Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) donned the maglia rosa on Saturday as Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won his second stage of the Giro d’Italia.
A big break came to grief along the 179-kilometer route from Foligno to a mountaintop finish atop the Monte Copiolo. Sole survivor Colombian Julien Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) led the way over the Cat. 2 Villaggio del Lago, but finally ran out of steam, and on the final steeps it was Pierre Rolland (Europcar) who was alone off the front and hoping to hang on for the stage win.
It wasn’t to be — first Dani Moreno (Katusha) jumped out of the rapidly closing peloton, containing Evans and the other GC hopefuls, and he quickly overhauled the Europcar rider. But Moreno likewise redlined, and as the peloton swarmed forward suddenly Ulissi shot out of nowhere to hit the line first, ahead of Robert Kiserlovski (Trek Factory Racing). Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) followed six seconds later for third.
“I am extremely pleased to win, because it’s not my ideal terrain,” said an exuberant Ulissi. “The pace was hard today, but I was able to stay with the front leaders.
“When we were close to Rolland, I thought there might be a chance to win. I am happy with two stage victories so far in this Giro. It’s more than I expected. Let’s see how far I can go.”
Evans finished fifth on the day and moved into the overall lead by 57 seconds over Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) third at 1:10.
“We’re in a good position,” said Evans. “We saw a hard stage, with all the contenders there. I think we’ll see a different kind of racing in the mountains. Steve (Morabito) was really the man of the day for us. We all started the stage a bit fatigued today and I think it showed in the final.”
Evans, who finished third at last year’s Giro, warned that the race is far from over.
“I am very satisfied with the first week. It would have been hard to hope for better,” he said. “But the Giro is long. Who do I have to look out for? Again, it’s too early because there plenty of good riders within two minutes.”
Stage 9 is a 172km leg from Lugo to Sestola, with the climax a 16.5km climb.
• Michele Scarponi (Astana), still feeling the effects of an earlier crash, lost bags of time on the stage. He finished 60th at 9:39 on the day and is out of the hunt for the overall, sitting 41st at 11:38.
• Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), the race leader as the day began, finally found a stage that was too much for him. He grinned and waved as a camera moto showed him struggling early on and vanished from the top of the standings, crossing 180th on the day at more than a half hour down and sliding to 74th overall at 33:50.