The Spin: Giro Stage 18

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A downhill profile today means a fast stage as gravity does its work. But don’t imagine riders can frolick their way down to Vedelago to the sound of whizzing freewheels. Instead today should see a duel between attackers and sprinters with the soundtrack of the chain clunking between the 11 and 12 sprocket as many will be trying to break away whilst the sprinters teams will want to reel them in.

Even before the stage starts several will go for a warm-up. Normally the sprinters and their teams gobble up escapees with relative ease but many sprinters have left the race already (Farrar, Démare, Goss, Renshaw and Bos, Haedo, Feillu) meaning a lot of the burden will fall on Mark Cavendish’s Team Sky but they have to worry about Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao whilst they’ve also lost workhorse Jeremy Hunt. Other teams like Androni with Roberto Ferrari or Colnago with Sacha Modolo might try to send a rider up the road. In short today is the last chance for the heavier rider to win a stage, unless they’re a pure time trial specialist for Sunday. Note Mark Cavendish is battling for the red points jersey, he has 110 points whilst Joaquim Rodriguez has 109 and the Spaniard will surely collect more points in the mountains.

En route the race passes Belluno, one of the largest towns in the region. It was the birthplace of Dino Buzzati, the Italian novelist who was also dispatched to cover the Giro during the “golden age” of Italian cycling for the Corriere della Sera, Italy’s biggest newspaper. Here’s a sample from 1949 when Buzzati mediates on the arrival of industrialisation, nuclear power and wonders whether the humble bicycle will vanish…

Fly with your tiny energy among mountains and valleys, sweat, toil, and suffer. The woodsman will still descend from his isolated mountain hut to cry “Evviva!”, fishermen will come up from the beach, clerks will abandon their ledgers, the blacksmith will let his flame die out to come to celebrate you, the poets, the dreamers, the creatures humble and good will still line the roadsides, forgetting, in your honour, their troubles and hardships. And the women will cover you with flowers.

The finish is pan flat and straight, with the last bend 5.3km from the finish line.

Today will also be the chance for recovery for those on the overall classification. Yesterday saw Ivan Basso stretch the race to the limits as he put in repeated accelerations. We even got a rare glimpse of him riding out of the saddle. He’s arguably the strongest climber in the race and can time trial but we’ll see what Joaquim Rodriguez does as “Purito” needs more time ahead of Sunday’s final time trial. One big loser yesterday was Roman Kreuziger who came in over ten minutes down after cracking horribly on the Passo Giau. Long touted as a big hope he’s bound to find it hard to get out of bed today.

1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 74:46:46
2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Barracuda 0:00:30
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:22
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:01:36
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:56
6 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:04
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox 0:03:19
8 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:04:13
9 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:04:38
10 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:04:42

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{ 18 comments }

a different ben May 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

“Note Mark Cavendish is battling for the red points jersey, he has 110 points whilst Joaquim Rodriguez has 109 and the Spaniard will surely collect more points in the mountains.”

I’m tipping Mark Cavendish for a breakaway ;)

Ankush May 24, 2012 at 10:23 am

Has Scarponi also resigned to fate? I can see Ryder win this Giro with aplomb

Rob May 24, 2012 at 10:40 am

Seeing Scarponi use all his routine in the descent to catch back on despite cramps makes me think he didn’t resign just yet. Whether he has the means to put time into the others remains to be seen though.

rhys May 25, 2012 at 2:03 am

This was awesome and won him much of my respect.

Ian May 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I hope Ryder wins it – thought he’d be in with a decent chance but I’ve been surprised how well he has gone in the mountains. I thought he looked like he could attack yesterday and had something in reserve

Rob May 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Heh I thought he looked the most strained among Pozzovivo, Basso and Rodriguez, but that’s often misleading anyway …

Alan May 24, 2012 at 10:38 am

“soundtrack of the chain clunking between the 11 and 12 sprocket”

brilliant !

Sim May 24, 2012 at 10:42 am

Although this stage has Cav’s name all over it, just how is this going to play out….You can see the GC teams apart from Sky fancying a quiet day ahead of the fierce 2 stages to come, and so not being prepared to do much work in chasing breakaways. The smaller teams with sprinters left might just bank on Sky doing all of the work. And other teams might fancy that precious final stage via a breakaway. Lastly and perhaps most fundamentally Sky being 2 men down may be the single biggest factor to the whole thing. They can’t and shouldn’t use Uran for any hard yards and really must protect him and to a slighly lesser extent, Henao – Uran might not be a huge contender for the win, but podium not beyond reach. If they dont protect their GC guys today, no doubt it would ignite the whole rating debate that you cant fight for Tour green and yellow simultaneously.

The management team to earn their money today…

Anne May 24, 2012 at 10:45 am

I love how you spell Bos with dubbel s. He is a real boss in the making as a sprinter, but his name actually means ‘forest’ in Dutch. Thanks for another great preview!

The Inner Ring May 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

Of course, yes.

Gavin May 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

Sky need Cav to take the intermediate sprint and win the finish to have a chance of the points jersey. Whatever happens he deserves credit for sticking the Giro long after most other sprinters have gone home. I hope that this tactic pays off come July. Generally Cav tends to go better after he’s been racing for a while so turning up to the TdF should hopefully work. It will be an interesting contest between him and Sagan for the points jersey. What chance that the sprinters nullify each other and one of the climbers (Wiggo…) end up unexpectedly going for the points jersey!

Sim May 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

Well, Wiggo did show his sprinter chops a couple of weeks ago…:)

And agree, whatever happens full kudos to Cav for sticking around and fighting for the points jersey. In an interview after stage win number 3, he said that he’d be better by the Tour and that he was around 60% at the moment…

Bundle May 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I join the kudos. Absolutely. This points jersey is actually more valuable than the Tour’s or Vuelta’s, since the Giro still gives the same points to all stages, and doesn’t tip the balance in the favour of sprinters, hence the interesting competition betweem Cav and Purito (who doesn’t seem to be fighting for it anyway… :) )

Dave May 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Much kudos ineed to Cav for sticking around. I think I recall him say he has too much respect for the history of the Giro to just throw in the towel.

I have a feeling also that he may be working towards the points jersey at the Giro as a bit of a back up plan in case he decides not to ride for green at the Tour. Wiggins should be in pretty good form this July so Sky’s primary objective may be elsewhere.

Dave May 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

@inrng – it worked!

The Inner Ring May 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Yes.

For others note you can get your own avatar for comments on here and elsewhere by registering with gravatar.com. When you post a message on here just use the chosen username and email and it works (note the email address is just to help look up the avatar, I won’t use the address etc)

Crofty May 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm

If only the women covered me with flowers on my Sportif rides!

DNAtsol May 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I think if Cav can pull off another 1 or 2 (less likely given the profile of tomorrow’s stage) intermidiate sprint points he has a good chance of hanging on to the points jersey even if J-Rod get both wins both stages.

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