The first chapter of the Giro d’Italia came to an end on Sunday after a great mountain stage concluded with a summit finish at the Blockhaus. On this day made for the GC contenders, where Jai Hindley took the victory, the Groupama-FDJ fought hard to reach the finish line on time and safely, before enjoying a well-deserved rest day on Monday.

If you were a climber, it was maybe better not to look at the elevation gain on the menu of stage 9 this Sunday. According to the profile, it indeed exceeded 5000 meters. A hell tough day was therefore looming for the riders in order to close the first – small – half of the Giro. The hilly start did not help the riders-sprinters either, and the fight for the breakaway lasted over about twenty kilometres before the peloton eased off a little. Attila Valter made a few attempts to join the break, but also escaped a crash, a group of nine eventually went without him in the first hour of racing. Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa), James Knox (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Natnael Tesfazion, Eduardo Sepulveda (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-Easy Post), Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Nans Peters and Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroën) were therefore able to get themselves a nice five-minute gap, which however could not be enough given the remaining climbs.

“The heat made it even more difficult”, Benoît Vaugrenard

The breakaway stayed away on the penultimate climb of the day, the Passo Lanciano, where Arnaud Démare and his train definitely got dropped out from the bunch, but the pink jersey group eventually caught all the fugitives approaching the final ascent to the Blockhaus. Fourteen kilometres further, Jai Hindley took victory at the top while Juan Pedro Lopez kept the lead overall. Almost three quarters of an hour later, Arnaud Démare crossed the line with the cyclamen jersey that he will wear again on Tuesday. “I struggled a bit in the last climb, and it was hard to reach the finish”, said the Frenchman. I’m glad the rest day is coming”. “We were not sure the breakaway could make it today, because we knew that Ineos Grenadiers wanted to go for it”, said Benoît Vaugrenard. “If there would have been twenty riders up front, it would have been good for Attila to be there, but I think he was in a great day. He also looked tired at the finish. It was also the first heat, and everyone suffered a lot. As for the sprinters’ group, they did their best in the first climbs, as expected, and we knew that it was absolutely necessary to come back after, in a long, 90-kilometre part with some downhills and flat. That’s what happened. It was then easier to get to the finish on time, but it was still a hard day. They did 5,000 meters of elevation, more than six hours of racing, and the heat made it even more difficult”. No doubt, the second rest day tomorrow will be more than welcome.

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