Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz could pull off the upset and win the Giro d’Italia

And other observations on the second rest day

May 27th, 2019 by | Posted in News | Tags: ,

When the 102nd Giro d’Italia began two weeks ago in Bologna, there were five favourites: two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali, 2017 champion Tom Dumoulin, red hot Primož Roglič, current Vuelta a España titlist Simon Yates and Angel “Superman” Lopez. Now, with a brutal week in the mountains left, only two of those riders, Nibali and Roglič, are still likely lads to wear the pink jersey in Verona next Sunday, but the man currently clad in the maglia rosa , Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz, is the cat among the pigeons, and could very well pull off the upset.

Most oddsmakers still have Roglič as the favourite, but Carapaz has surpassed Nibali and some even have the Movistar rider at 5/4 odds.

Two stage wins and aggressive riding has Carapaz in dreamland, but he faces an enormously challenging final week. Photo: Sirotti

Carapaz’s position with six stages to go shouldn’t be all that astonishing, considering that with all the buzz about Movistar’s “Trident” of Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa last season, it was the Ecuadorian who had the best Grand Tour, fourth in the Giro. He won a stage then and he’s taken two so far in the 102nd edition.

It’s the tightest top-three on the Giro’s second rest day since 2014, when Rigoberto Uran led Rafal Majka by 1:50, with Cadel Evans in between at +1:03. Carapaz has a 1:47 lead on Nibali, with Roglič at +0:47. Carapaz should be wary that not only was Uran unable to keep his lead–fifth place Quintana would claim the final pink in Trieste–but also since 2014 two other riders who led on the second rest day, Steven Kruijswijk and Yates, failed to win the race, both with their own particular disasters.

Carapaz has been climbing very well, racing aggressively and benefiting from a team that gives him an edge. Movistar and Astana have been the strongest teams of the Giro so far, and teammate Landa’s fifth spot on GC affords him a tactical advantage. The Ecuadorian needs at least another minute on both Nibali and Roglič, similar to how Nibali needs to lead the Slovenian by a minute before Verona’s time trial conclusion.

Landa had to come back from far down to reach fifth, and it’s clear at this point that any more attacking will not be to edge him closer to the podium but to work for Carapaz. Yates’ comeback over the last two stages has also been impressive. Watch him vie for the podium in the last week.

Simon Yates is finally coming into form before the taxing final week. Photo: Sirotti

Other Jerseys

The mountains jersey seems likely to stay with Giulio Ciccone, although there’s always the chance that a GC man will run wild in the mountains to scoop the classification. If Ciccone holds fast, it would be Trek-Segafredo’s fourth Giro jersey since 2014, with Giacomo Nizzoli winning the points classification in 2015 and 2016, and Julián Arredondo claiming the mountains title in 2014.

The points jersey is on Arnaud Démare’s shoulders right now with Pascal Ackermann lurking behind (and Carapaz third–he’s also second in the mountains classification). Now that Fernando Gaviria, Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani have departed the race, it’s down to Stage 10 winner Démare and two-stage victor Ackermann. Will they both make it over the mountains? A win for Démare would be France’s first since Nacer Bouhanni in 2014 and one for Ackermann would be the first for Germany.

Pavel Sivakov (Russia/Ineos) and Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) are in a ding-dong battle for the young rider jersey, and only seven seconds separates the Russian, in his second Grand Tour, from the more experienced Lopez. Lopez has been a bit of a bust in this race; although he podiumed in both the Giro and the Vuelta last year, he has little chance of doing so in Verona, and outside of a stage win in the final week, repeating as the Giro’s white jersey is his only chance at getting something out of this Grand Tour.

By the way, the fellow currently in third place in the young rider jersey competition and 13th on GC is Frenchman Valentin Madouas of Groupama-FDJ, who is having the best Grand Tour debut of anyone in the race. We should see plenty of Sivakov and Madouas in the coming years.

Tidbits

Russia and Slovenia are the only nations that currently have two riders in the top-11.

Movistar leads Astana in the team competition but seventh place Bora-Hansgrohe has two fellows in the top-12. One of those riders, fourth place Rafal Majka, has been quietly consistent and poised to have his best Grand Tour since his sweet back-to-back accomplishment of third in the 2015 Vuelta and fifth in the 2016 Giro.

EF Education First, fifth in the team competition right now, has riders in 14th and 15th on GC. If Hugh Carthy and Joe Dombrowski can hold on to the top-20, it would be their best Grand Tour results by far.

Right now Roglič, Nibali, Landa and sixth place Bauke Mollema are penciled in as Tour de France starters.