Giro d’Italia: Five Key Takeaways From the Third Week

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Few could possibly have predicted the outcome of the 103rd Giro before the third week; let’s examine the events that led to the Ineos Grenadiers winning their 11th Grand Tour since their inception as Team Sky in 2010.

Tao Geoghegen Hart Wins First Grand Tour

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When Geraint Thomas abandoned the Giro after only stage three, it looked like the Ineos Grenadiers were in for a torrid Giro. Little did they know that Geoghegen Hart would be on the top step of the podium in Milan.

For the first time in Grand Tour history, the top two riders on the General Classification were tied on time going into the final stage, with Australian Jai Hindley (Sunweb) just ahead by a mere few hundredths of a second.

Geoghegan Hart was able to capitalise on his superior time trialling ability on the flat 15.7km course, topping Hindley by 39 seconds.

Geoghegan Hart set the foundations for victory on stage 15 to Piancavallo, taking the victory and catapulting him from 11th to fourth overall. He followed this through on the Passo di Stelvio on stage 18, where only Hindley and teammate Rohan Dennis could match his strength.

His second stage win to Sestriere on Saturday was enough to put him level on time with Hindley, the Australian failing to drop him after several successive attacks.

Geoghegan Hart becomes the fifth Briton to win a Grand Tour, after Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Simon Yates.

Ineos Grenadiers’ Best-Ever Grand Tour

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With seven stage wins, the overall victory, the Best Young Rider victory, and taking the Team Classification, this is the most successful Grand Tour for the British outfit since their inception in 2010.

Filippo Ganna dominated all three time trials, as well as taking a medium-mountain stage win, in what has been a breakthrough year on the road for the Italian.

Geoghegan Hart himself took two stage wins to only further legitimise his overall victory and cement his status as the strongest rider in the race.

Jhonatan Narvaez took a breakaway victory on stage 12, highlighting the Ineos Grenadiers’ ability to animate the race at every juncture.

Rohan Dennis single-handedly changed the nature of the race in the final week, spending a ludicrous amount of time pacing Geoghegan Hart up the Stelvio and Sestriere, taking the Cima Coppi prize in the process.

Jonathan Castroviejo and Salvatore Puccio took a second place each, whilst Ben Swift managed to achieve 18th on GC, displaying some of the strongest climbing of his career.

We’re used to seeing Ineos ride as a train on the front all day, so the fact they took so many stage wins and the overall whilst riding in a far more animated style, displays their versatility and strength in depth.

So Close for Sunweb

Coming into the third week, Sunweb seemed poised to take their first Grand Tour victory since the 2017 Giro, courtesy of Wilco Kelderman.

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With a buffer of nearly three minutes over teammate Hindley and Geoghegan Hart, Kelderman was expected to stay in touch in the mountains and then use his time trialling prowess to seal victory.

This changed on stage 18 however, as Kelderman was unable to match the pace of Dennis, Geoghegan Hart and Hindley on the Stelvio.

An inability to don a jacket on the freezing descent only slowed Kelderman down further, and despite managing to limit his losses, he finished over two minutes behind Hindley, who took the stage.

Carrying a slender 12 second lead into stage 20, Kelderman ultimately lost pink after being dropped on the second of three ascents of the Sestriere.

This left Hindley in pink, however he was never going to have a chance of defending it in a time trial against Geoghegan Hart.

Nonetheless, two podium positions and a career-best third place for Kelderman still makes this a successful Giro for Sunweb.

It has been a breakthrough performance from Hindley, who looks set to become Australia’s next Grand Tour contender.

Stage 18 Finally Animates the GC Battle

If you missed the entire first two weeks of the Giro, there’s not a lot you would have missed in terms of GC excitement, with most of the top-ten still fairly close on time.

It was a huge relief that stage 18 went ahead as planned, after fears of snow in the preceding weeks cast doubt over the inclusion of the Stelvio, the highest ascent and most difficult climb in the race.

It did not disappoint, and it indeed proved to be the definitive climb in the GC battle, ending several riders’ bids for victory.

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The rider of the day was Rohan Dennis, who set a ferocious pace to distance Geoghegan Hart’s rivals and cement their defeat. He continued on the descent to set up a two-way battle between Hindley and Geoghegan Hart on the final climb of Torri di Fraele.

Vinceno Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Joao Almeida (Deceuninck Quick Step) were the biggest losers on the day, with the latter finally relinquishing his lead that he had held since stage three.

Domeninco Pozzovivo (NTT) lost eight minutes, cementing a miserable Giro for the Italians in which they failed to finish in the top-five overall for the first time in Giro history.

Better performers were Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). Bilbao finished third and helped achieve a career-best fifth-place overall. Fuglsang finished fourth on the stage, sending him from 12th to sixth overall, although nearly four minutes down on Bilbao.

Démare and Guerreiro take Points and Mountains Classifications

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) wrapped up the other two major classifications in the Giro, with the former taking the Points Classification and the latter the Mountains.

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Démare was in a class of his own in the sprints, comfortably taking the four stages that ended in bunch finishes to win the purple jersey by 49 points from Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe).

Stage 19 was expected to finish in another sprint, however a rider protest saw the stage shortened to ‘just’ 124km. An unmotivated peloton let the breakaway go and thus Démare effectively sealed victory in the Points Classification.

No one came close to Guerreiro in challenging for the blue KOM jersey, which he took by 77 points over second-placed Geoghegan Hart. He was able to enter various breakaways to take KOM points, and was also aided by his victory on stage nine’s summit finish to Roccarosso.

As mentioned, the Ineos Grenadiers rightfully won the Teams Classification by 20 minutes over Deceuninck Quick Step.

As for the minor classifications, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec took their only prizes of the Giro home courtesy of Simon Pellaud in the Intermediate Sprint Classification, and Mattia Bais with the Fuga prize (most kilometres spent in a breakaway).

Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) unsurprisingly took the Combativity Award, and Groupama-FDJ won the Fair Play Award, having not accrued a single point for ‘bad behaviour’ (such as fines or a positive doping test).

Giro d’Italia: Five Key Takeaways From the Second Week

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The second week of the 103rd Giro d’Italia proved to be somewhat of a slow-burner, however the third weekend of the race failed to disappointment. What are the main stories heading into a difficult final week?

Time Trial Sees First Sifting of the Main Contenders

The first half of the Giro has not been a particularly exciting one in terms of the GC battle. The time gaps were small and current leader Joao Almeida (Deceuninck QuickStep) was rarely threatened. Tough stages on paper, notably stage 12, did not result in any major moves from the GC favourites.

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Stage 14’s 34km time trial saw several riders lose substantial amounts of time. Time trial World Champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) once again demolished the opposition, finishing 26 seconds ahead of teammate Rohan Dennis, and 1:06 ahead of third-placed Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates).

Almeida extended his lead in the GC to 56 seconds. Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) was the best of the rest, remaining in 2nd place.

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) also held third overall, although that became a deficit of 2:11 as opposed to just 49 seconds previously.

After poor time trials from Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT), the Italian pairing would have been hoping to take time back on their rivals on stage 15’s summit finish to Piancavallo…

Stage 15 Ignites GC Fight in the Mountains

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After stage three’s and nine’s summit finishes failed to create any meaningful time gaps, stage 15 finally provided a long-awaited mountain showdown.

Nibali and Pozzovivo failed to overturn their fortunes from stage 14; both lost nearly two minutes to stage winner Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), Kelderman, and his teammate Jai Hindly, who put in one of the rides of his career to take third on the stage and on GC.

Almeida now has a very slim 15 second lead over Kelderman; despite limiting his losses well, his days in pink are numbered.

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the best of the rest, lying sixth overall, just behind Bilbao who will hope to better his sixth place overall in 2018.

The biggest loser this weekend was Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). After finishing three minutes down on stage 14, and then 1:36 down on stage 15, he is now over five minutes behind Almeida.

There were mixed fortunes for McNulty. Despite one of the rides of his career on stage 14, ending up in fourth place overall, he then plummeted to 11th on stage fifteen after finishing 2:43 behind the stage winner. Still, at 22 years old, could McNulty be a new Grand Tour hopeful for the United States?

A ferociously difficult third week is still to come, and given how the likes of Nibali in 2016 and Chris Froome in 2018 have overturned large time deficits to win the race, nothing can be ruled out.

Covid Testing Claims More Victims

The threat of Coronavirus continued to loom in the second week, after pre-race favourite Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was forced to abandon on stage eight.

Its effects proved far worse this week, with the entire Mitchelton and Jumbo-Visma squads abandoning the race after positive tests were returned.

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Four of Mitchelton’s staff were infected, as was Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk, another favourite to take the pink jersey.

Australian Michael Matthews (Sunweb) was also forced to leave following a positive test, and has since tested negative twice, which will undoubtedly be frustrating if the first was a false positive.

All riders and staff tested were either asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms.

The continuation of the race remains under threat; many will fear more positive tests over the second rest day which could end the Giro prematurely.

Should this occur, it will forever be questioned as to whether the ‘winner’ of a truncated Grand Tour can really be considered a GT winner at all.

Ineos Grenadiers Back at the Top

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Despite not being considered as a pre-race favourite, Tao Geoghegan Hart proved to be by far the strongest climber on stage 15.

He took his maiden Grand Tour stage win, and his first win since April 2019 at the Tour of the Alps. This was enough to catapult him from 11th to fourth place, behind leader Almeida, Kelderman, and Jai Hindley (Sunweb).

It proved to be a miraculous turn of fortune for Ineos; despite Geraint Thomas abandoning after stage three they have claimed five stage wins, courtesy of Filippo Ganna, Jhonatan Narvaez, and Geoghegan-Hart.

Ganna took stage 14’s time trial, in yet another display of dominance where no other rider came remotely close to challenging him.

Ecuadorian Narvaez took stage 12 with a solo victory, having dropped breakaway companion Mark Padun (Bahrain-McLaren) after an unfortunate mechanical problem. It will be a bittersweet Giro for Narvaez; he was forced to abandon after a crash on stage 15.

Their impressive tally of stage wins highlights the strength in depth of the team; they are more than capable of animating races, despite their controlled, regulated approaches to the General Classification (GC) in the past.

Démare Unstoppable

Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) took his fourth stage win of this year’s Giro, on the 11th stage to Rimini.

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Once again, he won in dominant fashion, and none of his rivals could come close to him. The likes of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis) have had torrid seasons that have continued into the Giro, and will be becoming evermore desperate for an elusive stage victory.

Stage 19 is the only sprint stage remaining, and the result will surely depend on how the sprinters have recovered after the tough mountain stages preceding it.

Démare continues to lead the Points Classification with 221 points over Peter Sagan’s 184.

Sagan himself finally took his first Giro stage win, and first win of any kind since the 2019 Tour de France. He now holds the prestigious title of having won a stage of each Grand Tour.

In a rare solo victory from the Slovakian, Sagan managed to drop his final breakaway companion Ben Swift (Ineos-Grenadiers), on the final climb into Tortoreto, winning by 19 seconds from second-placed Brandon McNulty.

Giro d’Italia: Five Key Takeaways From the First Week

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In an eventful first week laden with crashes, Covid and bad weather, let’s examine the main events that defined the start of the 103rd Giro d’Italia.

A Wide-Open General Classification Battle

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With the two pre-race favourites out in Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton Scott), this Giro is playing out to be one of the most unpredictable Grand Tours in recent memory.

None of the remaining contenders have yet struck any decisive blows in the mountains, with the top-15 separated by only 2:33.

The best-placed rider is still Joao Alemeida (Deceuninck QuickStep), who carries a 30 second lead over Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb).

Almeida is young and lacking in Grand Tour experience, and is thus not expected to win the race. Kelderman is looking particularly strong; his time trial on stage one and climbing ability put him in great position heading into the tougher mountain stages. He can count on a strong Sunweb team (who did much of the work on stage nine’s final climb) for support.

Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT) and Vicenzo Nibali (Trek) are Italy’s best-placed riders, at fourth and fifth respectively.

Jakob Fuglsang is sixth, and would be more confident of improving his position were it not for the abandonment of two key mountain domestiques in Miguel Angel Lopez and Alexsandr Vlasov, on stages one and two respectively.

With two time trials still to come and the time gaps still small, the likes of Pozzovivo and Nibali will need to gain time in the mountains if they are to overcome Kelderman and 11th-place Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma).

Geraint Thomas Abandons After Freak Accident

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Geraint Thomas earned the title of pre-race favourite thanks to his second place at Tirreno-Adriatico and his time-trialling ability.

He cemented this status on stage one, taking fourth place just 23 seconds behind teammate and stage-winner Filippo Ganna.

On just stage three however, his race ended prematurely, as viewers witnessed the Briton off the back of the peloton well before the final climb to Etna began.

It later emerged that Thomas had fallen in the neutralized zone before the start proper, the culprit being a stray bidon ejected from another rider’s cage on a bumpy section of road.

A broken pelvis forced Thomas out of the race before the start of stage four, in another incident that brought rider safety into question, following high profile incidents with Fabio Jakobsen at the Tour of Poland and Remco Evenepoel at Il Lombardia.

The Ineos Grenadiers will now focus on stage wins, and will be happy with the two victories accrued this week courtesy of Ganna on stages one and five.

Threat of Covid Looms

In another big blow for British fans, Simon Yates was forced to abandon the Giro having tested positive for Covid-19 prior to stage eight.

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It proved a harsh reminder of the fragile nature of racing post-lockdown, when much of Europe is facing a significant rise in cases.

Race Director Mauro Vegni remains hopeful, declaring that the race will go ahead unless a government order prevents it from doing so.

Riders will be tested during the rest day, and organisers and riders will be hopeful that no positive tests are returned, just as they weren’t at the Tour de France (barring a small handful of team staff).

As for Yates, he will have to wait another year for a third chance at trying to win the maglia rosa. However, the fact he lost over three minutes to his main GC rivals on stage three raised serious doubts as to his form in the first place.

Démare Dominates the Sprints

The Giro’s sprint field will be wondering how on Earth it can overcome Arnaud Démare after he stormed to three stage victories already.

In what makes Groupama-FDJ’s non-selection of him at the Tour even more puzzling, the French national champion is simply a cut above his rivals this year. Only during a photo-finish on stage four did anyone look capable of challenging him.

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For the likes of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis), both winless in 2020, the first week will have been a frustrating one.

Démare also leads the Points Classification by 57 points from Sagan. He narrowly finished second in the competition last year, so will be pleased with his lead thus far.

Stages 11 and 13 look to be likely sprint stages in the second week.

Young Riders Impress

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Whilst the first week saw impressive stage victories from the likes of veterans Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation), it is the younger riders that have really stepped up.

Joao Almedia, 22, is riding his first Grand Tour and will never have predicted he would be in pink after stage nine, courtesy of an excellent ride on stage one’s time trial.

Having finished third at this year’s Vuelta a Burgos, and seventh at the Tour de l’Ain, Almeida will be one to watch to see if he can uphold his form for three weeks.

24 year-old Filippo Ganna is undoubtedly the time-triallist to beat this year. Having won the World Championships, he crushed the opposition on stage one, beating his closest rival (Almeida) by 22 seconds on a short, 15 kilometre course. He then displayed his all-around ability on the hilly stage five into Camigliatello Silano, outclimbing his breakaway companions to claim a solo victory.

Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal) lies in seventh place, courtesy of finishing third on Mount Etna. The Belgian youngster can count on Brit Matthew Holmes, and Norwegian Carl Frederick Hagen for support, in a team not typically noted for its GC performances.

Giro 103 – Five contenders for pink

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Rescheduled for October after coronavirus disrupted the season, it is quite bizarre to see the Giro d’Italia take place after the Tour de France. It is something we’re getting used to. The Vuelta will clash as will the Spring Classics which for 2020 will be remembered as the Autumn classics instead. The 103rd Giro may not possess the biggest names in cycling compared to the Tour and it may not live up to the dramatic scenes we saw just two weeks ago.

This is a strange year for a whole range of reasons. A Tour de France before the Giro is one thing but the Tour of Italy taking place in October will be one for the ages. Snow capped mountains in May are the normal images we’re accustomed to, Italy in October, that’s something new for cycling fans.

Italy has been through a lot because of the virus, the first European country that made the rest of Europe sit up and take notice that this virus isn’t a joke. The Giro cancelled was the biggest sucker punch but thankfully pride is restored for a race that shows off the best Italian scenery from island to coast, Apennines to Tuscany and Dolomites to cities.

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A quick note on the route before a look at the contenders for the famous maglia rosa. The route was due to start in Hungary until the virus struck meaning this year’s race is now entirely in Italy. Sicily gets the Grande Partenza with an opening time trial into Palermo, a hilly road stage and then a summit finish atop Mount Etna.

The 2020 route should be a vintage Giro d’Italia. The third week of the race is always hard, Dolomites and Alps galore with Stage 20 to Sestiere the ‘Queen’ stage featuring the Colle dell’Agnello and the Col d’Izoard across the border in France. It is the first and second week that could determine how your challenge for pink goes. Decisive stages in the Apennines and the Tuscan hills mean every GC contender has to be alert to anything unexpected. Unlike the Tour you cannot control the race from start to finish, attacks come from all angles.

Just like last year’s edition, 2020 features three time trials with 65 km in total. Pure climbers versus GC men who can time trial, we await to see who will take advantage on their TT bikes alongside their abilities to climb mountains. The winner of the pink jersey come the final time trial in Milan should belong to an all-rounder.

The full route below.

The 2020 Giro d’Italia route map

So, who are the contenders for pink? Defending champion Richard Carapaz doesn’t start but two former Tour de France winners do begin this year’s race. Among the favourites, three names start with points to prove after previous Giro’s ended in disappointment.

Jakob Fuglsang – Astana

Plans were already set in stone for Jakob Fuglsang to skip the Tour and ride the Giro before coronavirus hit the season. Three time trials and climbs that suit his abilities, this must surely be Fuglsang’s last opportunity to win a Grand Tour. The Dane has the leadership to try something at this year’s race but the one thing he will need is luck.

He crashed on Stage 1 of last year’s Tour and in 2017 he abandoned the Tour after Stage 13 due to a fractured arm. If Jakob Fuglsang can get through the flat stages unscathed then he’ll be a threat to his rivals. The only time he has finished inside the top-10 at a Grand Tour came at the 2013 Tour – there’s a chance he can do the same in Italy.

Jakob Fuglsang also has the backing a strong Astana team. Colombian Miguel Ángel López is one of few mountain goats making the quick turnaround from the Tour to ride in Italy, Spaniard Óscar Rodríguez should add extra power on the climbs and young Russian talent Aleksandr Vlasov is making huge impressions on the peloton, someone to look out for.

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Steven Kruijswijk – Jumbo Visma

If it wasn’t for an unfortunate crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné then Steven Kruijswijk would’ve been included in Jumbo-Visma’s Tour de France selection. After Primož Roglič lost the yellow jersey to Tadej Pogačar on the penultimate stage before Paris this might be the perfect opportunity for the Dutch team to make amends. Last year’s Giro saw Roglič start so well before folding in the final week – more motivation for Jumbo-Visma?

Back from the shoulder injury he suffered from in France, Steven Kruijswijk is perfectly capable of winning the maglia rosa, a steady rider who can climb, time trial and keep his cool on the flat. Since 2016 he has finished inside the top-10 at every Grand Tour he’s ridden since, third at last year’s Tour de France is the evidence you need that Kruijswijk can get close.

But how close will he get this year? Could the shoulder injury hamper his chances? Stage 3 atop Mount Etna will be the first chance to test his legs plus Jumbo-Visma bring both Jos Van Emden and Tony Martin to add engine power on the flat. Consistency is Steven Kruijswijk’s A-game. Let’s not forget that he came close to winning the Giro back in 2016 before that infamous crash on the Colle dell’Agnello which he’ll climb again this year.

The first of three names at the 103rd Giro with something to prove.

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Vincenzo Nibali – Trek-Segafredo

Overall winner in 2013, 2016, four times on the podium and seven stage wins at his home Grand Tour – that’s Vincenzo Nibali folks! Nothing but admiration for the Shark of Messina who makes his ninth start at a race he just excels in every time he races.

Nibali has been quiet and at 35 years of age you do wonder whether his best days are behind him. Experience is the key word in a year where he’s put all his eggs in the Giro basket looking for a third pink jersey going all out for the overall victory.

Last year he did everything he could to disrupt Primož Roglič from winning the Giro except he could not stop Richard Carapaz from taking pink instead. Vincenzo Nibali won’t want a repeat this time and although he may not possess the explosive style of years gone by, his rivals absolutely won’t discount the shark from trying something.

The three time trials won’t faze the Italian, the home favourite who rides among a Trek-Segafredo team that has supreme talent. Italian riders Gianluca Brambilla, his brother Antonio Nibali and last year’s King of the Mountains and stage winner Giulio Ciccone will offer support in the mountains.

There is nothing to suggest that Vincenzo Nibali will have a terrible Giro. Mount Etna is the first test to see where Nibali is at but never stop believing in this remarkable bike rider.

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Simon Yates – Mitchelton-Scott

After Steven Kruijswijk comes the next rider with something to prove. Third time lucky for Simon Yates? We all remember 2018. Three stage wins, in the form of his life, before he cracked on the Colle delle Finestre and Chris Froome did the impossible. Last year he tried to do the same but finished eighth overall nowhere near the pink jersey.

Wearing the pink jersey in 2018 saw some fantastic moments for Simon Yates. It was down to going too deep in the second week that caused all the suffering in the third, a mistake that Mitchelton-Scott won’t want to see again. Let’s not forget that Simon Yates is a Grand Tour winner in the same year he blew up at the Giro he rode magnificently and with style to win the Vuelta.

A second Grand Tour to add to his palmares? It is possible after showing impressive form to win Tirreno-Adriatico just a few weeks ago. Yates has the form, the winning shape and determination from a team that believes in him. Mitchelton-Scott take a decent team to Italy with ever improving Lucas Hamilton, young Italian time trial specialist Edoardo Affini and the ever-loyal mountain domestique Jack Haig included. No Mikel Nieve who misses the Giro for the first time since 2017 won’t be a setback.

Tirreno-Adriatico was the perfect starting point. Just like Jumbo-Visma, Mitchelton-Scott have something to target and make amends – a pink jersey in Milan.

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Geraint Thomas – INEOS Grenadiers

While Primož Roglič and Jumbo-Visma were left disappointed at the Tour, the same can be said for INEOS Grenadiers – defending champion Egan Bernal was clearly not in shape to win the yellow jersey again. Dave Brailsford has been criticised, the elastic has snapped, the INEOS/Sky dominance at the Tour de France was broken, new challenges lie ahead.

Was Brailsford’s decision to leave Geraint Thomas out of the Tour a mistake? That question is now irrelevant and a question we’ll never know the answer to. Thomas might have ridden into form to possibly win the yellow jersey for a second time but skipping the Tour to ride the Giro could actually turn out to be the best decision.

Geraint Thomas as winner of the Tour de France in 2018 (and could have so easily defended his title last year had it not been for the pesky weather in the Alps), starts this Giro as favourite. A fantastic stage win by Michał Kwiatkowski was the only crumb of comfort for Ineos Grenadiers at last month’s Tour, so a bounce back in Italy? That must surely be the aim not just for the team and Geraint Thomas personally. Can he prove that he’s back to his best at a Grand Tour?

Confidence will be in abundance after finishing second behind Simon Yates at Tirreno-Adriatico and an encouraging fourth place at the worlds in the time trial. An extra month away from the circus of the Tour might turn out to be a huge help to G’s chances of winning a second Grand Tour. The three time trials will be his strength and apart from Stages 18 and 20, this year’s Giro doesn’t go over 2,000 metres, so that could play into Thomas’s hands.

Teammates include British national road champion Ben Swift (starting his third Giro d’Italia), another Brit in Tao Geoghegan Hart (who sadly crashed out at last year’s race), the recently crowned time trial world champion Filippo Ganna and the former two-times time trial world champion Rohan Dennis.

A strong team for Geraint Thomas, the only thing he needs now is luck. 2017 was the year of highs and lows before 2018 saw a brilliant achievement in France. Steven Kruijswijk crashed out in 2016, Geraint Thomas fell out of contention thanks to that stupid motorbike incident in 2017 and Simon Yates cracked in 2018. Jumbo-Visma, Ineos Grenadiers and Mitchelton-Scott are three teams with points to prove.

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Other names to watch?

Polish rider Rafał Majka for Bora-Hansgrohe is unlikely to win the Giro but should finish inside the top-10. He finished fifth overall in 2016 and to be fair his Grand Tour GC placings have been consistent. A stage win might also be on the cards.

After a superb Tour de France for Team Sunweb, attention now turns to two objectives in Italy. Michael Matthews, in what is his last Grand Tour for the German team before moving back to Mitchelton-Scott, will target stage wins but in Wilco Kelderman you have a decent time trialist and climber. Crashes and injuries have hampered the Dutchman in recent Grand Tours but a top-10 isn’t out of the question.

Simon Yates and Geraint Thomas might be the two British riders getting the attention as GC favourites but what about James Knox? His debut Grand Tour at the Giro last year plus his first appearance at the Vuelta brought nothing but sympathy for him last year as he sadly crashed out in Italy and then crashed with one mountain stage to go at the Vuelta. Knox did finish in Madrid but had it not been for the crash on Stage 19 a top-ten in Spain would have been fantastic. Best of luck to James Knox at this year’s Giro.

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We’re relieved to see the Giro take place after what has been a difficult time for Italy indeed the world. The cycling continues…

Giro d’Italia: a Guide to the Teams

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With the start list for the 103rd Giro now confirmed, let’s look at the teams and riders to watch, from GC contenders to sprinters, breakaway specialists to time trialists.

AG2R La Mondiale

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François Bidard (Fra), Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra), Tony Gallopin (Fra), Ben Gastauer (Lux), Jaakko Hanninen (Fin), Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra), Andrea Vendrame (Ita), Larry Warbasse (US).

A stage-win focused squad, the long-standing French outfit bring a mix of newcomers and veterans, with Jaakko Hänninen and Aurélien Paret-Peintre making their Grand Tour debuts. Former USA national champion Larry Warbasse and Ben Gastauer bring experience, whilst Geoffrey Bouchard will target the Mountains Classification, which he won at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. Andrea Vendrame rode well at the Tour de Wallonie and Milan-Sanremo. He’s probably their best shot at a stage win.

Prediction: a breakaway stage win seems possible.

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec

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Mattia Bais (Ita), Alessandro Bisolti (Ita), Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu), Luca Chirico (Ita), Simon Pellaud (Swi), Simone Ravanelli (Ita), Jhonatan Restrepo (Col), Josip Rumac (Cro).

Another stage-hunting team, the Italian Pro-Continental outfit will no doubt be active in each day’s breakaway. Their two stand out riders are Jhonatan Restrepo and Josip Rumac. The former took four stages at the Tour de Rwanda, and two at the Vuelta al Tachira. The latter won both the time trial and road race at the Croatian national championships. Replicating such victories at a Grand Tour in this company will be tough however.

Prediction: expect them to animate breakaways, but a victory will be a huge ask.


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Manuele Boaro (Ita), Rodrigo Contreras (Col), Fabio Felline (Ita), Jakob Fuglsang (Den), Jonas Gregaard (Den), Miguel Ángel López (Col), Óscar Rodríguez (Spa), Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus).

Astana bring a very strong team to support Dane Jakob Fuglsang’s bid for the General Classification (GC). He’s had a good year, winning the Vuelta a Andalucia and Il Lombardia, finishing second at the Tour of Poland, and fifth at the World Championship road race. He has never looked capable of winning a Grand Tour however, performing best in week-long stage races. Elsewhere, Aleksandr Vlasov is a very promising young talent having finished fifth at Tirenno, and third at Il Lombardia. This is his first Grand Tour, and he seems capable of a top-ten. Miguel Angel Lopez returns fresh from finishing sixth in the Tour de France; he’ll provide support in the mountains.

Prediction: multiple stage wins and a top-ten for Vlasov.


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Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn), Enrico Battaglin (Ita), Pello Bilbao (Spa), Eros Capecchi (Ita), Domen Novak (Slo), Mark Padun (Ukr), Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut), Jan Tratnik (Slo).

Bahrain bring a squad including three former Giro stage winners, in Enrico Battaglin, Pello Bilbao (pictured), and Eros Capecchi. Harmann Pernsteiner and Mark Padun are Giro debutants. Pernsteiner will be aiming for a decent GC position, having finished 15th at the Vuelta in 2019, whilst Bilbao will hope to repeat his success from last year when he won two stages. Jan Tratnik will be targeting the three time trials.

Prediction: Bilbao provides several options for a stage win or two.


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Giovanni Carboni (Ita), Luca Covili (Ita), Filippo Fiorelli (Ita), Giovanni Lonardi (Ita), Fabio Mazzucco (Ita), Francesco Romano (Ita), Alessandro Tonelli (Ita), Filippo Zana (Ita).

A popular Italian Pro-Continental team, Bardiani return with a young team to animate breakaways and seek an elusive stage win. They’ve had success in the past, winning multiple stages between 2012 and 2016. This year, they bring Giovanni Carboni (pictured), who led the Young Rider Classification for a time last year and recorded two top-fives in stages. Giovanni Lonardi recorded the team’s only victory so far this year at the Tour of Antalya, and recorded two top-tens in the sprints last year.

Prediction: They’ll no doubt always be prominent in breakaways, but they’ll have to be very lucky to win.

Bora Hansgrohe

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Cesare Benedetti (Ita), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Matteo Fabbro (Ita), Patrick Gamper (Aut), Patrick Konrad (Aut), Rafal Majka (Pol), Pawel Poljanski (Pol), Peter Sagan (Svk).

Peter Sagan (pictured) finally makes his Giro debut, after a disappointing Tour de France that saw him unable to take the green jersey for the first time (barring 2017). With a mountainous parcours, and a comparatively weaker sprint field than at the Tour, he is in a good place to notch up a stage victory or two, as well as the Points Classification. That is, if he can rediscover top form. He is without a win since the 2019 Tour. Elsewhere, Rafal Majka is always there or thereabouts, but has always struggled to achieve much better than a top-ten in a Grand Tour. Maciej Bodnar should do well in the time trials.

Prediction: The Points Classification and a stage for Sagan.

CCC Team (Pol)

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Josef Cerny (Cze), Víctor de la Parte (Spa), Kamil Gradek (Pol), Pavel Kochetkov (Rus), Kamil Malecki (Pol), Joey Rosskopf (US), Attila Valter (Hun), Ilnur Zakarin (Rus).

CCC desperately need something to cheer about this year, after a torrid season where their only real success has been in the Tour de Hongrie. The winner of which (Attila Valter) will make his Grand Tour debut here. Ilnur Zakarin (pictured) was their best hopes of a stage win at the Tour, but his poor descending skills let him down. He won’t have good memories of the Giro either; crashing out horrifically on stage 19 in 2016. He did take a stage win in both 2015 and 2019 however. He’ll hope to repeat this feat this year.

Prediction: a stage win for Zakarin is doable, but they’ll need to race aggressively.

Cofidis Solutions Crédits

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Simone Consonni (Ita), Nicolas Edet (Fra), Nathan Haas (Aus), Jesper Hansen (Den), Mathias Le Turnier (Fra), Stéphane Rossetto (Fra), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel), Elia Viviani (Ita).

The Tour de France stalwarts finally return to the Giro after a ten year absence. They’ll be hoping to feature in the sprint stages; Elia Viviani (pictured) will want to redeem himself after an anonymous Tour and a 2020 season without a single victory. He has a great chance to take what would be a sixth Giro stage victory here, and will be motivated to perform on home soil. Otherwise, Nicolas Edet will be active in mountain breakaways, but he’s had a very slow return to form since racing has resumed.

Prediction: Viviani is in a good place to rescue a torrid season.

Deceuninck-Quick Step

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Joao Almeida (Por), Davide Ballerini (Ita), Alvaro Hodeg (Col), Mikkel Frolich Honoré (Den), Iljo Keisse (Bel), James Knox (GB), Fausto Masnada (Ita), Pieter Serry (Bel).

Stage wins are the goal for the ever-successful Belgian squad, although they do possess two top-ten contenders overall in James Knox and Fausto Masnada, the latter making a mid-season transfer from CCC. He recently finished sixth at Tirenno Adriatico, and won stage six of the Giro last year. Davide Ballerini provides an option for the sprints, winning the final stage of the Tour of Poland. Their strongest fast man however is Alvaro Hodeg; he won seven races last year, although is without a victory this year.

Prediction: they lack the strength seen in most of their other Grand Tour squads, but Hodeg should be capable of a stage win.

EF Pro Cycling

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Sean Bennett (US), Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu), Simon Clarke (Aus), Lawson Craddock (US), Ruben Guerreiro (Por), Tanel Kangert (Est), Lachlan Morton (Aus), James Whelan (Aus).

Having sent their main GC riders to the Tour, EF bring a young team of opportunists to seek out stage wins. Simon Clarke (pictured) has seen success here before; holding the pink jersey for a day in 2015 having won the team time trial. The Australian hasn’t raced too much this year, but won the Royal Bernard Drome Classic in March. Tanel Kangert is a solid climber on his day, as is Ecuadorian champion Jonathan Caicedo, who was third at Tour Columbia 2.1 in February.

Prediction: I can’t see the EF riders being able to challenge for a stage victory; most of their riders will ride to gain experience.


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Arnaud Démare (Fra), Kilian Frankiny (Swi), Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita), Simon Guglielmi (Fra), Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu), Miles Scotson (Aus), Ramon Sinkeldam (Hol), Benjamin Thomas (Fra).

The French squad will be hoping for better fortune in Italy than their homeland, where once again Pinot cracked at the Tour. Thankfully for them, they bring sprinter Arnaud Démare (pictured), who has been on fire since racing restarted. He’s notched up ten wins already, including the French national championships and Milano-Torino. Benjamin Thomas will be hoping to feature against the clock.

Prediction: On paper, Démare is the strongest sprinter on the start list. Anything less than at least one stage win will be a disappointment.

Ineos Grenadiers

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Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa), Rohan Dennis (Aus), Filippo Ganna (Ita), Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB), Jhonatan Narváez (Col), Salvatore Puccio (Ita), Ben Swift (Team Sky), Geraint Thomas (GB).

Ineos bring a genuine contender for the pink jersey in Geraint Thomas (pictured), who is back with a vengeance having missed out on riding the Tour. His form has improved drastically since, finishing a close second to compatriot Simon Yates at Tirreno. He can count on his excellent time trialling ability to put time into the pure climbers. Although not as strong as the Tour squad, Ineos bring strong mountain support in Jonathan Castroviejo and Tao Geoghegan Hart. With newly-crowned time trial World Champion Filippo Ganna, as well as 2018 and 2019 champion Rohan Dennis on the team, they are also well-placed to win all three time trial stages.

Prediction: Thomas has a real chance of winning the race; all he needs to do is mark Yates in the mountains and then put substantial time into him in the time trials.

Israel Start-up Nation

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Rudy Barbier (Fra), Matthias Brändle (Aut), Alexander Cataford (Can), Davide Cimolai (Ita), Alex Dowsett (GB), Daniel Navarro (Spa), Guy Sagiv (Isr), Rick Zabel (Ger).

This is the third Giro for the Israeli team, who enjoyed three stages in their native country to start the 2018 edition. Davide Cimolai and Rudy Barbier will hope to challenge in the sprints, Barbier having recorded several top-ten results this year, and two wins in San Juan and Slovakia. Cimolai has always been knocking on the door of a Giro stage win, but hasn’t managed it yet. Time trial specialist Alex Dowsett (pictured) won a stage in 2013, but beating the likes of Ganna and Dennis will be hard.

Prediction: Their riders are more outsiders than solid favourites for stage wins, but don’t write off Dowsett or Cimolai.


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Koen Bouwman (Hol), Tobias Foss (Nor), Chris Harper (Aus), Steven Kruijswijk (Hol), Tony Martin (Ger), Christoph Pfingsten (Ger), Antwan Tolhoek (Hol), Jos van Emden (Hol).

Steven Kruijswijk (pictured) returns to the Giro for the first time since 2017, and many will remember the 2016 edition when he tragically crashed on stage 19 whilst holding a commanding GC lead, handing it to Vincenzo Nibali. He was meant to ride the Tour before a crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné ruled him out. His form is an unknown, having not raced since then. His only other race was the Tour de l’Ain, where he finished fourth. His team lack the climbing talent of the Tour squad; it’s unlikely we’ll see them patrolling the peloton from the front here.

Prediction: hard to call as Kruijswijk has not raced for six weeks, but if he can rediscover his form that landed him on the podium at the Tour last year, he can hope for similar results here.


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Sander Armee (Bel), Thomas De Gendt (Bel), Jon Dibben (GB), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor), Adam Hansen (Aus), Matthew Holmes (GB), Stefano Oldani (Ita), Harm Vanhoucke (Bel).

Stage wins will once again be the goal for the Belgian team, although don’t discount Norwegian Carl Frederick Hagen for the GC. He took a surprise eight place overall at the Vuelta last year. He hasn’t demonstrated the form necessary to repeat such a feat in 2020 though. Thomas de Gendt (pictured) will hope to make amends from a quiet Tour, where he couldn’t replicate 2019’s stage victory. Keep an eye on Briton Matt Holmes as well; he beat Richie Porte to win the Willunga Hill stage at the Tour Down Under in January.

Prediction; Thomas de Gendt should be able to pick up a stage win, and could challenge for the Mountains Classification. The Giro parcours are suited to his riding style.


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Edoardo Affini (Ita), Brent Bookwalter (US), Jack Haig (Aus), Lucas Hamilton (Aus), Michael Hepburn (Aus), Damien Howson (Aus), Cameron Meyer (Aus), Simon Yates (GB).

Briton Simon Yates returns to try and take the pink jersey he was so agonisingly close to winning in 2018, collapsing in spectacular fashion on stage 19. He rode last year’s edition as well, but could only manage eight. Having finished third in Poland and won Tirreno, Yates has had the perfect build-up, and counts on a strong team of climbers including Damien Howson and Jack Haig, the latter finishing tenth at Tirreno. Yates will need his climbing ability from the 2018 edition if he wants to challenge Thomas for the overall victory, as he will undoubtedly lose time in the time trials.

Prediction: It will be a very close battle between Thomas and Yates; I think the time trialling could be Yates’s downfall.


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Héctor Carretero (Spa), Dario Cataldo (Spa), Antonio Pedrero (Spa), Einer Rubio (Col), Sergio Samitier (Spa), Eduardo Sepúlveda (Arg), Albert Torres (Spa), Davide Villella (Ita).

Still, Movistar are with just one victory in 2020, and it seems unlikely that they can better that at the Giro. They certainly won’t be challenging for the pink jersey that they won with Richard Carapaz last year, who has since moved to Ineos. With their best riders having ridden the Tour, they’ve been left to pick up the pieces and bring a fairly average team. Dario Cataldo (pictured) is their best shot at a victory; winning stage 15 last year. Héctor Carretero won the Mountains jersey at Tirreno, and will be aiming to repeat that at the Giro.

Prediction: It’s hard to see anyone other than Cataldo challenging for a stage win.

NTT Pro Cycling

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Victor Campenaerts (Bel), Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri), Louis Meintjes (SA), Ben O’Connor (Aus), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita), Matteo Sobrero (Ita), Dylan Sunderland (Aus), Danilo Wyss (Swi).

On paper, this is a fairly decent team. But then, NTT’s Grand Tour teams often are; they just struggle to get results. They’re without a GT stage win since the 2018 Vuelta. They have some credible options this year though. Victor Campenaerts (pictured) is always there or thereabouts in the time trials, finishing second at the final Tirreno one, and most recently eighth at the World Championships. Louis Meintjes used to promise a lot in GTs, but hasn’t finished in the top ten in one since the 2017 Tour. Ben O’Connor won a stage of the Etoile de Bessèges in February, and could feature in mountain breakaways.

Prediction: I just can’t see any NTT riders being able to beat other established climbers or breakaway specialists.


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Nico Denz (Ger), Chad Haga (US), Chris Hamilton (Aus), Jai Hindley (Aus), Wilco Kelderman (Hol), Michael Matthews (Aus), Sam Oomen (Hol), Martijn Tusveld (Hol).

After a fantastic Tour, Sunweb will hope to carry their momentum into Italy. In Michael Matthews (pictured) they have a genuine contender for the Points Classification, as well as the tougher sprint stages; he won Bretagne Classic – Ouest-France, and was seventh at the World Championship road race. He will be extra motivated after the disappointment of missing out on selection for the Tour. Wilco Kelderman is a solid time trialist and likes the longer climbs. His consistency could be enough for a top five. Chad Haga will be hoping for good results in the time trials, having won stage 21 against the clock last year.

Prediction: it should be an interesting fight for the purple jersey between Matthews and Sagan; Kelderman can achieve a top-five GC position.


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Julien Bernard (Fra), Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Giulio Ciccone (Ita), Nicola Conci (Ita), Jacopo Mosca (Ita), Antonio Nibali (Ita), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Pieter Weening (Hol).

This is one of the strongest GT teams that Trek have yet fielded. They’re all in to support a bid for a third Maglia Rosa for Vincenzo Nibali (pictured). He’s been fairly quiet since racing resumed; he was anonymous at Tirenno, but he often has a quiet build up to a Grand Tour. Three time trials will be a concern, but even if his GC bid fails he can always be relied upon to animate the race when we least expect it. The same goes for Guilio Ciccone. He hasn’t raced a stage race this summer, but did take fifth at Il Lombardia. He’ll be hoping to repeat his stage win, and possibly his mountains jersey victory, from last year.

Prediction: Nibali’s GT winning days are gone, but third place seems likely.

UAE Team Emirates

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Mikkel Bjerg (Den), Valerio Conti (Ita), Joe Dombrowski (US), Fernando Gaviria (Col), Brandon McNulty (US), Juan Sebastián Molano (Col), Maximiliano Richeze (Arg), Diego Ulissi (Ita).

They won’t be able to repeat their Tour-winning exploits here, but UAE bring a varied mix of riders capable of winning stages on all terrains. Fernando Gaviria (pictured) will pair up with trusted lead-out man Max Richeze for the sprints; he took a stage last year and recently won the Giro della Toscana, so the form is there. Diego Ulissi always performs well here, having won six stages, whilst Valerio Conti spent six days in pink last year. Young Brandon McNulty will be one to watch as well; he was seventh in Andalucia and fourth overall in San Juan earlier this year.

Prediction: the likes of Gaviria and Ulissi should make this a succsseful, several stage-winning Giro squad.

Vini Zabu-KTM

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Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita), Marco Frapporti (Ita), Lorenzo Rota (Ita), Matteo Spreafico (Ita), Etienne van Empel (Hol), Giovanni Visconti (Ita), Luca Wackermann (Ita), Edoardo Zardini (Ita).

The third and final Pro-Continental team on the start list, Vini Zabu bring a mix of young riders and veterans. Giovanni Visconti (pictured) headlines, although he has shown little in terms of good form this year, barring the odd top-ten. Tour de Limousin winner Luca Wackermann starts, and will hope to feature in the sprints.

Prediction: It will be a struggle for this team to get results; they’ll be active in breakaways but little more.

Imola 2020 – Road race talking points

Featured images courtesy of BettiniPhoto and SWPix

Four days of hard racing in Imola are over. Four rainbow jerseys handed out at the time trials and road races all decided. Here are five quick talking points from the men’s and women’s road races.

1 King Julian

You could not have asked for a more popular rider to become road world champion. Six Grand Tour stage wins, heroic rides in yellow at the Tour de France, Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo, two times winner at La Flèche Wallonne, Clásica San Sebastián and now the biggest prize – a rainbow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe is a quality rider, winning the world title in vintage Alaphilippe style by attacking on the final climb on the final lap, chased by the pursuers but in the end untouchable. In the same year that he sadly lost his father to long term illness – we’re all in sheds of tears at the amazing talent this brilliant Frenchman shows on the bike.

The French team took up most of the work at the front. It seemed at one point with 40 km to go that their efforts were for nothing with Tadej Pogačar up the road and the Belgian team doing more work, but actually they played the perfect tactical game. Guillaume Martin went away before the final ascent of the Cima Calisperna before Marc Hirschi, Wout Van Aert, Primož Roglič and Michał Kwiatkowski were all left for dead by the man of the moment.

A rainbow jersey, the first Frenchman since Laurent Brochard in 1997 to become champion of the world, Julian Alaphilippe is a history maker. He’s heroic, he brings endless amounts of joy to cycling fans but more importantly he will look terrific with rainbows across his chest.

Chapeau Julian!

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2 Double Dutch for Anna van der Breggen

The first rider since Jeannie Longo in 1995 to do the double at the World Championships, what a perfect two days for Anna van der Breggen. When she made her move you just knew that nobody could catch her, not even her compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten who did incredibly well to overcome a fractured wrist to take silver.

We said before the Worlds, who on earth can beat the Dutch? For the women’s road race and the time trial – no one. The fourth world road race title for the Netherlands, van der Breggen in the form of her life and the most rewarding tonic for a rider who will retire after the Olympics next year.

Overall champion at the Giro Rosa, Dutch road and time trial national champion, now double world champion in both disciplines – all within a month, just magnificent! The non-stop nature of this Covid-19 cycling season doesn’t end yet though with the Classics coming up soon and who will bet against Anna van der Breggen winning more races?

Elisa Longho Borghini as the home favourite was always going to bring Italian optimism but she just couldn’t catch van der Breggen with van Vleuten playing the tactical game to do everything in slowing up the chase. A third place for Longho Borghini isn’t anything to be sniffed at though.

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3 A bright future in the men’s peloton

While Julian Alaphilippe’s victory is nothing more than spectacular you also cannot underestimate how fantastic it was to see the talent just continue to emerge in cycling. Wout Van Aert was the big favourite today, rode the climbs well but could not bring Alaphilippe back, the Belgian team running out of riders to help Van Aert but still did their work to try. His first world championships at elite level, second place isn’t all bad but Wout Van Aert will know that he was beaten by the strongest man on the road.

After impressing at the Tour de France, Marc Hirschi taking bronze isn’t actually surprising. The talent this young Swiss star has is in abundance, for sure Hirschi will be wearing a rainbow jersey at some point at elite level in the future. European and world U23 road champion in 2018, we’ve known the potential, he’s only 22 – much more to come.

Last weekend we were blown away by Tadej Pogačar winning the Tour de France. Surely that would have knackered out the 21-year-old! Not a chance, the young Slovenian attacking with 40 km to try and set up something for the very man he beat to win yellow, Primož Roglič. Full of admiration for the courageous efforts of Tadej Pogačar.

There were also encouraging rides by those staying in Italy for the next three weeks. Michael Matthews and Jakob Fuglsang finished inside the top ten, great prep for the Giro d’Italia starting next weekend. It was perhaps slightly surprising that those with the Tour already in their legs actually excelled at these world championships but then again it is talent that is prevailing in the peloton right now.

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4 Nothing to be disheartened about for Great Britian

British riders may not take any medals at this year’s worlds but there’s still lots to be pleased about. Geraint Thomas finishing fourth in the time trial was encouraging before a Giro d’Italia that he’s definitely riding into form for. Lizzie Deignan for the women and Tom Pidcock in the men’s race were two names to keep an eye on, both in form and looking for success. Deignan did finish in sixth behind Anna van der Breggen, just left to deal with supreme Dutch tactics and others not leading the chase to catch the eventual winner.

Taking three stage wins and overall, at the U23 Giro at the age of 21, Tom Pidcock was a rider that other contenders would’ve marked as a potential threat. Luke Rowe did immense work to keep Pidcock in contention and despite finishing 42nd today, great to see him up among the final thirty or so riders towards the end of the race.

5 Criticism of the UCI bang on

Before the criticism it is important to say hats off to the UCI for managing to hold a world championship during what is a difficult time. Fair play to Imola for hosting in place of Aigle-Martigny in Switzerland but more importantly the Covid-19 protocols have been adhered to. Alexey Lutsenko did fall victim to a positive test and unfortunately, we once again saw spectators on the climbs without face masks. Wear a mask!

But the criticism aimed at the UCI comes attached to the women’s side of our sport right now. After the Giro Rosa had no coverage whatsoever it is 100% correct to point the finger at cycling’s governing body. An exciting edition of the women’s Giro was hard to follow because of no coverage and limited highlights.

The UCI need to step up and take responsibility. The level of awareness international audiences have of women’s cycling is currently poor. Only the last thirty minutes of the women’s road race was shown on BBC Two, the whole race on the red button, but why not on the main channel for the entire race?

Men’s cycling gets the luxury, the women do not and bizarrely the Giro Rosa won’t be a World Tour race next year. The women’s peloton needs more coverage not less. The UCI say they’re helping but not doing enough right now.

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Imola 2020 – Time Trial Talking Points

Featured images courtesy of gettyimages

The time trials are over, two rainbow jerseys have been handed out with two remaining. Here are five quick talking points.

1 Ganna grabs his big opportunity

You could not have asked for a better stage to become world champion in a time trial. Of course, we should be in Switzerland right now, but in Imola this was Filippo Ganna’s chance and he took it!

A flat parcours definitely suited the Italian going into the 31.7 km route and he delivered with 35 minutes 54 seconds the winning time. Ganna is one hell of a talent after breaking the individual pursuit world record twice last year and now becomes the first men’s elite time trial champion for his country. Ganna also joins Chris Boardman and Bradley Wiggins – winners of the elite world individual pursuit on the track and the time trial on the road.

To do it in his home country is something to behold, a victory not just for Italy but also Ineos Grenadiers. The rainbow jersey stays within the team after Rohan Dennis conceded the title to his team-mate. In fact, three Ineos riders finished in the top ten, Ganna winning gold, Dennis in fifth but in fourth, a fantastic ride by Geraint Thomas (more below).

Ineos decided to keep Ganna, Dennis and Thomas all in the same bubble because of coronavirus and it has worked a treat. Could Filippo Ganna go on to win the opening stage at the Giro next weekend? In the rainbow jersey that would be special.

Elsewhere a few surprises but some exceptional performances. In his first encounter at a world time trial, Wout Van Aert continued to be brilliant and Stefan Küng took the right decision to leave the Tour early to finish in third. Victor Campenaerts, Tom Dumoulin and Pello Bilbao were three names surprisingly off the pace.

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2 Anna van der Breggen finally becomes a TT world champion

The women’s elite time trial indeed the road race to come always presents a strong Dutch squad. Two times time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten was a notable absentee (she rides the road race tomorrow though), the Dutch had Ellen Van Dijk and Anna van der Breggen to hand.

Numerous times on the podium, Van Dijk managed to finish third behind the winner of the day – Anna van der Breggen finally becoming a world champion in time trialling. A year out before she retires and moves on to a coaching role with Boels-Dolmans, there isn’t much that Anna van der Breggen hasn’t won, this the perfect cherry on top of the cake.

A rainbow jersey via the road race now one for a time trial, could she do the double at these world championships? Van Vleuten is back tomorrow despite fracturing her wrist at the Giro Rosa recently.

Many congratulations to Marlen Reusser representing Switzerland to take silver, her first worlds podium after finishing third at the European Road Championships in the same discipline.

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3 Encouraging British performances

Geraint Thomas taking fourth in the time trial is a welcome sign that he’s in form for the Giro d’Italia starting next weekend. Three time trials across the three weeks will be a strength ahead of his GC rivals, so it is not wrong to say that Geraint Thomas is a contender for the pink jersey come Milan.

Alex Dowsett’s quest for a podium in his career goes on but he should be happy with his performance against other competitors. For the women both Lizzy Banks and Alice Barnes finished inside the top twenty – two decent results.

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4 Speedy recovery to Chloe Dygert

After a blistering performance to win the time trial in Yorkshire last year, American Chloe Dygert started in Imola as the red-hot favourite to defend her title. She was riding the perfect race, beating Anna van der Breggen right up until she crashed.

She lost control on a corner, hit a barrier and then treated with a laceration to her left leg. An awful crash for Dygert and incredibly heart breaking to see. The crash could’ve been worse for the 10-time world champion on road and track, sad that she obviously won’t be starting the road race.

All we can say is many speedy recoveries to Chloe Dygert, we cannot wait to see her back racing again with those brilliant pink shoes!

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5 Attention turns to the road races

The final two days offer us the road races. British fans will be fascinated to see how Lizzie Deignan fares and for the men there’s one rider on everyone’s lips – Wout Van Aert.

Both races have total elevation gains over 2,000 metres, it is far from easy. Team tactics will be evident but who will win the two rainbow jerseys? Those that can climb and sprint are in contention – we wait to see how two intriguing races unravel.

UCI Road World Championships 2020 Preview

Featured image courtesy of the UCI

While it is disappointing for Martigny in Switzerland not hosting this year’s World Championships, thank goodness we still have some racing to watch. Imola in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy has saved the fight for rainbows not long after the Tour de France and Giro Rosa has just come to an end. It won’t be the same worlds we’re used to with no U23 and Junior races taking place just elite time trials and road races.

Four races in four days starting with the time trials and then the road races. A flat parcours for the TT but the road race features two major climbs of Mazzolano and the Cima Gallisterna perhaps not suited to pure climbers but puncheurs.

Last year in Yorkshire we saw some exciting racing, some controversy and unexpected victories. Imola last hosted the World Championships in 1968 and Italy itself hosted the worlds in 2013 in Florence. So, what can we expect from riders who already have racing in the legs before more races still to come?

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Thursday 24th September – A repeat performance by Chloe Dygert?

Chloe Dygert’s victory in the women’s elite time trial was arguably the standout moment from Yorkshire 2019. From Ripon to Harrogate, nobody could get anywhere near Dygert’s time of 42 minutes in 11 seconds, a dominant performance.

We haven’t seen enough of the American on the road this year to see how she’ll perform in Imola, not even racing in the rainbow jersey she herself won. The usual suspects will seek to take Chloe Dygert’s time trial crown. Anna van der Breggen for the Netherlands has just won the Giro and could win both world titles this week. Her Dutch compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten isn’t expected to race after fracturing her wrist in Italy a week ago.  

Th disappointment of not wearing the rainbow jersey at all from last year’s worlds up until now could be the motivation she needs.

For Great Britain we have Alice Barnes and Lizzy Banks where a top ten finish would be a great result. Barnes is the current British time trial champion and for Banks she’s already confirmed that this year’s worlds will be used as a learning experience.

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Friday 25th September – Ineos riders to dominate the standings?

The men’s elite time trial could be the perfect opportunity for riders who’ve just completed the Tour de France but also those who might be feeling fresh from Tirreno-Adriatico going into the Giro next weekend. Covid-19 has led to a jumbled-up calendar but actually the scheduling of this year’s Worlds suits all the time trial contenders.

Jumbo-Visma pair Tom Dumoulin and Wout Van Aert did everything to support Primož Roglič at the Tour and despite the disappointment in losing the entire race let’s not forget that Dumoulin and Van Aert finished highly on the Stage 20 TT atop La Planche des Belles Filles. Dumoulin as a former TT world champion is back to his best and Van Aert is the most extraordinary talent in world cycling right now – who knows what he can do!

But could three weeks of racing in France have taken their toll? Riders heading to the Giro might carry more momentum such as Britain’s Geraint Thomas plus Ineos team-mates Filippo Ganna and current defending champion Rohan Dennis.

Three Team Ineos riders have a huge chance especially Ganna, the Italian the home favourite, track specialist and a rider with an enormous engine. Wouldn’t it be something for an Italian World Championships to see an Italian win the men’s elite time trial! Australian Rohan Dennis is the current defender of the rainbows but arrives in Imola with unknown form. The length of the TT might favour Dennis more than Ganna but let’s not discount Geraint Thomas too.

Other riders to look out for include France’s Rémi Cavagna who finished second behind Stefan Küng at last year’s European Championships elite time trial, and Victor Campenaerts who currently has the hour record to his name and is very consistent at time trials.

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Saturday 26th September – Lizzie Deignan for the win?

This year’s women’s road race could be the most exciting yet! Great Britain’s Lizzie Deignan is in fine form after winning GP Plouay, La Course and went close to stage wins at the Giro Rosa. World champion in 2015, Deignan will have the strongest support but will be up against the force that is the Dutch team.

While Annemiek van Vleuten is doubtful with her injury the orange army still have Anna van der Breggen who took the rainbows in 2018, Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak in Bergen 2017 and Marianne Vos who is also in the form of her life. Vos is a three-times world champion, so could she make it number four?

Second overall at the Giro Rosa, Katarzyna Niewiadoma will be closely marked as will Italian home favourite Elisa Longho Borghini and don’t forget Denmark’s Cecile Uttrup Ludwig. The American team is also a dark watch with Leah Thomas backed by Coryn Rivera and Chloe Dygert.

The women’s road race will be extremely hard to call but the main question as we’ve asked for the last three years. Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak in 2017, Anna van der Breggen in 2018 and Annemiek van Vleuten in 2019 – who can stop the Dutch?

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Sunday 27th September – The final curtain closer

Who will take the men’s road race? The last of the four-rainbow jersey’s on offer will be hotly contested, the curtain closer and full of talent within the startlists.

You have to feel for Mads Pedersen, the current defending champion who rode a magnificent race last year but will unlikely carry the rainbow jersey into the upcoming Spring Classics held in October. It was meant to be his year wearing the status of world champion at races he’s capable of winning until Covid-19 came along and scuppered his plans.

So, who will become the next world champion?

While Mads Pedersen won’t be likely to win again there’s still hope in the Danish squad for Jakob Fuglsang. He’s heading to the Giro in top form and a rainbow jersey wouldn’t be a bad prize to take into the race next weekend.

Wout Van Aert is the outstanding favourite as he’s a huge talent but could his freedom be limited because of other team-mates such as Greg Van Avermaet? Other stage winners at the Tour de France such as Marc Hirschi for Switzerland, Alexey Lutsenko for Kazakhstan and 2014 world champion Michał Kwiatkowski all start.

The winner of the Tour de France Tadej Pogačar rides for Slovenia alongside the man he defeated to win the yellow jersey Primož Roglič. Julian Alaphillipe for France had a tremendous year going into Yorkshire before fatigue began to tell – less fancied this weekend, Alaphilippe could be a threat.

One notable absentee is three times world champion Peter Sagan. It was not the Sagan we were used to at the Tour, he’s kept his word that he’ll be riding the Giro, so perhaps understandable that the Slovakian doesn’t start.

Italian fans will be hoping for a Vincenzo Nibali victory but who knows? We have no idea who will win the rainbow jersey and that’s we cannot wait for the World Championships to get underway!

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Tour de France: Rating the Teams

Featured image courtesy of Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Who were the winners, and who flopped, in the 107th Tour de France?

AG2R La Mondiale.

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A dismal General Classification (GC) campaign saw both French favourites Romain Bardet and Pierre Latour abandon, the former in worrying circumstances as it emerged that he had ridden much of stage 13 with a brain haemorrhage. He had been lying in fourth before dropping to eleventh; Bardet had a real chance of reaching the podium this year. They don’t leave the race with nothing however, Frenchman Nans Peters won the first serious mountain test on stage 8 to Loudenvielle. Benoit Cosnefroy also held the King of the Mountains (KOM) jersey for much of the race, but lost it on stage 17.

Rating: 3/5

Astana Pro Team.

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With two stage wins, this was a fairly successful Tour for the Kazakh outfit. Alexey Lutsenko took stage six to Mont Aigoual, whilst Miguel Angel Lopez gave Columbian fans something to cheer about from this year’s Tour by outclimbing the other GC favourites to win stage 17 on the Col de la Loze. The squad will be disappointed that Lopez could not defend his third place overall on stage 20; a miserable time trial saw him plummet to sixth place. Nevertheless, this is still a notable achievement for the Tour debutant.

Rating: 4/5

Bahrain McLaren.

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Basque rider Mikel Landa secured fourth place overall, his joint-best finish in the Tour alongside 2017. A painfully average TT ride on stage 20 and losing 20 seconds to Trek’s Richie Porte on stage 17, as well as 10 on stage 15, prevented him from achieving that elusive podium position. He can take encouragement from the strength of his team however, they appeared to be the only ones capable of challenging Jumbo-Visma in terms of numbers. It’s a shame Wout Poels crashed on the first stage, he would have been useful earlier on. Damiano Caruso also achieved 10th place, his best Tour result yet. A stage win was a realistic goal, but they failed on that front.

Rating: 3.5/5

B&B Hotels-Vital Concept.

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It’s always tough for Pro-Continental outfits to compete for victories at the Tour, and this year was no exception for the French outfit, based around sprinter Bryan Coquard. He was consistent, achieving top-ten podium positions, but could not convert any into a victory. The closest he came was third on stage seven. Elsewhere, Pierre Rolland was active in mountain breakaways, but couldn’t do any better than winning the Combativity Award on stage 15, although he did finish second on stage 12. Quentin Pacher also rode aggressively, achieving three top-tens. An overall average performance from the Tour debutants.

Rating: 2/5


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It wasn’t to be for any of the team’s GC riders, with all still suffering from pre-Tour injuries sustained from the Criterium du Dauphiné and Il Lombardia. Their Points Classification challenge also failed; Peter Sagan was simply not on top form in this edition, and was a distant second to Sam Bennett in the fight for the green jersey. No stage win(s) for the Slovak this time around, the first time since the 2015 Tour he has failed to do so. Young German Lennard Kämna was able to rescue their Tour, and his aggression in the final week paid off with a victory on stage 16, to add to his stage win in the Dauphiné. One to keep a close eye on.

Rating: 3/5

CCC Team.

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Whilst they were ever-present in breakaways, a stage win never materialised, as CCC had a low-key final Tour, assuming the team folds as predicted at the end of year. Ilnur Zakarin came close on stage eight, but his notoriously unreliable descending skills ultimately cost him. He abandoned on stage 12. Matteo Trentin was often visible in the sprints, finishing third in the points classification, but this year’s route wasn’t especially well-suited to him, or Greg Van Avermaet. A spirited performance, but ultimately they have nothing to show for it.

Rating: 2/5


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On paper they were well-placed to claim their first Tour stage win since 2006 with new signing Elia Viviani. He was almost nowhere to be seen however, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting he was in the race at all. Fourth on stage ten was the best he could manage, his win-less year continues. Viviani is yet another sprinter to have worsened since leaving QuickStep, although the strict lockdown measures in his native Italy surely played a part. Elsewhere, they will take some comfort from the success of young Guillaume Martin. He finished 11th overall, after falling from third having weakened towards the end of the race. Another one to watch in the future.

Rating: 2.5/5

Deceuninck-Quick Step.

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Always successful at the Tour, the Belgian outfit took three stages courtesy of Sam Bennett and Julian Alaphilippe. Bennett also took the green jersey thanks to his consistency in the intermediate sprints. Alaphilippe took an emotional victory in Nice on stage two, dedicating it to his late father. He might have expected a little more, he looked weak in the third week and was frequently dropped from breakaways. He was nowhere near the thick-end of the GC action either, unlike last year when he was fifth overall. Zdenek Stybar and Bob Jungels might have been wanting their own glory as well, but three stage wins is hardly a failure.

Rating: 4/5

EF Pro Cycling.

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A mixed bag for the American squad. Coming into the race they had three riders capable of challenging for a high GC placing in Sergio Higuita, Rigoberto Uran, and Dauphiné winner Dani Martinez. Higuita never looked in good form, and eventually crashed out on stage 15. Uran was in third place coming into the final week, but failed to sustain his form to the end of the race, losing time on stages 18 and 20 to put him eighth overall. Martinez compensated for their failed GC campaign with a win on stage 13. Neilson Powless and Alberto Bettiol were also frequently present in breakaways. With no stage victories since 2017, they can be fairly happy with their results.

Rating: 3.5/5


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Once again, Thibaut Pinot cracked and shed a huge chunk of time to put him out of GC contention as early as stage eight. He has since hinted that his GC days are over. That set the tone for the remainder of the race for the French team, Rudy Molard abandoned on stage 16 and at no point did any of their other riders look capable of challenging for a stage win. They were only ever visible thanks to Sébastien Reichenbach’s striking Swiss national champion jersey (which did manage third on stage 16). Leaving in-form sprinter Arnaud Démare at home proved to be a huge mistake.

Rating: 1/5

Israel Start-Up Nation.

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Little was expected of Tour debutants ISN. They hardly had any impact on the GC, or indeed any stages. Dan Martin had a dreadful Tour, finishing 41st overall and never finishing stage higher than 11th; a broken sacrum at the Dauphiné hampered his race. André Greipel was largely absent from sprint finishes, barring a sixth place on stage ten. His stage-winning days seem over. Hugo Hofstetter managed top-tens on stages three, five, seven, 11 and 21; the Frenchman was the only consistent performer in a debut Tour to forget. Next year will see a completely different look to the team, as they welcome Chris Froome in his attempt for a record-equalling fifth title.

Rating: 2/5


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The Belgian squad could not have got off to a worse start than on stage one, when John Degenkolb finished outside of the time cut, and Philippe Gilbert was forced to abandon prior to stage two with a broken kneecap. They were able to regather themselves however, and delivered Australian Caleb Ewan to two stage wins. He wasn’t quite as dominant as in last year’s race, perhaps hindered by the loss of Degenkolb as his final lead-out man, but he won’t be disappointed with his results. Thomas de Gendt was aggressive as usual, but was unable to match the stronger climbers in mountain breakaways.

Rating: 3.5/5


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Adam Yates’s spell in the yellow jersey will be the highlight for the Australian team, who last wore the maillot jaune in 2013 with Daryl Impey. Yates was never quite able to match the pace of the other GC contenders however, and could only hold the jersey from stage five to nine. It was a quiet Tour from then on; Yates eventually had to settle for ninth overall. Basque climber Mikel Nieve abandoned; he is usually a good pick for a mountain stage win. Luka Mezgec sprinted to second on stages 14 and 19, which were the only other highlights for the team.

Rating: 3/5

Movistar Team.

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It’s hard to define Movistar’s performance in this year’s Tour. Perhaps a ‘could do better’ for the Spanish squad, whose relationship with the Tour has been a rocky one. After an inauspicious start, Enric Mas eventually snuck into fifth place, thanks to a strong third week and a surprisingly good time trial. Elsewhere, it looks like Alejandro Valverde’s best days are finally behind him (he is 40, bare in mind), whilst Marc Soler proved hugely disappointing, finishing only 21st overall. The ‘Trident’ strategy yielded little, barring yet another Team Classification victory. The team seemed to lack focus somewhat, having lost Landa and Quintana to other teams. The lack of a stage victory will also be a huge disappointment; Movistar have just one win in 2020.

Rating: 2.5/5

NTT Pro Cycling Team.

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A team that lacked coherence, NTT (formerly Dimension Data) were largely invisible throughout the Tour. The abandon of Giacomo Nizzolo was frustrating; he finished third on stage one and would have fancied his chances in the remaining sprints. The remaining sprinters were simply unable to match the power of Ewan and Bennett, whilst Domenico Pozzovivo also abandoned, eliminating any chance of a mountain stage victory. The likes of Michael Valgren and Roman Kreuziger looked like mere shadows of their former selves.

Rating: 1/5

Team Arkea-Samsic.

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Until stage 15, it looked like Nairo Quintana was finally rolling back the years and in a great position to challenge for the Tour podium. However, he succumbed to injuries from the same crash that ended Bardet’s Tour, and was dropped early on the Grand Colombier alongside compatriot Egan Bernal. They achieved nothing of note, and Frenchman Warren Barguil could not recapture the form that saw him win two stages in 2017. The news that the team are being investigated for a potential doping violation makes this a dreadful start to Quintana’s career with Arkea.

Rating: 1/5

Team Ineos-Grenadiers.

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Having won seven of the previous eight editions of the Tour prior to 2020, anything less than another yellow jersey on the shoulders of Egan Bernal would prove to be a disappointment. Indeed, it turned out to be worse than mere disappointment: Bernal completely collapsed on stage 15 and abandoned prior to stage 17. Bernal just did not have the same smoothness that saw him fly up the Alpine climbs last year, and visibly struggled to match any attacks from other GC contenders. The team as a unit also looked weak; they never looked capable of challenging the stranglehold on the peloton that Jumbo-Visma held. Their ended ended on a more positive note though; Michal Kwiatkowski finally took a Grand Tour stage victory on stage 18.

Rating: 2/5

Team Jumbo-Visma.

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Such was the Dutch outfit’s control on the race from the start, many assumed the GC was finished as soon as Primož Roglič won stage four’s uphill test to Orcières-Merlette. From then on, there never appeared to be any danger of the Slovenian losing his lead, despite the ever-aggressive Tadej Pogacar beating him on stages nine and 15. Roglič seemed to have all-but secured victory when he finally outclimbed Pogacar on stage 17’s summit finish on the Col de la Loze. With a time trial to come, Roglič was expected to cruise to victory in his favoured discipline. He would never have predicted that Pogacar would put in one of the performances of the decade, overturning a 57-second deficit into a 59-second lead. Still, three stage wins (two from superstar all-rounder Wout Van Aert) gives them something to cheer about.

Rating: 3.5/5

Team Sunweb.

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I wrongly thought before the race that Sunweb would struggle to feature on any stages, with what appeared to be a fairly muddled roster with no GC options. Immediately I was proved wrong with Marc Hirschi’s narrow second place on stage 2, followed by a heart-breaking defeat on stage nine when he was caught just kilometres from the finish and then outsprinted by a select GC group. His perseverance finally paid off on stage 12, taking a solo win into Sarran. Dane Søren Kragh Andersen took two breakaway stage wins, one on stage 19 where he caught an elite sprinters’ group napping on a lumpy finish into Champagnole. His win on stage 14 was a tactical masterclass from Sunweb, who used several riders to shut down every attack on the final climb, leaving Andersen to attack over the top.

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Direct Energie.

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With 2017 stage-winner Lilian Calmejane abandoning early on, it was always going to be tough for the French Pro-Continental Team to notch up a victory. Sprinter Niccolò Bonifazio underperformed after a good start to 2020, faring no better than tenth on stage three. Fabien Grellier took the KOM jersey on the first stage, but couldn’t defend it for any longer. As always, they animated nearly every breakaway out there, but nothing ever came of it.

Rating: 2/5


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Whilst not looking too strong on paper, Trek can be more than happy with their third place on GC with Australian Richie Porte, his best-ever result in a Grand Tour after several leadership roles blighted by crashes and bad luck, and the best finish by an Australian rider since Cadel Evans won in 2011. All the more impressive that he lost 81 seconds to the other GC favourites on stage seven’s crosswind chaos. One of the best time trials of Porte’s career sealed the deal. World Champion Mads Pedersen was always there or thereabouts, with two second places and two more top-tens; he’ll be a little disappointed he couldn’t turn any of these into a victory

Rating: 4/5

UAE Team Emirates.

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After a somewhat surprising victory on the first stage for Alexander Kristoff, UAE would never have predicted that it would only get better from there. Tadej Pogacar first announced his intentions on stage eight, taking nearly 40 seconds from the other GC favourites. He followed this up with a stage win the next day, followed by yet another on the Grand Colombier on stage 15. He lost time on stage 17, and everyone assumed that the race was now firmly in Roglič’s grasp. They assumed wrong, and a career-defining ride in the final time trial shocked the cycling world, taking nearly two minutes out of Roglič and becoming the youngest winner of the Tour since 1904.

Rating: 5/5

Tour de France: Five Key Takeaways From the Final Week

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In what proved to be one of the most dramatic ends to a Grand Tour in recent history, Slovenian youngster Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team-Emirates) took a shock victory in his debut Tour de France. Here’s a breakdown of the key events that defined the third and final week of La Grande Boucle.

Pogacar Demolishes Time Trial to Overhaul Roglič

Pogacar came into his debut Tour for ‘experience’ as opposed to being a genuine General Classification (GC) contender. Few expected Pogacar to make the top five, even fewer the podium.

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Practically no-one predicted that the Slovenian would be on the top step of the podium after stage 20’s time trial. The 21-year old produced what will go down as one of the most memorable performances in Tour history, overcoming several noted time-triallists on a flat course with a hilltop finish to La Planche des Belles Filles.

Pogacar took a whopping 1:21 out of second-placed Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), and nearly two minutes out of yellow jersey holder Primoz Roglič. Just 9 riders finished within three minutes of his time.

At the first intermediate time check, Pogacar was thirteen seconds up on compatriot Roglič. This became 36 seconds at the second check before the climb.

Many expected that Pogacar had gone out too hard, and that Roglič had measured his effort perfectly in view of the tough 5.9km climb to come.

The opposite was true however, and Pogacar continued to stretch out his advantage all the way to the finish line, in what many will argue was the most thrilling end to a Tour for years.

Incredibly, this was just Pogacar’s third TT victory, and the first besides the Slovenian national championships.

Pogacar becomes the youngest winner of the Tour since 1904, and joins a select group of riders to have won it on their debut, including Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault.

Roglič Falls at the Last Hurdle

When the 2019 Vuelta a Espana winner won stage four to Orcières-Merlette, many assumed that that would set the tone for the rest of the race, with Roglič cruising to victory thanks to a menacingly-strong Jumbo-Visma team, as well as his noted TT skills.

Roglič never put a foot wrong, and when he extended his lead on the ferociously difficult Col de La Loze on stage 17, the race seemed like a done deal.

The TT was expected to be a formality, with Roglič’s noted ability against the clock that saw him win two time trial stages at last year’s Giro, and one at the Vuelta, hold firm against Pogacar.

That was until Roglič began the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles. His usual silk-smooth cadence and fluid position on the bike was replaced by ugly, erratic efforts in and out of the saddle, as he struggled to find his rhythm.

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Even his helmet was not fitted correctly, and a ragged bike change at the foot of the climb cost him even more seconds. That incident counted for little however; Roglič was roundly beaten, crossing the line dejectedly in fifth place.

Roglič will be looking back and wondering whether he could have put more time into Pogacar in the mountains, although such was his collapse on stage 20, as well as Pogacar’s two stage wins, he can’t protest that he was simply beaten by a stronger rider.

Porte Secures Career-Best Grand Tour Finish

Finally, after years of working as a domestique at Team Sky and a string of failed Grand Tour leadership attempts, Australian Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) secured his place on the podium in his best-ever result in a Grand Tour.

Despite lying in sixth after stage 15, Porte was able to move up to fourth on stage 17, outclimbing all except Roglič, Pogacar, and stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team), who was almost two minutes ahead in third.

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Rolling back the years, Porte put in a mesmerising ride on stage 20 to finish third, level with Dumoulin, whose ride was enough to secure seventh overall.

Meanwhile, Lopez had a day to forget, finishing in 45th and over six minutes down on the winner, helping catapult Porte into third place on GC. The Columbian will need to make serious improvements to his TT ability if he is to challenge for a GT win.

For Porte, his podium finish will be an emotional result in the twilight of his career, at his final Tour in a leadership role (assuming the rumours he has signed to Ineos Grenadiers prove to be true).

Away from the podium, Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-First) also fell foul of a poor TT, leaving them minutes off of third place. Landa records another fourth place, his joint-best position at the Tour alongside the 2017 edition. Uran could only manage eighth overall, having been in third after stage 15.

Spaniard Enric Mas gave Movistar something to cheer about for once; a surprisingly-good TT and a strong third week took him to fifth place. They once again take home the Team Classification prize, as they did in four of the previous five editions.

Bernal Abandons as Ineos Grenadiers Refocus.

Defending champion Egan Bernal did not start on stage 17, after the Columbian’s collapse on stage 15 and continuing problems with knee and back pain.

For the first time since 2014, the Ineos Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky) rolled onto the Champs Elysees on the final stage without the Tour winner in their squad.

Whilst the team’s staff scratch their heads and refocus on next year’s race, the remainder of the team’s riders sought to salvage their race and look for stage wins.

2019 Giro winner Richard Carapaz came close on stages 16 and 17; finishing second on the former and being the last man standing from the breakaway until the final kilometres of the latter.

Stage 18 finally gave the British squad the victory they were after, with the duo of Carapaz and the ever-reliable Michal Kwiatkowski riding away from the large breakaway group, leaving them alone from the Hors Categorie Plateau des Glières.

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The pair rode together arm-in-arm across the line, with Kwiatkowski taking (surprisingly) his first GT stage win as a reward for his domestique duties since helping Froome win his fourth Tour title in 2017.

Carapaz took the King of the Mountains jersey as well, but was unable to prevent Pogacar from taking it back on stage 20. He finished second in that competition.

Bennett Secures Green with Emphatic Champs-Élysées victory

2020 proved to be the first edition of the Tour de France that Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has finished and not won the Points Classification. The Slovakian also failed to win a stage for the first time since 2015.

This left Irishman Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) to take his first green jersey, becoming the second Irish national to do so after Sean Kelley took his fourth and final maillot vert in 1989.

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Coming into the third week with a 45-point lead over Sagan, Bennett was able to survive the mountain stages and compete for the remaining intermediate sprint points, where he was able to overcome Sagan each time.

By the start of the final stage, Bennett had all but secured the jersey, and a dream Tour culminated with an emphatic victory on the Champs-Élysées to add to his stage win on stage 10 to Île de Ré, beating World Champion Mads Pedersen (Trek) and Sagan himself.

For Sagan, he is still without a win since the 2019 Tour, and will be wanting to forget this edition as soon as possible.