To say today’s TT had been looming over this year’s Giro would be an understatement.
From the moment Simon Yates bridged up to teammate Esteban Chaves on Stage 6 and gifted him a win at the summit of Etna, the subtitle of this race has been: “How much time can Yates get before the time-trial?”
That was the day Yates looked like the boss of the race.
But Dumoulin, as we know, is the dominant TT rider in the world right now.
So Yates climbs and gains time, Dumoulin grabs it all back in the TT, and we watch the remaining stages from the edges of our well-worn seats.
Peroni in hand and big book ‘o’ cycling tactics across our laps.
We say: “Yeah…so Dumoulin will gain probably two and a half minutes, minimum, on the TT, but then Yates will gain loads of time in the last three mountain stages…”
As if they haven’t got a couple of thousand kilometres in their legs already. Two or three Zoncolans worth of tiredness (which, as we know, is the internationally recognised measure of tiredness in a pro cyclist), plus an actual Zoncolan, can do funny things to a cyclist’s legs.
Like, y’know…make them tired, and stuff.
If I were Dumoulin, I’d be thinking: “You think it’s that simple…YOU come and take two minutes and eleven off Simon Yates!”
And so, the TT arrived, right here on Stage 16.
Never has a more crucial sporting event had so many people content to give the live feed a miss and catch up on the highlights. A few dozen cyclists riding quickly on a flat road largely in a straight line.
It’s not everyone’s idea of entertainment.
I used to be a big fan of a TT. I used to find it calming, and meditative. The futility of it would have me musing on the nature of existence and the meaning of life.
Then the major bike manufacturers ruined it.
With their rampant obsession for aero they started building really ugly bikes. Strange fairings and seatposts at funny angles started to appear. I felt sure the UCI would invent some rules to outlaw this visual pollution, but no.
Wilier, Italian bike makers par excellence, launched a bike so ugly recently that it gave me a tummy ache.
I now watch TT’s with my hand in front of my face to obscure the bike, leaving me to watch the bikeless wiggle of the rider on-board. It’s really very inconvenient.
Nonetheless, I watched today’s TT so you didn’t have to.
You’re welcome.Embed from Getty Images
Rohan Dennis rode very, very fast, and won the stage. Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin rode a bit slower, but still quite fast, to take second and third place. Chris Froome rode well, which means tomorrow he’ll ride horribly.
Thibaut Pinot sabotaged himself and lost over three minutes (my feeling was that this was a selfless protest against the ugliness of the bikes – Vive le Pinot!).
And Simon Yates lost a chunk of time but nothing like enough to lose the pink jersey. He retains the race lead by nearly a minute. The tension never came.
Anything could still happen, of course.
Yates could have a bad day, or crash, or get sucked in and swallowed up by the sheer force of one of Eurosport commentator Carlton Kirby’s swirling psychedelic analogies.
But, more likely, he could get all the way to Rome and win the thing.
Get the Peroni ready.