Giro d'Italia

Team Sky pair on the rise

Hesjedal holds on to maglia rosa

Last updated: 13th May 2012

Team Sky's Colombian duo Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Henao are both in the top 15 of the general classification following the eighth stage of the Giro d'Italia which was won by Domenico Pozzovivo.

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The Colnago-CSF rider launched a perfectly-timed late attack to take the stage victory as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) retained the overall lead.

Urán and Henao both finished in the front group, in 13th and 19th respectively, 27 seconds behind.

That moved them up to 11th and 14th on the GC, still 53 seconds and 1:10 adrift of Hesjedal. Urán is second in the young rider standings, just eight seconds behind Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale), with Henao in third.

The up-and-down 229 kilometres route from Sulmona to Lago Laceno featured the short but steep Colle Molella climb just 5km from the finish and it proved to be decisive.

Astana had forced the pace on the early part of the climb before Liquigas-Cannondale took up the running as it splintered behind. But the key moment came when Pozzovivo surged clear on the steepest section and quickly put time between himself and the rest.

Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) was the only rider to come out of the pack but he had 28 seconds to make up after cresting the top, with 4.4km of relatively flat terrain to come. And Pozzovivo never looked like surrendering his advantage, flashing under the flamme rouge still 23 seconds ahead and holding that exact margin to the line.

Intxausti held on for second, with Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) winning the sprint for third, a further four seconds back.

Fight for pink

Hesjedal's lead had looked under threat on the final climb as he slipped towards the back of the front group but he recovered well to stay in touch and now has a nine seconds advantage from Rodríguez and 15 over Saturday's stage winner Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).

Afterwards Team Sky Sports Director Steven de Jongh was happy with the way the day had panned out, saying: "It was a really good performance from both Rigo and Sergio and it's nice to see them moving up the GC.

"They've got a few days now where it should be little bit less stressful for them before the big climbing stages come later in the race."

Looking back on the first week of action, he added: "We've got two wins from Cav, a second place for Geraint and Rigo right up there on the GC which all adds up to a pretty successful week but now it’s all about looking forward and let’s hope we can start week two with a win as tomorrow's stage is a big chance for Mark again."

Cav safely home

The day had begun in testing style with a 21km uphill section which saw a four-man break push clear and they were to stretch their advantage to just over 11 minutes.

But with Hesjedal's Garmin-Barracuda team being given help on the front by both Astana and Katusha, who had designs on the stage win, the escapees never really looked like staying clear.

Coming into the final 20km only Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) were left from the original break and they were caught soon after.

By that point the peloton had split in two, with Team Sky's Mark Cavendish and the other sprinters in the second group as they eased their way to the finish with an eye on Monday's flatter stage.

Cavendish had earlier picked up a couple of points in the day's intermediate sprint. He led the main bunch across the line behind the four breakaway riders which means he now trails Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) by 10 in the points classification.

And de Jongh underlined the world champion's current wellbeing when he added: "Cav showed again today that he’s really bounced back well from that tough day on Friday [when he, Bernhard Eisel and Jeremy Hunt had to work hard to make the time limit] so it’s looking good."

Cavendish will next lock horns with his sprint rivals on Monday as the route heads from San Giorgio del Sannio to Frosinone.