Primoz Roglic put pressure on his rivals in the eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday. In a stage characterized by several steep climbs, the Slovenian leader on Team Jumbo-Visma broke away on the final climb. His attack got him 14 seconds on the likes of Remco Evenepoel.
Thirteen riders were in the breakaway during the fast early stages. The group’s lead grew to several minutes, signaling that the peloton had little interest in the day’s victory. Irishman Ben Healy proved to be the strongest rider in the breakaway.
Behind the lead group, Team Jumbo-Visma took the initiative. Michel Hessmann, making his grand tour debut, got to the front of the peloton on one of the climbs and accelerated. Then it was up to Koen Bouwman. The Dutchman ensured the peloton was thinned out and made the move that enabled Roglic to execute his plans. With Durangoan Sepp Kuss among the better riders, the Slovenian felt at his best on the gradients of up to 15%.
Moments later, Roglic caused a stir. The 33-year-old rider attacked from the group of favorites and initially only had Rosette riders Andreas Leknessund and Lennard Kamna on his wheel, with Evenepoel not far behind. After the duo was dropped, Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart joined Roglic just before the summit of the final climb. The trio rode to the finish at Fossombrone. There, the gap to Evenepoel and the others was 14 seconds.
“It was a good day,” Roglic said of the eighth stage. “I had good legs today. Luckily, I was able to use those good legs to gain some time on some of my rivals. I have to take the opportunities that come my way. As soon as I get the chance, I want to make the race hard. I think I did that today. My focus is good, and I am happy with my shape. The competition is also strong. They showed that today. They say the time trial tomorrow will be flat. That will be good for the legs.”
Roglic moved up two spots to third in the general classification after the stage, and is 30 seconds behind Evenpoel and 38 seconds behind Leknessund.
“We already had the feeling that Primoz was in good shape for several days. But in the last two mountain stages, he didn’t get any good opportunities, so his good form was not directly reflected in the results,” said sports director Marc Reef. “But today, it did. We wanted to take the initiative and put pressure on the competition. We are happy we managed to do that. Thanks to a strong riding by Michel and the presence of Koen and Sepp, Primoz made the difference on the final climb. He is one of the best on a course like this.”
“For tomorrow’s time trial, we will concentrate on ourselves,” Reef said. “We have no influence on the competition’s performance. Today, Primoz confirmed his excellent shape. So we look forward to tomorrow with confidence. It is good that we were able to gain time on some strong riders. Today’s stage showed that many riders are in good shape. It promises to be a good battle over the next two weeks.”
Kuss ended up finishing 27th on the stage, one minute after Roglic. He moved up five spots in the GC in the process and is now 35th, 12:14 back.