VETERAN Australian cyclist Cadel Evans has replaced compatriot Michael Matthews in the overall leader’s pink jersey following the 179km eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia from Foligno to Montecopiolo.
The 37-year-old Evans, Tour de France champion in 2011 and third in this race last year, placed fifth on the stage, eight seconds adrift of Italian Diego Ulissi, who was winning his second stage of this year’s race.
Matthews, a sprinter who had led for six days and began Saturday with a 21-second advantage over Evans, was already a quarter-of-an-hour behind approaching the final 6.4km climb.
Evans, who saw one of his main rivals for overall victory Joaquim Rodriguez crash out on Thursday when he broke three ribs, now holds a lead of 57 seconds over Colombian Rigoberto Uran, while Polish rider Rafal Majka is third, 1min 10 sec adrift.
Ulissi, who also won the fifth stage on Wednesday, came home ahead of Croatian Robert Kiserlovski with Wilko Kelderman of the Netherlands third.
It was the 24-year-old’s third career stage win in the race.
Frenchman Pierre Rolland saw victory snatched from him 250m from the line after he had chased down and passed Colombian Julian Arredondo.
Arredondo had been part of a group that had escaped from the peloton early in the stage and he had gone clear on the first climb at the Carpegna, where the late legendary Italian climbing specialist Marco Pantani used to train.
Sunday’s ninth stage is the 172km ride from Lugo to Sestola, with the climax a 16.5km climb.