Giro Rest Day Rant: There has been a lot of pasta eaten since last week and the Giro d’Italia action has been ‘al dente’ – Firm to the bite. Ed Hood has followed every pedal stroke to give us his low-down on stage 10 through 15.
How much longer can João Almeida hang on to the pink jersey
‘Exploits’ the French call them. It’s difficult for a sprinter to perform one, albeit Englishman Dan McLay’s ‘video game’ finale to win the GP Denain in 2016 just about qualifies. Yes, you can have time trial ‘exploits’ – just ask Tadej Pogačar about those, or Greg Lemond.
Lemond’s TT ‘exploit’
But the real ‘exploits’ are when a rider solos to glory against the odds. English ex-pro and multiple British champion, Daryl Webster, makes a couple of good points about Peter Sagan and his ‘decline’.
The ‘decline’ doesn’t look too bad
He’s the most marked man in the peloton and he has a huge number of placings; in 2020 thus far he was five times top six in San Juan, twice top three at Paris-Nice, fourth in Milano-Torino and Milano-Sanremo, six times top five at Le Tour and his sensational win on Stage 10 of this Giro is his fourth podium of the race.
Sagan in the break
He infiltrated a break which the field tried so hard to shut down, left it with a few other desperadoes when the writing was on the wall, dumped them too and rode ‘la course en tete’ to arrive at the line in solitary splendour with a gesture which said it all, ‘I’m still THE man!’
Commiserations to all who had to leave the race due to the Covid situation, especially Steven Kruijswijk, punished by Donna Giro yet again.
Last laugh time; remember in my first rant I was getting hot under the collar about the EF jersey disrespecting the pink race with their ‘duck’ maglia? Rapha offered replica jerseys to members of the their club – membership £70:00/year – and if I may borrow a few lines from stickybottle.com:
One Ebay user was offering a jersey, shorts and pair of socks for sale in a bundle for a staggering $1,300.
Others were selling the jersey on its own – which was initially sold for £145 – for the sum of £600 with a bidon being sold for $125.
The team’s Rapha + Palace kit also includes other items like helmets and casual wear. And some of that was also already on sale on Ebay even though it was only offered for sale by Rapha and Palace on their websites from midday on Friday. POC Ventral helmets, to match the distinctive Giro kit livery, were on sale for £750, with hoodie tops being offered at $300, T-shirts at £150 and even a team cap for £160. Two stage wins and £150 for a T-shirt, yup, last laugh to Mr, Vaughters and EF.
Démare, Four: Rest of the World’s Sprinters, Nil. Only two French riders have a better record in the Giro than Arnaud’s five stage win total – and they’re two of the sport’s legends, ‘Maitre Jacques’ Anquetil and Bernard Hinault.
Another sprint win for France
The Norman won six stages – unsurprisingly, all chronos between 1960 and 1964; he twice won the GC. The Breton also won six stages, including three in 1982 of which two were time trials; he won the overall GC on three occasions.
Hinault – Giro overall and three stages
Hinault is not the only other Frenchman to have won three stages in the one Giro, Nacer Bouhanni also did that in 2014; but Démare is now the first to have won four stages in the one Giro. And what about the French fast man’s Lapierre Aircode DRS 8.0 machine in ciclamino to match his maglia? Bella!
In the points classification, Démare leads by 36 points from Sagan, 220 to 184 with third man Ganna on 51 which gives some indication of how much of a level above these two are.
But as Primoz Roglič will tell you, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. . .
Like Gloria Gaynor said; ‘Did you think I would crumble, did you think I would lay down and die?’ Ineos may have lost Geraint, their team leader but their heads have far from fallen off with their third stage win – they have ‘survived’.
Narvaez stage 12
Ganna’s Stage One Time Trial win was expected but not his unlikely but epic Stage Five triumph. Neither the Italian nor Ecuadorian Stage 12 winner, Jhonathan Narvaez would have been allowed the freedom to express themselves had their Welsh team leader still been in the race. Narvaez came from the same club in Ecuador as last year’s Giro winner, Ricard Carapaz and Stage Three winner, Jonathan Caicedo. His first pro ride was with Czech registered the Czech registered Klein Constantia continental team – a team which also saw the formative years of Messrs. Remi Cavagna, Enric Mas and Max Schachmann. Promising results, including king of the mountains in the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc saw Axel Merckx’s strong development team, Axeon Hagens Berman sign him for 2017 and he repaid them with a GC win in the Circuit of the Ardennes, the youth classifications in the Tour of the Gila and Colorado Classic, not to mention his national championship – always nice to ‘have a jersey’ in the squad.
It was wet, but hot action from Ecuador
He was snapped up by Quick-Step for 2018 and hit the ground running with seventh in the tough French early season French UCi 1.1 race the Ardeche Classic and then next day second in the Royal Bernard Drome Classic, another 1.1 for the hard men. Seventh behind Big Beast Cavagna in Dwars door West-Vlaanderen underlined that he was no ‘typical South American climber’. Fifth behind Tim Wellens in the Tour de Wallonie confirmed his stage race potential. But whilst racing for the Belgian super team was cool, when the team with the deepest pockets in the World Tour came calling – 50 million Euro budget at last count – it’s hard to say, ‘no’ and for 2019, ‘Ineos’ was the name on his jersey.
A good Giro for INEOS?
There were no real, ‘stand out’ results but he was learning the ropes of how a GC team works and ‘in service’ of a leader for most races. This year saw a breakthrough win on GC in the Coppi e Bartali stage race and now a Grand Tour stage win. A sad Giro for Geraint but, ‘it’s an ill wind. . .’
On social media I saw a complaint that Narvaez should have waited for breakaway companion Padun when the Ukrainian punctured. Why? It’s a bike race, not a club run, it could be Narvaez turn to puncture at a bad time tomorrow. . . And Almeida’s tenth day in pink – outstanding.
Still in pink
Two kilometres at 10% late in the day then a pan flat finale for Stage 13, can FDJ get the man in ciclamino back in time?
What happened, it wasn’t meant to be a GC stage? Although it went to a man who’s not as fast as the ‘pure’ sprinters but handles Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery on the short, sharp jags better than any of his peers. So let’s hear it from the man himself; “We did a great job on the final climb to break away from the sprinters and arrive in a small group. We knew that if we could keep them away we would have a chance to fight for the sprint. I have to thank the whole team who set this up perfectly, first with Conti and then with a great lead out from McNulty who set me up in the final. Since we restarted the season I am going really well and I am so happy to have won two stages, which I can add to my previous six wins here.” Diego due!
Another for Diego
Yes, that’s eight Giro stages thus for the man from the seaside town of Cecina in Tuscany. When we interviewed UAE Team Emirates DS Allan Peiper after Pogacar’s stunning time trial win which gave him the maillot jaune on the Champs Elysees, he tipped Ulissi for the Worlds. I remember thinking; ‘he’s good but not that good’. He was 47th at Imola.
It was close
But what about Almeida? He was close to the stage win, grabbed more bonus seconds and tomorrow is his eleventh day in pink. For a team that’s main focus isn’t GC, the window and floor boys ain’t doing too badly. Can he go all the way? I’d love to see it but four place names spring to mind: ‘Piancavalo’ on stage 15 – ‘Maddonna de Campiglio’ on Stage 17 – ‘Stelvio’ on Stage 19 and ‘Sestriere’ on Stage 20. But like the, ‘friends of Bill’ – that’s members of Alcoholics Anonymous to you and me – say; ‘one day at a time’.
If you’re a purist then Dennis is the man, silky smooth, no upper body movement, the consummate ‘chronoman’. Ganna is a beast, in the Cancellara mould, much less poetic in motion than Dennis. That said the 6’4” Italian is impressive in full flight, picking off World Tour minute men like a British champion riding a club mid-week 10 mile time trial against juniors and veterans.
Ganna is a beast
Of all the riders I’ve seen in my life time perhaps the Dane, Ole Ritter was the most stylish – smooth, rock solid in the saddle. You can see him in action in the ‘Stars and Watercarriers’ Giro documentary; in Merckx beating action but beaten in turn by the late, great, Felice Gimondi. In a Tour of Sardinia TT stage, Ritter put 28 seconds into Merckx in a 19 kilometre time trial, covering the percorso at 54 kph – and that was without a 12 sprocket, never mind an 11.
Ole Ritter was a smooth as silk on a bike
Ganna’s ride apart, other rides of the day; Almeida, sixth on the stage and now leading by close to a minute; thus far he’s passed all the tests. The next exam comes tomorrow though with a proper mountain top finish on Piancavallo; some 15 kilometres at around 8%.
Stunning ride by McNulty
Another huge ride was that of 22 year-old American, Brandon McNulty [UAE-Team Emirates] taking third on the stage and moving up seven spots to fourth on GC. As a junior in 2015 he won the Peace Race, was fourth in the prestigious Dutch junior classic, the Three Days of Axel, was second in the Tour de l’Abitibi (the Junior Tour de France) and was third in the junior world time trial championship. The following year he won Abitibi and the world junior time trial title. Moving up to u23 in 2017 he won the US TT title, made the podium in the Tour of Alsace and took silver in the u23 world time trial championship. In 2018 he was again on the Alsace podium after winning the prologue; but last season was the breakthrough – winning the Tour of Sicily ahead of quality riders like Guillaume Martin, Fausto Masnada and Aleksandr Vlasov. He was again on the u23 TT Worlds podium and UAE snapped him up.
Leading in San Juan
This season started well, fourth on GC at San Juan and seventh at the Ruta del Sol – then came lock down. We had a chat with him during lock down which you can read HERE. Post lock down the Tour de Pologne and Tour du Limousin passed quietly for him but the Giro has seen him improve day by day, second on Stage 10, sixth on Stage 12 and third today. As with Almeida – who’ll be in pink for the twelfth day tomorrow – it’s going to be interesting to see how he tackles the clima to come. The ‘New Wave’ marches on. . .
The only indication we’ve had this year, before this Giro of course, that Tao Geoghegan Hart’s progress was on the correct curve was his third place in the early season Valenciana. Tirreno didn’t give us any clues and nor did the Stage One time test where he was in an unremarkable 126th position. But sixth on tough Stage Nine then fourth on ‘sting in the tail’ Stage 13 served warning that he was running into form.
Big win and top ride from Tao Geoghegan Hart
We knew he could climb, remember that he won two stages in the Tour of the Alps last year but this performance was on a different plane, against some of the world’s best Grand Tour riders. And I have to repeat myself; ‘Geraint Thomas crashing out was a blessing in disguise,’ giving the Ineos men the opportunity to express themselves. Supposing Ineos do nothing else it’s been a great Giro for them.
Almeida held on
But Londoner TGH must now be considered a realistic podium contender, sitting fourth on GC. Almeida defended yet again but showed weakness when the chips were down in the final. Will 13 days in pink be unlucky for Almeida? It’s possible but Tuesday’s Stage 16 doesn’t look like a GC day?
Sunweb were on a mission
A good day for London and Portugal then – but who else is on the up? Dutchman Wilco Kelderman [Sunweb] is showing his best form in a long time, taking time back on Almeida, he’ll be looking forward to Wednesday, Stage 17 and the Madonna di Campiglio. There is a ‘but’ – it’s heading into late October, the ski season isn’t far away and there’s talk of some of the high passos closing. . .
Hindley putting on the pressure
Kelderman’s second place owed much to the pace making of team mate, Aussie’s Jai Hindley who took third on the stage and is now third overall, like TGH up seven places in the standings. Hindley won the Jayco Herald Sun Tour back in his native land in February but since then has done little to indicate to Grand Tour potential – but this is one unusual season.
What can Giovanni Visconti do?
And let’s not forget 37 year-old Giovanni Visconti, the three time Italian Elite Champion took the lead in the king of the mountains classification; a big deal for his pro continental team, Vini Zabu KTM.
Those are the ladders, what about the snakes? McNulty paid for his dazzling chrono, dropping seven places on GC, Bilbao dropped off the ‘virtual’ podium, Fuglsang couldn’t go with the leaders, nor could Pozzovivo and the Shark’s teeth aren’t as sharp as they used to be.
There’s an interesting final week is in prospect. . . Keep it PEZ for the Giro final week.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 15:
1. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick Step in 59:27:38
2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 0:15
3. Jai Hindley (Aus) Sunweb at 2:56
4. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 2:57
5. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-McLaren at 3:10
6. Rafał Majka (Pol) BORA-hansgrohe at 3:18
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 3:29
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling at 3:50
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 4:09
10. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick Step at 4:12.