No way, the 5,400 metres of elevation gain of today’s Dolomite mountain stage, the Queen Stage, were not enough to decide the Giro d’Italia 2023. It is down to penalty kicks, one would say in football, namely the uphill time trial of Monte Lussari, which with its 7.3 km at 12.1% will be nothing short of merciless. Everything will hang in the balance until the last kilometre of the climb. It had to be this way, after all, if in three weeks the two great rivals, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) have hardly ever dropped each other: it will all come down to an individual test to decide the winner.
26 seconds separate these two cycling giants, which actually correspond to the 25 seconds that Thomas had given Roglič on Monte Bondone. It is undeniable that some sort of battle actually took place on the slopes of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, but certainly a few more gaps were expected, also in light of the five Dolomite passes tackled today. Roglič tried to make a move only in the last two kilometres, and found the response of the Maglia Rosa, who then relaunched with 500 metres to go, but was unable to break away from his rival. Eventually, the Slovenian made up 3″ to the Welshman in the last 50 metres.
The biggest news was once again the slight distancing of João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), who paid a few seconds to his rivals, 23 to be exact, and will start tomorrow with a gap of 59″ from Thomas. Today, the Portuguese saw the Maglia Rosa slip away, but 59″ was also the gap that Tadej Pogačar had to Roglič in the famous final time trial on the 2020 Tour de France, that of La Planche des Belles Filles, so not all hopes are lost. If in that summer of three years ago Roglič had unbelievably lost the yellow jersey on the very last day, tomorrow the Slovenian will be hoping on a reversal of roles, and to be the one snatching the leadership symbol from the current leader.