On Wednesday, the 22-year-old American couldn’t keep pace on the grinding final climb and wet descent that saw a select GC group pull clear in the long, 225km fifth stage.
The Giro returned to its “boot” after four days of racing on Sicily on Wednesday, and McNulty crossed the line at Camigliatello Silano in 34th, giving up about a minute and a half to the top overall contenders.
Before the start, McNulty was poised in eighth overall, at 1:13 behind overnight leader João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). By stage’s end, he slipped 10 spots, limiting his losses to settle into 18th at 2:57 back.
McNulty got the nod from UAE-Emirates to make his grand tour debut without any pressure to perform. In the opening stages, McNulty was following wheels and staying out of trouble. Perhaps it was the familiar roads of Sicily, where he won the Giro di Sicilia in 2019 with Rally-UHC.
At the start Wednesday morning, McNulty was sounding optimistic.
“It’s exciting. It’s still very early in the race, it shows the form is good. I hope to fight for a top-10 throughout the next few weeks,” McNulty said. “I came with pretty open goals to see how it goes. I’d like to be a GC rider in the future, and that kind of starts now, learning everything and figuring everything out.”
Part of that learning process is bouncing back from adversity and never giving up. There is still plenty of this Giro remaining for McNulty to learn a few more lessons, and improve his GC position by the time the race arrives in Milano.