I’ve been enthralled by the Colombians since they started returning to the peloton in greater numbers recently, this Giro has really set the tone for what I hope is an ongoing resurgence of what cycling fans during the nineties & noughties completely missed. Nairo Quintana, ‘The boy with the pink shiny shoes’ is the real deal, he ripped the mountain time trial apart today, with only new Italian GC star, Fabio Aru anywhere near him (but this lad is going to get some serious attention soon too). The only down side were Nairo’s choice of booties, where Twitter decreed that the Spice Girls would be requesting the return of their property & @journalvelo posted a photo of an actual mountain goat, complete with four pink wellies (it’s HERE).
All these ‘new’ riders who’ve emerged during this Giro to the wider audience are young talented climbers, not your 1990’s diesels ‘converted’ in to mountain goats by their doctors. It looks like we’re seeing what’s been missing for a good few years, the return of the pure climber, who can’t win an 8km prologue, but can change pace & attack in the mountains, not just ride out an elevated pace set by their team-mates. Many fans who were attracted during the ‘Texan Chaingang Masacre’ years, will be quite unfamiliar with these kinds of riders. We’ll still have more all-rounder types going for GC, but it looks like the pure climbers are gaining more all round abilities too, Quintana can time trial pretty well, but I don’t expect he’d win the sprint on your local chain gang. They even look like they can handle their bikes well, the previous batch of Colombians were a little dicey & it appeared like the local landscape gardener had fitted them to their bikes, with the same care & attention they apply to attaching their brush to their trailer.
One major factor in the high performance in several of these riders all in the one race is partly down to circumstance. This Giro has suffered quite an attrition rate, plus several other riders are focussing on the Tour this year, namely Contador & Aru’s normal team leader Nibali. Trek’s Colombian Arredondo has been the key rider during the Giro, holding the mountains Jersey & winning a stage, the Colombian team have been particularly active. Uran was designated team leader at Omega Pharma Quick Step after finishing 2nd last year, having worked for Wiggins, but it looks like he may be struggling to repeat that, could be a sign of a different race.
Another major factor could also be the absence of something similar to a Sky train in the mountains, a style which doesn’t suit the Colombian attacking style too well. They prefer changes in pace to destroy their ‘diesel’ rivals, which should make the Tour de France very interesting if there’s any Climbers left who’ve not been pummelled by the Giro. Dan Martin was reputedly in fine form, he may have been a factor with his Garmin team if he hadn’t crashed out at the beginning.
Saturday is going to be very interesting, with the steep slopes of the Zoncolan favouring the smaller riders again. Can Pozzovivo make up that deficit & grab a spot on the podium? It looks like our little pinky has the Maglia Rosa sown up, but the other podium spots are up for grabs, anybody can crack at this stage of a grand tour. Drama awaits on the Monte Zoncolan tomorrow afternoon.