During these Covid times, Giacomo Nizzolo is cleared to travel. We know this, because he has his papers slapped across his head. Embossed on his helmet for the avoidance of doubt (and in the name of fun!)
Reason for travelling: winning Giro stages.
Which is awkward.
Because Giacomo Nizzolo is taking part in his eighth Giro d’Italia – he’s a Giro veteran – and a previous winner of the sprinters Ciclamino jersey back in 2015 and 2016. This guy is no underdog. He’s the current Italian national and European champion, for goodness sake.
And yet, career Giro stage wins to date: zero.
Maybe it’s an exercise in visualisation? That the very act of boldly asserting his intention, out there on display for all to see, might will it into existence. To quote Henry Ford: “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
Ford’s thoughts about slapping those thoughts boldly across your bonce are unknown. I think maybe the principle holds, though.
I, for one, fond of Sagan, Ewan and Viviani though I am, was hoping for a Nizzolo win today at the end of a slightly hilly though probably sprinty stage. To offset his record number of second places. Because despite his achievements he feel like an underdog and so I, like many, am genetically pre-disposed to cheer for him.Embed from Getty Images
Alas, into the Adriatic coastal town of Termoli, Caleb Ewan was in no mood to agree.
Flashing up a short, steep ramp and into the final kilometre he was twitching and snorting, fizzing with adrenaline, primed to shut down anyone who dared challenge his status. This was little Caleb as fully-formed A-list Alpha Sprinter.
With five-hundred metres to go, long-range attacking territory for a Sprinter, Fernando Gaviria tried to catch everyone unawares and burst clear. For a moment, he made a gap. But in half a blink Ewan had responded. Closing down the Colombian himself, lead-out men surplus to requirement, he found his rival’s slipstream before streaking past to win by daylight.
Davide Cimolai, chasing, was dispatched.
Nizzolo, our man, a mere spectator, way back.
For sprinting instinct, split second decision making, and raw speed, no sprinter in the world would’ve beaten Ewan today. He was like a bomb going off. Nizzolo, meanwhile, rolls on. Paperwork in place and fully compliant. That Giro win, up ahead, somewhere around a corner.