Words by Mikkel Condé
Photos by Kramon and Sirotti
The first week of racing in this year’s Giro d’Italia has been extremely entertaining to watch. Every stage has been raced like it was a one-day classic. We must congratulate the race organizers for a wonderful course!
The Italians have had a great start to the race. Elia Viviani took his first ever stage win in the Giro when he won the first proper road stage in Genova. Afterwards, Davide Formolo, one of the brightest stars on the Italian cycling sky, soloed to success in La Spezia. Surely, this is just the first of many future wins for the young Italian. It won’t be a surprise to see Formolo cross the line first another time in this year’s race already.
After winning two stages in the Giro last year, Diego Ulissi had a very difficult time off the bike. However, he stayed focused and trained hard and it all paid off in Fiuggi where he won the sprint. A very emotional win for the Italian and for the whole Lampre-Merida team. It’s hard to imagine that Ulissi is done winning in this Giro. There are still many stages suitable for his characteristics.
The fourth Italian stage win came on stage 9 in San Giorgio del Sannio. Originally, Astana’s plan was for Paolo Tiralongo to wait for his teammates in Lago Laceno. However, Aru didn’t attack and suddenly Tiralongo could fight for the stage win instead. The Sicilian veteran wasn’t late to seize the opportunity. A beautiful win for Astana who have been extremely active and very strong in this first week of the Giro.
According to Dario Cataldo, Astana want to ‘destroy’ the other teams. So far, they have been doing a very good job. Still, despite having three riders in top5 on the rest day, the Kazakh team hasn’t been able to take the pink jersey. It’s on the shoulders of Alberto Contador. The Spaniard entered the race as the number one favorite. He was the first of the overall contenders to attack on stage 5 where he took maglia rosa. Unfortunately, Contador crashed in Castiglione della Pescaia when Danielle Colli collided with a spectator. The Italian broke his arm in the crash. Contador only dislocated his shoulder.
Many thought that Alberto Contador’s chances of winning Giro d’Italia overall disappeared in the crash. Luckily, for the race, however, the Tinkoff-Saxo captain hasn’t shown any real signs of weakness. It’s true that he hasn’t been able to attack but he hasn’t lost any time either. It’s also important to remember that Contador is the uncrowned king of downplaying his own chances. The latest example can be found in Vuelta a España last year. According to Contador, he was nowhere near ready to fight for the win. We all know how that race turned out. Some might say that if Alberto Contador could win the Vuelta with a broken leg, surely he can win the Giro with a dislocated shoulder. It will be very interesting to see how the following week turns out. If Contador’s shoulder allows him to perform well in the long time trial, it’s hard to see him lose this race overall.
Naturally, Fabio Aru and Astana will do whatever they can to rip the pink jersey off Contador. It won’t be easy though. Aru will most likely lose time against the clock on stage 14. Unless he manages to pull off a big win in the high mountains, it will be difficult for him to improve last year’s podium place. Especially since Richie Porte is doing so well. You may not have noticed the Tasmanian much in the race but Porte has been very strong, following all the attacks on the climbs. It even seems like he’s holding back a little, waiting for the last week. On his best days, Richie Porte will put minutes in to Fabio Aru in the time trial. If he also beats Alberto Contador with a significant margin against the clock, suddenly the Team Sky captain could be the top favorite for the overall win.
We will know much more in the weekend. If this Giro d’Italia continues the same way it started, everything could be turned upside-down even before we get to the time trial. Let’s enjoy the show!