The Spin: Giro Stage 14

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Profile Stage 14

We’re two weeks into the race and if there’s a criticism of things so far it’s that the race has lacked rivalry and contest because the main riders have been waiting for the final week. The overall lead has changed but without a great duel so far. There’s not been much of a “fight for pink” so far. Yes we’ve seen some good racing but at times things have resembled a series of one day races, we’ve lacked a shared story to define this year’s race.

This should all change as the race heads right into the Alps and finishes below the mighty Matterhorn, or Monte Cervino in Italian. The Matterhorn was one of the last great peaks to be scaled and for decades climbers could not find a way to the top until British ace Edward Whymper made it to the top and even then five members of his team died during the attempt in 1865. Thankfully today’s stage is tame but the race shifts from modest uphill finishes to full on Alpine ascending, at least in terms of road cycling.

The legs should be fresh for today. Some were sprinting, others were chasing but many took it very easy yesterday. Liquigas’s Sylwester Szmyd says his average heart rate was a recover ride 114 beats per minute yesterday, taking the time to blog about the wine too. Apparently he’s even rooming with his wife too. But his “vacation” ends now.

Back to the race and the stage starts flat and the race passes through Turin, one of Italy’s most prosperous and industrial cities and continues on a relatively flat route until the 137km mark when everything changes. Here the race is in Aosta, once a French land, the influences remain with the French names like the Col de Joux.

For the remaining 65km of the day there are 50km of ascension. The road kicks up and the Col de Joux begins with 4km at 7.9% and an overall ascension of some 22km at an average of 7%, enough to put many riders in difficulty already. The pace should pick up here as teams work to thin the lead group ahead of the final climb and perhaps a few chancers will try an attack and they will have some help from a technical descent where the group will find it hard to lead the chase.

However the final climb suits an organised team effort. The road to the finish is 27km long and averages 5.5% which is not steep enough. But the upper part includes the final 9.4km at 6.8% which are enough to do some damage if the contenders start trying to prise open the gaps.

Stage 14 finish

As you can see the final 2km level out. This could allow for a small group to contest a sprint but it should encourage riders to get a gap earlier on the climb.

Who will win? If we look back at the racing so far Domenico Pozzovivo could be the rider to beat. He took off on the final climb to Lago Laceno to win Stage 8, a feat impressive because nobody dared to match him on the climb and better, he didn’t flounder on the flat road between the top of the climb and the finish line. But we’ll also have to watch the others. Roman Kreuziger lurks as ever. Ivan Basso is looking lean and ready. Michele Scarponi too will want this and the time bonus. Franck Schleck seems strong one day but loses time the next and he’ll need to gain time. Maybe José Rujano is ready? Meanwhile Joaquim Rodriguez comes with a strong team, has time on everyone else and he can sprint in a finish like this for the time bonus. And there are other climbers too who could be ready. Today will bring answers. The slogan of the Giro is “fight for pink” and the battle is on.

Weather: it looks miserable for the finish. . As well as riders having to find their climbing legs they will have to get used to the brutal change in temperature, even if the Giro has not experienced a heatwave. Fortunately the latter part of the race is uphill for most of the time and so the cold is less of a problem. All this means small details matter like eating and dressing properly.

The finish: is expected between 5.00 and 5.40pm Euro time. Tune in at least an hour before to catch the action if you can.

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{ 20 comments }

JShurn May 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

Szmyd…. The a&#hole

Patrick May 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

I know, 114 bpm @ 40km/h?!

Nicolay Bondi May 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

I thought the bonus seconds on the mountaintop finishes was removed in this years edition?

Winternet_ May 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Yes, there are no bonus seconds this year on the mountaintop finishes

The Inner Ring May 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I’ve double-checked and yes, no time bonuses on Stage 14, 15, 17, 19 and 20.

Jens May 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Do you have a link, plz ?

The Inner Ring May 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm
bikecellar May 19, 2012 at 9:53 am

Tiralongo

Ankush May 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

Katusha will try to keep the pace easy for Purito but we will see some attacks flying out of the peloton. I’m going for Pozzovivo to claim this one, with Basso a close second.

Bundle May 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

My bet is how many riders will the peloton have at the foot of the Cervino. 30 should be okay, because Joux is a serious col.
Szmyd is hilarious… He defends traditional wine-making methods.

El Gato de La Cala May 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

The big five will all keep their powder dry until later next week and probably “only” do their usual late 10-25 sec attack in the final today. The Giro might be won by the leader having the strongest leftovers in his team come Friday & Saturday next week. The trick Liqui did to keep Purito in pink seemed a clever tactic from the DS. Szmyd more and more seems to be the key figure in this years Giro. (114 bpm! hm…)

Rider Council May 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm

we had great racing so far, don’t see why we need a ‘story’ for 3 weeks, boring no? There is plenty to focus on, if you choose to do so. It’s about to begin now so we had a nice build up and the anticipation makes it exciting, as does the inrng pre race analysis.

Oldroadie May 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm

INRNG ……As a mountaineer (and cyclist) all my life I’d always believed Edward Whymper to have been English not Canadian. He was born in Lambeth, South London in 1840, his family moving to Haslemere , Surrey in 1859. Whymper led the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in July 1865 after 7 unsuccessful attempts. He is thus regarded as the father of English mountaineering.

In 1901, at the age of 61, Whymper was invited by the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. to visit the Canadian Rockies as part of the Co’s promotion of the area as a tourist destination. As an aside, Mount Whymper on South Vancouver Island is named after his elder brother Frederick.

Apart from that ….. your site is a must read every morning. I particularly love the stage race route descriptions. Excellent work!

rhys May 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Looking forward to some cards being shown tonight. I’m thinking Astana might make some moves, but I would love to see AG2R take a third victory in the same day after breaking their drought.

Winternet_ May 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Gadret, Rujano and Schleck are the ones to attack earlier in the climb. If they forge an alliance things can get pretty interesting

Harry May 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Edward whymper was English not Canadian…

The Inner Ring May 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Agreed. He’s buried in France below Mont Blanc. With a rock for his tombstone.

MadPat May 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm

A bit off topic but AToC had a great day of racing yesterday and very emotional end. Would be good to see some more coverage of this up and coming race.

Larry T. May 19, 2012 at 9:58 pm

FINALLY someone attacks! Who would have thought it would be the ex-Canadian MTB’r? I was there, if you want to know more, go here
http://cycleitalia.blogspot.it/2012/05/living-dreamagain.html
As for the ToC….all I can do is yawn…but I AM biased as hell!

Larry T. May 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Sorry, that should have been CANADIAN ex-MTB’r….I think he’s still a Canuck.

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