This article originally appeared on VeloNews.com
On the rain-soaked roads, over 4,000m vertical elevation, Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers) escaped from an eight-man break to take the win.
In rainy conditions, with standing water adding an extra challenge on descents and flats, the Ecuadorian held off fellow escapee Mark Padun (Bahrain-McLaren) to take his first grand tour stage win.
“Today I woke up with the right spirit and wanted to be the main player in this stage,” said Narvaez. “It is not a problem for me to race in the rain, in fact, I prefer it to
the hot weather.”
Padun suffered a puncture just inside of 25km to go, allowing Narváez to escape.
While Padun gave chase and got within eight seconds of Narváez on the flat and straight final 15km, he was never able to get back up to the stage winner.
Narváez is the second Ecuadorian to win a stage at the Giro. Last year’s overall winner Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), who did not return to defend his title, also hails from the South American nation.
American Brandon McNulty put his wheel ahead first, crossing the line at the front of the group containing the pink jersey and GC favorites.
Headed toward a finish in the home town of Italian great Marco Pantani, a break of 14 got away with Mark Padun (Bahrain-McLaren), Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers), Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Maximilian Richeze (UAE Team Emirates), Francois Bidard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Manuele Boaro and Jesper Hansen (Astana), Hector Carretero and Albert Torres (Movistar), Victor Campenaerts (NNT Pro Cycling), and Etienne van Empel (Vini Zabù Brado KTM) achieved a 7:30 advantage by 88km to go.
This bunch was forced to chase Pellaud when he escaped from the front of the break at 80km to go. Benedetti bridged up to him some 5km later, with Rosskopf joining them at 73km.
The cat and mouse continued, with Clarke, Torres, van Empel, Narváez, and Padun bridging back inside of 70km remaining.
After a slick descent, Clarke went off the front, with Narváez and Padun countering on the next small climb.
Clarke was dropped with 52km to go, while behind, the former world hour record holder Campanaerts abandoned the chase, and took refuge in the pink jersey group.
Jakob Fuglsang, Astana’s GC hope, was seen struggling with a bike change at 40km to go.
A six man bunch gave chase after Narváez and Padun, who have an advantage of 6:45 with 45km to go.
Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling) lead the chase from the main group, with help from James Knox (Deceuninck–Quick-Step).
Right inside of 25km to go, Padun suffered a puncture and lost contact with Narváez while he was waiting for a bike change.
This proved to be the pivotal moment, turning the final 20km into a pursuit: Padun chasing Narváez, both chased by the remains of the breakaway and the pink jersey bunch.
With 15km to go, Padun had narrowed the gap by 30 seconds and was within 10 seconds of the leader with just 10km to go.
However, the young Ukrainian who had been going full-gas for most of the day popped, and while he was nearly within striking distance of the lead, Padun was pedaling squares.
The final 7,500m saw Narváez slow only to navigate some “road furniture” and roundabouts, to stay safe on puddle-ridden painted roadways.
The 23-year-old dedicated his first WorldTour win to ex-Ineos sports director Nico Portal who died aged 40 this year after a heart attack.
“I learned a lot from him,” said Narvaez.
Clarke, who had been at the front for most of the day rolled across the line in third, with Joey Rosskopf behind him in fourth.
João Almeida, his tenth day in the lead, commented, “I am happy to have managed to keep the Maglia Rosa. Once again my team was
extraordinary, I’m really grateful to my teammates.”
After the stage finish, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) moved into 10th on the GC, while American Brandon McNulty now sits in 11th. Favorite Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) is in fifth, at 1:01.