So the first week of the Giro is over and if the riders have found it a difficult race so far then things are only set to get worse. It's unusual to see significant time gaps between the favourites in the first week of a Grand Tour but with a very long individual time trial and a week of 'classic' type stages some of the contenders now find themselves off the pace and in a predicament. Here's a look at how the first week of the Giro has panned out and how it is likely to effect the race going into the second week...
The Top 15 looks like this:
|1||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team||34:19:31|
|2||Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team||0:00:29|
|3||Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team||0:01:15|
|4||Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling||0:01:16|
|5||Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:01:24|
|6||Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling||0:02:11|
|7||Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia||0:02:43|
|8||Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida||0:02:44|
|9||Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling||0:02:49|
|10||Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team||0:03:02|
|11||Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp||0:03:11|
|12||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team||0:03:26|
|13||Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team||0:03:36|
|14||Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:03:43|
|15||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale||0:04:05|
And it's worth noting the names in the bottom 5. Domenico Pozzovivo will still look to light it up in the mountains and put in quite a decent time trial considering his size and capabilities but he's still over 4 minutes of the pace. If he loses more time he might look to stage wins and break-aways but whilst he's still in the top 15 it's unlikely the big hitters will give him free reign in the mountains just yet. Samuel Sanchez lost a lot of time in the Time Trial and it looks like he's in the same boat as Pozzovivo but look out for him in the high mountains as he looks to take a big stage.
The biggest name in that bottom 5 is obviously Ryder Hesjedal, last years winner. He looked aggressive in the early stages even attacking on stage 3 and trying to gain an advantage on his rivals but he looked beaten in the closing metres of the Time Trial with his bike wobbling around and pedalling squares - it was a similar story on the final climb in yesterdays stage where he was distanced by over a minute adding to his woes. It's difficult to see Hesjedal clawing back his 3 minute deficit in the remainder of the race especially considering he looks to be struggling on the climbs and the real mountains haven't even had a look in yet.
Vincenzo Nibali leads the race on the rest-day by 29 seconds to Cadel Evans and well over a minute on Bradley Wiggins. He's clearly in superb form as he has been all year and his time in the wind-tunnel looks to be paying dividends as he only lost a minuscule 11 seconds to Bradley Wiggins in the time trial. Talking of Cadel Evans - Wiggins described him as being the best he's seen him since his 2011 Tour de France win which should have alarm bells ringing with the other big names. Looking at the numbers Cadel Evans rode the final climb of the ITT quicker than any other rider which shows he certainly has good legs. He's kept himself out of trouble and until the TT under the radar but it's unlikely to remain that way.
Another rider low on the radar is Robert Gesink who finds himself in a very respectable third place just 1 second ahead of Wiggins but again the real test for Gesink will be in the high mountains where he has shown equal flashes of brilliance (Tour of California) and disappointment, whilst one of this seasons revelations Mauro Santambrogio finds himself seventh overall and still in contention without really being a 'top favourite'.
Michele Scarponi lost time early in the week after a crash but has proven any critics wrong in the Time Trial where many believed he would lose minutes - he didn't, in fact he lost less than a minute to Alex Dowsett and only 40 seconds to Bradley Wiggins and Scarponi's favourite terrain is yet to come: The high mountains. If there is one thing to know about Scarponi it's that he is an aggressive rider no matter what the situation and somewhere along the line he's likely to put in some big attacks.
It's been a disappointing start to the Giro for Bradley Wiggins and he has been the main talking point of the race so far. A crash on a wet descent earlier in the week has seen his confidence on the downhills swept away and he looks vulnerable. Eddy Merckx said of Wiggins "I never saw it before and have never experienced that myself. I do not know why he suddenly descends so bad. He's ridden the past few days like a novice on the downhills. I think there is something wrong with his material, he has no confidence. He seems okay in terms of his physical condition and it is still too early to draw conclusions. Wiggins is right when he says that there are two more hellish weeks." Wiggins would like to have clawed back the time he lost in the TT but a puncture early on, a bike change and a struggle to find his rhythm meant that though he found himself second on the stage it was nowhere near enough to claw back big time on Nibali - instead the stage honours went to fellow Brit and ex-Sky man Alex Dowsett. Can Wiggins win the Giro now? Well I posted about his chances prior to the Time Trial and whilst i was optimistic it was based on the fact that he would put time into his rivals - he hasn't and it means any winning move from Wiggins now will have to come in the climbs and the taking of bonus seconds. We know he climbs extremely well but often doesn't have the turn of pace to jump his rivals in the final metres, If Wiggins is to win he's going to have to step up another level and it's going to be an uphill struggle. Literally.
It can't be said though that Sky have had a bad week - OK so they haven't been as dominating as they could have been or indeed have been in the past but they do have three riders in the top 10. Wiggins is joined by Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao - the two Colombians - and both were held back to support Wiggins after his crash leading to time lost for both riders which is a shame as both look very strong. If they hadn't helped Wiggins (they are under orders and so early on in the race it was the right thing to do) then they would be right up there in the General Classification. Heano especially put in a fantastic effort in the individual time trial and both look to have very good form. Wiggins himself says that Sky have a few 'cards to play' now but whether that means the Colombians get let of the leash is yet to be seen.
It's been an exciting week of racing and for all the issues Wiggins and Hesjedal might have had it does set the remaining two weeks up quite nicely. The GC guys are so evenly matched and now that the race hasn't exploded thanks to the Individual Time Trial it means the race should be won or lost in the mountains with some aggressive riding from those behind on time. This race isn't over, really it's just beginning and two weeks is a long time, a lot can happen, after all this is what awaits the riders tomorrow: