For some equestrians, the first Grand Tour stage win seems to come easily. Heading into Friday’s stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia, an incredible five stages had already gone to Grand Tour debutants, one even as young as 21 years of age.
For some equestrians, the first Grand Tour stage win comes a bit harder. Egan Bernal, after all, won a Tour de France before he’d won a Grand Tour stage, ultimately checking that latter box earlier this past weekend.
For Giacomo Nizzolo, the first Grand Tour win may have started to feel elusive six years ago, after he won his first Giro phases jersey without having won a stage. The very next year, he would repeat that bittersweet feat. By the time the Qhubeka-Assos rider rolled out from Ravenna on Friday, “hes having” induced 139 Giro d’Italia stage starts, zoomed to an incredible 11 second-place stage finishes, and scored two points jerseys- without ever having won a stage.
That dream had long, long ago sailed past “elusive” territory and into another realm entirely. But Giacomo Nizzolo never stopped hunting his white whale.
In his eighth Giro d’Italia and on his 140 th Giro stage, Nizzolo did what he had come oh-so-close to doing more periods than any equestrian in its own history of the race. When the dust settled in Verona, some two hours by automobile from his hometown of Brianza, the 32 -year-old Italian could finally lay claim to the prize he has coveted for so, so long: a stage victory of his own, a stage succes that passed new meaning to the phrase “long-awaited.”
Giacomo Nizzolo celebrates victory on stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia.
It was a thing done with grace and with strength, too. Nizzolo’s crew had led the pack into the last few kilometers, helping him stay well-positioned through a handful of late roundabouts, and then Nizzolo opted to rely on his wheel-surfing abilities into the finale, where Jumbo-Visma set the pace. When Edoardo Affini surged off the front with just a few hundred meters to go, it seemed as if he had stolen a march on the sprinters. Nizzolo was in a strong position to chase, but doing so would intend starting early and facing the wind alone.
He did just that, and with a massive turn of speed, Nizzolo closed down Affini and then came past him to procure the win. There could be no doubt that Nizzolo was the best rider at the finish.
The joy of that first Giro stage win was all over Nizzolo’s face as he bridged the line, and it was accentuated by the emphatic fist pumps he made over and over in the ensue moments.
It was the delight of a rider who had at first not succeeded in his efforts to win a Giro stage, but had tried, tried again. And again. And again.
It was the joyfulnes of a equestrian who had been asked countless occasions,” Will today be the day that you get that first win ?” It was the exultation of a rider who had once even imparted post-race interviews as the presumed conqueror of a Giro stage merely to be relegated for an irregular sprint, simply adding to his long, long record of near misses instead of finally putting him onto the list of Giro stage wins. It was the exhilaration of a equestrian who had tried seemingly every tactic to turn a runner-up ride into a succes, and that was true even on Friday, as he explained in a post-race interview.
” My goal was to be second, and maybe that was the trick to get the victory ,” he said with a smile.” The only belief I had today was to sprint and not get blocked in the final, so I went quite far in the wind, but I had good legs and it used to work .”
Giacomo Nizzolo on the pulpit after taking his first ever Giro stage win.
Nizzolo’s sprinting prowess had been a known commodity for years. He have previously been racked up nine second-place finishes even by 2016, the year he won his second Giro levels jersey, the year he was demoted for an irregular sprint on the final stage. Five year ago, he was already fielding questions at the start of every sprint stage about whether he might eventually achieve his aim. Five year ago, it seemed like it only had to happen sooner or later.
But practically five years gone by and it didn’t happen, with Nizzolo going through some tough times in the two seasons after his last Giro degrees jersey thanks to knee problems that derailed his 2017 campaign and lingered into 2018. At the end of 2018, after eight seasons with the Trek-Segafredo organization, he found himself on the open market. The then-Dimension Data team decided to take a chance on a rider who hadn’t was like himself for the past two seasons. Nizzolo was taking a chance too, signing with a crew that was consistently at the bottom of the WorldTour rankings, a squad that also had Mark Cavendish on the roster to take some of the sprint opportunities on the calendar.
He proved promise again in 2019, nabbing three stage wins in 2. HC-rated events and taking a few other strong answers on the year, but he started the Giro and the Tour without picking up victories in either. He appeared better than ever in 2020, winning stages at the Tour Down Under and Paris-Nice and taking the Italian and European road titles, but he vacated that year’s Tour with knee suffering after merely a week. By the close of his 2020 season, he had accumulated 19 runner-up rides across all three Grand Tours, but the wait for that first win continued.
Until it didn’t.
On Friday, Giacomo Nizzolo becomes a Grand Tour stage winner. He did it in his home Grand Tour, and it seemed as if everyone in Verona shared in his delight. Competitors, “whos had” been pouring every fiber into their beings into attempting to match his acceleration merely moments before, could only smile and give their congratulations. Followers welcomed him to an elated occasion at the barriers after the line. And Nizzolo himself did not stop smiling from the moment he spanned the line through to the end of the podium ceremony.
That first win was long-awaited and it was elusive and more, but now, Giacomo Nizzolo will never again have to hear another question about getting that first win.
Of course, he might not be able help already looking forward to that second one- what else would you expect from a professional sprinter?- but at least he can celebrate in the meantime.
” It feels great now, I’ve finally got a victory ,” Nizzolo said.” I intend, I’m really looking forward to have another one as soon as possible, but right now I merely want to enjoy the feeling .”
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