Giro Rest Day Review

The Giro has a rest day in Salò, on the shores of Lake Garda, and a town arguably famous for its infamous moment, but that wasn’t the fault of the locals.

Who’ll have a spring in their step today? The area’s hoteliers will rejoice, room occupancy must be high given there have been so few abandons in this Giro. Less so the organisers RCS and TV rights holders given among the few who have left the race are many of the stars, from sprinters to overall contenders. So far the “fight for pink” hasn’t come alive, the race lead has only moved from Mathieu van der Poel to Juan-Pedro Lopez and now to Richard Caparaz. If it can change shoulders more often this week things will get fascinating.

Among those who said addio to the Giro are Romain Bardet, Miguel Angel Lopez, Tom Dumoulin while Simon Yates said goodbye to the overall classification. The race is wide open with five riders within a minute of the maglia rosa, give or take a second, plus three more who can’t be ruled out.

Richard Carapaz leads the Giro with less than a week to go. It’s tempting to look at the GC and rate the chances of the lead five with Verona’s Stage 21 time trial in mind, perhaps thinking Almeida might fancy his chances now with just thirty seconds to take back on Hindley and Carapaz. But this is to look from Salò to Verona, when even on the clearest of days there’s no view because the mountains stand in the way. Moves have to made, we’ll see if it’s skirmishing for time bonuses or launching longer raids.

A seven second lead for Carapaz is nothing, there’s no cushion to sit on. But he can count on his team to ride like a fortress. If they were ambushed on the narrow roads of Saturday’s Torino twister, it’ll be harder to do this on the wider roads of the Alps. He’s been by far the most aggressive rider here, it was him who attacked on the Blockhaus climb, and when isolated he took on Bora and Bahrain with a solo attack on Saturday’s stage.

Carapaz’s risk taking raises the matter of goals and expectations for the coming week. As a past winner Carapaz doesn’t need another a podium, that’d be a relative disappointment, surely it’s the win or nothing? Jai Hindley’s been on the podium but he’s been through a lot since so a top-3 finish could be a result for him, although he’s got a whole team at his disposition with big aims, if things go well they can still shake up the race.

João Almeida might be happy with a podium too knowing he can aim higher in the coming years, given the way he’s been holding on to the lead group by his fingernails, just keeping this up is the challenge. As for Mikel Landa, well does he want second Giro podium finish, the win outright or just the chance to finish a grand tour? For the race outright is within reach of all of them. None of them are thinking “I’ll settle for third place”, instead as a thought experiment the issue here is more about what they’re willing to risk. Will one of these riders go on a bold raid, are they up for taking wild risks on a descent? Or is the aim to ride hard and see if they can just apply pressure to open up cracks in rivals late on the final climb?

Pozzovivo being fifth overall is remarkable. RAI TV interviewed him the other day and had an on-screen anatomy graphic of all the bones he’s broken, the osteal version of the Ship of Theseus. Only he’s not some bionic novelty, he’s still got chronic spinal pain and his crab-like riding style is a result. Of the five within a minute of the race lead he seems the most likely to camp out on his position and to evoke the time trial again, he can pull out a result from time to time.

Next comes Pello Bilbao at almost two minutes down but one fast descent from him can change everything, we’ll see if he’s going to be a shepherd for Landa or a wildcard for Bahrain. “Emu” Buchmann is close by, and more likely a support rider for Hindley as it’s hard to see him out-climbing, out-descending or out-riding the others on a valley road.

Vincenzo Nibali’s eighth place at just under three minutes is astonishing as he’s now riding with the best after a long spell where he simply wasn’t a contender. This will worry his rivals. In 2016 he was almost five minutes down on GC before turning the tables to win the race. Now he looks to be in great shape, he’s confident and so will hard to handle in the third week and there’s nothing to lose but his problem in recent years has been the big summit finishes, Blockhaus suggests he’s ok here but we’ll know better tomorrow evening. Anyway, he’s not going to defend eighth on GC, he’s bound to try something but whether this is a GC bid or swansong stage win remains to be seen. He’s only eighth because he cracked on Etna – remember his team talking about going for stage wins that evening? – but he’s a GC contender now that nobody will want to give any space.

Juan-Pedro Lopez is ninth and surely not going to reclaim the race lead. The question is how he can hang on, whether his efforts so far will catch up with him or if he’s simply in great shape which a top-10 is achievable.

Guillaume Martin continues to zag when others zig and now rounds out the top-10 thanks to his solo attack on Sunday’s stage, he took 1m42s to leapfrog Alejandro Valverde. It’s unconventional, like a jazz musician on a military band playing to a different rhythm but it’s working for him, and there’s action, better a top-10 this way rather than just sitting in the draft of the other contenders.  Still he’s stuck again in the nomansland between GC and a stage win, too high up to be allowed to get in the early break.

One rider who is well clear and ahead of their goals is Arnaud Démare thanks to three stage wins. He now leads the points competition with a 117 point margin on Mark Cavendish. For the maglia ciclamino to change shoulders, Cavendish could win all four upcoming mountain stages plus Thursday’s sprint stage to Treviso without Démare placing once and he still wouldn’t collect the jersey unless he won an intermediate sprint as well, and one where Démare sits that out too. In other words the Alps and the stopwatch are Démare’s biggest rivals now, he couldn’t hang with the gruppetto in the Tour de France last summer.

As for the mountains competition there’s all to ride for. Koen Bouwman leads but all the big climbs are coming, he’s on 109 points when there’s 40 points a go for each first category climb and the 80 pointer Passo Pordoi. Giulio Ciccone might fancy his chances, he’d looked flat until now but on Sunday’s stage to Cogne he was sharp and incisive, first launching an attack on the climb to Verrogne, then deposing his rivals on the steep section of the road to Cogne. He might have known for the best part of half an hour that he was away solo and heading for the stage win but on arriving he was overwhelmed by the emotion.

The final week should see the breakaways enjoy the daily spoils, the GC riders are likely to mark each other leaving space for others to take the stage wins.

Richard Carapaz
Jai Hindley
João Almeida, Mikel Landa
Nibali, Pozzovivo, Bilbao

46 thoughts on “Giro Rest Day Review”

  1. With Yates, Bardet & Lopez all out of GC, it should be a lot easier for Ineos to control the race. But I still feel the train is a bit weak on climbs. Carapaz seems to have dodged a bullet with his tumble on Sunday – we’ll see tomorrow how he’s feeling. Bahrain need to come up with a plan to get Landa up the road as he should be in his element in the mountains.

    • Agreed on your Ineos point, I don’t think that they’ve got the strength here to shut down the race as they’ve been able to do in the past in France.
      The other interesting thing with the GC battle could be the proximity of the many contenders, if one of them makes a move, it can start a chain reaction with all the others.
      And Nibali, as Contador did before him when approaching his final home GT, will surely try something.

      • Ineos have the team – at least on paper – with Porte, Tulett and Sivakov for the mountains and Puccio, Swift, Castroviejo and Narvaez for the rest. The problem is that the on paper strength hasn’t been much visible as yet on the road. Maybe they have been saving for the final week in which case they could be formidable. In any case Carapaz would be a well-deserved winner.

        • It really wouldn’t surprise me to find out that they’ve been strategically resting the likes of Porte & Sivakov for week 3…remember, we didn’t see much at all of Rohan Dennis 2 years ago, before he tore things up on Stelvio & Sestriere, so they have history of doing this…

      • Ineos May due not taking Dani Martinez as a super domestique. Especially as I think Jai Hindley is a slightly better climber in the high mountains than Richard Carapaz. We’ll see soon enough!

  2. Can only agree with everything written above so it become a question of whether anyone can put Ineos under pressure. If Nibali or Landa can find something extra they might be the ones to do it with Bora and/or UAE capitalising.

  3. Carapaz has been the most aggressive of the GC men but it hasn’t really gained him anything and he hasn’t really dropped anyone. He’s not Pogacar. I’d say he’s favourite, but only just. Hopefully there will be plenty more action and no one will suffocate the life out of the race. I fancy Ciccone for the mountain jersey and Demare to drag himself around for the Ciclamino.

  4. Guillaume Martin is such a breath of fresh air! There have been so many potential GC contenders over the years whose GC bids have been undone by a bad day or two…and so many of them have continued to ride to a wholly anonymous 15th place, or have lost more time in order to pursue (often fruitlessly) a stage win, or have given up entirely…but not Monsieur Martin – he just keeps attacking the GC group or getting in breakaways to claw back his top 10 finish! Wonderful!

  5. The 2 Italians create a pact and crack Carapaz only to have bitter rivalry flair up before TT. Conceding the win the Hindley.

  6. Very happy to see Hindley back up his 2020 performance. That edition seems to be unfairly maligned as being sub-par/Covid-hit etc, yet he’s proven to be the match of almost any non-Slovenian GC rider (appreciate that’s quite the caveat) and can out-kick Carapaz when bonuses are available.

    More generally, I’m fascinated by the complexities of GC form. Some riders seem to be able to hit the heights almost every stage race, even after recovering from injury or doing consecutive GTs (aforementioned Slovenians, younger Froome), whereas others yo-yo between showing the class and consistency to be a minute away from a Grand Tour win against great riders (Carthy in Vuelta 2020, Caruso in Giro 2021) or even win a GT (TGH in Giro 2020), but then struggle to repeat that form. Is it inconsistent physiology/training, a psychological sweet spot, luck (or otherwise) in relation to infections and crashes, preferred weather? All of the above?

    • I’d say that’s just because you’re speaking of athletes of different level (taking it at face value merely according to what happened on the road, of course) ^__^

      If you’re a very top GT rider, you may be tackling all the same GTs with a range of different levels of contingent form – people will just notice less, or, better said, you’ll notice it less if checking palmarés only.
      It’s going to be about “winning with a huge margin and barely any competition”, rather than “winning through defence and caution”, or even… podiuming, which is a great result for the rest of the world.
      Perhaps it can be seen more clearly in Contador’s case: often a contender even in relatively modest condition, the fact that he would always try to outright win often meant falling down the GC instead of getting an easier podium.
      Team and competition also factor in. Froome was clearly less dominant at the Tour in 2017 when compared to 2016… a lack of 100% rivals and his team superiority allowed him to win all the same. In both races Froome didn’t show the performance peaks of 2013 or 2015. A Dumoulin 2017 edition would have won that 2017 TDF? We’ll just never know.
      When facing strong rivals, a drop in form meant losing the race, as at the 2014 or 2016 Vuelta. Yet, when your level is very high, the rivals who can actually beat you are a few – and they too need to be in best form.
      That said, Froome was a different sort of mystery (and still is) in that when he was not in winning form his performances tended to drop spectacularly, far more than you’d expect for the mere fact of tackling a race as a preparation. But that’s a different story, indeed.

      The other sort of riders you name not only need to be at their 110% (so to say) in order to be serious contender for the top… but, even in such a condition, they’ll be playing in the same league with a higher number of rivals, which in itself makes it all much more complicated. A Gaussian sort of thing. You notice them only when they hit the *very* peak, which seldom happens, while an underperforming Nibali will all the same be noticed at the 2015 TDF and may even win the 2016 Giro against a lesser field. *And*, when they hit the peak, that won’t be all the same enough to destroy the competition: the GC top-10 will be (very relatively) stacked both with a decent number of similar athletes and off-form champions.

      Besides, when you discover you’re not a very top dog, you might prefer a quieter life, a little less sacrifice, and gain a wage working for someone else: besides Bahrain’s general performance uprise which provides some necessary context for Caruso, we should not forget that he’s been working for others most of the times, and – even so – *before* his Giro’s podium he had already collected GC top-10s in the three GTs, plus TDF stage wins etc. Of course, that 2021 Giro was a performance peak, but his career is not that different from Porte’s, Majka’s, Chaves’, Zakarin, F. Schleck’s… top-10 guys, who find some podium year. Then there are the Purito, Mas, Superman López, Kelderman, Landa, Bardet etc. who’r rather top-5 stuff and may fall a little over or below, and so on…

      • Agree with almost all of that. I guess such “form distributions” are just as evident in one-day races, hence WVA and MDVP respective performances at Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo when each was underprepared, while someone like Gogl performs incredibly well for two editions of Strade Bianche yet seems unable to replicate that form elsewhere.

        There is also the randomness of preparation vs. form, such as Hayman in the 2016 P-R, or even Carthy in the 2020 Vuelta (not a major focus, came as a support rider). I doubt many could predict that a heavily “repaired” 39-year-old Pozzovivo would be this close to leading the Giro after 15 stages. It is curious to work out where someone sits on such a form distribution. Is 2019-22 Carapaz equivalent to a 2014-17 version of Bardet, but Carapaz has had the luck to focus his talent on the Giro? Or is Carapaz a rung higher?

        Regardless of possible controversies, I don’t really agree about Froome’s form in his peak years. Between 2015-18, his GC results in all stage races were 1, 71, 1, 1, 1, 8, 38, 1, 1, 2, 6, 30, 18, 4, 1, 1, 10, 34, 4, 1, 3, 85 (thanks to ProCyclingStats!). Unsure about all of those poorer results, but I assume there are a few crashes and illnesses plus races that were treated as training. It’s his lack of 1-day racing that puzzled me – he just never really bothered with it.

        • Re: Froomey’s GC results in his peak seasons.
          Now, just go to PCS and do the same with Nairo Quintana, you only need to get rid of his very first neopro year… without even speaking of team or whatever ^__^
          Or Contador from 2007 on.
          Those are the terms of comparison, and feel assured that they also crashed, fell ill, used races as a prep and so.

          • Always with the snide insinuations. Always with the passive-aggressive ‘smiley’. And always with the smug self-righteousness. What a nauseating little narcissist you are, gabriele.

          • Time to roll out the old Usenet abbreviation ROTFLMAO! You probably had to exerted all of your…capacity to come up with thaty little gem, Anonymous of Wednesday, 25 May 2022, 11:51 am 🙂

          • Have you already checked that PCS thing, Chris – or that’s precisely why you’re so upset now? ^__^ (25 May 2022 11:51)

            And… Usenet? I thought you were younger, Michelle ^____^ (25 May 2022 12:01)

          • It was I who was the second Anonymous. I don’t know who Michelle is, but I must surely be as much a nauseating little narcissist as you are.
            But I’m not as old as you now think, it’s just that I’m old enough to know that the origin of the abbreviation goes way back and that it was indeed invented and widely used before I knew what a web browser was.

          • My apologies. I was stupid enough to think that it was obvious in bot of y responses that I thought sthe Anonymous who wanted to be Anonymous had written the silliest comment of the decade, if not the entire Inner Ring history.
            In plain speak: I didn’t think gabriele was a nauseating little narcissist, I didn’t think I myself a nauseating little narcissist, I didn’t think anything at all about Anonymous as a person and last but not least I cannot imagine how anyone with two eyes and half a brain could red what gabriele has written and come to a conclusion that he must be a nauseating little narcissist.

            But OK, it wasn’t my fight, I shouldn’t have commented a commented which obviously deserved no comment.

      • Froome is pretty sharp in preparation races between 13-15 or even 16. There is one occasion where he lost bunch of time after a flat. But he then promptly won a mountain stage straight after.

        It is not till 2017 that he slowed down in these races. By then he intentionally builds slow to prepare for GT doubles.

        • He’s got the same sort of sudden “negative peak” GC results in 2015, too, not to speak of 2016 both already included above by Andy W. Not to speak of previous seasons, of course, including 2012.

          Actually, it’s only in 2013 and in 2014 when he’s performing steadily – that is, during that couple of seasons when he’s got a negative performance for whatever reason as in 2014 (a complicated year for him form-wise) at Catalunya or Dauphiné, he still is 6th or 12th, which is normal, of course.
          Notably, those two seasons are when he raced the least kms in the whole 2008-2018 decade.
          The rest reproduces the same pattern observed above.

          The rest of contenders named above also were eyeing and trying (and in a specific case even winning) double GTs, too, in Contador’s case even before Froome was a contender of sort – and when Contador won Giro and Vuelta in 2008 he also won Itzulia and Castilla y León; his worst GC result was 6th at Valencia in February.

  7. The race this year is going to find it tough to live up to the dramas of 2016 – 2018 or the last couple of stages of 2020. The day after a rest day often throws up strange results for some riders, especially with a tough stage on the agenda. It would not surprise if one of two of the top 10 are no longer there tomorrow evening. If I had to guess then Vincenzo Nibali (unfortunately) or Joao Almeida.

    If we are lucky there will be a struggle between Ineos & Bora all the way to Verona. Richard Carapaz is bold & wily, he has the experience and perhaps there is one last great ride left in Richie Porte, though the rest of the team dont seem to be quite up to the level of some in the past. Bora are hungry and Jai Hindley must be driven by coming so close two years ago. Rider for rider Bora are probably stronger than Ineos, though the experience in the cars probably just goes with Ineos (how important that is is debatable). If (big if) Joao Almeida can hang tough to the top of the Fedaia then the equation will change as the perception is that he can do a “Tom Dumoulin” or “TGH” and win on the final TT.

    Hope Cav can make it to Verona, maybe he has a shout on Thursday though who will chase to set up a sprint?

    • Almeida is more dangerous than Hindley. Carapaz is a surprisingly strong 3rd week TTer. He faired better than Kilderman in last year’s TDF final TT. For Hindley to be sure of victory, he needs some cushions ahead of Carapaz. Carapaz on the other hand, would probably need one, ideally two minutes ahead of Almeida before the TT.

      As for experience in the car, the last time Hindley and Kilderman was close to a win, the “interference” from the DSM car was pretty detrimental. Neither does their DS do Dumulian any good against Froome.

  8. Well, we have 2 mountain stages, followed by a flat/rest day stage, then 2 mountain stages followed by the last day TT. If the last day TT is to be a “coronation ride” by the Maglia Rosa then I would expect stages 17 & 20 (both 168 km long) to be marked on Ineos’ list. 17 ends on a steep climb, followed by a “rest day” and 20 ends up over 2,000m followed by the last day tt so the train can go full steam without worries. Porte and Sivakov have no doubt been nursed for the final week, but Bora seem to be just as good at the moment. (Hindley & Kelderman were on the podium behind Hart in 2020). Who recovers best after each day will decide in the end, but at least Carapaz must gain some time so Ineos can not just defend. Yates might be the joker in the pack as he might drag a GC contender with him.

    • Some of the remaining climbs should be much harder than anything already covered (with the exception of Blockhaus perhaps) and there are several rather steep sections. Steep sections provided drama at the Torino stage and also at Blockhaus in a way – Yates etc., so I am not sure we can rely on the results so far. (If I am not mistaken other than Blockhaus and the Torino stage there were no steep climbs on this Giro route so far?) Of course, much will depend on how those stages would be ridden, but mountains like Kolovrat, Fedaia, the WW1 military road or even tomorrow’s stage last climb with double digit gradients top part could promise more dramatic outcome.

      I am afraid Almeida will bleed time and Carapaz with the aid of strong Ineos team could win almost by default – i.e. by being strongest or at least no weaker than others. But we’ll see, perhaps Hindley, with probably similarly strong team could attack him? Am I mistaken in presuming Carapaz should be faster time-triallist than Hindley (with the usual caveat of the whole GT in their legs)?

  9. Agreed with so much of the above by Rob MD, jc, Davesta, Richard S… which means this Giro lacks something – polemica!

    Jokes apart, nice show but not much sparks until now, Torino apart.
    RCS will be so happy with the fee paid to MVDP, he and Bini provided a huge percentage of this edition’s interest – again, barring Torino, which is too little and I’d add too late. Looks like some Tours of old, all interest focussed on high quality breaks, and that was despite a good route which kept things at least watchable.

    Hoping for fireworks from now on – Thursday is the only stage one could miss, on paper – but given that not everybody will win (Lapalisse), I suspect that some teams should regret having lost the occasions offered by the first half of the race. And I’m not utterly convinced by the way some of these stages were designed, either, so I’m not hugely optimist. Anyway, sometimes you just need 2-3 great stages to make a decent GT, although surely no “2015 vintage”.

    • Perhaps the local reason for the absence of polemica is the absence of a certain American resident of Sicily? Though the race is missing it too, it just doesnt feel “Italian” without some animated discussions :). The other thing that is missing is weather, the forecast continues to be warm & dry despite some rumours to the contrary. The Giro without rain is a very different race.

      • There was a great, sadly untapped opportunity for polemica yesterday – the summit of Monte Bianco and it’s political consequences. 😀

        Other than that… the race feels flat, doesn’t it?

  10. Nice piece on Salo, I wasn’t aware of that.
    Any SPQR / S manhole covers there? 😉
    ps there are some grisly photos of Mussolini and his mistress strung up and then their bodies beaten after death

    • The latter happened in Milan, namely in Piazzale Loreto (they had been killed elsewhere, near Dongo, while probably trying to escape to Switzerland).
      The first Giro had started from that same place, Piazzale Loreto, 36 years before, more or less the same time of the year (May 13 vs. April 29). But to better understand “why Piazzale Loreto” you’d better think about a different date: August 10, in 1944 – and read Uomini e no, a novel by Elio Vittorini which portraits the feelings of people about that day.

      However, I guess you know about the “English conjecture” about Mussolini and Petacci’s death…

      To better understand… Salò, and much more, one would have to watch Pasolini’s movie – but it’s challenging to say the least.

      • Not sure Salo or the 120 days of Sodom is particularly helpful concerning the Salo republic other than, say, metaphoricaly; but it’s a film one should definitely endure.

        I would perhaps rather recommend La notte di San Lorenzo, albeit it’s probably set in southern Italy…

        • Of course, it’s not about the history of the RSI – although it’s inspired on some historical situations and persons from that moment, besides its manifest philosophical and literary source (in fact, the two parts of the title).
          In a sense, it’s not about Salò as much as what (too) long preceded and long (has) followed that moment, precisely because the movie is about the exercise of power whereas the RSI was already a mere phantom increasingly devoid of such a power.
          Yet, as I said, in a paradox of sort the events portrayed may sometimes happen *literally* as they need to materialise that symbolic level which isn’t acting anymore, or only partially (which doesn’t imply that such things do not happen under a full display of actual power – they do).

          • Yes, they unfortunately do, especially in such absurd circumstances. (Abu Ghraib, Bucha…) I (also) understood the movie as a discussion about power in (or not only in) such times in general (and perhaps, just perhaps, as a provocative discourse into 1960-70s Italian politics? – of course distinctly different but maybe somehow correlevant to Sorrentino films such as Il divo…) rather than the particular reality of post 1943 WW2 Italy. (Frankly, my knowledge of WW2 Italian reality is limited, of course, being from central Europe…)

            And as you stated, non-actors and hyperbole… yes. We should endure that film. 🙂

            (What’s the reason Italian postwar cinema is so strong? Rhetorical and somehow self-explaining question, but still – before, the white telephones, after Antonioni, Dolce Vita and Otto e mezzo… here in Czechoslovakia, the situation was strangely similar, btw.)

  11. I know the chainrings are an imperfect art but I don’t see this as quite as wider margin…

    For some reason I have a feeling Carapaz/Hindley/Almeida/Landa are all equal on about three chainrings as none have shown themselves to be above and beyond whilst all four could turn on or hang on the afterburners in Wk3?

    I can see Carapaz’ tenaciousness grinding out a few seconds here and there for the win despite never dropping the bunch completely? (I admire Carapaz’ determination/confidence)

    I can see Hindley proving to be the best climber and dropping everyone once and for all?

    Or Almeida, similarly determined to Carapaz, holding on to nab it in the TT…? (Also admire his smart/determined riding)

    Maybe Landa, given his patchy GT record, will crash or bonk one day but maybe this is his year to finally find form in week3 and ride away…

  12. One thing that strikes my mind is Yates and Hindley. The owner of BEX would over all love to win with Yates. But failing that a Hindley win would likely be just about as exiting for the owner of BEX who is Cycling Australia’s greatest ever fan.
    If for any reason Yates found himself away with Hindley and no carapaz i imagine the team being much more likely to let Yates work with Hindley than any of the others.

  13. It’s a shame Yates lost so much time early on. It would have been very interesting to see what would have happened if he was still in the GC mix at this point…

  14. So guys, if not Carapaz then who? Hindley, really, he’s no TT’ist over a short flat TT, Almeda, definitely maybe, but there’s too much to make up, no? Proposition, nobody can make up sufficient time in the coming mountains to displace Carapaz. Discuss.

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