Ah, the Giro (WWT14). Inconveniently timed, frustratingly uncommunicative, stubbornly old school. Still, while it’s the peloton’s sole chance to ride some of the best climbs in Europe it’s the only race in town. (The Tour, you say? TotW doesn’t know what that is.)
The late substitution of the (admittedly lovely) Torre di Fraele climb for the Passo di Gavia (defeating its second race of the year with a landslide) didn’t change that much. Annemiek van Vleuten says the Giro’s beautiful. Marianne Vos says the Giro’s beautiful. And as far as TotW’s concerned, basta così.
PMG offered the last 40 mins or so of each stage as delayed ‘live’ coverage, though with inevitable lacunae. Much of what happened earlier in the stages is lost forever, as is GC action lower down the climbs with the cameras inevitably stuck with the front few riders. They desperately need a co-commentator, too. Hearing that Steve Bauer is another Canadian rider every time Leah Kirchmann hits the front, or that Banks is the name of a famous English goalkeeper when we see Lizzy wears you down after a while.
- Annemiek van Vleuten : Her victory margin of 3 mins 45 s was slightly down on last year’s but her dominance on this type of parcours is unshaken. Took off at the foot of the Torri di Fraele and didn’t look back, winning stage 5 by almost 3 minutes and the next day’s climby TT by nearly another. Anna van der Breggen clawed back a few seconds on the Montasio, the first time Annemiek actually seemed to suffer, but it was all over by then. Pink jersey, champion on points, Queen of the Mountains and Rider of the Week.
- Marianne Vos : Four—yes, four!—stage wins still weren’t enough to prise the ciclamino points jersey permanently off Annemiek’s back but dio mio Marianne kept it warm con stile. Her stage 7 win was perhaps the best, with GC contenders mixing it in crazy classics-style racing before Vos finally broke free in an uphill dash to the line, though the astonishing last-ditch gazumping of Lucy Kennedy on stage 3 will stick in the memory.
- Anna van der Breggen : Couldn’t—maybe didn’t even try— to stay with Van Vleuten on the Torri di Fraele but rode a solid race overall, mainly at her own pace, which was more than enough for second on the podium. The grand clash didn’t come until the penultimate stage. Annemiek went out hard on the climb, Anna measured her efforts to work her way back to her rival, then coolly took the stage win.
- Amanda Spratt : Van Vleuten claimed her hard pace on the Montasio was designed to help her teammate onto the podium. Whether or not that was the case, Spratt rode strongly and duly obliged, achieving a repeat of her third place last year.
- Juliette Labous: Won the U23 white jersey by a good seven minutes despite spending much of the race pulling on the front for Lucinda Brand. With the Tour of Cali young rider jersey already in the bag, Labous is starting to get quite a collection from these mountainous races.
- Lizzy Banks : TotW’s Sheffield bias might be showing, but Banks’ solo win on stage 8 was one of the most joyous moments of this Giro. Escaping from a large breakaway group at the second attempt with around 11 km to go, it was head down—quite literally—to the finish, with teammate Leah Thomas covering every move. Just reward for a rider who’s attacked all season.
Squadra della settimana
Final world champions Canyon-SRAM had enough residual TTT magic to win the opening stage and put Kasia Niewiadoma into pink for the first few days but not, alas, the strength to keep her on the podium.
WNT won the team classification with three riders (Magnaldi, Santesteban and Ensing) in the top twenty on GC. And while Vos flashily racked up stage wins, her CCC teammate Ashleigh Moolman climbed steadily to fourth overall. Encouragingly for her first season at this level, Parkhotel’s Demi Vollering stuck with the main contenders (well, maybe not Van Vleuten…) on the climbs. Sofie de Vuyst gave the QoM jersey a decent shot. For Boels, Katie Hall tirelessly set pace for Van der Breggen and still managed to ride herself into the top ten.
Lucinda Brand’s podium challenge ended with a mechanical on the Montasio (and Brand running across the line with her bike), but Sunweb had a fine race with Labous’s white jersey, Brand finishing best of the rest on the Torri de Fraele, and attacking riding from Floortje Mackaij and especially Leah Kirchmann.
Van Vleuten would probably finish top even if she were riding for, oh, Top Girls, say, but two riders on the final podium reminds us there’s still a greater depth to Mitchelton-Scott. Belatedly, and more than justifiably, Team of the Week.
Bigla had a splendid stage win with Lizzy Banks, but unfortunately it was probably an admission that Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig’s GC hopes were over. Set up by a brilliant second in the TTT, Uttrup was dropped on the Torri di Fraele (where or how we’ll probably never know), couldn’t make up time in the TT and, ironically, fell further back on the stage her teammates won. 14th overall isn’t a total disaster, but it’s not the mountain form she showed last year and TotW is a tiny bit disappointed. Perhaps riding the Tour de Bretagne instead of the Women’s Tour wasn’t the best preparation after all.
After an excellent Giro last year, Movistar also struggled a bit. They were without the injured Mavi Garcia, who’s been having a great season, but Eider Merino also seemed not to climb as well as she did last year. Colombian rider Paula Patiño’s second in the white jersey competition was a brighter spot.
Giro delle italiane
Let’s face it, even in a climby Italian race the Dutch dominate. The PMG commentator constantly bemoaned the lack of a serious Italian challenge for the podium, and the battle for best Italian rider mainly took place in the lower reaches of the top ten.
If Soraya Paladin (or her team…) could time trial, she might well have won it, climbing well with a nose for an attacking finish, and cleverly making up time in the stage 8 break. Erica Magnaldi also climbed well and attempted an attack or two on the Torre di Fraele. Though Elisa Longo Borghini got more attention for her ‘alien’ remark than her riding, she rode consistently enough to hold on to the blue jersey.
Letizia Borghesi of Aromitalia got the only Italian stage win on stage 4, narrowly beating Nadia Quagliotto who—in an uncanny repeat of the Vos/Kennedy awkwardness a day earlier—already had her hands in the air.
Tifosi of the week
Even though there’s apparently some big race going on somewhere, the men’s peloton hasn’t been entirely ignoring the women’s racing. Marianne Vos and Mike Teunissen exchanged congratulations after their respective stage wins. Jan Bakelants rode over to support his Sunweb teammates during the time trial. Best of all, Toms Skujiņš seemed to be cheering Ruth Winder on from the middle of his race, though Abi Mickey might have had something to do with that…
TotW also loves to see support for the riders out on the course. While they didn’t reach the chalkbot levels of Thibaut Pinot’s fans on the Planche des Belles Filles, supporters of Bigla’s Swiss rider Elise Chabbey had certainly been busy painting her name across the Giro’s climbs. ‘W LE DONNE DEL GIRO’ was also inscribed prominently on the slopes. TotW can only agree.
It’s to be hoped Lizzy Banks doesn’t have FSA DS team, since along with a stage of the real thing she also won the Velogames Giro.
dreamer_mg (Lizzy, is that you??) is our Giro winner with The Smurf Village featuring Van Vleuten, Vos, Paladin, Ensing and Hall. The league itself is much tighter than Giro was, and the Gloriosas Bethinhas are now back on top.
Awaiting the Giro results, but Peter with Annemiek and Kurt with Anna can both expect a boost.
Alas, the peloton has thinned out a bit (do have a go, you can still easily trounce us in the individual races) but Aquatarkus still scored a glorious Giro triumph, beating overall leader Frans Verbiage into second. Next up: La Course (WW15) on Friday. Come on, you know you can beat us (or TotW, at least).