Ed’s GIRO’19 REST DAY RANT #1 in San Marino

Giro Rest Day No.1: As we know; a Grand Tour rest day is not a ‘day off’ for anyone. The riders need to ride, the mechanics have repairs and the soigneurs still have legs to rub… and Ed Hood has to catch-up with the first nine stages of the 2019 Giro d’Italia. One man stands head and shoulders above the others, but there are still twelve stages and the mountains to climb.

It’s not a done deal… yet. Ask Victor Campenaerts and check that chain Primoz

Take it away Ed:

Stage One:
In our preview we stated that from day one we’d know who could win this Giro – and so it proved with our four race faves all in the top five of this lung-buster short TT; winner, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma); 2nd Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott); 4th Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and 5th Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

Primoz Roglic set out his stall in stage 1

And the fifth man?
The man we said won’t win this Giro, in an excellent third spot, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) – perhaps there’s life in the old Selachimorpha (that’s ‘shark’ to you and me) yet? And a nice ride from Ineos ‘up and comer’ Tao Geogeghan Hart in seventh place.

Interview with Primoz Roglic

Stage Two:
How is this Ackermann dude so rapid? Let’s start at the beginning. . .
In 2011 he was German Junior National Champion in the kilometre and team sprint and the World Junior Champion in the latter. A year later he was European Junior Omnium Champion – which equals fast and versatile. The road called in season 2013 with two stage wins in the hard fought U23 Tour of Berlin. There were no wins but there were podiums in 2014 and in 2015 he was winning at u23 level in Poland and Germany.

The first win for Ackermann

Bora snapped him up for 2017 and his best was fourth in the European Road Championships. Last year was the breakthrough; podiums in Handzame, De Panne and the Scheldeprijs gave us a clue, then the landslide came; stages in Romandie, the Dauphine, Poland, Guangxi and one day success in Ride London, Brussels, Fourmies and his National Championship. This year, so far: Almeria, Koksijde, Franfurt and now, the Giro – he’s the real deal.

Deceuninck’s Elia Viviani would have to wait another day for that first win in his nice newly re-designed Italian Champion’s maglia. . .

Stage 2 sprint finish

Stage Three:
As far as I’m aware, Manuel Belletti – that’s the Androni rider Viviani impeded in the sprint didn’t lodge a protest – like the man said; ‘if you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen,’ so how come the UCi jury declassed the Italian Champion?

Sorry Elia, but no

‘Sending a message’ no doubt – and part of the on-going drive to sanitise our sport. But I came up in an era when in one sprint duel, Walter Riccomi (Italian, best known for his days with the SCIC team) was hit in the chest by a live cat, hurled by a rival sprinter’s fan, so maybe I’m not the guy to judge. Sad for Viviani though and ‘respect’ to Gaviria for the dignified way he handled his promotion to winner.

Stage 3 – Gaviria interview

Stage Four:
Good to see Movistar’s Ecuadorian star Carapaz win his second Giro stage, we knew his form was good coming in as he’d just taken his second consecutive Vuelta a Asturias. In the past he’s been Pan Am U23 Road Race Champion and won the U23 Vuelta a Columbia – if you’re a talent scout it pays to keep an eye on what’s happening there, way across the South Atlantic.

Carapaz – Another win for Ecuador

Ewan went way deep to take second but the South American was just too spry – Roglic strong but Yates slipped just a little. . .

The best of stage 4

Stage Five:
With sprinters it’s as much in the mind as the legs and it looked to us like Viviani’s mind just wasn’t right in this one, which went to the rampant German Champion, Ackermann. Not only did the jury déclassé Viviani on Stage Three, they fined him heavily and deducted 50 points from him, effectively ending his bid for the points jersey with the race barely started – too much punishment for not much of a crime, we say.

Win No. 2 for Ackermann

However, if you’re Tejay in the Golden State it seems there’s a different set of UCi rules apply – two crashes outside three kilometres to go, he drops a minute and gets the same time as the bunch? Curious. . .

Tour next for Dumoulin?

And ‘ciao’ to Big Tom D, he crashed and lost four minutes yesterday then climbed off today – he still has plenty of time to get ready for le Tour though.

‘Behind the Scenes’ Lotto Soudal on stage 5

Stage Six:
He gets up people’s noses, is out-spoken and some may say he’s ‘a bit of a monkey’. But the man behind the Androni team, Gianni Savio fields a well presented squadra every year which gives young riders a chance to get into the pro peloton and show themselves; he also gives fellow ‘monkeys’ a second chance. And that’s before we speak about the DS, soigneurs and mechanics who he keeps in a job. So to see one of his boys take the stage and put one over on the World Tour teams is no bad thing. Even though it’s pretty certain that Fausto Masnada will be WorldTour himself in 2020 – and no doubt there’ll be a little ‘commish’ for Gianni when the deal is done?

Stage win for Masnada and pink for Conti

Masnada the stage and Bahrain’s Valerio Conti in pink; not a bad old day for the Home Boys.

Crash for Roglic

Stage Seven:
I read Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France book, last week, it’s much better that his previous offering which was a tad too ‘light and fluffy’ for me. He makes the point that in stage racing it’s often what you don’t do that makes the difference; you come into the race with 100 rounds of ammunition, every time you fire one, it’s gone and it’s not coming back. If you get to the last couple of days and your bandolier is empty then you’re in trouble. And if you’re a serious GC contender then that doesn’t just go for you, it means your team too. During Team Sky’s era of Tour dominance did you ever see anyone other than the GC guy chase stage wins? The answer is ‘no’ it’s always ‘all for Wiggo/Froomey/Gee’.

Astana on the attack with Bilbao

We have to take it then that Astana are not 100% confident that Lopez can win this race overall given they allowed Andrey Zeits and eventual winner, Spaniard Pello Bilbao to go on the attack? And not just any day, one run off at 45 kph plus on a far from flat percorso. Glory for Bilbao in L’Aquila but will it cost Lopez come that final week?

After stage interviews

Stage Eight:
Persistence paid off for Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal and Australia); he’d been fourth, third and second on stages prior to this one, but judged the last corner and short finishing straight perfectly to beat Viviani and Ackermann – who looks to have lost a little of the sparkle that has won him two stages already.

More than happy – Caleb Ewan

Elia? Let’s hope his day comes soon. . .

As is your duty if you have a big sprinter in your team, Ewan’s boys worked hard for him in the tricky closing kilometres to ensure it was going to be a gallop and the little 24 year-old from Sydney didn’t let them down.

Caleb Ewan interview

Stage Nine:
Roglic is imperious; ‘The Shark’ enjoys the wet conditions; Lotto’s Belgian world hour record holder, Campenaerts is desperately unlucky; Yates has a day to forget; a disappointing ride from Lopez but Carthy impresses.

Roglic ‘Rocks It’

Points as they arise: Roglic confirms that this race is his to lose, cool, calm, collected and well in control. He sits at 1:50 behind Conti so no presh for him or his boys for a few days.

The Shark has form

Nibali – I won’t go back on my prediction that he won’t win this race but he’s obviously in great shape and looks set for the podium with Roglic.

Bad luck for Campenaerts

Campenaerts unshipped chain late on the climb to the finish with the mechanic making a horrible mess of the bike change – my old amigo and Trek mechanic, Dirk Dekeyser would be shaking his head. A proper, professional change for Victor and he’d have won this race – we feel for the man.

Not a good day for Simon Yates

We’ve yet to hear what happened to Yates – mechanical? illness? or just a ‘giornata no’? But whichever – a disastrous day for him, dropping three minutes plus to Roglic on the day. And today we saw why Astana chased the stage win t’other day, Lopez was anything but ‘super’ in this chrono.

Valerio Conti held the pink jersey for two more days

On a bright note – a nice ride to eighth spot by EF’s young Englishman, Hugh Carthy in front of a host of big names. Conti takes that lovely pink jersey into the rest day and with two sprint stages thereafter he should carry it well into week two.

Who will be the next wearer of the pink jersey?

Not a bad first week at all. . .

Keep it PEZ for everything Giro d’Italia. Live action at steephillTV.

Tough days ahead

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,700 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

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