Part II of our Giro d’Italia alphabetical round-up. We start with Nieve, move through snowgate and velvety paws to end with the Russian version of Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
N is for Nieve
Mikel Nieve running with the devils on stage 13 (Image: ©Getty Images/RS/Tim de Waele)
You would be forgiven if you thought that Mikel Nieve was the only Sky rider in the race after Mikel Landa dropped out, as he seemed to be the only one making any noise. A stage 13 win and a lot of breakaway action helped him to wrestle the maglia azzurra from the shoulders of the little prince, Damiano Cunego, on the penultimate stage by taking full points on a solo climb of the Col de la Bonette.
O is for Out!
Of the 198 riders who lined up at the start of stage 1, only 154 finished. Compare this to last year’s Giro, 197 riders started and 163 finished – 10 more riders than this year.
P is for pink
The ArgoSunGod dons the pink (Image: ©Getty Images/Bryn Lennon)
There were eight wearers of the maglia rosa in this year’s Giro: Tom Dumoulin, Marcel Kittel, Gianluca Brambilla, Bob Jungels, Andrey Amador, Steven Kruijswijk, Esteban Chaves and Vincenzo Nibali. In 21 stages, we had 18 winners – only Kittel and Greipel had multiple stage wins.
Q is for (D)Q’ed
Giacomo Nizzolo might have won the maglia rosso for the second year running but he had a face like thunder (and the eyebrows of a diabolical wizard) when he went up for the presentation. Half an hour earlier, he’d thought he’d finally won his first Giro stage to give the day an all-Italian flavour. But after an official complaint by Lampre-Merida that he had impeded Sacha Modolo in the last few metres, the jury decided to disqualify his sprint, strip the Trek-Segafredo rider of his cherished victory and hand it to Giant-Alpecin’s Nikias Arndt.
R is for respect the jersey
This phrase was bandied about a lot when some big names started to climb off their bikes, most notably Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel, both in the maglia rosso at the time of abandonment. However, for all the shouts of ‘Shame, shame’ at the Gorilla, at least he was upfront about his reasons – he had other races to prepare for and hauling his ass over the high mountains when he’d gotten everything he could out of the Giro wasn’t the way he wanted to do it. Some fans find the abandonment issue one that makes their head explode, some don’t – I just wonder if he’d instead feigned injury or illness to leave the race, anyone would have blinked an eye.
S is for Snowgate
If Nibali and Chaves were The Clash, should they stay or should they go when this happened on stage 19? Although it was split down the middle on Twitter – ‘the race is on’ ‘terrible display of manners – where is the gentleman’s agreement!’ – it wasn’t a question in the peloton. Kruijswijk himself said that the race was on, he knew Nibali and Chaves had to carry on (how could you possibly slow down on a descent like that anyway?) and that the mistake was his and he owned it. The soundest explanation of the day’s events (and Nibali subsequent victory) is on the InnerRing blog.
T is for Trentin
Etixx’s Matteo Trentin not only won stage 18 by working with Gianluca Brambilla to give Cannondale’s Moreno Moser the old one-two, but he also won the overall combativity prize. Who said Etixx are just a Classics team (although judging from the Classics this year, it’s lucky they have other strings to their bow…).
U is for #Unclass
Michele Scarponi punching the air as he goes over the line on stage 20 right next to Chaves because he knows his teammate has taken the maglia rosa off the shoulders of the Colombian. There had been some reports of him exchanging high fives with the tifosi on the final few kilometres – again, while riding with Chaves. Dude. Seriously. Class up.
V is for Valverde minis
Finishing third in his first ever Giro d’Italia (the only strange thing about this is why he never participated in the race before), Alejandro Valverde took the podium with a flashmob of children. Suffice it to say, the father looks much more pleased than the son who was holding the consolation trophy. He’s got a face like Nizzolo …
W is for Wolfie
Wolfie in happier times in Italy (©Getty Images/Tim de Waele)
Who would have thought a podium mascot would cause such controversy, but French farmers along the Alpine route the Giro took into France did not want Wolfie to set one velvety paw in their country and threatened disruption. It may sound silly to those whose livestock (and livelihood) are not torn asunder by real wolves, who might smile like Wolfie but surely are not as even-tempered, but the farmers believed that the presence of the plushie would be showing great insensitivity. Wolfie sat it out on the border.
X is for Xtra
Okay, okay – you try finding a real X …! I’m sticking with this and that is Giro Extra, the Eurosport programme hosted by Ashley House and Juan Antonio Flecha with interviews by Laura Meseguer. All were as enthusiastic as ever, getting the big riders to come over and say hello (sometimes unexpectedly) and just generally giving us all something to smile about at the beginning and ends of the stages. (You didn’t honestly think this A-Z would not have Spartacus in it somewhere, now did you?)
Y is for You’re locked in now …
Adam Hansen has finished his 14th consecutive Grand Tour. He ruefully mentioned earlier this year that he can’t stop now, he’s pretty much locked in for the Grand Tours now until he climbs off his bike mid-way through the race. Which is highly unlikely – unless it’s some sort of alien abduction. So bring on July for our favourite hard man!
Z is for Zakarin
Ilnur Zakarin gave us all a scare on stage 19 by ending up lying motionless on a rocky mountainside with his bike several metres away. We are relieved to hear he’s okay, but also have an uncontrollable urge to sing ‘Scooby dooby doo, where are you? We need some help from you now!’
And with that little song in our hearts, we close the book on Giro d’Italia 2016
Header image: ©KT/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images