The pink jersey is up for grabs as the Giro enters its final week

The second “week” of the Tour of Italy 2022 ended on Sunday with Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) wearing the pink jersey as leader of the general classification of the race. But with just seven seconds between Carapaz and the second best rider in the Giro d’Italia, the Australian Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe), and two other contenders less than a minute from the Maglia Rosa, the Portuguese João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) and Spaniard Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious), the race to win the first “Grand Tour” of the season is far from over.

Here’s everything you need to know as the race prepares to enter its third and final week.

Who wins?

Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Team INEOS Grenadiers celebrate on the podium after Stage 15.

Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Three years after winning the 2019 Giro d’Italia for Movistar, Carapaz is once again in pink as the Giro leader. The 28-year-old took the jersey from Spaniard Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) after finishing third in stage 14. The young Spaniard fought valiantly, wearing the jersey for 10 days before finally taking the put it back during Saturday’s short and intense stage. the hills around Turin.

Carapaz heads into the Giro’s final rest day with a seven-second lead over Hindley, with Almeida 30 seconds behind in third. Landa is just 59 seconds behind Carapaz and looks set for his best Grand Tour result in years.

Regarding the other competitions of the Giro, the Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) always wears the Maglia Ciclamino (“cyclamen jersey”) as leader of the points classification of the Giro, while the Dutchman Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) wears the Maglia Azzurra (“blue jersey”) as the new leader of the King of the Mountain ranking. Almeida wears the Maglia Bianca (“white jersey”) as the Giro’s best young rider.

What happened?

biniam girmay celebrates the stage winner at the finish line ahead of mathieu van der poel
Biniam Girmay from Eritrea celebrates as the finish line as the stage winner ahead of Mathieu van der Poel from the Netherlands.

Tim de WaeleGetty Images

The second “week” of the 105th Giro d’Italia opened with a historic stage victory for the Eritrean Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), winner of stage 10 in Jesi. Unfortunately, the Eritrean was forced to abandon the race the following morning after injuring his eye trying to pop the cork off a bottle of Prosecco on the stage winner’s podium.

After being winless for 10 stages, the Italians went on to win the next two, with Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) surprising the other Giro sprinters to win stage 11 in Reggio Emilia and Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Fenix) winning the stage 12 in Genoa of a breakaway.

Demare won his third stage of the race on Stage 13, giving the Frenchman an almost insurmountable lead in the Giro points standings – assuming he survives the mountainous final week of the Giro. López did enough on those four stages to maintain his lead in the overall Giro standings, giving the Spaniard another four days to enjoy the port of Maglia Rosa.

Stage 13 also saw one of the pre-race favourites, Romain Bardet (Team DSM) abandon the Giro due to illness. Bardet was in fourth place overall, 14 seconds off the lead, when he retired.

But week two was defined by Saturday’s Stage 14, an explosive stage made up of two circuits around Turin, each featuring two Category 2 climbs. At just 147km, the riders weren’t afraid to give up the ride difficult from the start, and at the end of the day the gaps were huge: approaching the stage, the 10 best riders of the Giro were only separated by 1:23, by the time that the dust come back, they were spread over 9:06.

Britain’s Simon Yates won the stage, saving face after losing more than 11 minutes in last Sunday’s summit finish on the Blockhaus. Behind him, Hindley edged Carapaz to finish second, the Ecuadorian taking the pink jersey seven seconds from the Australian. López fought valiantly, but ultimately didn’t have enough to hold on to the true Giro contenders. He lost 4:25 and fell to ninth place.

On stage 15, a day after losing the pink jersey, Trek-Segafredo bounced back with Italian Giulio Ciccone winning the alpine stage in Cogne. After such an intense stage the day before, the last contenders for the Giro GC seemed content to keep a steady pace behind, leaving the breakaway from which Ciccone finally emerged to take a large advantage. The apparent ‘ceasefire’ continued to the finish line, where the Giro heads of state were happy to enter the race’s final rest day unscathed.

What have we learned?

it turns
Jai Hindley rides in the peloton during stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia.

LUCA BETTINIGetty Images

Carapaz, an experienced Grand Tour competitor, is the clubhouse leader and has the advantage of riding for the best overall team in the race.

But Hindley shouldn’t be ignored. Australia’s BORA-hansgrohe team showed impressive depth and, as they showed on Stage 14, are not intimidated by INEOS. And Hindley is no stranger to the pressure that comes with trying to win a Grand Tour before the final week of racing. He was leading the Giro before the final stage of the race in 2020, only to lose the pink jersey in the final individual time trial.

If the Giro does make it to the final stage, the bad news for Hindley is that Carapaz has beaten the Aussie seven out of eight times, with the two facing each other in an individual time trial, including two so far this year. . So if Hindley wants to win the race overall, he will have to enter the final stage with a lead of at least 30 seconds over the Ecuadorian, maybe more.

Behind Carapaz and Hindley, Almeida looks set to step onto the podium, his goal before the start of the race in Budapest more than two weeks ago. He will likely ride defensively over the final four mountain stages, hoping that as one of the best time trials among the Giro’s GC contenders he can afford to waste some time. in the mountains and still stand on the final podium in Verona.

The biggest threats to Carapaz and Hindley will likely come from Landa, who has had a near-perfect race so far and has a chance to score his first Grand Tour podium since finishing third in the Giro in 2015. His Teammate, Spaniard Pello Bilbao is sixth overall and both can play that to their advantage in the final week. Look for them as two of the biggest Giro entertainers in the mountains to come.

And finally, there is the Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). One of only seven riders in history to have won all three of cycling’s Grand Tours, Nibali’s Giro seemed to be over after losing more than two minutes to fellow Giro contenders on Mount Etna at the end of Stage 4 The next day, at the end of stage 5 in Messina (his hometown), he announced that he would retire at the end of the season.

But the “shark” receded, getting stronger throughout the first week and the second. The only rider able to hang on with Carapaz and Hindley on stage 14, the 37-year-old is now eighth overall, 2:58 from the pink jersey. That’s a lot of ground to make up for, but Nibali isn’t one to ride conservatively. He overcame a 4:43 gap to win the Giro in 2016, and will certainly do whatever he can to finish his last Giro in style.

And after?

vincenzo nibali from italy and astana team meet fans during team presentation
Vincenzo Nibali from Italy and the Astana team meet the fans during the team presentation.

Michael SteeleGetty Images

The final week of the Giro opens on Tuesday with one of the toughest stages of the race: a 202km race through the Alps that features four climbs including the Mortirolo, one of Italy’s most famous climbs. history of the Giro. With over 5,000 meters of elevation gain, Stage 16 won’t give riders much time to readapt to racing after Monday’s rest day. This is why savvy cyclists will likely go for a long ride on their rest day to maintain the routine their body has become accustomed to over the past two weeks.

More climbing awaits on Stage 17, a stage that is essentially two days in one: the first half starts uphill but then descends for 70km through valley roads. The second half brings three graded climbs, including the final climb to Monterovere, where a narrow road and rock-cut tunnels should create some spectacular scenery. The climb culminates just 10 km from the finish in Lavarone.

Stage 18 on Thursday should serve as a rest day for all but the remaining Giro sprinters. The road crosses the valley from Borgo Valsunga to the Venetian plain, where a flat arrival in Treviso awaits. Expect plenty of Giro sprinters to head home from here, especially with Demare having a stranglehold on the Maglia Ciclamino.

Stage 19 returns to the mountains, with a short trip to Slovenia before a summit finish of the Category 2 climb to the Santuario di Castelmonte. So late in the race, the outcome is uncertain. A breakaway could go the distance, but behind them, with just one day in the mountains before Sunday’s final time trial, the battle to win the Giro is set to continue.

Stage 20 is the true “queen stage” of the Giro d’Italia 2022, a classic mountain stage through the Dolomites. Starting in Belluno, the 168km stage features three Category 1 climbs, including Passo San Pellegrino (18.5km @ 6.2%), Passo Pordoi (11.8km @ 6.8%) and the Passo Fedaia (14 km at 7.6%). The peaks of the last two climbs are above 2,000 metres, with the Pordoi (2,239 metres) being named “Cima Coppi” as the highest climb of the entire race.

There isn’t a lot of strategy in a stage like this: the riders will have to be at their best to manage both the altitude and the attacks of their rivals. The stage also provides the perfect opportunity for a runner like Nibali to try and turn the rush around with a long-range attack.

All remaining details will be worked out in Stage 21, a 17.4km individual time trial in Verona. The stage is long enough to generate serious time gaps and riders will need to pick up their pace during the Category 4 climb of Torricella Massimiliana.

With so many mountains ahead of it – and so few qualified time trials among the Giro’s other GC contenders – it’s hard to see this stage determining the overall winner. But the Giro has reached its final stage twice in the last five years: Dutchman Tom Dumoulin overtook Colombian Nairo Quintana to win the Giro in 2017, and Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart brought Hindley back to win the race in 2020.

By the time all is said and done, Carapaz may have done enough to win his second Giro d’Italia, the fourth in five years for INEOS. But Nibali will have his home country’s fans by his side every step of the way.

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