The Battle for the 2021 Giro d'Italia: Taking Stock of the GC
With Egan Bernal in the maglia rosa entering the final rest day of the 2021 Giro d'Italia, we take stock of how the teams of the overall contenders are stacking up
The 104th Giro d'Italia has now reached its final rest day. Following a series of stunning attacks, Egan Bernal is primed to win his second Grand Tour after amassing a sizeable lead in the maglia rosa. Some riders have completely lost touch or even crashed out, and although the Ineos Grenadiers are almost out of sight, let's take stock and analyse the GC battle thus far.
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8. Daniel Martínez +7:17
DNF Pavel Sivakov
The Ineos Grenadiers entered the first rest day of the Giro d’Italia with one hand on the maglia rosa. After a series of unrelenting attacks from Egan Bernal since, the top step on the podium is theirs to lose. Bernal was the first finisher from the GC riders on Monte Zoncolan and then decimated his rivals on Passo Giau. His offensive riding style has been on display from the get go — the Colombian doesn't just want to win the pink jersey; he wants to do so in style. With Dani Martínez far from out of contention and Gianni Moscon, Jonathan Castroviejo and Filippo Ganna his lead lieutenants, Egan Bernal is the clear favourite to win the 2021 Giro d’Italia.
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7. Romain Bardet +5:02
DNF Jai Hindley
Under the name Sunweb, Team DSM had two riders on the final podium at the Giro last year. One of them was Jai Hindley, who also led the race heading into the final time trial. However, Hindley has now DNF’d meaning the team are all in on new signing Romain Bardet. That may not be a bad thing, as Romain’s stock is quickly rising. The Frenchman was the next best after Bernal in Cortina d’Ampezzo and although he is still seventh overall, he’s less than 90 seconds away from a podium place at his first Giro d’Italia. He’ll need to make up ground before the final time trial in Milan, but based on current form it’s not out of Bardet’s reach.
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6. Giulio Ciccone +4:31
15. Vincenzo Nibali +21:50
Trek-Segafredo entered with three riders capable of leading the GC on their day, but now are left with just one. Nibali is over 20 minutes down whilst Mollema is aggressively hunting stages from the breakaway at every opportunity, leaving Giulio Ciccone as Trek-Segafredo’s last bet. Ciccone was less than a minute away from Bernal after the first rest day but lost almost two minutes to the dominant Colombian on the strade bianche stage. Despite leaking time to Bernal on the other uphill finishes, Ciccone has been one of the best of the rest. He will lose time in the time trial to Milan, but may have the climbing legs to make up for that. He needs to be offensive in the mountains to come.
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10. João Almeida +10:01
19. Remco Evenepoel +28:07
DNF Fausto Masnada
Deceuninck-Quick-Step entered the Giro d’Italia GC battle with numerous weapons but now are left with none. Although Remco Evenepoel started in supreme form considering his preparation, he dropped away over the second week and is now firmly out of contention. Further, after dropping time in Sestola which has tied him to Evenepoel ever since, João Almeida is too far back to pose a genuine threat to the podium places. The Portuguese rider seems to be improving as the race goes on, however, so a top ten place looks to be the best that Deceuninck can achieve.
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2. Damiano Caruso +2:24
17. Pello Bilbao +27:10
DNF. Mikel Landa
Bahrain-Victorious were dealt a cruel blow when their GC leader Mikel Landa crashed out of the race on the flat stage 5. Landa had looked in supreme form just the day prior in Sestola. However, they have made the absolute best of the situation with Damiano Caruso. The 33-year-old has never finished better than eighth at a Grand Tour before and has been used as a super-domestique more often than not. Caruso has only won two races in his career and none at WorldTour level, yet looks to be riding to a Grand Tour podium finish. He’s shown no signs of cracking yet and with a plethora of Grand Tour experience, he may well last the course.
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4. Alexandr Vlasov +4:18
One of the men in form in 2021, Alexandr Vlasov was second at Paris-Nice and then finished on the podium at the Tour of the Alps. The Russian looked to be carrying that form into the Giro d’Italia when he started well in the Turin time trial, gaining a minor early advantage. That trend continued throughout, until we reached the Monte Zoncolan. Astana pushed on in the descent of the Forcella Monte Rest — one of the team’s major strengths — but it came to nothing and Vlasov lost ground. He is far from out of it, though, he sits fourth at four minutes and 18 seconds. We must remember that 12 months ago Vlasov had never raced at a Grand Tour. A podium would be a fantastic achievement and that remains well within reach.
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9. Tobias Foss +8:20
14. George Bennett +18:10
George Bennett entered the Giro d’Italia as Jumbo-Visma’s GC leader, a rare opportunity given the presence of Primož Roglič, Steven Kruijswijk and the returning Tom Dumoulin on their roster. However, the Kiwi failed to follow the main contenders and decided to lose time to chase a stage win in the breakaway. A stage win would remain a great outcome for Bennett, who only has one WorldTour win to date in his career. Jumbo-Visma’s GC ambitions now lie solely on the young shoulders of Tobias Foss. The Norwegian still has 30km of time trialling to look forward to where he’ll surely jump up the standings. Can he cling on in the mountains, though? Well, thus far he has shown that he isn’t going to challenge for a podium, but a top ten result looks likely. He struggled on Monte Zoncolan which means he needs to limit his losses.
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5. Simon Yates +4:20
Simon Yates has experienced a mixed second week. The Brit was very quiet for the first half of the race but burst into life on Monte Zoncolan when he attacked in the final few kilometres. Only Egan Bernal could follow and although the Colombian would later pass the Brit, the attack launched Yates up the standings to second. However, he failed to replicate the performance on Passo Giau which means he’s dropped back again. After the stage, Yates admitted, “The victory is a bit far away now, but the podium is still well within reach. We’ll keep the head up and go from there.” With multiple first category climbs to come, Yates is still a key challenger. However, he must avoid losing time and ensure he is consistent across the multiple mountain stages remaining.
EF Education - Nippo
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3.Hugh Carthy +3:40
EF Education - Nippo were on the offensive prior to the second rest day under Hugh Carthy’s instruction and the team were rewarded with Carthy moving onto the provisional podium. Carthy won his first Grand Tour stage at the Vuelta last year on the Angliru, a climb which features percentages touching 20% — he'll look forward to Sega di Ala on stage 17. A strong performance there and he’ll be primed to claim his second Grand Tour podium in two years.
Cover image: RCS