Stage 3 is why we love cycling! I really thought this one was going to be a boring day, but all the teams were aware that this was gonna light up somewhere. With 20k to go all the teams were working so hard to be at the front in case of a split. Finally at 12 or 10k the peloton hit an extremely exposed area and close to the whole Quickstep team got away off the front with a few stragglers! Crosswinds are so fun, because everyone, even principle riders have to do a share of the work. Everyone is gunnin’ it either to press on the advantage or they are frantic while in damage control.
It was pretty sweet to see Andre Greipel haulin’ ass in the pink jersey and hanging on for dear life to that Quickstep group only to pop, then continuing to try to bridge back with Geraint Thomas. And though Iljo Keisse (that brave man who will always be famed for his Tour of Turkey exploits) did a wonderful job, the real MVP that day was Bob Jungels. I swear he was on the front by himself from 4k-1k to go doing all the work to give what Rob Hatch called a “lay-up” of a sprint for Gaviria. And Gaviria delivered. He’s sweet, the only Colombian who’s not a climber, a sprinter of all things, and if he needs to he can get up some mountains! That’s fun, versatile riders are always easy to love!
Watching this really made my day, and I was already having a REALLY good day!
Stage 4 was a good stage. Kind of what I expected. I actually really wanted to see a Nibali win on home turf. He did try a bit, but he’s clearly saving his powder for the overall and who can blame him? It was funny that Jan Polanc won, because he was pretty doomed from the start of that climb: he was just obligated to keep pushing until he was caught. I figure at parts he must have just been thinking at 8k out “come on, put me out of my misery, let’s go.” And then with still a good gap at 4k he was thinking “Ok, I’ll just keep squeaking out what energy I have!” And it turned out great for him! A GT summit finish win at the 100th Giro!
Since I can now surely say that Stage 9 delivered the goods: it was kind of badass that the favorites like Quintana could just happily let a summit finish end in a reduced bunch sprint, because this Giro route has MUCH more to throw at them!
Stages 5, 6, and 7 were so sweet. These at the memories I have of the Giro and what makes it such a beautiful race. I found each day pretty compelling racing (at least at the end) and each was truly a neat chapter in the book of the 100th Giro. But that happens at most Grand Tours, everyday has a new story and everyday has a new hero, that is truly what makes the GTs great! Luka Pibernik was quite the character in chapter/Stage 5. But what’s setting the Giro apart?
The fans and scenery in combination are second to none. Watching Gaviria blaze down that antique boulevard to the roar of the crowd. Every town being decked out in pink. Fans everywhere as the riders go through these scenic towns that are ALIVE because the Giro is here! Look up at the crowd that was there on Mt Etna on a Tuesday afternoon!
Kelly and Hatch were saying the crowd was deafening in Messina. Speaking of Messina, the views there, the views, the views, the views! These weaving coastal cliff roads are just spectular, and the helicopter comes around the corner perfectly with the peloton to unveil the next amazing view. All day, all day. And there are other points they are racing through and they go through the ruins of ancient arch that is probably over 1,000 years old and everyone just takes it for granted, because you’re simply going to see something like it in the next town.
The breaks have been fun and the sprinters have been great. I do not mind at all seeing guys like Dillier and Bob Jungels being the focus of the first stages, I can’t tell you how little of Quintana and Dumoulin I saw those first few days; I almost wondered if they were even really here! As far as the sprinters go: I like seeing them share the spoils, I don’t mind if someone is super dominant, because it’s usually an impressive display of skill and craft, but I like more when I see everyone clashing and doing rounds and rounds of back and forth battle. I’m happy to note Ewan and Gaviria have definitely stepped up to the realEST deal level in grant tours for the rest their careers.
Stage 8 is the same deal as before, but this one we finally had some GC consequences, and that finish was really awesome! I loved Mikel Landa’s attack, because that is something you’d only see at the Giro. You wouldn’t see it at the Vuelta, because there’s bigger opportunities the GC are saving themselves to do battle on, and those will take all their strength. And you won’t see it at the Tour, because EVERYONE is way too scared to attack and mess up. I love seeing people taking chances and not feel bad about wasting a bit of energy on an attack. Congrats to Gorka, that was quite a boxing match out there, he was the most conservative and best placed throughout all those blows and took a fine win. And I thought it was mighty impressive how the peloton gobbled up that last climb and almost caught Gorka.
The motor bike incident on Stage 9 sucked and left a bad taste for all watching, these incidents are way too frequent and they need to stop. I’ll let other media sources bitch about this thoroughly, and I agree with them. All I’ll say is that when Quintana finally definitively broke away from Nibs and Pinot there was one motorcycle in front of him and literally 3 more 2 feet behind him? I get crowd control and TV, but how the hell are there four motorcycles within 5 feet of a guy who only has at most a 15 second gap???
Anyways watching Quintana put people to the sword on climbs is truly one of my favorite parts about cycling nowadays. We are truly watching a legend being made: the small but mighty Little Big Man. He is the crown jewel of the amazing race of Colombians cycling is absolutely BLESSED to have. I love watching him and his compatriots, obviously they are as passionate as everyone else; but they usually all look so intent and concentrated and, particularly in Quintana’s case, calm and collected. There is such a maturity and focus on the “simple” task at hand of riding up the mountain quickest; while in reality he’s causing carnage and destruction, ravaging every other person who thought they had a shot to win. And when you’re dropped by Quintana, it’s over, you know he ain’t slowin’ up and he’s probably worked you to where you have no energy left for a rebound. He is a great champion and I can’t wait to see what else he does this summer.
Ok everyone else. Dumoulin, what can you say, what a dude; I mentioned how heroic I thought his Vuelta was, I’m not that surprised by his performance today, mostly just pumped! Obviously, he’s my prediction for the TT on Tuesday: Dumoulin takes pink on Tuesday and it will be Quintana who we’ll be asking questions about. Pinot looked great, but in my opinion he’s got a longer way to Milan than everyone else, if that makes sense. I thought Nibali looked VERY good until he cracked, but I didn’t think a minute was a devastating loss for him. To lose a minute to Quintana is bad, but how the hell do you stop that when you go toe to toe with him? And last year on stage 18 Nibali was down like 3 minutes(?) to Kruijswijk and somehow found it all to win. Nibali is by no means out of it for the overall. Alas, Kruijswijk had a bad day, he’s coming off a decently bad first week crash though, from what I’ve heard. Tejay sucked, I wonder if this is the last time he’ll have GT leadership? And finally it’s a shame what happened to Sky and Yatesy. I really wanted to see what Sky could do with two leaders, but I had a feeling some disaster like this would befall at least one of their two leaders. Mark my words, someone from Sky wins the KOM jersey.
Sorry I was so delayed with these, not that anyone is an active follower, but I let them pile up and you know then it becomes a burden to get on top of everything. I’ll try to do better this second week. I’m predicting a Dumoulin win on Tuesday, I’m really only going to watch to see him and Quintana; I guess I’d also give Jungels a chance to win. Best stage so far? Stages 8 and 9 were very good, but Stage 3 still has the top spot for me!