We watched on today hoping that Roglic, Nibali, Landa, and co. would throw the kitchen sink at serene wearer of the Pink Jersey Richard Carapaz. With just a time trial in Verona to come it was their only hope. They had to take chunks out of his near two-minute race lead.
But there was a problem with that.
Kitchen sinks are heavy.
Dolomites are big.
And that’s without the small matter of engaging the services of a plumber, on a Saturday, to disconnect the thing and secure the water supply in the first place.
No. It was unrealistic. The best they could manage was to remove a couple of taps and fling them in Carapaz’s general direction; the Movistar man, appropriately, was unmoved.
The problem is that Froome, with his epic, race-winning escape in last year’s Giro, has redefined expectations. Had he not done that last year it wouldn’t have occurred to us that Roglic or Nibali might do similar this. Fact is, the pace was too high and the legs too tired.
This was a grind over mountain, after mountain, at a sustained pace set precisely too high for anyone to risk an attack.
On a day with five-and-a-half-thousand metres of vertical ascent Movistar controlled the front of the peloton with absolute certainty. If the occasional blip arrived, Carapaz himself chased down moves and marked rivals. In contrast, Primoz Roglic, fighting gamely, was isolated and teammate-less from the first mountain.
We dare you, the Spanish team seemed to be saying.Embed from Getty Images
A first-time winner of a Grand Tour (pending disaster tomorrow) has surely never looked so assured and in control. Calm, composed, and mightily strong. Flanked by teammates. Carapaz was granite jawed in his hold on this race.
For the finish, up the final slopes, he turned mountain domestique super-duper-deluxe in an attempt to set up his ultra-loyal teammate Mikel Landa for the stage win. By this time the race leaders had merged with the remnants of the day’s breakaway.
It came down to two; fellow Basques Landa and Pello Bilbao separated from the rest, and sprinted through treacle for the line.
Bilbao took it, for stage win number two in this race.
Which was harsh on Landa.
And tomorrow, we will have an Ecuadorian third year pro as the winner of the Giro d’Italia.
If anyone tells you they saw that coming three weeks ago they are a liar.
(Top Image: Fair Use via https://movistarteam.com/en/team/mens-team)