Roglic Wins Stage 20 Mountain Time Trial of Giro d’Italia
Saturday’s stage 20 of Giro d’Italia 2023 featured a remarkable and yet unseen challenge in Giro history for the professional cyclists who remained part of this year’s race before tomorrow’s parade stage in Rome.
Stage 20 was an individual mountain time trial on a tough 18.6-kilometer route from Tarvisio to Monte Lussari, situated near the Austrian and Slovenian borders in northeastern Italy.
The first ten kilometers were on a flat, light descent along the Alpe Adria cycle path, before reaching the Saisera river. The riders then hit approximately 1050 meters of vertical elevation distributed over around eight kilometers of narrow paved concrete leading to a Sanctuary. Aerodynamics would be an important factor in the flat part of the time trial, but riders would be allowed to switch from time trial bikes to lighter road bikes in a controlled “bike exchange sector” before starting the climb to the finish line.
The uphill stretch featured an average gradient of 11.2 percent in beautiful mountain territory and a part of the first five kilometers reached no less than 18.5% (comparable to the central stretch of the Monte Zoncolan climb).
A curved final section of the time trial route with a short climb (up to 22%) at the entrance to the town is followed by a short descent, and then a final uphill part to the finish line where the fastest man against the clock – and the mountain - would be found.
125 riders remained in the Giro and Nicolas Dalla Valle was the first rider to roll down the start ramp at 11:30 CET for his Corratec-Selle Italia team.
Filippo Fiorelli set an early fastest time of 50:35 minutes. The rolling frog had made his leap to the top of the mountain in his Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizane aerosuit.
Unsurprisingly, Fiorelli was quickly replaced in the hot seat by other riders. France’s Thibault Guernalec stopped the clock at 48:35 and was the new fastest man on the day.
Cofidis’ Thomas Champion set a faster finishing time later in the afternoon when he finished eighteen second fasters than his fellow Frenchman. It did, however, not take long for 21-year-old Matthew Riccitello to take his place in the hotseat when he completed the stage in 46:19 minutes.
Riders from the favorites group began to leave the start ramp at 16:09 CET and Bob Jungels (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) were the first riders to launch. Dennis was smiling and waving from the launch platform as he celebrated taking part in the final Giro time trial of his professional career. He will quit professional cycling after this season.
Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) set a new fastest time of 46:16 minutes, but it did not take long before teammate Brandon McNulty proved to be an even better rider on the day and entered the hotseat while the biggest favorites for the stage win and general classification victory were yet to start.
UAE Team Emirates’ Joao Almeida – third in the general classification before today’s decisive time trial – took off from the start ramp for the most important ride of his career this far.
Primoz Roglic was next to start – it would be a very important ride for him that would influence his future position in the Jumbo-Visma team hierarchy with teammate Jonas Vingegaard aiming for the victory in Tour de France 2023.
Jumbo-Visma’s American Sepp Kuss set a new fastest time that would help guide team captain Roglic in the time trial. He would use Kuss’ performance as a guideline to pinpoint his own needed performance.
At timing point 1 Roglic was the fastest rider. Thomas was two seconds slower than Roglic, while Almeida was four seconds behind Roglic.
Thibaut Pinot set a new fastest time and had delivered an impressive performance on the climb for his Groupama-FDJ team. Meanwhile, Roglic was passing intermediate timing point 2, 32 seconds faster than Almeida. Giro race leader Thomas was next to pass the timing point. Alas, he was 16 seconds slower than Roglic.
Roglic suffered a mechanical and needed help to repair his bike and return to riding. Suddenly he was at the risk of missing out on a stage victory.
Damiano Caruso – the man who suddenly improved his Grand Tour performances after moving to Bahrain-Victorious – set a new fastest time. He was four seconds faster than Pinot.
Almeida crossed the finish line as the new fastest rider. He was thirteen seconds faster than Caruso. Roglic and Thomas were the only riders yet to finish.
Roglic powered on with incredible speed. He set a new fastest time of 44:23 minutes – no less than 42 seconds faster than Almeida. Roglic was the new man in the hotseat.
Thomas pressed on to defend his Giro d’Italia general classification lead. He looked strong and his pedal strokes were powerful. Yet the final intermediate time showed he had lost his time advantage to Roglic. Time was running out for the Welshman.
Thomas finished in 45:03 minutes. This was too slow for him to preserve his overall race lead. Roglic is the new man in pink and is now set to be crowned Giro d’Italia Champion following Sunday’s final stage 21 in Rome.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for final coverage from Giro d’Italia 2023 and visit Sundried.com to buy ethically produced cycling and fitness clothing.