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GIRO’22 The Final Rant: Jai’s Giro!

Ed's final look at the 2022 Giro

The Final Giro Rant: The dust has settled on yet another stunning Giro d’Italia, excitement all the way, with very few dull moments. Jai Hindley was a worthy winner and the top 10 was full of talent. Ed Hood has been glued to the Italian Grand Tour to give us his take on the 2022 La Corsa Rosa.

# You can see the ‘First Rest Day Rant’ HERE, the ‘Second Rest Day Rant’ HERE and the ‘Third Rest Day Rant’ HERE. #

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A big win for the BORA-hansgrohe team

STAGE 16:
Some of you might not like what I’m about to say but; ‘do we really need so many huge climbs in the race?’ The Grand Tours all have this obsession with altitude gain, if they eased back on that and designed a course which the like of Wout Van Aert or Mathieu Van Der Poel could win on it would make for a more open, competitive race. Okay, I’ve said it.

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Oh, those mountains

And on the subject of climbs, there seems little logic to the way they’re classified, today’s late climb to Teglio was savage but wasn’t classified albeit was a ‘sprint point.’ And while I’m on a ‘roll,’ another of my band wagons – disc brakes. The noise they make on long descents must drive the riders crazy, adding to an already stressful situation – that was never mentioned when the industry told us how much we all need to be on them?

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The Mortirolo wasn’t crucial, but great for the ‘Tifosi’

The Mighty Mortirolo wasn’t crucial today, the final Santa Christina climb was on ‘The Bigs’ minds and where the real action happened. My favourite team, ‘Those Wanty Boys’ took their second stage win courtesy Czech rider, Jan Hirt but their main man for the GC, Pozzo slipped one spot from fifth to sixth, hampered by a spill on the descent of the Mortirolo – they also lost strongman Loic Vliegen who was DNF. A bitter, sweet day for the men in fluo.

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The ‘Break of the Day’ went all the way

I make Hirt the fifth Czech Republic rider to take a Giro stage within the last 25 years; big hitting sprinter Jan Svorada won five stages between ’94, ’95 and ’00, Jan Hruska won the prologue and last time trial in 2000, Josef Cerny won a stage in ’20 and in ’12 Roman Kreuziger won a stage.

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Stage win for Kreuziger in Giro’12, but not overall

Kreuziger rode for Astana that year and was touted as a potential overall winner but flopped, albeit he nabbed a ‘consolation’ stage win; when a journo asked an Astana team official if he was pleased with Kreuziger’s stage victory, the stony faced reply was; ‘we didn’t come here to win stages!’ I think the Intermarché Wanty management might be a bit happier with their boy’s win though. . .

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Another stage win for the ‘Wanty Boys’

On the GC, Martin found a snake, slipping down six places to 16th, Almeida hung tough in third spot whilst Jai Hindley chastised me again for my lack of respect for him in my preview and closed to within three seconds of the maglia rosa on GC. But Bora, please get better organised in support of your man – he can win. . .

Stage 16 highlights

 

STAGE 17:
It was the day of the 22 years-olds; Bahrain Victorious Colombian, Santiago Buitrago took victory from Jumbo-Visma Dutchman, Gies Leemreize. It would have been neat if third placed – and yesterday’s winner – Intemarché’s Jan Hirt was 22 years-old too but he’s actually a decade older.

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It was Santiago Buitrago’s day

There were no real stand out results for Buitrago as a junior, came up through the Esteban Chaves Foundation but as a u23 riding for the Cinelli team in Italy in 2019 he rode a strong Giro della Valle d’Aosta – long a ‘shop window’ for the pro teams, Bahrain signed him and in 2020 they had him in the Vuelta. Last year saw promising rides in the Settimana Ciclistica Italiana and Vuelta a Burgos. This year he was off his mark early, winning the Circuito Feria de Manizales in his native Colombia in January, then Stage One of the Saudi Tour in February; he came close to a stage win here in the Giro on Stage 15 – ‘one to watch,’ for sure.

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Leemreize was close

Leemreize had some promising u23 results in 2018 and 2019 riding for the Sensa Kanjers Voor Kanjers team before being snapped up by the Jumbo-Visma continental team for 2020 for whom he took a top five in another ‘shop window,’ the French Ronde de l’Isard. He came back to win the l’Isard race in 2021, by now with the Jumbo Visma WorldTour squad, and rode a strong Tour de l’Avenir, finishing just off the final GC podium. With his tall, slim build, the high mountains are where he excels and today was his fourth top 10 finish of the Giro – he was clearly forlorn as he crossed the line but his day will surely come?

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Hirt – Movin’ on up

Hirt’s third spot on the stage elevates him to seventh on GC but team mate, ‘Pozzo’ slips to 10th on GC; if both men can retain those positions, added to the team’s two stage wins it’ll put the icing on an already very successful Giro for them.

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Hugh Carthy got stronger as the Giro went on

Hirt’s breakaway ‘partner in crime,’ these last two days, Britain’s Hugh Carthy deserves plaudits, no stage win but a huge display of commitment and TV time for his sponsor.
Likewise MvdP, no second stage win but great entertainment value and TV exposure.

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Carapaz and Hindley sprinting for any small advantage

But what of the GC; it looks like the podium will be between Carapaz, Hindley and Landa – but ‘Mickey’ still has time for a ‘Giornato No’ or mishap? However, Almeida is less than a minute behind the Spaniard in fourth spot and a stronger time trial rider but can’t afford to ship any more time on tough stages 19 and 20. Nibali sits sixth but with a 4:43 deficit on the podium it’s hard to see him close that gap. Tomorrow sees a break from the high mountains with a downhill and flat last hour making it hard for the break to survive. Démare to make it ‘quattro?’

Stage 17 highlights

 

STAGE 18:
INEOS DS and former fourth place finisher in the Giro, Dario Cioni once told me; ‘sometimes the bunch gets it wrong. . .’

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Another win for Alpecin-Fenix – Dries De Bondt

The sprint teams definitely got it wrong today, playing ‘cagey,’ not committing all of their men to the chase, saving one or two for the finale and only realising the danger when it was too late, despite the peloton ripping in at 60 kph. Quick-Step couldn’t be faulted; FDJ were there but lost big Dutch engine, Ramon Sinkeldam in a split; UAE were there for Gaviria whilst Cofidis only came late to the party – Israel Premier Tech’s contribution was missed, big Giacomo Nizzolo having ‘thrown a bag over it,’ as they say in the building trade.

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A strong ‘Break of the Day’

But the break had three big engines in ‘chrono beast’ Affini, six time Vuelta stage winner Cort and De Bondt – former Belgian Elite Champion and a man with a raft of top placings in ‘cult’ Belgian and Dutch races, not to mention hard working Bardiani man, David Gabburo. My money was on Cort but he’s still on the way back from injury – a broken collarbone in Tirreno.

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Pozzovivo – Impresive for many reasons

But what of the General Classification? The big news is the withdrawal of white jersey Joao Almeida due to his contracting Covid. This moves ‘The Shark’ up to fourth but some 4:43 in arrears of ‘Mickey’ who holds third place – a big margin, BUT if Mickey’s inevitable ‘giornato no’ corresponds with an ‘exploit’ from Sen. Nibali. . . And, ‘Those Wanty Boys,’ Hirt and ‘Pozzo’ now sit sixth and eighth as a great Giro for the boys in fluo rolls on.

The best of stage 18

 

STAGE 19:
This stage was all about tomorrow – the Passos Pordoi and Marmolada; go too deep today and tomorrow could see the end of your ambitions when the inevitable denouement on the Marmolada.
The GC endorses what I’ve just said, there was zero movement in the top 12 standings with all the GC contenders happy to see the break go.

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A last sprint by Carapaz, Hindley

And whilst Carapaz, Hindley and Landa squabbled on the finish climb it wasn’t with any real intent or effect. But it’s no surprise, as I heard Team BikeExchange-Jayco DS, Matt White say; ‘it’s been a brutally hard race and the hottest Giro I’ve ever experienced.’
And as I’ve said before, with only diet coke and mineral water in the bus fridges there are no, ‘miracles’ anymore.

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Bouwman the stage and KOM winner

Bouwman was the winner from a hardworking, committed escape; aided and abetted by the fastest man in the break, Vendrame going the wrong way on the final left hander – he’ll be fun at the dinner table tonight. Vendrame complained about second placed Schmid’s line on the corner whilst Schmid complained about Bouwman’s line on the corner – but Bouwman wasn’t complaining about anything.

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Maybe not the Giro Dumoulin wanted – But his team could be happy

Dumoulin’s GC bid crumbled, to no one’s real surprise and Foss’s challenge never materialised – but if Jumbo-Visma had been asked before this race if they’d settle for two stage wins and the King of the Mountains I’m sure they’d have signed on the dotted line. The Dutch team the winners then.

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A less than happy Vendrame

But what of the losers? Vendrame, of course but also Carapaz who lost trusted mountain super domestique Porte to illness – albeit Pavel Sivakov is doing a great job for him. It was a tough meal for Quick-Step to digest too, Ballerini worked hard in the break for Schmid and the Swiss rider’s disappointment at his second place was obvious. And so to tomorrow, Stage 20 and two of the toughest ascents in the race – it’s unlikely it will all come down to the Stage 21 final time trial but in this Giro, who knows?

Stage 19 highlights

 

STAGE 20:
Memo.
From:
Alastair Hamilton, PEZ Euro Editor.
To: Ed Hood, PEZ ‘Giro Expert.’
Ed, you’re gonna have to brush up on these race previews, Dude: “Jai Hindley [BORA-hansgrohe & Australia] 2e in 2020, in what was a very unusual Giro, won by Tao Geoghegan Hart; the Aussie didn’t finish the race last year and another podium seems unlikely.”

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The end for Carapaz and the winning move for Hindley

Sometimes it’s nice to get it wrong, especially when you watch history being made. Those last five kilometres of the Marmolada illustrated why ‘The Bigs’ were playing it cagey yesterday – a simply savage ascent which reshaped the race. Only those with the hardest of hearts could fail to be moved by the events of this day.

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The look in Carapaz’s eyes said it all

Bora got it 100% right, Kämna went in the break but the stage win wasn’t the objective, it was the classic, ‘have a man up the road,’ move from the German team. As the end game played out between the ‘Big Two’ of Hindley and Carapaz, Kämna eased back from the break to wait for the Australian – Landa had already gone – then accelerated, giving his all. Carapaz’s body language was telling a story of discomfort but when he cracked my eyes widened and I found myself shouting out loud.

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Jai Hindley took the race

Hindley drove on to an eventual 1:28 margin over Carapaz, the Ecuadorian looking in danger of ceding even second place to Landa as his crisis continued over those cruel metres to the line.

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The old and the new – Nibali and López

Nibali’s dreams of an ‘exploit’ and a podium evaporated too, but he should come out of this Giro in fourth place, no shame for his final Grand Tour performance.

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Covi deserves plaudits for his ride on this day

But what of the winner? Alessandro Covi deserves plaudits for his ride on this day, a 50 kilometre solo taking the coveted ‘Cima Coppi’ – the Giro’s highest point – along the way. This season has seen the 23 years-old Lombardino from Taino illustrate his talents with wins in Murcia, Andalucía and a podium at Laigueglia – today under lined his confirmation. There’s just the epilogue to come but this last act was played out in dynamic fashion on a spectacular stage – The Pink Race, I love it. . .

Stage 21 highlights

 

STAGE 21:
There were few changes to the deal which was thrashed out the day previous on the cruel slopes of the Marmolada; just some minor detail points: Hindley ceded but seven seconds of his precious lead to Carapaz to confirm himself as winner of the 2022 Giro d’Italia. Hugh Carthy hopped over Juan Pedro López to grab the last of the top 10 spots.

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Ben Tulett – A man to watch

Ben Tulett impressed again, fifth on the stage after the huge of amount of work he’s done for Carapaz over the last three weeks – a name to watch. Nibali and Landa confirmed just how tired they really were ceding 2:36 and 3:04 respectively over a mere 17.4 kilometres. MvdP had heads shaking again, third on this short chrono stage after all that time spent in the breakaways.

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Matteo Sobrero – Cool!

The winner? Home Boy, from historic Alba in Piedmont, Team BikeExchange-Jayco 25 years-old specialist Matteo Sobrero has made steady rather than spectacular progress against the watch. In 2015 he was 12th in the Worlds junior chrono; 2018 saw him top 10 in the Worlds u23 chrono; 2020 he was top 10 in his national championship and Giro opening time trials; last year he took the national title and was fourth in the Giro’s closing time test; this year he was fourth in the Giro’s opening iTT and took today’s stage by a healthy margin. And the rim brakes on Sobrero’s Giant were just fine to win a Giro time trial on whilst I did dig the airbrush work on his aero helmet – cool.

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Jai Hindley – 2022 Giro d’Italia winner

The best of stage 21

# Hungary, Italy, the Marmolada, the gladiators, the Pink Race – Grazie Mille! #

 

Giro d’Italia 2022 | Stage 21 | Maglia Rosa

 

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