DOLAN Bikes : Choose your Discipline - Visit the Showroom

Rest day 2 – we’re two weeks in, and it’s as you were at the top of the GC standings – well, as you were, but with the addition of not a few additional seconds, but actual minutes. The same rider has worn the maglia rosa for every stage but the first two, and he is just as dominant and inevitable as was predicted.

It’s still not over – with the accumulated fatigue of two weeks of racing, and several days of mountainous terrain still to traverse before the race heads for its procession around Rome, there’s still every chance that bodies may not do what bodies are supposed to do, and Tadej Pogačar may fall ill, or find himself in difficulty – but with a mindboggling 6:41 over Geraint Thomas in second, he can pretty much just treat the final week as a glorified training session. One where he wears a pretty pink outfit and gets to admire some lovely scenery.

The eternal question of whether it’s boring to have a GC battle wrapped up so quickly persists. Has the race been boring? The answer is absolutely not, and also – yes – depending on what you find entertaining in a Grand Tour. Of course, the overall win is what it is all about. Winning that maglia rosa, maillot jaune or maillot rojo is the ultimate goal for many riders at a Grand Tour. But it’s not everyone’s goal. For some riders, to win a stage at a Grand Tour is the best they can hope for in their careers – they may be sprinters, time trialists or pure climbers without that all-around package – are their goals diminished, because they’re not the top prize on offer? Absolutely not.

So it goes for us as fans. If you watch a Grand Tour purely for the GC battle, then the likelihood is you’ll have switched off this Giro after week one. Pogi had it done and dusted, right? It sure looks that way. But just think what you’d have missed. A first career win for a French little brother. The incredible comeback of Julian Alaphilippe, and the valiant riding of an Italian conti rider, Mirko Maestri, his breakaway brother-in-arms for the day. Mad breakaway antics and the toughest stage in a decade. And an array of scenery so breath-taking I audibly gasped on more than one occasion.

A Grand Tour always has been, and always will be, a tapestry – of stories, landscapes, characters and goals. Of technicolour fans and fields of tractors and cute dogs and flags and people dressed as dinosaurs. If you’re only in it for the GC battle, you might as well be experiencing life in black and white. Which is why I’ve loved this Giro, and will find plenty more to love in week three, even if the maglia rosa is having a picnic while everyone else is still out there giving it their all. Probably even more so – if we’ve learned anything about Tadej Pogačar, it’s that he does things his way. So I’m sure we can expect more surprises along the way.

A quick recap of the three stages since the last issue: stage 13 was that pancake flat one, remember? (I know, it feels like ages ago already). A trio of Italian conti riders did their duties for the sponsors and all awaited the inevitable fast finish – but INEOS Grenadiers took advantage of crosswinds to check we were all awake – and certainly not everyone in the peloton was, as under the relentless pace of the surprise INEOS attack echelons formed, causing splits in the bunch. It was a bit of excitement on an otherwise quiet day, and Jonathan Milan made it three stage wins with another one of his monstrous sprints, confirming himself as the undisputed sprint king of this Giro.

Stage 14 was the second of the two time trials at this year’s race – flatter and shorter than the first, it looked much more up Filippo Ganna’s street, and so it proved on the day, though the Italian champion did have a brief scare when Tadej Pogačar was faster at the first intermediate time check. The Slovenian added more yet time to his ever-expanding lead, and Geraint Thomas reversed the fortunes of the first time trial, swapping places with Dani Martinez to put himself back into second on GC. Thymen Arensman underscored a great day for INEOS with third place on the stage, though it was somewhat soured by a crash for Magnus Sheffield – the poor kid just can’t buy luck.

Stage 15 was a terrifying prospect: the longest stage of the race at 222km, with almost 5500m of altitude gain, and three category 1 climbs to contend with, it was the most climbing in a single stage of a Grand Tour for a decade. It was unclear who was most concerned about the day: the sprinters, who would not only have to get over all the same giant point obstacles as their climbier colleagues, but do so within the time cut; the GC guys who had to resign themselves to a Pogi on a mission; or the breakaway riders who had to give it their all despite knowing their hard work would likely be in vain.

It was an epic stage as expected, with plenty of action, groups all over the road, and a headache for broadcasters trying to work out what to focus on. There were some memorable performances: EF Education-EasyPost’s Georg Steinhauser’s late solo bid for victory – an impressive ride for a Grand Tour debutant; Romain Bardet beating the rest of his GC colleagues (apart from one); and Team Polti Kometa’s charge up the mountain at the head of the chase group. There was also amusement early in the day as Lilian Calmejane got angry at literally everyone, resulting in Laurence Pithie racing him for KOM points – and beating him – just for the hell of it. But it all came down to two riders in the end: lone leader Nairo Quintana of Movistar – finally back to his best, riding on a mountain that he won the Giro on ten years previously, and his charging pursuer Tadej Pogačar, who was there as a kid to watch Quintana that day, creating his own page in the cycling history books. He struck out from the GC group with 14 kilometres remaining, closed down the veteran Colombian, and ticked off another box on his 2024 Giro To-Do List: win Queen Stage - DONE.

The man, the myth, the maglia road (image credit: LaPresse)

I Magnifici Sette

by DJ Momo

Stage 13, 14, 15

Okay, not gonna lie, this one is gonna be a bit weird and maybe less directly race related…

First of all; Jonathan Milan and Tadej Pogačar - we need to talk!

It’s all well and good that you are having the (very impressive and imposing) rides of your (very young) lives, but it’s getting increasingly hard to make inspired song selections for you. I’m sorry, but the line “nine times that same song” from Busy Doing Nothing by my favourite Swedish saxophone punkers Love Is All is about 2 more stage wins from being the only applicable solution… And I am screwing myself over by choosing it now, so maybe, just maybe: If you won’t have mercy on your competitors (which; fair!) - maybe show some for the DJ instead?

With that said, some quick observations… First of all stage 13 and 14 were both ridiculously Flat (Beat) by the Giro’s standards, so the main feature of stage 13 was Ineos’ attempt at an echelon war. So for those about to put it in the gutter - we salute you and here is Rock You Like A Hurricane dedicated to your (sadly inconsequential) efforts.

On stage 14 we got to see a proper, flat traditional time trial battle between the specialists and GC guys. SuperPippo, TopGanna, Filippo F’in Ganna, the Italian ITT magician was on Fire and finally got his stage win and I’m pretty sure everybody liked that.

I got inspired by how several recaps of his ride featured an admittedly pretty pedestrian EDM mashup of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and Love Tonight, which is funnily enough two tracks I have had a frequent habit of mixing live when playing dancefloor gigs as well (gotta love that 126 bpm sweet spot, no?)... The thematics of the combo felt fitting to the occasion and I am never gonna turn down the opportunity to throw in some classic Annie Lennox - or to offer up the non-remixed version of a really dreamy house track that most people probably know best in the David Guetta remix version – or maybe now from the mashup in those Pippo Power reels? Anyways, the original is legit great imo, but the non-edit version is like… 8 minutes long, so I’ll spare you, but it’s worth checking out.

Moving on to stage 15, I gotta thank the Lidl-Trek guys (and especially Jonathan Milan, despite my plea in the opening segment) for broadcasting their bus warmup disco-moment on Instagram complete with dance moves and (loud) sing-alongs, perfectly setting the mood for the (Dancing) Queen stage.

It was sweet, silly and smile-inducing and I totally agree; in the face of insurmountable obstacles (like, 222km and 5000+ m of altitudes worth of them) - always choose disco!

And damn, a certain pink-clad someone was out to show that altitude is not a weak spot for him anymore it seems. Chapeau Tadej, and while I performatively complained about finding it hard to pick songs for the same repeated stage winners earlier, I will happily take any excuse to throw some Motown into the mix - and what better choice is there than Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to sum up the Slovenian’s Sunday Supremacy?

But please guys, I beg you, from my humble DJ booth here… Switch it up, maybe? (Or if not; accept that I’ll put past selections on repeat instead, your choice, really…)

Throwback Thursday Monday

Mathieu Fraisse takes us back to memorable stage wins by number…

Stage 13 | 2001 : Montebelluna - Passo Pordoi (225km) and 2002 : Chieti - San Giacomo (155km) 

From Tlaxcala to Maglia Azurra

Isaac del Toro recently put Mexico back on the cycling map. While the young UAE prospect has a promising future, let’s rewind it back a bit on Mexico cycling history. 

If you’re over 40 or very passionate about cycling history, you probably remember Raúl Alcalá, the first Mexican rider to race the Tour de France, winning 2 stages and finishing 5 times in a Grand Tour top 10. He also won the Mexico Time Trial Championship in 2010. At 46 years old.

But there is one rider the Giro streets won’t forget: Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio. His name probably doesn’t ring a bell, but let me tell you the story of this legendary Giro rider.

Julio is the archetype of the ‘00s South American climber: poor descender, irregular, but also capable of fireworks on a good day. Luckily for him (and for us), most of his good days were at the Giro d’Italia and two of them were on stage 13 of the Italian Grand Tour, in 2001 and 2002! 13 is a lucky number for him, it seems.

In 2001, with Passo Rolle, Passo Fedaia and a finish on top of Passo Pordoi on the menu, the Mexican rider won a Dantesque stage after more than 7 hours on the bike. He was fast and he was furious, no one could compete with Julio that day, except Gilberto Simoni, the final winner of the 2001 Giro who took Maglia Rosa after this stage. Not bad company, eh?

The next year, Julio was back at the Giro in the iconic orange kit from the Panaria team. In a hilly stage finishing in San Giacomo, the Mexican countered Cadel Evans' attack in the final kilometres to take the second Giro win of his career. 

Last but not least, Julio would eventually win another stage, three days later, once again featuring Passo Fedaia and Passo Pordoi, in tremendous fashion. Not a fan of early breakaways, he decided to ride aggressively in the GC contenders’ group with 50 kilometres to go. Imposing a high tempo, none of them could follow. Julio won the stage and took the King of the Mountains jersey, which he would keep until the finish in MIlan.

But it is perhaps Julio’s last feat of arms at the Giro that best emphasises the rider he was. On Stage 17 of the 2006 Giro, driving rain is falling on the Dolomites and the Passo Furcia. Julio, 58th on General Classification and for no apparent reason, decided to go to the front of the peloton and pace hard. 

So hard that, as kilometres went by, all the main favourites were dropped by the Mexican climber: Savoldelli, Pellizotti, Simoni, Piepoli, Gadret… Only Basso resisted in some way. Pérez Cuapio eventually ran out of gas and was distanced in the last kilometres of the ascent but this daring Mexican climber in a neon orange raincoat definitely lit up the stage!

All for fun and the love of this sport, that was Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio!

Youtube : from CiclismoForever channel

Stage 14 | 1988: Chiesa in Valmalenco – Bormio (120km)

Riders on the storm

If there was an award for most legendary Giro stage this one would probably win it. It was June 1988 but felt like March 1930. This is a story you might have heard or read a hundred times, but it’s so iconic it’s worth telling one more time. This was the Giro 1988 stage 14 mayhem.

Riders awoke to a thick blizzard in Chiesa in Valmalenco. With the start approaching, weather was deteriorating and rumours of heavy snowfalls on top of the Gavia started to spread. Giro’s race technical director, and former winner, Francesco Moser advised to cancel the stage but Vincenzo Torriani, the race director, ultimately had the last word: “The show should go on and the riders should suffer through.” Alright, boss.

Anyway the stage started, with buckets of cold rain falling, and we were just 200m above sea-level, you could easily imagine how it would have looked 2400+ meters higher with temperatures lowering. But roads are rideable, so Torriani didn’t mind. The pace was… Gruppetto-like. After the Aprica, riders were negotiating amongst themselves over whether or not they should race the Gavia. Andy Hampsten and the 7-Eleven team convinced the peloton to keep on racing despite the weather conditions.

And for a reason. The team from Colorado is undoubtedly the most prepared team for this type of weather. Their directeur sportif, Mike Neel, sent their soigneurs to the nearest ski shop: wool hats, neoprene gloves, lanolin wax, ski masks, neck and leg warmers… 

Hot drinks were also packed in their cars. It was kind of logical you might say, but oddly 7-Eleven was the only team to do so. Also, their leader, Andy Hampsten, is 5th on GC before the stage. From North Dakota and used to racing in this kind of demanding weather, this stage, with 16% slopes, suited his climbing strengths. He knew he could overthrow the Giro.

It was assumed by most that whoever arrived first on top of the Gavia should win the stage. So Dutch rider Johan van der Welde tried his luck alone, and luck is what he would need. Behind him, Hampsten attacked and blew the favourites group up. Only the best survived: Choccioli, Breukink, Bernard and Zimmerman were holding up the wheel of the American. Unpaved roads, snow, mud… And now a snowstorm! It’s total mayhem, riders are everywhere. But the worst part is yet to come.

In short sleeves and shorts, an amazing ride from van der Welde who actually reached the summit first. But the finish line is at the bottom of the Gavia. The temperature is below 0 degrees. Van der Welde is only handed a rain jacket and a race cap and sent into the descent… He was so freaked out, he started then turned around and went back to his team car! 

Hampsten was second up the Gavia, where his team car was waiting with hot beverages, dry clothes and equipment for a terrible descent. Again, 7-Eleven was the only team to do this. This small “break” allowed Breukink to catch him a few seconds later. These two head down the descent in a thick blizzard; they can’t see more than 50 metres ahead. Hampsten’s gears have frozen and he’s stuck with the 53x14. Both have ice on their shins! Unreal. At this point they’re just pedalling to keep themselves warm and finish this damned race.

Hampsten eventually slowed down with 8km to go, not even taking off his rain jacket as the snow started to stop, allowing Breukink to open a 7-second gap he would eventually keep until the end to win the stage. But it was more about finishing as fast as possible than celebrating a win. No time cut-offs for all the riders finishing this day, obviously. They all went down as legends of the Giro!

Remember Van der Welde, the first rider up the Gavia? He finished 45 minutes later! Also a special nod to Danish rider Jesper Worre as it was his birthday. He finished 40 minutes down, but celebrated with hands in the air nonetheless. One hell of a birthday!

Youtube: from Jose Lorente Garcerá channel

Stage 15 | 1999: Racconigi - Oropa (143km)

Il Pirata dell’Oropa

Marco Pantani just claimed the Maglia Rosa from Laurent Jalabert, the day before in Borgo San Dalmazzo. Riders are tackling the Oropa to finish stage 15 of this 1999 Giro and Pantani is looking to definitely assert dominance on this edition. 

If we just look at numbers, the Oropa is not THAT iconic before the stage: 11.7km at 6.7%, a Giro climb among many others. But with this stage, the Oropa would go down in history as a legendary climb.

Nothing much to say about the stage before the Oropa though. But it was worth the wait. As the main group started the climb, Pantani had a mechanical incident! He was quickly helped by a neutral mechanic but lost 45 seconds on his rivals. 

Jalabert, Gotti, Savoldelli and Simoni, to name a few, realised the Maglia Rosa was not in the front group anymore and jumped on the occasion to make the stage harder, while Pantani’s team, Mercatone Uno, stopped to wait for his leader. Despite the incident, Pantani kept a clear head and didn’t panic even with his rivals up the road, letting his teammates set him up for one hell of a comeback.

In less than 6 kilometres, Il Pirata caught and flew past 48 riders! Only French Champion Laurent Jalabert was still up the road. Was the road really going up for Pantani? Il Pirata is out of the saddle and flying up the mountain! Jalabert keeps on looking over his shoulder wondering: “what is this pink rocket coming at me?”

With 3 kilometres to go, Pantani eventually caught Jalabert and attacked him straight after! The outcome is certain now: Pantani is clearly the strongest of this Giro. Il Pirata went on to win this stage with a 21-second gap over Jalabert and over 35 seconds on Simoni and Gotti.

Crossing the finishing line, Pantani didn’t even celebrate: “I thought I hadn’t caught them all”. Yes you did Marco, in tremendous fashion.

Youtube: from Robbi Rocca channel

Giro #107

Time to take a closer look at all things 107.

Rider 107

by Rémi Massart 

Stage 13

We continue our contest with a new Australian rider from Jayco-AlUla, the Australian team seems to really take the 107th classification seriously! Michael Hepburn is today’s winner.

Michael was born on the 17th August 1991, in Brisbane – like a certain Robbie McEwen. He started his career in 2010, in an Australian Continental team, Jayco Skins, where he rode alongside Michael Matthews. Hepburn signed his first World Tour contract with Orica GreenEDGE two years later and he showed great capacities for the individual time trial as early as his first year with a fourth-place finish on the Tour of Slovenia ITT. The following year, he won his first professional win with a stage at the Tour of Qatar but also the Australian National Championships ITT. He also became Continental Champion in 2015, which remains today his last individual win, but also one of the more prestigious. As the years passed, Michael Hepburn confirmed that he was a pure specialist of the ITT and a good teammate for his leaders on the flat. In his long career with his forever team, now Jayco-AlUla, Michael took part in all three Grand Tours, including nine Giros, which makes him one of the most experienced riders in this year’s peloton. In this 107th Giro, Michael’s main aim will be to help his leader Filippo Zana to finish in the top 10 of this Giro.

Stage 14

The second ITT day of this Giro and for the first time we have an UAE Team Emirates rider winning the 107th classification. Could they be focusing on this rather than stage wins now? Vegard Stake Laengen finished 107th today.

Vegard was born on the 7th February 1989, which makes him one of the most experienced riders in the peloton. Like many riders, he started his professional career at Continental level with the Norwegian team Joker-Merida with whom he spent three years. Some very good results such as fourth-place on GC at the Tour de l’Avenir and a silver medal at his National Championships caught the eye of team Type 1-SANOFI, and Vegard signed with them in 2012. He spent just one year there before joining Bretagne-Séché with whom he finished third at the Tour du Doubs. After a year back with Team Joker during which he won the Tour of Alsace, Vegard finally joined the World Tour with IAM Cycling in 2016. There, he took part in a Grand Tour for the first-time with the Giro and the Vuelta the same year. He even finished on the podium of the second ITT of the Italian race.

Unfortunately, IAM Cycling’s adventure in cycling stopped after 2016 so Vegard had to change teams once again. Happily, he was signed by UAE Team Emirates, who just arrived in the professional peloton taking the place of Lampre. With the Emirati team, Vegard Stake Laengen became one of the most important teammates in Grand Tours, with his experience and his capacity of leading a peloton for a very very long time. He also finally won his National Championships in 2018, after several podiums. Vegard took part in the two wins of Tadej Pogacar at the Tour de France and that is why he was at the start of this 107th Giro. We saw him at the front of the peloton numerous kilometres since the beginning of these three weeks and he is undeniably a very important part of the Slovenian’s success.

Stage 15

After having almost 60 men at the front of the race, it was probable that one of them, knowing that he could not win the stage, choose the 107th classification. It is what happened with Jefferson Alexander Cepeda finishing 107th for EF Education-EasyPost!

Jefferson Alexander was born on the 16th June 1998 in the city of El Payon in Ecuador. The EF Education-EasyPost rider is not the only member of his family in the professional peloton because his cousin, Jefferson Alveiro, ride for Caja-Rural. Given that they have the same first name, it is sometimes a source of confusion for the commentators. In 2019, Jefferson (let’s call him that, it will be easier) did not have a contract with a professional team yet. However, he participated in the Tour de l’Avenir with the Ecuadorian selection and he revealed himself to the cycling world by winning the last stage, arriving in Le Corbier. This performance opened to him the gates of the Pro Continental world and he signed with Androni Gioccatoli-Sidermec the following year.

With Gianni Savio’s team, Jefferson revealed himself as a pure climber, his small size (1.64m and 56kg) really helping him to perform in high altitude. He proved it in 2021, when he finished 4th at the Tour of the Alps, ahead of riders like Hugh Carthy, Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet. This year, he also won his National Championship and the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc, a French race in the Alps. The following year was a strange one for Jefferson as he changed teams in the middle. Indeed, he did the first part of his season with Drone Hopper-Gioccatoli (the new name of Androni) before joining EF Education-EasyPost as of  1st August. Last year, Jefferson performed well with a new 4th place at the Tour of the Alps but also a third place in the Crans-Montana stage at the Giro, after a heated breakaway with Thibaut Pinot and Einer Rubio. He also took his only win of the season at the Tour de l’Ain in a two-up sprint against Michael Storer.

This year is for the moment more complicated for Jefferson who did not perform as usual at the beginning of his season. His main objective for this Giro is to go in breakaways to chase stages but he did not succeed yet. Let’s hope for him that the 107th blessing will help him like it helped Alaphilippe and Ganna!

Ganna - came 107th, won a stage. You're welcome Pippo! (image credit: LaPresse)

Rider 107… Nick Schultz!

Official writebikerepeat adoptee Nick Schultz still hasn’t dazzled us with any outstanding results this Giro, but we will keep the faith! He finished 86th on the time trial, and 143rd on the previous day’s sprint stage. He performed really well on yesterday’s Queen Stage though, finishing 33rd – nice one Schultzie, now let’s go for the win in week three!

In the meantime, he's been training his Italian skills with teammate Marco Frigo!

What happened at km 107?

In our review of the portents of km107, we can see that on stage 13, Simone Velasco visits his team car, while a sneaky tractor peeks out of the bushes. Even the tractor knows we're keeping our beady eyes trained on km107!

No km107 on the stage 14 time trial (all the riders breathe a sigh of relief) so we skip forward to stage 15, and one of our many hopeful breakaway groups - the race was all over the road, so this is as representative of the day as it gets really.

Preview 107

STAGE 16/17/18 in just 107 WORDS

A big fight for the Cima Coppi, even though it’s not the Stelvio, then downhill all the way, then a stage that will come down to two final climbs. Pogi could win by accident. Stage 17 looks FUN – a big battle for the break could see the bunch strung out all day. So many ups and downs a shark is missing its teeth. Summit finish and a big opportunity for a breakaway win. Stage 18 is basically downhill all day so not sure why it’s rated two stars – will there be echelons? With not much in the way of climbing, we can only hope. Milan wins anyway.

Giro 'Duos'

By Sam Mould

As the Giro Duos reaches its climax, the competition intensifies at the summit with UAE Team Emirates rapidly closing in on the leaders to secure 2nd place. With only one week remaining, the race for the Giro Duos title is heating up, creating an electrifying atmosphere among the teams. The tension continues to rise as the contenders battle it out on the challenging course, pushing their limits to emerge victorious. Stay tuned to witness the thrilling conclusion of this epic cycling event, where only one team will ultimately be crowned champions.

Animals of the Giro

It’s been disappointingly quiet in terms of local wildlife and I can’t help but feel the broadcasters are to blame. Normally at the Tour de France we are treated to plenty of shots of fields of farm animals or horses running majestically and that sort of thing. Thankfully, we have dogs of the peloton to keep us sweet – here are just a couple.

David Dekker + sausage dog

And a second appearance for the beautiful Mia Ganna!


(Italian for 'brainteaser')

Welcome to the second edition of our mystery puzzle challenge! Put your detective skills to the test and uncover the hidden identity of a pro-cyclist within the puzzle. Each clue holds the key to revealing the riders, and with the deduction grid at your disposal, you can pinpoint all three identities. Are you ready to take on the challenge?

Here's how it works:

Once you've cracked the clue and identified a rider, mark your answer by placing a tick in the corresponding box and an X in the boxes that subsequently rules out. Keep track of nationality, team colour, and bike brand as you eliminate options. The process will leave you with empty squares that will ultimately reveal the identity of the third and final rider.

So, are you prepared to dive in and tackle this mystery? Let's see if you have what it takes to solve the puzzle and uncover the identities of these elusive pro-cyclists. Good luck!


1) This rider was the youngest rider on the start line this year

2) The German rider’s team is currently sitting in 7th on the Giro Duos table

If you tried the puzzle in Issue 4, the solutions were:

ANSWERS: Clue 1 – Ganna Clue 2 - Bjerg & Secret Identity: Martinez

Social Media Antipasti

Trying to keep track of 22 teams' social media antics is really quite challenging what with everything else that's going on, but when you're treated to this wonderful clip of Julian Alaphilippe gifting a jersey to his breakaway companion Mirko Maestri, is there really any need for anything else?

Thank you so much for joining us once again, we'll be back on Thursday with all the latest from three more stages of the Giro d'Italia.

Il Giro Sette is brought to you by DOLAN Bikes.

DOLAN Bikes : Choose your Discipline - Visit the Showroom
If you have enjoyed reading this post and would like to show your support for my free cycling content, consider buying me a coffee. And if you’d like to hear from me more regularly subscribe.
Share this post