Juan Pedro Lopez surprises everyone on the Blockhaus and keeps the Maglia Rosa in Stage 9
While the stage win and general classifiation battle played out at the top of the grueling Blockhaus climb, behind a young Spaniard was fighting like never before to keep his dream alive – and stealing our hearts.
When Juan Pedro Lopez crossed the line at the end of Stage 9 at the Giro d’Italia, he had accomplished something no one expected – not even himself: keeping pink.
“This is a dream for me. I don’t believe in this moment,” said an emotional Lopez. “For sure I didn’t believe I would be here, at the top of Blockhaus, before the rest day, with the Maglia Rosa.”
At eight kilometers to go on the Blockhaus climb, the jersey fight appeared over: A touch of wheels with the rider ahead of him and Juanpe nearly crashed. Ten seconds, maybe more, were lost. His rhythm was broken on the steep grades. But Juanpe did not give in and battled on.
“Unfortunately, this was a very difficult moment for me mentally. I needed to stay focused. I needed to put my mind 100% into the race, and I told myself that I need to push my tempo again so to stay another day in pink.”
Lopez regained his focus and settled in. He held the GC favorites to 30 seconds and the dream was alive again. Until, that is, the GC contenders began to attack.
In the final kilometers, the gap grew. And it looked like pink was fading away.
With time bonuses on the line for the top three finishers, it was coming down to seconds. Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) lead a group of five across the line for the win, and the clock started its countdown.
The pink jersey came into view. When Lopez crossed the line the clock showed 1 minute and 46 seconds. Confirmation came into his earpiece, and Juanpe punched the air. He had done it – by a mere 12 seconds!
“My dream was to stay another day in pink. And now this is real,” said an emotional Lopez.
With the rest day scheduled for Monday, the Team and Juanpe can enjoy a race-free day with the Malgia Rosa.
“Finally, we have a rest day,” said a tired Jaunpe. “We need to enjoy the dinner… and every moment. My team is like a second family, I have a good relationship with the soigneurs, mechanics, everyone. I spend a lot of time with them outside my home – for sure we will enjoy this together.”