Giro d’Italia: From stage wins to cruel close-calls and pink jersey highs, how the North Americans fared

Sepp Kuss helps Primož Roglič win again, Brandon McNulty hits highest highs, and Derek Gee is everyone's new working-class hero.

Photo: Gruber Gallery/VeloNews

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One stage win, a string of podiums and gut-wrenching close-calls, and hard work on the front lines, the North American contingent lit up the 2023 Giro d’Italia.

Six U.S. riders and one Canadian left an indelible mark on the season’s first grand tour.

Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) was the breakout sensation of the race, finishing second in four stages, and hitting the top-5 twice more. He went from an unknown to everyone’s working-class hero in the course of three weeks.

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) became the 12th U.S. rider in race history to win a Giro stage, and helped pace João Almeida to become Portugal’s first grand tour podium finisher since the 1970s.

Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) proved a GC ace card yet again, and played a key role in helping Primož Roglič climb into the pink jersey in the Giro’s dramatic closing weekend.

The North American presence in the Giro might have been subdued compared to the top European nations in numbers, but collectively the group punched above its weight across three weeks of intense racing.

Here’s how the North American contingent fared:

Will Barta (Movistar) — ever steady

>> 2x top-15, 52nd overall

Will Barta fought to the end. (Photo: Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

The 27-year-old completed his fourth grand tour and his second Giro with a string of strong time trial performances. He hit the top-15 in the first two tests against the clock, and rode into Rome in 52nd overall.

Barta helped teammate Eiber Rubio win a stage and paced him into 11th overall on GC. Barta also helped control the sprint stages for Fernando Gaviria.

Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan) — honoring the race

>> 58th overall

Dombrowski was hit by illness during the Giro, but fought all the way to Rome. (Photo: Chris Auld/VeloNews)

The Virginian rider celebrated his 32nd birthday during the Giro, but illness undercut his ambitions to chase a stage victory. Dombrowski finished his 13th grand tour, and started his eighth Giro, a record for U.S. riders, finishing in all seven of them.

A winner of a stage in 2021, Dombrowski rode to 24th in Saturday’s final time trial to end the Giro on a high note. Astana Qazaqstan came close to a stage win with Mark Cavendish in the sprints, who delivered a fairytale victory in Rome.

Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) — breakout hero

>> 4x 2nd, 2x 4th, 2nd in points and King of Mountains competition, 22nd overall, 1st combativity award

Gee came close to winning stages in six out of seven breakaways he rode in. (Photo: Chris Auld/VeloNews)

The 25-year-old was largely unknown beyond Canadian cycling circles when the race started, but he quickly emerged as one of the breakout riders of the Giro.

Gee attacked and attacked again, and banged on the door of a stage victory across all three weeks. Gee rode into seven breakaways, and contested for the stage win in six of them.

Second in stage 8 was a surprise, but another second two days later confirmed he was on top form. He would hit fourth on two more occasions, and second twice more, including the heartbreak at Tre Cime, when he was caught by Santiago Buitrago in the closing kilometer.

Gee also finished second in both the points race and the King of the Mountains competition. Gee earned a trip to the final podium in Rome after winning the combativity award. What a grand tour debut!

Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) — GC talisman

>> 2x top 10, 14th overall

When Kuss races a grand tour, his GC captains usually win. (Photo: Chris Auld/VeloNews)

The Colorado climber proved yet again he is one of the peloton’s top climbing domestiques in the peloton.

The ever-steady Kuss was tapped to help Primož Roglič in the final week, and he stepped up and delivered yet again.

Kuss played a critical role in Friday’s “queen stage” on the Tre Cime to help tow Roglič across the brutal stage a few days after the Slovenian counted on Kuss to help guide him when he struggled in stage 18.

Kuss also rode into a breakaway halfway through the Giro, and hit fifth and sixth, respectively, in the second half of the Giro.

Though he fell short of becoming just the third U.S. rider to win stages in all three grand tours, he hit fifth in stage 16 and sixth in stage 20.

Kuss celebrated victory Sunday in Roglič with the pink jersey in a wild and dramatic climax to the Giro.

Kuss confirmed his GC winning touch, and he’s been a member of all four of Roglič’s grand tour victories, and is on the long list to return to the Tour de France in July to help Jonas Vingegaard.

First, he’ll take a well-deserved break.

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) — biggest win yet

>> stage victory, 2x top-10, 29th overall

McNulty hit out for his best most important win so far as a pro. (Photo: Sara Cavallini/Getty Images)

The Arizonan came to this Giro with very clear goals, and he delivered on all of them.

First was to help Joao Almeida in the GC, and the Portuguese captain hit third for his first grand tour podium in what’s Portugal’s first top-3 in a grand tour since the 1970s.

Second, he wanted to win a stage, and played it perfectly in a breakaway victory to Bergamo in week 2.

McNulty became the 12th U.S. rider to win a Giro stage, and the victory is his most important since hitting Europe full-time with UAE in 2020.

The 25-year-old also hit two top-10s in time trials, and will take a break before a possible return to the Tour de France in July.

Matthew Riccitello (Israel-Premier Tech) — climbing star in making

>> 2x top-15, 57th overall

A new climbing star is born: Riccitello hung tough for three weeks and lit up the final mountain stages. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The 21-year-old WorldTour rookie made the most of his grand tour debut.

The natural-born climber hung tough on a few key stages, and arrived to Rome with three weeks in his legs.

He finished 12th in stage 4, and pulled a big ride Saturday in the climbing time trial with 11th. Those results bode well for the future climbing star.

Larry Warbasse (Ag2r-Citroën) — stage hunt continues

>> 2x breakaways, 44th overall

Warbassse was on the attack on the ‘queen stage’ during this Giro. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The 32-year-old came into the Giro as part of a stage-hunting squad. He hit two breakaways, and rode deep into the “queen stage” at Tre Cime to hang on to finish 22nd.

Ag2r-Citroën also won a stage with Aurélien Paret-Peintre, who led the team to Rome with 15th overall.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.