Richard Carapaz wins the Giro d’Italia
There was never much doubt that Richard Carapaz would hold on to his overall lead in the final stage, and the Movistar rider could afford a slightly below-average time trial and still confirm himself as winner of the Giro d’Italia by over one minute.
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He certainly didn’t look like a natural against the clock, and rocked back and forth in a somewhat unstreamlined-looking position, and did lose 49 seconds to his nearest challenger Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). But this was still a comfortable end to what has been a dominant ride by Carapaz, with the final winning margin of 1-05 over Nibali the highest at the Giro d’Italia since 2015.
Virtually overnight, Carapaz has become a national sensation at his home nation of Ecuador. Plenty of fans could be seen on the roadside in Verona, and many many more watching at home on TV after the government aired the final stage on free-to-view TV.
Nibali must be commended for an excellent race and an eleventh career Grand Tour podium finish, putting him joint fifth (with Chris Froome) on the all-time list.
But it’s Carapaz who will revel in glory at the climax of this Giro d’Italia.
Primož Roglič leapfrogs Mikel Landa to take final podium spot
The only real tension among the GC riders on the final day of racing came in the fight for the podium, where Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) needed just 23 seconds to take Mikel Landa’s third place spot.
Roglič was expected to gain that time, but the contest turned out to be closer than many expected. Landa fought very hard, while Roglič was evidently a much more fatigued at this stage after winning both time trials earlier in the race, and the Slovenian only just surpassed Landa by a mere eight seconds.
Landa will be familiar with this situation, having also missed out on a Tour de France podium in the final time trial in 2017, that time to Romain Bardet by an agonising one second.
It would have been similarly devastating for Roglič had he missed out, especially having spent the entire final two weeks in a podium position. He might have targeted overall victory, but a first ever Grand Tour podium finish is still a landmark achievement in his cycling career.
Chad Haga an emotional stage winner
Away from the GC action, day 21 also represented one last chance for a stage victory.
The time trial specialists will have spent the last few weeks targeting today, resting as much as possible during the several mountain stages in order to be fresh for this stage.
Chad Haga (Sunweb) was one such rider, having impressed in the time trial to San Marino finish sixth, but not someone you’d expect to get the better of a rider the calibre of Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal).
However, Campenaerts’ was the leading time Haga bettered when he crossed the line in the afternoon, and no other rider from that point on came within five seconds of him.
Haga still looked very nervous on the hot seat when Primož Roglič was out on the road, but when he and then Vincenzo Nibali posted their slower times, the American’s emotion came bursting out.
For 30-year old Haga this is easily the biggest result of his career, made all the more impressive by the fact that he had to recover from being one of the Giant-Alpecin riders involved in a horrifying traffic collision in 2016.
Lotto-Soudal come close
After the frustration suffered on the stage nine time trial, when a slow mechanical cost him a stage win, Victor Campenaerts must have been desperate to land a victory in the effort against the clock.
However, despite another strong ride, the Belgian once again had to settle for second place. He might already be a European time trial champion and Hour Record holder, but a Grand Tour stage win remains elusive to him.
He wasn’t the only Lotto-Soudal rider to narrowly miss out on the stage win today, as Thomas de Gendt finished third. The Belgian has been uncharacteristically quiet throughout this Giro, spending the early part of the race dedicating himself to helping the team’s sprinter Caleb Ewan, then not appearing in as many breakaways as we’d usually expect him to.
As a rider who has good pedigree in time trials, having finished second in one on a Tour de France stage in the past, perhaps he identified this stage as his best hope for a victory, and preserved his energy in anticipation. If so, the gambit nearly paid off, but not quite.
Other riders seal top-10 finishes
Below Carapaz, Nibali, Roglič and Landa, a host of other riders sealed top-10 finishes on the GC, which some will be happier about than others.
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) will be among those in a celebratory mood, with fifth place for the former a highest Grand Tour finish in eight years, and sixth for the latter a highest in three years.
Despite missing out on the young riders jersey, Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) should also be happy with a breakthrough ninth overall, and take it as a sign that greater feats lie in wait for the 21-year old.
More disappointed will be Miguel Ángel López (Astana) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). Both climbers entered the race with realistic hopes of winning the race overall, but ultimately had to settle for seventh and eighth respectively.