It was the third summit finish in this year’s Giro – and it’s only the end of week one! While I was worried the GC battle would be a damp squib like yesterday, with that infuriating watching-and-waiting tactic that seems to be so popular these days, I needn’t have been. It was a battle royale on the final few kilometres of the stage, one that Simon Yates played to perfection, taking the stage in a gruelling sprint for the line with Thibaut Pinot and Esteban Chaves coming second and third on the stage. While the British rider tightened his grip on pink, the rest of GC were a bit shaken up … ah huh huh …
Rider of the Race
There were some cracking rides today – Manuele Boaro (Bahrain-Merida) who was the driver of the break until the break broke him on the final climb; Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec), who took his leave of Boaro at 15km to go, only to be caught just after the 3km to go banner; Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF), who immediately jumped on the attack once Masnada was caught, who was followed by Thibaut Pinot, which finally enlivened the maglia rosa bunch; or Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) who went hell for leather with 600m to go, sticking the boot in any of the guys who were struggling to keep up.
But with five guys going for the line – Pinot, Chaves, Pozzovivo and yesterday’s winner, Movistarlet Richard Carapaz – it was Simon Yates who kept his cool and rode around the immodest riding of Pinot to take his first Giro stage win and cement his ambitions to be on that top step of the podium in Rome. Whether he will or not is neither here nor there at this point – there’s a lot of racing to come. But he showed – with his Mitchelton-Scott team – that he’s in it to race and he’s in it to win.
The tactics of the day were brilliant – M-S let Astana ratchet up the pace as soon as they hit the penultimate climb of the day, sitting in amongst the wheels to stay out of the swirling winds as they took the long climbs on. But when Astana took their foot off the gas, the M-S boys didn’t hesitate but went right onto the front, slick as you please, and made the gap to the break tumble. With the question ‘is it too soon’ ringing in our heads, they kept the pace high until Astana wanted to give it another go (for their man Lopez). For much of that final climb, Yates had Jack Haig (the hardest working man in show biz!) and Roman Kreuziger to keep the pace high and give him and Chaves shelter. But when it all got hectic in the last 3km, when rivals and hangers-on were being shelled out the back of that maglia rosa group and the front had attack after attack, Yates and Chaves didn’t panic. Another day of perfection by the Australian team. And a stark warning to riders who might not have a team as strong …
Don’t dismiss Dumoulin Tom D has been quiet since his maglia rosa moment in stage 1. But that’s not a surprise. He has the 34km ITT at the start of the third week that means he can stay safe and hidden for much of the rest of the time – as Simon Yates said today in a post-stage interview, he can’t count Dumoulin out as he could put two or three minutes into Yates if he was on form. And let’s not forget, Dumoulin is third in the GC, only 38sec off the top spot so far. He’s tenacious … they’ll have to work hard to get more time on him, particularly next weekend when the Zoncolan looms large.
Look at that face The faces show it all …Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
The Giro will not be tamed Sky has never been lucky in the Giro – from Bradley Wiggins in 2013 telling everyone and their brother how special the Giro was to him, then sulking his way around Italy before going home after stage 12; to last year when Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa crashed into a parked moto on Blockhaus, scuppering any chance for a podium for either one. It was only Rigoberto Uran who ever did anything notable with his second place in 2013, although by that time, Sky team management had lost interest and he was pretty much left to his own devices. But the Giro will not be tamed, it will not play out a pre-written script of Chris Froome holding (for how slim a time) the grand tour grand slam. Yesterday, he was careering around the climbs, barging and falling and radioing and panicking to just hang on with no time loss. Today, he put his Skybots up with Astana but lost over a minute in the last 2.5km of the climb to be 2.27 down from Yates overall. Sky PR says he’ll attack in the third week. I don’t see him staying that long. Does the Giro contract say he has to finish the race to collect his appearance fee, I wonder?
You gotta pedal over the line, dude It was an odd moment when early in the stage, three breakaway riders were coming up to the crest of the mountain. Fausto Masnada wanted the KOM points but dropped a chain at the least opportune moment – so teammate Davide Ballerini gave him a push over the line. Team Dimension-Data’s Natneal Berhane was there and seemed okay with that. But the judges weren’t – and they awarded Berhane the points. In the end, the point was moot, as Simon Yates took the KOM jersey at the end of the stage.
Tweet of the Day
1 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 5:54:13
2 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) same time
3 Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) s/t
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +0:04
5 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) same time
GC Top 10
1 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 37:37:15
2 Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:32
3 Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +0:38
4 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +0:45
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrian-Merida) +0:57
6 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) +1:20
7 George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) +1:33
8 Rohan Dennis (BMC) +2:05
9 Pello Bilbao (Astana) +2:05
10 Michael Woods +2:25
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
Points jersey: Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)
KOM jersey: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
Best young rider: Richard Carapaz (Movistar)
For full review of the stage, go to Cycling News
Header image: ©GETTY/Velo/Justin Setterfield