Many of the big name sprinters at the Giro d'Italia will have packed their bags and flown home by the time stage 13 starts on Friday, but does it devalue the red jersey competition?

André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) wears the Giro d’Italia‘s red jersey, but he is leaving it for someone else to win in the Italian tour as he heads home on Friday for Germany.

Greipel won three stages, including Thursday’s stage to Bibione, near Venice in northeast Italy. He leads the points classification and holds the red jersey by 169 points over Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) with 138.

Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) will not have a chance to make up points to wear the red jersey because he also has plans to leave. For them, and riders like Marcel Kittel (Etixx–Quick Step) who abandoned on Sunday in the red jersey, the Giro travels too many mountainous roads in the next nine days to make it worthwhile carrying on.

Quitting while in the lead is something that would be unimaginable for a sprinter to do in the Tour de France if he had the equivalent green jersey and the Giro organiser isn’t best pleased with the situation.

“What can I say? I’m not happy,” cycling director of organiser RCS Sport, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly.

“I respect them. Greipel gave a lot to this race, but to see a rider with one of the jerseys pull out is sad. There are still two to three [sprint] stages left, but the other Grand Tours are not that much easier. The red jersey is as big as the [Tour’s] green jersey. We brought in the red jersey [a few years ago when it changed points system] to give the sprinters something to fight for and win.”

Unlike Kittel, who left quietly without much fuss, Greipel said in advance that he would leave and faced questions on his decision.

“I understand the concern, but before coming to the Giro we decided to leave after stage 12,” Greipel said. “The sports directors agreed with this. I understand how the fans feel, but I can tell you that I’ve fought hard and it was hard for me to continue. I’m a human, not a machine.

“The next week, it doesn’t suit me as a sprinter. The Giro is the Giro and the Tour is the Tour, and I have to make decisions in my life. It’s not easy.”

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Greipel won the points jersey in the Vuelta a España and came close in the Tour de France to taking home the green jersey after four stage wins.

“There are certain sprinters that do want to stay around for [the red jersey], but the top guys like Greipel and Kittel, they want to go for the Tour de France stages, which is obviously a bigger race than here,” Ewan explained. “They saw the profiles of the Giro, and saw the good sprint opportunities and so they would’ve come here as a preparation race.”

Ewan placed second today, his closest yet to winning a stage. He refused to say if he would go home, but indicated he likely would. “The plan was for me to only stay to stage 12,” he said. “I’m still young, so maybe it’s better to stop before I dig myself too much into a hole.”

With Greipel out, Italy’s Nizzolo will automatically inherited the red jersey for stage 13 starting in Palmanova tomorrow.

“You should ask the ones going home [why they do], but I’m staying,” Nizzolo said. “It’s not just that the Italians stay, it’s more about one’s racing programme. If they have in mind to also race the Tour de France or not. Staying here, it becomes hard to do the two Grand Tours at a high level.”

Nizzolo added that he considers the red jersey as important as the Tour’s green jersey. “I think it is,” he said. “We will continue to try to win it, it’s big for our team.”

  • poisonjunction

    Solution – Entry of any individual or team making it clear they have no intention of completing the course is refused.
    Those entering and subsequently deliberately walking away – forfeit prize money’s and are barred from competition during period of current race.

  • reece46

    Does anyone look forward to watching a flat day? What hope for the casual viewer? keep it indoors.

  • eminusx

    hmmm, that doesnt quite capture the whole story though does it. cant prove anything. . . yet, but it just doesnt ring true to me and a lot of others.
    Agree to disagree i guess.

  • Declan Bowler

    He released data about his ride later, there is nothing to suggest he cheated. Until he is proven guilty, he is innocent.

  • eminusx

    your broad brush statement couldnt be further from the truth. I only think Arnaud Demare is.

  • Declan Bowler

    I don’t think the race organisers have anyone to blame but themselves, if they want the sprinters to stay then make the race more appealing.

  • Declan Bowler

    Theres always one who thinks everyones a cheat. Grow up.

  • Dave

    On the other hand, I think it’s actually more honest for Greipel to have withdrawn overnight like this.

    The alternative would have been worse – for Greipel to turn up at sign on the following day, accept the crowd’s adulation and start the race – only to cruise along in the pack for the first 50k before hopping in the team car.

  • Dave

    I agree.

    The SBS commentators debated this during Thursday’s stage and got it right, saying that the organisers are clearly not unhappy with the current situation as they simply don’t do anything to shake up the format of the second half of the race with eight consecutive mountain stages.

    It makes the final stage a bit more interesting as a result. Unlike the Tour de France final stage which is practically the Sprinters World Championship and there’s only a couple of contenders, with the Giro it’s more interesting as you genuinely don’t know who is going to win. Last year we even saw a two-up sprint with Durbo and Keisse stay away because there were no teams wiling to commit to their fastest guy.

  • J1

    It’s not going to make any difference to the race. Pink is the only colour.

  • Arch Stanton

    Cipollini said that he always went on holiday during the TdF, so touche Gira

  • An insult to the Giro and the Italians. Plenty of other stage races around to get the legs working as a prep for the TdF, Not planning to complete – then don’t start.

  • Michael

    Well, for one thing the Green Jersey isn’t really won by a sprinter these days, it’s won by the guy who is usually 2nd or 3rd best at sprinting but can go in a breakaway and get a bunch of intermediate sprints and maybe get to the end of a stage with a moderate climb in the middle and win a sprint against non sprinters.

    They even tried to fix it so Sagan wouldn’t win it again last year but he still did.

    So you can see the sprinter’s reluctance TBH.

  • Bill Chriswell

    So lets have a seperate Tour for the pansy sprinters…or better yet…lets have Tours w/ equal MT and Sprint stages

  • eminusx

    and, its still a winners Jersey from a Grand Tour, the stuff of dreams for us mere mortals. . . though perhaps Greipel feels Kittel is the rightful winner after his outright and unadulterated victories?

  • eminusx

    im sure Arnaud Demare would find a spot for it next to his equally credible San Remo win?

  • Samuel Clemens

    Evidently the red jersey is not on a par with the TDF green. It is pretty insulting to bugger off while holding it, though.