Giro d'Italia

US Pro Roundtable: Targeting personal and teams goals in the final week of the Giro d’Italia

Joe Dombrowski and Chad Haga brace for the challenging third week of the Giro d'Italia.

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The Giro d’Italia is in full-swing, and we have been covering every angle of the Italian race here on velonews.com. As an added bonus, there are five of the eight American riders still in the Giro d’Italia, and they have been lending 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.

What are your thoughts when you look at the third week that’s ahead of you?

Joe Dombrowski: In the third week you really separate who’s who. You really see who’s strong and who’s not. I don’t know if I have ever done a grand tour where everything is so packed at the end. You saw that up until the stage 14 time trial, the time gaps were actually still just seconds as more or less the top 10 riders were within a minute and a half. I would say it’s uncharacteristic to have a lack of such decisive stages until almost two weeks into the race. But the final week packs a punch. And hopefully everything — be it the weather or COVID — goes according to plan. Obviously, a lot of people have speculated that some of the summit finishes will not be possible, but I think we will just have to see. You just have to look at it day by day.

Chad Haga: There could be a lot of Cesenatico-like days where the stages are already hard on paper. We can race them easy or hard, but the weather will play a big factor in just how hard those days are. The weather has been all over the place in this year’s Giro so I really don’t know what to expect.

Andrew Hood: The final week of this year’s Giro seems to bite more than most. I’m glad I’ll be watching it on TV, and it should produce some fantastic fireworks. It’s impossible to say who will win. Wilco Kelderman looks to be in the pole position. Of course, that assumes that the wheels will finally come off João Almeida. So far, the young Portuguese rider has surpassed expectations at every turn. And that also assumes that Vincenzo Nibali does not awake from his GC slumber. He’s only 30 seconds off the podium, but the win is the only thing that counts.

What are your personal and team goals going into the final week?

Joe Dombrowski: For me personally and for the team, it would be nice to get Brandon McNulty into a good GC position when we finally roll into Milan. Although he lost a bit of time on stage 15, he rode a good time trial. For my personal goals, the second week was a bit rough with some stomach problems and this crash. But we get into the mountains in the last week and those are the stages I like. So if I can, I hope into a good breakaway at target a stage win, well, that would be a nice way to finish off the three weeks I think.

Chad Haga: My personal goals are to have more days like stage 15 where I was climbing in the front group and even set the pace. I just want to support Wilco Kelderman as far into the race as possible. And the team goals are for Wilco to get and keep that pink jersey! He is in a prime position, just 17 seconds out of the lead. It’s a good spot to be. Then there is also the final time trial on the last day. I will definitely give it everything I have, but my main goal is to help Wilco on the GC, so I am not optimistic that I will have much to give that day. But if he can win the whole thing then that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

Andrew Hood: It’s interesting to watch how teams manage a grand tour. It’s all about keeping hopes alive, limiting losses, and fighting to the end. The Giro continues to deliver an old-school course, and there are still 850km to race in the next four days. All the sport directors and experienced riders know that the final week of the Giro is the hardest of the season. Anything can happen, both good and bad. Some of cycling’s biggest reversals of fortunes have come during the Giro. The pace isn’t nearly as controlled as the Tour de France, and teams aren’t as deep. So that typically opens up the race, and sets up a mano-a-mano struggle between the strongest. If someone has great legs at the right time, anyone in the top-10 could still win this Giro.