The day’s six-rider breakaway went clear early into the 200-kilometer race from Giovinazzo to Vieste, which could be split into two distinct parts with a completely flat opening half before a lumpy run into the finish that started with the Monte Sant’Angelo.
By the time they reached the top of the 9.4-kilometer category two climb, which had an average gradient of 6.4 percent, Rosskopf, and his fellow leaders were sitting more than ten minutes ahead of the peloton.
The race hung in the balance at this point with the peloton needing to start a more determined chase behind the breakaway if they wanted to bring the race back together for the finish.
Despite, the group’s advantage falling but around two minutes on the descent of the first climb of the second half of the race, it was soon growing once more, and eventually, inside 50 kilometers to go, it was back up to over 10 minutes 30 second and it was evident that the stage win would go to one of the escapees.
The attacks began to fly off the front of the breakaway with 30 kilometers remaining but Rosskopf was quick to react and looked strong as covered every move before Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation) attacked to start the final 14-kilometer finishing lap around 30 seconds ahead.
With no initial cohesion in the chasing group allowed the gap went out to around 50 seconds before splits appeared with Rosskopf part of a trio of riders chasing the eventual winner that went on to sprint to the line with CCC Team’s American rider taking fourth place.
The rest of Rosskopf’s CCC Team teammate crossed the line safely with the peloton rolling over the line almost 14 minutes behind.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“I was really pleased to be able to make it into the breakaway. We thought it would have a good chance today and the bunch ended up giving us a really good lead which is how you hope it will play out when you get into a good move, it means you aren’t struggling for every second out there.”
“The legs were definitely feeling the previous week of racing, I wasn’t feely super snappy like I had been at the start of this year, or at the restart of the season in August. There were a couple of guys that were a little better on the short, steep climb than me but I was happy I could to claw my way back each time. In the end, the win went to Israel Start-Up Nation who ultimately had the best tactics with two riders there and good cards to play. It wasn’t a super hilly finish, just one short climb in the last 25km or so, so and plenty of time for them to attack us as try to get one guy away, and that’s what we saw happen.”
“Thinking back, I am not sure if I have ever been part of a successful break at a Grand Tour so that’s a start and really encouraging that I was able to pick the right day for it. Even without the win, I would have liked to have finished it off with a top-three finish since I was only sprinting against two other guys. However, I played the sprint as best as I could but the legs just weren’t there. I was just on the wheel but I think I could have come off it if I had the legs. I had to settle for fourth but you’ve got to start somewhere and I’m looking forward to more hard and aggressive racing and trying to pick more good days where the breakaway has a chance.”
Stage 8: Giovinazzo > Vieste (200km)
Top 3: 1. Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation) 2. Salvatore Puccio (INEOS Grenadiers) 3. Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal)
CCC Team Top 3: 4. Joey Rosskopf 23. Attila Valter 59. Víctor de la Parte