Monday’s second rest day of the Giro d’Italia comes a week after the first, when the GC favourites for the most part were all together and Fernando Gaviria began Quick Step’s six straight days in pink. Since then, Gaviria has taken his second stage victory, the list of likely champion and podium men down to a half dozen and Nairo Quintana back in the pink jersey for the first time since June 1, 2014.

Canadian Cycling Magazine examines some of the big stories and trends of the first nine stages.

The Crash

In one fell swoop on Sunday, on the lead-in to Blockhaus’s appetizer climb, three riders and two teams saw their Giro hopes dashed. Sky’s Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa, along with Orica’s Adam Yates, hit the ground hard but were able to carry on, unlike Wilco Kelderman, whose collision with the stationary moto caused the wreck.

Thomas at +5:08 is still in position for a top-20 finish, but will he bother carrying on or withdrawal to regroup for the Tour de France? Yates might be able to bully his way into the top-10. Landa is buried.

Pitiless Blockhaus

If the carnage at the foot of the climb wasn’t bad enough, the grades of the Blockhaus were the setting for the undoing of several contenders. Steven Kruijswijk is no longer a pink jersey threat at +3:06. Tejay Van Garderen (+3:56) once again has capitulated after a promising spring. Even Ilnur Zakarin at +2:28 is podium chasing.

What Sunday’s altimetry revealed is that Quintana, Tom Dumoulin and Thibaut Pinot are the most likely to stand on the glory steps in Milan. Bauke Mollema, Vincenzo Nibali and Domenico Pozzovivo are the next most likely to podium, with Zakarin a minute back of Pozzovivo.

Dumoulin and Pinot are Quintana’s closest rivals.

Seven Sprinters Sprinting

The opening stages of the Giro have been a real mixed bag: a late attack victory in the opening stage, four bunch sprint wins and three breakaway triumphs.

The sprint competition has been lively. Gaviria leading the way with two wins and the purple points jersey. Andre Greipel earned his seventh Giro stage and wore the pink for a day. Caleb Ewan added a Giro stage to the Vuelta a España win on his palmares.

Stages 12 and 13–the latter pancake flat–are when the fast-twitch men will square off again. Can Sam Bennett get satisfaction this week?

Can Sam Bennett join the sprint winners club?

The Rest of the Week Ahead

The two most important days for the GC men are Stage 10, when the race reconvenes on Tuesday, and Saturday’s stage 14. Tuesday is a long time trial where I expect Dumoulin to take over pink and Bob Jungels retake the lead in the best young rider competition. Can Nibali take back a little time on Quintana, Pinot and Mollema? Can Pozzovivo hang around enough to continue as a podium threat?

Saturday is a short, sweet classic. At 131-km, the route starts with a downhill before 80-km of almost imperceptibly rising road, before a little steeper rise and finally a 13-km, 8% Cat. 1 climb to Oropa. Expect another decisive Quintana attack.

Rusty and Svein

Michael Woods’ Giro has had its ups and downs. He was with Kruijswijk when they were delayed by a crash in Stage 1, got blown away by Quick Step in Stage 3, stumbled a little on Stage 7 and then lost a considerable chunk of time on the Blockhaus. However, a notable pair of 5th places during a week of aggressive racing helped him to stay in 22nd spot at the rest day. The time trial will challenge him.

Tuft? All he does is work, work, work. Ewan launches and stage victories will be Orica’s office now.


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