Basque allrounder from Movistar Team wins most fought and beautiful stage so far in the 2017 Giro d'Italia, opens Eusebio Unzué-led squad's account in 100th 'Corsa Rosa' in Peschici as Nairo Quintana, Andrey Amador remain in top-ten GC spots.

Gorka Izagirre (Movistar Team) offered himself the biggest success in his decade-long professional cycling career and opened the Spanish outfit's account on Saturday's Giro d'Italia stage eight, an 189km rolling parcours from Molfetta to Peschici - over the hills of the Gargano region in southeastern Italy - that offered no respite to the competitors. After the first hour of racing was covered at a whooping 53.5kph average, the original 16-man break kept close by the bunch despite looking like a winning move, Izagirre involuntarily sought for a moment - never looking to chase the win - to make a first right decision: the descent of the Cat-2 Sant'Angelo, 80km from the end.

The Ormaiztegi-born cyclist did a fast downhill to reach the leading groups, very much torn apart by the huge pace in the beginning of the stage. The strong speeds by QST and KAT in the bunch behind forced Izagirre to respond to nervous accelerations from Valerio Conti (UAD) and Visconti (TBM). The two Italians, together with Gorka, Luis León Sánchez (AST) and Gregor Mühlberger (BOH, dropped later on), formed a decisive split (Izagirre event took a 10" gap with 6km remaining at the Coppa del Fornaro climb) that would play their cards for victory at the finish in Via Montesanto (1.5km, 5% average).

Barely making it past a crash from Conti, Izagirre chose to launch his winning move from the foot of the climb, taking some beautiful meters that ultimately brought him his sixth win as a pro (3x Clásica de Ordizia; stage win in Luxembourg, 2010; last April's Klasika Amorebieta), the most resounding in his career. After the escapees, an elite GC group saw Nairo Quintana (7th overall) and Andrey Amador (10th) finishing in perfect position before Sunday's crucial Blockhaus mountain-top finish (Cat-1, 13.5km, 8,5% avg.). The Giro, however, already looks bright for the Blues after Izagirre's success. Zorionak! ("Congratulations", in Basque language)