Part two of our 2019 Giro d’Italia A to Z. We go from the heartwarming stories of Chad Haga and Esteban Chaves to the Z of Ilnur Zakarin (God knows what we’ll do when that guy retires from grand tour racing …).
N is for No, I’m not crying, I have something in my eye
In every grand tour, there are one or two stories that just set Twitter alight with love. In this year’s Giro, it was the stage wins of Esteban Chaves and Chad Haga.
Chaves, who had been fighting the Epstein-Barr virus for some time, finally looked to be getting his mojo back with a second place on stage 17, one and a half minutes behind the winner, Nans Peters. He came back on stage 19 to attack attack attack until he dropped his fellow breakers and took an emotional victory as he ran into the arms of his parents, who had travelled from Colombia to see their son come back into form.
Then it was Chad Haga‘s turn to make everyone cry, on the final stage. The Sunweb rider spent two and a half hours in the hot seat, waiting to see if Primoz Roglic was going to take a hat trick of time trials – but Haga’s time stood. Tears of joy and grief followed.
“I made sure to soak in the award ceremony, sharing a moment with my dad, who was certainly high-fiving everyone within reach up in heaven. It is a memory that I will always cherish, partly because it was so long in coming.”
O is for Opening / Closing Time TrialsEmbed from Getty Images
This year’s Giro started with an 8km time trial that caught one of the big favourites out. Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin being the biggest name to falter. Although Big Tam had lost pretty much every fat cell in his body to become Tall Tiny Tam, he came in fifth, behind Primoz Roglic, Simon. Philip. Yates, Vincenzo Nibali and Miguel Angel Lopez. But 28 seconds isn’t that far off. However, he left the Giro on stage 5, after a stage 4 crash saw him cross the finish line with a blood-stained knee and dejection in his eyes.Embed from Getty Images
Having won the first time trial and wearing the first maglia rosa of the Giro, Primoz Roglic was the red-hot favourite for the win on the second time trial, stage 9. And he did win it, 11 seconds ahead of hour record holder Victor Campenaerts and a good 1.55 over the eventual Giro champion, Richard Carapaz. But it didn’t put him back into the maglia rosa, as Valerio Conti held onto the GC lead, finishing the time trial during a torrential downpour.Embed from Getty Images
Down to the final time trial on the final stage, the only suspense at the start was by how much Roglic would win this stage and would he get back onto the podium, even possibly unseating Vincenzo Nibali in second. Yet, Roglic came in tenth (although he did get back on the podium), with Sunweb’s Chad Haga saving the team’s Giro by winning his first grand tour stage (see N for No, I’m not crying). Second and third on the stage went to Lotto-Soudal’s Victor Campenaerts and Thomas De Gendt.
P is for Podium (final)Embed from Getty Images
Of the three men who were on the final podium, only Vincenzo Nibali failed to win a stage in this year’s Giro. Third placed Primoz Roglic won two stages (1 and 9) as did the winner, Richard Carapaz (4 and 14).Embed from Getty Images
Primoz Roglic rode five stages in the maglia rosa, has ridden four grand tours in total (Giro x 2; Tour de France x 2) and this is his first grand tour podium.Embed from Getty Images
Vincenzo Nibali has ridden in 21 grand tours in total (Giro x 8; Tour x 7; Vuelta x 6), has won four of them (Giro x 2, Tour x 1, Vuelta x 1) and podiumed in 7 (4 x second; 3 x third).Embed from Getty Images
Richard Carapaz rode seven stages in the maglia rosa, has ridden four grand tours in total (Giro x 2; Vuelta x 2) and this is his first grand tour podium. But I reckon it won’t be his last.
Q is for QuickstepEmbed from Getty Images
For all those fans who were worried that Deceuninck-QuickStep were going to dominate every race they were in because, well, that’s what happen in the Classics, you needn’t have. The Giro was not kind to QuickStep, with Elia Viviani being relegated (see below) and then continuing to misfire until he left the Giro; and their GC hope, Bob Jungels, never getting fired up at all, finishing 33rd overall (their best placing). Let’s hope the Tour de France is a bit kinder to the boys in blue.
R is for Relegated
The commissaires didn’t let nationality cloud their judgement when they relegated Elia Viviani after an irregular sprint on stage 3 – a stage he thought he had won. Instead, they gave it to second placed Fernando Gaviria, who was probably as unhappy about that as Viviani was. Gaviria left the Giro on stage 7; Viviani left on stage 12.
S is for SprintersEmbed from Getty Images
With Mark Cavendish still finding his legs after that pesky Epstein-Barr virus, Marcel Kittel taking a break from racing, and Andre Greipel on a team that didn’t get a wild card to this year’s Giro, it was a Giro for the young(ish) sprinters. With many fans near to apoplectic that Bora didn’t call Sam Bennett to the Giro team, Pascal Ackermann‘s muscular sprint win on Stage 2 ended that little stream of speculation pretty quickly. Caleb Ewan, the man who replaced Greipel at Lotto Soudal, finally got his wins on stages 8 and 11. Except for the Viviani relegation on stage 3, the sprints went off almost without a hitch every time – except perhaps for Arnaud Demare‘s bad purple bibs.
T is for Teams
Astana and Bora led the team wins with 3 stage victories apiece – Pello Bilbao x 2 and Dario Cataldo for Astana; Pascal Ackermann x 2 and Cesare Benedetti for Bora.
Jumbo-Visma, Movistar and Lotto Soudal each had a rider who took two stages – Primoz Roglic, Richard Carapaz and Caleb Ewan respectively.
Single stage victories: UAE (Fernando Gaviria); Groupama-FDJ (Arnaud Demare); Ag2r (Nans Peters); Katusha (Ilnur Zakarin); Androni (Fausto Masnada); Nippo (Damiano Cima); Mitchelton-Scott (Esteban Chaves); Trek-Segafredo (Giulio Ciccone; Sunweb (Chad Haga)
Left empty-handed: Bahrain-Merida (although 2nd on podium, so not chopped liver); Bardiani; CCC; Deceuninck-QuickStep; EF-All the Words; Israel Cycling Academy; Dimension Data; INEOS
For all the stats on the teams and riders, check out ProCycling Stats
U is for under orders
Have a heart for Jan Hirt – he was yelled at by Giulio Ciccone to ride with him, as the two were the last standing in the break on stage 16. The Trek team car came up to yell at him for not riding. And his own team car (Astana) was probably yelling at him not to ride with Ciccone. I think we can safely say that, oftentimes, riding to orders doesn’t make you very popular.
🇮🇹 In head Jan Hirt refuses to collaborate with Ciccone and the Italian of the Trek is angry… Roglic loses 1 ´ 20 “with Predator, Nibali and Landa. They are already in the last 13 km, a rise very stretched to 2.5% of average.
V is for Victories
W is for weather
Oh, how wonderful to be in Italy in May – the sunshine, the scent of flowers wafting on the breeze … except this year’s Giro seemed to have poked the weather gods and they came down on the peloton with a vengeance. Torrential downpours with hail greeted the riders as they were finishing their time trial on stage 9, Giulio Ciccone nearly got hyperthermia in the cold and the wet on stage 16 and the Gavia was so snowbound, it had to be scrapped on the Queen Stage for fear of avalanches. But France in July is always sunny, right?
X is for x-riders
Eurosport have signed the magnificent Orla Chennaoui to front their pre- and post-stage programmes (so long, Jonathan Edwards – you were never a patch on Ashley and Juan Antonio). Anyone who has been to the Rouleur weekend in November knows how great Orla is when she’s talking about cycling and she has brought all that knowledge and sparkle to Eurosport every single stage.
Eurosport also brought in Brian Smith, Dan Lloyd, Bradley Wiggins and Adam Blythe (who isn’t an x-rider, of course, just not riding the Giro!) to sit on the couch. All quite different personalities that made for lively conversation.
Y is for young gunsEmbed from Getty Images
It was a first Giro win (and in some cases grand tour win full stop) for nine riders this year. They are:
Pascal Ackermann; Fausto Masnada; Pello Bilbao; Cesare Benedetti; Dario Cataldo; Giulio Ciccone; Nans Peters; Damiano Cima; Chad Haga
Z is for Zakarin
Ilnur Zakarin has had a hell of a time in the last few seasons – always seeming to come up short for victories. This year, he was almost invisible until he took a cracking stage win on stage 13, the first summit finish.