Filippo Ganna, glimmering in rainbow bands atop his golden bike as World Time Trial Champion, rocketed into hat-trick territory on Stage 14 of this Giro d’Italia. The 24-year-old Ineos rider continued an all-star rise to fame, dominating all others on the rolling 34km course between Conegliano to Valdobbiadene. Aussie, and fellow Ineos teammate, Rohan Dennis finished second at 26 seconds. American and UAE rider Brandon McNulty went quickest amongst the GC favourites to finish third. While the GC Top 10 shifted somewhat, no dramatic changes occurred as Joao Almeida continues his maglia rosa run.
How the race was won
Having won the opening time trial and Stage 5 of this Giro, Filippo Ganna was the hot favourite for today’s discipline. Once on course and through the intermediate time checks, it was clear this faith was not misplaced. There is quite a simple answer to how the race was won: Filippo went faster than everyone else. Amazing, I know!
Prior to Ganna storming into Valdobbiadene — home to some of the best Prosecco — Rohan Dennis had set the best time of the day. Much like what happens when I ride downhill with mates, however, Ganna came blistering through to record a time that made Rohan look like he was sitting still. In fairness, Dennis was sitting in the hot seat.
Rightfully so, too. On an undulating course that could perhaps be better suited to less hunky riders (Yes, ed, I meant hunky, not chunky), Filippo clocked a jaw-dropping 48 kilometres per hour! That’s about as fast as my top-end speed going downhill …
While praising Ganna, I must say that his golden bike has really begun to grow on me. I was not a fan of it when it first debuted two weeks ago, but golly it is a looker!
The GC Shakeup: The Winners
We are 14 days into this grand tour and for many, the race has yet to come alive. Despite a few mountainous stages now, the fight for the maglia rosa has yet to catch fire. With the Top 10 differentiated by less than three minutes at the start of the day, there was a glimmer of hope amongst optimists that Stage 14 could be our first definitive reshuffle. Did that fortune ring true? Kinda. Sorta. Nah, not really.
Before taking us down a dark cobbled path of gloom and doom, let’s take a look at those GC contenders who shined bright like a diamond.
UAE’s Brandon McNulty put his time trial prowess to use this afternoon, topping all other contenders with a time of 43:49 – 1:09 off Ganna’s pace. McNulty’s performance continues his quiet, yet successful, Giro campaign that has seen him finish second behind Peter Sagan on Stage 10.
It was clear from the first intermediate check that Brandon was on a good day, clocking a time just 5 seconds slower than Ganna. He carried on with that pace right through to the finish line, placing third on the stage behind two elite world champions. It’s worth noting, of course, that McNulty has been no slouch in World Championship time trial himself. In 2015, he placed third in the junior category before winning it the following year. Since then, he has finished on the podium of the U23 Worlds time trial twice.
We have talked a lot about this year’s Giro potentially having a surprise winner. With just seven stages remaining and having jumped seven places in the general classification today, Brandon McNulty may just be the man that no one is expecting.
Although a more established threat than McNulty, Wilco Kelderman had a similarly impressive day on the bike. Having started the day 40 seconds behind Almeida, the Dutchman conceded just 16 seconds and continues to sit second atop the GC. With Almeida untested in the third week of a grand tour, Kelderman sits more than 1:30 ahead of Vincenzo Nibali and is primed to capitalise if Almeida and the Quicksteppers falter in the high mountains.
We shan’t count out Joao Almeida just yet, however. Two weeks into his first-ever three week race, the Portuguese star keeps on impressing. The youngster extended his lead over Kelderman by 16 seconds today on his way to sixth place today, after picking up an additional six bonus seconds in yesterday’s stage.
While some predict his downfall and criticise him for doing too much too early, each of these time gains build on one another. Regardless of how it ends, the man is making history along the way and remaining cool as a cucumber under pressure.
To recap the winners. . .
The GC Shakeup: The Less Fortunate
As much fun as it is to celebrate those who shine bright, it is just as hard to discuss those who suffer. Let’s face it, though: time trials are not for everyone. Heck, they are not much excitement for fans, so how much fun can they be for the riders who have to ride them?
It breaks hearts to see it, but Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang is atop the list of the less fortunate. Our favourite Dane lost more than a minute and a half to Almeida and dropped out of the top 10, down to 12th overall. He now lays 4:08 behind the maglia rosa.
While not as dramatic (or heartbreaking) as Fuglsang, Trek’s Vincenzo Nibali also had a poor day in a discipline that formerly suited him. Having begun the day fifth overall, 1:07 off the race lead, Mr. Nibz remains just inside the top 5, but a further minute and a half behind now. When will The Shark surface? Who knows. (Hint: I know, and it won’t).
Last, but certainly not least in our thoughts, is UAE’s Domeninco Pozzovivo. Given his small stature, this veteran Italian has never thrived in races against the clock. With that said, he could easily be considered a winner today. Despite toppling down from fourth to seventh overall, Pozzovivo managed to concede just 1:26 to Almeida. Given previous performances, that gap could’ve been significantly higher. Chapeau to you, Prince Pozzovivo!
He’s a looker, too, if you’ve not noticed!
The Final Word
Stage 13 Results
1 Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) 0:42:40
2 Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:26
3 Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) +1:09
4 Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) +1:11
5 Josef Cerny (CCC Team) +1:16
GC Top 10
1 Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quickstep) 54:28:09
2 Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +0:56
3 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) +2:11
4 Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) +2:23
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) +2:30
6 Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +2:33
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling) +2:33
8 Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +3:11
9 Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) +3:17
10 Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +3:33
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Points jersey Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
King of the Mountains Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling)
Best Young Rider Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
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Official race website: Giro d’Italia
Header image: ©GETTY/Velo/Tim de Waele