Its been another massive week in cycling. The Giro d’Italia has taken shape, with dramatic turns and climbs. The picture is becoming clearer, but there is still plenty of racing left.
Stage 16 was the greatest stage that nobody ever saw. After severe weather saw the queen stage cut short from 212km to 153km, with over a third of the 6,000m of climbing cut off as well.
The race feed was interrupted by the terrible weather on the stage, and there was limited or no footage of Egan Bernal’s devastating ride to the top of Passo Giau in the rain and the cold.
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) has come on in leaps and bounds, making the Giro his own since taking the maglia rose (pink jersey) on Stage 9. He took time on his rivals on the uphill finishes on Stage 11, and on the feared Monte Zoncolan of Stage 14.
His devastating attack on Stage 16 left little doubt as to who is the favourite to win the Giro.
Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) are in the podium places, trailing 2:24 and 3:40 behind Bernal respectively.
Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) has looked one of the strongest riders, and sits 4:20 behind Bernal, but will require a special final week if he is to steal the race.
Nicholas Schultz (Team BikeExchange) is the highest ranked Australian overall in 18th place, 27:12 back. George Bennett (Jumbo Visma) of New Zealand sits in 14th, just 18:10 behind Bernal.
Aussies on Tour
The Aussies have had a quiet week since Caleb Ewan’s departure from the race. No stage winners, unfortunately, but not for lack of trying.
Chris Hamilton (Team DSM) came close on Stage 12, finishing second in a sprint to Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen). Despite his best efforts, Hamilton didn’t have the speed to win the sprint, but rode brilliantly with panache.
Jai Hindley (Team DSM) withdrew from the race due to injury prior to the start of Stage 14. He will seek to rebound at either the Tour de France or the Vuelta a Espana.
Egan Bernal wears the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey – overall leader). He will hope to hold onto the jersey all the way to Milan.
Peter Sagan (BORA-Hansgrohe) holds the Maglia Ciclamino (purple jersey – best sprinter). Sagan has form in winning the sprinters’ classification in France, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t hold in Italy. Sagan is almost certain to finish.
Geoffery Bouchard (AG2R Citroen) wears the Maglia Azzura (blue jersey – best climber). While a week ago, his hopes of retaining the jersey seemed slim, he has a lead over Bernal, and there are not too many mountains to go. Bouchard may yet pull off the surprise victory in the climbers category.
Bernal also holds the Maglia Bianca (white jersey – best young rider). Bernal, like with the maglia rosa, simply seems like he has to stay upright to win this jersey too.
Thrills and Spills
Gorka Izagirre (Astana Prem-Tech) saved himself, somehow, on a wet descent on Stage 16.
There was still time for a laugh for some riders from Team Bardiani CSF.
Affini was also involved in one of the other great stories of the 2021 Giro. He almost held off the fast-finishing field to win Stage 13, but finished second to Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos).
Nizzolo had previously finished 11 times on a stage at the Giro, and this time, he was finally first across the finish line of a stage of the Giro.
Stage 17, as a day after a rest day always has potential for unpredictable results.
Stage 19 and 20 should see the top riders throw everything they have left at Bernal in the hope that they can crack him and take back the time they need to win.
Stage 21, the final time trial into Milan, is theoretically a dramatic climax to the race, but if the other contenders don’t reel Bernal in, it won’t have any drama left.
The Giro d’Italia can be seen on SBS on Demand every night.
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