Fabio Aru tried to shake off the negativity that enveloped his general classification hopes at the Giro d’Italia, and insisted that he can turn his race around in the mountain stages of the final ten days. Like Chris Froome, who also lost time on Sunday, Aru also dismissed suggestions that he could quit the Giro d’Italia and focus on the Tour de France.
Aru’s new coach and former Astana teammate Paolo Tiralongo told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Aru was at 80 per cent of his form ands was unable to stay with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and the other overall contenders due to lacking 30-50 watts of his usual power. Aru is not ill and he dismissed suggestions that he had raced too little in the build-up to the Giro d’Italia.
“On the Gran Sasso I didn’t have the legs and so I was dropped. There aren’t any other explanations. As I’ve said from the start of the race, we’ll make a final judgment on my Giro in Rome. Before doesn’t make sense,” Aru said on the rest day.
“We need to remember Nibali from two years ago and when I finished on the podium in 2015. A lot of things, good and bad, can happen in two weeks. I’m two and half minutes back; that’s a lot but perhaps not that much. The Giro is still open, very wide open.”
Aru is not a betting man but suggested he is still worth a punt in the second half of the Giro d’Italia.
“If I had to bet on someone, I’d bet on myself. Now I’m not a favourite my odds are far better….”
The odds that Aru will throw in the towel and turn his focus to the Tour de France alongside Dan Martin are apparently slim.
“No way. We’re focused on this race, there’s still a lot to do here,” Aru said.
Carapaz: We must keep our feet on the ground
Richard Carapaz is determined to keep his head level and his feet on the ground despite a near-perfect start to the Giro d’Italia. The Movistar rider has made history in the last week by becoming the first rider from Ecuador to wear a Grand Tour classification jersey and win a stage.
The 24-year-old neo-pro, riding just the second Grand Tour of his career, goes into the second week of racing sixth in the overall classification, 1:20 behind the race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). He also heads up the young rider classification by 1:14 over Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez and 1:16 ahead of Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data).
“I’ve worked so hard to do well in this Giro and I knew I was on the right track, but I’m the most surprised person to see myself doing so well and even winning a stage,” Carapaz said on the Giro d’Italia’s second rest day. “Now that I see myself in this position, I’m willing to get going and keep up this good work, but we must also remain calm and think about how hard this race is, and how far we still are from Rome. Whatever comes after this will be welcome, but we must keep our feet on the ground… It’s been a dream start so far.”
Carapaz initially came into the Giro d’Italia as a support rider for team leader Carlos Betancur, but with the Colombian slipping back in the opening week, the Ecuadorian has come to the fore. Betancur gave away 52 seconds on Sunday’s summit finish to Gran Sasso d’Italia, but at 2:46 down in the overall classification, he remains within touching distance of the top 10.
“It’ll be a long Giro, not only because of the route but also due to the long transfers we’re facing and the fact that the hardest mountains will come after all the wear and tear we’ve been put to before week three,” he said. “Many people will struggle thereafter previous efforts, and I’m more of a ‘diesel’ guy. At longer, tough races I usually get better at the end, and I hope to prove it again in the Giro.”
Bilbao still set on helping Lopez
Pello Bilbao is another rider that has ended the opening week of the Giro d’Italia outshining his team leader. The Astana rider from Guernica is nestled in the top 10, and on the same time as previous maglia rosa holder Rohan Dennis. Bilbao is 31 seconds ahead of his team leader Miguel Angel Lopez.
Two big crashes have hindered Lopez’s progression through the Giro d’Italia, and despite his super start, Bilbao says that he remains in the service of the Colombian. Though, he would like to keep himself up the general classification standings.
“I am at the disposal of Miguel Angel Lopez, our leader, to get everything possible from this race,” Bilbao said according to Spanish newspaper AS. “Equally, I have a little more of a margin. If the opportunity presents itself, I would like to increase it. Of course, without risking the interests of Miguel Angel Lopez, or Astana.”
Listen to the latest Cyclingnews podcast
As the Giro d’Italia begins its second week, the Cyclingnews team takes a look back on the opening nine days of action. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) finished it in perfect fashion with victory in the maglia rosa at Gran Sasso d’Italia, while Chris Froome (Team Sky) floundered and dropped out of the top 10.
Daniel Benson is joined by Patrick Fletcher and Procycling magazine Editor Ed Pickering to discuss whether the four-time Tour de France champion can now realistically win this Giro, and why Sky have found the Giro such a tough nut to crack.
We hear from Froome and Yates on their contrasting fortunes and the team analyses the varying successes and failures of the other Giro d’Italia contenders.