Giro d'Italia: Bernal and Yates primed for maglia rosa battle amid fierce competition

By Sports Desk May 07, 2021

The Giro d'Italia returns to its usual spot on the calendar after its coronavirus-delayed scheduling last year and it promises to be another classic.

It was not until October that last season's event took place, with Ineos Grenadiers rider Tao Geoghegan Hart taking the honours for his first Grand Tour triumph.

However, the Briton's primary target in 2021 is the Tour de France so he will not be wearing the maglia rosa in Milan at the end of the month.

Here is a rundown of everything you need to know about this year's Giro.

 

THE ROUTE

It is 3,479 kilometres of hard graft from the start in Torino on May 8 to the finish line in Milan 22 days later.

That spans 21 stages, with two rest days, beginning and ending with individual time trials.

In between are some punishing days in the saddle, including seven major mountain stages and brief trips into Slovenia and Switzerland along the way.

All eyes will be on what could be a pivotal day in the mountains on stage 16, which takes in climbs up Passo Fedaia and the Passo Giau in the Dolomites.

The literal high point of the race – though perhaps not at all figuratively for the competitors – will also come on that day atop the Passo Pordoi, at 2,239m above sea level.

THE CONTENDERS

There is little to split Simon Yates and Giro debutant Egan Bernal in the bookies' odds, with stiff competition from elsewhere in the pack.

Bernal is from the rich stock of Ineos Grenadiers' stable and will have the backing of a strong team, as will Team BikeExchange's Yates.

Both have Grand Tour successes under their belts, Bernal winning the 2019 Tour, while Yates prevailed at the 2018 Vuelta a Espana.

Given that Geoghegan Hart was not giving any billing ahead of last year's race, it would be remiss to exclude supposed 'outsiders' from the reckoning.

On that front, Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Bernal's team-mate Pavel Sivakov would be two to look out for, while 2020 runner-up Jai Hindley (DSM) cannot be discounted.

 

PAST WINNERS

2020: Tao Geoghegan Hart 

2019: Richard Carapaz

2018: Chris Froome

2017: Tom Dumoulin 

2016: Vincenzo Nibali

EXPERT INSIGHT

Tour winner and five-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins shed some light on the supposed fragility of Bernal, suggesting the dynamic with Sivakov could prove problematic.

Wiggins favours Yates instead and suggested he could be joined on the podium by fellow Briton Hugh Carthy.

"The air of invincibility around Bernal has now gone after his failure at the Tour last year due to injury," Wiggins told Cyclingnews.

"There are question marks over his form and if he's through the period of being able to get through three weeks of racing without problems for his back.

"But for me this is Simon Yates' moment. He's won the Vuelta and it's been three years since he won that race and he dominated the Giro until Chris Froome did what he did.

"We could have two British riders [Yates and Carthy] on the podium and I think that it's going to be great race, I really do."

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  • Vuelta a Espana: Roglic unrivalled as he seals hat-trick in style Vuelta a Espana: Roglic unrivalled as he seals hat-trick in style

    Primoz Roglic secured his third successive Vuelta a Espana title with an imperious performance in Sunday's time trial finale.

    Roglic entered the 33.8 kilometre ride from Padron to Santiago de Compostel all but sure of winning La Roja barring a remarkable turn of events.

    And the Slovenian finished things off in style as he became only the fourth rider in history to win the Vuelta on three separate occasions.

    Roglic also succeeded in matching Roberto Heras' feat of three consecutive triumphs (set between 2003 and 2005).

    He did so by crossing the line in 44 minutes and two seconds, claiming his fourth stage win of this year's Vuelta, which was bookended by Roglic victories, the Olympic time trial champion have started this year's race with a triumph on stage one.

    The Jumbo-Visma rider surpassed Magnus Cort's previous best time by 14 seconds, with Thymen Arensman 52 seconds off the pace in third.

    It meant his final winning margin over Spain's Enric Mas (Movistar) was a massive four minutes and 42 seconds, with Australia's Jack Haig third for Bahrain Victorious.

    As if to hammer home his superiority, Roglic overtook Mas on the final turn before crossing the line, providing an exclamation point as he underlined his status as one of the finest Grand Tour racers on the planet and a clear favourite to challenge for yet more glory next season.

  • Vuelta a Espana: Roglic closes in on victory with second-place finish behind Champoussin Vuelta a Espana: Roglic closes in on victory with second-place finish behind Champoussin

    Primoz Roglic would need an almighty slip up to fail to win the Vuelta a Espana, though Saturday's penultimate stage belonged to Clement Champoussin.

    A monster, 202.2-kilometre route culminated in a summit finish on Mos. Castro de Herville, with 23-year-old Champoussin attacking with 1500m remaining to take the first stage win of his professional career.

    The Frenchman crossed the line six seconds ahead of Roglic, who had led a chasing pack that caught breakaway leader Ryan Gibbons with around 4km left.

    Roglic's second-place finish, two seconds ahead of nearest general classification rival Enric Mas of Movistar, should surely see the Jumbo-Visma rider claim La Roja for a third successive year.

    It could all change in Sunday's time trial, but having won gold in such an event at the Tokyo Olympics, Roglic will know a third Vuelta crown is within his grasp.

    Should he hold onto his GC lead, which stands at 2:38, Roglic will become only the fourth rider in history to win the Vuelta on three separate occasions, while he will also match Roberto Heras' feat of three consecutive triumphs (set between 2003 and 2005).

    Stage 20 belonged to Champoussin, however. After Roglic, Mas, Adam Yates and Jack Haig had caught Gibbons, the AG2R Citroen rider lodged a surprise offensive, catching the quintet cold.

    For a moment, with Roglic gaining ground, it looked as though Champoussin - who only turned pro last year - may have gone too soon, but he held on to claim a maiden grand tour stage success.

    Behind Roglic, Adam Yates of INEOS Grenadiers just edged out Mas to secure a top-three finish. A dismal day for Miguel Angel Lopez saw him abandon the race with 20km remaining after he failed to keep pace with the general classification group.

    STAGE RESULT

    1. Clement Champoussin (AG2R Citroen) 05:21:50
    2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:06
    3. Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:08

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 83:11:27
    2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:38
    3. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) +4:48

    Points Classification

    1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
    2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 179
    3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 145

    King of the Mountains

    1. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 80
    2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 61
    3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 51

    What's next?

    Sunday's final stage is a 33.8km time trial from Padron to Santiago de Compostela. A consistent climb is followed by downhill, technical sections and a flat straight to the line. 

     

  • Vuelta a Espana: Roglic maintains overall lead as Cort celebrates 'dream' third stage win Vuelta a Espana: Roglic maintains overall lead as Cort celebrates 'dream' third stage win

    Primoz Roglic heads into the final weekend of the Vuelta a Espana with a third successive title within touching distance, while Magnus Cort won stage 19 on Friday.

    Danish rider Cort, who also triumphed on stages six and 12, was the quickest man in a breakaway, holding off Rui Oliveira and Quinn Simmons to clinch victory in Monforte de Lemos.

    EF Education-Nippo team-mate Lawson Craddock powered out to lead the final sprint and though Simmons attacked with 200 metres to go, it was Cort who caught the slipstream to claim a dramatic win by a bike length at the culmination of a 191.2-kilometre stage.

    Cort, who won two stages in the 2016 Vuelta and one in 2020, said: "It's amazing, it's a dream now, I really hope I don't wake up. It was not before the last five or six kilometres that I started believing.

    "They always kept us close and it was a really hard day. We didn't always work perfect together in the front, we had a few attacks that reduced the size of the group.

    "I think everybody had tired legs and it was hard to work together in this hilly terrain but somehow we managed to hang onto it."

    Roglic kept his general classification competitors at arm's length as he retained his grasp on La Roja heading into the last two stages, finishing 18 seconds behind the leaders.

    Saturday's mountain stage could still cause problems, while Roglic has been hurt by time trials in grand tours before – the 2020 Tour de France was settled in Tadej Pogacar's favour in such a manner – but the Slovenian looks well placed to make it three Vuelta wins in a row.

    Roglic's family were on hand to witness him receive the 50th overall leader jersey of his career, and the Olympic gold medallist knows he is on the verge of a remarkable achievement.

    "It’s beautiful to have my family here. They are my life and I'm very happy," he said.

    "It was a hard day from the start to the finish. A super strong break went away. For us, it was fine, and we could take it easy. But La Vuelta is coming to an end so there aren’t much opportunities left.

    "The sprinters' teams pulled with a super hard tempo. It's crazy [that this is my 50th Grand Tour leader’s jersey]. Hopefully I can keep it."

    STAGE RESULT

    1. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 04:24:54
    2. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) same time
    3. Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) same time

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 77:49:37
    2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:30
    3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +2:53

    Points Classification

    1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
    2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 162
    3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 144

    King of the Mountains

    1. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 59
    2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 54
    3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 48

    What's next?

    Saturday's route is a monster. A 202.2km stage from Sanxenxo to Mos. Castro de Herville takes in five short but difficult climbs after a relatively flat start.

     

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