It feels like only months ago that Tao Geoghegan Hart was being crowned as the 2020 Giro d’Italia champion, but with the Giro back in its usual May spot, his reign is now over and we have a new champion in his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Egan Bernal. After 3,410.9 km of hard riding, the Classifications finished as such:


General Classification:

  1. Egan Bernal (Colombia) – Ineos Grenadiers – 86h 17′ 28″
  2. Damiano Caruso (Italy) – Team Bahrain Victorious   + 01′ 29″
  3. Simon Yates (Great Britain) – Team BikeExchange   + 04′ 15″

Points Classification:

  1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia) – Bora–Hansgrohe – 184 points
  2. Davide Cimolai (Italy) – Israel Start-Up Nation – 118 points
  3. Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) – UAE Team Emirates – 116 points

Mountains Classification:

  1. Geoffrey Bouchard (France) – AG2R Citroën Team – 184 points
  2. Egan Bernal (Colombia) – Ineos Grenadiers – 140 points
  3. Damiano Caruso (Italy) – Team Bahrain Victorious – 99 points

Young Rider Classification:

  1. Egan Bernal (Colombia) – Ineos Grenadiers – 86h 17′ 28″
  2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Russia) – Astana–Premier Tech  + 06′ 40″
  3. Daniel Martínez (Colombia) – Ineos Grenadiers + 7′ 24″

Teams Classification:

  1. Ineos Grenadiers – 259h 30′ 31″
  2. Team Jumbo–Visma + 26′ 52″
  3. Team DSM  + 29′ 09″

Fairytale stories

While there was no real surprise at Egan Bernal standing atop the podium at the end of the 3 weeks, the 2021 edition will likely be remembered as the race of fairytales.

Of course, it wasn’t the case for everyone, with Mikel Landa leaving the race in the first week following an horrific crash, but Team Bahrain Victorious recovered in spectacular fashion with Gino Mäder—who had agonisingly lost a stage at Paris–Nice to one of Primož Roglič’s superhuman efforts in the final 50 metres—earning his first Grand Tour stage victory the very next day. Meanwhile, Damiano Caruso, an ever-reliable domestique, found himself holding a top 3 GC spot in the second week and held on to finish 2ⁿᵈ to Bernal, winning Stage 20 along the way.

Caruso wasn’t the only Italian to have a fairytale race, with Giacomo Nizzolo finally getting a Giro d’Italia stage victory on Stage 13, after 11 2ⁿᵈ place victories. Meanwhile Eolo–Kometa’s Lorenzo Fortunato won his first Grand Tour stage in style by being the first up the famous Monte Zoncolan, while his teammate Vincenzo Albanese held the King of the Mountains’ blue jersey for 2 stages to mark a fantastic first Grand Tour for the Italian outfit.

Not enough fairytales for you? Well how about Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux rider Taco van der Hoorn holding off the peloton to win Stage 3 in his first Grand Tour, or Mauro Schmid of Team Qhubeka Assos winning on the gravels of Stage 11, after the team was saved from folding.

When you look back at the Grand Tours, it’s not all about big names and the General Classification. While that is the overarching story, there are dozens of wonderful smaller stories to enjoy each and every day.

Same old brand new you

It may have been different men, but it was the same old Ineos Grenadiers racing at the Giro. For so long, you could rely on Chris Froome pushing for the stage victories on time trials, but now they have Italian Filippo Ganna to boss these stages, while he is also doing a great job of taking on Luke Rowe’s old role of bossing things on the flat and minor climbs, with him devastating the pack on a number of occasions with his high tempo, while Dani Martínez—who won the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné for EF Education First–Drapac—was dominant on the hard climbs, pacing Bernal back to nullify attacks on a number of stages and being so powerful that he actually had to slow down for his team leader on some occasions and spur him on—it’s easy enough to imagine that had he been leading the team (either given the lead outright or had it swapped to him had Bernal’s back issues hampered him), he could have come away with the maglia rosa himself!

While Chris Frome may be gone and they may face more challenges from other teams like Team Jumbo–Visma these days, Ineos Grenadiers are far from a spent force, and with 4 Grand Tour champions and other top young riders on their roster, they may actually be stronger than ever!

Deceuninck–Miss-Step?

For so long, they have been the ones to watch out for on sprint stages, but Deceuninck–Quick-Step made the decision to move their focus away from the sprints and onto the GC for this race, going with 2 potential leaders in João Almeida and Remco Evenepoel. Unfortunately, the way they handled this race showed a distinct lack of experience.

With Almeida losing time early in the race, the leadership was quickly focused onto Evenepoel. Now the Belgian looks to be an incredible talent, but at just 21 years old, this was his first 3-week race and he was coming off a serious injury that had left him out of competition for the best part of a year, so there was no evidence to suggest that he was in a legitimate position to challenge for the General Classification. This soon proved the case, as he lost significant time on the Stage 11’s gravel sections, with Almeida being pulled back (eventually) in an unsuccessful attempt to pace him back to the leaders.

As the second week went on, it became clear that Evenepoel could not hold with the leaders, and Almeida was allowed to ride as the leader again, but his efforts in service of Evenepoel had cost him time and he eventually finished 6ᵗʰ on GC, just over 3 minute off the podium.

Of course, the team will get better at managing the leadership as they gain experience, but it may take them a while to replicate their success in the Points Classification on the General Classification.

 

What did you think about this year’s Giro? Was there anything that stood out to you?

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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