GIRO’22: The First Rest Day Rant


Giro Rest Day Rant: Three days in and the 2022 Giro d’Italia comes home to Italy and the climb of the Etna volcano. But first Ed Hood looks back at stage one to three in Hungary and the stories behind the story so far…

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Welcome to Hungary

Well, I got that one right – MVDP. It wasn’t too hard to predict, remember Mur-de-Bretagne, Tour de France 2021? As the soccer commentators might say this stage was; ‘a game of two halves.’ But rather, to put it in metric terms; ‘a stage of 97.5% and 2.5%.’ The first 190K were what my amigo Dave would classify as; ‘a paint dryer.’ But major respect to Sen. Savio and his two Drone Hopper Androni Giocatolli ragazzi who were up the road all day. As Savio always used to tell us; ‘you must honour the pink race!’

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Savio’s boys

However, there was no paint drying in the last 2.5% of this day, what our chums in Newcastle would describe as a, ‘radj oot!’ The fight into the right handed where the climb began rivalled the one into the Poggio in the Primavera. MVDP’s ‘grey ghosts’ – they reminded me of the 70’s East Germans – seemed to have lost control as the final kilometre went into fast forward, but the man with the best genes in the peloton unleashed huge power to take the stage and the most beautiful jersey in pro cycling.

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Stunning Van der Poel, Impressive Girmay – Crashing Ewan

But what about Biniam Girmay? This is the man’s first WorldTour season and he’s already won a Classic and came close to Grand Tour leadership today. Hugely impressive – continuing Intermarché Wanty Gobert Materiaux’s wonderful season. Caleb Ewan crashed out, touching Girmay’s wheel, he must have gone Mariana Trench deep to be where he was in those closing metres and probably seeing double. No such heroics from pragmatic Manxman, ‘Cav’ sitting comfortably at the back of the bunch and not getting involved in any position fights or anti-gravity shenanigans – as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan used to say; ‘a man’s gotta know his limitations.’ And finally, an appeal to readers, ‘what the hell was that jacket Brad Wiggins was wearing – is he auditioning to be a Bond villain?’ Answers on a post card please.

Stage Two?: Affini is my boy. Oh yes, and check out the Ecuadorian who was in sixth place on this day. . .

Stage 1 highlights

As regular readers of my ramblings will know, I’m not a big fan of Grand Tours starting out with their home patch. But I have to say that the Budapest percorso was stunning and the natives ‘honoured the pink race.’ Molto bene!

Hungary honoured the Giro

But I must digress for a moment; Eurosport commentator, Rob Hatch, ‘Hungary doesn’t have much in the way of cycling history.’ Granted he’s taken French nationality now but what about Worlds iTT medallist, GP Eddy Merckx and Chrono des Nations winner, big ‘chronoman,’ Laszlo Bodrogi? Stunning too was Yates ride, I didn’t see that one coming – but wise old Sean Kelly did, but that’s why he’s Sean Kelly. However, when I saw Yates in the start house I did realise that he was ‘on it,’ his usual, ‘builder’s Monday morning stubble’ was gone, he was clean shaven, looking sharp and focused – and I did think to myself; ‘he looks serious.’

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Simon Yates: ‘he looks serious.’

My pick? Italy’s former u23 European iTT Champion, Eduardo Affini? As a horse racing aficionado of my acquaintance used to say when I asked how his ‘hot tip’ had done in the 12.30 at Kempton Park racecourse he used to say; ‘they’re still out looking for it, with lanterns.’ Not quite but the best Eduardo could do was an unlucky 13th place. But good to see Big Dumoulin back at the sharp end and what about Ben Tullet? The 20 years-old INEOS Brit took fifth in exalted company; he’s a former double junior world cyclo-cross champion and this year scored his first professional win with a stage in the Coppi e Bartali where he also took second on GC. INEOS have him signed until 2024 but if he continues to ride like this then a contract extension is very likely, they have Tom Pidcock on the books until 2027.

Pou Pou will be proud

MVDP? Pou Pou will be looking down and smiling whilst dad, Adrie will be taking it in his stride, he’s seen it all. I was there when Mathieu won the junior Worlds in Florence in 2013; Adrie’s attitude seemed to be, ‘it’s what we came here to do, not really that big a deal. . .’ With 11 seconds in hand on Yates that beautiful maillot should be safe until Tuesday – when the Giro proper starts on the savage ascent of Etna. But as former Giro fourth place finisher and now INEOS DS, Dario Cioni always used to tell me; ‘a Grand Tour is won in the last week.’ Verona is a whole lot of asphalt and altitude gain away.

Because It Works For Me – Fight For Your Hair – Too Late Ed!

And to close, I somehow stumbled upon that Alpecin TV ad. where the team guys told me; ‘I use Alpecin because I want to keep my hair!’ If only I’d know that back around 1975 my life could have been so different. . .

Stage 2 highlights

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl; they’re finished, right? Definitely. Trouble is, no one has told Remco, Michael the Maestro or Cav. Win number 20 and those poor cobbled races are forgotten. CHAPEAU!

A long, but perfect sprint from Cavendish

Girmay impressing again but good though Intermarché are, they’re not the battle hardened veterans of Quick-Step. A great finale, BUT. If you’re familiar with the characteristics of water based paints then you’ll know that if the weather is ‘muggy’ – mild and humid then the paint takes much longer than usual to dry due to the fact that the evaporation process is inhibited. Up until the closing kilometres today was one of Dave’s ‘paint dryers’ – and definitely water based paint on a very humid day.

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Savio would be happy again

Those Drone Hoppers again gave the commentators something to talk about, accompanied this time by an EOLO Kometa. Selle Italia must be delighted, hour after hour of those motor bike shots with two of the saddle company’s logos on the Drone Hopper boys’ shorts filling the screen. I couldn’t help but think back to 2004 when ‘Ale Jet’ Petacchi won nine stages – commentators must be glad that the full stages weren’t televised back then. . .

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Back to Italy and Etna

That’s the appetisers served and snapped up, the first course proper is on Tuesday in Sicilia and the slopes of mighty Etna. Breakaway or early GC muscle flexing? I’m just glad not to be driving a team vehicle the length of Italy on my ‘rest’ day. And remember, the world will be even more pink come Tuesday.

The final K (the only action of the day)

# Stay PEZ for Giro Stage Reports and Results, EUROTRASH, Race BREAKDOWN and Rest Day Rants. #

Watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free coverage of the Giro d’Italia 2022 on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream original and exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.

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