The Giro d'Italia wakes up: Almeida leads Bondone, Thomas takes the pink jersey
Nothing decisive because there are still three very demanding stages ahead of us (Val di Zoldo, Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Monte Lussari) in which everything can change, but finally on Monte Bondone, the historic mountain of cycling, the leaders give a first shrug to the classification reporting to normal a race that was giving space only to supporting actors. And to the glory-seeking volunteers. Which will be nice and meritorious, but in the Giro d'Italia, which is not yet a race for cycle tourists, the champions above all must emerge. Those that the public waits for hours in front of the television and on the roadside.
Here they are, then, the samples. We present them to you. The first, a bit unexpected, but now one to keep an eye on, is the Portuguese Joao Almeida, 24 years old, for the first time winner of a stage in the Giro d'Italia. The second, beaten by Almeida in the last flicker, but wearing the pink jersey again, is the Welshman Geraint Thomas, almost 37 years old, already first in the 2018 Tour. The third is Primoz Roglic, a 31-year-old Slovenian, feared by all as a favourite, but this time cornered by the double attack at about 5 kilometers by Almeida and Thomas, the other two rivals who are contending for the pink jersey to take to Rome. Roglic, who had made his team (the Jumbo) work, was unable to return the blow. He doesn't collapse, thanks to the work of his teammate Kuss, but in the end he finishes third, losing 25 seconds. Which in the bonus game become 29”. It's not a huge deal, of course. It fits in a stage like this one at Bondone.
But it is a warning sign. It could just be a day of crisis, due to the aftermath of a fall, as it can instead be the sign of a deeper malaise. There's no reason to cry, but there's no reason to console yourself too much for the narrow escape. Much more cheerful are of course Almeida and Geraint Thomas. The Portuguese, good chronoman and good climber, has been standing out for some time without however being able to hit the target. This time, realizing first that Roglic is on the hook, he immediately gets to the point by sprinting up the steepest section of the last climb. Followed by Thomas, quick not to miss the opportunity. The two take flight and then go to play in the sprint where the Portuguese wins.
All very democratic: the stage to Almeida, the pink jersey to Thomas, third place to Roglic which sounds like a bitter consolation. Our Damiano Caruso, saving what can be saved, is seventh with a minute and a half of delay. The general classification therefore sees Thomas ahead followed by Almeida (+18 ") and Roglic (+31"). Caruso, very tried, remains fourth with more than two minutes. It is unlikely that he will be able to earn a place on the final podium. Which now seems to be reserved for the big three. But it's still an open Giro. The best is yet to come. Each of the favorites has his chances to play in such a selective final: Thomas can count on experience and on a good condition despite him not being a kid anymore. Almeida on the freshness of his 24 years. He is determined and unafraid to compete with two important colonels of the caravan.
As for Roglic, it certainly isn't discovered today. Strong in the time trial and also strong uphill. On the Bondone he was the awaited big one. Maybe too much. Today stage for sprinters from Pergine (Valsugana) to Caorle. Next challenge for the pink jersey on Thursday 25 May in Val di Zoldo