Giro d'Italia

US pro roundtable: Expectations sky high for Giro d’Italia

Giro d'Italia rookie Brandon McNulty and former U.S. champion Larry Warbasse share their misadventures with COVID-19 as well as their personal goals for the race.

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The Giro d’Italia is in full-swing, and for the next three weeks we will be covering every angle of the Italian race here on velonews.com. As an added bonus, there are eight American riders racing the Giro d’Italia, and they have lent us their expert perspective to help shed light on the event and all of its glorious trappings.

We have questions about the Giro, and our pro riders have the answers. So, every day throughout the Giro we will roll out a new Pro Roundtable, with expert perspective from two pro riders and one VeloNews editor. Today, the questions focus on expectations for the race as well as any misadventures they faced with COVID-19 before the Giro d’Italia. 

What are your expectations for the Giro d’Italia?

Larry Warbasse: We don’t have a designated GC captain at AG2R-La Mondiale, so we’ll be going for stages. For me, that’s my big goal. I am definitely in the best shape of my career. I have the legs to do it. I just need to get into the right scenario, and have a bit of good luck. I’ve looked at the route, so I have an idea of what stages will be good for me. But it really depends on the situation in the race, who has the leader’s jersey, what’s coming up, there are so many factors. It’s the teams and the riders who decide if a break stays away or not. It’s already going to be hard in the first few days, so after about stage 5, there will be some good days for the breaks. There are a lot of hard stages in this Giro, with a lot of climbing. There will be a lot of chances to win a stage, but you have to have the legs.

Brandon McNulty: This is my first grand tour, so I am definitely excited about it. The way I was riding in training is exciting for me. I am posting some of the best numbers I have in a long time. So as long as things go well, I hope to have a good race. I am very excited, and maybe a bit intimidated by the hard third week. We didn’t do any recons of stages, but we’ve been studying the route online. Originally, I was going to do the Vuelta a España, but with the way the new schedule came out, they sent me to the Giro. The way the team lines up here I should have a little bit more freedom.

Andrew Hood: Like any Giro, expect the unexpected. The race is so hard in the last week that anyone could blow up, and anyone with legs could still pull a big surprise. With the exception of Geraint Thomas, all the top GC favorites had put the Giro at the center of their calendars as soon as the new schedule was announced. That should mean everyone will be in top shape, setting up a hard-fought race.

Did you have any issues with COVID-19 before the Giro?

Larry Warbasse: Well, I had tested positive for it after Il Lombardia without being symptomatic, but I had two negative tests pretty quickly right after that. I never felt sick or anything. I never got the antibody test done, so I never really knew if I had it. I missed a few races, but I was still able to train once I cleared my other tests. I came back to finish Tirreno-Adriatico off in a good way [17th overall]. I went to see a doctor, and it was all OK. I had a bunch of health checks, and we’ve been retested again before coming to the Giro. Every team has its bubble, and everyone is following the rules. We have to take that precaution. It’s the times we live in.

Brandon McNulty: As soon as the races were canceled, I went back home to Phoenix for the lockdown. I was up in Boulder doing some training at altitude in July, and the team called me and said, you need to fly to Europe next week. I still don’t have a European residency card, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get in. Spain had made an exemption for professional athletes, so I was going to fly there because I am based in Girona, Spain. My flight had a layover in Amsterdam, and even though I had all my paperwork and everything in order, they were not going to let me in. I landed at 7 a.m., and I was dealing with the immigration there all day until they went home. Luckily, there was a hotel inside the international terminal, and I could sleep there. The next morning, we had to meet with an appeals lawyer and explain to them I was OK to fly. We could convince them, and they let me fly to London, because there were not any issues there for Americans, and from there I could fly down to Spain no problem.

Andrew Hood: Knock wood, no problems at all. Journalists are being required to be tested before going to any race, and we did follow-up tests after covering the Tour de France. So far, so good. We’ve been quite rigorous following the health protocols, with masks, social distancing, washing hands, and using sanitizer. One morning during the Tour, I did wake up feeling a bit under the weather, but I think that was drinking a bit too much Côtes du Rhône the previous night more than anything else.