Giro 2022 – The Blockhaus, finally: the pink jersey race is really starting

Nine days of waiting. Nine days of trembling with impatience. Nine days where the overall ranking has changed, but where the favorites have not moved an ear. They themselves had said it, in the image of Romain Bardet: “The Blockhaus, at the end of the first week, will be the first revealer“, the Frenchman confessed to us during his time in the Bistrot Vélo. And that’s it, it’s there. The Blockhaus. The first big piece of the mountain of this 105th edition of the Tour d’Italie.

A very difficult ascent of 13.6 km to 8.4%, quite regular in its central part with almost 8 km to more than 10%. It is compared quite often for its profile to the Alpe d’Huez, and it says it all about the difficulty of what awaits runners on Sunday: this climb will change a lot of things. “I think it will be much clearer on Sunday, after the Blockhaus“Our consultant Nicolas Fritsch told us in his usual column.

At the Blockhaus, the masks will fall: The profile of the 9th stage

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It must be said that so far, as expected and as expected, nothing has happened regarding the runners aiming for the final victory. The Budapest time trial was good, but the gaps remained relatively small due to the distance (9km). “There has been Etna before, but as it turned out, nothing happenedFritsch recalled. I’m not going to say it’s a false high, anyway, but it’s a pass where you can’t make big gaps.“Some riders like Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) or Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan Team) and have already lost all chances, even if they fail to be favorites, or even outsiders.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Jumbo-Visma) with his head down at the finish of the 4th stage of the Giro, May 10, 2022

Credit: Imago

Also losing that day, Guillaume Martin replaced him this Saturday in 4th place overall after his involuntary escape to Napoli. The Cofidis leader admitted that he wasted more energy than he would have liked in this 8th stage, where he found himself in the lead unintentionally. A getaway that could be expensive, with the first big mountain stage the day after this ride.

The Blockhaus route is complicated from the start with three ascents in the first 38 kilometers and the Lanciano (1st cat) as a warm-up before the Blockhaus. What to pay for the efforts of the Frenchman, who fears this scenario. “I hope I don’t waste twice as much time “,” he said after the arrival of the 8th stage.

Martin, 4th overall: “I almost inadvertently found myself in front”

Mission (almost) impossible for Lopez

The favorites will be more visible than on Mount Etna, where no one has attackedFritsch estimates. The pass is steeper, the shelter will count less but, above all, Monday will be a day of rest and it will take a week later to find some mountain. So the runners will be more free, they will be able to let go more, without hindsightAnd on such a difficult climb, climbers will be able to enjoy it.

In 2017, placed on the exact same day, the Blockhaus had seen Nairo Quintana soar on its percentages (avoid repetition slopes). Le Colombien was imposed 24 ” ahead of Thibaut Pinot and Tom Dumoulin, when 5e de l’etape finished one minute. The partitions that boulevards would be completely the current hierarchy.

“What a Giro can be at the chance of Bardet’s life”

On such a difficult climb, Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) will have a hard time keeping his pink leader tunic. Even though the Spaniard is not the first to arrive either (13th in the Vuelta last year), he has never managed to stay with the best in a neck of this difficulty.

He had only lost about ten seconds in the first mountain race on the 2021 Tour of Spain but the Picon Blanco was twice as short as the Blockhaus (7km against 13.6 on Sunday). Seeing them lose less than two minutes on most leaders would be a real feat. But even beyond the fight for the pink jersey, the favorites must start thinking about taking time back.

Time for choices for multiple leaders

Mine is nothing, you have to start creating gaps for those who want to postpone the GiroNicolas Fritsch recalled. And start catching up with the seconds in Budapest for an overwhelmed Simon Yates. ‘on Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), 24’ ‘on Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) and 33’ ‘on Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious).

It may sound huge, but it’s really tiny when it comes to tackling one of the toughest climbs of this 2022 Giro. the post-rest stage of Mount Etna, which he greatly feared. But the Frenchman finally doesn’t know much more about his level compared to the other candidates.

Bardet’s journey: “The Blockhaus will be the first revealer”

For a week now, the favorites have been quietly waiting for this 9th stage and this first explanation to come to know whether or not they can dream of the final victory. And finally, no one knows anything. Pas même, in some formations, who will be the leader appointed for the general. Will Bora-Hansgrohe bet on the 2nd of the Giro 2020 Jay Hindley, or the 5th of the 2021 Tour Wilco Keldermann? Mikel Landa has so far passed between the drops of his usual glitches (falls, etc.…) but will Bahrain-Victorious play his card or that of Pello Bilbao, in shape this season?

In 2017, it was precisely on the Blockhaus stage that he was tempted, just before the final climb. What will happen this year? For now, nothing is determined. Nothing is acquired. All the “certainty” of this first week will pass to the Revelator du Blockhaus. The real lessons of this first week will be on Sunday night. And, yes, I realize I’m the billionth person to make that joke. More and more in a hurry.

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