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2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 9 Preview

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What happened in stage 8

It was another another nervous day at the race, which started fast and led to more than 100 riders losing contact with the main group early on. Then, at the first intermediate sprint – won by Eduard Grosu – Alberto Contador came second and this allowed him to double the advantage he has in front of Fabio Aru in the general classification. On the last climb of the stage, Beñat Intxausti won from the break, while Aru and Richie Porte attacked Contador, hoping to distance him, but with no luck, as he responded each time.

What comes now

Benevento-San Giorgio del Sannio (215 kilometers) is a very wavy stage, with a total difference in altitude just under 4000 metres. The first rough part of the route rolls across the Benevento area, hitting Pietrelcina, Benevento and Atripalda. Here the course enters the Irpinia region, with a long and easy-to-ride climb up Monte Termino (20 kilometers, 4,2% average gradient), which is preceding the more challenging Colle Molella (9,5 kilometers, with slopes of 6,3%) ascent.

The route then follows the constant undulations that lead through Lioni, Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi and Castelvetere sul Calore, up to 20 kilometers from the finish, where the harsh Passo Serra climb (3,6 kilometers, 8% average gradient) will lead to the final kilometres of the stage. The road surface is worn out and narrow at points over some sectors. The Passo Serra climb has a really demanding central sector, reaching double-digit gradients. A short, brisk descent follows, up to five kilometers from the finish. Another short climb and a stretch on city roads precede the 600-m long home straight, with a 3% gradient.

On paper, this is an excellent course for the break to succeed, so look to such riders as Simon Clarke, Maciej Patersi, Enrico Battaglin, Philippe Gilbert, Adam Hansen, Ryder Hesjedal and Gianfranco Zilioli ready to take their chance. On the other hand, if everything will be kept under control by the peloton, then Orica-GreenEdge has the opportunity to take the victory, with Michael Matthews or Simon Gerrans, the only requirement for the Australian team being to pick the right man for this, unlike what they did in the Fiuggi stage.

Fabio Felline nabbed a second place in the race, but is in the hunt for that win that can save his team’s Corsa Rosa, which means he’ll be determined to give it everything in the finale. Giovanni Visconti – who lies in 7th place overall – has what it takes to go for the victory and the Italian is prepared to do utmost in order to reach his goal, but he should be with his eyes on fellow countryman Diego Ulissi, who recently proved that he came back to the top.

The Giro d’Italia has visited San Giorgio del Sanio just once in its history, at the 1987 edition. Back then, Paolo Rosola – one of the finest sprinters of the decade – came first, followed by Guido Bontempi and Stefano Allocchio.

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