Already on the eve of the Vuelta a España 2022 it was known that it was difficult for the Italian riders to play a leading role. There is no truly competitive man in the ranking, no runner able to join the battle with the best. If the first week, even without victories, has given us something to smile about with the excellent placement of Samuel Battistella and Eduardo Zampanini, The second was little more than a disaster, with missed opportunities, withdrawals, and increasingly bleak prospects.
Looking at the last six fractions from the point of view of results, it’s hard not to end up with your hands in your hair. Only one of the top 10, earned by Matteo Fabro (the 10th in the final) on the stage that saw Richard Carapaz’ victory over the Benas Blancas climb. The swag that defines thinness is already fun, if only compared to the already unexciting top ten finishes in the first nine stages.
However, parts of this week have given many chances to the runaway men, which is the only system at the moment in which Blue can get a score. If it was difficult for an Italian to compete with winners such as Richard Carapaz or Thiemine Arinesmann, it was reasonable to expect at least some new valuable placements. Many, from Zampanini and Filippo Conca who had already seen, to Fausto Masnada and Antonio Tiberi, all tried to “bounce” on time once the ground got harder. It also hinted at an attempt by Vincenzo Nibali, perhaps in an act aimed at favoring Lopez more than anything else.
To further deteriorate the situation, news of Domenico Pozofevo’s withdrawal arrived yesterday. The 39-year-old, despite his poor condition and several diseases, was very easy to maintain the best position in the standings among the Italian riders. His 29th place, 38 minutes over captain Remco Evenepoel, certainly wasn’t a standout, but now there’s no longer a tricolor flag in the top 30, leaving Edoardo Zambanini’s palm and 35th.
In an attempt to set the record straight, the scenario that unfolds is somewhat ambiguous. If the unexpectedly prestigious results don’t arrive now, this Vuelta could very well resemble the results of 2019, recognized by many as one of the worst grand tours in Italian cycling history.. That year there were no victories, the top ten was only 8 and the best blue in the ranking was Gianluca Brambilla, 42. To further expand the range, however, we must remember that in that year we came from the excellent Tour de France with three blue seals, while That this year’s Grande Boucle was as bad as the Vuelta. Let’s hope we don’t have to remember this racing duo as one of our cycling’s darkest moments.
Photo: La Presse