On Eurovision Saturday, I'm fizzing with excitement at the prospect of the camp musical spectacle ahead, and I'm aiming to have this smorgasbord of creative delights in front of your face in time for you to enjoy it too. So let's not delay - GO GO GO!
Here's what we have for you to enjoy today:
Today in review
by Anna McEwen
Stage 8 commenced with a very noticeable gap: there would be no Ganna for INEOS. He, becoming the latest victim of Covid. Also missing (and just as missed, I promise), was Lars van den Berg of Groupama-FDJ with a non-covid illness.
After what seemed a long-neutralised start, the flag went down and the race was on, full gas! I had wondered if the peloton were going to make it up to us for the less than thrilling racing yesterday and they did not disappoint. The fight to form the break was an absolute skirmish. Riders who managed to gain a few seconds were reeled back in, some by the maglia rosahimself. There were hand gestures, shouts and the level of frustration was clear. Four riders managed to gain a 10 second lead, but the fight behind continued.
Skujiņš managed to bridge the gap making the front four, five. But the atmosphere in the main group remained as moody as the skies. Something shifted at around 127to go km and another group of six were released and the break of 10 was finally formed and allowed a gap of around 4 minutes. We all let out a collective sigh of relief and were finally able to go for a comfort break and put the kettle on.
Let’s fast forward the next bit. Milan mopped up the last of the sprint points left extending his lead over second-placed Groves. But apart from that nothing really happened.
With 50km the break started to climb I Cappuccini first time and Ben Healy had an idea, ‘I thought I’d test my legs, but no-one came with me. I knew I could time-trial to the finish’ and he did just that. He pulled out an impressive gap on the rest of the break and powered to the finish line taking EF’s first win of the Giro.
Whilst Healy was enjoying the roar of the roadside crowds cheering him on to certain victory, back in the peloton some 6 minutes behind, Rogla popped off the front of the group and finally we got some GC action. Leknessund followed and kept up for a while but couldn’t quite keep Rogla’s wheel. G and G-Hart managed to bridge across to the Slovenian. For the first time this Giro, Remco looked less than dominant and was not able to keep up with the Rogla-INEOS sandwich.
Healy probably had time for a nice cup of tea and a sit down by the time Rogla and his two INEOS chums crossed the line some 4:34 later, Remco coming in a short time later at 4:48.
So, what does this all mean, I hear you cry? Well, it means that Leknessund manages to cling on to the maglia rosa for another day with Remco snapping at his heels just 8 seconds behind. But Rogla has leapt up two places to third. Milan stays in ciclamino with a 13-point lead. Bais stays in the maglia azzurra. Leknessund also retains the maglia bianca- he doesn’t wear it of course as wearing two jerseys at the same time would be foolish, so that honour falls to ‘checks notes’ fourth placed Buitrago of Bahrain Victorious, because of course it does.
Speedy stage preview
Stage 9 – Sunday 14th May – Savignano sul Rubicone – Cesena – 35km (ITT)
Where the final stage before the first rest day at a Grand Tour is usually a big mountain challenge, this year’s Giro leans into its focus on time trialling skills with a long TT stage, which will shuffle the GC deck ahead of the beginning of week 2.
‘Perfectly flat’ and ‘with only a few bends’ in the words of the organisers, the time trial doesn’t provide a great deal in the way of technical challenges, but its length will mean an opportunity for the TT specialists among the GC contenders to really try and exert their authority on the standings.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Serious business from all the key GC riders. A display of aerodynamic perfection from the TT specialists. Many tears to be shed over the lost opportunity to see Pippo Ganna in his national champions kit following his departure from the race. Another Evenepoel time bomb. Another day of disappointment for Stefan ‘the nearly man’ Küng.
HOT TIP: I predicted he’d win yesterday but it was a day for the break. I don’t think I’ll be wrong twice in a row. REMCO EVENEPOEL will lay down yet another explosion of power and aerodynamicism to extend his lead in the GC.
Lena's Giro Antipasti
Cable cars: if I made an effort I would surely find a reason alongside today's route to talk about them, but after yesterday’s shenanigans at Campo Imperatore featuring helicopters, the UCI rule book and riders mingling with fans without any space at all, I’ve been specifically requested to talk about them.
I should thank RCS for their incompetence yesterday because I love cable cars. I’m still a bit sad that I never studied a semester at the university of Innsbruck which is the home of cable car studies.
A cable car is all things considered just a railroad. A very particular and specific one but still a railroad. Or a better way to say it: rail transport.
But why the English terminology for this mode of transport is cable car of all things shall escape me forever.
But since we’re in Italy the correct translation of a gondola 🚠 cable car is a Funivia. A chairlift however is called a Seggovia. I personally love chairlifts but I know many people dread them.
To make things a bit more specific I only want to talk about aerial lifts today, which is what most people think about when they hear about cable cars.
Manual cable cars are really old. We don’t know for sure how old but in 1563 a cable car for people existed between Bogotá and Mérida. And in all likelihood they existed already much earlier.
The first wire rope - a standard for modern cable cars - was invented in 1834. However, the first real progress still took a few decades. In the 1860s the first step to modern cable cars was developed in the United States and Germany. Those still didn’t use electricity.
However a big difference between these proto cable cars and modern ones is the lack of a second cable, a traction cable. All modern cable cars are at least bicable gondola lifts.
The newest iteration of cable cars even use three cables. However, let's not get overly enthusiastic. The cable car in Campo Imperatore was a bicable gondola lift.
Now why is the number of cables so important? The gondolas are connected to both cables. One of those cables is the carrying cable, which is connected to one of the stations and always carries the same tension. It mainly bears the weight of the gondolas.
Now the ingenious thing is this: that the gondolas are moved by the second cable which bears little weight and is connected to a pulley system in one of the stations. The system was first developed in 1872 and enables longer distances and greater carrying capacity. Both of those are quite relevant in Campo Imperatore which manages in only 10,003 meters of distance to overcome 3,008 altitude meters in just 7 minutes. Without the need of a third station. A marvel of technology when it was built in 1988.
If I were to guess, they would build a tricable system today due to higher capacity. Due to the long distance between the mountain station and the valley station the cable car in Gran Sasso d’Italia only manages to carry 760 people per hour. Which is rather little for a modern cable car.
With a parking capacity of 1,000 cars at the meadow station the organizers of the Giro (RCS) had the ideal infrastructure for a mountain top finish and chose not to utilize it efficiently.
A gondola can carry 100 people. Divide that by two and you can still easily bring down the whole peloton within an hour by reserving some gondolas for them. For riders who need to attend the podium ceremony, visit anti-doping or other things, you make a priority line separate from the main line for the fans. Those riders get priority access to a private gondola and it's all good.
I honestly have no idea who RCS dropped the ball on this. Most mountain top finishes wish they had a cable car system. Of course the riders won’t want to descend the 40-kilometre mountain again if there is another option. And wouldn’t the countless Instagram pics from the riders have been a great tourism advertisement for the cable car?
Italian to go
by Emma Bianchi
Another day for the break! You love to see it. We all knew it was coming. It was just a question of time until Ben Healy would win his Giro stage - and today was the day. Ben really è in gamba. The idiom essere in gamba can be literally translated as 'to be in leg.' However, the idiomatic meaning of this expression is quite different from its literal translation. It is commonly used to describe someone who is skilled, capable, or competent in a particular area or task. For example, if someone is described as una persona molto in gamba (a very in gamba person), it means that they are highly skilled or capable in various aspects of life. Considering this, I think we can confidently agree that Ben Healy is a true phenomenon in breakaways, proving to be really in gamba on the roads.
Our bicycle now has completed ruote - wheels. Today, we are adding the cassetta pignoni - the cassette, as you have probably guessed. The right cassette choice can significantly impact a road bike's efficiency and performance. With a properly selected cassette, cyclists can maintain their optimal cadence throughout a ride. This helps to maximize power output, minimize fatigue, and improve overall efficiency on different types of terrain.
Ci vediamo domani!
Canzone dell'Amore Infinito
22: Stage 8: Bloc Party - Helicopter
Debate of the day
Something something post-MTF logistics, something something UCI having odd priorities at times but also something something 'race organisers should maaaaybe not offer better logistics for specific chosen teams, whoever those teams are, and maaaybe not in conflict with whatever UCI-regulations seems to be in place…' But what do I know, I’m just the DJ, and I’ve had Bloc Party back in rotation since it popped up at the team presentation, so anyways: Here’s Helicopter by Bloc Party.
23: Stage 8: Disturbed - Down with the Sickness
24: Stage 8: Mariah Carey - Without You
25: Stage 8: Sinéad O’Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U
Three musical stages of grief
Ciao Pippo. Ci mancherai!
While any rider leaving the race due to Covid is frustrating, sad and worrisome, losing Filippo Ganna the day before the long ITT just felt unusually cruel and punishing. Regardless of the potential result tomorrow, he will be missed - by his teammates, by the Italian fans, by this DJ (and the other Giro Bulletin writers who pitched in with musical grief counselling this morning.)
Get well soon to every rider who had to leave so far, Pippo included, and WASH YOUR HANDS to everyone else.
26: Stage 8: Thin Lizzy - The Boys are Back in Town
BEN HEALY YOU LEGEND YOU!
The Irish breakout (breakaway) star of the Ardennes delivered on the big stage and that deserves some iconic Irish rock - and he looks like a 70s guitar-tune kinda guy!
(And it feels equally applicable to the sudden GC action featuring a trio of other boys showing they didn’t come to Italy just for the trip…)
27: Stage 8 (pre-9): Black Box - Ride on Time (Massive Mix)
Reluctant hype track
Without the Italian TT-champ on the start line tomorrow, the stage feels a bit less open win-wise, but I do love a good ITT, and this song is both the epitome of a 'must be played for time trialling' tracks AND one of the most emblematic examples of the early piano-heavy summer days of Italo House - including the stunning vocal sample of Loleatta Holloway’s Love Sensation. I need this to get hype for tomorrow’s stage, so figured you all could use it too!
The Watch Zone
Just some of our faves.
Young rider watch: the baby of the bunch Matthew Riccitello
EF watch: YASSSSSS!!! I've been saying it every day - the stage wins are coming - keep the faith - and I did, and they did! Courtesy of young Ben Healy, a man who I once cornered in a car park at the Tour of Britain to wish happy birthday, and even then I could tell he was destined for greatness (OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but he'd had a bloody good day out. OK, I can't actually remember but checking the results I can see that he finished in the same group as Wout van Aert that day so that's pretty darned impressive, no?)
Anyway CONGRATULATIONS BEN, and writebikerepeat's sponsored team of the 2023 Giro d'Italia, EF Education-EasyPost. Hope they have a cracking night of celebrations, and here are the official results - just look at that lovely shiny number 1.
And let's indulge ourselves further with a lovely picture of the man himself celebrating an incredible solo victory, getting the party started early (don't worry Ben, it's Eurovision in an hour I'll be right there with you).
He even received the seal of approval from the breakaway king himself, Thomas de Gendt.
And just in case there wasn't already enough lovely EF content today, here's the ever-reliable Alberto Bettiol to teach us how to properly pronounce the name of Colombian mega-star Rigoberto Uran...
The Fallen: we said goodbye to one of the peloton's biggest characters, and engines, today, with the loss of Filippo Ganna (covid) - a particular shame, just a day before a golden ITT opportunity. Another non-starter was Lars van den Berg (illness). Three riders sadly did not finish the race (abandoned): Samuele Zoccorato, Florian Stork and David Dekker, who I feared for after a couple of crashes - a big disappointment as he'd been looking in great form.
Total riders remaining: 164
It's been a bit quiet on the fun front today, possibly because I haven't actually been online much so have missed most of the action, but possibly also because there was a fair bit of controversy this morning following the helicopter v cable car debate (as alluded to by Lena, above).
The UCI condemned those who chose to be airlifted down from the top of Campo Imperatore, despite the fact that (a) the four teams in question paid for the privilege and (b) RCS apparently failed to provide adequate means for the rest for their transfer, leaving them to queue with the public for cable cars. Not a great situation for anyone involved, especially when you consider INEOS were one of the teams sharing cable cars, with Ganna retiring from the race with covid shortly after.
Anyway onto happier things - this would be my face if someone told me I could keep a pink jersey for another day.
New best friends after their joint assault on the World Champion's GC lead, Geraint Thomas was pleased with his day out. Personally, I'm not convinced that these two riders, given their past form, make a particular good pairing - thoughts on a name for the duo? Bash Brothers?
And finally, we'll leave with compère extraordinaire Davide Formolo, who is putting the RCS presenters out of a job.
Thanks for reading, and ciao for now!