Stage 14 of this year’s Giro was always going to be one to watch. Plenty of pundits had the second Saturday circled in their calendar long before the race had started constructing its Hungarian grande partenza, let alone arrived in mainland Italy.
Yet even as the short, punchy Piedmontese profile invited aggressive riding, and promised to reward risk-taking, few could have predicted the devastating effect it would have on the general classification.
Before the Santena roll-out, every rider in the top 10 could make a claim for being a contender. By the time the last rider rolled across the line in Turin only half of those, at a push, could say the same.
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It was a bad day for some, such as Alejandro Valverde and Guillaume Martin. Based on his prior record, however, expect the Cofidis captain to bounce back up the leaderboard tomorrow.
Others had middling days at the office. In terms of time, Mikel Landa, Joao Almeida, Domenico Pozzovivo and Pello Bilbao are all further from the front of the race than they were. Positionally, however, all are a few places nearer to the podium.
Only five should be truly satisfied with their stage. The fifth might surprise you. Let's get to it...

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)

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The Ineos leader's ride into pink was not the most stylish, nor was it dominant. His one big attack was not big enough, in the end, to take it all. Still, his was a performance that showed he remains the rider to beat in this year’s race. Left without a single team-mate for company with more than half of the stage left, at no point did he look to be in trouble, appear vulnerable or seem to be on the back foot.
Carapaz is not the most thrilling rider around; he does not peacock or impose himself on the peloton; he does not strike fear into the hearts of his rivals. What he does is conduct himself with the quiet confidence of an Olympic and Grand Tour champion, one who has been there, done it, has nothing to prove to you or anyone else. “You come at the king, you best not miss,” they say. It’s not hard to tell why no one truly tried to come for Carapaz.

Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe)

TURIN, ITALY - MAY 21: (L-R) Jai Hindley of Australia and Wilco Kelderman of Netherlands and Team Bora - Hansgrohe leads the peloton while fans cheer during the 105th Giro d'Italia 2022, Stage 14 a 147km stage from Santena to Torino / #Giro / #WorldTour /

Image credit: Getty Images

Question marks about Jai Hindley’s leadership potential have hung over the Australian since he fell from first to second on the final day of the 2020 Giro d’Italia. Plenty of riders have fluked a Grand Tour podium and never been heard from again. In a year like that, with everything upside down, that seemed doubly likely to apply to him. Last season - the proverbial difficult follow-up - only reinforced those doubts. His best WorldTour race finish was sixth on a stage of the Tour of Poland.
Let there be no more doubts. Hindley is a leader through and through. He already has one Giro stage to his name in this edition. This was arguably a more impressive performance, because he had the confidence to command a fleet of his team-mates to set him up and the composure to complete the move. Carapaz remains the most likely winner of this race, but if there’s one rider who can beat him, it’s Hindley. Even if the Australian can only come close, no one will be calling it a fluke.

Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco)

Why 'special' Yates is right to be disappointed despite winning thriller

There is an alternate universe in which Simon Yates has won several Giri d’Italia. That version of him is just as ruthless as this one and has all of the same strengths. The only difference is he is not prone to such devastating collapses as happened on Blockhaus. That Simon Yates, however, cannot possibly get back up again with half as much grace when he falls. On Sunday, after another GC challenge had been reduced to rubble, there were calls for him to quit, review and rebuild towards a Tour de France challenge.
Yates ignored them, stayed in this race and set his sights on salvaging what he could. Plenty of riders have found themselves in a similar position, but few forced to refocus on “targeting stages” actually come away with any. Yates seems to manage it almost every time. He neither clings onto defeat nor allows defeat to lock its claws into him, or damage his belief in what he is capable of. Two stage wins was not what he came to Italy for, and he made no attempt to hide his disappointment after today’s, but it’s more than many thought he might leave Italy with.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan)

Nibali attacca sul Colle della Maddalena - Giro d'Italia 2022

Image credit: Getty Images

The sun is soon to set on Vincenzo Nibali’s time in the peloton. It’s self-evident that the Sicilian’s abilities are shadows of what they once were. But even the shadows cannot completely block out Nibali’s brilliance, which he was able to give us one of the last glimpses of today. Though he could only finish fourth on the stage, he was there until the very end. It was at his initiative that began the sequence of events which pulled Richard Carapaz back.
On some of the steepest slopes in Italy, riders a decade or more younger than him did not have better legs, and could not rid him from their wheels. “Vincenzo! Vincenzo!” tifosi cried as he passed them on the Colle della Maddalena, delighted to witness their hero, the greatest Italian cyclist of the modern era. Nibali may not have everything, but he still definitely has “it.”

Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo)

Lopez guarda in faccia Carapaz - Giro d'Italia 2022

Image credit: Getty Images

As the team bus carries him to the hotel, with no post-stage obligations for the first time in 10 days, Juanpe is probably not in the best headspace this evening. He may be looking back at those moments on the stage where he pushed himself into the red, to a physiological place he was unable to recover from, rather than letting the wheel go and riding within himself. Though it’s possible he could have limited his losses, had he played it safe he would be no more wearing pink tomorrow than if he hadn’t. At best he would be a few positions higher in the overall, and who really gives a damn about that?
For 10 stages Lopez has ridden in the maglia rosa like he was born to wear it. Today he kept up with riders far more proven than he, for far longer than seemed realistic.
You might think that a rider who lost four minutes, fell from first to eighth, cannot be said to have had a successful day on the bike. We respectfully beg to differ. On his last day in pink, Lopez honoured the jersey as well as any champion. Hopefully this is not the last time we see him in it.
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