May 22, 2023
Even the Welshman is questioning when the GC battle will begin
A lot of the debate going into the second rest day of the Giro d’Italia was about the lack of excitement around the fight for the general classification. Over the last 15 stages, including three mountain stages, we’ve each day questioned whether it’ll be the day that the GC battle will finally ignite. Much to widespread disappointment, no duel has yet been unveiled. Instead we’ve been spectators to a very conservative race. But we’re not the only ones to be left wanting more.
“I’ve been slightly disappointed as well,” Geraint Thomas said in the Ineos Grenadiers press conference during the second rest day. “I’ve wanted to test myself against the other guys, but I can’t speak for the other teams, only this team.”
It’s not like there hasn’t been chances for a dash of excitement. While the route is heavily backloaded to the third week, there have been plenty of opportunities for the GC riders, on paper anyway. The Gran Sasso d’Italia was the first summit finish and the expectation was for the likes of Thomas, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Remco Evenepoel (before he withdraw due to Covid-19), and João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) to throw some punches on the steep gradients, but still nothing came of it. “There was a block headwind,” Thomas said of that particular stage, “there’s nothing you can do about that, so it was a bit of a stalemate.”
Stage four even provided an early opportunity, but “everyone was sussing each other out really, super early days,” Thomas said. Then there was the chaotic stage 13, with the summit finish on the Crans Montana. And still nothing. Not even a second has moved between Thomas and Roglič in those two mountain tests. Instead, the GC looks pretty much the same as after the first rest day. The only change is that Thomas is no longer in pink. Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) instead is donning the maglia rosa with the Welsh rider 1-08 behind, having ceded his leading position after four days wearing the jersey.
This Giro’s headlines have centred on the miserable weather, unfortunate crashes, the outbreak of Covid-19, and breakaway wins from the peloton’s underdogs. However, this may also be the reason for the GC riders approaching the race with caution.
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