Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) won stage 20 and Jai Hindley (Bora Hansgrohe) won the Giro.
Sadly, there’s really not much to say about the queen stage of the Giro. It was won from a breakaway, like many others. Covi certainly deserves all the praise in the world for recognizing that the front group wasn’t cooperating properly and going forward on his own on the Passo Pordoi, around 45km from the finish. He not only claimed the Cima Coppi (award for the first rider through the highest mountain pass) but also, later, the stage. Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious) came in second in pure Bahrain fashion: not working for most of the race then attacking his breakaway companions on the final climb. I will admit there was a good reason for him not to work initially because his team was working in the peloton. But when it became clear that Bahrain wasn’t going to move from behind and the plan was to win the stage with Novak the Slovenian still wasn’t exactly generous with his cooperation in front. Sonny Colbrelli’s victories last year are still fresh in my mind.
Speaking of Bahrain, they controlled much of the race for absolutely no benefit whatsoever. Mikel Landa never seemed like a powerful rider in this Giro and, after burning Pello Bilbao for the general classification (GC) there wasn’t much more they could do. Isolating Carapaz and Hindley before attacking on the Pordoi would have been a better strategy than literally doing nothing but, in the end, the Bahraini team gets their podium place.
Later, on the Passo Fedaia, Richard Carapaz’s (Ineos Grenadiers) overconfidence cost him the Giro. After Bahrain left the front of the race, the former maglia rosa told his teammates, Ben Tulett and Pavel Sivakov to take control of the peloton. At around 3.5km left to the line Carapaz attacks and Hindley follows. These two were clearly the strongest riders throughout the whole race and I don’t think many expected what happened next: Carapaz cracked, and Hindley opened up more than 1 minute on the Ecuadorian (1m28s to be exact). The remaining top-10 remained untouched.
Grade A – Jai Hindley (Bora)
I was completely wrong about the Australian. After 3 weeks he was clearly the strongest. Ironically, he struggled the most on the Blockhaus, a stage he ultimately won. The fact that he hadn’t finished a Grand Tour (GT) in more than 1.5 years didn’t matter at all. His third week was incredible and he proved himself to be one of the best GT riders in the peloton at just 26 years of age.
Grade B – Hugh Carthy (EF Education EasyPost)
After a tough stage 14 where he lost all opportunity to fight for a podium place, the British rider authored an incredible third week: constantly in breaks looking for stage wins and, when that wasn’t possible, confirming another top-10 place in a GT. Impressive!
Grade C – Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo Visma)
He ended up not achieving his main goal of a stage victory. But what this 22 year old did in this Giro was fantastic. He was constantly in breakaways. Managed five top-10s in stages with two podiums – many sprinters didn’t even achieve that!
Grade D – Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo Kometa)
The revelation of last year’s Giro seemed content with a 15th place in GC. Absolutely magnificent compared to a regular person walking the street. Unthinkable, really. For a leader of an invited team? Not that great. 15th or 20th doesn’t move the needle. A stage win would have. He didn’t even try it.
Grade E – Bahrain Victorious
They worked for nothing. It seemed clear that Landa wasn’t going to be able to do anything. They didn’t even try something creative on the Pordoi. I wonder if, after a while, they weren’t simply working in the front of the peloton so they had an excuse to let Novak stay in the break without working.
Grade F – Richard Carapaz
There’s not much to say. Hindley was stronger. I can’t put into words how disappointing this loss must be for Carapaz. He was the pre-race favorite, he was the most decorated rider, and his team brought him a lot of help to make sure he won the Giro. It was not to be. He’s a champion. It happens.
Stage 21 Preview
Hindley will win. Carapaz is better than Landa on the time trial (TT) but, at this point, I’m sure the Spaniard cares much more about finishing second than the Ineos rider. Still, I can’t see Landa making up 26 seconds on another GC favorite in the time trial.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will be 4th.
Bilbao is better than Jan Hirt (Intermarche Wanty Gobert) on the TT so should keep his 5th place.
Emanuel Buchmann (Bora) will be 7th.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarche), Juanpe Lopez (Trek Segafredo), and Hugh Carthy aren’t the best time trialists out there. Pozzovivo has 1m25s on Lopez so he should keep 8th. Between Lopez and Carthy there are 27 seconds. I back Carthy to get those seconds back on the Spaniard but it isn’t a foregone conclusion. The Brit isn’t the strongest time trialist either.
For the stage win, I’ll pick Italian time trial champion Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange). Him and Edoardo Affini (Jumbo Visma) finished last year’s final time trial in 4th and 3rd, respectively, with a mere second between them. I think the outcome will be reversed this year.