The upcoming Giro marks a change in the season

Despite their being much disruption still across Europe and beyond, we have had a cycling season to enjoy and 2021 has delivered.

There have been a number of highlights in the classics and one week stage races to date and before we get into the Giro D’Italia let’s cover our top 3…

3. Mark Cavendish in the Tour of Turkey

“Cav” has come a long way from his tearful farewell to 2020.

After release from Bahrain/McLaren he was late in finding a team, but when he did it was a key move in returning to the Quickstep set up where (Harrogate aside) he had enjoyed constant success.

It took a while to click. There were a couple of Belgian semi-classic near misses and a fall when he was in the mix at Nokere Koerse.

He arrived in Turkey though and finally got the win. And then he won again. And then he kept winning.

The field of sprinters wasn’t deep the whingers cried.

But Jasper Philipsen is a top tier rider who had beaten Cav earlier in the campaign, and Andrei Griepel was still motivated to succeed.

Where the great mans season goes from here who knows.

But as he has said in interviews since getting back from Turkey, he has proved what he wanted to prove and now anything else he gets is a bonus.

2. Paris Nice Last Day

Fendrien covered this a lot at the time. Cycling is full of unwritten rules and rituals. One of which Primoz Roglic broke on the penultimate day of the race when refusing to gift a stage to Gino Mader who had been out in the days breakaway.

There was no need for Roglic to sprint and overtake Mader in the final metres of the stage as he had dropped his rivals and had no need for the win and time bonuses. He had the yellow jersey and the race was all but over.

The final day of the race seemed destined for formality before Roglic managed to crash twice, the second time the peloton decided to take its own retribution for how he’d treated the youngster on the previous day and rode on without waiting.

Two days of racing and two broken rules with race leaders gifting stages and the peloton waiting for race leaders after crashes up in smoke as the riders headed south through France.

Despite a spirited pursuit and a real desire not to give in, Roglic lost the race to Max Schachmann.

He learned his lesson though and later in the spring hauled in Tadej Pogacar and Brandy McNulty on the last day of the Tour of the Basque Country. However as a thanks to David Gaudu for helping his daring escape succeed and win him the race overall, Roglic didn’t sprint for the stage and the Frenchman won.

  1. Mathieu Van de Poel in Italy

You will be groaning to see that I have managed to shoehorn a couple of moments of MvdP magic into one bullet point.

You could also throw in his below par Milan San Remo performance as evidence you shouldn’t generalise.

But… two performances from the man of the season so far cannot be split by this correspondent.

First off was his 1600+ watt attack in Strade Bianche. It was a moment that regular cycling watchers will continue to rewind and replay for decades to come.

The fact he managed two of these accelerations, the second of which on the streest of Siena was enough to win the race should never be forgotten.

He proved that quick sharp attacks weren’t the only thing in his locker by attacking to keep warm on a icy wet day in Tirreno-Adriatico.

Castelfidardo is a town that will be forever immortalised in cycling history after he rode the race off his wheel and despite misjudging the efforts impact on his legs hung on for the win.

So now we moved on to a new phase of the season and the first three week stage race of the season in the Giro. It will be scenic and packed with great stories and stages. But it will need to be good to beat the opening part of 2021, that is for sure!

Roglic’s “No gifts” approach causes his latest catastraphe

On the final “tough” stage of Paris Nice last weekend we saw a new more ruthless Primoz Roglic snatch a first world tour win off Gino Mader in the final 50 metres of the stage.

Roglic had such a commanding lead in the general classification and was ahead of his rivals at the time.

In the old world of unwritten cycling rules, he would have got to Mader to maximise his time gains on those behind him but not taken the stage from the youngster. Even with a time bonus available.

But he did.

He flew past the Swiss who had been out in the days breakaway before celebrating as his crossed the line. Mader threw his hand to the sky with his final energies to say “why the hell did you do that?“.

In the post race interviews Roglic was clear that there would be “No gifts” anymore. No need to let others win here to get favours and broker deals later in the season. Lance Armstrong used the same phrase and now has as many wins in the Tour de France as me. And Roglic for that matter. That number being zero.

But less than 24 hours later in a final stage that was wild and uncontrolled Roglic was humbled. Really humbled.

He crashed twice and whilst the peloton respected the yellow jersey and the rule of not profiting from a crash for the race leader the first time. The gloves were off the second.

No gifts remember Primoz?

The teams with most to gain drilled it on the front and the erstwhile leader was distanced by minutes. Riding in alone and dropping from race leader to 15th overall on the last day.

Ironically his demise let Gino Mader (remember him?) into the top 10. You couldn’t make it up!

Max Schachmann was the beneficiary to win his second edition of the race. He has now won consecutive years but due to Covid related changes has never actually made it into the finish town of Nice!

The other main statistic being that Roglic has now lost the last 2 major stage races in France from a winning position on the last day.

When does this anomoly become a trend?

We saw him almost lose his maiden Vuelta win by getting caught out by crosswinds with Madrid on the horizon and of course he was totally outclassed by Tadej Pogacar on the final racing stage of the Tour de France in the autumn.

Drama and calamity seems to follow him and despite being totally dominant in this race, he didn’t win.

So if I were Primoz going forward I would be looking to build bridges with other riders rather than trying to be all dominant. You never know when you might need the rest of the peloton to help you out.

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 SCHACHMANN MaximilianBORA – hansgrohe50025028:49:51
2 VLASOV AleksandrAstana – Premier Tech4001900:19
3 IZAGIRRE IonAstana – Premier Tech3251600:23
4 HAMILTON LucasTeam BikeExchange2751400:41
5 BENOOT TiesjTeam DSM2251200:42
6 MARTIN GuillaumeCofidis, Solutions Crédits1751101:14
7 HAIG JackBahrain – Victorious1501001:18
8 JORGENSON MatteoMovistar Team125901:29
9 PARET-PEINTRE AurélienAG2R Citroën Team100801:31
10 MÄDER GinoBahrain – Victorious85701:32
11 VANHOUCKE HarmLotto Soudal70601:41
12 O’CONNOR BenAG2R Citroën Team60551:44
13 VAN BAARLE DylanINEOS Grenadiers50501:49
14 BARGUIL WarrenTeam Arkéa Samsic40451:55
15 ROGLIČ PrimožTeam Jumbo-Visma35402:16
Results reproduced from Procyclingstats.com