Stage 8 – Sulmona - Lago Laceno 229km
13 May 2012
Team Sky's Colombian duo Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Henao are both in the top 15 on the general classification following the eighth stage of the Giro d'Italia which was won by Domenico Pozzovivo.
The Colnago-CSF rider launched a perfectly-timed late attack to take the stage victory as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) retained the overall lead.
Urán and Henao both finished in the front group, in 13th and 19th respectively, 27 seconds behind.
That moved them up to 11th and 14th on the GC, still 53 seconds and 1:10 adrift of Hesjedal. Urán is second in the young rider standings, just eight seconds behind Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale), with Henao in third.
The up-and-down 229 kilometres route from Sulmona to Lago Laceno featured the short but steep Colle Molella climb just 5km from the finish and it proved to be decisive.
Astana had forced the pace on the early part of the climb before Liquigas-Cannondale took up the running as it splintered behind. But the key moment came when Pozzovivo surged clear on the steepest section and quickly put time between himself and the rest.
Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) was the only rider to come out of the pack but he had 28 seconds to make up after cresting the top, with 4.4km of relatively flat terrain to come. And Pozzovivo never looked like surrendering his advantage, flashing under the flamme rouge still 23 seconds ahead and holding that exact margin to the line.
Intxausti held on for second, with Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) winning the sprint for third, a further four seconds back.
Hesjedal's lead had looked under threat on the final climb as he slipped towards the back of the front group but he recovered well to stay in touch and now has a nine seconds advantage from Rodríguez and 15 over Saturday's stage winner Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).
Cav safely home
The day had begun in testing style with a 21km uphill section which saw a four-man break push clear and they were to stretch their advantage to just over 11 minutes.
With Hesjedal's Garmin-Barracuda team being given help on the front by both Astana and Katusha, who had designs on the stage win, the escapees never really looked like staying clear.
Coming into the final 20km only Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) were left from the original break and they were caught soon after.
By that point the peloton had split in two, with Team Sky's Mark Cavendish and the other sprinters in the second group as they eased their way to the finish with an eye on Monday's flatter stage.
Cavendish had earlier picked up a couple of points in the day's intermediate sprint as he led the main bunch across the line behind the four breakaway riders which means he now trails Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) by 10 in the points classification.
He will next lock horns with his Australian rival and former team-mate on Monday as the route heads from San Giorgio del Sannio to Frosinone.
1 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 6:06:05
2 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
3 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:27
124 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
127 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling
154 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling
156 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
157 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
General Classification after Stage 8
1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 32:23:25
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:09
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
123 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
126 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling
151 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
171 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
189 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling