The mountains in stage eight of the 2012 Giro d'Italia were far from the biggest the peloton will see this year, but between the pace on yesterday's stage and the heat on both days, a great many riders were suffering on the final climb. Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago) took advantage, jumping off the front of the bunch with a little under 7km to go. Pozzovivo, a man with the physical gifts of a climber (small stature, ability to suffer), leapt ahead and motored his way to a gap of more than40 seconds as he went over the top of the climb. He's neither a skilled descender nor strong on the flats, so there was a good chance the peloton would catch him, but he put it into the big ring, gritted his teeth, and stayed alone over the final 4km of the race to take the win.
Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal was one of the men suffering on the final climb, and the race leader was found struggling at the back of the peloton more than once. He managed to recover, however, and made up time on the desecent. Team Liquigas was driving the bunch hard to make sure their man Ivan Basso did not lose time, and Hesjedal was able to move back up to the front with them as the race entered the final kilometers. Most of the favorites were in that group, so there were not huge changes in GC. An exception to that, though was Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver, the Katusha rider who has been quietly climbing the ranks. He took third place for an eight second time bonus, moving him to second overall. He stands in excellent place for a man who has yet to make a serious attack.
Team BMC was one of those for whom there wasn't much change. The Santa Rosa team's main GC threat, Marco Pinotti, remains just outside the top ten at around :48 seconds back. What the peloton saw today won't seem like much compared to the mountains that backend the race, so Pinotti shouldn't feel much pressure to make a move just yet.
1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team -:09
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team -:15
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team -:35
5 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team -:35
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:40
7 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:45
8 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:46
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan -:48
10 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:52
Liquigas looks dominant, but when things shake out only Ivan Basso has a likely shot at remaining in contention. Basso, Kreuziger, Oliver, and Schleck are the men to watch going foward.
SB Nation Bay Area will continue to bring you updates, previews and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for news, analysis, and insight.