There has been plenty to talk about at this years much delayed edition of the Giro d’Italia.
The 103rd edition of the race running across Italy was delayed to the global COVID-19 pandemic but, it certainly gave many stand out moments which made the wait worthwhile and provided plenty of talking points.
- That Rapha + Palace kit
We should have known this would have been a Grand Tour to remember when EF Pro cycling turned up to register in a complete change of kit. In a one off collaboration by Rapha and Palace Skateboards, EF Pro Cycling had the cycling world buzzing with their radical jerseys which featured a duck.
They had kept this so under wraps that not even their riders knew about it until moments before the presentation. Splitting opinion, when it went on sale on the Rapha and on the Palace Skateboards website, it was gone in a flash, only to appear on eBay moments later, with one jersey selling for $600.
Everyone was talking about EF Pro Cycling even before a pedal was turned.
- Ganna’s power
With the opening stage a Time Trial the focus was on the newly crowned Time Trial World Champion, Filippo Ganna. It was his Time Trial to lose and he did not do that. In a 15.1km Time Trial he clocked a hugely impressive 15 minutes and 24 seconds.
Ganna hadn’t finished there, though. To prove he was more than just a Time Trialist he took a victory on the road who anyone would have been proud of, two stages after losing their team leader, the INEOS Grenadier showed his prowess in the mountains to claim victory in Stage 5 claiming the King of the Mountains jersey as he did so.
“I’m 83 kilograms, so it’s not easy for me to climb but in the end I did a time trial to the finish. I had a problem with my radio and so just told myself to go full gas to the line.” Ganna said after taking victory.
Not content with two stage wins, before the end of the Giro, Ganna would win twice more. Another Time Trial on Stage 14 and the final Stage, a pan flat 15.7km course with a time of 17:16.
- Sagan’s Stage Win
Coming in to the Giro d’Italia, at his debut at the race, it’s fair to say Peter Sagan was coming under a bit of flack for seemingly losing his way at being first to the line. At the Tour Sagan was rocked by the speed of Sam Bennet who ripped the green Jersey from Sagan who has had a strangle hold on it, winning the Green Jersey competition seven times.
Sagan pulled off a win which would silence a few critics taking the line under a rainbow as the storm clouds cleared above Tortoreto. Stage 10 was 177km long with and punctuated by steep ramps. Sagan rode clear of the days breakaway with 12km to go, soloing all the way to take the stage by 19 seconds from American Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates).
Amazingly at 30 years old some people have written Sagan off as past his best, he showed on that day in Tortoreto that you never forget how to win. After being pipped to the line three times before his Stage 10 heroics Sagan showed the class which has seen him in the rainbow stripes for three seasons, ending in 2018.
- Stray Bidons
On Stage 3, the Giro headed up Mount Etna. As the race ran through the neutral zone the riders hit some cobbles sending Bidons everywhere, one from Team Bahrain McLaren got caught under Geraint Thomas’s wheel sending one of the race favourites crashing down, hard, on his left hand side.
Thomas was able to get back on to the peloton after heading back to the team car and having his jersey pinned together with safety pins. As soon as the peloton hit the slopes of Etna it was clear to see Thomas was is trouble and he dropped back.
It was cruel to see a man who has been left out of the Tour and focused on the Giro dropping further back, grimacing. Thomas finished the stage, instantly turning around and heading back down the mountain. It was clear he was in discomfort. The news broke the next morning that Thomas had indeed fractured his hip, for the third time in his career – the two other times occurring in 2009 and 2013.
With his hip fractured Thomas withdrew from the Giro and with Simon Yates also falling back on the slopes of Mount Etna it seemed as if all British hopes at the Giro had been dashed before the race had begun in earnest.
Everyone knew at some point the global pandemic could play a decisive role and potentially stop all the bike racing which we’re currently enjoying. I don’t think anyone was expecting what was about to unfold at the Giro d’Italia. Simon Yates tested positive for COVID-19 after displaying very mild symptoms, which may have explained why he was dropped on Stage 3, shortly after it was announced Yates had withdrawn, Mitchelton-SCOTT and Jumbo Visma withdrew from the Giro after riders and staff had returned positive tests, Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews also withdrew after a positive test.
The peloton was massively depleted but then on the second rest day Fernando Gaviria withdrew after he tested positive. It was the second time this year which Gaviria had tested positive after contracting the virus at the Tour of the UAE in March. It’s since transpired that Gaviria had actually returned a false positive but still had to withdrew from the Giro.
- No Mention of the Black Lives Matter Movement
After the debacle and embarrassment of the final stage of the Tour de France where riders scribbled on face masks #EndRacism hashtags, it is clear more needs to be done about the severe lack of diversity in cycling.
The Giro didn’t make any attempt to make any form of stand or acknowledgement that something needs to be done, this in it’s self is sad and heart breaking. The sport is suffering and it doesn’t reflect well on it that less than one percent of the peloton over all three Grand Tours is made up of black riders.
As teams tweet celebration photographs of their teams and support staff, it’s clear to see that it’s more than just riders where the diversity is so far between. It extends to the support staff as well.
- Tao Geoghegan Hart
The headlines belong to the 25 year old from Hackney. When Plan A fails you have to turn to Plan B and INEOS Grenadiers and Tao Geoghegan Hart pulled off Plan B to utter perfection. There’s not an awful lot you can do in 39 seconds, but Geoghegan Hart can with a Grand Tour in it. Congrats, Tao.