GIRO’22 Rest Day #3 Rant: “It could be a slaughter fest.”
The Giro through the eyes of Ed Hood
Giro Rest Day Rant: Ed Hood looks back over the last six stunning days of the 2022 Giro d’Italia: Stage 10 through to stage 15, from Pescara in the South to Cogne in the Alps. With the mountains on the Giro horizon, the race is on…
Here comes the big Giro climbs
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Like Jennifer Paige said in ‘Crush,’ – “Let’s not over analyse, Don’t go too deep with it, baby” And as Scotland’s immortal bard, Rabbie Burns said; “A man’s a man for a’ that.” Race, colour, creed are irrelevant, what matters is what’s in a man’s heart. However, for sure a historic moment as Biniam Girmay takes Black Africa’s first Grand Tour stage win.
Biniam Girmay making history
But it’s not Africa’s first stage win in a Grand Tour, that’s down to the late, Alan van Heerden’s Stage Seven win in the Giro way back in 1979.
Alan van Heerden
It was another 20 years before Robbie Hunter repeated the feat with victory in Stage One of the 1999 Vuelta. Two years later Hunter pulled off another Grand Tour victory in Stage 17 of the Vuelta; Danilo Hondo in second place and Robbie McEwen in third place underscore the quality of that win.
A great day for Eritrea
It would be six years later when Hunter scored the biggest win of his career in Stage 11 of the 2007 Tour de France. And we could mention Chris Froome’s string of Grand Tour successes – he was born in Nairobi – but they came after he’d taken up British citizenship. However, the way Girmay is progressing it doesn’t look like we’ll have to wait too long on Africa’s next Tour de France stage win; especially since that rogue cork sadly forced his premature exit from the Pink Race.
Remembering Michele Scarponi
And it would be wrong to let this stage pass without mention of the late Michele Scarponi who knew these roads so well. Rest in peace Campione.
Stage 10 highlights
I just about remember the feeling, mere mortals don’t have so many of them, one of those days when the pedals are light under your feet, guys around you are, ‘rouge’ but you feel comfortable and winning seems easy. The question is; was it just such a ‘special’ day for DSM’s Giro Home Boy, Alberto Dainese or is this his stepping up to join Arnaud, Caleb, Cav, Fernando and Giacomo at the top of the ‘velocisti’ totem pole? The weeks and months ahead will tell.
Surprise win by Alberto Dainese
It’s two years since the Italian last won a race; in the Herald Sun Tour in Australia but late last year he had some tasty results – second in Paris-Chauny and third in both GP Isbergues and Giro del Veneto. We’ll watch with interest.
2020 Herald Sun Tour stage win in Australia for Dainese
Arnaud was ‘only’ fourth on the stage but did consolidate his big advantage in the points classification – 173 to Cav’s 96 – however, it wasn’t for lack of effort from his team with 28 years-old Aussie, Miles Scotson particularly impressive inside the red kite. It was a typical sprint stage but the finalé was enlivened by a big, late solo effort from former Belgian Champion, Dries De Bondt of Alpecin-Fenix who held off a rampaging peloton for a long time.
But we wonder if he was paid to make the move by a whip round from TV commentators to give them something to talk about? No chance for revenge for the fast twitchers tomorrow with the first 97.3 kilometres all against gravity to the top of the third cat. Passo Del Bosca then another third cat. and a second cat. climb on the agenda before the finish of this break friendly stage in historic Genoa.
The best of stage 11
When you hear the commentators say that none of the three men who would play out the finalé had ever won a bike race it’s easy to think that they’re just average riders.
Not average riders
But take winner, Stefano Oldani; Italian Junior Time Trial Champion in 2016 – picked up by the cult Italian u23 squadra, Colpack with a raft of top placings in top line Italian u23 races over the two seasons he was there – moved on to Basso/Contador’s Kometa continental team – another host of placings – up to the WorldTour for two seasons with Lotto Soudal – more strong placings including Giro top 10’s – Alpecin-Fenix this year – close to his first win in the Volta Limburg, only beaten by ‘wonder kid,’ Arnaud De Lie before today’s exploit.
A fine win for Stefano Oldani
The Italian is a ‘quality boy;’ he wouldn’t be in this race if he wasn’t and his stage win is no surprise merely confirmation of his abilities. And that cadence of his up the finish straight proves you don’t always need to be in the 11 or 12 sprockets to win a sprint.
That finishing straight in Genova
And as we pass the half way point of the race, the fight for a stage win becomes ever more desperate with many teams still empty handed. It took a huge early fight and 50 kph speeds before the break prized clear. However, the three who ultimately fought out the final all belonged to teams with wins, ‘on the board’ – so racing without the pressure of a barren score sheet.
The young (next to Valverde) López still in pink
Another good day for Alpecin-Fenix then – and also for Trek-Segafredo’s endearing Pink Race leader, Juan Pedro López; ‘living the dream’ as the man himself says. Not bad days either for Wilco Kelderman and Lucas Hamilton whose breakaway adventures dragged them back up into the top 20 on GC – but still with many mountains to climb.
Bad day? That would be Caleb who headed home to lick his wounds, motor pace and build aggro le Tour. And let’s take a peek at the tail end of the GC – a Quick-Sep duo: second last, 161st @ 2:54:56 Cav – last, 162nd @ 2:55:13 Bert Van Lerberghe, BUT it just MIGHT be a sprint finish tomorrow guys. . . then you can go home.
Stage 12 highlights
‘Tredici’ – lucky for some, Arnaud Démare for instance, we’ve said it before but when his morale and belief are strong he’s one of the very best and his team feeds off that.
And once again we see that it’s not just about pure speed, it’s about positioning, timing and playing to your strengths – Démare won but Bauhaus was finishing visibly much faster.
Another stage win for Démare, but Bauhaus was fast
But unlucky for others, primarily Romain Bardet, forced out through illness when a real podium contender.
Bad luck too for the four in the breakaway when they looked to have it in the bag – but FDJ’s belief in Démare and those fatal, late ‘poker games’ among the four spelled heart break as their lead melted, ‘like snow off a dyke’ as we say in Scotland. That’s ‘dyke’ as in wall not something that keeps the North Sea at bay.
Unlucky break, caught in-sight of the finish
Sprints, breakaways but what of the GC? Remarkably, given the fireworks of the first two weeks, the top 11 are covered by a mere 1:27. Race revelation Juan Pedro López continues to lead – that’s 10 days now – but with race favourite Richard Carapaz hovering at 12 seconds; no glowing days in pink for the Ecuadorian but neither is there the pressure on his team of having to defend.
João Almeida waiting in the wings or hanging on?
João Almeida shares the same seconds as Carapaz and looks set for the podium, as does re-born Jai Hindley in fourth spot. Guillaume Martin lies fifth but is sure to have a bad day, as will sixth placed ‘Mickey’ Landa. Seventh is another man ‘doing a Lazarus’ and coming back to the top – the man with the worst riding style since Michel Pollentier, that’s little Domenico Pozzovivo. A top 10 would add to an already great Giro for the, ‘fluo boys.’
Pozzovivo ‘doing a Lazarus’
Buchmann in eighth spot just might surprise but not Bilbao in ninth – in tenth place and sure to move up, 42 years-old Alejandro Valverde – remarkable. Stage 14 is for the breakaway but any weakness by a GC rider will be punished on an intense stage with 11 climbs. Stage 15 sees 46 kilometres of ascent in the last 80 kilometres over three mountains. They’re going to earn that Monday rest day. . .
The best of stage 13
‘Mea culpa,’ I confess that I wasn’t previously a Jai Hindley ‘believer’ – that 2020 Giro where he finished second was an unusual one, some might even say a ‘freak’ one? But the slim Aussie put me right on the slopes of Blockhaus on Stage Nine this year – and again today when his BORA-hansgrohe team went, ‘old school’ and blew the race to pieces.
BORA-hansgrohe blew the race apart
As I heard Jens Voigt say before the stage; ‘it could be a slaughter fest today.’ He got that right. Sometimes, when you’re writing a daily opinion piece like this you think, ‘what the hell am I going to say today?’ No such worries with tappa 14.
Carapaz, Hindley and Nibali – Top men
Going back to the gentleman from Perth, Western Australia, whilst Carapaz came into this race as hot favourite and he’s in pink right now, Hindley is only seven seconds back and the Ecuadorian will now know that victory in Verona is no formality. Especially when we see that BORA are every bit as strong as INEOS – and as we say in Scotland, ‘Gallus,’ that’s bold and unafraid.
Hindley and Carapaz fought out the sprint
Yesterday I pontificated that race was still, ‘close’ with a mere 1:27 covering the top 11 on GC; let’s make that 9:16 today after BORA rolled all those depth charges over the stern. That said, the top three are separated by a mere 30 seconds with Almeida in third spot; but that hesitation he showed on the descents today is going to cost him dear in gap closing watts over the next stages.
What next for Landa?
Landa sits fourth at 0:59; but he has ‘Richie Porte syndrome’ and something is sure to happen to make sure he doesn’t make the podium. ‘Pozzo’ in fifth place at 1:01 was without a contract at the start of the year and was picked up by what seemed like a real mismatch of a team for him, those Belgian bar room brawlers, Intermarche Wanty Gobert Materiaux. He’s repaid their faith in him with interest, even leading sprints out – remarkable.
Bilbao not coming back on the overall
Bilbao is sixth at 1:52 but it’s hard to see him claw that back. Hindley’s BORA team mate, Buchmann is seventh at 1:59 and strong enough to provide the Aussie with solid support deep into the tough stages to come. In eighth place now is the man the frenzied tifosi were willing on up those horror climbs on the savage final circuits – Vincenzo Nibali who’s at 2:58. He’ll be ruing that bad day on Etna, today he was one of the very best; he can just about dream of a final podium if he continues to climb like this and has an ‘exploit’ or two still in his legs?
The dream was over for López
But for Juan Pedro López the dream is over as he plummets to ninth at 4:04 but 10 days in pink isn’t so bad. . .
Valverde lost time
Closing out the top 10 is the man I said would move up; Valverde, whilst his GC position is unaltered he’s now at 9:06, yesterday it was 1:23 – sorry, Alejandro. Big French hope Guillaume Martin shed time too – but that’s his way, he’ll bounce back.
Stage win for Simon Yates
Stage winner Yates? He was World Points Race Champion back in 2013; he’s riding this Giro like a points race, he’s not contesting all the points sprints just the ones which suit him. . .
Stage 14 highlights
The start was frantic, just under 52kph for the first hour but when the break of the day went you could almost hear the sigh of relief from the peloton. It was Ciccone’s day, he was strongest of the breakaway and had ants in his pants on the climb to the finish, going solo for nearly 19 kilometres.
Emotional win for Ciccone
Another good day for Trek-Segafredo, a stage win to follow 10 days in rosa – Messrs. Rast and Baffi in the team cars can’t be anything but happy. And I got one thing right, our boy Guillaume Martin is back in the top 10, forcing Valverde down one place, apart from that the GC remained ‘as is.’
A good ride for Martin
After yesterday’s ‘death racing’ there couldn’t be two days like that back to back – not with mineral water in the bus fridges at least.
Big Rodge Kluge at four and a half hours
Last on the day? Big Rodge Kluge, for years I’ve watched that man haul his solid frame over some of toughest climbs in Italy only to do it all again the next day – respect. Rodge also props up the GC, 158th @ 4:24:36. But in the last 10 minutes of a madison when the ‘pure trackies’ lights are going out, Rodge is still doing his Terminator impersonation. But the gruppetto was comfortably within the 49:59 cut, coming in at 38:33.
Stage 16 and the ‘Mortirolo’
Rest Day tomorrow. Stage 16 on Tuesday – best not talk about it in front of the sprinters, whisper it, ‘Mortirolo.’ And remember, ‘a Grand Tour is won and lost in the third week,’ ciao, ciao.
Stage 15 highlights
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