Giro 2022 – The Blockhaus, finally: the race for the pink jersey really begins

Nine days of waiting. Nine days that we have trampled with impatience. Nine days in which the general classification has changed, but where the favorites have not moved an ear. They had said it themselves, like Romain Bardet: “The Blockhaus, at the end of the first week, will be the first detector“, the French admitted to us during his visit to the Bistrot Vélo. And that’s it, here it is. The Blockhaus. The first great piece of mountain for this 105th edition of the Giro d’Italia.

A very difficult climb of 13.6 km at 8.4%, fairly regular in its central part with almost 8 km at more than 10%. It is often compared to Alpe d’Huez for its profile, and this speaks volumes about the difficulty of what awaits the riders on Sunday: this climb will change many things. “I think we will see much more clearly on Sunday after the Blockhouse“, 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 we expected and as we had planned, nothing has happened with regard to the riders aiming for the final victory. There was indeed time in Budapest, but the gaps remained relatively small given the distance (9km). “Etna has already been there but, as we suspected, nothing has happenedFritsch recalled. I am not saying that it is a slight uphill slope, the same, but it is a step where you cannot make big differences in height.“. Some riders like Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) or Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan Team) have already lost every chance there, even if they were not among the favorites, and not even outsiders.

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

Credit: Imago

Losing that day as well, Guillaume Martin replaced this Saturday in 4th place overall after his involuntary escape against 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 without having wanted to. An escape that could cost him dearly, with the first major mountain stage the day after this race.

The road to the Blockhaus promises to be complicated from the start with three climbs in the first 38 kilometers and the Lanciano (1st cat) as a warm-up before the Blockhaus. Enough to make the French pay for his efforts, who also fear this scenario. “I hope I don’t waste twice as much time ! “, he said at the end of the 8th stage. Because, this time, make no mistake, the favorites will battle on the tracks of the Blockhaus. There is no doubt.

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

Mission (almost) impossible for Lopez

The favorites will be discovered more than on Etna, where no one has attackedbelieves Fritsch. The pass is steeper, the refuge will count for less but, above all, Monday will be a day of rest and it will take a week later to find the mountain. So the runners will be more liberated, they will be able to let themselves go more, without thinking twice“And on such a difficult climb, mountaineers will be able to experience a field day.

In 2017, placed exactly the same day, the Blockhouse had seen Nairo Quintana fly away on its percentages (avoid repetitive slopes). The Colombian had won with a 24 ” advantage over Thibaut Pinot and Tom Dumoulin while the 5th stage had finished one minute away. Differences that would completely upset the current hierarchy.

“This Giro can be Bardet’s chance of a lifetime”

On such a difficult climb, Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) will struggle to keep his pink leader’s jersey. Even though the Spaniard is not even the first to finish (13th at the Vuelta last year), he has never managed to stay with the best in an overtaking of this difficulty.

He had lost only ten seconds during the first mountain appointment of the Tour of Spain 2021 but the Picon Blanco was twice as short as the Blockhaus (7 km against 13.6 on Sunday). Seeing him lose less than two minutes against the main leaders would be a real milestone. But, even beyond the fight for the pink jersey, the favorites must start thinking about recovering.

Time of your choice for multiple leaders

Coincidentally, we have to start creating gaps for those who want to win the Giro“, recalled Nicolas Fritsch. And they begin to recover the seconds granted in Budapest to an enhanced Simon Yates. ‘on Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), 24’ ‘on Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) and 33’ ‘on Mikel Landa ( Bahrain-victorious).

It may seem huge, but it’s actually tiny when it comes to tackling one of the toughest climbs of this Giro 2022. Author of a perfect week, Romain Bardet (DSM) overcame the pitfall of the post-rest stage of Etna. that he feared a lot. But the French in the end doesn’t know much more about his level than the other candidates.

The course presented by Bardet: “The Blockhaus will be the first detector”

For a week the favorites have been waiting patiently for this 9th stage and this first explanation to find out if they can dream of the final victory or not. And in the end nobody knows anything. Not even, in some formations, who will be the general’s designated head. Will Bora-Hansgrohe bet on 2nd of the 2020 Giro Jay Hindley, or the 5th of the 2021 Wilco Keldermann Tour? Mikel Landa has so far passed through the drops of his usual glitches (falls, etc …) but will Bahrain-Victorious play his card or that of Pello Bilbao, in form this season?

In 2017 it was precisely on the Blockhaus stage that it was attempted, just before the final climb. What will it be this year? For now, nothing is determined. You don’t buy anything. Any “certainty” of this first week will have to pass to the developer of the Blockhaus. The real lessons of this first week, we will have them on Sunday evening. And yes, we can’t wait. More and more excited.

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