Ineos Grenadiers had hinted to Cyclingnews that they were not afraid to take control at the Giro d’Italia and put Richard Carapaz in the maglia rosa in Turin and as the heat faded over the city, the Ecuadorian was back in pink, three years after he won the race in 2019.
Indeed Carapaz took the maglia rosa on stage 14 just as he did three years ago, when he went on to win the Giro d’Italia in Verona. Carapaz and Ineos Grenadiers have since won much more and evolved as a team but remain on course for a third consecutive Giro d’Italia win.
“I didn’t remember that three years ago I took the maglia rosa on stage 14 but I’m happy to have done it again. Compared to when I first took the maglia rosa three years ago, I have more experience and a team that supports me. The last week will be very competitive and pretty complicated,” Carapaz explained post-stage after pulling on his ninth maglia rosa of his career.
“It was a hard day and Bora-Hansgrohe was very aggressive. We were expecting perhaps a different day but it went well. I felt good despite the heat and the race exploding. Bora-Hansgrohe rode aggressively on a downhill and some of my teammates got stuck behind. But it’ll be a very different race tomorrow (Sunday) with much more mountains. We’ll have to defend.”
Carapaz leads Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) by just seven seconds after an impressive ride by the Australian and his team. João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) is third at 30 seconds after losing some precious seconds, while Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) is the last inside a minute at 59 seconds.
These four riders are likely to fight for overall victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia, starting from Sunday’s mountain stage to Cogne in the Italian Alps and then across the north via Aprica, Lavarone, the Friuli hills, the stepe finish at the Passo Fedaia near the Marmolada glacier and the final 17.4km time trial around Verona.
“The week coming up is very complicated, there’s a lot of mountains coming up, with some important stages so it’s going to be a tough race,” Carapaz warned.
Lead Ineos Grenadiers directeur sportif Matteo Tosatto is aware of the difficulties ahead. He also saw that Carapaz was alone after the first climb of Superga after the other Ineos Grenadiers riders were distanced but he was happy to take the maglia rosa as he had predicted to Cyclingnews.
“We knew the Turin stage was a great opportunity to take the jersey,” Tosatto said.
“Richie didn’t win the stage but we’ve got the pink jersey. He’s also pulled back some important time on some major rivals like Landa and Almeida.
“It’s a different Giro now. For us, as we’ve got the maglia rosa, but also for all our rivals and whoever wants to try to win the Giro. We knew from here onwards the overall classification would be very different and much clearer.”
Ineos Grenadiers will now have to defend Carapaz’s slim lead starting on Sunday’s 177km stage from Rivarolo Canavese to Cogne.
The stage includes the 6.9% 12.3km Pila-les Fleurs climb after 104km, the 7.1% 13.8km Verrogne and then the more gradual and constant main road up to Cogne. It is 22.4km long, with a steep kick-up after 6.2km but is perfect for a better team performance and perhaps an Ineos Grenadiers mountain train.
“Sunday’s stage is a real mountain stage,” Tosatto warned.
“And it comes after a short but intense stage around Turin, that was raced like a Classic.Things will be different on Sunday with the higher climbs and then up to the finish in Cogne.
“Then there’s also the tough final week starting from Tuesday after the last rest day. They predict the weather will change and that could be an extra factor that could shake up the race. But we’re ready to race. Bora-Hansgrohe were strong and impressive. They took on the stage and took on their responsibilities. Hopefully they’ll do it again if they want to try to win the Giro.”
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