Today, into the final fifteen kilometres, Alberto Bettiol looked a million dollars. Race leader Remi Cavagna, holding him at bay on the flat, was powerless to resist each time the road went upwards. Bettiol was exuberant, and apparently in touch with that mystical, bottomless pit of energy that all cyclists access from time to time.
It’s fair to say he had the ‘good legs.’
He simply willed this win into existence.
The Italian’s last win was the Tour of Flanders back in 2019. Not a regular winner, he prefers quality over quantity. In this Giro to date he has been EF Education Nippo team leader Hugh Carthy’s key lieutenant in the mountains; a super-duper domestique deluxe.Embed from Getty Images
He rode today, free of those shackles, like a man who knew he was going to win the bike race. “Ok,” he said, communicating purely through the medium of a silky and powerful pedal stroke, “if we really have to go through the motions guys then we will…but today I cannot be beaten.”
Imagine seeing Remi Cavagna thirty seconds down the road, a man known as the TGV because his power output resembles the train of the same name, and thinking yeah…I reckon I can beat that guy.
When Bettiol caught him on the final slopes of the final climb Cavagna cracked, immediately beaten, to leave our man with a clear ride and a sweeping finish into the Lombardian town of Stradella.
The crowd cheered, Bettiol lapped it up, and we all felt a little happier at the sight of a fellow human on top of his game.
The peloton, led by the Ineos Grenadiers in service of Pink Jersey Egan Bernal, were twenty-three minutes back down the road at this point. Twenty-three. Long since having agreed that this was a day for the break and we’ll all just save our energy for the two massive mountain days and concluding time trial to come thanks very much.
This was a day to switch off from the tension of the GC battle and bask in a joyous single day celebration. Yet another breakaway win in this most break-y of Grand Tours. Yet another first time Giro stage winner.
“I know I can do well when my legs are better than my luck,” said Bettiol, cryptically, as he basked in his win post stage. I’m not even sure that makes sense.
But who needs to make sense when you can ride a bike like that?