The Moment The Giro Was Won

Was there a winning moment? Often this can mean a breakthrough, a coup. Not this time. Tadej Pogačar was never in trouble even if Jhonathan Narváez and Max Schachmann got the better of him on the opening stage.

The next day to Oropa would define the three weeks. Pogačar crashed at the foot of the climb, recovered and rode past the field. Once Rafał Majka pulled over Pogačar launched and he was away. Anyone who tried to follow paid, in this case Ben O’Connor got his wings burnt while Daniel Martinez and Geraint Thomas came in second and third half a minute down.

The chart shows the general classification of the final six riders relative to Pogačar. He was never in trouble, the lines of all his rivals bend away, notably on Stage 7’s Perugia time trial, Stage 15 to Livigno and Stage 20 over Monte Grappa. For all the domination by Pogačar and the biggest winning margin in a grand tour this century, his was the story of addition rather than audacity. He never needed a Cuneo-Pinerolo or a Pau-Mourenx because he just kept building his lead.

Ideally there would have been a revolt among the beaten but who wanted to turn the tables, and who could? While Pogačar’s pink passeggiata continued the lack of movement between the other contenders, their lines above are almost parallel. Just a small crossing between Thomas and Martinez after the Lake Garda TT. You can also see just how the opening weekend left Tiberi and Arensman adrift.

At times it was like reading two books on the go. One a colourful manga where Pink Pogi does as he pleases, tufts poking out of his helmet like a Slovenian Sakamuchi. The other an allegory of Dante’s Inferno where characters are confronted with forces more powerful than themselves and struggle on. The side steps of the podium are hardly the first circle of hell but to reach them was often a tale of stoicism.

Pogačar was never in trouble, at one point the greatest threat to his spell in pink were the commissaires and the brief unexplained storm-in-an-espresso-cup confusion over the colour of his shorts. He also seemed bored in the early post-stage interviews but with time, when these things normally get more boring, the cherubic charm returned.

The sprints ended as a duopoly thanks to Tim Merlier’s win in Rome, he and Jonathan Milan each finished with three stages. The contest was lively thanks to the variety of finishes, particular in the opening week where late climbs added spice. Just as many cobbled classics are merging into one type of event, there’s a hypothesis the grand tours are coalescing around the same model too, a Vuelta-fication where we see fewer sprints and if they have to happen then the local topography is exploited as best can be.

Milan took the ciclamino points competition for the second year in a row but as a changed rider and now hot property. Milan looks like one of the most exciting sprinters with his beefy style and ability to go long. Merlier clears the Alps in a grand tour for the first time so satisfaction for both but neither are due to ride the Tour de France so a sprint royale is a while away. Just as the GC battle had absentees so did the sprints with Olav Kooij, Biniam Girmay and Fabio Jakobsen among the exits, with Kooij a winner before leaving.

Six stages for Pogačar, three each for Milan and Merlier meant little left for all the rest. Several times we saw the breakaway in with a chance only to come up short, notably when teams that had missed the move rode it down only to be unable to win once they’d brought things back. It wasn’t just Movistar and DSM Firmenich mid-race. Benjamin Thomas’s crafty win in Lucca happened thanks to Alpecin-Deceuninck rinsing the sprint trains, and themselves, in the Cinque Terre hills to give the break a better chance.

The other breakaway wins often ended a good day’s sport. Andrea Vendrame and Julian Alaphilippe both found winning ways again, but as a different version of themselves by going long-range. Pelayo Sanchez, Valentin Paret-Peintre and Georg Steinhauser all took breakthrough wins, and Sanchez getting the better of Alaphilippe in Rapolano takes on a new light after the Spaniard’s other placings in the third week.

Filippo Ganna’s stage win was a big moment for him, a homecoming for someone often ejected from the hot seat. In the mix for other stages too he was useful for Ineos who were arguably the strongest team in the race but Arensman’s opening weekend quickly left them with a one-pronged attack. They still seem like a team happier with defence than offence.

Another home success came with Antionio Tiberi, he’s become “a man of three weeks” as team manager Enrico Gasparotto said. Crucially he’s written new headlines to displace the old ones and he’s cut a confident figure on TV with his baritone voice. Economically Italian cycling is in the doldrums without a major team but on the road things are looking up, there’s Milan for the sprints and Tiberi will be watching over his shoulder as Giulio Pellizzari is coming up fast.

The Stelvio could not be raced and the Umbrail replacement did not happen either. After Aosta last year, Livigno witnessed an unspoken rider strike, literally as riders sat in team cars while the mayor of Livigno stood in the rain and nobody can forward to explain. It left onlookers trying to piece together what happened. The incident is already part-forgotten but probably should not be because it will happen again if the extreme weather meetings are not an exchange but a dialogue among the deaf.

However this year’s weather was a vast improvement on the morose conditions last year, the sun shone for plenty of the race making it often joyful and bright.

The Verdict
There are differing views on how entertaining it all is to see the pre-race pick saunter off with the win, and that’s fine as enjoyment isn’t a matter of compulsion or prescription. Pogačar certainly put on a show. He did not have his team ride down rivals so he could snipe wins, he made moves from far out and UAE were valiant but not intimidating. The sprint stages and breakaways provided plenty of sport.

Legendary bike races often feature a contest that boils down to a duel but Pogačar was unrivalled. Alone in front, never troubled by others in the race, he was getting compared to Coppi, Merckx and Hinault rather than his peers. He is out to write his own story.

If we lament the lack of a contest during the last three weeks the solution is a little patience. In a month’s time we’ll be back in Italy for the Tour de France. Winning the Giro gives Pogačar a psychological head start but also a physiological challenge. If things go well he will line up with Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič, Remco Evenepoel and others and aiming to do the double while they all have their ambitions too. We’ll see if he has bitten off more than he can chew.

77 thoughts on “The Moment The Giro Was Won”

  1. Great breaking down of a good Giro, not one for the ages as a race in itself but probably such because of the winner, which isn’t usually best news for an event, yet it is in this case, especially comparing with the last couple of editions. TV figures weren’t in the range of “excellent”, yet they still were more than decent, an overall improvement, even more so when you consider the complicated factors of not having an actual competition of sort and the lack of Italian GC “true” stars.
    RCS strategy in terms of course design relative to viewing figures seems to be heavily set towards granting consistent figures with no peaks (and other strategies which I commented about previsouly) – apparently, it’s working… if it’s intended, of course. You rarely go above 2M but you’re over 1.5M much more often than expected and never seriously below 1M, if at all. Very solid. Loads of people watching the whole stage or so, too. It probably tells about a very passionate public but probably less technically prepared, as in people don’t knowing what are actually the unmissable stages or unmissable moments. Once again… more of “an event”, “a party”, “oh the sceneries and landscapes” rather than “a cycling race”. Not that I’m against it, of course, quite the other way around, just my POV on the situation.

    • +1 Have to say (not scream) BRAVI to the RAI broadcast crew in-general for a change. I realize few of you know/care about that but I had to post it after so many complaints about them in the past and present with the curious “war” with RCS.
      And BRAVO (maybe screamed or at least yelled?) to Mr. Inrng for offering the commentary and providing a place for (mostly) intelligent and civil discussion/argument.
      Got my airtix and lodging for LeTour in Bologna already. I’ve long wanted to see a race up the iconic porticoed climb so why not La Grande Boucle to go with the best fresh-egg pasta on earth? W Il Giro! W LeTour!

    • One other thing on the audience, from an interview with La Gazzetta’s Ciro Scognamiglio with the Gironimo podcast, the paper had more viewers/readers for their live coverage of the Giro stage to Livigno than they got for the F1 GP in Imola, it’s a sign of an increase in interest again in cycling.

  2. Thanks for the review – nothing that I could question or find fault with.

    A shout out to the Lid-Trek sprint train and the work the team have done with Milan. Somebody wrote that Milan’s like Cipollini in that if he hits the front with a clear view of the finish, it’s game over. Nobody can catch him.

    • Lidl-Trek had a great train and they all deserve a piece of Milan’s points jersey. But they were also the team with the big train, other squads just didn’t have this so it gave Milan an advantage others did not have… although the obvious place was then being on his wheel and few could profit from this. His team have plans for him as more than a sprinter, we saw him Gent-Wevelgem and short time trials could be in reach too.

  3. Thanks for the write up. I’ve been travelling and camping for work in the deserts of Utah for the past 2.5 weeks, away from internet often, never with tv or live streaming, so I followed the Giro here (and once or twice caught highlights when in a hotel). I, for one, found it utterly entertaining, no matter Pogacar’s dominance. I’m a fan, so am pleased that he won so commandingly and with such seeming charm. The whole experience reminded me of travelling long ago and my wife and I following our baseball team (happily the currently best in baseball, I might add) in foreign newspapers. There was nothing like getting our coffee in the morning and opening to the last page of the local paper in Vietnam to see nothing but last night’s scores. Getting to read these Giro accounts was as delicious, and the postcards were just great to dig into as well.

    But there sure seemed to be enough drama on the road, especially the days with breakaways winning and not.

    Thank you!

    • It’s been said before how some bike races, and especially Grand Tours, are well-suited to newspapers or radio, but may be more dissapointing if watching for 3 hours on live television.

      I wonder if your trip around Utah means you got to experience Pogacar’s amazing win in a similar way to how Coppi’s feats were recounted? An experience to savour once it’s been allowed to unfold at the appropriate rate as controlled by a skilled writer. I enjoyed this Giro – and whilst it had a few stages where I was happily shouting at the TV , I think it may have been better suited to the slower pace of the written word.

      Certainly I don’t expect to see a sentence as informative and poetic as “The side steps of the podium are hardly the first circle of hell but to reach them was often a tale of stoicism.” for a very long time. Chapeau Inrng!

  4. First INRNG for your outstanding contribution to the enjoyment of so many.

    Pogacer was in a class of his own as was evident from stage 2 onwards. A class and very popular act. A few like Martinez made token, but serious attacks on the pink jersey whilst others like G. Thomas simply followed the wheels as best they could. A special shout out to the Bardiani team, and their aggressive and brave riding. Much more impressive than some of the WT teams present.

    The incident is already part-forgotten but probably should not be because it will happen again if the extreme weather meetings are not an exchange but a dialogue among the deaf”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Hansen and his cohort are in danger of making the sport less popular, by their repeated attempts to misrepresent the extreme weather protocol. I have lasting memories of a rather forlorn and wet mayor holding a equally wet starting flag in Livigno whilst the riders gratuitously ignored him. Shameful. I don’t expect another Giro start/finish in Livigno in the near future! People deserve be treated with respect, and this incident says more about the attitude of a pumped up Hansen than it does about anybody else involved.

    As well as INRNG, thanks to the many well informed contributors to this outstanding blog. Thank you everybody.

    • I love how everyone has jumped on Hansen as some bogey man for “ruining” the sport. One of the hardest guys ever in the peloton, yet it’s some conspiracy with his “cohorts” to ruin the sport. I say good on him and the riders. How truly awful that they might worry about their heath and safety. Show me the overwhelming numbers of riders who were against the actions taken in this Giro, and then maybe I’ll believe all the hand wringing about some cabal taking over the sport, otherwise just learn to deal with some changes. I’m personally tired of reading the same complaints on here from the same people every time a stage is shortened. We could be discussing the race but instead we’re arguing the nits of a few.

      • Count me as one. My biggest beef with the guy is that he seems to just “phone it in” all the time rather than put on his big-boy pants and show-up in-person to argue with the organizers.
        It’s like a labor union who tells the employer they’re going on-strike, but they never really spell out what kind of contract they want and the union leader hides somewhere issuing lame-brained manifestos.
        I’m practically a Marxist but Adam “CYA” Hansen would have ol’ Karl (and Groucho) doing 360’s in his grave IMHO. I’ll stop there unless Mr. Inrng wants to take this up as a topic in the future.

        • I really don’t feel inclined to discuss this matter further, since there seems to inevitably lead to a “let’s agree to disagree” stance. But I just wanted to clear that Hansen was in fact on site during this years Giro polemica. At least according to Cycling News that wrote “CPA riders association president Adam Hansen was at the finish of stage 16, seeing with his own eyes the fatigue and suffering of riders at the Giro d’Italia.”

          • Never saw the man on TV though they did push Christian Salvato onto Il Processo to make stupid arguments with RCS’ Paolo Bellino. Nothing Salvato has ever said or written that I know of has made me understand the CPA’s mentality. They seem like spoiled children.
            PS-NOBODY wants anyone to be injured or die, we just want them to stop whining about cold/rain that racers long before them endured to create some of the lore that cycling fans adore.

        • Do you think Hansen will be as vocal at the start of a stage of the Tour Down Under where riders are forced to ride in the searing heat of the Australian summer in temperatures approaching 40degC? Riding in the heat could be considered to be as dangerous as riding in cold wet conditions. I don’t think you’ll hear a whisper from him or Ben O’Connor.

          • Hansen was the rider rep when the CPA got the TdU to shorten stages and move the start times in 2018 and 2019. The CPA also recently agreed a specific high temperature protocol to go alongside the extreme weather protocol. They don’t only get involved during the Giro.

      • @Chris. One stage was shortened, one. You are of course entitled to your views, as are others. If you don’t want to read alternatives opinions feel free to scroll down. Not sure what Hansen’s bike riding has do do with his current admin role nor who are members of the ‘cabal’ you allude to, nor how many riders, organizers and teams actually supported Hansen. You may have misunderstood how the final confusing decision was taken, and the Organizers and Mayors subsequent surprised reactions. Bike racing is dangerous by any meaningful metric, and I for one am unclear how Hansen intends to change that simple basic fact.

      • +1
        I’m on Hansen’s and riders side, no matter what some notorious couch surfers in this comment section may think. They never rode a Grand Tour and they never will. So why bother about their opinions?

      • I think the criticism of the teams and riders in how they have treated the ceremonies at starting teams is bang on.

        They can strike when it comes to the race, but… snubbing the people who are paying for a chunk of it is bad form and really not good for the future.

  5. An excellent summation. It was an enjoyable 3 weeks. There may not have been a GC battle but there were plenty of other star riders -Ganna, Alaphilippe, Milan – newcomers and stories to keep us hooked.
    I’m pleased that Tiberi has realised some of his promise. A Giro without an Italian GC rider doesn’t feel right to me. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pellizzari. If Ciccone ever stays injury and illness free there could suddenly be some options.

  6. A perfect encapsulation of three weeks of racing, as always, from this magnificent blog. Essential daily reading during the Giro.

    In my twenty years of Grand Tour spectating, I’ve never seen a drubbing so total as the one Pogačar just dealt to his rivals. And yet the race still made for compelling viewing from start till finish. There were subplots and “polemiche” throughout, of course, to hold one’s interest, but so much of the enjoyment came from Pogačar himself. He truly is one of a kind – a supremely talented sportsman who also exudes charisma like none other. I’ve nicknamed him the Avuncular Assassin in my mind – i.e., the fierce competitor who dishes out thumbs-up, gifts bidons mid-race to fans, cracks jokes during press conferences, and snaps goofy selfies with his mates in the peloton as he barnstorms to victory.

    33 days until the Grand Départ of the TdF. May they pass quickly…

      • Too true. The Dauphiné is definitely essential viewing – a crucial stage race that remedies the nostalgia felt at the end of every Giro and a helpful indicator of form before the big showdown in July. It’ll be a cracking race this year, too, with the start list. Daily stage previews from this blog, hopefully?

  7. Thank you for your own exceptional performance over the last 3 weeks inrng.

    I can entertain the argument regarding “cycling becoming dull because of dominating players” but honestly only so briefly. Sportmanship is about giving your whole, your maximum, it is about respecting your adversaries to the point of not holding back like you would with a child. Pogacar (and MVdP and others) do that. I enjoy watching top sport because I can see athletes dedicated to perfecting their physiology, taking the human body to the next level. Pogacar IS that. His team IS that. If anything it’s up to other teams to raise their game. And the good news is they will! Super athletes break barriers and show what is possible, how it can be done, and normally soon after others tend to raise their game to match. I think that it’s rare that an isolated super player dries out a sport for several years. More often than not, that super player is the spark needed for other super players to arrive.

    Balance and unpredictability are just as important to any sport as stellar athleticism. This Giro may have lacked the first, but surely not the latter.

    • But in some cases you have a star so far ahead of the competition that, even if they’ve raised the overall level, once they leave, the sport as a whole is diminished. I’m thinking of Bolt in athletics (not sure of others? Maybe Serena Williams is a similar case?).

      Perhaps an issue in cycling is that superlative performances such as Pogacar’s require outlier physiology, which can’t be replicated through other means.

      I’m hoping that Pogacar is simply the vanguard for the next generation of such physiological outliers (perhaps helped by cycling now casting a wider net of participants? Eg with Strava, Zwift etc ensuring that more talent gets noticed). With the likes of del Toro and others, it’ll be interesting to see if Pogacar is a generational exception or if more are soon to follow

  8. Thank you for all your posts, Inrng, both during these past three weeks but also throughout the year. I don’t comment regularly but I really should post a thank you more often.

    The racing reviews and previews are brilliant but I also really enjoyed these ‘postcards from Italy’. Cycling lends itself to being more than just a sport and your daily posts certainly reflect that.

    A Moka pot of coffee and an Inrng blog – that always makes for a great start to the day. Cheers.

  9. Thank you for the daily previews, your insight, and the postcards! Completely augments my enjoyment of the Giro (as it does other races through the year). Also I have, in the main, enjoyed the below the line contributions as well; so thank you all for your insight and passion. Grazie mille.

  10. I can’t see Pogacar still riding away from people like that by the final week of the tour, it’s a long time to stay mentally focused and physically tuned. He was already getting a bit irritated on the stage 20 climb. But ultimately the others need to be in the right physical and mental shape too which they probably won’t be, so the tour will be more interesting than the football.
    And that’s all I have to say about that. Thanks and bye.

  11. I wonder why the so called “super talents” have boiled so clearly to the top right now. Is it due to the fact that the training and nutrition regiments have now become so scientific that the athletes performance are totally optimized and the only difference that’s left are pure talent?

    Thanks a bunch, as always, for highly interesting posts on your blog!

    • And I think the internet and globalisation have helped with talent spotting. Genuinely gifted people don’t slip through the net anymore… cycling is now for talented professionals, not masochistic misfits.
      (But it’s strange that academia’s gone the other way: we no longer get geniuses like Archimedes, Newton, Euler, Gauss).

        • I mean i’m not tech savvy but don’t the kids swear by strava and peloton and swapping data on forums and all that stuff? It’s created a paradigm shift IMO. And I recall reading somewhere that it played a role in Vingegaard’s discovery, or maybe i’m mistaken.

          • WillC put a good serious answer above some I’m due sort of one, too, on the other part of the question.
            Also check the reply to Davesta below.
            Tech is having a big impact on training of already selected athletes, not on selection. Zwift Academy is a big project with huge figures, yet its impact on pro cycling is still very relative. One of the reasons is that racing has something to do with KOMs and watts… but not as much as many do imagine.
            OTOH, mature cycling countries already have been having for *decades* a very powerful selection system which worked in third countries, too (assuming there’s some cycling movement there, of course) and very little is already slipping through *once you have done the social and cultural step towards cycling*.
            The restriction to the access to cycling are related to the latter factors, not you yourself riding your incredible numbers alone and nobody noticing. Are there races, whatever kind of race, around? Can you buy a bike? These are kinda of the questions, which meet different answers, sometimes unexpectedly good, across the globe.
            I dunno the detail about Vingo, but he totally was “in the system”, and the rest of the medium to big guns barring Rogla came through extremely traditional channels, forms and formats.
            If anything, as I explained below, we’re having a very big reduction of the depth of the pool precisely in many of the traditional countries…

      • I agree with you regarding cycling talent spitting, but not about genius in academia (I’m an Associate Professor in biomedical research… not claiming to be a genius, merely aware of scientific breakthroughs!).

        Maybe in the past scientific genius was better able to grasp the low-hanging fruit because there was less established empirical knowledge? Meaning that new breakthroughs related to more-universal concepts (gravity, relativity, natural selection etc). Whereas now genius must work within the structures (and perhaps constraints) of established facts (to the extent that any knowledge can be firmly established), meaning that the breakthroughs often are more-focussed (but not always less impactful). See eg CRISPR for gene editing, which may be transformative. The new obesity drugs may also apply.

        Another reason could be that the infrastructure for science is better established, meaning that breakthroughs are often made by teams rather than individuals. This goes against the romantic view of the lone genius, which I think the media prefer to sell (and the public prefer to indulge in)

        • Seriously. It wasn’t all that long ago you could write a paper that ended “..and in summary, we have reported a novel, blood-filled organ immediately to the left of the pancreas, for which we propose the term ‘spleen’.”

      • I think this depends on what era you’re comparing to…

        If comparing to say the 70s, then yes the wider pool of talent that’s come from new countries/globalisation, other routes into the sport, and other factors like increased salaries making the sport more attractive as a venture for young athletes, has surely resulted in more talented riders entering the sport and excelling…and so that explains why the overall level of the peloton has increased, but I don’t think it explains the existence of outliers like Pogacar & Remco.

        If comparing to the 2010s, then none of those factors have changed considerably in the past 10-15 years, so also doesn’t explain the outliers.
        The main change in the last 10-15 years seems to be the increased professionalism or ‘seriousness’ that happens at a young age, where teenagers are now optimising every detail of their training, nutrition, recovery & psychology, which helps them reach a higher level, whereas previously riders would perhaps only begin to learn this optimisation having already turned pro…note that’s not the same as suggesting there are new training methods or some scientific breakthroughs which allow riders to be better in the past, as I don’t believe that’s the case.

        Certainly it seems like MvdP & WvA have pushed each other throughout their teens to be better than one another, surely resulting in some natural ‘optimisation’ of themselves as athletes, and perhaps then resulting in them being a notch above other riders.

        But in a world where the 600-odd world tour riders are already clustered at the very end of the bell curve of talent, I think it’s hard to find an explanation as to how 3 or 4 riders can be another couple of steps further along. That’s not to suggest anything nefarious, but just to state that it’s difficult to explain.

        • I agree very much on nearly everything above, only I’ve got some doubt about the pool and the 70s, which of course doesn’t take anything away from the rest of your arguments.

          We can’t forget that we’re having two opposite phenomena:

          A) progressive inclusion of more countries from the 80s on, of course.

          NOTES: 1) individual inclusion of great athletes often started much before than people tend to think, even, but let’s speak of “national movements”.
          2) As you clearly hint at, when speaking of *current days*, we shouldn’t forget either that different countries in Americas started such an inclusion *four decades* ago and fully developed many aspects of a mature movement along the way, surely earlier than 20 years ago; Australians have been a thing for a good while already. You’re keeping tight when writing of 10-15 years…

          B) Strong decline of the recruiting potential of the sport in many of the traditional countries. Plus, strong up and down cycles in several “new” countries (Colombia, Australia, UK, USA all have their stories…).

          The B) factor is especially impacting on a quality axis, that is, to put it simply, a “young potential athlete” with a notable physical potential until the 70s would probably have a priority shot at cycling before many other options, football being the only serious contender, and with several restrictions I won’t delve into (mainly but not exclusively the flexibility cycling offered for training to the low-income classes).
          Not at all today. Just have a look at the careers of several in the current crop.
          So, cycling is probably losing a number of high quality athletes because it makes more sense for them to develop in other sports… they may eventually come to cycling, or not. The general effect is quite undeniable.

          • “So, cycling is probably losing a number of high quality athletes because it makes more sense for them to develop in other sports…”
            Is an interesting argument. What other sports? If we use what I call one of these “numbers guys” (as in a kid not very good at much other than cranking out insane watt/kg) as an example, what other sport can they make the kind of money they might in bicycle racing?
            If you don’t have the skills you’re not gonna be a football star no matter what your watts/kg, distance running’s not all that lucrative when it comes to salary, nor is rowing or XC skiing.
            IMHO cycling is easy enough to learn that even if you’re not all that good at controlling the bicycle (the shopping-cart chassis idea) with a high enough watts/kg ratio you can wear rainbow stripes and yellow jerseys….and make a pretty good chunk o’ dough along the way.

          • I think Gabriele is talking about those young athletes (say ages 12-16) who have the physiological potential to develop to an elite w/kg and become pro cyclists if they dedicate themselves to the sport, but who are also generally “athletic” and “sporty”, and so also have the potential to develop to an elite or high non-elite level in various other sports – take your pick; football, long distance running, track & field, mtb, xc skiing, skating, rowing, tennis etc. Obviously some of these sports require other attributes than pure physiological capabilities, but if the attraction of those sports as a career draws potentially gifted athletes away from cycling, it means cycling is left with a smaller pool of talent.

          • Davesta – I’m asking what sports and secondly what athletes are being lost? Example 1: man who wore rainbow stripes very recently supposedly played football before his amazing “numbers” got him into cycling where he’s making a nice living.
            Example 2: man who used to fly through the air on skis, now also making a nice living on a bicycle.
            I see riders like these coming TO cycling but don’t understand how/why other riders like them are somehow being “lost” to other sports?

          • Let me try to put it this way: Evenepoel and Roglic were both lost to cycling when they chose football and skijumping. It was basically only a happy – to cycling – accident that they got injured (and, perhaps, weren´t quite good enough) and found out that they could be pretty darn good at cycling.
            I can easily imagine that for every Evenepoel, Roglic or Woods there is a number of young athletes who never get to try cycling and who stick to their chosen sport and therefore remain lost to cycling in the sense that back in the day cycling would perhaps have been the sport they would have chosen in the first place.

            PS It somewhat amuses me to wonder whether pro cyclists are more likely to have parents that raced than, for example, pro footballers with fathers (or mothers) who played. I would probably bet on it.

          • “..(and, perhaps, weren´t quite good enough)”
            Is my point. IMHO people like these end-up in cycling because they’re not world-class at anything else, but their amazing watts/kg (or “numbers” as I like to call ’em) make them winning cyclists in a world where tactics and radioed-in and most of the time all they have to do is stay upright. Of course in these two examples that’s not so easy…going back to my “supercharged hemi-engine in shopping-cart chassis” phrase.
            So I’m at a loss when it comes to understanding how cycling is losing these types to other sports, especially when another one came from shoveling ice onto fish and still another was a champ at racing stationary bikes. All of whom are currently recovering from crash-induced injuries BTW.

          • Thursday and Davesta have replied effectively above, but let me add that if some for some reason do come back to cycling, this doesn’t mean that cycling is not losing good athletes compared to the 70s, quite the other way around.
            To put it in a very evey simplistic way…
            Teen potential athletes try first a range of other sports and if they are good normally they don’t get ever back to cycling.
            In the 70s cycling was the 2nd and often 1st option for any children with athletical potential, so unless they were bad or clearly worse at this sport, they’d stay in cycling. This is now “reversed” so to say.
            The quantity of late comers to cycling is a symptom or tip of iceberg of sort about the athletes which aren’t anymore launching themselves first in the “pool of cycling” compared to other decades.
            Other indications, as named above, is a sort of growing “endogamy” of the sport or the sudden rise in figures of good athletes in nearly any country as soon as the pool gets just a little deeper due to any moment of “instant success” of the sport there etc.

          • As can be inferred by the context of the thread, I’m referring to European countries which had a cycling movement of sort already back then, obviously.

          • Maybe it´s an Italian thing to need betes noires as well as heroes in order to tell a story or maybe it´s a Larry T thing to have a certain penchant for seeing those in every field of life? 🙂

            But I really don´t see why you brought Vingegaard into this discussion or why you see him as a representative of that type you so intensely dislike.

            The fact is that he is a very old school type of cyclist (albeit one with a perhaps unusual set of physiological characteristics): cycling is his first sport and he has raced since before he was in his teens.

            It wasn´t like he was one day discovered when he was working in a fish factory. He was already riding for a continental level team and doing morning shifts of 6 AM to 12 was a stratagem to bring some structure and backbone into the life of a young man who had finished his schooling.

            Besides, he didn´t shovel ice onto fish so much as sprinkle it 🙂 The main part of his job was operating a flaying machine and packing the cut fish to be sent to the shops…

  12. Thoroughly enjoyed this Giro, just wished I could have watched every day live. Pogacar is a breath of fresh air both in his racing and his personality.

  13. I’m glad it wasn’t as rainy as last years.

    Some teams were practically invisible like FDJ and IPT, others stood out. Happy Ala got a win, and VPP.

    Looking forward to TDF now. Glad Pog did well the whole race, didn’t get hurt or ill or anything. Hopefully we get a great 3 or 4 way battle in TDF.

    I hope someone does an analysis of how many UCI points each team earned this Giro. Astana must be very disappointed that Lutsenko went home early, although Fortunato did well. Arkea was also pretty invisible.

  14. We’ve seen a change in training regiments over the past decade or so. And that perhaps is related to why we have 2 wunderkids who are 25 or under (Remco, Pog) and one who is only a couple of years older (Jonas) dominating the cycling world like this.

    The natural extension of being young and good is faster recovery – UAE must have seen something in Pog’s numbers that lets them feel that he can recover in time for the Tour.

    I do wonder if their science lets them determine whether he can maintain that fitness for 3 weeks (as opposed to dropping off a cliff halfway through the Tour).

    • Giuseppe Saronni turned pro at 22 in 1977. As much a “wunderkid” as any recent pro IMHO.
      What I think will be very different OTOH is the length of these current guy’s careers vs the guys from the golden age of cycling.

      • Gimondi, famous for longevity, won his TDF at 22 and his Roubaix at 23. Same for Bartali who at 23 had two Giri and one Lombardia.

        Lemond (literally) *had to wait* to be 25 to get his first TDF but already had 3 GT and 3 Monument podia by then.

        Ullrich could had won the TDF at 22 but waited until 23.

        The above just going by memory.

        People love to think all is so different & new ^___^

        I tend to think simply that natural talent often surfaces early.

        • Pog’s still exceptional, though, even in that company. 3 stage wins and a GT podium as a neo-pro at 19, TDF win at 20, “Monument” at 21. 19-22 is still on the steep part of the improvement curve so there’s a significant difference between 19 and 22.

          I also think it’s a mistake to assume statistical stationarity, at least at these timescales. In the far tail of the distribution you’re going to get fluctuations.

          • Of course I agree both on Pogi in particular and stats in general but nevertheless the change we’re seeing is not as shocking as people tend to assume when they point at general factors (technology, training methods, “science”etc.).
            Rather some “softer” trends are framed within a supposedly stronger pattern because of some extreme cases, which are really similar to what was seen in the past, even more so if you apply the corrections needed due to historical context.
            Note that we’re speaking above of a physiological situation of sort, even if produced by training, not just the social, economic or cultural aspects, which on turn I consider way more relevant to explain some parts of these trends, at least for now.

            E.g., people weren’t even racing as pros during Coppi & Bartali’s years, same for Gimondi in the 60s, because they *all* had to work as teenagers in order to gain a wage, which cycling won’t assure at that age. Both Coppi and Bartali won a stage at the Giro (then the most important GT) as soon as they raced, Coppi won the GC outright and he was 20. Whereas, of course, Remco and Pogi were already fully sportsmen as teenagers. But this is not about any science, it’s about training professionally some… children, as it’s been happening in other sports for years, by the way.

            Now we see a significant (1 year of advance for the prime) shift in age patterns when compared to the 90s and 2000s, but it can’t be forgotten that back then it existed a *general* albeit not universal attitude regarding the “protection” of athletes until they were 22-23 (from ahem several POVs…). For example, and surprisingly for some, Ullrich had no full “scientific” special “preparation” while he was a teenager in the DDR, he got that a bit later from West Germany universities. No doubt that under a different mentality he’d easily have been more competitive a couple of season earlier at least.

            Now it’s the rhethoric itself about “early bloomers” which has created earlier recruitment, earlier use of “scientific methods” and so on. It’s yet to be seen how *actual* career curves will evolve.
            Surely many supposed baby geniuses have already burnt their tender feathers.
            In Italy we’re getting the shocking and telling new phenomenon of youngsters who decide to retire and leave cycling as soon as they get their first pro contract.
            OTOH, success cases as MvdP had, for different reasons, a “traditional” development. Same for WVA. Vingegaard was a slightly less early bloomer than, say, Contador (whom was even known to be a big hitter well before he was allowed to go big, for that same “protective” attitude). Not to speak of another peculiar story as Roglic’s. And these are 4 of the current big 6. But what about G. Thomas? A bit like Rogla. And Dani Felipe? Steady very traditional curve. As A. Yates, Carapaz, Bardet, Kruijswijk and Porte (cases of a early partial blooming which went astray for a time), Dumoulin… speaking of TDF podia.
            Bernal was clearly an early star, of course, but if it’s just “the technology of training”, why so many athletes work “the traditional way” and why “the brand new ways” haven’t worked the same miracles on all athletes?
            You had the Quintana or Andy Schleck 10 years ago, as well.

            My general impression is that even if there’s a trend, it depends mainly on expectations and mentality, while the most impacting case studies are essentially outliers as you always had – although, of course, cultural and social factors have an effect on outliers, too.

          • Pogačar, besides his huge talent, also had very good luck picking up his team. Let’s compare Pogačar and Ullrich, both exceptional talents. Ullrich, despite this huge talent, had to first work for Riis, he was also a part of probably the strongest team at the time. He also worked for Zabel in one day races, and leading him out in the Tour.
            UAE had a similar plan for Pogačar, he was to be a helper to Aru in Algarve and for Dan Martin at Itzulia, and then pursue his main goal of the season – tour of California. But Aru was not really prepared at Algarve and Pogačar won the GC.
            Then the at the Vuelta, he was supposed to do the first week and then drop out …. and that was it.

          • +1 for what Gabriele wrote. I think a lot of people see what they want to see in cases like these. Reminds me of race speed records…lots of folks want to claim equipment “improvements” are responsible for what are often the effects of a stronger than usual tailwind when the latest edition of a race ends up being faster than ever before.

          • “people see what they want to see in cases like these”

            I agree fully here – it’s important to remember, whether we’re considering the individual athletes, their performances in races, their overall career arcs, or general trends in the pro cycling population, that the number of data points were looking at is really very small, and the factors that influence the outcomes are wide ranging and complex (physiological, psychological, social, cultural, economic etc etc). And so to draw meaningful conclusions from the available data is surely close to impossible. Certainly any reductionist conclusion along the lines of “it’s all because of better training methods” is almost certainly wrong.

          • One could make a case for Slovenia being a statistical outlier too: less area than Wales, less population than Paris, and there they are with Pogacar, Roglic, Mohoric and Tratnik.

            I sometimes wonder if pro cycling is all a front to draw statisticians in…

        • “People love to think all is so different & new ^___^”
          But now it’s all thanks to technology! I really get tired of reading/hearing this all the time along with implications that change is always progress. But OTOH, every old geezer on earth has complained about the same thing, right? Off this weekend to see some more two-wheeled racing…with motors this time – MOTOGP at Mugello 🙂

  15. Thank you inrng. You make cycling more interesting with every post.

    now, about an inrng jersey or even a coffee mug…..

  16. Technically superb but unfortunately a dull contest. Except for stage 1 Tadej Pogacer hardly seemed to put in any effort at all yet rode away from the rest as if on a Sunday morning club ride on flat roads. Nothing like the sort of races we have seen over the past 10 years, filled with drama and unexpected twists & turns. Great races need more evenly matched riders. Pog does seem to be a popular figure with the other riders, unlike some of the tales of yore with huge egos intent on ruling over the peloton.

    One unexpected bonus was Luke Rowe in the Eurosport commentary team, really good insights into team tactics and balanced views on the riders. I would assume he will be inside a team car in the not too distant future.

    A mention for Geraint Thomas, he has not had the best of fortune at the Giro, what with stray Policemen & bottles. Arguably he should have won at least once. He was never going to win this time round but a very creditable ride at 38 from someone who has been at the top of professional cycling for the best part of 20 years. I wonder how many of the current crop of “superstar” riders will still be competing for GC at 38?

    • I’ve said it before, but I think there’s an argument for Geraint Thomas being one of the most impressive (and often underrated) riders of the modern era – world titles, olympic titles, classics wins, grand tour wins & podiums, and wins in nearly every week-long race out there. All across a career spanning 20 years, with world class ability on the track, the cobbles, and the mountains, and all in spite of what must be a disproportionate number of crashes!

  17. Just a quick comment of thanks to echo those above. Inrng is essential reading and such a great resource to accompany the racing. I’ve said it before but this site really adds to my enjoyment of the sport. Also thanks to those below the line who add their knowledge and views.

    I found the Giro enjoyable – there was plenty of great racing and interesting stages despite the foregone conclusion of the overall outcome. You could argue that the moment the race was won was when Pogi turned up on the start line – although I totally accept that in order to finish first, first you have to finish.

    I’d be interested to hear Inrng’s view of the performance of Decathlon–AG2R La Mondiale – they seem rejuvenated as a team which is good to see but I’m interested in why ? They don’t appear yet to have signed a load of new riders.

    • And, while I assume they had their service-cours in Belgium or Luxembourg during at least the Bruyneel years, Lidl-Trek also have a strong Italian connection.

    • Sort of/kind of, but I think Italians really dream of/wish for a top-class team with Italian stars bankrolled by Italians rather than petro-sheiks. But who has that kind of money these days?
      Only 3 of the 2024 Giro’s 6 “Top Sponsors” (Mediolanum, Eataly and Continental) aren’t quasi-governmental operations while Italy’s infrastructure minister seems at war with anything that threatens the automobile lobby. They change governments here regularly but the next change can’t come soon enough for me!

  18. In your preview you had Pogacar at 5 stars with O’Connor, Thomas, Arensman and Martinez at 1 star. That’s your 10-minute winning time gap. Essentially the ’24 Giro was a pre-TDF training camp for Pogacar where he could do a few big efforts and lose some weight to boost his W/KG.

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