The Giro d’Italia in an alternative universe.
The Giro d’italia trundled through its first week proper with Bob Jungels seizing the Maglia Rosa on Mt.Etna and holding it for four days before cracking on Blockhaus. Boredom reached channel-switching levels on Stage 7 as approximately nothing happened for 223km before Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria and Sam Bennett took part in a three-man drag race. Things heated up on Stage 8 and the route from Molfetta to Peschici served as fantastic antipasti for the following day’s big summit finish. On Blockhaus, Geraint Thomas was involved in a terrible crash (a moto was involved, again) before Nairo Quintana danced away for victory and Tom Dumoulin hauled himself into contention.
But what’s going to happen this week…
The Giro has been relatively uneventful so far leading to some fans criticizing the route. Some of the finishes in the second week are fantastic but we could be in for another few days of sightseeing as we visit the regions of north Italy. Nevertheless, the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia is back-loaded with climbs and I haven’t lost faith; the last six stages will be carnage.
Here’s how this week could – but almost certainly won’t – play out.
Tuesday: Foligno › Montefalco (ITT)
Despite an unfavourable profile and absolutely no recent form, Alexander Foliforov wins a Giro d’Italia ITT for the second year running. Gazprom-Rusvelo place seven riders in the top ten and their Directeur Sportif announces ‘This comes as absolutely no surprise; we have been targeting this stage since last November’. Ivan Rovny – who comes sixth using a bike with a basket – adds ‘Some of us moved here in January and have ridden the exact route every day, four times a day, for five months’.
Wednesday: Firenze › Bagno di Romagna (Medium Mountain Stage)
Growing unrest forces Movistar to address the situation regarding their non-response to Geraint Thomas’ unfortunate crash on Blockhaus. After a series of brainstorming sessions, they decide to allow the Welshman to start Stage 11 with a two minute head start. Initially reluctant, a bemused Thomas eventually agrees and rolls away from Firenze entirely by himself. He is caught after 8km but is applauded by the Movistar team car. Christian Rodriguez beats his breakaway companions to the stage win and immediately signs a pre-contract with Astana.
Thursday: Forlì › Reggio Emilia (Flat Stage)
We appear to be heading for a bunch sprint when a handful of riders fly off the front of the peloton inside the final 10km. Salvatore Puccio is the first to attack but it’s a counter punch by Luka Pibernik that sticks. The Slovenian sails over the finishing line in an aero tuck position refusing to stop or celebrate. He navigates through a small crowd at speed and accelerates past his team bus without any sign of stopping. He continues for another 16km in total looping back to cross the finish line on three extra occasions. He eventually stops and unzips his jersey revealing a t-shirt with the message ‘Learn from your mistakes’.
Friday: Reggio Emilia › Tortona (Flat Stage)
We finally get another bunch sprint and Gaviria edges out Jakub Mareczko to take his third win. To everybody’s surprise, Nairo Quintana sprints for fourth place after a polished leadout by Daniele Bennati and Jose Joaquin Rojas. The Colombian later explains ‘My work at the Giro is almost done; I am now ready for the Tour and can compete with Chris whenever he decides to attack’. In what becomes a bizarre interview, Quintana goes on to admit ‘Winning on the Champs Elysees is my ultimate dream’.
Saturday: Castellania › Oropa (Summit Finish)
Cannondale hold a strong position at the midpoint of the stage with Michael Woods, Hugh Carthy and Joe Dombrowski looking good in a ten rider breakaway. Inexplicably, the rest of Cannondale swarm to the head of the peloton and drag the escapees back to the bunch in what is later described as ‘the perfect training exercise’. Dario Cataldo attacks on the climb and takes a fine solo victory. Woods abandons the race and throws his bike off the top of the Sanctuary of Oropa.
Sunday: Valdengo › Bergamo (Medium Mountain Stage)
The peloton fall asleep after allowing a fifteen rider breakaway to shoot off towards Lombardia. Manuele Boaro, eighteen minutes down on the GC, briefly becomes the virtual Maglia Rosa and celebrates by stopping in Nembro to dye his hair pink. After the Selvino climb three riders are in the lead; Pieter Serry, Bart de Clerq and Paolo Tiralongo. The retiring Italian catches his opponents off guard and sprints to victory. A mistake at the podium presentation leads to the President of Bergamo, Matteo Rossi, awarding the 39-year old stage winner the Best Young Rider’s jersey.