Tuesday, becoming the first Spaniard since Alberto Contador in 2015 to take the pink jersey, and retains his place at the top of the general classification after crossing the line in 58th.
Stage four: Lopez takes pink after missing out on win
Tuesday May 10 – Avola to Etna, 172km
Juan Pedro López missed out on taking the first win of his career atop Mount Etna, but the Trek-Segafredo was able to take comfort in becoming the new race leader ahead of stage winner Lennard Kämna.
The fourth stage was a 172-kilometre ride from Avola to Etna-Nicolosi after a rest day and the two riders were out in front with a kilometre to go before López made a mistake on the final turn to hand Kämna the stage win.
“It was a super hard day, especially the last climb. It was really long and hard. I almost thought I lost it when Lopez had more than 30 seconds and I could just make it to bridge,” Kämna said.
“I just made it. Then I tried to recover a little bit for the sprint and it worked out really well. Let me say it like this – maybe we had a silent agreement [for the win and pink jersey].”
Trek-Segafredo rider López, however, became the first Spaniard in seven years to wear the leader’s pink jersey since Alberto Contador and he holds a 39sec lead over Kämna.
“I’ve worked so hard today to take the jersey. I attacked in the steepest part of the climb. Kämna brought me back with two or three kilometres to go,” an emotional López said.
Stage three: Van der Poel retains pink
Sunday May 8 – Kaposvar to Balatonfured, 201km
Mark Cavendish ensured a winning return to the Giro d’Italia as he sprinted to victory on stage three in Hungary.
In the 36-year-old’s first appearance at the grand tour since 2013, he powered to the front with around 300 metres remaining and held off Arnaud Demare and Fernando Gaviria to take victory in Balatonfured.
It was the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider’s 16th victory at the Giro d’Italia and 160th of his professional career, and he was ecstatic to finish off his team’s hard work on the 201km race from Kaposvar.
He said in his post-race TV interview: “I’m very happy. It’s nice to win. I wanted to do good in the first sprint.
“We have half of the team for climbing and half of the team for the sprints here. My team-mates rode incredibly well.
“We had a set up and they delivered. I had to go long at 300m to go. I’m happy it worked well.”
There was no change at the top of the grand classification, with Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel maintaining his 11-second lead over Britain’s Simon Yates, who won stage two.
The riders will fly to Sicily for Tuesday’s fourth stage after the 2022 edition started with three days in Hungary.
Stage two: Van der Poel retains pink jersey following time trial
Saturday May 7 – Budapest to Budapest, 9.2km
Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange-Jayco won the second stage of the Giro d’Italia, a 9.2-kilometre individual time trial around Budapest on Saturday, as Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix held onto the leader’s pink jersey.
British rider Yates finished with a time of 11 minutes 50 seconds, three seconds ahead of Van der Poel, who took the Maglia Rosa on Friday after winning the first stage.
Team Jumbo-Visma rider Tom Dumoulin came third, finishing five seconds behind Yates.
Yates now trails Van der Poel by 11 seconds as the race heads into its third stage on Sunday, a 201km ride from Kaposvar to Balatonfured.
Stage one: Van der Poel takes his first pink jersey
Friday May 6 – Budapest to Visegrad, 195km
Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix won the first stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, beating Biniam Girmay on the final sprint to claim victory on the a 195-km flat ride from Budapest to Visegrad.
In a stage marred by crashes, Dutchman Van der Poel was neck-and-neck with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux’s Girmay but timed his attack to perfection to cross the line first with a time of 4hr 35min 28sec to take hold of the maglia rosa, the leader’s pink jersey.
Pello Bilbao of Bahrain Victorious was third while Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan crashed at the final turn when he made contact with Girmay.