STAGE 9 – GIRO D’ITALIA
The final day of racing before the first rest day at the Giro d’Italia saw the riders faced with a tough day out in the saddle that featured well over 4000 metres of climbing throughout the stage. As expected, an incredibly long and hard fight for the breakaway ensued before a group of six riders managed to escape after 80 kilometres of racing. Their gap ballooned out, with team Sunweb focused on keeping Wilco and Jai Hindley safe.
The gap to those ahead did fall and at one point it seemed as if the GC riders might fight it out for stage honours. However, torrential rain put a dampener on the chase efforts and the breakaway had enough time in hand to claim victory. Riding well together as a unit, with every team member in the reduced peloton as the race entered the final 15 kilometres, Wilco and Hindley were brought to the front of the bunch.
A strong cross headwind made it difficult for any GC riders to attack from far out, so the only differences were made on the steep final kilometre. Wilco put in an a strong attack, with only Fugslang initially able to follow, before Hindley expertly picked his way through the scattered peloton to join the duo. Crossing the line in eighth and tenth, Wilco gained time on most of his GC rivals and as a result move into second on GC respectively ahead of tomorrow’s rest day.
“It was a long and hard day, especially in the end where it was really cold,” explained Wilco at the finish. “My legs felt really good today. The team gave me a lot of confidence as we still had eight guys over the second last climb. We were able to hold a really good position and in the last part I felt really good. I started my sprint at around 400 metres to go and just went full gas to the finish to see if I could create some gaps. I never had the pink jersey in mind because it was just too short until the finish to get a big enough gap. I’m really happy with the feeling now and that’s the most important thing. We look day-by-day and we make plans, and we’ll see what’s possible in the next weeks. For sure, the team did a great job and Jai was super good so I think we can be confident and have a nice rest day.”