Races of the week:
- Giro d’Italia, stages 10-15
- Tour of California, stages 2-7 & finish
- Tour of Norway
- Tour de l’Ain
Team of the week:
First named rider is the rider of the week and if a rider has a number in parentheses after their name it means the number of times they have made the select Team of the Week here.
1. Simon Lefty Yates (3). GC leader & KOM leader of the Giro. One is tempted to make Yates the only rider listed this week, he was that dominant. Took the win at Osimo showing explosiveness that no one could match, took Froome’s heaviest blow and was catching back up on the Zoncolan when the finish line stopped his climb (and where the idea that he is just a puncher was buried), then punched the rest of the GC contenders in the teeth with his win at Sappada. Its the little moments that can count. Like when halfway up the Zoncolan, Froome had taken off and was slowly widening his lead. Yates was with Pozzo and Superman and the scenario of Froome the peerless climber was being written. That’s when Yates shoved it down into overdrive, Left P+L in the dust and took off for Froome. He never caught Froome but reeled him in to a short leash. As I said its the little things. Chances of winning the Giro: Really really good. The way he’s riding he’ll probably surprise with how good his TT is. Even if he loses the lead to Doom, there’s nothing we’ve seen that Doom will keep that lead in the remaining mountains.
2. Christopher Froome. The winner of a Zoncolan stage should always be included here. That was vintage Froome, first letting Poels set the pace then attacking when Poels stopped. But then Yates kept him close and then the next day showed that he’s just not on the level to win this race, that he wasn’t “back”at all. The big question is if he is also losing the Tour.
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (2). We didn’t notice much during the finale on the Zoncolan but Pozzo also lit his afterburners and zoomed up to Lopez at the last possible moment to keep him in contention even if it is hanging by a thread. Chances of winning the Giro: Low but still there if Yates falters. He needs the TT of his life and transform into der Pozzowagen but its possible folks as he’s squeezed out some really good TTs in the past. More likely he’s defending his podium place against Pinot or trying to squeeze by Dumoulin.
4. Tom Dumoulin (3). Stalking Lefty Yates, he can just feel the GC lead. Its right there but fading. But can he hold it if/when he gets it? His climb up the Zoncolan was textbook Doom and he did limit his losses but the next day showed that he just doesn't have that extra gear that he had last year. (Either that or Yates is on form that Quintana never reached last year.) Chances of winning the Giro: He needs the TT, not just to pull time back to Yates but to help him find the extra speed he’ll need in the mountains to defend that lead. And he needs Yates to falter, probably a couple of times. At the moment that looks unlikely but stranger things have happened.
5. Miguel Superman Lopez (2). He’s included as he’s the new young rider leader and the odds are that he’ll hold onto over Carapaz and he should have the better TT and the Zoncolan showed that on the real big mountains he’s carapaz’ better. But still that race will be close. Chances of winning the Giro: Slim to none: .01% he needs the other four to all fall apart and ride that TT of his life. Still we saw in the last Vuelta that he can get stronger on the last week of a Grand Tour.
6. Thibaut Pinot (3). 4th on GC at the Giro, in a close race with Pozzovivo for the 3rd step on the podium. He’s hung in there but that’s exactly the difference between him (and the other contenders) and Yates: only Yates has truly attacked and made the attack stick. (Plus Froome attacking on one stage.) Chances of winning the Giro: So close yet so far. Hew needs to find a little something extra first.
7. Egan Bernal (2). Dominant climby phenom claimed the Tour of California GC crown. Just peerless on the climbs. Needs to work on that flat power course TT. We’ll see him next at La Route d’Occitanie.
8. Fernando Gaviria. Including last Sunday’s sprint he was 3 for 3 in the California sprints against a great field. At the moment he’s probably the fastest sprinter save for maybe Groany.
9. This last slot is difficult to fill. Honor the winner of Norway or de l’Ain? But does anyone think that Prades or Vichot would be anywhere near the GC boys at the Giro on ay stage? No, so we eliminate them. Groenewegen and his two Norway wins? Possible. Just wish they were against better competition like what Gaviria had. Bennet and Viviani cancel each other out with one stage win each. Carapaz who lost his long rider jersey but otherwise is fighting Superman tooth and nail for a top 5 placement? Hmm. I think I will go with Matej Mohoric (2) for his stage 10 win and his overall great domestique work for Pozzo. Quietly here is another star being born.
Team of the Week- Team Sky
Two reasons why they get the nod this week:
- They lead in the team competition at the Giro and
- They delivered Bernal to his win in California. A round of applause for Geoghegan Hart, Wout Poels and the Sky team that wins on two continents at once!
The Haimar Zubeldia Memorial Award Goes To:
Pello Bilbao. I mean where and how is he in 9th place? We almost never see him and then only in a reflection on a dark ad windy night. Every single other GC contender has had at least a few moments in the lead of a stage but this guy...he’s invisible. He may have already climbed the Jafferau for all we know.
FSA DS Team of the week
Equipe de jovens ciclistas ds’ed by Mr. Sneaky! Sneaky had Bernal, Lopez, Danny Martinez, Ewan, Mohoric, Gaviria and (inhales) Geoghegan Hart good for HUGE point haul of 1323 points. Well played oh Sneaky one.
Previewing the week to come-
Big big week of stage racing.
- Week three of the Giro. Wide open and the most thrilling Giro in years. Lets do it.
- Tour des Fjords. Strong startlist with nine world tour teams though to be honest the teams are bringing their B list riders. Too bad we will miss it. This race and Belgium below seem to have the cobbled classics riders who don't know what else to do this year. These guys are the domestiques, if their team is invited at all.
- Hammer Stavanger. Probably the reason why the Tour des Fjords as stronger startlist than Belgium. (Velon) There are two Hammer team competitions this year and unless you are stuck in the middle ages this format is quite interesting. Too bad its during the last weekend of the Giro but you’ll be able to catch its sister race a week later. The startlist is much the same as Fjords though slightly better with some Tour of California riders going in.
- Tour of Belgium. The Haimar Zubledia of stage races. Seriously meh. Moving down into SSR status with just three World Tour teams filled with cobbles riders who are training for next February.
- TWO Coupe de France SSRs! GP de Plumelec -Morhiban and Boucles de l’Aulne - Chateaulin. Do not expect to see the winners at these races in the Team of the Week. (Well that’s true for any race that’s not the Giro.)