Giro d’Italia Stage 21 Preview

The final stage and a time trial in Verona on a familiar course. There’s still a stage win up for grabs even if the big story is whether Jai Hindley can avoid a wobble to win the race overall.

The Marmots of the Marmolada: between 8.5km and 7.5km to go on the Passo Fedaia, RAI TV’s commentators started talking about the marmots that live in the Alps, informing viewers about their herbivorous diet, the whistling sounds they make and their hibernation. Why? Well there was not much to talk about. A break had gone clear and from that Alessandro Covi had attacked on the Passo Pordoi to go clear solo, quickly building up a lead of two minutes as he scaled the early ramps of the Passo Fedaia. Behind the Bahrain team had set the pace in the peloton but barely ate into Covi’s lead and if the maglia rosa group was reduced by the last climb, the stage had a slow, processional feel to it.

Bahrain led to Malga Ciapela, the ski area that marks where the road kicks up and a name synonymous with trouble to come, like Plan Lachat on the Galibier. Here Domen Novak attacked from the breakaway and begin to chop into Covi’s lead, a tantalising headline of Novak’s against Covi(d).

Behind Ineos took over from Bahrain just as the gradient went above 10% and more riders were being ejected. Pavel Sivakov upped the pace further and some of the top-10 overall began to drop away, likeVincenzo Nibali and Pello Bilbao. Soon it was just Sivakov, team mate Carapaz, Jai Hindley, Mikel Landa and Hugh Carthy. Sivakov was straining, his eyes seemed to be closed at times as he gave all he could. Once that was done, Carapaz launched. Hindley countered and the pair were away, finally the Carapaz-Hindley-Landa trio was a duo. Hindley was out of the saddle for a good while with Carapaz on his wheel. He had a target up ahead on the long straight and bridged across to Lennard Kämna who’d gone in the break earlier. Then suddenly just after the 3km banner Carapaz couldn’t hold he wheel anymore, a gap opened up. Hindley piled on the pressure, looking agile as he spinning to win. Suddenly Carapaz was at 20 seconds, then 30 seconds. He kept losing ground, soon a minute down and he finished 1m28s behind Hindley. Game over? Never say never, but with a late attack on the Fedaia, surely Hindley couldn’t have hoped for more and has a plump margin for today.

And Covi won the stage, a big win that suggests range well beyond the “Ulissi 2.0” label he’d been riding under, already no bad thing but going solo and staying away for a win like this in the mountains shows a depth. If any marmots were watching from high on up, they’d have enjoyed the show on the road below.

The Route: 17km around Verona with the climb of the Via Torricelle, a familiar course as it’s identical to the one used on the final stage of 2019, the year when Chad Haga won and Primož Roglič topped Mikel Landa from the podium’s third step. It’s also been the circuit for world championships in the past too.

The Torricelle climb is a long drag up with slopes of 3-5% and irregular in places, riders will be working their derailleurs and standing on the pedals. The descent down the Viale dei Colli is on a wider road but has more corners, riders might take risks but they should be measured as there are only a couple of technical moments. The course flattens out, there are junctions and urban cobbles to cross and they ride into the arena, the Roman amphitheatre.

The Contenders: just like in 2019, which TT specialists have been biding their time for today? The stage win on the final day feels almost incidental compared to the prize of the overall win but it’s a big deal for those left in the race.

Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange-Jayco) fits the bill as TT specialist who can handle a climb or two. Close in the Budapest TT, he’ll find the hilly course here suits, as long as he’s coped ok with the three weeks of racing. Several team mates also have a chance

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) can almost do it all. He’s been frisky in the third week, launching moves in the mountains he shouldn’t be able to win so can he land something today? Second in the Budapest TT, being able to win today after three weeks would be a big deal.

Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) should be up for the win, he’s been active throughout the race but is a TT specialist as well.

Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) is a TT specialist but the Toricelli climb is a big ask. He was in the breakaway two days ago and beaten in the sprint which means fatigue but signals form if he was so close. Tobias Foss should tick all the boxes, especially if he’s been sitting tight all the time until today but that’s the question, has he been waiting for today because of the stage win, or just hoping to end it all.

Thomas De Gent (Lotto-Soudal) was third here in 2019 but how to top the field today?

Finally just in case you’re wondering, Jai Hindley should be safe today. Sacked in the Milan TT in 2020 after starting the stage tied for time with Tao Geoghegan Hart, now he’s got a 1m25s cushion on Carapaz, almost five seconds per kilometre.

Matteo Sobrero, Mathieu van der Poel
Edoardo Affini, Wilco Kelderman
Foss, Cort, Arensman, Tulett, Barta, Hepburn, Craddock

Weather: a chance of rain earlier, but clearing and sunshine later, 21°C

TV: it’ll all be over by 5.15pm CEST.

62 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 21 Preview”

  1. I took the risk and sat up and watched it in real time last night … more in hope than expectation. For some reason you don’t get a sense of the gradient with the broad road and for a while it looked as though it could be a fizzer. Then it happened and it was convincing by Hindley.
    Truly spectacular terrain aided by the weather.

  2. IR does not much comment on GC positions but surely Hirt will move to fifth at the expense of Bilbao and Carthy could take ninth place from Lopez. It’s a regrettable final TT when GC interest is reduced to that.

    It’s not been a great Giro but thanks IR for the daily wisdom.

    • I agree about 9th and 10th but Bilbao is quite handy in a hilly TT whereas Hirt’s record contre la montre isn’t good

      • Yes, unfortunately Hirt didn’t manage to equal or better Kreuziger’s best placing by Czech rider on the Giro. Still, what a third week by him, the 16th stage, 3rd on 17th and then he approached the time of Nibali and Bilbao step by step, finishing 14 and 26 seconds behind them. Nice story of a rider who managed to overcome serious doubts, perhaps bordering burnout or even depression.

  3. Arensman might be a contender. Third in the last TT of the Vuelta last year (Haga was fifth), he can be good in a TT after three weeks.

    • Yeah, but there’s a strange story around him. He said he never wanted to in the break yesterday, because the plan was to save up for the TT. He rode for teammates, but apparently was the only one to make it. The story is his team made him stay in the break against his will. Maybe DSM is that directive, they certainly have the name, but it also sounds weird. A young, strong minded rider would have dropped himself… He’s got an Ineos contract for next year: What’s to lose? I’m starting to think the started to like the idea of winning the stage for a while, which backfired when everybody else sat on him.

  4. They say, it’s not over until the fat lady sings, but it looks like Hindley will be the fat lady today. Carapaz looked out of sorts early on to me (Sir Brad mentioned Carapaz didn’t look his normal self on the Pordoi), but followed the game plan. 2 things then happened – no Richie Porte for the final 4km and Kämna in sight for Hindley. Giro over. Marmots? Must remember them for the Animal Bingo at the Tour. Today, Affini, if he’s got any strength left, MvdP, and a real outside bet Dowsett (where has he been the entire Giro?). Thanks again to Mr Ring for making this all possible!

  5. Have to wonder about Richard Carapaz’s health, when similar things have happened over the past couple of years often a positive test has followed plus there is was ever bug Richie Porte got. If Brad spotted he didnt look quite right others in the peloton will have noticed that too.

    • Strange for a rider as strong as Carapaz to suddenly crack in the last 3km of almost 3 weeks of racing, like he’d got his refuelling wrong or something?
      Unless there is a bug in the Ineos camp.
      But congratulations to Jai Hindley, he deserves it.

      • Definitely “Chapeau Jai”. It was just odd how Richard Carapaz went backwards, other dropped riders were passing him. If he had come in thirty seconds down then that would have made sense but to blow completely like he did suggests there could be a deeper cause than simply being outclimbed.

        • Yes it did seem strange that Lamna could keep with Carapaz and then Carthy and Landa passed him after Carapaz was dropped.

          Perhaps he just went so far into the red to hold Hindleys wheel as Hindley went across to Lamna that he completely blew, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this morning that Carapaz is sick.

          Congratulations to Hindley, and sincere thanks to Inrng.

      • Perhaps part of it was trying to hold the wheel of Hindley a little too long. With powermetres and so we got less used to this situation, but it’s the way climbers really used to get a solid advantage, when the rivals weren’t simply dropped but blown out.

        Hindley threw in monstre values, mind boggling, impressive growth in performance through the three weeks (“growing into form”, as I commented on the previous inrng post) and you could see Carapaz before cracking following but with that half a metre too much of delay which betrayed he was on the limit and just hoping Hindley’s batteries to go flat. Which they didn’t, thanks to Kämna’s key contribution, too.

        Risky decision by Carapaz (or pure instinct) but the fact that it didn’t work doesn’t necessarily imply it was a bad idea in that moment.

        • This. Top riders call the bluff and when it doesn’t turn out to be bluffing, this is what you get.

          We can speculate about what is wrong with Carapaz, but this stuff is incredibly hard to get right anyway. Fatigue piles up for everybody and a poor night’ sleep is enough to get you in a downward spiral. All the eating and drinking also can wreak havoc on your gut, impacting fueling. There’s the mental stress of being on the brink of a GC win, or challenging that. It’s a bunch of tight balances that you have to get right and some of it is out of your control.

        • Exactly… monstrous watts! I’m seeing all this talk above of Carapaz being sick but this is underestimating Hindley’s performance. He did 6.7 watts/kg for the final 20min of stage 20. That’s Pogacar watts. Carapaz tops out at around 6.5w/kg, but he followed the attack and blew himself up with a few km left to ride.

  6. An impressive little attack from Hindley. I’ve been thinking, if not saying, that he’s looked like the strongest climber in the race. He’s surely safe now. Just out of interest how much of a lead did Purito have in 2012, and how long was the final TT? For Hindley to be in trouble in a TT of this length I think he’d need a Wiggins or Dumoulin in 2nd place.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hindley extend his lead to Carapaz – after a hard 3 weeks, he looks the freshest rider in the peloton by far, and that will count for a lot in a hilly final day TT…and Carapaz is so far behind, he could well be more concerned with protecting 2nd place than gunning for 1st…

      • I’m so pleased for Hindley because he’s ridden within himself the whole time and still been able (eventually forced) to go on the attack.
        It confirms that Ineos can be beaten by not playing their game, just like they should have been when Hindley was far more restrained and then beaten by Geoghegan Hart.
        Maybe now we can get teams going on the attack to try and win instead of just trying not to lose all the time.
        Finally, too, Bora’s team work came together as Kämna was there just as it pitched up for both GC leaders.
        Such a shame all this restraint had to be caused by a TT finale, when it could have been a battle to be won out on the road in raced stages.
        Yes a sensational closing TT can be a great one for the record book aficionado but racing for seconds over opponents who are right there is the best way to settle a race against others. ( bit controversial this, but TTs are a good way to start a GC race, and a terrible way to end them)

          • Anything over the dull procession and sprinting vaudeville. I can’t imagine what the 1989 finale must have been… and Fignon is one of my favourite losers, although he was the guy who won two TdFs, of course… 🙂

            For us over the curtain, that year certainly resonates, albeit frankly for different reasons. (Well, I was six and pissed off because I felt neglected at my grandma’s while my parents took part at protests and demonstrations. 😀 )

    • yeah – I’ve felt similar – very happy for him also, it’s so impressive to have fought back from his defeat two years ago like this, lovely story.

  7. A GC resolved in a weekend by an mountain-top finish and a short TT. In my book, that is called “Critérium International”.

      • Well the Criterium de Dauphine is just a week away and that will have some big names doing a warm up for the TdF. Not long to wait.

        • Besides the apparently missed point re: C.I. – as for Dauphiné, those “some big names” should be… Roglic (and his gregari potentially upped to captains), but then?
          I’ll be watching with some interest out of personal curiosity the likes of NcNulty, Ayuso, Lutsenko, Mas, Gaudu, Lafay, Bagioli, Madouas, Hayter, Johannessen et al., sure, yet, hey, big names? None other than the Jumbo were announced until now, as far as I read on PCS.

          • Ganna is a big name and Geoghegan Hart has won a Giro. Haig, O’Connor and Storer are all handy in the hills. Team JV obviously have the biggest name but Vinegaard, their #2, finished better in the TdF last year. There seems to be a lot more meat in just the names that I have remembered than the Giro field.

          • No, it doesn’t. And the Giro had a mediocre field, indeed. I wasn’t happy with the startlist but I’d be crying if it was Tao, Haig, O’Connor and Storer whom you’d need to sum up, the four of them, to make for a single Carapaz. As long as “startlist” is concerned, they probably wouldn’t have made “top-5 fav” stuff at the Giro…
            As for Vinge, he’s still Hindley pre-2022 category, great prospect, need to build more data to actually make of him a “big name”. And at Dauphiné either him or Roglic will be a second captain, as I hinted above, which isn’t exactly as having ’em rivals.

    • I thought it was going to be the worst Giro since 2012, now I’d say it’s the worst since the WT or its previous avatars existed… 2005 onward. And not because 2003 or 2004 were necessarily uglier, quite the other way around, but too different technical circumstances make the comparison complicated. As I already said, new records are bound to happen sooner or later! Even negative ones…
      Speaking of records, Hindley beat all previous times barring record-holder Zaina (1996).

      • To avoid misunderstanding, and as I also already wrote before, a deserving winner and team from a sporting or athletical POV!

      • The percorso was not very good (final week was even very bad), but Giro organizers had also a stroke of bad luck with abandons (Bardet, Almeida), and three men with very close level and for whom a podium spot was too big a thing to risk it (in their mind anyway). Only Carapaz cracking in the last km of the last mountain stage put a little bit of action into it.
        But let’s not forget the stage in Napoli and the one with the Superga climb which were really really good stages each.

      • I’m very surprised you have that much dislike of 2012…

        I remember it as an excellent Giro and the Cycling Podcast even did a 10year recap of it with similar feelings. It was so exciting? Completely bemused why you think it was a dud – especially as the proceeding year was over in the first week.

        Personally maybe 2014/15 were a tiny bit average but I think the Giro has had one of the great Grand Tour decades between 2012-2022 – almost every race was fantastic, I’m trying to work out if it’s a stretch to say is the best since the TourDeFrance 80s?

        This year wasn’t the best but still totally fine.
        The Tour De France has been significantly worse for most the 00s.

        • Ehi!!!! My identity!!! 😉

          2012 had an impressive lack of GC serious attacks (that is, not just sprinting for the stage or so as Purito did), and the few we saw were brought only in the closing kms of the stages, like 3 kms to go at most or so, after stages like Cervinia which articles from the time described as “slow and grinding” (not in the good sense, if there’s one).

          Oh, well, when did Hindley attack? [facepalm]

          Generally speaking, little GC “movement” was there to be seen, and it often ended up in a damp squib. E.g. Lago Laceno when Hesjedal was dropped and nobody cared so the pace went down and he was back on track; or think the Cortina “tappone”, 190 km with Valparola-Duran-Staulanza-Giau, great route design BTW, which ended in a 6-men sprint (!), and 20 men in less than 3 minutes…
          Imagine that at the end of stage 18 (!) some 14-15 riders at least were less than 5′ away from the pink jersey. That’s an absolute anomaly – check some other Giros in the last 15 yeras – and because of statistical reasons (besides common sense) it can not be explained like “general high level”, actually quite the other way around. There was no GC action, full stop, no competition, no selection.
          That’s not common at all at the Giro.
          The main exception being the Stelvio stage, which is why (with a couple of further details, maybe), at the end of the day, 2012 > 2022.

          Citing 2015 as “average” is pure nonsense. Average? Ojalá. The Aprica stage was legendary, and the Finestre one with Contador on the ropes too, not to speak of the surprise attack in Verbania with Contador joining forces with Gilbert. The beginning of the race had been memorable with Astana piling up the pressure in every single hilly stage, Liguria being epic. Contador even went on the attack in finisseur stages, but he and Aru were still going toe to toe, so that an untimely crash saw Contador lose the jersey in a flat stage. Few days ended uo not being hugely significant.
          Extremely high level of the contenders, Contador just beat Froome in equal conditions at the 2014 Vuelta, Aru was going to beat Dumoulin in Spain later that season and Landa was at his prime, one of the finest climbers of the decade, but also the likes of Kruijswijs, Urán, Van den Broeck, Hesjedal, Caruso, König, Amador, were going for GC, still the selection was devastating, before the two final hard stage the 15th placed in GC was half an hour back.
          Stage battles were often top, too (Imola, Vicenza, Verbania, Sestri, La Spezia…), Matthews and Greipel sprinting, and the Valdobbiadene ITT was a jewel too.

          I’d agree that 2014 was on a lower level, inevitably, but still had a truly legendary stage like Val Martello, and Aru attacking several times on Montecampione until he got away before the 3 kms line. The Barolo ITT was literally a masterpiece. I don’t like much uphill ITTs but the Grappa one was also decent to say the least.
          Panarotta was a bit like what we saw this Giro, indeed, but Oropa had more of attack traded and then top GC men Urán and Evans losing ground to Quintana and Aru. Not bad and surely more than what we saw this editions. Zoncolan was disappointing, but I guess it’s normal to have one mountain stage with no much action (although contender Aru was dropped, after all!). Quite decent level both in sprints and in stage hunting, too.
          So, “average” here makes much sense, but still quite much above 2012.

          2011 was a very good Giro, although tainted by the Crostis polemica and the nonsense modification of final GC. Contador attacked from far out on the hard climbs and also in a finisseur stage before the climbs (Gatto got that), Nibali tried to seize the overall with a daring attack very much away from the line in the Monstre Queen Stage, Zoncolan was a true battle with Nibali keeping Contador at bay etc. Petacchi-Cav for the sprints, Kiri on Sestriere… on of the best GTs of the decade.

        • 2012 Giro is one of my fonder Grand Tour memories. I thought there was plenty of tension, and found Hesjedal’s win very exciting.

          • Goes to show how our perspetives vary. I’m in Gabriele’s camp on this one, but no doubt my experience and memory of it all would have been quite different if I were Canadian or if Hesjedal or Purito had been one of my favourite riders.
            As it happens, there are two things I remember about the 2012 Giro: the anticipation of seeing Basso and Scarponi go for the pink and the pleasure of seeing Jon Izagirre take his first – and Euskaltel – Euskadi’s last, as it turned out – GT stage win.

  8. A big thank-you Mr I.Ring.

    Your commentary and insights continue to be a highlight and are a must read for following the Giro. Thanks for all of your hardwork.

  9. Chapeau Mr Rng. Great write up – you had me at marmots, held me with covid Novak then a great summary of yesterday’s finale. Thank you for this and the entire giro

      • Decathlon used to sell cycling shoes where one of the pair was blue and the other red. I’m not sure they sold particularly well, but they certainly caught the eye in mass participation events.

        Covi’s approach was more subtle: I wasn’t paying full attention and only noticed the mismatch in the head on shot at the finish.

  10. Hindley’ll be a deserving winner, it seemed for much of the tour that he had a bit more in reserve than Carapaz irrespective of any Carapaz illness.
    Alas Inrng was right that it’d be all on the last climb. It’s strange how tours with small time gaps can seem dull… I guess bigger time gaps are more likely to incentivise hail mary ambushes rather than conservative tactics.
    Frustrating for/by Yates again… after his early TT I thought this time maybe, but alas.
    INEOS are so lacking a true and obvious GC leader that I’m not even sure they should be prioritising that aspect of the race anymore… maybe focus on racking up some classics and stage wins in the shorter term while headhunting the Next Big Thing for the longer term.

  11. Lovely words from Carapaz at the end.

    He looks so determined in races it’s quite easy to think he’s the type of person who’s competitive spirit gets in the way of him being sporting/kind but great to hear him speak with such warmth and gratitude – really good rider and even better person it seems – plus to have fought his way to the top from his beginnings, which I assume from pics/docs was harder than most Europeans/Aussie’s who cycle, I’d forgive him having a bit of a chip on his shoulder it’s very impressive he’s that level headed. Like him a lot.

  12. Second post to thank you, inrng, for all the posts this giro. I really enjoyed them, looking forward to the tour, keep it up!

  13. Really happy for Hindley, gutted that Bardet had to abandon (I was really pulling for him to finally pull off a huge win). After last year’s Giro that had a lot of iconic moments (Bernal dropping everyone on the gravel section, Martinez’s “Vámonos!” moment, etc.) this year was more of a slow burn. Still, it had Simon Yates being Simon Yates, Nibali’s farewell, and Landa only crashing once (!!) and ending up on the podium. I think that Biniam v. MVDP was worth the price of admission alone. Hope we can see more of that soon.

    • I agree with you on pretty much all your points, esp. about Bardet and Biniam v. MvdP. I can’t help but think that if Bardet and then Yates hadn’t gotten their stomach bugs, and Almeida his COVID, it probably would have been a far more lively GC battle (not that I think Yates could have ridden into GC contention, just that he would have probably been with the pink jersey group on the final climbs and his attacks could have been used as leverage for some of the others to try to put time into Carapaz, and if Almeida had been able to hang close then the final TT would have loomed much larger instead of being the parade it turned out to be).

      But of course we don’t get the race that might have been, we get the one that actually happened, and in addition to the illnesses we had Girmay’s tragically comic (or comically tragic?) exit from the race, denying us a ciclamino battle and more fireworks with MvdP (who seemed intent on trying to do something, but what exactly?). With Bowman dominating the mountains jersey so handily we didn’t really have a race for the other jerseys. Plus a few other riders were underwhelming (Cavendish, Nizzolo, Ewan, among others), there was no resurrection for Nibali or Valverde, and no stunning surprises from any fresh-faced youngsters.

      All in all I felt well entertained, even if I was rarely on the edge of my seat while watching.

  14. Who can’t love a penultimate stage change of GC leadership?
    So did Hindley just ride tempo-ish today, staying within a few seconds of Carapaz’s time, being careful to avoid mistakes, etc? He seemed completely fresh at the end, as if he’d barely broken a sweat.

  15. Thank you Inrng. Your analysis of the racing, the riders, history and culture are the first thing I read every morning. I miss it when there isn’t a race on. Can’t wait for the Dauphine!

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