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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, November 12, 2021

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, Vol 2: 1971 - 2011 is available as an audiobook here.

2022 Giro D'Italia Route news

Here's the link to the 2022 Giro d'Italia page. The complete route was announced Thursday, November 11.

2022 Giro d'Italia

2022 Giro d'Italia map

Team BikeExchange posted this reaction the the route:

The official 2022 Giro d’Italia route was announced in its entirety today, boasting a total of 51,000 metres of climbing across the three weeks but with a noticeably lower amount of time trial kilometres compared to other editions.

We caught up with Head Sport Director Matt White to get his take on the proposed route.

Climbing Friendly
Beginning in Budapest, Hungary with a slightly undulating 195km stage, the riders will then head on to their time trial bikes for the first of two-time trial stages on day two, a short 9.2km race against the clock, before another sprinter friendly stage on day three.

The time trial bikes will then be put away until the final stage in Verona on the 29th of May, when they will reappear for another fairly short 17.1km individual time trial, making it the lowest number of time trial kilometres in a Giro d’Italia in the past 60-years.

White: “By having less time trial kilometres, there will be riders who aren’t particularly strong in time trials looking at the Giro in a different way, it is a very climbing friendly route. I think we will see a few more pure climbers lining-up at the Giro next year.

If you also look at the Tour de France, there’s around 53km of time trialling so if you are a strong time trial rider then you will be looking at the Giro route and thinking ‘well where can I make up time, I can’t use my biggest asset to take time as there’s not enough TT kilometres’.”

Over to Italy and into the mountains
The first rest day will come on the fourth day as the peloton make their way over to Italy ready for the first mountains test. Kicking off their Italian arrival with a bang, the peloton will enjoy the first summit finish of the race on day four up Mount Etna, which should be a good warm-up for a week that is bookended by iconic climbs.

White: “Stage four is up Etna and it is a tough day, it will be the first test for the GC riders and straight after a rest day, so we will see some action there and it is always interesting as to how riders react to a hard stage after a rest day. We have seen a similar stage before in Etna, it was a great success for our guys in 2018 when we transferred from Israel and a couple of days later won the stage going ‘one-two’ with Chaves and Yates.

I think the real race will begin in real earnest on stage seven. It isn’t a hilltop finish, but it is a tough stage and then a couple of days later finishing up Blockhaus on stage nine, that will be a stage when we really see who is here to play. Blockhaus is a climb we’ve used many times before in the Giro. There’s no hiding, it is a hard climb around 15km long, and the last nine kilometres are really hard. There’s nearly 5,000metres of elevation climb on that stage alone, it is a huge day and will be a really important day for the general classification. I think by the end of that stage, stage nine, we will know who the contenders are.”

Backend Heavy
In traditional Giro style, the final week of the race is scattered with brutal climbs, with back-to-back tests for the general classification riders before the race concludes in Verona after a mammoth 3,410.3km of racing.

White: “This 2022 route is traditionally backend heavy. There’s three really big days in a row, stage 15 before the rest day and then stage 16 and 17, then as always, at the very end of the final week we have stage 19 which is solid and then stage 20 is a monster. Like always, the devil will be in the detail of those stages.

In that last week, having four mountain stages and a time trial is really solid. I think the GC will be sorted before we arrive to Verona. The damage will be done early in the week and by the final time trial, people will be just looking to solidify their spots or move up some places on stages 19 and 20. Having a final time trial that short and relatively easy favours more aggressive racing earlier on, there’s not time to make up any time on a time trial of that length.

I am a big fan of the more traditional climbs, so I think having the Mortirolo back is a great. I am not a huge fan of the stages with dirt that we’ve seen over the years, I don’t like seeing people lose races from bad luck, the risk is amplified a lot when you’re on pave or dirt, so I am happy there’s not any of those types of stages and it looks like a really great and challenging route that we can look forward to.”

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Mauro Schmid signs for two years with Team Deceuninck-Quick Step

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Mauro Schmid is the newest signing of Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Only 21 years of age, Schmid showcased his potential during the famous gravel stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, where he took home the win after going in the decisive breakaway. Patrick Lefevere, CEO of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, also noticed the skills of the Swiss all-rounder: “Mauro is still very young, but he already has a Grand Tour stage to his name. The fact that it came in the Montalcino stage only proves what he’s capable of. He still has so much margin to grow, as not so long ago he was still combining different disciplines. Now he’ll focus on the road for the next two years, and we’re more than happy to guide and help him to become better.”

Mauro Schmid

Mauro Schmid wins stage 11 of the 2021 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

Mauro has come a long way until he reached this point of joining his dream team Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

“First I started mountain biking. I did it more or less for fun. After one or two years I also started doing some road racing and then when I was under 17 I began cyclo-cross. For nearly four years I combined it all together, most of the time I did a mountain bike race on Saturday, on Sunday a road race, and then the whole winter I did CX. Being only 14 years old, it was quite a big program then. When I became junior I more or less stopped mountain bike racing, as I realised I had more potential on the road. As a junior I combined road and CX during winter. A bit later, I started track racing when I was a second-year junior. After that I got in the elite national team on the track and decided to go for this in combination with the road.”

“That combination worked quite well, but most of the time I didn’t really have the opportunity to take a break. I had to be quite careful with the whole planning. I realised I could make it to the Olympics, but I had to fight for my spot. Because of that I tried to focus a bit more on the track for a period of time, but then with Covid it got postponed. It was difficult and I had to switch my attention to the road, as my goals were road-related in 2020. Eventually I got my first pro contract. In 2021 everything came together, my first year as a pro on the road and the Olympics. It was quite a big step for me. Now my goal is to leave the track a little bit behind. I won’t retire from track, I think I’ll keep it for the winter, but my main focus will be road racing for the next two years.”

“I learned something from every discipline. Definitely the CX training and racing helped me a lot to learn how to handle my bike and how to avoid crashes. Becoming a pro was still quite a big step, as before I was working full time. I worked 40 hours per week and then I trained in the evening. I was a car mechanic. In Switzerland it’s quite common to combine work and school. Then you get your degree and you can choose another business if you want. But my parents own a car dealership, so for me it was a logical step. I rolled into it and I was interested in cars. When I turned 16 I had to choose if I wanted to keep on studying, I wasn’t really motivated to do so. Now when I look back it also helped, as I had a tough time working and training, but I still competed well despite the lack of training hours. I did like half of the training hours of other guys my age. I stopped working at the end of 2019 and then I went to the army for four months, but most of the time we were training there and we had some other responsibilities.”

“I liked turning pro, it all moves so fast. To live this lifestyle is great, I have seen the other side already, a 9-to-5 job is really something totally different and also something hard. Some guys don’t know what it is, but because of that I’m even more motivated to have this chance to be a full-time cyclist. The most beautiful thing I think is you’re more or less your own boss. You have of course a lot of people around you, but it always comes back to your own responsibility if you eat well, go to bed early, train hard. You need to focus and keep your goals in mind. And how unique is it to race all around the world? I’m also lucky to have my whole family supporting me, my father was also racing and knows the cycling world.”

“It was the first time I went into a breakaway from the beginning and it was a totally new thing. Also the Giro came unexpectedly for me, as I didn’t really prepare for it. I heard I was selected like three weeks before as I was in a good shape and they believed in me. During the first days after this news I was a bit in shock, but then I felt the support of everyone and I knew I had to be confident. I also didn’t go there with any expectations, just to support the other guys.”

“The whole Giro was up and down. I had super good days, but also bad days. Before the rest day I had a really bad day, then I did a short spin on the rest day itself and the next day was the Strade stage. I had this stage marked in red and I really wanted to go in the break. I had the feeling this stage could give the breakaway the opportunity to make it as the GC guys would look at each other. I felt super good, and I tried to save my power. Nobody knew me so I could take some advantage of that. You never know if it’s your last chance to win a Grand Tour stage. I really like to ride on the gravel because of my cyclo-cross history, so I felt at home on those white roads. After my win I got so many messages, that I had to switch my phone off in the evening.”

“Now coming to this team is a dream that comes true. I have a lot of memories from watching the Classics as a kid and seeing this team always perform. It’s about this mentality of always trying to win and this squad that holds together so strong. Here it’s really all or nothing and a lot of guys get the chance to go for a win. I really want to integrate well in the team and make another step to being more consistent in my performances. Winning another race would be amazing of course. Getting good results with your teammates also brings me a lot of joy. It’s as nice as winning by yourself, experiencing this is really something I’m looking forward to.”

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Andrey Zeits rejoins Astana Qazaqstan Team

Here’s the team’s announcement:

Experienced Kazakh rider Andrey Zeits is set to return to Astana Qazaqstan Team where he has spent most of his cycling career from 2008 to 2019. The new agreement with the rider has been signed for one year (2022).

“Of course, I am very happy to return to the Astana project. I have spent many years in this team and together with it I have achieved many great team successes. Returning to Astana Qazaqstan Team is a new opportunity to prove myself, to set new goals and to try to achieve it. Ahead of the start of the new season I am really motivated to do everything possible to help the team leaders, whom I know very well, and also to try to share all my experience with young guys who have recently joined the team or are just going to join it in the upcoming season”, ­– said Andrey Zeits.

Andrey Zeits (34) is the most experienced active Kazakh rider, who started his professional career in 2008.

Alongside of his personal achievements as second place in the General Classification of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (2011) and Tour of Hainan (2015) or eighth place in the overall standings of Tour de Pologne (2016) and the road race at the Olympic Games (2016), Andrey Zeits is widely known as a strong and reliable helper for the team leaders at the Grand Tours. For example, Zeits was next to Vincenzo Nibali in his both winning Giro d’Italia in 2013 and 2016 as well as next to Miguel Angel Lopez when he reached the podium of the Giro and La Vuelta in 2018.

“We know Andrey as a very strong and reliable team rider, a great assistant, who you can always rely on at the Grand Tours. The last two years have not been the most successful for him for various reasons, but now he is returning to our team, and we are happy to welcome him in Astana Qazaqstan Team. I think Andrey will be able to help Miguel Angel Lopez or Alexey Lutsenko in their fight for some important results at the most prestigious races in the world”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov.

“The return of Andrey Zeits to Astana Qazaqstan Team is a great news and on behalf of our federation I welcome the contract signing with this highly experienced domestic rider who has successfully competed on the WorldTour level for many years and defended the colors of Kazakhstan at the most prestigious competitions, such as the Olympics and World Championships. Despite all the difficulties of the season, this year Andrey proved that he is still in a great form, so his arrival in the team is an unconditional strengthening of both the team and Kazakhstan’s position in world cycling”, – commented Nurlan Smagulov, President of Kazakhstan Cycling Federation.

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