Today in review
It was a race of two halves. Where one half was absolutely massive, and the other half was, well, quite small really. The day began with two Corratec riders (Alexander Konychev and Veljko Stojnic) enjoying their team’s first foray into Grand Tour life, and it stayed that way for a long, long time. 160-odd kilometres, in fact, of monotonous early-Giro sameness, punctuated only by Mads Pedersen winning the intermediate sprint to strengthen his bid for ciclamino, while the peloton cruised along at a stately pace and everyone waited for the final 40km. And then it arrived! Pulses quickened, fans around the globe woke up from their naps and in the bunch the pace increased as the teams with an interest in the stage win took to the front to drive up the first of two short categorised climbs, including Team Jayco Alula and Alpecin-Deceuninck, riding for Michael Matthews and Kaden Groves respectively.
The pressure had the desired effect as the peloton thinned out and the more pure sprinters and less lightweight riders found themselves losing touch, including, briefly, Trek-Segafredo and Mads Pedersen.
Then came the battle for the KOM points, and it came down to a head-to-head between Thibaut Pinot, apparently targeting the maglia azzura despite saying he wasn’t, and Bahrain’s Santiago Buitrago. Pinot got the better of the younger rider in the sprint over the summit and will wear the jersey tomorrow, as it transfers from the shoulders of one Frenchman – AG2R Citroen’s Paul Lapeira – to another, riding his final Giro d’Italia.
It wasn’t just sprinters who were distanced. Sepp Kuss had a mechanical, leading him to do this, and literally everyone else in the world to make the grimace emoji face.
Trek found their way back to the bunch and there was another intermediate sprint with just under 10km remaining in the stage. Remco Evenepoel saw to it that he took all available bonus seconds – 3, to be exact – to extend his lead over Roglič by, er, 1 second. Well, they all count. After that it was down to business, with Trek back in touch and now driving the pace alongside Jayco Alula, Alpecin briefly caught on the back foot.
Heading into the steep uphill sprint to the line, and thankfully reduced bunch navigated a relatively narrow final stretch of road to contest the sprint for the line. It was fast and furious, Michael Matthews launching first and digging in, in the way he is uniquely capable of doing when he’s on a good day, to hold Pedersen and Groves at bay, and take his first Giro stage win since 2015.
And that was that – three stages, three different winners, one maglia rosa endures. But for how much longer?
Speedy stage preview
Stage 4 – Tuesday 9th May – Venosa – Lago Laceno – 175km (Medium mountains)
With 3500m of altitude gain on the menu, stage 4 features the first challenging climbs of this year’s Giro. Beginning in Venosa and travelling towards the west coast, the day features almost no flat, with an undulating parcours that features three category 2 climbs. The first two are almost identical in profile and come at 64km and 110km respectively, and will likely see the first major splits of the Giro, with the GC teams looking to work to keep their riders in favourable positions. With a summit finish on Colle Molella, a 9.6km effort with a deceptive average gradient of 6.2%, we should see a tough battle for the finish. The second half of the climb is decidedly tougher with ramps of up to 12%, and if the bunch isn’t already scattered along the road, they will be come the finish line.
WHAT TO EXPECT: A breakaway winner. Some of the GC contenders who have lost time to try and gain some back. Thibaut Pinot glorious day out in blue. Remco actively trying to sacrifice the maglia rosa. Unless Roglič provokes him by taking it on himself.
HOT TIP: Depending on how BORA-Hansgrohe have decided to play their hand vis-a-vis their GC hopes, this stage has Lennard Kämna written all over it. He won the Mount Etna stage in last year's Giro which was, coincidentally, also stage 4.
Lena's Giro Antipasti
Lago Laceno has already been visited three times by the Giro and always in the first half of the race. Considering the rather young age of Laceno, that's quite often. The first time was in 1973, with the winner being Roger de Vlaeminck. It’s not by chance that the Giro visited in the early 70s.
Until the 1950s the area around Lago Laceno served mostly as a bandit and outlaw hideout. The village of Laceno was founded in 1956 as a summer resort to escape the heat. It even had a corresponding film festival, the 'Laceno d’Oro.' However, it has since then switched towns to Avellino.
But back to the 1970s. As it often goes with mountain resorts where tourists are, a ski lift and cable car soon followed. The first one was built in 1969 but quickly needed to be expanded to deal with increasing tourist numbers. You wanna bet when the new ski lift opened? 1973, of course. And not only a ski lift was built but also two chair lifts and more.
Laceno became known as 'the Cortina of the South.'
However its popularity declined during the 1990s. Failing to update its facilities to keep up with the tourists' demand for more and bigger, several new resorts in the Apennine mountains right next to Laceno and several bribery scandals and general poor management saw Laceno much reduced when the Giro visited the second time in 1998.
Alex Zülle will remember Laceno fondly. He started in the Maglia Rosa the next day.
The third victor at Lago Laceno is also riding this year’s Giro. Domenico Pozzovivo not only won his first Giro stage but also his first World Tour victory there. Wouldn’t it be poetic if he could win again in Laceno this year?
You might now be wondering if this year's Giro is once again connected to the touristic engagements of Laceno and you would of course be correct. A lot of modernisation happened in the 2000s and the company that built the first chairlifts in the 1970s was forced to close these down. After several judicial disputes between the municipality and the lift company it was ruled in 2022 that new facilities should be built.
The Giro and tourism - a match made in heaven.
Italian to go
by Emma Bianchi
What an exciting stage we got to see today. Although, I am biased. One of my favourites won his first Giro stage since 2015 and only his third overall, and one of my other favourites is now wearing the maglia azzura. If you ask me, certainly the best stage so far! ;)
Today's Italian is less of an idiom and more of a general expression. Have you ever wondered how you would say 'I miss you' in other languages? 'I miss you,' already such a heart-wrenchingly beautiful expression, loaded with emotion and memory and implied relationships - the Italian language managed to take an even more poetic turn on it. In Italian, you say: Mi manchi. Mi manchi sounds warm and dark when you say it, and it doesn't just mean 'I miss you,' it means 'You are missing from me,' implying that the other person is a part of you that has gone missing, and you are incomplete until that part is coming back.
Something that certainly shouldn't be missing from a bicycle are its tires - its pneumatici. Tires provide the necessary grip and traction for a bike to stay on the road while simultaneously increasing the bike's speed and efficiency by being narrow and having a slick tread pattern. One tire is called uno pneumatico.
Until tomorrow, ragazzi!
Canzone dell'Amore Infinito
curated by DJ Momo
8: Stage 3: The Mountain Goats - Training Montage
I feel like very little happened today and then suddenly a LOT™…
There were more egg-related jokes on Twitter that I thought possible. Someone tried to either fix their rear-shifter or lose their fingers (jury’s still out on that one) and there was one sprint and then another sprint-sprint and… yeah. Not really a solid basis for a singular musical choice.
However; the hero we most definitely never fully deserved stepped up and saved the day (and this playlist): Thibaut Pinot. In blue. In the mountains. In his last (sob) season.
So in honour of our collective cottage-core romantic hero, today’s track is The Mountain Goats with their anthemic 2022-single 'Training Montage.'
And while I’m not entirely sure TiboPino is the revenge-seeking type, the song sounds like a defiantly optimistic ode to the tenacious preparation needed before a final glorious showdown. Perfect Pinot2023 vibes for a man deciding to say goodbye to the sport on his own terms.
I really, really hope he gets a final season he can feel proud of; I know I will be proud of him, no matter what.
Everybody ready for justice
Just another mile to go
But the strings will keen
And the horns will cry
When it's just me against the sky
I'm doing this for revenge
I'm doing this to try and stay true
I'm doing this for the ones
They left to twist in the wind
I'm doing this for you
The Watch Zone
Young rider watch: it was a good day out for Matthew Riccitello - our youngest rider finished in 50th spot, on the same time as winner Michael Matthews. He catapults himself up to 53rd on GC and 16th in the young rider competition.
EF watch: it was a quiet but efficient day out for the owners of the Giro's best jerseys, with the team dividing and conquering in terms of goals: four riders finished on the same time as the winner, thus allowing the chance to nurse admittedly slim GC hopes, while the other four lost a good chunk of time, and should be visible in breakaways, probably beginning with tomorrow's stage.
It wasn't the only EF-based action of the day though, as we'll see in the final segment of today's bulletin...
Because 'any other business' was a rubbish title for a section that I personally feel concludes the daily bulletin with an uplifting, sideways look at the day's action both on and off the bike. So I've gone for this title instead, inspired by our resident DJ Momo, and Emma who's been leading the linguistic exploration - here's the explanation of the term for those who are interested:
From Wikipedia: Codetta (Italian for "little tail", the diminutive form) has a similar purpose to the coda, but on a smaller scale, concluding a section of a work instead of the work as a whole. The codetta ordinarily closes with a perfect cadence in the appropriate key, confirming the tonality. If the exposition is repeated, the codetta is likewise repeated. Sometimes it has its ending slightly changed, depending on whether it leads back to the exposition or into the development sections.
After a relatively quiet stage, there was far more off-the-bike action, beginning with Astana-Qazaqstan's Simone Velasco(?) playing an egg-cellent practical joke on the maglia rosa, hatching a plan to surreptitiously deposit an egg in the back pocket of Remco's jersey (sorry, I'm done with the egg puns, promise). Well, it made for a few moment's entertainment, at least.
Now, I alluded to some further EF action. Be prepared, as we're about to go down a particularly weird and tangential rabbit hole. Magnus Cort's hotel room ratings are back, always good for some insights into what riders have to put up with as they live the, at times, thoroughly unglamorous lifestyle of the pro athlete. Today's post is presented below, courtesy of Cort's Instagram.
The resulting conversation among cycling friends took us down some interesting alleys, including giggling over yet another iteration of what to all intents and purposes looks like fanfiction playing out in real time - an occurrence that seems to be unfolding on a more and more regular basis these days (think back to the Remco x Pogi pre-Liege poster discourse), before we moved onto the frequent occurrence of small, pointless balconies. Observe another photo from the Cort collection to illustrate:
The rabbit hole took us to French or 'Juliet' balconies, and today's architectural history comes at you from Stine:
They are called French/Parisian balconies or balconettes (diminutive balcony but French) in English and it's because they were prominent in 1800- French city architecture. They also go by false/pseudo balconies (often on cruise ships) or maybe more commonly known in English: Juliet balconies! (after Shakespeare, you get the reference)
Defined as 'balconies you can't step out to' (unless you have small feet and a deathwish) and is essentially made as double doors (or a single one if you're my old student dorm) opening inwards to the room - with the opening being secured by a guardrail to prevent people (Juliet) from accidentally plunging to their death (or overboard on cruises).
In Copenhagen (as with Paris) they are a feature originally because of narrow streets with no room for actual balconies, and were later added as upgrades to more working class buildings, as they don't require any big structural changes. Not exactly childsafe though, so less of a thing today.
In Danish the model in this hotel would however be called a 'Spanish balcony' due to it being actually a Spanish thing OR in a staggering lack of creativity decided that the 'slightly more able to go out into the sun' version with a tiny ledge should of course just be named after Spain instead.
Anyway I found it interesting. Today's bulletin has been a real mixed bag of emotions, from the silly to the poignant, and something about Ben Healy's stance on the limited balcony, presumably searching for some signal given Magnus' description of the lack of wifi, spoke to the romantic in me and felt as though it tied up everything in a neat package. Until tomorrow, pals - buona notte.