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Giro d’Italia 2021: Second Rest Day Recap

After 16 grueling days of racing around the north of Italy, the riders in the 2021 Giro d’Italia have reached the second rest day.

 

Today provides the riders with one last chance to recover before they plunge into a third week featuring three mountain top finishes in five days.

 

Many different aspects of the Giro have changed since the first rest day. At the same time, there are a few points that have remained consistent.

 

With just six days remaining until the conclusion of the race in Milan, here is a look at where things stand in the 2021 Giro.

 

Giro Classification Rankings

 

Overall

 

 

One of the main constants from the first rest day to the second is that Egan Bernal remains in the maglia rosa. The 24-year-old Colombian has clearly established himself as the strongest GC rider in the race, picking up two stage wins in the process. 

 

Bernal is not out of the woods yet, with three more days of climbing and a 30 kilometer long time trial remaining. However, outside of injury or illness, it is becoming increasingly difficult to envision a scenario in which Bernal does not win this Giro.

 

Damiano Caruso is arguably the biggest GC surprise of the Giro so far. The 33-year-old has risen to the occasion after the withdrawal of his team leader Mikel Landa. Caruso’s previous best in a Grand Tour is eighth at the 2015 Giro. This means that the Italian is hunting for his first ever Grand Tour podium. If he is able to maintain his level after the rest day, this is certainly an attainable goal.

 

The battle for the final podium spot is still wide open, with Hugh Carthy, Aleksandr Vlasov, Simon Yates, Giulio Ciccone and Romain Bardet all in contention. Yates looked to be the best of the rest after Bernal on the Monte Zoncolan. However, riders like Carthy and Vlasov have been more consistent, so there is still a lot to ride for.

 

One name missing from the top ten is Remco Evenepoel. The 21-year-old Belgian has started to struggle as we have gone deeper into the three week race. Given that he is riding his first Grand Tour and is coming off a serious injury, this is not too surprising. The question now is whether Evenepoel will withdraw to avoid overexertion, or if he will remain in the race to hunt stages and help João Almeida.

 

Points

 

 

Peter Sagan remains in the maglia ciclamino after stage 16. The Slovakian’s only real challengers are Davide Cimolai and Fernando Gaviria. 

 

Stage 18 from Rovereto to Stradella is the only remaining chance for the sprinters to contend for the stage win and pick up points.

 

The fact that the finale features a few hills may play into Sagan’s hands. BORA-hansgrohe made the race extremely difficult to set up a Sagan win on stage 10. They have lost their GC contender Emanuel Buchmann due to a crash, so they may well try to do something similar again. 

 

Mountain

 

 

Geoffrey Bouchard has maintained the lead in the mountains classification that he took on stage 9. Bouchard has a 29 point lead on Egan Bernal, who may end up being his closest challenger.

 

Given the profiles of the remaining mountain stages, it is likely that Bernal will be picking up lots of points on the summit finishes. In response, Bouchard will have to try to get into breakaways and mop up points early on in order to defend his lead.

 

Key Moments

 

Looking back, the six days of racing in between the two rest days produced six different winners. 

 

Mauro Schmid’s victory to Montalcino may be overshadowed by the GC battle that took place behind, but it was an incredible ride in its own right.  

 

Andrea Vendrame picked up a great win in Bagno di Romagna by backing his sprint, but also being aggressive when he had to.

 

On stage 13, Giacomo Nizzolo picked up an emotional first Giro d’Italia stage win after a whopping 11 second place finishes.  

 

Grand Tour debutant Lorenzo Fortunato made a huge statement for Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team by winning on the legendary Monte Zoncolan.

 

After making the decision to focus less on time trials, Victor Campenaerts grabbed his first Grand Tour stage win after a great breakaway battle with Oscar Riesebeek.

 

Lastly, Egan Bernal persevered through adverse weather and a shortened stage to put a stamp of dominance on the race. Sound familiar

 

There were some great storylines packed into these six days of racing. However, Nizzolo’s win is tough to beat. The Italian showed tremendous resilience over the years to keep searching for a victory in his home Grand Tour. He came so close so many different times, but never gave up. Because of this, Nizzolo will go down as one of the more popular stage winners at this year’s Giro.

 

 

The Road Ahead

 

After today, the 2021 Giro d’Italia will well and truly be in the home stretch. Stages 17 (Canazei – Sega di Ala) , 19 (Abbiategrasso – Alpe di Mera), 20 (Verbania – Valle Spluga – Alpe Motta) and 21 (Sengao – Milano) will be the ones with GC implications. 

 

Stage 18 (Rovereto – Stradella) will be the final chance for the fast men. 

 

The concluding 30 kilometer time trial into Milan provides an interesting dynamic for the end of the race. Egan Bernal is solid in time trials, but he is not necessarily known for being the greatest in the discipline. However, if he continues to gain time in the mountains at a similar rate, he will be untouchable by that point.

 

As is the norm for the third week of a Grand Tour, we should see a nice mix of breakaways and GC action in the coming days.

 

There is more than enough climbing left for the favorites to try to put Bernal under pressure. The only problem is that in order to do that, they will have to be stronger than the Colombian on the climbs. To this point in the race, nobody has managed to do that. 

 

If Bernal maintains his form and continues to use his team effectively, this Giro is his to lose.

 

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