To those critics who say that this 2019 Giro d’Italia is boring, riders respond to “just be patient” and wait for the final two weeks and mountains to come.
The Italian Grand Tour temporarily stops today, in one of its two rest days over the three weeks. It begins again on Tuesday, with Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) on top of the general classification in pink and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) leading the group of potential overall winners.
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“Boring? I could agree with that a little bit,” Chad Haga (Sunweb) said of those comments made on social media about this edition.
Team Sunweb recruited him for their eight-man squad to help Tom Dumoulin win for a second time. The Dutchman, however, abandoned early due to a crash on stage four.
“It doesn’t mean it’s always stress free for us in the bunch or the GC guys trying to get through, I’ve certainly helped Tom enough to know what that feels like,” Haga added. “So it’s not the most riveting yet, but it’s still good racing.”
The race has gone over 200 kilometres five times in its first week and offered sprinters a chance to win, making for some sleepy moments mid-race as the Giro covered ground through central and southern Italy. And, oddly for the Giro, it has lacked a summit finish in the first week.
“It’s that and just that it is a three-week race, you saw Simon Yates last year just absolutely shred the first two weeks and then collapse within sight of the finish line almost,” Haga continued.
“And then you look at the profile of all the stages in the back half of the Giro, you don’t want to be firing all your guns right now. Just seeing how intimidating those profiles are is why guys are saving their energy and it’s not so exciting yet.
“Just be patient, the excitement will come!”
Two-time race winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) agreed, repeating Haga’s comment: “You need to be patient.”
On Sunday, Nibali rode the time trial to the Republic of San Marino, limiting his losses to one minute behind Roglič. Meanwhile, Yates suffered as he lost over three minutes in the 34.8km race against the clock. The stage ended the first of three chapters in this Giro.
“This first week certainly was a bit a week more for the sprinters. There wasn’t much space for the GC riders,” Nibali said.
“But it’s also true that we’ve had some very cold days and a lot of rain. And a lot of wind. So it’s normal that riders stay close to their leaders for the GC. So the race is raced like that, and it’s done in the last hour, and it becomes a bit boring for people who are watching at home. It’s tactics.
“The harder days are coming up ahead, and that’s normal. People know there are hard mountain stages coming up where it will be very difficult to recover. So people are looking to save as much energy as possible in the opening part of the race.”
Nibali has heard the criticism posted on Twitter and Facebook that the race lacks a spark in 2019.
“It’s more those people who’ve never followed cycling or just watch on TV, but when when you see it or race it on the roads, you know that it functions that way,” he added. “When there is a leader, the team rides for him, the DS and leader make decision and the riders stay around him. It’s not just in Bahrain, but in all the teams.”
“We have to say that a few stages were for the sprinters, they came here to control the race, and maybe people think that it’s boring for that reason,” said Dimension Data sports director, Bingen Fernandez.
He pointed out the long stages, the lack of a summit finish and the worry of those heavy mountain stages ahead.
“Everyone is waiting for the last week, which going to be a lot of things happening,” continued Fernandez.
“The race is also going to be hard at the end, the GC guys are controlling each other, they try not to lose energy, waiting for the last week, that combination of everything.”