Sprinters usually avoid the Tour of the Alps like the pure climbers avoid the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. They know the five days of racing across the Trentino region of northern Italy and into southern Austria are packed with mountains and so mean daily suffering for their fast twitch muscles.
Yet Giacomo Nizzolo had a masochistic smile on his face after finishing 32nd on stage 1 of the 2022 Tour of the Alps to Primiero/San Martino di Castrozza. The peloton failed to catch Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën), with Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) leading home a group of 40 riders, just five seconds behind the Frenchman.
Nizzolo and Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) were the only sprinters in the group and were unable to fight for position on the climbing valley road to the finish as the overall contenders tried to catch Bouchard and fight for the bonus seconds.
“Today was a big day of training for me but unfortunately it proved to be too hard a day out to be able to win the stage. I couldn’t do any better today,” Nizzolo told Cyclingnews as he searched for his nearby hotel, keen to start his recovery as soon as possible.
“I think all the teams waited too long early in the race before we started an organised chase. We perhaps underestimated the riders in the break. It was the first stage, we slept a bit and so we got caught out.
“I didn’t have a chance in the sprint to the line but being in the front group confirmed that I felt good and that I’ve recovered well after my Milan-San Remo crash.”
Nizzolo went over the top of the final Poggio climb with the leaders and was ready to fight for victory in an eventual sprint or for second place behind Matej Mohorič, only to crash on the descent. He also fractured a bone in his hand, forcing him to miss Gent-Wevelgem and a series of other sprint opportunities in early April.
He was soon back in training, went to altitude and also tested his racing legs at last week’s hilly De Brabantse Pijl, finishing 18th in a chase group.
Now he is spending the week in the Italian and Austrian Alps, suffering so that he can make up for lost racing and be at his best for the rapidly approaching Giro d’Italia.
“I need to suffer, It’s what I really need,” he explained. “I had a different race programme in the build-up to the Giro d’Italia but the Milan-San Remo crash changed things, so now I’m here and ready to suffer. It’s going to be a painful week for me and my muscles but I need it.”
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.