GIRO’22: Rest Day Rant # 2

The Giro hits Italy and Ed Hood has his rant

Giro Rest Day Rant: Six more chaotic Giro d’Italia stage in and the Italian Grand Tour has not let us down in the excitement stakes. Ed Hood takes his look at the ‘up and downs’ of stages four to nine, from Etna to Blockhaus.

# You can see the ‘First Rest Day Rant’ HERE. #


Watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free coverage of the Giro d’Italia 2022 on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream original and exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.


STAGE FOUR:
A day of realism and fantasy. There was Teutonic efficiency from BORA-hansgrohe winner, Lennard Kämna – make the break – jump the survivors when they weaken – bridge to the lone leader – beat him in the sprint.


Win for Kämna

No surprise, we knew he had good legs after Stage One and he’s won stages in Catalunya, the Dauphine and Tour. And don’t forget he’s twice a World champion, in the junior time trial and team time trial with Sunweb. Pragmatism too from Alpecin’s Dutch maglia rosa, MVDP with no desperate fight to hang on as long as possible, just acceptance that the jersey would come off his shoulders and there are future battles to fight which put the watts to better use.


Pink for López

Fantasy? The 24 years-old unheralded Spaniard, Juan Pedro López having his most successful day ever on a bike and riding into pink for Trek-Segafredo. But not all fairy tales have happy endings.There was nothing ‘super’ about Colombia’s Miguel Ángel López today;
The Astana press release said:
“Miguel Angel has some thigh problems for a few days already. We tried to do our best to solve it during the first stages in Budapest and during the rest day, but it did not work. Today, unfortunately, he had to stop. Our first diagnosis is the tendon inflammation to the left quadriceps due probable overload or old injury. But, in the next days the rider will pass deep medical check up to find the exact cause of the injury to start the appropriate treatment,” – said Emilio Magni, team doctor.


Taxi for ‘Sooperman López’

It was always fantasy to class him as a GC contender. Likewise Tom Dumoulin, the Jumbo Visma Dutchman may have won his national time trial championship and taken silver in the Olympic time test but Mount Etna is a different ball game – he shipped nine minutes today. And the final fantasy GC contender of the day sadly, was the man who has won two Giri, le Tour and the Vuelta, Vincenzo Nibali; he dropped almost five minutes today to add to a miserable day for Astana – his goal now will be a last week stage win. And to end, a question; “why did INEOS burn up so many watts today to no end?” Answers on a post card, please.

Stage 4 highlights

 

STAGE FIVE:
I thought there was enough altitude loss and kilometres after the big climb of the day for all the sprinters to get back if they lost the wheel on the ascent. But it wasn’t the wolf pack scenting blood today, it was the other teams, in particular Alpecin, who could smell lupine blood in the air as Cav and most of his pack slid backwards.


No sprint for ‘Cav’ on stage 5

Not just Cav but the man with the same sprinting style as the Manxman, Caleb Ewan. The other sprint teams needed no further stimuli to make sure that it wasn’t a trial separation but a full divorce. Arnaud Démare too went backwards BUT he got back; as a man whose best finishes depend on what’s going on between his ears, the situation was perfect. His lead out train performed impeccably to set him up for his first win of 2022 and his first Grand Tour stage win for two years.


Win for Démare and Groupama-FDJ

It’s easy to underestimate the man from Beauvais but he’s one of a very few men who have won the u23 Worlds – 2011 – to make it to the top in the WorldTour. His wins top 100, with this his sixth Giro stage to add to two Tour wins, three Paris-Nice stages and a whole raft of stage wins in minor races. He’s also won Milan-Sanremo, Milan-Turin, Paris-Tours and the Hamburg Classic among another clutch of single day wins. Chapeau!


López still in pink

But this was only FDJ’s third win of 2022 so it will be a most welcome result for Monsieurs Madiot. But just as happened on Stage One, when Cav realised the cause was lost, there were no heroics, sit up, conserve energy and cruise home with half an eye on the time cut – 11:57 was the final damage for Cav and Caleb. Tomorrow’s stage is similar to today, in that there’s a big climb early but there are also lumps and bumps in the final 60K so it looks like another day of hard labour for the sprinters if the breakaway guys are to be tamed.

The best of stage 5

 

STAGE SIX:
Dave has added another level to his ‘paint drying’ category for ‘less than aggressive,’ tappas – ‘Paint Dryer, HC’ – that’s ‘Hors Categorie.’ It was an ‘old school,’ Giro stage, piano, piano; forget my remarks from yesterday about, ‘breaks’ and ‘hard labour.’ Perhaps everyone had an eye on the horrors of tomorrow?


All the action was in the final Ks

The closing kilometres however were conducted at warp factor. As I alluded to yesterday sprinters, and Démare in particular ride as much on morale as watts. Today he beat two of the fastest in the world in Ewan and Cavendish; the only other two heavy weapons missing are Jakobsen and Groenewegen. Cav was unlucky in that one of his main men, Bert Van Lerberghe was taken out of the equation by Cofidis’ Cimolai.


It was close

However, no complaints from pragmatic Michael Mørkøv; ‘we didn’t get it right,’ with no mention of Cimolai’s lack of respect – at that stage of the game you don’t swing violently across like Cimolai did. If you study the footage after the incident you’ll see Big Belgian, Bert having a quiet word with the Italian – misdeeds rarely go unrewarded in the pro peloton.

Domani? 196 kilometres & 4,730 metres ascensione – ‘in boca al lupo, Ragazzi’.

Stage 6 highlights

 

STAGE SEVEN:
‘Persistence is to the character of a man as carbon is to steel,’ the words of positive mental attitude guru, Napoleon Hill. Never more appropriate than on this stage where the two Jumbo Dutchmen; Dumoulin and Bouwman kept calm and carried on despite both being shelled, Dumoulin more than once.


Bouwman was best

And on the heart breaker lift to the line it was Bouwman making it a good day for the Dutch supermarket after the disappointments on Etna the other day, not only taking the stage but a healthy lead in the King of the Mountains contest – even though that contest has a long way to go. And despite Mollema ‘only’ finishing second on the day there was plenty of valuable TV time for the big bobbing Dutchman and Trek-Segafredo – not to mention the fact that Juan Pedro López retained his maglia rosa. They didn’t even have to work to defend it, INEOS did that for them. A good day for Jumbo and Trek then.


A good day for Mollema and Trek-Segafredo

Not so good for Quick-Step who lost lead out Zen Master, Michael Mørkøv to illness and to compound Cav’s woes, Fabio Jakobsen took his second stage win in the Tour of Hungary to underscore the team’s decision to take the Dutchman to the Tour instead of the Manxman, albeit Jakobsen isn’t up against the same quality of opposition as Cav.


Stage 7: Good and bad

Perhaps GC action could have been expected from this stage but Sunday’s killer to Blockhaus was obviously on, ‘The Bigs’ minds. And to close on lighter notes, in the Stage Two chrono, winner Adam Yates wore a ‘Vorteq’ skinsuit; ‘Vorteq custom-fit skinsuits are engineered from the fastest materials available and built using high-definition scan data of your exact geometric proportions, leading to the perfect fit – and ultimate performance.’ A snip at £2,750 – that’s 3,239 Euros or $3,372 – speed don’t come cheap these days.


New pants for Ed

Finally, to close on another close fitting garment. The sponsor’s name on the white jersey for best young rider – the current incumbent is Mauri Vansevenant, López is entitled to it but pink takes precedence – is ‘Intimissimi Uomo,’ suppliers of the official underwear of the Giro, complete with neat Giro logo. I hope to have mine in time for the final chrono in Verona; wearing me chinos low so the Giro logo is on display, naturally, as I enjoy my Peroni Gran Riserva.

Tomorrow is for the ‘Scattista’ – the French would say, ‘finisseurs.’

Stage 7 highlights

 

STAGE EIGHT:
It’s hard to take in that it was a decade ago – 2012 – when Thomas De Gendt told me; “If you don’t risk it then you don’t know how far you can go. Riders are afraid that if they go then they’ll kill themselves on the last climb – I’m not afraid, I know what I’m capable of.
You also need to have an eye for the good moments to go – I think I have that.”

He’d just finished third overall in the Giro after an epic breakaway on Stage 20 which climbed the legendary Stelvio Pass. I mentioned that third place in my 2022 PEZ Giro preview; “Third in 2012, the big Diesel is 35 years-of-age now and his Grand Tour podium days are behind him but he’ll still be, ‘going up the road’ albeit it’s hard to see him winning a stage. . .”


De Gendt was on fire!

Well, I’m happy to report that I got it very wrong. The stage was just too tough for the sprinters but neither did it suit the palette of the ‘pure’ climbers. Step forward, ‘Big Diesels’ – none bigger or stronger at the end of a day when most were on their knees from a testing, lumpy circuit on a hot day than the man from Sint Niklaas. He doesn’t win a lot – this was his first win since March 28th 2021 when he took Stage Seven, the Barcelona circuit of the Tour of Catalonia – but when he does it’s invariably with panache and generates those column inches so precious for a team to present to the sponsors. De Gendt’s Giro stage win makes it two in Italy to go with two in the Tour de France and one in the Vuelta not to mention stages in Catalonia, Paris-Nice, Romandie, Suisse and the Dauphine.


López still has the pizza

The GC?
Despite a late ‘dig’ from Kämna – he’s desperate to see how he’ll look in pink – there was no change to the overall. But I won’t be saying that after tomorrow’s stage. . .

Best of stage 8

 

STAGE NINE:
It’s taken two years for Jai Hindley to prove that his 2020 Giro stage win and second on GC were no flukes – he did so with panache atop the fearsome Blockhaus. Patience and persistence the key factors in a finalé where he looked to be out of the final reckoning until the very last metres.


No fluke for Hindley

The same qualities were displayed by maglia rosa López who, despite a brush with the grass verge and having to unclip, losing precious momentum retained his grip on the precious garment.


López fought to the end to hold the jersey

Good days then for Hindley and López; and also for the ‘old boys’ with Pozzovivo sixth, Nibali eighth and Valverde ninth – albeit the Italian would have been better served to ride at a lesser tempo with a stage win in the last week in mind, he’s at three minutes and the GC is off the table. It’s different for Pozzovivo – a top 10 GC in a Grand Tour would be a big deal for Intermarché whilst a top 10 would be a fitting way to close Valverde’s long Grand Tour career.


Pozzovivo was stunning, all things considered

Also a good day for INEOS, demonstrating, as if they needed to, their strength with Castroviejo, Swift, Tulett – at 20 years-of-age – Sivakov and Porte in particular – shed of the responsibility of leadership – very impressive in support of Carapaz, who did nothing to tarnish his ‘race favourite’ tag. And a cracking day too for the ‘little guys’ with Diego Rosa taking the climbers’ jersey for EOLO-Kometa and more than ‘honouring the pink race.’


Bad day for Yates

That’s ‘the good’ then – ‘the bad?’ The most obvious one was Simon Yates, shipping 11 minutes; Hugh Carthy too wasn’t on his best day, losing 3:48 on this brutally hard day; and whilst Lopez maintained Trek-Segafredo honour, not so their prime GC contender, Giulio Ciccone who lost nine minutes plus. The ugly? Perhaps not so much ugly as unfathomable.


Landa’s day could have been better

‘Mickey’ Landa? – he looks perhaps the strongest all the way up the climb but while the rest are planning their sprint in the closing metres, he’s taking a drink and putting himself in the worst possible position for the sprint? It’s as if the man doesn’t want to win?


Franco Pellizotti was also caught in the Giro of 2009

And to close on Blockhaus; Dave and I were up there in 2009 to witness Pellizotti take the stage and Menchov defend the maglia rosa. It had been one of those days where you think, ‘there’ll be a gas station soon.’


Danilo Di Luca was a classy rider, but…

But we never did come across one, we freewheeled off Blockhaus and at every other opportunity to save precious fuel – just when it looked like all was lost, on the outskirts of a tiny village, floodlit under the moonlight, a credit card ‘automat’ gas pump. Never have I been so happy to pump gas.


Di Luca and Menchov in pink

Enjoy your rest day – but don’t lose the rhythm of the race, even just a grappa, as a digestif, after dinner. . .

Stage 9 highlights

 

# Stay PEZ for Giro Stage Reports and Results, EUROTRASH, Race BREAKDOWN and Rest Day Rants. #


Watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free coverage of the Giro d’Italia 2022 on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream original and exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.


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