BLOCKHAUS, Italy ( Associated Press) — Australian Jai Hindley won the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday by climbing the dreaded Blockhaus mountain peak, but Spain’s Juan Pedro López managed to hold on as the overall leader.
Hindley, a rider for the Bora-Hansgrohe team, overtook Frenchman Romain Bardet and Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz in the final sprint after an arduous day that included several mountain passes. Mikel Landa and João Almeida also crossed the finish line with the same time.
“I didn’t feel good on the climb so I tried to stay with the front guys,” said Lindley, 2020 Giro runner-up. . I gave everything and after having suffered so much in recent years, I have no words to describe what I feel.
Carapaz, the 2019 Giro winner and heavy favorite for the title, was fourth overall, 15 seconds off the overall leader.
Against all odds, López continues to wear the pink jersey after a journey of 191 kilometers (119 miles) from Isernia. The Spaniard arrived 1 minute and 46 seconds behind Hindley.
Many of the favorites fell behind in the iconic final ascent with gradients of double digits.
“This is wonderful, it’s hard to believe I still have the pink jersey,” Lopez said. “I am very tired, but luckily I have a rest day tomorrow. When I started today my dream was to be another day in pink. And now it’s reality.”
In the general classification, López has a difference of 12 seconds over the Portuguese Almeida, his immediate pursuer, and 14 over Bardet.
Apart from the Blockhaus, the route included the Passo Lanciano, a top category ascent, and two mountain passes. The runners had to solve 5,000 meters in ascents.
A breakout of nine runners set the pace for most of the day, but they were eventually caught, and the peloton set out together for the final ascent of the Blockhaus.
Simon Yates was one of the favorites who dropped early from the leaders. The Briton reached the finish line 11 minutes behind Hindley and with a bandaged knee. He was injured on the ascent of Mount Etna during the fourth stage.
Carapaz attacked several times in the last 5 kilometers, but could not get rid of his rivals to achieve victory.
“We are still in the battle,” Carapaz said. “We have to continue developing our plan and you can say I’m satisfied… I’m never happy to lose, but we’re after the biggest goal.”
The Giro ends on May 29 in Verona.