Gallery: Giro d’Italia welcomes the mountains

There was a mid-week pivot where the race started to go vertical and the highly anticipated mountain stages arrived, fireworks ensued.


A tale of two halves. The early part of the second week of the Giro d’Italia was characterized by stages that started slow and ended fast. These stages transitioned into days that started fast and ended up high. There was a mid-week pivot as the race started to go vertical. When the highly anticipated mountain stages arrived, fireworks ensued.


The elevation gain leaves no place to hide, the legs either have it or they don’t. If they don’t the race will be done with them, it has no concern for riders who are unable to make the time cut. Their performance is whittled down to three letters: DNF.


“There’s definitely been some ups and downs, I didn’t think I was going to finish one day,” rookie Sean Bennett says. “For sure I thought I was going to be gone this week but I made it, I rebounded.”


A look of relief smiles back as he continues: “I hugged Carmine, who’s been my soigneur this Giro, before the start of stage 13 because I thought I was going out, and then hugged him at the finish too because I made it. It was a rough one. It was a fight for sure.”


During the second week, the EF Education First Pro Cycling Giro squad has taken it in turn to shine through, performances that show there’s strength there and we can be up there with the best of the peloton.


“I’m feeling recovered and mentally ready to go again. Yesterday gives me confidence, and confidence now is one of the key things, along with being as fresh as possible. Everything else is irrelevant now,” Hugh CarthyHugh Carthy explains the day after his strongest performance of the Giro so far.


“The first couple weeks everyone was thinking, ‘Oh this isn’t that hard’ but it took its toll more than we thought. Then when we hit the mountains even on the first day there were bodies everywhere, people not being able to hold on.


“There were some really long stages and the bad weather it’s surprising how much it can take it out of you. But that first week now feels like it was last year, especially the first stage. But I’m not really looking forward to the finish, when you’ve got good form and a good little team around you everything is nice and the time goes quickly.”


Each and every EF Education First Pro Cycling rider suffered during week two, and each has held strong with the support of his team. Road captain Nate Brown has especially enjoyed the teamwork.


“Being road captain on this race has been good, those guys are easy to work for,” explains Brown. “They’re not very demanding, so it’s always nice to work for guys like that and to help them out and position them.


“It’s the first time I’ve ever worked for Hugh because he’s mainly been a worker too, and it’s cool to work for someone who you’ve seen get better and better every year. He deserves this opportunity to be a leader. It’s fun helping someone like that because he’s very appreciative, and he’s always thanking you when you help him out, even when it’s something simple, like getting him a bottle or helping move him up he’s always thanking you and that goes a long way. It’s been fun.”


They’ve been together through the ups and downs and as a team have come through fighting. There’s been punctures, moments when they’ve felt their bodies start to crack with the fatigue, even crashes.


“Week two was pretty good for me, for the team. Overall I’m feeling pretty good although I was unfortunate enough to have a crash yesterday on the last climb. I lost some time and am a little bit banged up but not too bad. But all-in-all I think the team has been riding pretty well. I think Hugh and I have both been there on the hard days,” Joe Dombrowski says.


But it’s not over yet. There are still six days of hard racing left where anything can happen.


“I think for the guys who are looking to win the race nothing is really finished yet. You talked to a lot of people on stage ten and they thought that Rogič was going to steamroller everything, but with only a few minutes gap with all the mountains left to come I don’t think it’s as clear as people thought,” Dombrowski predicts.


A pretty solid prediction when talking about the unpredictability the Giro d’Italia is known for.


Here’s a look back over week two.\