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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia roundtable: How does the race for pink play out after Evenepoel abandon?

The Giro GC is upside down, scrambled, and turned on its head, so what happens now? Our editors read the pink jersey tea leaves.

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The Giro d’Italia is renowned for its surprise endings.

Yet no one saw this one coming. When everyone thought COVID was back in the bottle, it rears its ugly head again, and just like, pfffft, Remco Evenepoel is out of the race.

Yet the Giro pedals on. Tuesday sees a resumption of action, and suddenly the pre-race favorite is out of the race. That means that the script needs to be torn up and rewritten.

Also read:

Who is poised to take advantage of the Remco vacancy? Geraint Thomas inherits the pink jersey, but three riders are now knotted up within five seconds of each other at the top.

And riders who thought their pink jersey dreams were dashed are just as quickly back in the frame.

A lot more will happen in the next two weeks, but who will ride pink into Rome? Our editorial team dives in:

Jim Cotton — Ine-most carries the day

Geraint Thomas is first in line to take over pink. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

The post-Remco results sheet says it all.

Ineos Grenadiers converted having the strongest team on paper before the Abruzzo start to having all the aces in its hand for the final weeks of the race.

Geraint Thomas leads the classification over Primož Roglič by the narrowest of margins, but has teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart just a whisker behind. And further down the ranking, the British-based team has three more riders in the top-20 in what is an embarrassment of climbing riches.

Even after the loss of Filippo Ganna, Ineos Grenadiers is in the position to bend the race to its will.

Ineos Grenadiers already showed hints at this race that it was ready to go back to the future with an old-school Team Sky mountain train style and “road decides” approach to leadership, and any team in its position would play a similar strategy in a grand tour as was wild and attritional as the corsa rosa.

Roglič looks like the single best rider in the peloton right now, but Geoghegan Hart is close on his fast-sprinting, hard-climbing heels. And with Jumbo-Visma pedaling a threadbare team through Italy after its own COVID woes, the Ineos grand tour powerhouse seems perfectly poised to win its Giro d’Italia in six years.

How will it happen?

Thomas, Geoghegan Hart, and Roglič move clear of the chasing GC pack in the opening onslaught of the brutal final week before the Slovenian succumbs to an Ineos swarm in the monster Dolomite tappone on stage 19.

But one twist in the tale?

It’s Thomas that wears the magia rosa into Roma in a result that will see him call time on his career later this winter.

Fred Dreier — The Tao of Tao

Taking no risks. Geoghegan Hart’s already won one COVID Giro. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Alas, I don’t think the Giro peloton is done with COVID, and my guess is we will see a handful of high-profile abandons before the end. I can absolutely predict that these abandonments will continue to shake up the GC.

But this uncertain future places us armchair immunologists/cycling fans in a tricky position, since it’s impossible for us to use logic and/or scientific reason to guess who will get sick and drop out. Thus, we must abandon science and instead rely on more ethereal methods to foresee the future: witchcraft, gut feeling, a Magic 8 Ball, or, like, luck/Karma.

On paper, the GC looks like it will be a war between Primoz Roglič and the Ineos Grenadiers duo of Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas, with João Almedia waiting in the wings, and Andreas Leknessund the untested wildcard. That we know.

My gut feeling tells me that Almedia won’t have the engine for week three, but I’m going to pencil him in for third.

Now, I’ll turn to luck/witchcraft/my Magic 8 Ball to handle the spooky stuff. I feel like Roglič and Thomas must have angered the spirits that oversee the Giro, as both men have suffered bum luck at this race over the years.

Thus, I just don’t see either guy having the secret sauce to avoid calamity, crashes, and covid to win. I realize how dumb this sounds, but sometimes you need to factor in a rider’s successes and failures with the rabbit’s foot. Roglic doesn’t reach Milan, and Thomas drops back, possibly out of the top-10.

Leknessund, meanwhile, has zero expectations, and seemingly good legs. I see this as his breakout grand tour ride, and he will snag second by weathering the storm and riding his wave of enthusiasm.

So, who has the legs, lungs, and luck to win? You guessed it: Geoghegan Hart, the guy who weathered the COVID storm three years ago.

Some pundits said his 2020 Giro win was a fluke. I disagree. He had the skills and good fortune to be in a position to win—and then he blew the doors off that final TT to do it. But I do think he has a purple patch at the Giro. Chalk it up to karma or witchcraft. Tao’s my pick for pink.

Andrew Hood — All systems Rogo

Did you hear the one about? … Roglič not looking worried. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

This one’s for Primož Roglič. It probably already was even before Remco Evenepoel’s COVID flameout.

Roglič had Evenepoel’s number in March at the Volta a Catalunya, and the way he rode him off his wheel Saturday was the writing on the Giro wall. Evenepoel might have already been sick, but that’s all moot at this point.

The GC is scrambled and reset at KM Zero, and Roglič now sees everything stacking up in his favor going forward.

Roglič looks to have more jet fuel in his climbing legs than either Geraint Thomas or Tao Geoghegan Hart, and that will play out over this coming weekend and next week.

And with the top three now divided by five seconds, time bonuses will become a decisive factor. And no one’s more attuned at the time bonus game than Roglič.

His finish-line kick should see him taking over pink by this weekend, and he will carry it to Rome.

Done and dusted? Far from it.

Things never go easy for Roglič, and there could be an implosion at any point. Ineos Grenadiers has a much deeper squad than the depleted Jumbo-Visma, and Roglič will have to race with a mix of zen-like calm, ruthless opportunity, and street smarts when Ineos starts playing its multiple cards.

If he stays upright and doesn’t get zapped by COVID, Roglič will have his pink jersey in Rome, just as he said he would at the start of the race.

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.