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Intxausti wins- the Bigs stay cool

After some shrewd tactics in the breakaway Beñat Intxausti took a welcome stagewin for Movistar while behind there was something of a detente between the big favorites. After a few tentative attacks Contador, Aru, Porte and Uran all finished together 35 seconds behind the winner and Contador stays in the Maglia Rosa.


In the early action it was shaping up to open war as the the peloton was torn apart under the pressure of attacking riders and Tinkoff's efforts to control which riders got away in the breakaway. For a moment even Contador was reported as being caught behind but he re-connected and his teammates pulled back any attempts Astana made to place a rider in the breakaway. At last a group of harmless riders got away on the big climb of the day, where Lampre's Niemec was the most threatening on GC, and the peloton relaxed into a gentler pace.

After that we saw a fairly pedestrian stage with a breakaway group with much cooperation that played off against each other. A group of Kruijswijk, Betancur, Vandewalle and Pellizotti got ahead of the other and after old Pellizotti dropped off with a mechanical the three went into the final climb a minute and a half ahead of their breakaway companions and five minutes on a peloton where Astana seized control and upped the pace on the climb. As Kruijswijk rode away from his two companions Movistar's Intxausti and IAM's Sebastian Reichenbach were closing in from behind. Reichenbach did the brunt of the work in their chase as they caught and passed Kruijswijk while Intxausti signaled that he was cooked and had little to contribute. Soon after though he revealed his bluff by launching a fierce attack that sealed Reichenbach's fate and he then rode strongly to keep the favorites behind him and take the stage. The win was welcome for Movistar who had seen all their potential GC riders falter already in the first week and have had to focus their efforts on stage hunting.

The battle between the big favorites fizzled a bit on the final climb. Astana showed force once again, decimating the group with a high pace. This time Sky were better represented while Contador lost his Tinkoff riders fairly early, no doubt paying a price for the work they had to do early on the stage. Aru made his move with five kilometers to go but his initial gap was fairly promptly closed by Porte, Contador and this time also Uran who was on a better day than on Abetone. With that the pace slowed and a number of riders could reconnect with the four. Sky set the pace and Astana's Mikel Landa made an attack that looked like a precursor to Aru's next move but after that we saw nothing but tentative jabs from the big four while Landa chased Intxausti in vain. It might have been the relatively mild slopes of the final climb or generally tired legs among the bigs but it didn't look like anyone was willing or able to try and put any significant time into the others.

Contador's injured shoulder was once again the focus of attention but thankfully it looks as if the injury and pain at least isn't so bad that it will significantly affect his ability to challenge for the win. He now has Sunday's stage to get through before he has a rest day and a few easier stages to take it easy on the shoulder before the major deciding stages and if he can avoid falling on it again he should be fine for the final week by the looks of it.

TOP 10 Stage 8

1 INTXAUSTI Benat ESP MOV 4:51:34 0:00 10"
2 LANDA MEANA Mikel ESP AST 4:51:54 0:20 6"
3 REICHENBACH Sébastien SUI IAM 4:52:05 0:31 4"
4 ARU Fabio ITA AST 4:52:09 0:35
5 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto ESP TCS 4:52:09 0:35 2"
6 PORTE Richie AUS SKY 4:52:09 0:35
7 URAN URAN Rigoberto COL EQS 4:52:09 0:35
8 CATALDO Dario ITA AST 4:52:09 0:35
9 CUNEGO Damiano ITA NIP 4:52:19 0:45
10 CARUSO Damiano ITA BMC 4:52:19 0:45


1 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto ESP TCS 32:40:07 0:00
2 ARU Fabio ITA AST 32:40:11 0:4
3 PORTE Richie AUS SKY 32:40:29 0:22
4 CATALDO Dario ITA AST 32:40:37 0:30
5 LANDA MEANA Mikel ESP AST 32:40:49 0:42
6 KREUZIGER Roman CZE TCS 32:41:07 1:00
7 VISCONTI Giovanni ITA MOV 32:41:23 1:16
8 URAN URAN Rigoberto COL EQS 32:41:31 1:24
9 CARUSO Damiano ITA BMC 32:41:41 1:34
10 AMADOR Andrey CRC MOV 32:41:45 1:38