Belated Giro review…

My holiday had an inconvenient side effect of taking me away from wifi and 4g for the final weekend of the 2022 Giro D’Italia.

I had left for the solitude of a boat on the Norfolk broads with Richard Carapaz of Ineos looking the likely winner in Verona.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

The race had started back on 6th May in Hungary which put on its best sights and weather for the arrival of the race. A year or so late due to Covid, of course.

Mathieu van der Poel did his thing avoiding a tumbling Caleb Ewan to get the first pink jersey before Simon Yates shocked the peloton in the next days time trial.

The Brits were 2 from 3 in the Hungarian stages as Mark Cavendish kept the “will he won’t he?” Tour de France narrative going by outsprinting his rivals in Balantonfured. The debate is still raging as that was the high point for Cav with no other stages wins. He did make the finish though and has taken that form into the most recent Belgian semi classics.

Stage 4 had the first mountain finish of the race and Leonard Kamna showed his class by taking the win on Mount Etna. Juan Pedro Lopez of Trek took the leaders pink jersey at this point and despite being a relative newcomer to the top table of world cycling was able to hang on for 9 days.

As we journeyed up the West coast for a few days Arnaud Demare put Cavendish, Ewan et al. in their place with back to back wins. This was enough to win the points jersey at the end of the race.

A couple of midi montagne stages followed with typically swashbuckling breakaway wins from Koen Bouwman of Jumbo (with a massive assist from Tom Dumoulin) and Thomas De Gendt.

De Gendt won in the way only he can, dangling off the front in a group that was pretty dysfunctional but just about had enough time to win it.

A sign of things to come was shown on stage 9 with Australian Jai Hindley winning the showpiece finish on Blockhaus. He would stay within a few seconds of the race lead until the final weekend.

Jesi is a place I know so it was great to see more barriers broken down by Biniam Girmay. Let’s savour his win for now and hope the eye injury he got post stage won’t affect him long term.

After no stage wins in 10 so far, the home nation of Italy got a pair on consecutive days with Alberto Dainese winning a sprint before Stefano Oldani showed his Etna breakaway was no fluke with a brilliant win in the port city of Genoa.

Demare and Yates won more stages as Lopez finally conceded the leaders jersey to Carapaz.

The race settled into the mountainous final week with more breaks winning stages. Santi Buitrago was the standout with a thrilling counter attack after crashing on a downhill.

Perennial trier Dries DeBondt showed his ‘new De Gendt‘ credentials as we headed into the key final stages.

All eyes were on the Marmolada stage where Allesandro Covi crossed the line first to save the race from a UAE Team Emirates perspective. The drama was behind though with team mate Kamna dropping back from the winning break to set a fierce pace for Hindley.

It was too much for the pink jersey and Carapaz was dropped for good seeing a late in the race new leader in the Aussie.

The final time trial was a lap of honour for Hindley who put the hurt of losing on the last day 2 years ago behind him. It was a great win and well deserved.

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCIPntTime BonusTime
11 HINDLEY JaiBORA – hansgrohe85040021″86:31:14
22 CARAPAZ RichardINEOS Grenadiers68029014″1:18
33 LANDA MikelBahrain – Victorious5752403:24
44 NIBALI VincenzoAstana Qazaqstan Team4602209:02
55 BILBAO PelloBahrain – Victorious3802004″9:14
66 HIRT JanIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux32019015″9:28
77 BUCHMANN EmanuelBORA – hansgrohe26018013:19
88 POZZOVIVO DomenicoIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux22017017:29
910▲1 CARTHY HughEF Education-EasyPost18016017:54
109▼1 LÓPEZ Juan PedroTrek – Segafredo1401506″18:40
from Procyclingstats.com

Milan San-Remo

I never know how to truly feel about this race.

Once the peloton head to the coast and start to chase down the inevitable breakaway hopefuls it feels like the season has started in earnest.

This year there was a bit more excitement with the break holding that vital 1 minute per 10km left to race advantage until they went into the climbs at the back end of the race.

There were negatives. I felt a sort of inevitability about Tadej Pogacar just riding away from everyone to win either on the Cipressa or the Poggio and that made me sad.

People who win too often or are too dominant are now subjected to a scrutiny that exists in no other sport. The stars of tennis don’t have to continually justify their sporting cleanliness in the same way as cyclists.

I want to believe in Tadej. But the history of the sport means there is always an asterix. That’s just how it is and I hate those juiced up 1990’s cheat for that.

As it happened the rest of the race ganged up on Pogacar to ensure that he didn’t win. The speed of the race over the Cipressa, a pace set by both UAE and Jumbo, meant that the break was absorbed but that no-one could sneak away.

UAE kept this speed up on the flat coastal road between the final two climbs. In a way it telegraphed their team leaders motive and to no-ones surprise Pogacar jumped before half distance on the climb.

He was actively marked by Wout van Aert who later admitted that had stunted his ability to deliver maximum power at the finish. Mathieu Van der Poel on his first racing day of the season also committed much to stopping Pog from winning.

As they reached the top of the climb it was all fairly close with a large number of riders, including former winner and sprinter Arnaud Demare in contention.

The race was won on the descent with Matej Mohoric shrugging off that horrific crash he has last year in the Giro in Italy, by riding away on the tight turns using every bit of road and some driveway to get clear.

He was using an MTB seat post to get more aero but the way he rode I think he would have been too good for the rest on a chopper not a dropper.

He even survived dropping his chain in the last KM to out last the fast closing Anthony Turgis who will be desperate for a classic win soon to avoid becoming the next big thing not to win a big race.

Was this a brilliant race? Not really but then the drama in Milan San-Remo is always condensed into the last 10 minutes, not the proceeding 6 hours. However, we had a worthy winner and a positive performance to start the monument season, and I am happy with that.

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 MOHORIČ MatejBahrain – Victorious5002756:27:49
2 TURGIS AnthonyTotalEnergies4002000:02
3 VAN DER POEL MathieuAlpecin-Fenix325150,,
4 MATTHEWS MichaelTeam BikeExchange – Jayco275120,,
5 POGAČAR TadejUAE Team Emirates225100,,
6 PEDERSEN MadsTrek – Segafredo17590,,
7 KRAGH ANDERSEN SørenTeam DSM15080,,
8 VAN AERT WoutJumbo-Visma12570,,
9 TRATNIK JanBahrain – Victorious100600:05
10 DÉMARE ArnaudGroupama – FDJ85500:11
from procyclingstats.com