Another day of loses at the Giro d’Italia.
The Italian grand tour is just over the halfway mark but already there have been 16 abandons due to Covid 19.
That’s on top of a long list of Did Not Starts due to consistently miserable, wet and cold weather conditions. Riders push themselves to extremes in extreme conditions and naturally they’re getting sick at a higher rate.
At the start of today’s stage 11, Soudal-Quickstep was hit again. Jan Hirt, Josef Cerny, Louis Vervaeke and Mattia Cattaneo all turned in Covid positives. The squad is now down to just three riders. It will be a sad time around the dinner table but think how much money they’ll save on food costs. (We’ll assume Martin Hvastija, director of the Slovenian national team, will claim these riders didn’t have Covid, just like he did in questioning Evenepoel’s Giro departure. Who is this nutball, by the way?)
There were also significant loses on the road to Tortona. Maglia rosa Geraint Thomas, teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) and top rival Primoz Rogic (Jumbo Visma) crashed. Thomas and Roglic remounted but the injuries to Geoghegan Hart were significant. He was loaded into an ambulance, in a lot of pain, both physically and emotionally.
Grand tours are by nature a war of attrition but this year’s Giro seems particularly brutal and cursed. On the subject of Covid 19, race organizer Mauro Vegni admitted on Monday’s rest day that perhaps they should have tightened up the protocols sooner. Really? Ya think?
Then again, if you watched today’s podium presentation, the gentleman handing Geraint Thomas the pink jersey wasn’t even wearing a mask. So, I’m not calling that tightening up. Seems to me that given all the positive Covid results, this race is still taking a lax and foolish attitude toward safety.
Then again, the Giro always likes to talk about drama and extremes, epic mountains raced in often dangerous conditions. And that’s cool — but when you’re just halfway to Rome and you’ve already lost 36 riders, including race favorites like Remco Evenepoel and Tao Geoghegan Hart, you’ve got a serious problem. When it appears that even today race officials aren’t wearing masks around the riders, that’s actually inexcusable at this point.
Ohh, the one victory? A chapeau to Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) who beat a surging Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Nearly Victorious) in a photo finish. Hope to see you two battling it out again later in the race — if you don’t get Covid.