The Spin: Giro Stage 17

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

It’s only a 60km drive from Pfalzes to Cortina but the race takes the scenic route across several mountain passes. Look at all those climbs but don’t forget the descents too especially as the race tackles the Passo Giau and then a steep and technical road down to the finish in Cortina which includes a short uphill section too.

The overall classification in the race is beginning to settle and today should start to cement positions amongst the top-10. Those with ambitions might not want to wait until the climb of the Stelvio on Saturday.

Note the start, there is a ramp at the beginning. This should be where an early attack tries to go clear, this is the kind of stage start where some will be warming up on the rollers before the race begins so they’re primed for action right away.

The race heads across the Dolomites, a range of mountains within the Alps first named by a Frenchman called de Dolomieu and a core experience of the Giro every year.

  • Passo Valparola: 14.1km, 5.5% average, 13% max
  • Passo Duran: 12.2km, 8.1% average, 14% max
  • Forcella Staulanza: 12.3km, 6.9% average, 11% max
  • Passo Giau: 9.9km, 9.3% average, 14% max

 

The Giau takes a new route this year uphill but it remains a mythical climb in the race because of its selective tendencies. First used in the 1970s and not surfaced, today it is surfaced but a tough climb as the constant gradients above show.

Four climbs make this a very tough stage but it is not the fatigue-fest of recent years, there is “only” about 4,500m of vertical gain. But this should make for livelier riding with riders more willing to attack towards the end.

We’ll see what the riders do with these ingredients. Liquigas are trying a tactical lock-down, making their riders force the pace on the climbs at such a speed that nobody can attack. This suits Ivan Basso who can ride steady uphill but struggles with changes in pace. But his team have been struggling, like a space rocket that jettisons burners and boosters as it heads into the skies, Liquigas seem to shed riders but too fast, leaving Basso exposed to the very attacks he fears.

The finish: it’s worth repeating how hard the descent is and some could be racing for the stage or even the overall down here. There’s a short climb midway down to test the legs and then more sinuous roads. Once in Cortina there is an uphill finish with 6% around the 1km to go point before the slope levels out towards the line.

Cortina is a well-known resort and host of the 1956 Winter Olympics. The Giro has not visited often but the likes of Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet have won here.

TV viewing: the finish is expected between 4.50-5.30pm Euro time but tune in well before to follow the action. I am not certain but have seen something to say the live broadcast will start early today, with transmission from 1pm onwards. If not it will be 2.30pm.

Crofty May 23, 2012 at 9:21 am

Looks like a cracker to me! The last climb’s length and average gradient seems much like the horrible 10km section of Ventoux averaging 10% up to Chalet Reynard. It woud be good to see the Columbians from Team Sky shine today on such slopes.

Bundle May 23, 2012 at 9:44 am

My favourite stage since the Giro was presented. Lovely crescendo. The Duran is the best place to attack, in my mind. But I don’t think so now, after witnessing the peloton’s lack of audacity these last days.
At high altitudes, Colombians Henao and Urán are always a force to be reckoned with, but I guess they well content themselves with staying in the shoal, like everybody else, except perhaps Rujano, Lampre (who will not win the Giro the way it’s going), and surely Nieve from the Duran (and hopefully not solo). I hope Gadret gets tired of the shoal too and tries something, but I’m not sure.
The question of the day is how many teammates will Basso have up the Giau. If they go a bit fast in the Duran, by the middle of Staulanza, Capecchi and Szmyd might be well behind. At any rate, Basso will have to pull strongly himslef up the Giau, because if he doesn’t distance anyone on the climb, Purito will hit near the summit, and the descenders (Kreuziger, Hesjedal) will go for him in the descent, leaving Basso a good minute behind.
If there had been a long TT before this stage, it would be guaranteed to be beautiful, because a lot of climbers would need to catch up. Can anyone tell me why putting only one TT and at the end of the race has become so prevalent?
Now there are a gazillion riders in 5 minutes in the GC, everyone has a potential chance, so team strategies could be empleyed. But again, I don’t expect it. :(

Team Brioschi May 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm

This was a great piece of pre-race analysis.

I agree the race would have benefited with another TT prior to the major mountain stages.

Dan J May 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

I’m interested to see how Ryder H does today. It was intriguing to hear Rodriguez talk about how he needs at least 2mins on the Canadian to feel comfortable going into the time-trial. Ryder’s not a bad descender so he could put some people under pressure today going downhill.

Larry T. May 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

Finally cleared up here in Piedmont so our plan for the day is a ride in the gorgeous Monferrato hills before settling in front of the TV to watch the action in the Dolomites. climbs we visit every year in July when the roads are dry and the snow is sparse.

rhys May 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

Seeing as Cunego hasn’t been able to make things stick when they counted, I predict he will attack early on or half way through the stage, in an effort to descend his way into a decent gap.
Apart from that, I can’t predict what’s going to happen in the second half of this stage – precisely why I will be watching it. Hopefully we see something tonight which makes this a memorable Giro for years to come.

Mats May 23, 2012 at 11:06 am

I think Basso is calculating he can win the race in Saturday and Sunday. He could have three minutes disadvantage to Rodriguez on Saturday morning and still be able to make it. We’ve seen how strong Rodriguez is at the moment but we don’t know how well he does in the haut category mountains. I assume he’ll do reasonably well. So it’s going to be a waiting game today, unfortunately.

rhys May 24, 2012 at 12:06 am

I fear that after watching last night’s stage, you are correct. What a boring result this would be. I really hope someone with panache wins instead.

Igor May 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I did y little video of the 17th stage when riders climbed Passo Valparola and Passo Giau.
Enjoy it: https://vimeo.com/42738058

Igor

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