What's Cool In Road Cycling

GIRO Rest Day Wrap #2: Will The GC Stalemate Finally Break in The Final Week?

Giro d'Italia Takeaways

Giro’23 Rest Day Round Up: Spencer Martin is back on the second Giro rest day breaking down where the top 3 GC riders have taken/lost time so far. And what it tells us about the Giro’s final and decisive week. The attacks will have to come eventually!

– This article is an excerpt from the Beyond the Peloton newsletter. Sign up here for full access. –

giro23 st8
Tao Geoghegan Hart has gone – Roglič still has Thomas to watch

With the second and final rest day upon us at the 2023 Giro d’Italia, we have a shockingly similar GC picture to what we had on the first rest day; Geraint Thomas leads Primož Roglič by two seconds, with João Almeida lurking 20-seconds further behind. In fact, the only difference inside the top four places is that Ineos has deftly leased the race lead and its Maglia Rosa to Bruno Armirail of Groupama-FDJ in an effort to skirt the responsibilities of race leadership and save as much energy as possible for the race’s brutal final week, in which four out of the six stages feature tough summit finishes.

giro23 st12
Two stage wins for Nico Denz

While the fight for the GC has been a total dud and has perhaps produced the most boring grand tour overall classification battle through the first 15 days of racing in recent memory, there have been daily fights for the stage win from the breakaways that have produced great racing, seen established riders like Nico Denz and Brandon McNulty finally break out as grand tour stage winners, and exposed us to new talents like Derek Gee, Sebastian Berwick, and Marco Frigo.

giro23 st15
Frigo, McNulty and Healy have made the excitement so far

Current GC Top Ten:
1) Bruno Armirail (FDJ) +0
2) Geraint Thomas (Ineos) +1’08
3) Primož Roglič (Jumbo) +1’10
4) João Almeida (UAE) +1’30
5) Andreas Leknessund (DSM) +1’50
6) Damiano Caruso (Bahrain) +2’36
7) Lennard Kämna (Bora) +3’02
8) Eddie Dunbar (Jayco) +3’40
9) Thymen Arensman (Ineos) +3’55
10) Laurens De Plus (Ineos) +’4’18

Top Five on First Rest Day:
1) Geraint Thomas (Ineos) +00
2) Primož Roglič (Jumbo) +02
3) Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) +05
4) João Almeida (UAE) +22
5) Andreas Leknessund (DSM) +22

Leknessund is still there

Where Time Has Been Won/Lost So Far

When we look at where the three main contenders for the overall win at this Giro have won/lost time relative to one another so far at this Giro d’Italia, we can see that while the opening week produced time gaps across a wide variety of terrain, the second week hasn’t produced a single second difference between them.

Stage 1 Time Trial:
João Almeida +0
Primož Roglič +14
Geraint Thomas +26

Stage 2 Sprint Finish:
João Almeida +0
Primož Roglič +0
Geraint Thomas +0

Stage 3 Time Bonus Sprint
Primož Roglič +0
João Almeida +2
Geraint Thomas +2

Stage 8 Hilly Finish:
Primož Roglič +0
Geraint Thomas +0
João Almeida +14

Stage 9 Time Trial:
Geraint Thomas +0
Primož Roglič +16
João Almeida +34

giro23 st12
Is Thomas the man to beat?

Course Type Where Time Was Won/Lost Relative to Thomas

When looking at the course types where others in the other top two have won/lost time relative to Geraint Thomas, we can see that while we have tight margins across all types of terrain and the minimization of the big set pieces, nothing has changed since the first week.

Time Trial:
Roglič +4
Almeida +8

Sprint Stages
Roglič +0
Almeida +0

Hilly Stages:
Roglič +0
Almeida +14

Time Bonuses:
Roglič -2
Almeida +0

Almeida has been very quiet so far

Key Takeaways

1) The GC battle is stuck in a holding pattern

  • With so little happening, including no time changes, amongst the top three GC contenders over the course of the last week, there isn’t much to chew here.
    • This means the same things we covered on the last rest day, particularly the fact that time trials have been largely neutralized and that every second will be vitally important in the final GC standings.

The GC favourites have mainly stuck together

Things to Watch in the Coming Week:

1) Don’t expect this GC stalemate to go anywhere soon

  • With the top three clustered so close at the top of the GC, I believe that Thomas, Roglič, and Almeida would all be fine taking their current time gaps into the final TT, since, if you are strong enough to attack and get time in the mountains, you can easily take a minute on your competition on a TT course like stage 20.

A repeat for Roglič’s Tour’20 final TT?

2) Any action will likely happen with contenders spat out the back due to a hard pace, not attacks, at the front

  • This isn’t to say that we won’t see any GC action over the next three mountain stages. With three difficult summit finishes awaiting before Saturday’s uphill time trial, there will likely be plenty of probing on the final climbs, and riders in the top ten will be dropped.
    • However, with difficult final climbs on each stage, it is hard to imagine any of these moves being anything other than the GC contenders stress-testing each other to see if they can blow open any cracks (see: Almeida’s move at the end of stage 15).
    • This is due to the fact that, at least for the top three, the risk of attacking with multiple mountains remaining carries an outsized risk.
      • If they are successful, they could gain time, but, if they are caught on the final climb, they will likely be dispatched and sent tumbling down the standings. So, with an uphill TT looming on stage 20, it simply isn’t worth rolling the dice with a long-range move.
      • We may see a shakeup with one of Thomas, Roglič, or Almeida losing time, but, if it happens, it will most likely be due to a steady pace from a team like Jumbo-Visma shaking them loose, not an attack from one of the three.
    • It is worth debating if this logic actually makes sense. For example, if Geraint Thomas loses 30 seconds to Roglič in the final TT and finishes second (or vice versa), would he regret not attempting to take time on Roglič earlier in the third week?
      • While there might be a good argument for building a GC cushion heading into the TT to avoid this scenario, the conservative fashion grand tours are raced in the modern era means that these attempts will likely be limited to stage time bonuses and/or final kilometer surges. Anything else would present too large of a risk and burn too many matches.

giro23 st11
Has Thomas got the fire power?

3) Damiano Caruso is the biggest threat to The Big Three

  • In a stalemate like this, the GC action tends to come from further down in the standings, since the risk/reward calculus is far different for those riders.
  • However, in this Giro, many of those riders, like Hugh Carthy and Lennard Kämna, have already been struggling to hold the pace and shouldn’t be expected to be capable of long-range moves on difficult mountain stages.
    • This leaves the 35-year-old Italian, Damiano Caruso, as one of our sole hopes to produce an interesting move since he checks the rare boxes of 1) needing time and 2) having the ability to pull it back.
    • The main problem with this idea is that most of the coming mountain stages are so difficult that they will deter attacks.
      • Having said that, he needs time and can’t be incredibly picky about the terrain. Thursday or Friday’s stages give him the best option, so watch for a hard pace from Bahrain early on those days to set up a long-range Caruso attack.

Damiano Caruso is still Top-10

Stage 16 Preview

Giro’23 stage 16

Tomorrow’s 203-kilometer mountain stage through the low-alpine climbs of Trentino looks at first glance like it could produce a potential GC battle.

  • However, the long flat section before the first climb will likely allow a big breakaway to ride clear and build up an advantage, and the lack of any urgency from the three best GC teams behind will allow them to build up an unassailable advantage.
  • With this in mind, expect a breakaway to fight it out for the stage win while the GC contenders test each other on the final 10km of the final climb of Monte Bondone, which averages a steep 10% for the final few kilometers.

giro23 st15
Will Bruno Armirail be out of pink on Tuesday?

*** You can see the ‘PEZ 2023 Giro d’Italia Route Preview’ HERE. ***

# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.