An uphill finish but one that avoids many of the tough climbs in the region. Today’s stage will almost feel flat after yesterday, at least there are two regular climbs to roll up rather than winch up.
With the climbers having their chance yesterday and tomorrow looking like a sprint finish, here’s a chance for the breakaway raiders to win.
Yesterday’s Stage: a pure mountain finish. I said yesterday would there’d be three tests
- Astana: it’s too harsh to say they failed but Nibali did end up alone. But his climbing compensates, he took third place meaning if he’s running out of rivals, he’s also eliminating his rivals
- Wiggins descending: he passed this test but his problem was being passed by rivals going uphill. Uran’s attack probably suited him as it calmed the stop/start nature of the Nibali group meaning Wiggins could pace himself for a little longer
- Overall climbing: the ramp to the finish was so steep riders needed special gears and many had mechanical troubles shifting gears. It showed us who will be climbing well. Nibali and Evans are the day’s big winners along with Uran. As forecast Ag2r – it still feels odd to type this – are looking very strong. Pozzovivo did played a duet on the Altopiano with Betancur. Hesjedal’s Giro ambitions are over, or at least restricted to finishing or perhaps a stage win
The Route: the profile makes this look like a mountain stage but it’s not so bad. It gets two stars in the Giro handbook, meaning a steady day. The Sella Ciampigotto pass is hard but rolls well for most of the way, averaging 4-5% most of the way. It starts in the town of Ovaro… infamous as the start of Monte Zoncolan but the riders will left instead of right, avoiding one of the most feared climbs in the sport. Over the Sella Ciampigotto and a fast descent awaits, the kind where riders have to pedal fast rather than hold a tight tuck. The descent is the steeper side and there are a few hairpins on the way down too.
The Finish: a 7km climb with no wild gradients. Obviously long enough to run out of momentum but still fast. Mechanics will have removed the compact chainsets used yesterday because bigger gears are needed here. The road is wide – two large vehicles can pass – although slightly narrower in the tunnel sections near the finish. It’s well-engineered. The 7% section around the flamme rouge could be decisive.
The Scenario: a day for a breakaway. The early descent and then rise to Camporosso looks ideal for a move to go away. The clock is beginning to tick now for teams without stage wins, the can’t count on the high altitude mountain days as these are probably reserved for general classification riders. So watch (or read) the pressure mount on teams to make something of this.
The main climb of the day is fast meaning it pays to sit in a group, none of the big contenders should try anything here although the descent has moments but there’s plenty of time to chase on the valley roads before the final climb.
Given so many riders and teams will want to get in a move, take your pick. I’ll name Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano) who impressed as an amateur and is coming on well in the Giro although he might be tired now. Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) perhaps tried too yesterday but the finish is better for him today.
Weather: the cool weather continues, temperatures will be around 15°C (59°F) with little wind. The sun might appear but it’s forecast to be cloudy with the chance of a shower at altitude.
TV: if a breakaway is away then the non-climbers will try to escape before the climb at the end so don’t just tune in for the last 10 minutes but – surprises do happen in the Giro -this probably isn’t a day to watch for hours. As ever the finish is planned for around 5.15pm Euro time. If you can’t find it on TV, cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv will cater for your internet feed.
Vajont Tragedy: The finish will mark the 50th anniversary of the Vajont disaster. The Vajont dam is one of the world’s tallest. In 1963 a landslide from the mountains into the laek provoked a huge wave which crashed over the dam and caused about 2,000 people to die in the flooding below. The disaster became highly politicised with different sides accusing each other, a topic that is still relevant in today’s Italy with the L’Aquila earthquake.
Word of the Day: Carniche or Carnic. The race has been in the Carnic Alps for the last two days and not, despite claims, in the Dolomites. The Alps are such a big place that different ranges have different names, often thanks to their geology. The Dolomites are close by but are not a synonym for every mountain in northern Italy.
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 38:57:32
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:41
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:04
4 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:02:12
6 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:02:13
7 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:02:55
8 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:03:35
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:04:17
10 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:04:21
11 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:23
12 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:05:06
13 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 0:05:08
14 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:26
15 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack Leopard 0:05:57
16 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha 0:06:08
17 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:06:55
18 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:07:46
19 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:08:06
20 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:08:41