You know Egan Bernal and Simon Yates. You’re familiar with Vincenzo Nibali, Remco Evenepoel and Dan Martin. You might even be able to pick out Aleksandr Vlasov at a push. But before this Giro d’Italia, you didn’t know Lorenzo Fortunato.
You barely knew him yesterday.
So lets Google him, together, and find out more.
He’s tiny, and Italian, and hails from Bologna. He’s twenty-five years old. He riders for the Eolo Kometa team of which Alberto Contador is a General Manager and he once finished a heady fourth overall at the Tour of Albania.
As for race wins?
Not so much.
All of which explains why none of us predicted a gritty, dig-deep, brave Giro d’Italia stage win today atop Monte Zoncolan; one of the most feared mountains in all of pro cycling.
When he dropped fellow breakaway companion and grit-jawed Slovenian Jan Tratnik with a couple of kilometres to go it was still in the balance. The look of pain on Fortunato’s face told us this. The impending twenty percent gradients to come confirmed it. The fog, and the banks of roadside snow, added atmosphere.
It would be the longest two kilometres of his short life.
At this point, Simon Yates was busily eating up the road a couple of minutes further back, having burst clear of the peloton in that stock-still in-control climbing position of his, with only Egan Bernal of the main contenders in a fit state to follow.
Yates, if I’m reading his body language correctly, was saying: “Yes, it’s as you all suspected. I’ve been saving myself for the past two weeks, hence my total anonymity in this race so far. I am actually in sparkling form and will now spend the next week demonstrating that. That is all. Thank you.”
Which is a complex message to intuit through the medium of body language, I admit, but I’ve spent a lot of time watching Yates over the years and, what can I say…they’re his words not mine!?
Unfortunately, a kilometre later, Egan Bernal had a response. It was visceral, and powerful, and saw the man in pink drop Yates and scorch to the summit finish line to gain eleven seconds on the inscrutable Brit.
Yates’s form still holds – he gained time on every other rival and is now second overall – but right now Bernal is a rung or two higher.
SO impressive!Embed from Getty Images
Which brings us back to Fortunato, who grimaced and wobbled a bit over those final, agonising two-thousand metres, but took a stunning, career defining win.
Rumour has it that, pre-race, Alberto Contador had announced that if his fledgling team won a stage – one that would be the first major win for a team who only got their pro license this year – he would don his Lycra and ride from his home in Madrid all the way to Milan by way of celebration.
Fifteen hundred kilometres.
I guess he’ll be thankful he didn’t go all in and say he’d do it naked, or dressed as an alpaca, or something equally whimsical.
Time to clear the diary, Bertie, and get pedalling.
(Top Image: Lorenzo Fortunato – Fair Use via https://twitter.com/giroditalia)