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Warbasse hones form at Itzulia Basque Country for Giro d’Italia stage hunt

Larry Warbasse (AG2R-Citroen)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Giro d’Italia may have shifted from May to October and back to May again in 2021,but for former US National Road Champion Larry Warbasse (AG2R-Citroen) that makes little difference: he’s still going to be gunning for a stage win in the Corsa Rosa.

17th overall and fifth on one stage of the Giro d’Italia last year, the 30-year-old is currently pounding the roads of the Itzulia Basque Country, where the high paced racing this year will, as he told Cyclingnews, “certainly help me to get good form for Italy.”

At the same time, he’s had a ringside seat to witness how fellow-American Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) has ridden to leadership of the top six day race.

“It’s been good so far, I’ve been enjoying it, we’ve been pretty lucky with the weather so far, it’s a nice race, hard, but that’s what you could expect here,” Warbasse told Cyclingnews.

From the Basque Country he goes to the “Tour of the Alps and the Giro thereafter. My objective will be to win a stage, and the Giro’s great for that in terms of terrain. And any Grand Tour, I’d say there are 15 chances for a stage win and I’ll be out there trying on quite a few days.”

As for McNulty, Warbasse says he’s “not surprised at all” that the 23-year-old is progressing so rapidly, and again, it was the Giro last year, which both of them rode, which confirmed that to Warbasse.

“He was so impressive, from there on I knew like, ‘Wow, this kid has something special.’ Already before that everyone knew he was a big talent and there was a lot of talk about him. But last year he really delivered on that,” Warbasse told Cyclingnews. 

In the Giro, on his Grand Tour debut, McNulty finished 15th overall, as well as taking third and eighth in two time trial stages and second on the stage won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hangrohe).

“He was working for teammates a lot in the Giro but did some really impressive things so to see him up there, it’s really no surprise.”

At the same time, Warbasse also recognises that he is rooting for a fellow US racer.

“Honestly, I’m just proud that as a young American, he’s really crushing it, it’s really cool.”

Where McNulty can go from here is anyone’s guess, but Warbasse points out, “I think we’ve seen he’s really good on the short climbs, hopefully he can translate that to the longer climbs in the Giro.”

“But, in any case, to be leader in Pais Vasco, that’s huge, and I’m really happy for him.” 

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.