The Spin: Giro Stage 15

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The race skirts past Milan, tempting the riders who face another week of racing before they get to finish the Giro for good. The race passes through another region of Italy where cycling remains very popular and where the roads on Sunday morning whizz with immaculate bikes and impeccably elegant middle-aged men. This is the area of the Giro di Lombardia and the Valcava climb is on the route of the late-season race as well as today’s stage.

The Valcava is 8.6% for 11.6km. The next recognised climb, the Forcella di Bura is 10.9km at  4.3% but note the uncategorised climb to Berbenno which is still a decent rise by itself. The climb to San Pietro is 9.8km at 5.2%. All these climbs have some steep ramps, the average gradient doesn’t tell the full story.

The Piani de Resinelli climb is going to hurt. If yesterday’s stage featured an Alpine highway capable of bussing hundreds of thousands of tourists in coaches up to giant ski resorts, today’s final climb finishes on a small road with steep ramps where it’s hard work driving a car and I wonder if a team bus will even fit. The climb is under 8km long but the final 4km features an average 11.6% gradient for 3km under the pine trees until the slope “eases” to 6.3% for the final kilometre all the way to the line.

Ryder Hesjedal Giro

Yesterday’s finish suited Ryder Hesjedal who could power away on the steady gradient and then deploy his time trial skills for the last kilometre to the finish line. It was a great ride, I’d been lamenting that riders weren’t duelling for the overall lead but the Canadian’s aggression was good to see and it paid off too. He went for the jersey and he won it.

However today might be something else given the steeper pitch, his larger size makes changes in pace just that bit harder. The climb at the end has many hairpins and steep ramps. It looks more like a day for Pozzovivo, Rodriguez or Rujano and maybe even Cunego. It’s certainly a day when the pure climbers will want to pinch a few seconds over the likes of Basso and Hesjedal, knowing they could lose a minute in the final time trial in one week’s time. But there’s a good chance of a breakaway and there are many local riders (including Marco Pinotti) who might fancy their chance on the local roads, indeed today’s stage is not far from the Lampre team’s HQ.

Weather: the organisers describe this as a “high mountain” stage but there won’t be a glacier or ski resort in sight. Consequently if it’s going to be damp but without snow and ice. With an increasing chance of rain in the afternoon, temperatures should be around 8-18 degrees (46F-64F).

Food: risotto is a common dish in the region. You might think of Italy as the land of pasta and pizza but the flat terrain around Milan is where they grow rice on an industrial scale too. Sausage, the salami, is common here too and the region is also known for its polenta, made from cornmeal, again an escape from pasta and pizza.

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{ 16 comments }

rhys May 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

Hesjedal deserves the rosa after how he rode last night. He might have the personality of a house-brick but he took responsibility and rode for his own goals, not someone elses.
I’m going to stay up tonight and watch this stage. Thank you for your breakdown of the gradient percentages, I often refer to them while I’m watching the stage trying to make predictions.

brettjmcc May 20, 2012 at 9:48 am

@Inrng – I thought this was Basso’s ‘home’ stage and trains around this area regularly? I think he has said some of his favourite hill training is nt he next valley along? Would this not be a slight advantage to him if he trains on this terrain? Maybe we might see him try something rather than talk of containment…

Toe Strap May 20, 2012 at 10:19 am

There’s a nice bit of vid on the Guardian sport website of the final climb (as well as discussion on power/weight effects on climbing)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/video/2012/may/18/giro-ditalia-stage-15-video

Larry T. May 20, 2012 at 10:23 am

Nice write up! At least SOMEONE was willing to make a race of it yesterday – so far “the toughest race in the most beautiful place” has lacked excitement overall. The “bigs” all seem to be waiting for the final week – I hope someone can prove to them that it’s worthwhile to ATTACK rather than wait and try not to lose….we have LeTour for that!

Ankush May 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

It was great to see Ryder throwing the gauntlet yesterday when Basso’s catenaccio strategy has taken the life out of this race. I’m waiting for him to implode anytime soon.

Today’s stage look terrific where the likes of Scarponi/Kreuziger will try to take some time out of Ryder. I will go for Pozzovivo to take this one.

Mark May 20, 2012 at 11:59 am

I think Ryder is going to win the Giro, and I disagree with Rhys about his personality. The team made statements in February that he would contest the Giro GC and in interviews with his teammates they say the goal is to put him on the podium. Ryder has been playing possum until yesterday, when he briefly mentioned himself as a possible contender. Until then he was dismissive of his chances, and acting like a sprinter would when wearing the leader’s jersey, saying he was happy for each day in the jersey and will try to hold on to it, etc. I think pretending he was not real contender in public, while internally trying to believe he is was hard. Garmin needed to lose the jersey so they didn’t have to control the race for 2 weeks. I imagine Ryder will allow Rodriguez to take the jersey back today as long as it doesn’t mean losing time to a strong time trialist like Basso. Can’t wait for the next week of racing.

Bundle May 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I think we know a thing or two more about who can win the Giro today, and Liquigas should know they have to be more offensive if they want to get rid of Purito. Talking about offensive, what a great display by Horner and RadioShack on the way to Mt. Baldy, and can somebody tell me why Van Garderen did not try to join him instead of having his team pull the peloton? Why does almost everybody leave everything down to a last climb showdown?

Roadie61 May 21, 2012 at 8:23 am

@Bundle: Post-Stage 15, how ’bout Rabottiiiinnniii!? Talk about giving everything you’ve got…I thought Purito was gonna spoil his long breakaway as he faded, but Rabottini had a second kick and fought like hell to take the stage! Basso only followed Scarponi, but all of this came within the last 500 meters. Where were attacks on Rabottini during all those lonely kms?

The GC is looking quite interesting. Purito and Hesjedal are on the offensive, Scarponi here and there, and Pozzovivo is attacking (though not today in the cold/wet). I’m still waiting to see if Kreuziger has great form to go on the offensive, and Tiralongo, too.

Yes, in the ToC, Horner displayed a lot of good offense up Baldy, but it was Voigt (and Rast & Bennett) who launched him, and the Colombian, Hurtado, caught him and they worked well together for quite some kms. BMC was down S. Morabito and S. Cummings, two key riders for TJVG.

But you can’t talk about Baldy and not talk about R. Gesink and the riders who rode to position him for his huge attack. Tejay VG and T. Danielson got on Gesink’s wheel, but Tejay faded with about two miles to go, which is why he didn’t chase Horner earlier on. Tejay’s form was good but not good enough.

Gesink dropped Danielson and rode away from Horner, but still had Atapuma (Col) 15″ ahead.
With 1 km to go Gesink passed Atapuma, but he hung on and the fight to the end was nothing less than magnificent! And Duarte (Col) took 3rd — quite a podium:) After losing his dad in a MTBing accident and breaking his femur, Gesink had had a rough year or so…it was a tough fight to the end, but such a deserved win!

Bundle May 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

Spectacular stage for sure. Gesink is ready (hope he doesn’t crash in the TdF).

Roadie61 May 22, 2012 at 1:17 am

I’m hoping Gesink’s bad luck is behind him and I have high hopes for him in July. His head was quite messed up after his dad died…then he broke his femur…when it rains, it pours. Everyone handles loss differently. I’ve wondered if that’s why Tyler Farrar can’t seem to win a sprint to save his life (since Wouter Weylandt was killed).

ave May 21, 2012 at 1:13 am

>can somebody tell me why Van Garderen did not try to join him instead of having his team pull the peloton?
Horner got caught, didn’t he? So, while his move looked spectacular, it was a bad move.

Roadie61 May 21, 2012 at 8:34 am

Yes, Horner got caught, but at least he put in a big attack which lasted for quite some time;
no, he didn’t win the stage but at least he went on the offensive and gave it his best, which is more than we can say about a lot of other GC riders in the Giro and ToC.

Spectacular move, yes, and a smart move, not a bad one. He was down 2:50 on GC after the ITT, I believe, so launching a big attack was necessary if he was gonna have a chance on the overall. How many riders do you know who are 40 years old and still riding for GC?

Bundle May 21, 2012 at 8:53 am

Well, Horner was not at his best. If only he had been as good as Atapuma, he would have made it to the end. If he had been as good as in Tirreno-Adriatico he could have won the ToC. If BMC hadn’t chased him, he would also have made it to the end.
Gesink was the man to beat after the TT, and Van Garderen should have known that he is no match to an in-form Gesink on a demanding climb.

Roadie61 May 22, 2012 at 1:40 am

If only, eh? Well, Horner put everything he had on the road and it wasn’t good enough that day, that’s bike racing, that’s sport, that’s life.

Tejay is young and still developing his skills, but I do think being down Morabito and Cummings really hurt BMC. Kudos to Hincapie! He’s like Jensie, keeps driving hard at the front at 40!

I’m starting to wonder about Tejay’s level of confidence at this stage (just a personal observation). He still seems like such a boy to me…recall his temper tantrum last year after the TT (was that in CO?). With time, I do think he’ll be winning a lot of stage races. I had picked him to win the ToC and he finished 4th at 1:17, not bad. Compare his confidence to Peter Sagan’s, whoa — 22 and rides like he’s 28 or 29. Can’t wait to see him head-to-head with Cav in a sprint in the TdF! He beat Boonen head-to-head yesterday in that final sprint, did you see that?! Boonen was in such disbelief and I think embarrassed, as Sagan won 5 of 8 stages and Tommeke went home empty-handed.

ave May 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

As for this Giro stage, it was amazing!!

slim jim May 21, 2012 at 6:18 am

On my one and only trip to the Giro, I sat at a ski chalet at the top of Alp di Pampiago and ate a massive plate of Polenta con formaggi e salsici.
In my excitement heading to the race I didn’t pack much in the way of warmer clothes so after a chairlift ride to a snow capped summit in shorts, jumper and rain jacket the hot lunch was very welcome.

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