Giro d'Italia rider of the day: Sobrero storms to breakthrough time trial win
Italian champion crushes the competition in Verona
The Giro d’Italia as a whole ended up in the hands of Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), but the honours on the final day went to Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange-Jayco), whose stunning time trial victory makes him our Whoop Rider of the Day.
The Italian champion absolutely blitzed the 17.4km course in Verona, to the extent that only two riders were able to finish within a minute of his time. On such a short time trial, such time gaps are staggering.
Sobrero tamed every aspect of the course, proving tone the fastest uphill, downhill, and on the flat. The 17.4km course was bookended by flat roads but featured a mid-way climb - 4.5km at 5% - followed by a descent of similar length and gradient.
The intermediate checkpoint was positioned at the top of the climb at kilometre 9.5 and Sobrero, who remained seated and aerodynamic for much of it, was 14 seconds quicker there than Thymen Arensman (Team DSM), with Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) at 33 seconds.
Coming in at the lighter and smaller end of the time triallist range, Sunday’s course suited him perfectly, enabling to use his power-to-weight ratio as well as cutting-edge aerodynamics. Unlike Arensman, who featured in mountain breakaways and flirted with a GC challenge, and Van der Poel, who can do seemingly anything but is far from a dedicated time triallist, Sobrero focuses much more squarely on races against the clock.
The advantages only increased on the descent, as Sobrero hurtled downhill and barely left his aero extension bars to throw himself into the numerous sweeping bends. He had enough in the tank to zip through the final kilometre in blistering fashion and stop the clock on 22:24 - an average speed of 46.6km/h.
At the time, he’d put more than a minute into the next best rider, while Van der Poel finished soon after and could only reduce the arrears to 39 seconds. Arensman came home later with a storming performance of his own to finish second at 22 seconds, but Sobrero was a class apart and crowned the winner.
This victory marks a big moment in Matteo Sobrero’s career. His only other victory so far came at last year’s Italian national championships, where he earned the tricolore skinsuit he rode to glory in Verona on Sunday.
He will face stiffer competition in the future but his victory - and the commanding nature of it - nevertheless represents a breakthrough. A talented time triallist since his early days, he has seemingly found his feet after an unsettled start to his career. What’s more, he has found his feet at a team who have invested in time trialling recently, with tangible results already.
Sobrero rode for the South African Qhubeka team’s development set-up before turning professional with its WorldTour outfit - then known as NTT - in 2020. The team then folded, and he wound up at Astana on a one-year contract. 2021 would see the Kazakh team encounter upheaval of its own, and he went on to move teams again ahead of 2022, this time to BikExchange-Jayco.
The Australian team have never been famed for time trialling prowess but they welcomed a host of new sponsors, including bike supplier Giant. Word is they have invested significantly in their equipment, devoting more resources than ever to research and development surrounding aerodynamics and performance. Simon Yates won the opening stage of the Giro wearing a Vorteq skinsuit that cost nearly £3,000. It is unconfirmed, but to be expected that Sobrero - who placed fourth on the opening day - was kitted out with similar on Sunday.
Time trialling is a something of an arms race, but Sobrero may well have found the technical set-up to match his talent. At 25, and with this latest slice of confidence thrown into the mix, he could go far.
Our previous riders of the day
- Stage 1: Mathieu van der Poel
- Stage 2: Simon Yates
- Stage 3: Mark Cavendish
- Stage 4: Juan Pedro López
- Stage 5: Arnaud Démare
- Stage 6: Diego Rosa
- Stage 7: Tom Dumoulin
- Stage 8: Mathieu van der Poel
- Stage 9: Domenico Pozzovivo
- Stage 10: Biniam Girmay
- Stage 11: Dries De Bondt
- Stage 12: Stefano Oldani
- Stage 13: Pascal Eenkhoorn
- Stage 14: Wilco Kelderman
- Stage 15: Giulio Ciccone
- Stage 16: João Almeida
- Stage 17: Mathieu van der Poel
- Stage 18: Edoardo Affini
- Stage 19: Koen Bouwman
- Stage 20: Lennard Kämna
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Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.