A breakdown of Giacomo Nizzolo’s remarkable Giro d’Italia record

by Matt de Neef

photography by Kristof Ramon


As the peloton thundered into Cattolica on Wednesday to decide stage 5 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) was right where he needed to be. The Italian and European champion was a few wheels from the front when the sprint began, then swept into the lead with just 150 metres to go. It looked like Nizzolo was on his way to a long-awaited Giro d’Italia stage win.

But Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) had other ideas. The Australian edged ahead of Nizzolo mere metres from the finish to take his fourth Giro stage win (see video below).

No bike racer ever wants to come second, in any race, but for Nizzolo, finishing second on Wednesday would have been particularly painful. In five stages of this year’s Giro, Nizzolo’s already finished second on two occasions. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In many ways, Nizzolo’s career has been defined by a tumultuous relationship with his home Grand Tour; a race where he’s managed a multitude of top finishes, but never taken a stage win.

With that in mind, let’s take a look back at Nizzolo’s remarkable record at the Giro d’Italia, year by year. If you’re a fan of the 32-year-old sprinter, the following might make for pretty tough reading.

2010

Nizzolo didn’t race the Giro d’Italia in 2010, but he did race the ‘Baby Giro’, the U23 version of the Italian Grand Tour. In a sign of things to come, Nizzolo’s best result was a second place on stage 3, finishing behind Andrea Guardini in a reduced bunch sprint.

2012 (RadioShack-Nissan)

After joining the WorldTour ranks in 2011, Nizzolo made his first Giro d’Italia appearance in 2012. His notable results at that race:

  • Third on stage 9, behind Francisco Ventoso and Fabio Felline (see video below)
  • 2 x sixth place

2013 (RadioShack-Leopard)

In his second Giro, Nizzolo got his first runner-up finish. His top results:

  • Second on stage 13, behind Mark Cavendish (see video below)
  • 3 x fourth place
  • 1 x eighth place

2014 (Trek Factory Racing)

This was the year Nizzolo’s curse really began. Notable results include:

  • Third on stage 2, behind Marcel Kittel and Nacer Bouhanni
  • Second on stage 4, behind Bouhanni
  • Second on stage 7, again behind Bouhanni (see video below)
  • Second on stage 10, behind Bouhanni
  • Second on stage 21, behind Mezgec
  • 1 x fifth place
  • 1 x ninth place
  • Second in the points classification

2015 (Trek Factory Racing)

His struggle continued at the 2015 Giro, but with a consolation prize at the end. His race included:

  • Second on stage 13, behind Sacha Modolo (see video below)
  • Second on stage 17, again behind Modolo
  • 3 x fifth place
  • 1 x sixth place
  • Overall victory in the points classification

2016 (Trek-Segafredo)

Perhaps the most frustrating of Nizzolo’s Giri. On stage 17 he won the bunch sprint … just behind Roger Kluge who escaped late (see video below). On stage 21 he won the bunch sprint again, and was first across the line that time … but was later relegated for closing the door on Sacha Modolo. His race in summary:

  • Third on stage 3, behind Kittel and Elia Viviani
  • Second on stage 7, behind Andre Greipel
  • Third on stage 12, behind Greipel and Caleb Ewan
  • Second on stage 17, behind Kluge
  • First over the line on stage 21, but relegated to 12th
  • 1 x fourth place
  • 1 x 10th place
  • Winner of the points classification

2017 (Trek-Segafredo)

Not Nizzolo’s best Giro. He abandoned after stage 10 due to pollen allergies and a lack of form, courtesy of an earlier knee injury. Still, he managed:

  • Third on stage 3, behind Fernando Gaviria and Rudiger Seliger (see video below)
  • 1 x fourth place

2019 (Dimension Data)

After missing the Giro in 2018 Nizzolo returned in 2019 with another rather lacklustre performance. Still, he netted:

  • 2 x fifth place
  • 1 x eighth place
  • 1 x ninth place

2021 (Qhubeka-Assos)

After missing the 2020 edition, Nizzolo got right back into his work at the 2021 edition. At the time of writing he’s managed:

  • Second on stage 2, behind Tim Merlier (see video below)
  • Second on stage 5, behind Caleb Ewan
  • The lead in the points classification (after stage 5)

So, to summarise, here’s Nizzolo’s incredible record in stage finishes at the Giro d’Italia:

  • 11 x second place (yes, 11)
  • 5 x third place
  • 5 x fourth place
  • 6 x fifth place
  • 3 x sixth place
  • 2 x eighth place
  • 2 x ninth place
  • 1 x 10th place

That’s a total of 16 podium finishes and 35 top-10 finishes on Giro d’Italia road stages, without taking a victory. Remarkable.

Nizzolo thought he’d won the final stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia, but half an hour after the stage, the race jury announced that the points classification leader had deviated from his line in the sprint, and had been relegated as a result.

To Nizzolo’s credit, he seems pretty philosophical about the whole thing, at least publicly. “Merlier did a great sprint so I think today the strongest won,” he said after finishing second on stage 2 of this year’s race. “Overall I’m happy and I think that we’ve started this Giro well. Hopefully we can get a better result in the coming days.”

He was similarly optimistic after finishing second on stage 5. “I think I did a good sprint but yet again came up against somebody just stronger than me on the day,” he said. “Hopefully the victory will come the next time.”

The next time will likely be on stage 7, which should end in another bunch sprint. Could it be there, in Termoli, that Nizzolo finally breaks his drought? After reaching the Giro podium 16 times – and after winning the points classification twice – could Nizzolo finally make it to the top step as a Giro d’Italia stage winner? Few would begrudge him an almighty celebration if he does.

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