The Spin: Giro Stage 12

Thursday, 17 May 2012

If a picture paints a thousand words then today could fill a book with words if the TV production crew get it right. The sun is shining, the race heads near the shimmering Mediterranean coast and through the Cinque Terre or “Five Lands” park.

The stage starts at the foot of the Apuanian Alps which are famous for their marble. Whole hillsides have been quarried away to decorate and build the churches and palaces of renaissance city Florence as well as kitchen worktops in Sydney and bank counters in Chicago with the Carrara marble.

But for a stage start that celebrates marble worktops, the stage today is very hilly. There’s a flat start as they roll along the coast, passing through the seaside town of Marina di Massa which is the home of Alessandro Petacchi, the sprinter with a long list of stage wins. But AlĂ©-Jet wasn’t picked by Lampre for his home race, he’s racing the Glava Tour in Norway right now.

Then it’s on to the climbing. It’s not Alpine but a series of ascensions and descents offers a breakaway a good chance to get away. I imagine the first hour will be hectic as riders try to get into a move but a third of the bunch probably wants to be in the move so it won’t get away. The climbs are regular with gradients of 5-6% and wide roads, they suit riders able to roll fast uphill. But the final climb past Villa Tassini comes just 11km from the finish and includes ramps of 8-9%.

The overall favourites keep trying to grapple seconds, look at Kreuziger and Scarponi yesterday with 10km to go. They could try the same again today. But it is more likely a breakaway disputes the finish with some all-round riders, think of Ulissi, Viciosio, Gatto or Felline and why not Rubiano again? Note the final kilometre has a 180 degree bend; if a small group arrives then cramp is more likely than a crash.

Spare a thought today too for the locals. Devastating floods hit the region last year, whole towns were ravaged some were partially buried under mud. The area relies on tourism but many roads are still closed, indeed today’s stage has been re-routed as planned reconstruction is running late. The race itself will pay tribute and has been raising money to fund the building of playgrounds for children.

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{ 12 comments }

Tommy B May 17, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thanks for this fine preview. I’m really looking forward to this stage.

Gary Marshall May 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

It is a lovely part of the world, I spent a week in Lerici and rode round to the Cinque Terre every day, hilly, but spectacular.

Ankush May 17, 2012 at 11:43 am

Beautiful expansive language, you know so many things Inrng.

Someone from BMC should give it a go today. Apart from Phinney’s escapades in maglia rosa, they have been abysmal. As mandatory, Team NetApp will try to make it in the breakaway and as you mentioned, Androni team will send someone up there too.

Ronan May 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

Another dangerous bend in the finale? Should the RCS or the UCI be looking at this? I’m not advocating pan flat boulevards, but a bit of common sense is important, especially if gangs of tired riders will be coming through the line together.

Bundle May 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

I would agree with maximizing security measures wherever there are sharp bends, but those bends provide something important to the sprint: it reduces speed almost to a halt, and obliges sprinters to accelerate from scratch. Which is completely different from starting the sprint already at high speed. And, as Ventoso said the other day, riders should study the finish well, and use their brakes well.
Anyway, I don’t think today there will be a whole peloton negotiating those bends in the run-up to the sprint.

Bundle May 17, 2012 at 11:52 am

Funny how the Giro categorises climbs: Guaitarola is the hardest climb of the day, it would be a 1st category pass all right in the Tour or Vuelta, and the Italians, I guess wanting to confuse everybody a little, say it’s a 3rd category.
Any of the last three climbs is perfect for attacks by different kinds of riders. Those teams with 3 climbers or more should send them away one by one. Lampre: Niemiec in Guaitarola, Cunego in La Mola, and Scarponi in Villa Tassani. Movistar: Bruseghin, Pardilla and then Inchausti. Liquigas: Capecchi, Szmyd and finally Basso. It’s an obvious strategy. And I’m obviously dreaming and should perhaps wake up to the 21st century.

Let’s note as well that this Giro has so far (halfway through) been way more interesting than last year’s Tour. The average level of riders might be lower, but the race is better (even when we didn’t see all-out attacks in Rocca di Cambio and Lago Laceno, and when the sterrato was anecdotic and unconsequential). Should the French start to worry?

Rider Council May 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm

well the French would worry if @inrng would give the corsa rosa just a bit more attention. We all know deep down the Giro is much more beautiful and interesting, right down to the podium girls. Besides I would rather ride my bike in peak summer than be stuck indoors watching a pro bike race.

MaxHeartRate May 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Hmmm, sounds like a good day for a surprise victory. It’s also now been a long time since the rest day, so if the right break goes, the peleton could be content to have a day off. Let’s see how it plays out. And I echo the comments about Giro craziness with all these corners in the final km, it does seem a tad excessive. But a fine race so far overall (and better in so many ways than the Sagan-Hassleur fest in CA.

InTheGC May 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm

No mention of Ballan? Think he could do well today, 33/1 isn’t a bad shout either.

InTheGC May 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Bak takes it.

Frogboy May 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm

A great race with a really disappointing finish. Had Sandy Casar kept on rolling instead of playing cat-and-mouse with the other riders, and then not even marking the obviously more dangerous one, I am sure he could have taken the pink jersey, by a handful of seconds and without the benefit of placing well on the stage. Frustrating!

Bundle May 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm

And Liquigas keeps pretending it is the strongest team in the race, while protecting Basso’s weakness, and waiting for his form to arrive on time on the way to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

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