ROME (VN) — The 2022 Giro d’Italia hit its midway point with the peloton in slumber mode for Monday’s second rest day with everything still in play.
Blockhaus delivered the expected fireworks, with the first significant selection on who might win this year’s pink jersey.
The GC is still tightly knotted up, with a dozen riders still within 90 seconds of each other. Sunday saw more names eliminated, and Monday’s rest day comes as a respite ahead of the Giro’s second week filled largely with transition stages.
“The Giro is still long and we’re only at the first rest day tomorrow, and I will be looking forward to that,” said Joe Dombrowski (Astana-Qazaqstan).
Juanpe López (Trek-Segafredo) surprisingly defended his leader’s jersey by a fistful of seconds, and now looks poised to carry it for several more days.
“For sure I didn’t believe I would be here, at the top of Blockhaus, before the rest day, with the maglia rosa,” López said. “Finally we have a rest day. With the week ahead, I might be keeping the jersey a few more days, so I need the moment to reflect on what I’ve done.”
López could ride pink the entire week, and carry it into the Alps going into next weekend.
The Giro’s second week is a bridge about getting the peloton from the first week to the last. There are no major summit finishes that will upend the GC, but it will offer up a backdrop for breakaways and sprints.
Sometimes it’s not the profile that dictates the pace of a race, but rather how the peloton decides to race it.
There could be a few traps along the way, especially in stage 14 to Torino.
The Giro’s second week is confirmation that there are often two races within a race. There’s the fight for pink, but behind that, riders and teams will be fighting and scratching to take something out of the Giro this week.
With the third week stacked up with mountain giants, it’s the last chance for sprinters.
The key for the GC riders will be to defend their positions coming out of Blockhaus, and staying health going into the decisive final week.
Like in any Giro, all the good stuff is always stacked into the closing key stages in the north of Italy.
Week Two: Defending GC gains, sprinters’ last chance
The second week of the Giro is back-loaded with some sparks, but this year’s second full week of racing will be more about keeping the powder dry and keeping the rubber side down.
“There isn’t much in the second week, so everyone was looking at Blockhaus,” said stage-winner Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe). “Everything is really stacked up in the last week. Like any grand tour, you have to get rough each stage healthy and without losing time.”
There’s only one serious climbing stage, and that comes Sunday on the edge of the Italian Alps.
After Monday’s rest day, the peloton will push north and west, tacking along the Adriatico and crossing the northern edge of Apennine before dipping a toe into the Mediterranean. The route then steers north along the edge of the Alps before diving deep into the Italian Alps next Sunday for a summit finish to bookend the second week.
The sprinters will be under pressure to bag a victory this week. With the final week stacked with climbs and time trials, the fast finishers could see three chances this week. After that, most of them will start to pack in it.
Stages 11 and 13 look to be assured chances for sprinters. The pancake flat, 200km route in the Po Valley in stage 11 will likely draw the ire of many for perhaps being too long and too boring, but the sprinters will want that one. Stage 13 features an early climb, but the sprinters will bring that one home, too.
The breakaway artists will see a few chances as well. Stage 10 features some lumpy terrain in the second half of the stage, and could trigger some late attacks if an early break is reeled in too soon. Sprinters might want this one as well, so it could go either way.
Stages 12 and 14 will be fertile ground for breakaways. Stage 12 climbs over the Apennine and drops down to the Mediterranean coast into Genoa, with tricky roads to help a break stay clear.
The weekend’s fare should spice up what otherwise could be a fairly routine week. Stage 14 is contested over a climb-riddled course that could see some movement from the GC group, but it’s likely the race will be fought out among stage-hunters. Poor weather could make a challenging stage even more demanding.
Week 2 ends with an exclamation point with the Giro tiptoeing into the Alps.
The stage features two first-category climbs midway through the route that will open a squeamish for the breakaway. The stage ends atop the Cat. 2 summit to Cogne, The climb isn’t necessarily challenging, but could cause some damage if some of the GC captains open up on what would be a pure power charge to the line.
Like any traditional Giro, the final week is when dreams come true and spirits are left shattered. Week Two is about surviving and managing efforts for the GC contenders.