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

2020 season getting closer…

Even though the end of 2019 doesn’t feel that long ago and the cyclo cross season has been keeping us entertained, despite Mathieu Van der Poel dominating, its now time for the road season to restart with racing in Australia and in the next few weeks Argentina and Columbia.

The Tour Down Under is hurtling upon us with the Australian Nationals now out of the way and the racing starting in 2 days with the Ladies and on the 21st with the men.

I have been quick to criticise the Tour on previous blogs and podcasts feeling its a bit too synthetic and trying too hard.

I am no Richie Porte fan either but you have to say that his brilliant record on the races queen stage to Willunga Hill will be reason enough to pay some interest.

Maybe its my old age but I am starting to warm to the TDU as I have the Tour de Yorkshire. On the dark winters nights there is nothing better than watching some sunshine and bike racing.

It will also give those of us in the Northern hemisphere time to reflect on the terrible tragedy unfolding down under through the bush fires.

I can hardly wait to get going!

The Dutch are coming

Its been a while in coming, but the Dutch are coming back.

As a kid I grew up watching John-Paul Van Poppel dominate sprints whilst the twins, Gert-Jan Theunisse and Steven Rooks soared through the mountains. 

Greg LeMond won the most exciting Tour in history in 1989 but one of the best stages for me was the mountain time trial to Orcieres Merlette where Rook won. 

It was in part down to those two that Alp D’Huez was christened the “Dutch Mountain”. 

Despite a few false dawns recently the golden era seems to be returning. 

We had Tom Dumoulin going close in the Vuelta last season before an equally late race collapse by Steven Kruijswijk in the Giro. Bauke Mollema was up there in the Tour de France and despite also faltering in the final days the trend was still up. 

I think we will see a grand Tour winner flying the horizontal tricolour before we do that of a Frenchman, but it will be close. 

The old country’s are coming back into cycling rapidly and we had better watch out.