We'll get to some more Giro analysis once it has all sunk in and we can see the context of what happened in these three weird weeks. Clearly it has been a Giro that once again drives home the point that it's a GT that never disappoints. The GC field was weak-ish, the greatest sprinters were missing and yet the race produced a drama that made almost every one of the 21 stages worth tuning in for. Whenever you thought there would be a lull in the action something turned on its head and. We had a GT that produced a Stage 4 that may go and win the vote for best racing day of the year. Stage 4! Anyways, in an unpredictable Giro, how'd we do with the predictions?
What we thought: "Getting Pozzerwagen on the podium and getting some value out of Betancur. ....Pozzovivo is very solid these days......Betancur is another matter.
What we got: sadly Pozzo crashed out so we'll never know but Betancur surprised in a positive way in that he at least improved as the race went on. He's nowhere near his potential on GC but you can't say it's for lack of trying. Not the best of Giros for Ag2r but they weren't lucky either.
What we thought: Stagewins, stagewins, stagewins. .......Their roster is looking thinner than they have but they rarely miss out on at least being visible. I’d bet more money on them getting some random stagewins from breakaways than Pellizotti or Chicchi doing much though.
What we got: Well, they missed out. The most headlines they got was from Savio calling Ochowitz an idiot and if that's all it takes then I could be a huge Giro-success story too. Pellizotti went all in in the first week to do something but unfortunately for him so did everyone else this year and many of them weren't actually pale shadows of their former glory.
What we thought: Getting Aru higher on the podium than last year’s third. And if his tummy made that impossible they’ll probably shift aim for some high profile stagewins ...... Presumably his chances lie in surviving week 1, improving in week 2 and hoping he’s close enough to really challenge in week 3. If he were Froome or Contador I’d buy it but now it seems a bit of a pipe dream.
What we got: Three week rampage. It seems I forgot to mention Landa too but I'm guessing we weren't alone in thinking Aru would be their sole card. For someone who missed all his training races due to plague Aru was surprisingly feisty except for that mid-race slump that allowed Conta just enough room to feel comfortable. Two men on the podium, five stagewins, even Vino has to be happy with that surely?
What we thought: Stagewins ........Colbrelli is looking decidedly tame this year so their best chances may lie in someone else in their merry band of fluorescent attackers.
What we got: Enter Nicola Boem, saver of Giros. Not a brilliant Giro for Bardiani or any of the ProContis really but thats what happens when the Bigs make most every into a do or die stage. Boem at least won from an immensely impressive (and fast) breakaway. Gatto might have saved the Giro for Androni that day but perhaps thanks to a painful puncture Bardiani walked away winners instead.
What we thought: Stagewins with Gilbert and letting Caruso sneak around and see if he’s good enough to hang around the GC........There really are a good number of days that suit Gilbert and his likes in this Giro and BMC look pretty smartly built for this race.
What we got: Yeah, pretty much. Gilbert took two stages in flamboyant style and Caruso zubeldiaed himself into a top ten. Not flashy but a quality ride and important points for BMC. Watching Gilbert ride when he is motivated and in terrain that suits him is about as much fun as you get in cycling and he made the most of this Giro.
What we thought: Support their young Italians to see what they can do. Chase stages, win something. ...I honestly don’t know if the main plan still is about Hesjedal and Danielson for the GC but you would hope they have more exciting ideas than that. And better ones? .........Laying that on their Italian kids is a bit of a tall order but some noticeable performances from them would be most welcome
What we got: We sure as hell noticed Formolo as he got a brilliant stagewin and he was actually second placed in the Young rider competition even if he was seventyeleven hours after Aru. And it turned out Hesjedal wasn't such a bad plan after all. There were few more visible riders in the second half of the race and the result was impressive. But why did he screw up his GC in the first days?
CCC Sprandi Polkowice
What we thought: Earning their wildcard.......It’s hard to muster much enthusiasm about the Giro’s new Polish addition...... it’s hard to see what they contribute in a sporting sense.
What we got: Should have brought Rebellin. He's shitty but at least he isn't shitty. If their kit wasn't retina-burning we wouldn't much know that they were in the race. I'm sure someone will argue that they were in the breakaways but..... yeah, I don't have any response to that.
What we thought: Get Uran on the podium. Find something for Boonen to do so he doesn’t look too forlorn on his Italian vacation......Chances: For a win? Zero. To keep Uran’s string of solid top performances alive: excellent. I’m not entirely sure what the rest of the team is here to do though frankly.
What we got: Rigo Rigo Rigo, where art thou Rigo? Solid Uran finally fell through and I suppose he is allowed sometime. Sadly it made the GC less interesting but there you go. Maybe he is secretly looking to surprise in the Tour instead this year? And it seems at least Keisse wanted to prove that I'm an idiot.
What we thought: Do what French teams do in the Giro. Try and look busy......No, I don’t think they will manage to look too busy, except on those shots of the peloton marked "Coda del gruppo" on screen. That said, Geniez could get up to some shenanigans on some of the medium stages but that’s about it.
What we got: Geniez is surely cherishing his top 10 placing and it is a nice receipt that all that talk a few years ago wasn't just hot air. Not the flashiest of performances but then again FDJ's Giro ambitions aren't sky-high either.
What we thought: Pretend like Degenkolb or Kittel was here...... Mezgec should be jubilant about a chance like this but he hasn’t been sparkling so far this year.
What we got: Kittel & Degs weren't here? Ja, we noticed thank you very much, mission failed. Good thing Giant have been having a monster spring because this was pretty anonymous. There will be more chances though.
What we thought: Win sprints with Pelucchi.....Italy could really use a new big-name sprinter but I’m not entirely sure Pelucchi is it........This could get interesting.
What we got: Well, it didn't. And nothing else did either. This team sort of needs a personality transplant, they're just abnormally bland.
What we thought: Stay lucky, keep winning stuff. I’m thinking the Katusha triumph wagon stops here, or at least takes a bit of a breather. Not seeing much sharpness here. Lots of quality but not necessarily those one or two stars to finish the job. Zakarin should find this a size or two too much, at least in week two and three.
What we got: Apparently Trofimov suddenly remembered that he used to show promise. And Saccharine confirmed that Romandie was no fluke by taking a stagewin, albeit on one of the very few dull moments in this Giro. Not quite sure what to make of Trofimov's result? Are we supposed to take him serious as a GC rider now? Or do we just admit that the depth wasn't all that in this Giro? Either way I wouldn't say the triumph wagon stopped, it was more like it was coasting along while everyone sipped champagne and absentmindedly waved to the crowds.
What we thought: A decent GC for Niemec, some stagewins and signs of improvement from Ulissi. Hoping Modolo is back to sprint-winning form.....Aww Lampre you loveable fluorescent nincompoops, you really need your sprinters to pull this off. The GC boys aren’t looking too convincing to me. A year ago Ulissi was the hottest thing in Italian cycling since sliced bread in your musette, now he looks pretty pale. For Lampre's sake that better turn around here in the Giro.
What we got: I was sure right about the GC.... but then again it's hard to call someone nincompoops when they win four Giro-stages. Ulissi came back to life, Modolo did what he was hired to do in the first place and Jan Polanc introduced himself to the cycling world. With the ProContis struggling, Lampre's success was welcome to the Italians. An A+ all round.
What we thought: Greipel will win stages........JVDB will do what he does best, finish fifth. Or sixth.
What we got: "Stage", I meant to say "stage" singular. Not the best of Giros for Lotto who just seemed to get lost in the frenzy of this race. And I think we can close the book on Van den Broeck the GC man by now, don't you? Or should he try the Vuelta perhaps and see if that's more his race?
What we thought: Sprinting from Hofland like he once promised he could. Signs of GC riding from Kruijsvijk like he once promised he could........ Chances: Slim to none.
What we got: You know when it was? I think it was when Kruijswijk was the only one who could hold Contador's wheel on Mortirolo that I thought to myself "Maybe I shouldn't be doing this cycling punditry thing? Maybe I could take up macramé?" In fairness though Kruijswijk was looking a bit of a lost cause at this point. I'm sure LottoNL will take this as a sure sign of greatness and throw him pointlessly at the TdF for a few years after this though. I'm sticking to safe predictions from now on and betting on the managerial ineptitude of LottoNL is as safe as it gets.
What we thought: Let the kids make their GC plays when the big boys aren’t around..........Chances: Meh.
What we got: Meh pretty much covers it if it weren't for the jawdroppingly great performance of everyone's favorite Costa Rican, Andrey Amador. This is the guy we've been fawning over in the classics and now he's riding a solid Giro GC, all but finishing on the podium. I don't know how much it does for the Movistar bigwigs when all of their other promising GT riders completely flaked out when presented with an opportunity, but as stories go it's one of the better ones this year.
And yes, I know Intxausti (spelled "Intxausti") won a stage and flapped about pretending like the Blue jersey meant something but it really didn't. Visconti winning it just cements that.
What we thought: Travel back in time to 2004. Or else, get in some breakaways.....Eeeeehhhhhhh. Ja.……..No.
What we got: It has to be said, Cunego was every bit as good as Ivan Basso in this Giro, I'll give him that.
What we thought: Win lots of sprints....... Matthews knows how to Giro, we saw that last year so they should be ok. Then whatever Chaves manages will be bonus
What we got: Add their by now usual TTT win and a few days in pink to that and we can sum up another wildly successful Giro for Orica. Proving once again that finding your niche and milking it for all its worth is a golden strategy in cycling. Chaves came tantalizingly close to pink too after Matthews and Clarke had enjoyed their days, in a saner Giro he probably would have gotten it.
What we thought: Be Italian. Not embarrass themselves bad enough not to get invited back next year.
What we got: Yes I am indeed fairly certain they managed to be Italian. What a magnificent waste of space they were apart from that.
What we thought: Win the whole farging thing. Also win a sprint with Viviani. Kill cycling...... General consensus is that he Porte) struggles to hold it together over three weeks because historically he hasn’t....in my book he goes in with a clean slate.
What we got: Hooooo-boy, the slate is dirty now isn't it? Richie's a dirty dirty boy. If nothing else we can safely say that Porte doesn't have the luck it takes to win a GT. Or maybe he's like his compatriot Evans and he just needs a lot of years to wear down the bad luck ? Luckily for Sky others were able to step up. Viviani with a stage and Kiriyenka with a TT win and the most memorably emotionless stint in the hot-seat on TV.
What we thought: Win. While saving as much energy as possible for a run at the TdF in July......Nothing really points to anything other than AC being the overwhelming favorite here but the question will be if his preparation to do both this and the TdF will affect his level.
What we got: Solid confirmation that Contador knows his shit. At no point in three weeks did he look threatened even if his team-support was questionable. How he has managed his double-ambition remains to be seen, all the talk has been about how tough the Giro has been but Contador has been floating a bit above it all except for a few choice moments when he's had to dig deep. I'm pretty sure Froome has been fairly smiley watching this race though.
Trek Factory Racing
What we thought: Support their Italian riders even if they aren’t top shelf. Pray it pays off somehow.....I’d love to say I’m enthusiastic about this bunch but it’s hard really. Felline is an interesting rider to follow this year of course and Nizzolo is solid, but rarely able to win on the big stage.
What we got: A winless Points jersey for Nizzolo is something but....... not much to get excited about. Otoh Contador won the Giro without winning stage and we aren't faulting him for that are we. Pink is pinker than red though.
Photos by : LUK BENIES/AFP/Getty Images