This has been the Giro that made God cry, or whatever you think rain is.
It’s been the Giro that made Patrick Lefevre cry. If his star rider, Remco Evenepoel didn’t cry after skidding on the ground however many times, he’s made of stronger stuff than I am (update: yeah, he is).
No doubt a few sponsors cried as the Battle for Pink turned sour when Evenepoel followed up his stage 9 “win” by pulling out and pantsing every GC preview out there. They wept again as the competition tried to restart itself in the Alps, only for the biggest stage of Week 2 to get snowed down to amateur-sized bites. If it felt like the race couldn’t catch a break, well, I’m not saying Giro Director Mauro Vegni had a black cat cross his path under a ladder on a Friday the 13th, but if he can maybe check with his Nonna on how to ward off curses, the old way, well... it couldn’t hurt.
I cried. I saw my precious Giro falling apart. I’m a Remco supporter and thought it would be fascinating to see where he could go here. The rain was depressing, in large part because of the crashes. For all we talk about muddy miserable classics in spring, the Giro looks much, much better in the sunshine. The roads work way better when they’re dry. Italy is infamous for this.
But now? After all that, the sun has come out finally, as the race hits the Dolomites. [It might rain over the weekend but that shouldn’t mean too much to an uphill TT.] The Giro looks gorgeous again. The stages are designed to be ultra-competitive, unfathomably hard to you and me, and they are delivering. The stage battles themselves have never let up throughout this Giro.
But most importantly of all, the Battle for Pink has gone to the level we were hoping it would. To the surprise of many, Geraint Thomas has filled in more than admirably for the main foil to Primož Roglič. Not a surprise to everyone — you know who you are, and much respect. He is a former Tour de France champion, after all. But to me, he’s now a 38-year-old dude who was just talking retirement (allegedly) and the Giro has never been kind to him. Maybe I still haven’t gotten over him not pursuing his natural ability in the Classics.
Ultimately, though, we got the Giro we should have wanted, even if the names are slightly different. We have been treated to gutsy stage battles, the latest success being Filippo Zana showing off his tricolore jersey in the sunshine. We have a GC that features three riders within 40 seconds of each other. We have a leader who is holding steady, a veteran challenger in Roglič who has brushed off the crash effects and resumed his dangerous, aggressive climbing. We have a third upstart in João Almeida who we aren’t sure what to make of. All three can rely on strong teamwork and won’t be helplessly ridden off anyone’s wheel. We have all this happening as we head into what are sure to be the two most decisive stages of the Giro, Friday’s queen stage through the Dolomites and Saturday’s insanely difficult uphill time trial.
We didn’t get the Giro we asked for. But for sure we are getting the Giro we need. I can’t wait.