Welcome back to the warped world of What Won’t Happen at the Giro d’Italia. If any of the following events unfold, it’s definitely time to stop watching pro cycling.
May 6th – Stage 1: Budapest to Visegrád (195km) | Flat/Hilly
50-year-old Davide Rebellin negotiates his way to a place on Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli after offering Edoardo Zardini €10,000 and a 12.5% share of his start-up cocktail business Re-Bellinis. Alejandro Valverde – previously the oldest man in the race – is incensed and roars past a hapless Mathieu van der Poel to win the opening stage, screaming “Budapest ain’t big enough for the both of us”.
May 7th – Budapest (9.2 km) | ITT
With a stunning performance, Mark Cavendish wins the time-trial before promising to win ten more times and move past Eddy Merckx’s tally of 25 Giro stage wins. A furious Merckx demands the stage be declared null and void, stating he would beat Cavendish “any time and any place” using “a bike with square wheels”.
May 8th – Stage 3: Kaposvár to Balatonfüred (201km) | Flat
Magnus Cort wins the stage and takes the Maglia Rosa by two seconds. The star of a small Hungarian soap opera tweets a message of congratulations to Cort for “winning the 105th Giro d’Italia”. The tweet is later deleted by his management team.
May 9th – Rest Day 1
Asked by the BBC for his opinion on the upcoming Giro route, Chris Froome states that if he was a few years younger, a few years fitter, had a better team, had a better bike, had a fair bit of luck, and was given a head-start, he could have probably won a second Maglia Rosa.
May 10th – Stage 4: Avola to Mt. Etna (172km) | Hilly
In a bold attempt to add some drama to the Mt. Etna stage, RCS Sport spill “100% safe” artificial lava onto the final kilometre. A stunned Jan Tratnik – the breakaway leader – steers off the road, leaving the door open for Vincenzo Nibali to grab the stage. The whole day is met with heavy criticism.
May 11th – Stage 5: Catania to Messina (174km) | Hilly
Giacomo Nizzolo wins the sprint and claims his second ever Giro stage. Having previously waited ten years for his first stage win, the Italian exclaims “the curse is over, it’s Giacomo time, baby!”. He is later disqualified for a slight deviation in line and the stage is given to Cees Bol.
May 12th – Stage 6: Palmi to Scalea (192km) | Flat
The stage concludes in a sprint and is won by Fernando Gaviria. Except it turns out to be Maximiliano Richeze in a wig and stick-on beard – which peels off during an interview – wearing the race number of his teammate. The real Gaviria misses the time cut.
May 13th – Stage 7: Diamante to Potenza (196km) | Mountains
Pavel Sivakov wins the stage with an impressive attack from an elite group. L’Equipe immediately declare him the clear favourite for the Tour de France and Bernard Hinault states he has exactly what it takes to bring the big one back to France. Sivakov – now in the Maglia Rosa – looks terrified and considers changing his sports citizenship for a second time.
May 14th – Stage 8: Napoli to Napoli (153km) | Hilly
Vincenzo Albanese wins the stage after a late solo attack and is given a hero’s welcome by both his family and the EOLO-Kometa management. General Manager Ivan Basso is suspiciously absent from celebrations. It’s later discovered that the chasing peloton were directed down the wrong street by a man with a flag who looked suspiciously like Ivan Basso. Nothing is ever proven.
May 15th – Stage 9: Isernia to Blockhaus (191km) | Mountains
Lorenzo Fortunato wins the stage after a late attack on Blockhaus and is given a hero’s welcome by both his family and the EOLO-Kometa management. General Manager Alberto Contador is suspiciously absent from celebrations. It’s later discovered that the chasing pack were directed down the wrong street by a man with a flag who looked suspiciously like Alberto Contador. Nothing is ever proven.
May 16th – Rest Day 2
Down to five riders and over four hours behind in the Team Classification, news of Bardiani playing “pass the Jelly Baby” breaks in the local press. The game consists of passing a red Jelly Baby to each other throughout the race. The rider in possession of the Jelly Baby at the finish line must then perform a forfeit after the stage. Filippo Fiorelli has lost four times.
May 17th – Stage 10: Pescara to Jesi (196km) | Hilly
Simeone Consonni wins his first Grand Tour stage, but it’s Phil Bauhaus – who finished third – who is embraced by a crowd of happy riders, including an excited Caleb Ewan who jumps on his back. It’s later discovered that Auntie Bauhaus promised to send a box of 100 homemade German biscuits to each team if Phil was successful in landing a top three finish.
May 18th – Stage 11: Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia (203km) | Flat
In a pre-race interview, Jakub Mareczko explains that he’s been waiting for this pan-flat stage through Emilia-Romagna his whole life. He finishes seventh. Van der Poel wins.
May 19th – Stage 12: Parma to Genova (204km) | Hilly
On the descent of La Colletta, Nibali suffers severe stomach cramps and stops briefly in a field. The peloton begins to slow and GC favourites lobby with race officials to temporarily pause the race. Tom Dumoulin cannot believe what he is seeing.
May 20th – Stage 13: San Remo to Cuneo (150km) | Hilly
Led by several old heads, the peloton agrees to a slow day behind a two-man breakaway of Lawson Craddock and Simone Ravanelli. The stage is painfully boring, but thankfully a brave intern at Rai Sports switches the feed to the conclusion of the second stage of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas: a duel between Niamh Fisher-Black and Ane Santesteban. We’re back just in time to see Demare take the stage. Everybody was happy.
May 21st – Stage 14: Santena to Torino (147km) | Hilly
Diego Ulissi, Davide Formolo, and Alessandro Covi complete a 1-2-3 for UAE Team Emirates after a scintillating collective attack on the second ascent of the Superga. Unfortunately, the attack occurs at the precise moment that team leader João Almeida suffers a puncture. The Portuguese rider plummets from fourth in the GC to 36th. A sheepish Ulissi denies any knowledge of incident… and then winks at the camera.
May 22nd – Stage 15: Rivarolo Canavese to Cogne (178km) | Mountains
A popular independent pizzeria promises to add a pizza to it’s menu in honour of the stage winner. Richie Porte is victorious and “The Willungarita” is born. “It’s basically a Margherita but with two types of cheese”, the Tasmanian explains.
May 23rd – Rest Day 3
Netflix announce they have hired 2004 champion Damiano Cunego to ride the final week of the Giro with a handheld camera and microphone, to conduct “real-time, raw & emotional interviews” from inside the peloton. The show is to be called “Avventure del Piccolo Principe”… (1/2)
May 24th – Stage 16: Salò to Aprica (202km) | Mountains
After 28km and one attempted interview with Edoardo Affini, an unfit Damiano Cunego is dropped completely from the peloton. Angry Netflix producers instruct him to finish the stage – which contains the brutal Mortirolo – and Cunego keeps filming. His seven-hour emotional monologue would later win an award for “Best Sporting Documentary”. (2/2)
May 25th – Stage 17: Ponte di Legno to Lavarone (168km) | Mountains
A four-man breakaway forms consisting of AG2R riders Felix Gall, Nans Peters, Jaakko Hänninen and Lilian Calmejane to the delight of Twitter punters who’ve been backing each of them every single day. Things are looking promising until a major communication breakdown allows a surging Pello Bilbao to steal the stage.
May 26th – Stage 18: Borgo Valsugana to Treviso (152km) | Flat
A technology issue prevents accurate photo finish leading to a situation where Andrea Vendrame & Edward Theuns cannot be separated by officials. Eventually the result is determined by a coin toss, hosted by guest coin flipper Fabio Aru. Theuns wins.
May 27th – Stage 19: Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte (178km) | Mountains
Richard Carapaz and Miguel Ángel López are announced co-stage winners after finishing on a tandem bike, 16 seconds ahead of their rivals. The pair crashed shortly before the Kolovrat climb, and were thrust onto a tandem by a local Slovenian bike dealer. “I technically finished first” explains Carapaz. “At times, he was barely pedalling” adds Lopez.
May 28th – Stage 20: Belluno to Marmolada (178km) | Hilly
Currently on just nine points – and with less than 200km of racing remaining in the Giro – Giulio Ciccone decides it’s time to launch his raid on the KOTM competition. He sprints over the summit of the Passo San Pellegrino, goes solo over the Passo Pordoi, and narrowly holds off Guillaume Martin for the stage win. He wins the competition with 139pts.
May 29th – Stage 21: Verona (17.4km) | ITT
Simon Yates wins the time-trial in impressive fashion, moving up to 17th in the GC. The Brit explains “I’ve stuck to the plan and I’m feeling great” before adding that “the Tour of Albania remains the number one focus”.
Enjoy the Giro!