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Cards on the table


We had been waiting for it, we had been longing for it: the first thrilling day of high-mountain action, the moment when the GC men would finally challenge each other face to face has finally arrived. This explosion seemed never to come, and that might be the reason why today’s ascent towards legendary Monte Bondone seemed even more splendid. The Giro d’Italia 2023 is finally on fire, the great captains have left their mark, and we have figured out a little more about the hierarchies of this Corsa Rosa.

Today’s setting, as all bike lovers know, is a recurrent one in cycling history books: Monte Bondone is one of those climbs capable of turning a mere good rider into a myth of this sport. We do not know yet if today’s ascent will go down in history, but it certainly represents the first real watershed of the 106th edition of the Giro. This might well be the start of a new step in João Almeida’s career, a more attacking, more winning rider, ready to sell his skin dearly to bring home the Maglia Rosa, which he wore for 15 days in 2020 by the way. Or maybe it’s the day Geraint Thomas realised that, after winning the 2018 Tour de France, he can also take the Giro d’Italia, emulating former teammate Chris Froome, the only Briton ever to do so.

The least encouraging signs came from Primož Roglič, who for the first time this year showed few cracks. If, until today, the Slovenian seemed to have things fully under control, also in light of the uphill time trial on Mount Lussari, the prospects are now quite different. The captain of Jumbo-Visma will have to find the way – and the legs – to put his rivals in trouble. On the other hand, the latter may now have that extra motivation to try and build a larger gap on him.

Anyhow, the cards are now out on the table: three riders, the strongest three left in the race, are within 29″ and all three can count on a remarkably strong team. Almeida seems to be as fit as he has ever been, Thomas is in his best form since 2018, and Roglič is simply one of the strongest performers in big stage races of his generation.

There is still plenty of mountain coming up: Zoldo Alto and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, before the Monte Lussari time trial. The impression is that today’s was only the first of many battles. However, let us close with a note for statistics lovers: in the long history of the Giro, whoever wore the Maglia Rosa on the summit of Bondone has always ended up wearing it at the end of the competition. Thomas can touch wood…

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