We’ve made it through almost three full weeks of racing: just the individual time trial stands between Egan Bernal and the final maglia rosa. Over the past two days, the rest of the GC contenders tested his fitness – and that of his teammates – by launching attacks on the precipitous Alpine slopes.
On Friday, Adam Yates was the man to beat, striding confidently to a stage victory. Bernal rode well, preventing his rivals from gaining significant time. At the end of the day we all wondered whether Yates would have enough fuel in the tank for a repeat on Saturday. And what about Ineos? Had they burnt through too many matches getting Bernal to the top?
Here’s a video recap of Friday’s stage. Can’t you almost feel the steep inclines in your own legs?
Saturday was touted as the stage that would determine the winner of the maglia rosa. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. Here are the highlights:
The Standings as of Saturday
Maglia Rosa: Bernal; Caruso (+1:59); Yates (+3:23); Vlasov (+7:07); Bardet (+7:48)
Maglia Ciclamino: Sagan (136); Cimolai (118); Gaviria (116); Viviani (86); Bernal (80)
Maglia Azzurra: Bouchard (184); Bernal (140); Caruso (99); Martin (83); Yates (61)
Maglia Bianca: Bernal; Vlasov (+7:07); Martinez (+7:56); Almeida (+8:50); Foss (+12:39)
Looks like Bernal will walk away with two prizes: the overall maglia rosa and the maglia bianca for the best rider under 25 years of age.
What About the Time Trial?
I hate that the Giro ends on an individual time trial, where each rider races against the clock on the same course. This year it is about 30 kilometers long, and it’s as flat as a pancake. It’s a tough discipline with a specific set of skills – namely, putting one’s body into the most aerodynamic position, maintaining that position, and riding a massive gear at top speed until the finish.
Few riders excel at the time trial because it is so difficult. It’s unlikely that the overall standings would be altered by the results of tomorrow’s race, but it’s not impossible. Last year’s title came down to the final stage, with Tao Geoghegan Hart taking the pink jersey from Jai Hindley after the time trial. No such drama in store for tomorrow, but it will be fun to watch the experts do their thing. My pick is Filippo Ganna: he blew away the field in the first time trial and, after how well he’s performed for Bernal these past weeks, don’t you think he deserves another win?
Let’s Close Out Giro 2021 with a Glass of Franciacorta DOCG
Franciacorta is produced in the region of Lombardia, not too far from where the Giro finishes in Milan. It’s famous for its traditional method sparkling wines that are modeled after the esteemed wines of Champagne (with strict requirements for planting densities, maximum yields, and lees aging.) As in Champagne, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir take pride of place but there is also some Pinot Bianco permitted in the blend. The Blanc de Blancs Franciacorta, called Satèn, makes a nice side-by-side comparison to other traditional method sparkling wines: it’s a little less bubbly but has similar autolytic character and fruit profile.
Still wines from the region are labeled as Curtefranca DOC, and are often made from international varieties.
If you’ve never tasted a sparkler from Franciacorta, I highly recommend you do. The one I tasted, from Azienda Agricola Cavalleri was made with biodynamically farmed grapes (100% Chardonnay) grown in the hillside vineyards of Ebrusco. 85% comes from the 2017 vintage, the rest from 2016. Fermentation was in a combination of stainless steel (90%) and large oak casks (10%) with a small portion (15%) fermented using native yeast. The wine rested on its lees for 30 months, and the dosage was 2 g/l.
Thanks for sticking with me over the last three weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed the race as much as I have – and have found some new wines to add to your shopping list. Let’s get together in a few weeks, for the kick-off of the Tour de France. It’s starting one week earlier than usual because of the Tokyo Olympic games.
See you then!