Irish rider Eddie Dunbar improved his overall position in the Giro d'Italia by three places on Saturday, despite finishing one minute and seven seconds behind the main bunch.
The stage from Tortoreto Lido to Pesaro was won in a big sprint by the Australian Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), who beat Italian national champion Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and German champ Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) to the line.
It was Ewan’s second career stage win in the race, coming two years after his debut triumph in 2017.
“When I looked at the layout of the finish before the start, I planned to take the last corner first but I wasn’t feeling so good today, because we had a harder race than I thought,” said Ewan.
“In the last 20km, I had to use all my guys to chase attackers down, including my lead-out man, therefore sprinting from 300 metres to go would have been too much.
“So I took the wheel of Ackermann who had a guy in front of him. I knew I could pass him in the last 150 metres. It means a lot to me being back winning a Grand Tour stage and this is obviously my biggest win so far for Lotto-Soudal.”
Dunbar rolled in 79th, one minute and seven seconds back. Irish national champion Conor Dunne was 118th.
Italian rider Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) continues to hold the race leader's pink jersey, maintaining his one minute, 32 second advantage over José Rojas (Movistar Team). Dunbar climbs from 55th to 52nd, 15 minutes six seconds back, and climbs one slot to 13th in the best young rider classification.
The race continues Sunday with a hilly 34.8 kilometre individual time trial between Riccione and San Marino.
Conti accepts that he won’t hold the race leader’s jersey long-term, but hopes to still be in pink on Sunday evening and thus hold it into Monday’s rest day.
“I’m having the happiest days of my life,” he said. “I don’t want to put any limit as to when I’ll lose the Maglia Rosa. The time-trial will be very difficult tomorrow but I’ll give my best to retain the jersey. There are stronger people than me, I admit it, but my advantage on GC over the time trial specialists is quite large.”
GIRO D’ITALIA, ITALY (WORLDTOUR)
Stage 8, Tortoreto Lido to Pesaro: 1 Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 239 kilometres in 5 hours 43 mins 32 secs, 2 E Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 3 P Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), 4 F Sabatini (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 5 M Belletti (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), 6 A Demare (Groupama-FDJ) all same time
Irish: 79 E Dunbar (Team Ineos) at 1 min 7 secs; 118 C Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy) at 5 mins 50 secs
General classification after stage 8: 1 Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) 35 hours 13 mins 6 secs, 2 J Rojas (Movistar Team) at 1 min 32 secs, 3 G Carboni (Bardiani CSF) at 1 min 41 secs, 4 N Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) at 2 mins 9 secs, 5 V Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) at 2 mins 17 secs, 6 A Antunes (CCC Team) at 2 mins 45 secs
Irish: 52 E Dunbar (Team Ineos) at 15 mins 6 secs; 150 C Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy) at 1 hours 13 mins 17 secs
Points classification: 1 Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 150 pts, 2 A Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 98, 3 C Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 91
Mountains classification: 1 Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 32 pts, 2 F Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) 18, 3 A Pedrero (Movistar Team) 18
Young riders classification: 1 Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani CSF 3) at 5 hours 14 mins 47 secs, 2 N Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) at 28 secs, 3 V Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) at 36 secs
Irish: 13 E Dunbar (Team Ineos) at 13 mins 25 secs