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Giro d'Italia

US pro roundtable: Final week should crown Giro d’Italia winner

Joe Dombrowski and Larry Warbasse talk about how the COVID controls are impacting their routines at Giro d'Italia.

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The Giro d’Italia is in full-swing, and for several 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 the extent of the COVID testing and how they affect routine, and also who is the favorite with a week left of racing.

How have the COVID protocols gone so far at the Giro, and how do they affect your routine?

Larry Warbasse: They seem fine, masks on at most times, no fans at starts and finishes, can’t say they have really affected my routine too much on the whole. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s disrupted more. I hope we can make it to the finish but I guess only time will tell!

Joe Dombrowski: So far the COVID protocols have not been much different than any other race. But due to the length of the Giro, we are doing COVID PCR tests on both of the rest days. Will it impact the race? Well, I think it is impossible to know. I have the impression that, unless it comes down from national authorities, I don’t see the race stopping unless there is a massive outbreak within the peloton. All we can do is hope for the best, be vigilant, and hope we can make it to Milan in the final week.

Andrew Hood: From a media point of view, the COVID restrictions are having a major impact on how we work and where we can access riders and sport directors. Races now are more like the Olympics than how media can typically move around in a bike race. There’s no more access to the finish line or the team buses. Instead, we’re kept inside a “mixed zone” that helps to assure social distancing. It’s made it much more challenging to get the full story and report that story to our readers.

 Who do you see as the strongest rider in the bunch right now, and who do you see winning this Giro?

Larry Warbasse: It seems like a few of the guys are pretty even. Fuglsang is strong, Nibali, Bilbao, and Kelderman. It looks like we could have a good battle between them.

Joe Dombrowski: It depends on whether we do the giant mountain stages or not. If not, someone with a really good TT. If we hit the huge mountains, then Fuglsang or Nibali. Obviously, until now, Almeida really looks good, as does Fuglsang. And I wouldn’t write off Nibali, because I don’t think you really ever really can. He is such a cagey racer and obviously so experienced.

Andrew Hood: I agree with what Joe said, and the outcome of this year’s Giro could really depend on if weather becomes a factor in the final week. If the harder stages are raced as they are in the road book, then you’d expect Nibali or Fuglsang to come to the fore. Almeida continues to surprise, and if he can widen his lead in Saturday’s time trial, he should be able to defend Sunday if he doesn’t have a bad day. If that’s the case, he’ll be carrying pink into the final week. Insiders are saying the Kelderman is looking the sharpest in the bunch right now, and he’s poised to take pink out of this weekend.