2021 Giro Retrospective

With a couple of weeks and plenty of racing having passed under our wheels since the Giro, it seems trite to call this piece a review so I have altered the title to reflect this!

The context of the race and its thrilling final days have been put into more perspective over recent days with the news that winner Egan Bernal has posted a positive Covid-19 test.

Its not especially clear as to whether this diagnosis could explain some of his late race trevails but it was certainly a more exciting Giro as a result of him slowing down in the run up to the final weekend.

The Columbian too the race leaders pink jersey on stage 9 and was seemingly cruising through the race with quiet dominance and backed up by a strong Ineos team.

He rode with calmness and composure on what could have been a tricky stage 11 over the Strade Bianche to Montalcino, a stage where Dan Martin unravelled and Remco Evenepoel started to show he was human.

The first week and a half had gone entirely to Sir Dave Brailsfords plan.

But as we got into the back end of the race, Simon Yates started to pick up pace and managed to distance the race leader on a couple of stages.

There was talk of a bad back for Bernal and in Dani Martinez he had a rider nursing him through and keeping him close to the other contenders.

If Bernal was the ultimate winner of the race, Martinez was man of the match, 100%.

The final road stage of the race was a mountainous one but Yates couldn’t take advantage and actually lost time to Bernal who was carefully managing his efforts despite being behind 2nd placed Damiano Caruso who won the stage.

The time trial was a formality and Bernal was able to get home and win his second grand tour.

This was a different beast to his yellow jersey with a vulnerability and reliance on his team that will stand him in good stead going forward.

Aside from the battle for the pink leaders jersey Peter Sagan won the points despite a fine for intimidation in the transitional part of the race.

Geoffrey Bouchard of Ag2R was the mountains winner after featuring in a number of key breakaways across the whole race.

There were notable stage wins from Taco van der Hoorn in week one when he kept the collective might of the peloton at bay in the closing stages to take an unlikely victory by only a handful of seconds.

Stage 13 saw the end of one of cyclings longest streaks of finishing top 3 in grand tour stage without winning with a popular sprint win for Giacomo Nizzolo who left it late to come over the top Edoardo Affini before breaking down in tears in the finishing zone.

This was a brilliant Giro for a whole number of reasons. The less than spring like weather made the racing harder and ensured that even on a “easy” day, it wasnt an easy day.

We had multiple breakaway winners, a trend that has carried on into the post Giro racing. This is great and for the first time since radios for the riders and mathmatical formulas to decide when to start the chase, the advantage is with the brave riders striking out off the front early in the stage.

Chapeau!

So now we get into the build up races for the Tour de France, a race that will have to create some brilliant memories to be better than this one…

Over to you France!

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCIPntTime
11 BERNAL EganINEOS Grenadiers85040086:17:28
22 CARUSO DamianoBahrain – Victorious6802901:29
33 YATES SimonTeam BikeExchange5752404:15
44 VLASOV AleksandrAstana – Premier Tech4602206:40
56▲1 MARTÍNEZ Daniel FelipeINEOS Grenadiers3802007:24
68▲2 ALMEIDA JoãoDeceuninck – Quick Step320190,,
75▼2 BARDET RomainTeam DSM2601808:05
87▼1 CARTHY HughEF Education – Nippo2201708:56
99 FOSS TobiasTeam Jumbo-Visma18016011:44
1010 MARTIN DanIsrael Start-Up Nation14015018:35

Stage 11 of the Giro – best grand tour stage since?

Where to start on this stage?

Ineos drove the other favourites to submission on the gravel roads and just days after I started a post saying that the Ribinou of Tro Bro Leon were better than Strade Bianche I might be forced not to publish that piece!

Here is a brilliant gallery from cycling tips. Enjoy.

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!

Van Aert a class apart as season “commences”

Wout Van Aert has proved to be the main man in one day racing so far in this recommenced 2020 season.

The Dutchman dispatched the remnants of a classy group in Strade Bianche last weekend before playing the perfect game of chicken with Julian Alaphillippe on the way into San Remo to win the seasons first monument.

With all eyes on his major rival Mathieu Van der Poel, the Jumbo man kept his cool on two blisteringly hot Saturday afternoons in Italy and delivered two wins.

In Strade he used his natural cyclo cross skills to out pace his rivals on an down then up sector on the way back into Siena before holding on in the run in despite the chasers getting within 10 seconds of his back wheel at one point.

There was devastation on the white roads with many minutes separating the top 10.

https://www.procyclingstats.com/widgets/result.php?h=90e0446ab8297c077564e27a892708ed133a87bd

Last Saturday though it was all about the ability to keep cool in the final KM when the chasing bunch looked like getting back to Alaphillippe and Van Aert after the French rider stopped collaborating in the last 1.5km.

They gave the reduced bunch behind a real chance of catching them before the man from Deceuninck blinked first and went for the line and the chance of a back to back win.

Van Aert didn’t panic though and held on by just over half a wheel to win.

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There has been plenty of Jumbo/Visma domination elsewhere in the pre Tour de France stage racing and we will cover than in an upcoming post.

In the meantime enjoy the sun and the return of racing 🙂 .

James