Giro Stage 16 Preview

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The final week of the Giro begins as it will finish: climbing in the Alps. But the stage is dominated by a long valley section before a tricky final spike that should be just enough to thwart the sprinters before a finish in Ivrea.

The Route: Even if much of the route is downhill, it’s still 238km which is arguably way too long for the third week of a grand tour. If riders are tired, they’d do well to get an extra coffee before the start because there’s an Alpine descent to start the day. The Télégraphe is not technical but if some try to get away then others will chase and before you know it the race is screaming down the hill. The race climbs back up the Maurienne valley through Modane and then the Mont Cenis, 10km at 7%.

A plunging descent but note the profile above exaggerates as the Mont Cenis ends before before the town of Susa. Then comes the long Val di Susa, reversing down the road that the race borrowed in emergency instead of climbing to Sestriere on Saturday. The race speeds to Ivrea after 198km before heading out for a 40km loop in the Alpine foothills that sit above the town. The climb to Andrate is tough.

Andrate

This looks too much for the sprinters. It’s only 6.2km long but steep meaning you can’t sit tight on the wheel of your team. Things start fine with a wide road but halfway up there is a crossroads and the race goes through the junction and tilts up. For a moment the Giro is in the middle of the Belgian Ardennes as it tackles a steep wooded climb on the way up to Andrate. Worse for the sprinters, the descent is no place to chase as it’s winding, sometimes offering stunning views of the mouth of the Aosta valley but riders will be checking their trajectories and speed on the way down.

The Finish: the descent ends with about 8km to go where the race takes a flat road straight into town. A couple of bends and a right-hander just before the flamme rouge then a long and wide finishing straight.

The Scenario: a day for the 55T outer chainring whether down the Télégraphe or the long valley roads. The final climb is too much for some sprinters. Mark Cavendish did well with his team on climb to Tre Cuni and through the Barolo vineyeards to Cherasco but they were just about fast enough to allow a sprinter to tuck in and hang on. By contrast today’s road to Andrate is steep and twisting and if it’s “only” 6km long, the gradient means it will take time to climb. So if I tipped Cavendish for Cherasco, I don’t see him winning here. He’ll still enjoy his birthday on the podium if he can retain his points jersey today.

With this in mind we can work backwards and see the Alpine start of the stage as a launchpad for a breakaway. Some hard riding awaits because the fight to go clear could last some time. Once the move is established it will take energy to keep it going on the long flat roads.

The Andrate climb could be the final springboard for a strongman to storm away because 30 seconds’ lead over the top can be maintained on the descent and then it’s 7km to the finish which means a lone rider can be caught by a chase (and so don’t expect some GC guys to try much because if they do, there’s just time to bring it back). But don’t be surprised if the day’s early breakaway is reeled in by other teams who have lost out and so the Andrate climb is a warzone with riders attacking, a scene similar to the finale of Il Lombardia.

If you want names then Katusha’s Luca Paolini is riding strong and if Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini) keeps trying, the terrain does suit him. If some sprinters are dropped and it’s a gallop to the line, perhaps Androni’s Fabio Felline will be there?

Jerseys
The red points jersey is still in play. Bardiani-CSF’s Stefano Pirazzi has a good hold on the mountains jersey but others can chip into his lead. The points contest is closer with Mark Cavendish leading for now but look who is behind.
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 109 pts
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 91
3 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 84
4 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale 79
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 74

With the mountains coming Cavendish could easily find himself losing out. Watch to see if OPQS set him up for the intermediate sprints because there are two today, each offering 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the first six. So it’s possible OPQS ride like these two sprints are imaginary finish lines to secure extra points. Note a stage win brings 25, 20, 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the first 15.

TV: the final climb will start around 4.30pm with the finish expected for 5.15pm. Tune to watch the climb and descent select the winner.

Weather: Cool temperatures in the mountains and it’ll warm up for the finish in Ivrea but only to 18°C (64°F). There’s a chance of rain, the probability seems to vary according to different websites, but if the roads get damp the final descent could be awkward.

Typewriters: today’s finish in Ivrea was long the home of Olivetti, the Italian company famous for its typewriters but also the world’s first company to mass-produce a desktop computer in 1965, the Programma 101.

You might think typewriters have vanished since laptops and now tablets are everywhere but one lives on with the sports journalist Gianni Mura who clacks away at his Olivetti Lettera 32.

A regular at the Giro and Tour de France, Mura is currently touring Italy to promote his book Ischia.

Top 10 Overall
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 62:02:34
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:26
3 Rigoberto Uràn (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:46
4 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:02:47
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:03:53
6 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:04:35
7 Carlos Alberto Betancur (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:15
8 Rafał Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:20
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:57
10 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:06:21

TourDeUtah May 21, 2013 at 6:58 am

Looks to be a day for the break. The sprint trains will keep their powder dry for tomorrows flat stage with an easy cat4 near the end. The climbers and GC men are saving their powder for stages 18 – 20 in the Dolomites.

Looks to be an interesting and exciting stage. Won’t be surprised if the break features 15 + riders.

The Inner Ring May 21, 2013 at 9:48 am

Quite possible, it’s a long day and we’ll see who gets in the break and who misses it and has to chase. A bit like the stage to Vajont although the final climb is tougher and of course it descends.

GeorgeY May 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Inside info: Most often there is hard racing early on when the aspiring fuggiti try to escape, but all the work is being done by the Domestiques so no one really cares.

Ankush May 21, 2013 at 7:55 am

The route is very interesting, looks like the fuga will stick today.

Espresso May 21, 2013 at 9:37 am

Nice to see Mura.

Why don’t they neutralize the first descent down the Telegraphe?

The Inner Ring May 21, 2013 at 9:49 am

I wondered the same. But the Télégraphe is part of the race. It could be one of those days where the first hour has the hardest racing but it won’t be on TV.

GeorgeY May 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Meant to reply here (sorry):
Inside info: Most often there is hard racing early on when the aspiring fuggiti try to escape, but all the work is being done by the Domestiques so no one really cares.

Dave H May 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm

How do the points work on the time trial? Assuming that a big break stays clear today and therefore none of the points jersey contenders get any points worth speaking of then it looks like we have two summit finishes, one time trial, one definite sprint and one possible sprint to go.

Nibali, Evans and Santambrogio could realistically get 35-40 points on those two stages if they contest the finale which would put them 10-20 points ahead of Cavendish. Cavendish will have a good shot at winning on Sunday but should get top three so it comes down to what Cav can get tomorrow against what the GC guys can get in the TT.

The Inner Ring May 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm

No points for time trial stages, solo or team time trial.

The Ladder May 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I think it is only the team time trial that does not award points towards the red jersey competition. They have been attributed in the results for Stage 8 on the Giro website:

http://www.gazzetta.it/Giroditalia/2013/classifiche/it/t_08_class_CLPUN.shtml?t=08&lang=it

The Ladder May 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I think nicking points at intermediate sprints is going to be Cavendish’s best hope, coupled with winners in the mountain stages that aren’t Nibali, Evans and co. Cav has intimated in some interviews that he is not targeting the points jersey, but it’s noticeable that he has popped up with a few points at intermediate sprints since the start of the race. I’m convinced he wants it, but doesn’t want to suffer the same agony as last year, when J-Rod pipped him by 1 point.

TheDude May 21, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Points awarded for Popping and Pipping in a single paragraph :-)

DNF May 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Let’s hope RAI doesn’t switch to horse racing like it did at the end of stage 15!!

TourDeUtah May 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Interesting note:

Racebook shows the final climb as a Cat3. During the telecast, RAI showed it as a Cat2 and awarded points accordingly.

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