Giro Stage 21 Preview

The final stage and once the peloton has arrived by plane in the morning, there’s a quick trip to the beach followed by a criterium around Rome.

If you’ve been watching for all three weeks today’s stage has a later than usual finish at 6.45pm CEST.

Channel hopping: these days there are often several races to watch on one day. At the same time as the Giro the Boucles de la Mayenne in France and the Tour of Norway were on Eurosport. The Giro had two races, the one with Tadej Pogačar and the other with all the rest.

The early break built up a decent lead but the bunch chased and Giulio Pellizzari surged clear from the peloton on the first climb of Monte Grappa to join the remnants of the breakaway. The second time up Pellizzari went solo.

It looked as if Pogačar and UAE might have to hurry up and attack because Pellizzari was over a minute clear with not much of the climb remaining and if the Italian could match him on the descent what would they do for the finish? Pogačar for a sixth stage, or a patron gifting a stage to a young rider on an invited team? In the time it took to reflect on what might happen here Pogačar attacked and soon Pellizzari was reeled in and overtaken, even if he did hang on for a while to see what it looked like.

From here on two races, Pogačar would go on to win the stage. A minute and a half clear at the top Monte Grappa, he would take more time on the descent to finish two minutes ahead of the rest.

Behind Dani Martinez attacked and got a small gap. Geraint Thomas and Ben O’Connor were struggling but had this continued it would just have widened the existing time gaps rather than changed the hierarchy. It all came back together during the descent. The only GC changes were Romain Bardet and Filippo Zana who had been dropped earlier, each slipping two places overall with Bardet ninth, Zana 11th and surpassed by Michael Storer who cracks the top-10.

Because of his attack Pellizzari will wear the mountains jersey tomorrow, there’s been a contest throughout the race to be the jersey carrier during Pogačar’s reign.

The Route: first a charter flight in the morning for the peloton to Rome. Then 125km and a copycat stage from last year. It starts in Eur – the district built for Benito Mussolini and now Rome’s business quarter – with a trip to Rome-on-Sea, aka Ostia, and back via Eur.

Then laps around Rome. The route isn’t quite a tourist bus tour of the city – there are too many things to fit in – but there’s plenty as the course passes the Colosseum and more.

The Finish: flat and with some urban cobbles – sampietrini for locals – on the approach and then a sweeping bend past the Colosseum, more cobbles with 400m to go.

The Contenders: Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) or Tim Merlier (Soudal-Quickstep)? Milan found the finish in Padova a bit to hectic and became unhitched from his sprint train, today’s circuit finish should be more predictable for him and his potent leadout.

There’s always a chance for a last day surprise as we saw a year ago with Mark Cavendish winning. The “he’s been written off” Rome resurgence would fit nicely for Caleb Ewan (Jayco) but that’s hard to script. Another Australian Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is still hunting for a stage too and is first of the “hasn’t won a stage but has come closest” list but there’s no queue to be served. There’s always the chance of a late surprise, for example a flier from Filippo Ganna (Ineos).


Weather: warm and sunny, 26°C.

TV: KM0 is at 3.35pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 6.45pm CEST.

Postcard from Eur
Eur is Rome’s business district and Rome is, no surprise, the political capital of Italy. The race makes a long journey to Rome for what amounts to not much more than a victory parade and a premium criterium race and then everyone has to go back again, including all the vehicles. Too much? Possibly but the convoy has been touring Italy for weeks now and so one transfer is incremental, even if 536km is long. To their credit race organisers RCS have offered the media a special train. Still, instead of a long transfer ideally the race would visit Rome along the way.

It matters that races to go the capital cities and take place in front of politicians and other decision-makers. Last year saw Presidente Mattarella in attendance at the Giro and having the head of state show up is good for the sport and good for politicians.

Political capitals tend to have big populations too so this brings the sport to the people. Cycling is often a provincial sport, it takes place in the countryside and small towns. This can be charming, especially with good weather and the scenery shot from a helicopter. But it needn’t be exclusively so.

Races in capitals are rare. The grand tours usually manage it. The others, less so. Not the Tour de Suisse this year. For all the races in cyclesport-crazed Belgium, there’s the Brussels Cycling Classic that goes where others don’t. The Deutschland Tour doesn’t go to Berlin. The Tour of Denmark doesn’t visit Copenhagen. Neither the Tour de Pologne to Warsaw. And so on. The Tour of Britain for men and women alike did go to London but seems like it won’t any more, for now. But today the Tour of Japan concludes with stage in Tokyo, in Shinagawa.

Taking the sport to where people live and having an urban stage or two can be fun, especially if there’s a playful circuit to encourage lively racing. So while today is a long journey, hopefully Rome can stay on the route, ideally as a mid-race essential stop. Or even better, a finish after a vicious stage in the Apennines the day before.

41 thoughts on “Giro Stage 21 Preview”

  1. That was quite an interesting test for a final “actual” stage. Seems to me that the UAE support riders are the unsung heroes as they have done a job that some felt they weren’t up to.

  2. Once again, a huge thanks for your coverage, your insight and your knowledge of cycling history!

    Nice also that 99% of the comments here are interesting, and actually civilised, sadly not something that can be said of much of the rest of the digital dungheap aka the internet!

  3. It’s going to take me a while to forget the brown strip down the back of the pink knicks. But awesome of course from Pog. Thanks also for the fantastic blog. I enjoy every single post you make.

  4. Thanks again to Mr Ring for the hard work and posts.
    One more stage win for Pogacar and some movement down the GC rankings.

    A mention for the oldest guy in the race at 41 who managed to make it through to Rome and 20th on GC – Pozzovivo. Bravo also to the team, Bardiani, who might not be WT but gave it 100%.

    • Also a mention to the second oldest guy in the race, who managed to finish 14th in GC, his best Grand Tour result ever, 3 month before he’s retiring.

  5. I think the time gap was already roughly 2 minutes when Martinez, Thomas etc reached the summit (hence all descended at basically the same rate). I don’t know for sure how the timing works, but I’d have thought the time gap due to the climb is the time gap when the chasers reach that summit point.

  6. Echoing others when I say thank you for an entertaining and informative blog .I ve looked forward each morning to your previews and the excellent postcards.The below the line comments are some of the most civilised and informed on the net . Salute Signor Ring

  7. Something missing from ToB sentence, should it be: “Tour of Britain for men and women alike USED TO VISIT LONDON but seems like it doesn’t any more.”.
    Please zapp this comment if not required.

  8. I always have a slight ‘what am I going to do now?!’ feeling when a Grand Tour finishes! I’ve enjoyed this Giro despite the fact there has been no contest for any of the jerseys. It almost makes me wonder why I actually watch cycling! Am I watching for racing entertainment or just to listen to some people babble and have a look at the countryside!
    Anyway, thanks as always for the coverage, Milan for the win today I think.

    • I can’t recall someone so easily winning a grand tour.

      When I dabbled in bike racing I remember doing a Cat 4 criterium and on the last lap a guy shot off the front and smoked the field with ease. Turns out he was a recent ex-pro in the wrong race.

  9. Thanks for excellent insights throughout the Giro!

    Perhaps unlikely, but I’m hoping for the Ganna and Groves show that happened at last year’s Vuelta (perhaps with Pog in there instead of Remco).

  10. Il Gran Premio della Liberazione is run in Rome each year.
    I rode in an edition of ROAR (Roma-Ostia-Roma) about a decade ago, following most of the route from EUR out and back. Dunno if they have that anymore. Campagnolo used to sponsor a gran fondo in Rome too, I rode that once as well.
    “The race makes a long journey to Rome for what amounts to not much more than a victory parade and a premium criterium race and then everyone has to go back again, including all the vehicles.”
    Seems like the same thing happens quite often with Paris in that big race in France where the winner gets a yellow shirt, no? Do you complain about that too?

    • I’m saying the visit to Rome is a good thing Larry. The Tour’s finish can be a drag but nobody seems to complain, the images often go around the world more than others from the race so they are valuable.

      Logistics wise there’s a difference with Paris is that it is “on the way home” for about half the Tour teams as they have their service course in the north of France or in Belgium, Netherlands etc.

      • I was going to comment that the big (read: meaningful) difference here is the length of the transfer to Rome.
        But although my impression is that the penultimate stage of the Tour always/as a rule/usually finishes within a decent (read: nowhere near 500 km) distance of the srart town of the 21st stage), it suddenly hit me that I`m not too sure that there haven´t been notable exceptions even in recent years…

        • Tour 2023: Markstein – 450 km to Paris
          Tour 2022: Rocamadour – 550 km to Paris
          Tour 2021: Saint-Émilion – 570 km to Paris
          Tour 2020: Le Planche des Belles Filles: 450 km to Paris

          Honestly, I don’t see a tremendous difference between a transfer of 500 vs 100 km, especially because they start later than usual. At least from the rider perspective. I imagine that for support staff it is not fun and even not safe to drive a car in the middle of the night after exhausting three weeks.

          • I think the concern being brought up by others (there’s obviously chatter beyond this blog) is the environmental impact.

      • Logistics wise there’s a difference with Paris is that it is “on the way home” for about half the Tour teams as they have their service course in the north of France or in Belgium, Netherlands etc.
        OK, so let’s structure all the GT’s to provide this then, regardless of what country they’re in. Will you complain about 2024’s edition of LeTour with a finale in Nice for the same reasons?
        Shame on ASO? No, I’m simply pointing out what seems to be a (quite usual) double standard when it comes to this kind of stuff…back to the “love/hate” thing I wrote about earlier.
        nd while I’m at it, I’ll admit to falling into the same mindset myself….until my first visit to La Corsa Rosa. After that, LeTour just seemed bigger and richer but not better. I wrote about it years ago:

        • Larry. The 2024 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad and also known as Paris 2024, is an international multi-sport event that is scheduled to take place from 26 July to 11 August 2024 with Paris as its main host city. Hence Nice. Maybe the Olympics have a little more clout than ASO.

          • Uh, yeah…I know. I’m going there myself. But somehow the teams are gonna have to suffer with Nice in the same way (according to some) they’re suffering with the Giro finishing in Rome instead of Milan. Oh, the humanity!!!!

  11. ‘Sampietrini’ was also I believe the name of the hereditary caste of maintenance workers at the Vatican, specifically those looking after St Peter’s. They were involved in the very secret excavations under the Basilica during WWII which uncovered the earliest stages of the building.

    I’ve really enjoyed this Giro, always exciting to see a master at their trade. Something which could be said about your blog as well, dear Ring.

  12. For me the Giro is the highlight of the year and this was no exception. Even though his battle against the other riders was over almost as soon as it had begun Pogacar still had to do battle with the race itself. Weather , equipment , health , stray dogs , cars , spectators and his own inner will were all hurdles he had to overcome . We are witnessing a special sportsman fulfil and surpass his potential.
    Thank you Innring and all that read and post here

  13. Yes, what to do between now and the start of the Tour…? No more daily postcards from Italy.

    There is something special about the Giro as a distant spectator that just feels different from watching the Tour.

    Many thanks for the past 21 days of previews and commentary from all visitors. I hope all the regulars will meet back up in July!

  14. In my opinion this is the best ‘spectator’ analysis of pro cycling. Many thanks to the InRing. As other comments indicate you are not take for granted.

  15. It was a pleasant Giro to watch and as always, this blog has enhanced the experience. As I watch the coverage on some delay, I always hit pause to read the preview here (as well as the comments) before I press play again. Thank you yet again!

    Can’t wait for the TdF now…

  16. That Rome cirquit is fierce and Pogačar fearless.

    Thank you very much for your efforts, inrng. Your blog is a joy.

  17. Shame Milan broke a chain on that last lap — that was immense getting second. And quite gracious of him to credit Merlier’s effort.

    I liked seeing Pog working hard to keep Molano up at the sharp end at the finish, and a bit comical to see Olivera at 500m looking around wondering where their sprinter went. The pink sleeves on the UAE kit are a little too Telekommish for me though.

    Always pleased to see Pro teams do well, so it was good to see Storer in 10th, and Pellizzari keeping the KOM jersey for Pog. Don’t know how much value that would have for EF, Movistar, or SQS but surely it helps visibility for Bardiani.

    As for the race, not really in doubt when a certain someone signed up, done and dusted by the 2nd day, but despite that not boring at all. Once in a great while we see someone lay down a marker at an exceptionally high bar, but this wasn’t “I’ll crush you all”, more like “this is fun, come join me” (even as everyone else is hanging on for grim death). Giving a kid a bidon, telling a neopro to get on his wheel, comparing himself to Barbie were added touches.

  18. There is the X2O Trofee cyclocross race in Brussels each year. Looks pretty big attendance wise, judging by the telly.

    Cyclocross is _huge_ in Belgium. It surely gets at least as many spectators as the Belgian road belgian classics do? In sum, guaranteed, and possibly even per race.

    I’m a late fan of cyclocross, but it seems to me that cyclocross is helping to save grass-roots support of road-bike(-like) racing in at least some countries.

    • While I agree with your general idea, your assumptions about TV figures and attendance are wrong. CX races are huge in Belgium, but still well behind local road Classics. Comparing easily available numbers, the only CX race which came close to road TV figures was the 2023 Worlds, which indeed came closer than ever to the Ronde, and was noted as an impressive exception. But normally CX races sit well below. Not to speak of roadside audience which is directly on a different magnitude. Plus, CX is still terribly limited in terms of internationality, as you also hint at. But that’s slowly starting to change, too. However, I’ve been a CX fan for years, so happy to see it grow as it also offer an opportunity for safe “training” to the youngsters irrespective of their possible pro future (I mean, especially that early age in which “training” is essentially “racing on weekends” and little more).

      • I mostly had physical attendance in mind with CX. It’s incredibly healthy in those terms. It’s a more physical-spectator friendly form than road racing possibly.

      • E.g., the Hoogerheide worlds had over 20k at it. I can’t remember the exact figure – they were interviewing Adri van der Poel (course designer I think, and involved in org) and I think he mentioned a figure north of that.

        Dublin – not a hotbed of cycling, though still with a reasonable grass-roots racing scene going on – had over 10k people in ’22 at the UCI WC, when it was freezing cold. Maybe slightly less in ’23, cause the weather was atrocious (heavy rain) plus none of the big 3 came, but still almost as packed as year before.

        I wouldn’t have thought it possible to have 10k+ people come out to watch cycling in Ireland.

        I was never big into CX, but… it’s a really good (in person) spectating package as far as cycling goes. Very accessible, and the nature of it makes it easier for an organiser to make money out of it, and you get value for your money. And that money helps FCS support other road races. So… it seems a very good thing for the sport, and should be supported. 😉

Comments are closed.