British riders Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education–Nippo) are on the hunt for results at the ongoing Giro d’Italia. After a calm first week, both Britons are still in the mix ahead of the crucial stages.
28-year-old Yates is among the favourites for the Giro which, together with the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, is one of cycling’s Grand Tours. He had previously led the race for 13 days in 2018, but exhaustion ultimately saw him lose 40 minutes to ultimate race winner Chris Froome on a challenging stage in the Alps.
In 2019, the rider from Bury suffered time losses on multiple stages, including one ending on the climb to Serru Lake, while last year a Covid-19 infection saw him forced to leave the race after the first of three weeks.
Before this year’s race, Yates performed strongly at the Tour of the Alps, a short warm-up event held in Italy and Austria, winning the general classification and one of the stages.
Carthy came into this year’s race with a podium from last year’s Vuelta a Espana
Aided by a strong BikeExchange team, his goal is to fight for the victory, although he played down his chances at the pre-race conference, claiming that he has to “take it as it comes” with regards to his race and opportunities.
26-year-old Carthy, meanwhile, is rarely mentioned among the key contenders for the win, but came into this year’s race with a podium from last year’s Vuelta a Espana and a massive confidence boost to his desire to rival the elite.
His form seemed to be going in the right way before the race, as he finished the Tour of the Alps in fifth place, being classified among the other Giro d’Italia contenders. The steep climbs of northern Italy, such as the Monte Zoncolan, should suit the winner of the leg-breaking Alto de l’Angliru stage in last year’s Vuelta.
Both British riders aren’t renowned for being especially great time trialists, but opened this year’s Giro d’Italia with solid results in the test against the clock in Turin last week. Coincidentally, both recorded times that were 38 seconds worse than winner Filippo Ganna’s (Ineos Grenadiers), leading to them being classed towards the end of the top 40.
Carthy put in a solid ride on stage 4, ending in the town of Sestola, attacking with a select few other favourites and climbed slightly in the classification, as Yates managed to avoid major time losses. They were also in the mix on the sixth day of racing, when the Giro visited the climb of San Giacomo, as well as on day nine, on the road to the ski resort of Campo Felice.
As a result, the Preston-born Carthy ended the first week of racing in sixth place in the general classification, 44 seconds behind the leader, while Yates is ninth, a further 11 seconds behind.
The race is led after the first week by 24-year-old Colombian Egan Bernal of British team Ineos Grenadiers, formerly named Team Sky, who is fifteen seconds ahead of 21-year-old Belgian Remco Evenepoel of Deceuninck-Quick-Step.
Among the favourites after the first part of racing are also Russian Alexander Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), Italians Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Spanish rider Marc Soler (Movistar Team) and, surprisingly, young Hungarian rider Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), who, at the age of 22, became the first cyclist from his country to hold the pink leader’s jersey, or maglia rosa.
Mikel Landa was a contender, but crashed on stage 4
Before the race, the list of contenders included Spanish rider Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), but the 31-year-old crashed on stage 4, fracturing his collarbone and a few ribs.
The Giro d’Italia, however, enters difficult territory in its second and third weeks, starting with a stage on gravel roads, some of which were also used in 2010. The stage was a thriller in that year as the rain saw crashes and a complete overhaul of the general classification.
One more stage in the Apennines will precede a week of racing in the Alps. This year, the organisers are sending the riders on the wickedly steep Monte Zoncolan, a few high passes in the Dolomites, and have included a few new, never-seen-before mountain top finishes, such as Sega di Ala, to be raced on day 17.
Last year’s Giro d’Italia was won by British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart of Ineos Grenadiers. The rider from London surprisingly took the lead after the last stage and became only the second cyclist from the British Isles to win the race, after Chris Froome’s victory in 2018.