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Giro d'Italia

US pro roundtable: Favorite Giro d’Italia memories and this year’s hardest stage

Brent Bookwalter and Joey Rosskopf discuss their favorite Giro d'Italia memories and pick this year's most decisive stage.

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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, we chat with Brent Bookwalter and Joey Rosskopf, and the questions focus on what the most decisive stage will be and what their favorite memory from the Giro d’Italia. 

What’s your best Giro d’Italia memory — from your experience at the race, or watching in on TV?

Joey Rosskopf:  There have been a lot of super dramatic Giro stages that I have watched from afar and I was glad to not be a part of. I cannot remember if it was my first or second Giro, it ended with a time trial in Milano. We were there with Quinziato, and it was his last Giro. He was third, and I was fifth. My parents were there, too. That was a nice way to go out on a high note. You have no idea where you are at after three weeks of suffering, and having a couple of guys in the top five was a sweet way to finish it off.

Brent Bookwalter: My best Giro d’Italia memory would be the first stage of my first grand tour which was the Giro in 2010. The first stage was an individual time trial in Holland and I managed to nearly pull-off a crazy upset win and was only beaten by Bradley Wiggins. It was just a wild day. I didn’t get the win, but it was an amazing day. I had had some good time trial results before, so I knew that it was probably my best chance to get a result in the race considering the daunting mountains later in the race. It was a really technical prologue, but I really studied it and uncorked a good one. When I watched it afterward it looked like I was taking a lot of risks, but I wasn’t really. It all came really smoothly. 

Jim Cotton, European reporter: Sure, I know it’s a cliche but Froome’s ride in 2018 over the Colle delle Finestre was just crazy. I remember watching it thinking it was so incredibly unlikely to work and then just gawping open-mouthed as he put more and more time into his rivals with no sign of slowing. I think finding out all the backstory about the team’s meticulous nutrition, pacing, and staffer distribution strategy made it fascinating logistically as well as incredible physically.

What stage will be most decisive to the overall?

Joey Rosskopf: I expect in the last week. There are a few big mountain days that come back to back, any of those that have a hard climb in the first hour really leave the GC guys very vulnerable. You cannot fake if you’re having a bad day. You going to get found out when you’re hitting HC climbs early in the race, and you don’t have the legs.

Brent BookwalterAgain a hard thing to predict, but all of those massive mountain stages in the last week will probably prove most decisive. When I think back on 2018 and how good my teammate Simon Yates was leading until that last mountain stage. And stage 20, a big mountain day here, is going to be decisive. On a day like that, even if someone has looked invincible, it can all come apart. On the flip side, if someone is super inspired and has a really strong day, they could really do some damage there. My history in the Giro has showed me that the hardest stages are often the ones you least expect to be the worst.

Jim Cotton: Got to be stage 20 to Sestriere. It’s just shy of 200km long, goes above 2,000 meters of altitude three times, and takes in four enormous passes. This is what the Giro is all about – a big brutal brawl in the snowcapped mountains. Riders will be absolutely cooked by then, and anyone suffering could be off the back as early as the first climb to the Agnello. I just hope the race is still open at this point, and that the passes haven’t all been shut due to a crazy snowstorm or similar.