The world's toughest race in the most beautiful country in the world. The “pink race” of the Giro d'Italia is underway

The world's toughest race in the most beautiful country in the world.  The "pink race" of the Giro d'Italia is underway

The cyclists have three weeks of fighting for the priceless Giro d'Italia maglia rosa – the pink jersey for the winner of the competition on Italian roads.

The 107th edition of the Giro d'Italia is the first of this year's three-week Grand Tours. The competitors started the competition on May 4 on a dynamic stage leading through the hills surrounding Turin, from which you can see picturesque panoramas of the city with the Po and the Alps in the background. The competition will end in monumental Rome, on a sprint stage through the streets of the “Eternal City”.

What awaits cyclists?

Experts describe this year's route as quite easy, because the focus is not on the route but on the cyclists and their competition. During 3 weeks in May, competitors will have 21 stages, including 2 time trial stages, 6 flat, 8 mountainous and 5 mountain, with 7 finals on uphill sections. A total of 3,401 kilometers and 44,650 meters of elevation. This is the 107th edition of the pink race in a nutshell.

There is only one favorite this year, his name is Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, has been showing that he is in great shape since the beginning of the year. Therefore, the question about the favorites should not be who will win, but by what advantage Pogacar will win. But a grand tour has its own rules, there are crashes, defects, weather changes, random events, so even a sure favorite cannot be 100% sure that he will win.

Polish accents

176 cyclists from 22 teams took part in this year's Giro. Apart from Tadej Pogacar, those who should fight for the top positions in the general classification include: such players as Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers), who was second in the Giro d'Italia last year, as well as Ben O'Connor (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale), Daniel Felipe Martinez (BORA-hansgrohe) and Juan Pedro Lopez (Lidl -Trek).

There are two Poles in the race – experienced Rafał Majka, who is Pogacar's helper and his main task is to help his leader on the mountain stages. The Pole, a UAE Team Emirates cyclist, has won stage victories at both the Tour de France and the Spanish Vuelta, so he hopes that there will be an opportunity to score a hat-trick this year and also win one of the Giro stages. The second Pole is Stanisław Aniołkowski from the Cofidis group, making his debut in the grand tour. Anikowski's role is completely different from Majka's. The Polish cyclist will look for his chances on flat, sprint stages, because he is one of the cyclists with a dynamic finish.

But these are not all Polish accents in the pink race. Zondacrypto, which comes from Poland, has become the Official Cryptocurrency Exchange and will also be the Official Sponsor of the Giro d'Italia Women's red jersey.

Przemysław Kral, CEO of zondacrypto, said this about the cooperation with the Italian organizers:

– When, as a teenager, I followed the competition of cyclists on the mountain stages of the Giro d'Italia with my father, I did not even imagine that I would lead an organization that would be the first in the history of world cycling to be recognized as the official cryptocurrency partner platform of these legendary competitions. . Together with the organizers, we believe that the ZND token, which will be the prize in the race, will revolutionize the future of sports sponsorship. In addition, our logo on the leader's jersey will emphasize that zondacrypto is a woman throughout the women's Giro d'Italia.

Zondacrypto logos are visible, among others: at “kilometer zero”, on the branded special car No. 1, but also as a sponsor of the FantaGiro d'Italia fantasy league.

Competition in the first week

On May 4 in Piedmont, in the first stage of the Giro, the cyclists had to overcome a mountainous, 136-kilometer section with the finish line in Turin. The cyclist who was the first to wear the leader's pink jersey was the Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers), who defeated the German Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-hansgrohe) in the last meters. It was a surprising victory because the cyclist from South America defeated Pogacar in the final meters, who finished third.

The next, Sunday 161-kilometer stage ended with the final climb to Santuario di Oropa. 11 kilometers before the finish line, an incident occurred that recalled the events of 1999. Two decades ago, the famous “Pirate”, the late Marco Pantani, had a defect before the final climb, but nevertheless caught up with the peloton and managed to win. This year, it was Tadej Pogacar who had a flat tire at the foot of the final climb and had a minor fall. Thanks to the strong work of his colleagues from the UAE, Team Emirates quickly caught up with the peloton and on the uphill stretch he and the entire team were at the head of the peloton. 4.5 km from the finish line, the Slovenian attacked, and none of his rivals were able to keep up with him, and thus the pink jersey went to Pogacar after the second day.

At this stage, Rafał Majka showed his great side. Before Pogacar's decisive attack, the Pole came to the front of the main group and thanks to his strong work, only shreds of the peloton remained. It was the perfect moment for the Slovenian to attack.

Mamma mia Pogacar!

Stage 3 was supposed to be a stage for sprinters. And finally, it was the fastest cyclist from the peloton who raised his hands in a gesture of triumph, but before this happened, 3 kilometers before the finish line, Tadej Pogacar broke away from the peloton and was followed by Geraint Thomas, second in the classification. There was chaos and surprise in the peloton. Nobody expected this: the Highlanders are running away from the general classification on a flat stage! The daring action of the two cyclists ended 500 meters before the finish line – when the speeding sprint trains absorbed the skirmishers. Polish sprinter Stanisław Aniołkowski finished the stage very high, in 8th place.

They are chasing and they will not catch up

This year's Giro clearly shows that it is worth running away. On stage 5, which was supposed to be the arena for the sprinters' fight, the winner was Benjamin Thomas, a cyclist of the Cofidis group. The Frenchman won from a four-man breakaway. It was a great surprise that day!

Stage 6 will go down in history. The cyclists continued along the picturesque Tuscan roads, and the difficulty of the stage was determined by the gravel sections. And this time, the winner was the cyclist who, together with two other competitors, decided to escape the peloton. Pelayo Sanchez from the Movistar team, winning the stage, drowned in tears of happiness and for a long time he could not believe what he had achieved.

More climbs, the legendary Stelvio

What else awaits the cyclists in the second and third weeks? One of the more difficult stages will be the one scheduled for Sunday, May 19, at the end of the second week of racing. The cyclists will face the stage from Garda to Livigno, which will be the longest and with the most climbing in the entire race, covering 222 kilometers and a massive 5,711 meters of elevation gain.

In the third week of racing, after a day's break, in the heart of the Alps, the cyclists will have to climb to the roof of this year's Giro: Passo dello Stelvio. Although it must be admitted that placing the over 19-kilometer climb at the beginning and not at the end of the stage is quite innovative. Further difficulties will arise on stages 17, 19 and 20. Each day, the cyclists will have several thousand meters of elevation gain. The final is a stage on the streets of Rome, where sprinters will take the lead.

Who will win the pink race? Will Tadej Pogacar find the slayer? We will know the answer on May 26, after 3 weeks of competition in “the most difficult race in the world in the most beautiful country in the world” – as the Italian organizers say about the Giro d'Italia. And although it doesn't sound modest, I guess they're right!

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