Emanuel Buchmann wants to make people forget in 2020
Photo: Jean-Christophe Bott / dpa
One should be careful with exaggerations, but Emanuel Buchmann can make history.
The Giro d'Italia has been ridden 103 times so far, what a tradition, a German has never finished on the podium.
Buchmann wants to change that for the 104th edition from Saturday, and there are enough people who trust the 28-year-old from the German team Bora-hansgrohe to do that.
He also trusts himself to do it.
"The goal is the podium," Buchmann said clearly, it is his very first Giro, but after his messed up year 2020, the German feels strong enough to show off at his personal premiere in Italy. There are two individual time trials that he doesn’t like so much at the beginning and the end, but in between there are numerous crisp mountain stages up to Monte Zolocan or up to the Pordoi Pass, where the Tifosi have erected a monument to their cycling idol Fausto Coppi. The profile of the tour over the 3479 kilometers from Turin lengthways and across the boot and then back to the north to Milan suits the German.
In return, Buchmann decided to forego his beloved Tour de France, the tour in which he showed off so much two years ago and in the end just narrowly missed the podium in fourth.
The France ribbon also gave him one of the bitterest experiences of his sports career.
Last year, he started with the greatest expectations and then beaten by falls and injuries, chasing the best and only finished 28th in the classification.
It's the Tour de Leiden, Buchmann now knows that too.
"The best years still ahead of you"
Physically, Buchmann is now back on track, but the athletic results in preparation leave much to be desired. A 13th place in the Tour of the Basque Country is not the very best reference to travel to as a favorite for the Giro. But the driver and his team boss Ralph Denk are not really worried about it, at least externally. Denk relies on Buchmann as a ranking driver, not only in the next three weeks until May 30th, the destination in Milan, but also in perspective. The contract between Buchmann and Bora-hansgrohe was only recently extended to 2024, and Buchmann has "his best years ahead of him," says Denk.
Those who still have their best years ahead of them at 28 have certainly not seen them at 21. Remco Evenepoel, the young Belgian, the super talent in international cycling, will insist that 2021 can only be better than last year. Buchmann will have cursed about his falls on the tour, against what Evenepoel experienced, it was almost pissed off. The 21-year-old, whom some in his home country have already raised to the same level as Eddy Merckx, fell from a bridge last year on the Lombardy tour. He broke his hip, and anyone who saw this fall would almost say: He just broke his hip.
Nine months later Evenepoel dares to return to Italy, and whether he is ready to take the overall victory again will be one of the exciting questions of this Giro.
In general: the falls.
They were the big topic of the previous year, just think of the terrible collision in the finish sprint when the Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen suffered life-threatening injuries on the Tour of Poland - because his compatriot Dylan Groenewegen had ruthlessly checked him away towards the gang.
Sagan is sprinting for stage wins again
Jakobsen last made his comeback in Turkey, Groenewegen, on the other hand, starts at the Giro - many will have a particularly critical eye on him. When it comes to the sprint finishes. Then when it's elbow to elbow again and Bora sprinter Peter Sagan also wants to fight for stage wins. The Slovak Sagan, the second trump card in Ralph Denk's racing team, is now 31, but is still able to bring all his explosiveness into the last few meters before the finish line. Then Buchmann will also help to get him into position, just as Sagan will try to support the German on the mountain as much as possible. This is the only way tours work.
Round trips usually only work when thousands and thousands are standing on the streets and the pass paths and their darlings screaming up the mountain. That will not happen this time in the second Giro Corona year either. Italy celebrates 160 years of unification, it will be a light celebration with distance and safety precautions. The folk hero of yesteryear, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and the folk hero of today, Vincenzo Nibali, that would be the perfect combination from the point of view of the Italian fans. But Nibali, the two-time Giro triumphant, is starting with a broken wrist that has just healed. Not so good prospects for the 36-year-old.
Buchmann, Evenepoel, Nibali - three of the ten names that revolve around overall victory in the Giro. The 2019 tour winner, Egan Bernal, wants to forget his fiasco at the Tour de France last year, Nibali's compatriot Filippo Ganna wants to show that his brilliant performance at the Giro last year was no exception. Then there are the veterans Mikel Landa and Romain Bardet and the youngster Joao Almeida from Portugal, one of the Giro discoveries of the previous year. It is the eternal fate of the Giro that it stands in the shadow of the Tour de France. But it is also true that the outcome of the Italian loop is usually far more unpredictable, more exciting than the big Tour company, where the top teams would prefer not to leave anything to chance.
There will definitely be a new winner. Defending champion and sensational winner Tao Geoghegan Hart will not start the Giro in 2021. The Brit is focused on the Tour de France.