Giro Final: The first Grand Tour of 2019 finished on Sunday in Verona with Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz crowned as Giro d’Italia king. Ed has been glued to his oversized TV in his ‘Man Cave’ to give us his low-down on the final week and who was hot to trot and who lost the ball in the penalty box. One thing… don’t mention predictions!
Ecuador was happy on Sunday
Last Week Laments. . .
Who said ‘The Shark’ couldn’t win this race? What’s that? Me?
The look from ‘The Shark’
Ah, well, I may have got that wrong – and we also have to give full credit to his Bahrain-Merida team, doing a proper job for their Capo. Which is more than we can say for Roglic’s team – but more of that in a moment.
Nibali tonight is 1:47 off the lead with young Carapaz still looking good and receiving solid support from Landa. It’s the roll the Spaniard is best suited to; he’s never proved his ability to lead a team but as back up for a strong leader – who takes the pressure – he’s first class. But in the mountains 1:47 can melt away on a single col – and there are plenty of those between Stage 17’s stage start in Commezzadura and the Roman arena in Verona on Sunday afternoon.
Wet and cold on stage 16 – But important
Nibali’s motivation is strong and it’s obvious that a podium place is of no use to him – he wants the win. Looking at the Sicilian’s Grand Tour palmarés reminds one of the depth of his experience. This is his 21st Grand Tour; his eighth Giro with two wins, a second and two third places to his name. He’s ridden seven Tours de France, winning one and finishing third and fourth in two others. Then there are six Vueltas with a win and two second places (we’ll ignore the one declasse, folks).
Ciccone wanted the blue jersey…
This is Carapaz’s fourth Grand Tour. The ‘Old Guard’ v. ‘The Young Turk’, the classic confrontation. I thought the ‘new wave’ of Yates, Roglic and Lopez would be too strong for old Vincenzo; I’m delighted he’s proving me wrong.
…And the stage win
All too much for Ciccone
Roglic: the Slovenian started as favourite and looked cast iron certain to win at the end of the first week but his lack of team support, bad luck and relative inexperience at this level are apparent as the going gets really tough. But let’s not forget today’s stage winner Ciccone, tightening his grip on the mountains jersey and more than justifying Trek’s faith in him.
In week one it looked like it was Roglic’s race to lose – we’re now into week three and it looks like Carapaz’s to lose as he puts more time into all of his rivals, again today. His team is strong, with second in command Landa solid.
Tough days ahead
Roglic looks a less likely winner by the day UNLESS he can claw time back on the ‘Man From Ecuador’ BEFORE the final chrono. Carapaz only conceded 1:55 to the Jumbo chronoman in the first time test, given that the second joust with ‘Old Father Time’ is half the distance of the first there’s little chance of the man in pink ceding 2:16 to the Slovenian.
The cracks would show
Roglic not looking so good
Nibali is no tester and slipped a little today, but if that was his worst day of the race then he won’t be too concerned, especially after his efforts during Stage 16. The BUT is that if he wants to win this race then he has to put almost two minutes into Carapaz. The way the South American is climbing, that looks unlikely – but we said the same about Yates last year before he melted down.
Carapaz – still looking good
Nans Peter gave AG2R their first Giro stage win in eight years – John Gadret, Stage 11 in 2011 – in fine solo style. His first name comes from a 70’s French TV show, ‘Nans le berger’ – ‘berger’ being shepherd in French; yes, we knew that would fascinate you. . .
Like Stephen Roche always says; ‘if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. . .’
The break of the day
It looked like another doomed breakaway; just three lowly placed riders, pan flat, long straights – no chance.
The peloton left it a little late
Except. . . The three men, Nico Denz (AG2R-La Mondiale), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) and Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini) BELIEVED and gave us perhaps the best finish of the race with the peloton screaming up to and over them in the closing metres – except for Cima who had the best day on a bike of his life.
Not much climbing today
The big bucks WorldTour teams were shamed by the team with the lowest budget in the race – a David and Goliath day, if ever there was one. A lack lustre Groupama-FDJ had to give best to Bora-Hansgrohe with German Champion Ackermann reclaiming the points jersey. With two mountain stages to go the French team’s only chance of getting back into ciclamino will be via the early points sprints. Good luck with that one guys. . .
So close for Ackermann
Back into the mountains tomorrow; it’s Carapaz’s to lose but Nibali has won this race on the last weekend before. . .
And it’s still Carapaz’s to lose. If tonight’s status quo stands tomorrow night then Carapaz will win this Giro with a reduced margin in Verona, Roglic will hop over Nibali in the time test to finish second with the Sicilian third. Knowing Nibali as we do it’s difficult to imagine he’s ‘tranquillo’ with that scenario BUT his Bahrain management may well be?
They perhaps think he can hang on to second in the final time trial and even if he slips to third then it’s a guaranteed podium rather than risking that by attacking the Ecuadorian star, tomorrow?
Tunnels and climbs
But like everyone else, I’m hypothesising; there are 194 kilometres and 5,000 metres of climbing with five major climbs – the first of which comes just 10 miles after the flag drops – and a final ascent described as a ‘killer’ which will write the penultimate chapter for us. The organisers will be hoping that it all comes down to the final chrono but given the severity of Stage 20 it could be decided by tomorrow night with the TT a formality?
Chaves is back
Chaves. . . ‘Back from the dead’ to resurrect his career and make it a much less than ‘disastrous Giro’ for the Aussie team. Yates had himself down as one of the big favourites for this race – as did I – and it’s hard to imagine that the team’s management has been comfortable with how this race has gone for them thus far. But maybe the Lancashire man will ‘do a Froomey’ tomorrow? I’ll be glued to that TV tomorrow from kilometre zero. . .
Things we learned today; don’t mess with Lopez, he may be small but he punches above his weight; everyone is on their knees – so a stage like this really isn’t the answer so late in the race; Carapaz deserves his victory, strong and calm under fire; Roglic has grinta, but REALLY needs a team if he’s ever to win a Grand Tour; Nibali is still one of the best but Old Father Time catches up with us all; Yates got his prep for this one badly wrong but Hugh Carthy is coming on just fine.
We knew really that Roglic couldn’t take back the time on Carapaz to make a race of tomorrow’s time trial and whilst we hoped Nibali could take those two minutes he needed back with a long distance raid, we knew it was unlikely. And so it proved, a long wait for an entertaining final climb with Roglic penalised 10 seconds for getting pushed – but he should still jump back over Landa against the watch, especially as he starts right in front of the Slovenian then Lopez tangling with an idiot fan – not good PR though, a rider laying into a spectator, however stupid the offender may be – Nibali on the attack, Roglic fighting hard to limit his losses and number three for Astana.
The Carapaz family
A bare cupboard for CCC, Dimension Data, Ineos, Sunweb and – most unlike them – Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Bahrain-Merida will make the final podium with Nibali so it was worthwhile them coming – but those listed above. . .
Remember those Grand Tour closing time tests back ‘in the Man from Plano’ era? When the top guys on GC would battle it out for the chrono stage win on the day? After they’d been knocking lumps out of each other over Europe’s toughest climbs for three weeks.
Chad Haga – The big, and only Sunweb, win
It’s so much more believable nowadays when one of the specialists who has been hiding in the grupetto wins; and the ‘Bigs,’ after all that mountain warfare summon their last reserves and barely sneak into the top 10. So it proved today with Sunweb’s US time tester, Chad Haga taking a euphoric victory in Verona’s historic Roman arena and saving the race for his team.
Nibali rode an excellent TT and closed the gap on Carapaz but not by nearly enough, however Roglic leap frogged Landa to go back on the podium. Majka rode a good test to hop over Lopez and into sixth spot but the street fighting Columbian held on to his white jersey with nearest rival Sivakov two places back in ninth place. Lopez perhaps not as good as we expected in this race but Sivakov developing very nicely after his Tour of the Alps success.
It was a tough final TT for Carapaz, but no problem
A new star is born but with some of the ‘new stars’ not perhaps as stellar as they think they are. But the old guard ‘rages against the dying of the light,’ RESPECT to Vincenzo Nibali and ‘thank you’ to all who gave us a memorable Giro d’Italia 2019.
The 2019 Giro d’Italia Top Three
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.