Giro d’Italia scrapbook, week 1: Kuss’ mechanical creds, return of the breakaway, meats sticks, boiled eggs, and more
Here's your ultimate collection of stats, stories, and scraps from the first full week of this year's Giro d'Italia.
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Remco Evenepoel is out.
The GC is wide open.
Tao Geoghegan Hart is on the form of his life.
And the weather is filthy.
They’re the headlines from the first phase of this year’s Giro d’Italia. But what else happened last week that might have passed you by?
Also read: Scrapbook: Giro d’Italia opening weekend
Here are just some of the stats, out-takes, and oddities you might have missed from stages 3 through 9 of the corsa rosa:
First, here’s the week one stat-attack:
- Remco Evenepoel beat Geraint Thomas by 0.09 seconds in the stage 9 time trial.
- Ben Healy’s winning margin of 1:49 was the biggest at the Giro since Chris Froome’s infamous raid in 2018.
- Remco Evenepoel rode his winning TT at 50.724kph, all while suffering with COVID.
- Ben Healy hit 646W (10W/kg) for one minute in his winning attack on stage 8.
- Kaden Groves won stage 5 with a 30-second, 887W sprint that peaked out just shy of 1,400W. But he’s got more in his legs than that – the Aussie peaked out at 1,527W when he finished third in stage 2.
- As of Monday, six riders have left the race with coronavirus.
- 11 riders have now exited the race due to COVID, sickness, or injury.
- Lastly, it’s not a stat but worth a mention if you’ve not noticed before, Geraint Thomas’ lighthearted nickname for Remco Evenepoel is “Little Bastard.”
Viva la fuga!
Breakaways are back, baby!
There hadn’t been a single breakaway victory this WorldTour season until Tuesday when Aurelién Paret-Peintre won stage 4. And now just six days later, Ben Healy and Davide Bais won from the escape group, too.
Why was this, and what changed?
The rise of the so-called “super six” of Remco Evenepoel, Tadej Pogačar, Mathieu van der Poel, Primož Roglič, and Jonas Vingegaard could have a part to play. None of the stellar sextet would ever be allowed to go away early but still had the strength to dominate the classics and early stage races with victories from the group of favorites.
And with Evenpoel, Pogačar and Co. making opportunities so hard to come by, sprinter teams are more committed than ever to convert any flat finish into a bunch kick. Just look at Trek-Segafredo and Mads Pedersen’s win Thursday.
It was inevitable that script would shift at this Giro.
The brutal third week of the corsa rosa and Sunday’s all-important Cesena time trial meant GC riders were happy to let the break stick and save their matches for the mayhem to come.
Just look to the snoozer stage up to Gran Sasso as evidence.
Riders in the Giro peloton had some different foods in their jersey pockets the morning of stage 3.
A boiled egg was nestled among the gels, energy bars, and rice cakes that packed riders’ pockets Monday, and it was getting passed around.
Television cameras captured Simone Velasco popping a whole egg into Remco Evenepoel’s jersey as the race rolled out of Vasto in what was the Giro peloton’s take on “pass the parcel.”
What’s going on here?
Cosa sta succedendo? #Giro #GirodItalia pic.twitter.com/Iq0Wjw8wzu
— Giro d’Italia (@giroditalia) May 8, 2023
“Before the start, Lorenzo Fortunato put the egg in my jersey and said ‘this is for the final,'” Velasco later explained.
“I said ‘wait.’ I got close to Remco and put it in his jersey. He was super surprised, Italians are super crazy. Remco told me that he hoped it was hard-boiled and well-cooked.”
Evenepoel finished safe in the bunch behind stage winner Michael Matthews later that day.
Did the egg remain in Evenepoel’s pocket the whole five hours? Who knows, but if it was, it would most likely have been very well-cooked by that point.
Roglič rumor-mongor and COVID consternation
COVID-19 shaped the key storylines ahead of this year’s Giro d’Italia in what felt a grim throwback to the lockdown era.
The virus rattled the peloton when it swept through Jumbo-Visma’s starting selection and put Trek Segafredo’s Italia hope Giulio Ciccone on the sidelines.
Riders started dropping out with the infection early in the race and rumors spread like … well, like a virus, about who was next.
Tongues wagged that maybe Damiano Caruso had it, or that it was still lurking in the Jumbo-Visma team bus.
Primož Roglič was one who was chattering about coronavirus, and, in an example of his at-times off-key humor, even pointed at himself as a victim.
Geraint Thomas spoke of Roglič’s rumor-spreading after he chased down the Slovenian’s GC-shifting attack Friday.
“Not bad for a guy with COVID,” Thomas told reporters. “He [Roglič] told me that yesterday, that he had COVID. So I said, ‘Stay away from me, then.’”
COVID so far claimed six riders since the race rolled out of Abruzzo, with Remco Evenepoel, Filippo Ganna, and Rigoberto Urán the most high-profile victims.
The peloton will no doubt conduct a round of health tests on the rest day Monday. Let’s hope not too many more join the Giro’s sickly six.
Kuss’ mechanical creds
Even pro racers and mechanics sometimes forget to charge the batteries for their electronic gear shifters.
But even a dead derailleur wasn’t going to derail Sepp Kuss when he sped toward the final of stage 3 last week.
Kuss was seen pulling some stunts certainly not to be tried at home last Monday.
The U.S. racer was seen spinning far out of his gear after his rear mech had died and left him stuck in the wrong sprocket ahead of the high-speed final into Melfi.
Sepp Kuss risking life and limb (or at least a couple of fingers) @JumboVismaRoad | #giroditalia pic.twitter.com/eyfSma8TeS
— Eurosport (@eurosport) May 8, 2023
But Kuss wasn’t going to sit up and wait for a spare bike or pull to the side of the road to find a fix.
Footage captures the Coloradan popping the battery out of his SRAM rear mech, accidentally dropping it, and then leaning down to pull the interchangeable battery out of his front shifter.
Front shifter safely in-hand, Kuss again precariously leaned way back on the bike to pop the battery into his rear derailleur.
And that was all while speeding down a fast, flowing descent that probably had him hit more than 70kph. Simple, huh?
Who is Andreas Leknessund?
Andreas Leknessund’s time in the maglia rosa looks over for the year, but the Norwegian sure made an impression with his against-the-odds five days at the lead of the Italian tour.
So who is Team DSM’s new Scandi star?
Hailing from Tromso in the deepest, darkest north of the country, Leknessund is as Norwegian as you can get, and claims to be the active pro born closest to the North Pole.
Like so many from Scandinavia, the 23-year-old honed his endurance engine by cross-country skiing before he seriously took to the saddle in his late teens.
Leknessund joined DSM last year after three years with the Uno-X talent factory, and he neatly won his home race, the Arctic Race of Norway.
The strapping all-rounder nearly didn’t even start the Giro after the recent loss of a family member and broke down in tears when he first moved into pink last week.
Leknessund is still fifth overall Monday – don’t be surprised to see him deliver more drama in the next two weeks.
Ever get a hankering for something savory to break up the sickly-sweet energy gels when out on a long bike ride?
Samuele Battistella saw any cravings he had for something salty satiated on Friday’s stage up to the Gran Sasso d’Italia.
The Astana-Qazaqstan racer was spotted clutching a fistful of arrosticini after he was passed the local Italian delicacies by roadside supporters.
— Cycling out of context (@OutOfCycling) May 12, 2023
Battistella, who hails from the north of Italy, evidently didn’t want to indulge too heavily in the lamb kebabs typical of the Abruzzi, and generously passed a handful away to the nearby moto driver.
Who said there are “no gifts” in the modern peloton?