Giro d’Italia 2022 A to Z : Part 2 – From Now to Never to Zero stage wins

Part Two of our Giro d’Italia 2022 A to Z kicks off with Now or Never – riders who saw their chance and took it! And we finish up with Zero stage wins … teams who unfortunately didn’t come away with victory. We also have tears, tiny fans, one very quixotic rider and the best cycling photographers in the world.

N is for Now or Never

You don’t often see a four-up sprint for the line with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto) but that’s exactly what happened on Stage 8. Of course, it was a breakaway win, but the four couldn’t shake one another. To win, you had to sprint with everything your legs had … it was Now or Never … and TDG took the stage – ten years after his first Giro d’Italia stage win (on the Stelvio).

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has long been a favourite so seeing him ride smartly and aggressively in Stage 15 made my heart sing. But more importantly, he saw his chance and he took it on wholeheartedly. Tiring of hangers-on, he knew his chance was at the foot of the final climb – and he went for it, no looking back, no faffing about. 20km solo to the finish, where he threw his (atrocious) sunglasses into the crowd, and ‘felt like myself again’.

O is for Ouch

Lotto’s Caleb Ewan just can’t catch a break, can he? Stage 1 was going to be a sprint and … boom … down he goes.

And Ewan was possibly the one rider who left the Giro early, not due to injury, but to rest and start preparations for another race (>cough< Tour de France >cough<). We used to see that a lot – and Eddy Merckx has a lot to say about that – but this Giro, I think it was only him that did that.

But the crash story of the Giro has to be Bahrain’s Santiago Buitrago, who came down hard with 80km to go on Stage 17, looked to be in some pain, yet got back on the bike, caught up with his breakaway companions, then took the stage win!

P is for Points jersey

If the maglia rosa is the most beautiful Grand Tour leader’s jersey, the maglia ciclamino holds the title for most beautiful points jersey, hands down. Mark Cavendish (QS) who won stage 3, Caleb Ewan (Lotto), Fernando Gaviria (UAE), Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ) were the pure sprinters of the bunch, but throw in Mathieu van der Poel, Biniam Girmay, and Alberto Dainese and there could have been a real battle for the points jersey.

But Arnaud Demare, with his three monumental wins that carried the day, took the lead in the competition from MvdP and took over the ciclamino from Stage 5 and didn’t give it back! He never actually looked like he was going to lose it – either to another rider or by not getting over the mountains. His dominance was rewarded with his second Giro points title.

Q is Quixotic

You know, there’s something quixotic about BikeExchange’s Simon PHILIP Yates. He’s always touted as one of the favourites going into a Grand Tour but somehow, through bad luck, bad positioning (famously ‘more comfortable riding in the back’) or just not having the legs when he mosts needs them, he usually leaves the races having tilted at windmills and the windmills won. Unfortunately for Yates fans, this Giro was no different.

He came out swinging by scorching the ITT on Stage 2, (to the surprise of everyone) but then had a crash on Stage 4, which left him with some knee issues. Going into Stage 9 in fifth on GC and hoping to conquer Blockhaus, he instead lost 11 minutes in bitter disappointment. That he was able to pick himself back up and win his second stage, stage 14, gave his fans something to cheer about, but not him. Asked if this made up for dropping out of the GC race, he replied: “… not to put a downer on the day, but I came here to win the race. For me it’s another stage. I have five already and it’s number six.” He abandoned the race on Stage 17.

R is for Racing lines

Oh, it got a lot of the Twitterati up in arms but the experts said (including the race jury) that there was no foul on the cornering of Koen Bouwman at the end of Stage 19  – Midge’s stage review tells the whole tale. But I think we all agree that the final corner in question was very very bad race design.

S is for Social Media

We saw the good humour of the Giro d’Italia official twitter account in F is for Food Crimes, and they were absolutely brilliant the whole three weeks. That social media team brought humour, fiestiness, passion, stats and a killer Gif game to our twitter feeds, day in, day out. They connected with fans – and we love them for it!

And let’s add the Trek-Segafredo social media team as well!

One of my all-time favourites

T is for Tears

There were some tears this year. Some from relief, some from joy, some from disappointment.

At first, there were tears of bitter disappointment by Juanpe Lopez, who lost Stage 4 on Mt Etna to Lennard Kamna. But what he didn’t know was that he went into the maglia rosa that day. This is what happened when he found out.

Ciccone’s epic win on Stage 15 – all the pent-up emotion from the past two, tough years, for the Italian rider came out in floods.

And we have a new bromance : Ciccone + Lopez = True Love Forever.

Even an tearful apology

Epic show of emotion from Bahrain’s Santiago Buitrago when he took stage 17

This moment when Mikel Landa came over to congratulate his teammate on a great win had me in floods.

U is Unrivalled

There are a lot of great photographers covering races, but none match Jered and Ashley Gruber. They capture both the action and the ephemera of racing – the raw emotion and the unguarded reactions. And they tell stories in their captions – they meet and engage with the most extraordinary people while they work. Their Insta galleries are all over Giro Tweets of the Week, but here are a few that are my favourites.

V is for van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel just continues to amaze. His first Giro d’Italia and he pulls on the pink jersey on stage 1. He’s in the breakaway pretty much every single day. He finished the Giro when many (including myself) were sceptical that he would – he’s not a climber so … Ah, but he’s learning to be a climber! He spent every day in the saddle actively learning how to be a Grand Tour rider. Testing his own limits. Testing others’ limits!

He wasn’t there to be The Superstar, although he was, and he made sure to take time out for the little fans along the way. Okay, MvdP, I surrender.

W is for Wanty Corner

You could say that Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert are punching above their weight … but are they? Why don’t we just decide that they are bloody brilliant, always bring their A game and are a team to be reckoned with?! This Giro, not only did we get the historic win from Biniam Girmay, but we also had a hard fought 5-star stage win (Stage 16) and 6th overall for Jan Hirt. 

And an amazing 8th overall for Domenico Pozzovivo, who was sitting in the top 5 until a downhill skid-out off the Mortirolo on the stage Hirt won meant that he had to chase back with bloodied arms. Luckily, that downhill crash wasn’t anything as bad as his Giro crash in 2015 … or the one where he was hit by a car in 2019 …

X is for Xtra fast montage

Does what it says on the tin …

Y is for YoYo

It’s a good thing that the Mighty Dis’s Guillaume Martin is a philosopher because anyone who yo-yos from victory to defeat, from front of the chasing group to the gruppetto, as much as he does would need a lot of mental strength to maintain their equilibrium. I suspect Martin die-hard fans could use a few breathing techniques and some Zen training for the rest of the season’s racing.

He even has donkeys

Z is for Zero stage wins

Teams with three stage wins: Alpecin-Fenix (1, 12, 18); Groupama-FDJ (5,.6,13); BikeExchange-Jayco (2, 14, 21).

With two stage wins: Bora-hansgrohe (4, 9); Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert (10, 16); and Jumbo-Visma (7, 19).

Single stage wins belong to: Lotto-Soudal (8); QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl (3); Bahrain Victorious (17); Team DSM (11); Trek-Segafredo (15); UAE Team Emirates (20).

Which leaves these teams empty-handed by the end of Giro 2022: Ag2r Citroen; Astana Qazaqstan; Cofidis; Drone Hopper-Androni Giacottoli; EF Education-Easy Post; Eolo Kometa; Ineos Grenadiers; Israel-Premier Tech; Movistar.

The winner of the team classification: that would be Bahrain-Victorious

We have all the stage write-ups and all the Giro Tweets of the Week on the blog – go! Explore! 

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