Spread Out Giro Stage Winners

This year’s Giro d’Italia was probably the closest battle between the top riders that we had ever seen in a Grand Tour. Before the final time trial to Milan, any one of four riders could still conceivably have won it. As it transpired, Tom Dumoulin, Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and Thibaut Pinot performed as expected in the time trial. This led to a Dumoulin victory by a margin of 31 seconds over Quintana and 40 seconds over Nibali – one of the closest ever Grand Tour podiums as shown in the table below:

YearRaceFirstSecondGapThirdGap
2007TourAlberto ContadorCadel Evans23sLevi Leipheimer31s
1974GiroEddy MerckxGianbattista Baronchelli12sFeice Gimondi33s
1975VueltaAugustin TamamesDomingo Perurena14sMiguel Maria Lasa33s
2017GiroTom DumoulinNairo Quintana31sVincenzo Nibali40s
1966VueltaFrancisco GabicaEusebio Velez39sCarlos Echavarria44s

But it wasn’t simply the final general classification which shows this was a close Grand Tour. The distribution of stage wins was also indicative of an extremely tight battle for the Maglia Rosa. The only rider who won more than one road stage was Fernando Gaviria. All four of the riders who ended the race in the top four on G.C. won a stage of the race. This is just the fifth time in the history of the race that this has occurred:

YearFinal G.C. (all stage winners)
20171. Tom Dumoulin
2. Nairo Quintana
3. Vincenzo Nibali
4. Thibaut Pinot
19841. Francesco Moser
2. Laurent Fignon
3. Moreno Argentin
4. Marino Lejarreta
19831. Giuseppe Saronni
2. Roberto Visentini
3. Alberto Fernandez
4. Mario Beccia
19781. Johan De Muynck
2. Gianbattista Baronchelli
3. Francesco Moser
4. Wladimiro Panizza
5. Giuseppe Saronni
19251. Alfredo Binda
2. Costante Girardengo
3. Giovanni Brunero
4. Gaetano Belloni

What’s notable about the previous editions where this was done is that three of the five come from the era of Saronni and Moser. This was during a time when the Giro race director Vincenzo Torriani unashamedly steered the route towards the two rivals so that Italy would be able to cheer on their own instead of watching their sacred race be won incessantly by Belgians. This meant lots of time trials, lots of time bonuses and most of the big mountain passes appearing in the first half of stages which would then end with a descent to the line. Thus, two riders who, in a more balanced Grand Tour, would merely be stage hunters, could easily thrust themselves into the heights of the G.C. battle.Cartoon SaronniMoserOffside-1200x806

The other race on the list is the 1925 Giro which is perhaps more comparable with the set of riders who animated this year’s race. Girardengo, Brunero and Belloni were all former winners of the Giro while Binda was just getting started with his first Giro win. It’s one of the highest quality top four’s in any Grand Tour.

There is an honourable mention for two other editions of the Giro where the top four on G.C. kind of, sort of, all won stages. The only scourge more devastating to a cycling statistician than team time trials, is dopers having their results stripped. In the 2009 Giro the top four initially was Denis Menchov, Danilo Di Luca, Franco Pellizotti and Carlos Sastre who did all win stages. However, Di Luca and Pellizotti were both subsequently busted and removed from the results, leaving Sastre in second and Ivan Basso in third. Basso did not win a stage that year.

Finally there is the 1920 Giro. Consisting of only eight stages, the top four overall were Belloni, Angelo Gremo, Jean Alavoine and Emile Petiva. The eventual overall winner Belloni won three stages and Alavoine took two. The final stage was a mind-boggling 421km from Trieste to Milan. Not quite the longest stage in Giro history which was 430km in 1914, but almost. Nine riders were approaching the finish line together only for the sprint to be interrupted by a horse who had made its way on to the course. The sprint was ruined so the race organisers listed all nine riders as equal first place with Gremo and Petiva among them.

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