Time trials aren’t often spicy. There is often a predetermined flow to them, determined many centuries ago. Okay, maybe not… but the point is time trials are often drab affairs that lack enthusiasm across the board, both from fans and the riders. With that said, today’s 34.7km individual time trial from Riccione to San Marino brought the heat. With a course that gradually tilted upwards, and ended with a bang of a climb, stage 9 of this year’s Giro d’Italia was set to the first serious test for the overall contenders prior to the race reaching the mountains in week two.
Add varying conditions – from dry-ish roads to standing water to torrential downpours – along with untimely bike changes, and we had ourselves a bicycle race! At the end of the day, it was Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) who soaked the competition to win his second stage. UCI Hour Record Holder Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) finished 11 seconds down after sitting in the hot seat for much of the day. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), despite nearly having his tongue fall out of his mouth as he dashed towards the finish line, claimed third, one minute behind Roglic.
Rider of the RaceEmbed from Getty Images
Surely there is not a doubt in anyone’s mind who I am going to pick for today’s Rider of the Race. I picked him as the Giro champion several weeks back in a big and bold prediction, and he has yet to put a foot wrong in this year’s Italian race. The Rider of the Race is none other than Primoz Roglic! The former ski jumper – yes, we all know this – was 51sec down on Campenaerts at the intermediate time check as he entered the climb. At the top of the climb, he had not only clawed back those 51 seconds, but gained an additional 11 seconds on top of it. And to top it off, Roglic was the only man to go under the 52:00 minute mark.
Through hail, rain, awkward bike changes …
While it is no surprise who the rider of the race is, there were several surprise riders who gain honourable mentions. Victor Campenaerts gets a shout-out, of course. The poor man sat in the hot seat all day, only to be beaten late into the stage. He had an impressive ride, particularly after a bike change that was both messy and rather sluggish that likely cost him the win.
He looked quite a bit disappointed once it became official that Roglic had bested him, but he did have some fun earlier in the day while the cameras shined brightly on him.
Other honourable mentions go out to Bauke Mollema. Who would have ever predicted a top 3 from him?! Frankly, the rest of the top ten deserve a mention, as they all out-performed their expectations on such an awful day. Big chapeau to Vincenzo Nibali, Tanel Kangert, Chad Haga, Bob Jungels, Hugh Carthy, Pello Bilbao, and Mattia Cattaneo!
Grumpy Italian Cycling Gods
I’m not sure who pissed off the Italian Cycling Gods, but they were quite grumpy during the time trial today and it was reflected in the weather. Perhaps it was Tom Dumoulin abandoning earlier this week, or Valerio Conti pairing the pink jersey with that gawd-awful red UAE Team helmet. Being in the United States, I apparently missed both sections of the time trial that showcased dry roads and hail. From what I understand, early starters like Campenaerts experienced dry roads, while ultra-unfortunate riders, like Tao Geoghegan Hart, rode through a hail shower. Then there were riders who had to pedal through standing water and downpours.
Unfortunately for the last five riders on the day, the torrential rains returned. By the time Nans Peters, Giovanni Carboni, JJ Rojas, and Conti reached the climb, the rains were on a biblical scale. The cameras struggled to catch a clear image of both Rojas and Conti as they approached the finish, with the glare of the headlights from the trailing team cars, looking something like this …
Where things stand
Stage 9 brings the first week of racing to a close before Monday’s first rest day. In the overall standings, Valerio Conti and UAE Team hold onto the pink jersey. I, for one, cannot wait to see La Gazetta’s photo of Conti sitting at a cafe reading their paper with the pink jersey hung over the chair next to him. With stage 10 and 11 sprint-friendly and stage 12 possibly being another one for a breakaway, Conti could be in pink at least through stage 13.
In terms of overall contenders, Roglic remains the best of the rest. He currently sits 2nd overall, 1:50 behind Conti. Nibali is next best, with 1:44 needed to be reclaimed on Roglic. Mollema trails Nibali by an additional 10 seconds and looks promising as the race weaves towards the mountains.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton Scott) and Migel Angel Lopez (Astana) are the big losers of the day. Yatesy had an underwhelming performance, casting back to time trial performances of years past, conceding 3:11 to Roglic, and now sits 3:46 behind him in the general classification. Migel Angel Lopez lost 3:45 to Roglic on the stage, and now sits 27th overall, 4:29 behind Roglic. With two weeks to go and a lot of mountain stages, we can’t write Yates off yet, but all his big and bad talk at the start of this Giro has so far amounted to just that – talk.
Stage Results – Top 5Embed from Getty Images
1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:51:52
2 Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) at 00:11
3 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) at 1:00
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) at 1:05
5 Tanel Kangert (EF Education First) at 1:10
General Classification – Top 10Embed from Getty Images
1 Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) 36:08:32
2 Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) at 1:50
3 Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) at 2:21
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar Team) 2:33
5 Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) at 2:36
6 Andrey Amador (Movistar Team) at 2:39
7 Amaro Antunes (CCC Team) at 3:05
8 Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) at 3:27
9 Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani CSF) at 3:30
10 Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) at 3:32
All the jerseys
Maglia rosa – Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates)
Maglia blanca – Nans Peters (AG2R-La Mondiale)
Maglia azzurra – Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)
Maglia ciclamino – Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe)
For full stage review and race results, go to cyclingnews.