Giro d'Italia Overview
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
The first and the winning team, Movistar entered the Giro with Landa and Carapaz with podium ambitions, and it took quite some time to realize what was the actual potential they had, and no-one could imagine what was to happen in the final two weeks. On stage 3 Carapaz had a puncture and lost 46 seconds, but made up for it with an amazing stage win two days later proving he was in good form. He's San Marino time-trial was solid whilst Landa lost serious time, despite the co-lead in the first mountain stage both looked tremendous, and in Lago Serrù the duo was the strongest, gaining serious time on their rivals. In Courmayeur Carapaz attacked amazingly and went to pink, and from there on no sign of fragility was given. Despite only his second GT in the GC contention Carapaz showed amazing maturity and consistency, great for a 25 (and later 26) year-old. Landa was in support but also allowed Carapaz to gain time with his attacking racing, putting pressure on his rivals, and Carretero/Pedrero also rode brilliantly for their assumed quality. Also for Amador who was vital on the work and showed his best legs for a long time.
AG2R La Mondiale
AG2R has costume didn't come to the race with lots of ambitions, Tony Gallopin came with good ambitions to the race and he didn't disapoint but he isn't a top rider and that has to be taken into account. With Vuillermoz and a team of climbers pretty much they had breakaway ambitions, and surprisingly their success came through Nans Peters, debuting in the race and his win in Antholz was impressive, with a solo long-range attack that was confirmed by a brutal climbing performance. Gallopin was close with a second in L'Aquila, and Denz also close in stage 18, but their appearances came from breakaways, where François Bidard was a pleasant combative surprise. They came with the goal of stage wins, so I'd say their job was done.
Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec
Androni has costumed us into having good expectations, and this year the team came very strong into the race with Masnada and Cattaneo doing a tremendous Tour of the Alps. Masnada got a stage win and countless breakaway presences, 20th in the GC, 2nd in the KOM and 4th in the points, and even the Intermediate sprint classification, he was one of the big revelations of the race if you didn't see the Alpine race that was a preparation for some of the favourites. Cattaneo was second in Como, he had the chance and was really close to a win that day, Belletti was consistent in the sprints and if it was for mechanical issues, Andrea Vendrame could've also taken a stage win, one of the team's several all-round riders the Italian was on the verge of getting a win in San Martino di Castrozza. They got the win, were part of the race fighting for stage wins several times, I loved their racing and they were above the level of several WorldTour teams, I'll rate them as high as I can because I feel they fully deserve it.
Astana Pro Team
After the first months of the season, Astana came into the race with big ambitions, with Miguel Angel Lopez looking to top his 3rd place of last year, and with a squad ready to back him. And truth is they were, and Lopez looked good for most of the race, whilst he managed to avoid the crashes, bad luck was on his side last year. He punctured in the time-trial, had a mechanical in Lago Serrù and had an infamous collision with a fan in Croce d'Aune. It isn't a justitification for not being able to repeat his feat, but with the luck he's had it wasn't easy to do better. Lopez was agressive and looked good until the very last mountain stage. The team fully focused on him for GC, meaning the depth of climbers could fight for stage wins and the others fully devote to the Colombian, Cataldo and Bilbao rode to strong wins, 3 in total, Ion Izagirre looked far from his best but was good support, whilst Jan Hirt was the most dedicated and most reliable domestique in the mountains, almost conquering the stage to Courmayeur. Zeits, Boaro and Villela were also well present in the race, the team looked very strong but they lacked a little something to get them better placed. Despite the bad luck, Lopez still managed to conquer the Maglia Bianca for a second year in a row, that alongside 3 stage wins, it can't be said the Kazakh team had a bad race.
Bahrain was another team that came into the race with big ambitions. The team in terms of depth wasn't as strong but Pozzovivo and Caruso proved an amazing support for Nibali, and were the backbone of his second place, with both of them being consistently very strong in the mountains. As for Nibali, he did a briliant race with no flaws, he just had the bad luck of having a stronger rider. He came into the race sharper than it's normal of him, and looked good throughout the whole race, but although he was one of the riders that wasn't afraid to loose the race to win it, that may have been what costed him. In stages 13 and 14 he was clearly focused in the task of gaining time on Roglic, and didn't focus on what ended up being his biggest rival. Since Carapaz went to pink he always attacked him, he tried his best but Carapaz and Movistar were too strong to dethrone. But all-in-all, Nibali's second place was a great ride, although maybe he wanted more, he can't be disapointed.
Bardiani - CSF
With the lack of a leader, Bardiani came to the race with fairly moderate goals, but they honoured their presence by being a very agressive team, specially in the flat stages where it was expected of them. Giovani Carboni in the Maglia Bianca was definetely the highlight of their race, and they raced bravely in that stint, the young Italian is carrying a lot of the hopes of the team, and they did solid for what was expected of them.
Bora - Hansgrohe
Bora had one of the biggest plots before the race, with Ackermann/Bennett having a dispute for who was coming in the team, and most of the cycling community assumed it was a mistake to bring the German, but he proved the team right by being chosen, Ackermann won two stages and the Maglia Ciclamino, and arguably looked the fittest sprinter in the race, supported by a leadout that looked brilliant throughout the whole race. On the other side were Majka and Formolo leading the GC challenge, Formolo looked strong until the very final stages, he struggled in the high mountains but made up for it with two well-thought breakaways and was in the Top10 until the final day in the mountains, but overall still had a reasonable race, but Majka's 6th place overall was definetely a surprise, it's been a long time since he's been at that level, and despite looking to loose it all early in the final week he bounced back and even climbed up the overall, including going through Lopez in the very last day in Verona, Bora was a very successful team here, and very popular too always in the TV coverage, their Giro was a success.
Honestly I didn't expect much from them here, with the main figures on the side preparing themselves for the Tour, CCC came with a very secondary team even for them, and they performed somewhat accordingly. Mareczko was there in only two sprints, but he wasn't in the win contention not even close, outside of him Victor De La Parte had a pretty decent race finishing 21st, and Amaro Antunes a regular presence in the mountains with a third place in stage 19. And Josef Cerny was 6th in the final time-trial, solid for unexperienced riders but for a WorldTour team it was a very low performance, but definetely not the worst, with Francisco Ventoso also being a positive surprise with agressive behaviour.
Deceuninck - Quick Step
One of the big loosers of the race one would say. They came with aspirations of stage wins and Maglia Ciclamino with Elia Viviani, he won a stage but was later relegated, he failed to officially win a stage. And on the other side was Bob Jungels' GC challenge which also failed, and Jungels never looked close to his best, likely suffering from faituge or paying the price for the focus in the classics instead. There were some interesting breakaway attempts but they didn't manage to win any stage, and left the race in disapointing fashion.
EF Education First
Looking at the overall standings tell a story about EF, looking at their racing tells another. It isn't easy to rate their race, they came with a strong team but no set leader, or no-one they could put all their hopes on day 1. Modolo kept the story of his season, absent in the sprints, but the climbers stood out. Well not exactly, but with Carthy 11th, Dombrowski 12th and Kangert 18th it is a very solid result. The Brit started the race strong but had a dreadful day in Lago Serrù, but from there on he looked superb, hanging with the top favourites and even distancing them on occasions, not only on the short climbs but on the Mortirolo for example, finishing 11th doesn't really show how he rode. Kangert struggled in Como, otherwise he had a pretty consisted and strong race, and Dombrowski kinda rode himself into 12th in the mammooth stages, performing specially well in Courmayeur. Still they didn't get any stage win and no Top10, and didn't really fight for any classification.
Groupama - FDJ
If we were to see FDJ's results in a glance it would be pretty decent, Arnaud Dèmare got a stage win ahead of big competition and second in the points classification, and without any mountain support youngster Valentin Madouas had one hell of a surprising performance, riding the high mountains very strongly the whole race. But closer attention it's hard to forget the mistake on stage 18, that probably did end up costing the team Ciclamino, it was a race of highs and lows but in the end of the race it was a solid performance.
Israel Cycling Academy
Israel were a pretty standard team so to say, they didn't come with big ambitions and didn't get good results, but they raced according to their standards. Neilands, Plaza and Gebremedhin were visible and active in the breakaways, and the rest of the team devoted themselves to help Cimolai in the sprints where he performed well, finishing 6 times in the Top7, as consistent as he could be, Israel acted like a true team in the sprints and the only thing stopping Cimolai from winning is the better sprinters, cause his leadout was spotless in that sense and they did very well there. Still they come out of the race without any standout result which would've been a nice reward for their work.
With a big leadout for Ewan and Campenaerts/de Gendt for time-trial/breakaway ambitions, the team was very well structured, which comes well for a team that had no overall ambitions, they were able to focus on their sprinter properly and it was rewarded to them via a couple of stage wins, Ewan was consistent and strong and managed to do what he came here to do. On the other side, de Gendt wasn't a powerful presence in the breakaways as it's normal, and Campenaerts did good but lacked that elusive win, coming second in the San Marino and Verona time-trials, he was strong but not the strongest on both occasions. Still the team came with a goal and achieved it, Ewan was planned to go home in the second week, and despite coming home with only 4 riders Lotto is one of the positive takes from the race, they just needed that time-trial win to make it a great race.
Mitchelton came into the race with a clear goal, to win. Pre-race Yates made a statement and that showed his intent, on the first week it seemed clear that he was ready and the team was ready. And the team was in fact, but he wasn't. In the time-trial he had a very bad day, but the upcoming weeks showed it was a consistent factor, Yates sometimes was up there and riding strong, but when it mattered he faded, and very much so. The team looked spotless in fact, with Bauer, Durbridge and Juul-Jensen a constant and a set of big powerful riders that protected him on the flats, Mikel Nieve and specially GT debutant Lucas Hamilton were spotless, Nieve had his classic strong third week, almost netting a stage win, and Hamilton always stood with Yates, and it was a frequent sight seeing the Australian toll Yates up the mountains. The team's performance was somewhat requed by Chaves' win on stage 19, but it did little to hinder the lack of performance from their leader, who publically didn't state to be ill or injured, his preparation seemed good so one can only assume he struggled with the harsh weather of the race. Their race wasn't positive, and it felt like so much could've been done, Yates had a super strong team backing him but he didn't perform close to expected, it leaves a big hole in their race.
Nippo Vini Fantini Faizanè
Like Bardiani Nippo came with a squad very much dedicated to making the race's breakaways and be as noticeable as possible. First of all, their two Japanese riders on the startline were quite reputated in the race, for very different reasons but it's sponsor exposure that they sure wouldn't mind. And what was initially a bit of a pack fodder team became something else as Damiano Cima netted stage 18. With riders like Canola and Lonardi, with some luck the team could get some good results, but it was from a breakaway that they got the ultimate result. For such a level, Nippo deserve grade A, they were clearly below the average level in the peloton but managed to get a win that saves their season no matter what happens.
Team Dimension Data
With Dimension Data comes the least rated team in the race though. I can't be bashing on a team when their sponsor Qhubeka is my favourite in the WorldTour, but in terms of performance they just were below any expectation. I could argue that O'Connor's GC ride was a flop, but truth is he has a lot of pressure to be the team's sole leader in the mountains at 23. I could also point out that their sprint goals were nowhere near the expectations, Nizzolo not only wasn't a factor in the Maglia Ciclamino he also was never close to a win, Gibbons also had some decent sprint performances but he seems to struggle a lot in positioning. Outside from them there wasn't really any other rider that stood out, but my criticism comes from their (apparent) lack of trying. The wins coming from a breakaway were countless but the times they were represented wasn't, in fact O'Connor, who had total freedom to join them, didn't do it once. Gasparotto and Ghebreigzhabier were visible in a couple of stages, but quickly thinking I don't remember any other break from the team. Some stages like stage 18 they would have a realistic chance of winning it if they had placed a rider there but they didn't, and that repeated itself on several, it came to a point where it didn't even feel like they were trying. A stage win would've negated my bad view on them, but they were never close to it were they...
INEOS had a lot of bad luck before the race had begun. Their set leader Bernal broke a collarbone right before the start and that in a way derailed their true goal. With that set, INEOS set to go full-out on their purpose for the race, bringing the bulk of their future GC riders into the race for good experience. With that they decided to leave Moscon out of the race as he wouldn't add much, replacing them were Ivan Sosa and Eddie Dunbar, two GT debutants and two riders who rode very strong, specially the Irishman who was a big surprise, riding the mountains in a way he hadn't before and finishing 22nd. Their bad luck continued as designated co-leader Tao Hart first punctured and lost a lot of ground, and later crashed out of the race, but then again there was still one rider with the potential to do something special. Anyone who has a close eye on cycling the last few years would know that what Pavel Sivakov did wasn't a surprise, it was just a matter of time. But seeing how the Russian raced, his consistency and his apparent lack of a weak spot is something to behold after he won the Tour of the Alps aswell. He is another one of INEOS' gems in the lot, and this was the first time we've got to see him do what he will be surely a career full of successes. He came close to winning the Maglia Bianca, wore it for some days, and at 21 finish 9th in such a brutal Giro means he did his job well, the team only lacked a stage win to call it a big success.
Jumbo was one of the most controversial subjects of the race. Primoz Roglic was there, he won two time-trials and finished on the podium of the race, the first time in his career. Roglic, he raced perfectly, he took advantage of his strong spots and limited the best he could the weak ones, tactically he rode brilliantly, choosing the right wheels to follow within his capacity, even though until stage 15 he and his team were being attacked by everyone in the race. He had some bad luck in Como, and the team did so too, they planned to be better prepared than they were. Gesink got injured before the race, leading to an unplanned squad change, and lieutenant Laurens de Plus went home with sickness, which was a bigger blow than the media made of it. Roglic was left isolated plenty of times but it was because of untimely absences from his two most important teammates. The ones he had did what they could, Bouwman and Tolhoek were solid support, Kuss struggled to come into form, they were obviously no match for the other teams that not only had world-class domestiques at their full disposal, as the domestiques themselves were flying. Roglic deserved the podium, he raced inteligently and managed to overcome the pressure of being rated the sole main favourite to win the whole race, which obviously was never the case. Roglic's performance was a product of media overvalue I'd say, I saw tons of comments after the time-trial that the Giro was over, and I just simply couldn't understand. But the mentality the audience gives is that it's Roglic against the world, and that transmits to his rivals who would focus only on bringing him down instead of fighting to gain time on each other.
Team Katusha Alpecin
Katusha came into the race almost dry in wins, with the recent news of Kittel leaving the team, and results were far and few, a repetition of 2018. To the race came Ilnur Zakarin leading, he gave good signs before the race and overall, he saved it for the Russians. A stage win and Top10, I think Zakarin and the team acomplished their goal, their season has been quite hard and Zakarin's (and Zabel in Yorkshire) was a needed breath of fresh air. After his win Zakarin was thought to have potential to come to Verona better, but he was strong in the final week and managed to regain his place in the best riders. Outside of him, not much to show, but the team was severely hampered by crashes in the first week so I can give them a break, their race was decent for normal standards.
In Sunweb came another sad story. Dumoulin's crash in the first week was a highlight, at this point Sam Oomen showed he was far from the form that got him in the Top10 the past year, despite getting a good GC after a successful break, he didn't improve and latter abandoned the race. The team brought out a full climbing setup ready to support the Dutch, but with Power and Vervaeke also having to abandon it was hard for the team to catch a break. They tried later on the race with only 4 riders in but failed to succeed, until the final day where Chad Haga took a super win in Verona which at least meant they'd leave the race with something in the bag. There isn't much to say about them, their two leaders couldn't finish the race, they were left with no direction to follow and struggled to get that stage win.
Trek - Segafredo
Trek was one of the surprises of the race in my opinion. It isn't the first time Bauke Mollema finishes high up in the standings of a Grand Tour, but it had been two years since the last successful GC stint, and he seemed to have become more of a classics/breakaway type of rider, which suited his skillset better. Still the team came here with big ambitions, and since day one he showed himself very strong, the time-trials of his were brilliant, and he was very consistent in the mountains, his final 5th place shows it. Stage 13 was a brilliant set up by Trek, which that day really set Mollema into the GC fight, cause it gave him a big buffer over his rivals which he then managed to control. Conci and Brambilla were good support, but what to say of Ciccone. He's only 24 but he's shown to be one that suits the Giro's climbing features like a glove, he is a diesel engine, suited for brutal stages, he absolutely dominated the mountains classification, almost wore the jersey throughout the entire race, won an epic stage, and also was a constant in the breakaways and supported Mollema over the mountains. He was worth gold in this race, head on the target but had plenty of room to achieve more than just the Maglia Azurra.
UAE Team Emirates
Finally the last team is the Emirates, and this one was another of the race's highlights. First Gaviria's stage win, that came via the relegation of Viviani, but looking back at that sprint the Colombian was mightily impressive. He abandoned the race soon, but there was plenty of success, with a team low on climbing references, they made the most out of it, first getting Valerio Conti in the pink jersey and keeping it for several stages, before in a genius tactic do the same with Jan Polanc who wore pink for another set of days. The team led the race for 8 days which was huge for them as it was far from their best squad, Jan Polanc almost managed to keep onto his precious result, only in the last day did he truly suffer but still finished 15th in the overall which is quite good. From them, I got the feeling of an immensely motivated team who did great, and made the most out of what they had, before going to the Tour with a team that can get those results without that same luck.
Team Performance Rating
10 - Movistar, Androni, Trek, UAE
9 - Bora, Nippo
8 - Bahrain
7 - AG2R, Astana, Lotto Soudal, INEOS, Jumbo-Visma
6 - Bardiani, EF, Groupama, Katusha
5 - Israel
4 - CCC, Mitchelton
3 - Deceuninck, Sunweb
2 - Dimension Data
So how did my predictions before the race go?
⭐ Landa, Carapaz, Jungels, Zakarin, Pozzovivo, Formolo
Needless to say Dumoulin's falter, Yates' disapointment, Roglic was high up there but that is what everyone claimed anyway. Nibali and Lopez were super in the climbs, but they had different stories on how they couldn't achieve their goals. On 1 start is the Movistar duo, I wasn't expecting such an outbreak but they really did perfect, Pozzovivo wasn't focused on GC and Formolo cracked, Jungels was fatigued, Zakarin was good but inconsistent. With Majka, Mollema and Zakarin in the Top10 it was one where inconsistent riders had their saying.
⭐ Nizzolo, Modolo, Dumoulin, Roglic, Cimolai
Only Ackermann and Dèmare made it to Verona, I wasn't expecting Ackermann's dominance in the sprints, and Dèmare's comeback. Viviani was pure disapointment, he wanted to have made it till the end but had no reason to at a point, Gaviria and Ewan didn't finish the race but they could've been up there.
⭐ Brambilla, Cattaneo, Conti, Ulissi, de Gendt, MA.Lopez, Formolo
Ciccone, Masnada and Nieve were there as expected, I though Trek wanted a different rider on it but Mollema did perfect, Ciccone was left with the duty and killed it. Majka also went for the GC and it worked out, neglecting the KOM instead, but a risk well worth it.
⭐ Sivakov, O'Connor, Carthy
Well even with the bad luck, only crashes could take this one from Lopez, Hart and Oomen didn't finish the race, it was up to Sivakov to challenge Lopez, and Carthy, if he managed to have a good stage to Lago Serrù he could've also been in the fight to take it.
So to close of this chapter I have to say, I loved this Giro. Having the climbers fighting for the win, having agressive attacked racing on high mountains, massive days in the Alps, this is what the Giro gives to cycling that no other race does (at this level), the Italian's passion, although sometimes exagerated, is one of the driving forces in cycling, and it's a race that every year gives reasons to fall in love with. I think this will have been the best Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta maybe but I see no way the Tour will have as much spectacle, surprise and suspense.
It was a pleasure to write about it, and I hope to be back next year to write about the next edition, a big thank you to all my readers!