A Week Of Pink - Giro d'Italia One Week In

Words by Zach Nehr

Photos by Gruber Images

We’re one week into the Giro d’Italia and it’s been a thrilling nine stages. UAE Team Emirates and Polti-Kometa have animated each and every stage by stacking the breakaways and delivering stage wins. While the riders enjoy the first day off, we’ll recap the first week of the Giro d’Italia through the lens of UAE Team Emirates and Polti-Kometa.

Pogačar’s Ups and Downs of Opening Weekend

When Tadej Pogačar attacked the Bivio di San Vito with 4km to go on Stage 1, most of us thought he would ride away to victory. But Jonathan Narvaez, and Maximillian Schachmann (from an earlier breakaway), managed to stay with Pogačar over the top of the climb. The trio came flying into a high-speed sprint, and Narvaez upset Pogačar to win the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia. 

Pogačar didn’t have to wait long to get his revenge, as Stage 2 featured the race’s first summit finish on the Santuario di Oropa. But it wasn’t easy; Pogačar punctured and crashed 2km before the base of the final climb. After a furious chase led by his teammates on UAE Team Emirates, Pogačar made his way to the front of the peloton before attacking with 4.4km to go. 

He went on to win the stage solo, and for the first time in his career, Pogačar pulled on the maglia rosa as the GC leader of the Giro d’Italia. 

GC Standings After Stage 2:

1st: Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) 7:08:29

2nd: Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:45

3rd: Daniel Martínez (BORA - hansgrohe) +0:45

Stages 3-5 – Sprints and Breakaways Find Their Opportunities

Tim Merlier of Soudal Quick-Step won the first sprint stage of the Giro, and a bunch sprint was expected again on Stage 4. Team Polti Kometa earned their first Top 10 of the race, with Giovanni Lonardi finishing 10th in the Stage 4 sprint. They would come even closer the following day when Andrea Pietrobon made it into a mid-stage breakaway. 

Both UAE Team Emirates and Polti Kometa are riding ENVE wheels, with multiple options to choose from at the Giro d’Italia. Whether it is Pietrobon in a breakaway or Pogačar on the Mortirolo, ENVE has a set of wheels to fit the occasion: the lightweight and aerodynamic SES 4.5 wheels, SES 3.4, or the climbing-specific SES 2.3 wheels

Pietrobon rode the ENVE SES 4.5 wheels into the breakaway on Stage 4, and for a while, it was looking like the breakaway was just taking up TV time. But with 10km to go, the peloton suddenly realized they had miscalculated the chase, and this breakaway was going to make it to the finish. Pietrobon attacked inside 1km to go, got caught, and then sprinted to 3rd on the stage. The Giro stage podium was the biggest result of his career and a living dream for Polti Kometa. 

Stages 7 and 8 – Pogačar Wins Twice in Pink 

After another breakaway took Stage 6, it was onto the time trial. At 40.6km in length, the Stage 7 time trial was one of the longest Grand Tour TTs in recent memory, and it would be a massive test for the GC contenders. 

Rider after rider failed to come close to Filippo Ganna’s time of 52:01, but that was before Pogačar rolled down the start ramp. Donning the maglia rosa TT suit, Pogačar rode conservatively in the first two-thirds of the time trial, arriving at the bottom of the final climb nearly 45 seconds slower than Ganna. But as he’s shown throughout his entire career, Pogačar is one of the fastest climbers in the world, and he powered his way to the stage win ahead of Ganna and Magnus Sheffield. Not only did Pogačar take the stage win, but he also blew open his advantage in the General Classification to nearly three minutes. 

GC Standings After Stage 7:

1st: Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) 24:12:36

2nd: Daniel Martínez (BORA - hansgrohe) +2:36

3rd: Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:46

UAE Team Emirates displayed their overall strength with a brilliant performance on Stage 8. The team put a stranglehold on the breakaway, meticulously reeling it back in by the base of the Prati di Tivo (14.7km at 7%).

Once on the climb, the team continued pacing for Pogačar, carefully closing down gaps and setting a hard pace for as long as possible. In the final kilometer, Rafał Majka did an incredible to lead out Pogačar, who crushed everyone in the final sprint to take his second consecutive stage win. 

Stage 9 – Almost 200km Breakaway for Polti Kometa

Polti Kometa riders Pietrobon and Mirco Maestri attacked from Kilometer Zero at the beginning of Stage 9, over 210km from the finish in Napoli. The pair spent nearly the entire stage in front of the peloton, only getting swept up with less than 20km to go. In the end, Pogačar did the final sprint lead out for his teammate, Juan Sebastián Molano, who earned his best result at the Giro by finishing third behind Olav Kooij and Jonathan Milan. 

Giro d’Italia Week 2 Preview

The second week of the Giro kicks off with a stair-stepping summit finish on the Bocca della Selva on Stage 10. Breakaways could have a good chance of making it to the finish in the following two stages, but a sprint is almost guaranteed at the end of the panflat Stage 13. 

Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates will test themselves in Stage 14’s time trial, which is much flatter than the Giro’s first race against the clock. Mark your calendars for Stage 15, which features a high-altitude finish in Livigno. At 222km with 5,724 meters of climbing, this could be the Queen Stage of the Giro, and one that promises to shake up the General Classification. 

If Week 1 was anything to go by, then watch for Polti Kometa in the breakaway on Stages 11-13 and Tadej Pogačar putting on a show in the maglia rose during Stages 14-15.