Giro Rest Day Forecasts

Monday, 26 May 2014


Who will win the Giro? The forecast for tomorrow’s weather seems hard to get right so predicting anything for the rest of the week seems tough.

1 Rigoberto Urán (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 63:26:39
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:03
3 Rafał Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:50
4 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:24
5 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:02:40
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:42
7 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:03:04
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:04:47
9 Robert Kišerlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing 0:05:44
10 Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:06:32

Let’s run through the situation of each of the main contenders. First Rigoberto Urán is in the lead but since the time trial he’s been losing ground to rivals on the uphill finishes, especially Fabio Aru and Nairo Quintana who have taken time on both stages. If this continues Urán can play off riders against each other for example should Quintana attack then several others have a shared interest in containing the Colombian.

Cadel Evans is a tenacious rider but can he hold on all week? He lost time to most of his rivals yesterday and if this carries on he’s doomed to slide down the overall classification.

Rafał Majka is now the stealth rider of the moment. He’s rarely making the moves but tracks his rivals cleverly. As a young rider in the white jersey he’s everything to gain by continuing with this tactic as it could get him on the podium, a result he’d surely sign up for today?
Fabio Aru is the man of the moment. His dominant performance yesterday has seen him in the limelight and with this comes both pressure and encouragement, we can imagine coachloads of Italians are going come and cheer him. Whatever happens now his Giro is a success for him and Astana, everything else is a bonus.

Domenico Pozzovivo is ill. He’s complaining of breathing problems, a chest cold. He’s also a very nervous descender in the wet so we could see his fortunes fade although he’s got a strong team in support.
All of this brings us to Nairo Quintana. He will attack: the question is where and when. He said yesterday his move on Montecampione was timed deliberately late. He’s riding in a patient style, happy to take seconds here and there. But he is minutes down and his team will be working out the VAM numbers and calculating how from the stage finish he will have to attack in order to extract time on the others.

Team Prize
OPQS lead with Ag2r La Mondiale in second place. One aspect behind the tactical uncertainty of this race is that no team is able to shape the race in the mountains. Ag2r have had their moments but that’s it, a moment rather than tempo all climb long. Instead riders are reduced to lone actions or even temporary alliances and its one reason why the final week will be so fascinating to watch.

Weather Forecast
The race director Mauro Vegni is studying weather charts right now. Tomorrow’s stage could be altered because the forecast suggests snow at altitude. Currently the Passo Gavia and Passo Stelvio are clear, open and ridable although very cold with temperatures around the freezing point. But this could change tomorrow morning and the Giro is studying an alternative route. An announcement is expected at 5.30pm local time. A few flakes are fine but if the roads get icy they’ll use an alternative route.

This is what happened last year with the stage profile above rustled up as a replacement. However there was so much snow that even the alternative was out of the question and the stage was cancelled. Looking at the forecasts that won’t happen and at pixel time – 3.49pm – the latest is that the race is planning to go ahead as planned but with a back-up in place should the facts change tomorrow.

Aru and Pantani
Of all the places to win, Montecampione has meant the Italian press has gone to town with Fabio Aru. He’s front page in La Gazzetta Dello Sport and headlines make allusions to his triumph and Marco Pantani’s success in 1998. He might not be comfortable with that.

Aru Power Numbers
As well as all sorts of intel on Fabio Aru’s life – lives in Bergamo, likes is mum’s lamb chops, goes to church some Sundays, ex-cyclocrosser – La Gazzetta also has information on his SRM power stats from the climb to Montecampione from Astana team coach Paolo Slongo:

  • Distance: 19.35km
  • Time: 53m13s
  • VAM: 1,647m/h
  • Avg. power 360W
  • 440W during the attack (duration unknown)
  • 5.85W/kg for the whole climb
  • Weight: 61.5kg
  • Height: 1m81

Slongo says Aru can improve in several ways. There’s upper body weight loss and also improvement in pacing, witness how he started too fast in the time trial and faded last week.

Australia Down
This time last week I was listening to the Cycling Central podcast laughing at how Canberra alone was having a better Giro than all of Italy. Fortunes have reversed somewhat with Evans dumped out of the maglia rosa and Orica-Greenedge reduced to just four three riders. Things change quickly. But the team has had a great race and it’s still astonishing that they’re riding around with the Greenedge name is really code for “Your-Name-Here” for a co-sponsor.

La Grote Start 2016
The 2016 Giro will start in the Netherlands. The precise location is yet to be determined. As is the start of the 2015 Giro which remains a mystery.

Non Giro News
The US Pro Championships are on this weekend. There’s a rule that says all national championships in the northern hemisphere are supposed be held on the “mandatory date” of the last weekend of June. Those that don’t occur on this set date are not eligible for UCI points meaning US riders who win this weekend forgo 40 UCI points, the equivalent of two stage wins in the Tour de France or sixth place in a monument classic.

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{ 35 comments }

Evan May 26, 2014 at 4:21 pm

yes, that bulky upper body is the only thing standing between aru and greatness.

Garuda32 May 26, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Massive guns. just massive.

Overafton May 27, 2014 at 3:35 am

Better get a vet, those puppies are sick….

Chris May 26, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Serious about Pozzovivo being ill? I’d just wagered he’d be top-3 in Trieste :-(

The Inner Ring May 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Yes, he’s said it himself. How ill he is isn’t known but this was the explanation for Sunday’s performance.

Bert May 26, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Too bad, except for tentative descending in the wet during the TT, he was in splendid form.

Garuda32 May 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Also, notice that only Uran has been convinced by their sponsors to use aero wheels even in mountain stages.

Damien May 27, 2014 at 6:42 am

Everyone else will be adding weights to there bikes anyway. A few hundred grams on the wheels won’t have to be stuck inside the bottom bracket.

JC May 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm

isn’t greenedge down to just three now?

The Inner Ring May 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm

You’re right, I’d missed Docker’s retirement.

Mats May 26, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Pozzo is ill! That’s seriously bad news. I had been expecting his attacks. This will chip away a lot of excitement from the rest of the race.

Tovarishch May 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Vegni has confirmed the stage will go ahead as planned but they will check again tomorrow at 09:30

leonn May 26, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Inrng,

are you sure about Weight: 61.5kg/ Height: 1m81?

So Aru’s BMI is 18,77. The coach says in weight loss yet? This smells to me like sickness!
I often see BMI numbers around 20-21 for riders and 19(high) for climbers.

The Inner Ring May 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Yes, that’s what La Gazzetta reports. Aru says he weighs a bit less, more 60kg. As a rule ignore BMI for many elite athletes, they have different and often extreme body types that fit outside the standard measurements.

leonn May 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Well, muscle and bones are denser than fat. When it loses weight normally means to lose fat. And someone so skinny and athlete like him has less than 5% of fat on body for sure today.

I tend to believe his height is less than 181cm. If you say he’s “fat” now ;0).

This explains how often this type of athlete abandons competions with some sudenly ill, simply it’s not healthy.

Tricky Dicky May 27, 2014 at 2:06 am

I agree with this. The riders are wafer thin these days (perhaps it is my memory, but the top riders of the past did not look this thin as a cohort?). This obsession almost seems to have become the new “legal doping” (skinny as hell, but still retaining the same power? huh?).

It has become so mainstream that it has conditioned how we view riders’ fitness these days: I was riding behind a female rider the other day (the sister of a top professional) and recall thinking how “fit” and “lean” she looked. After we had chatted for some time, and I remarked on how lean she was looking, she disclosed she was a long-term sufferer of anorexia. I was ashamed at myself for not recognising it straight away.

The flip-side of this obsession seems to be the propensity to illness and fatigue. Beyond that, I do really worry how some of these pro riders are going to fare when they retire. These are pretty young people, and they are quite impressionable (as we saw in the doping era). Running your body fat so low for so long can do really bad things for your longer-term health: I wonder if the teams and administrators give a damn though.

Will May 27, 2014 at 6:50 am

Weight is an obsession in cycling and speaking from my own experience in Tri’s as well. Spoke to a prominent cyclist who told me many cyclists are suffering from extremely weak bones (what the medical term again?) caused by the large fluctuations in their body weight.

As noted in Tyler Hamilton’s book, weight had a bigger impact on performance than doping.

I really don’t think Aru is capable of losing much more weight. To put it in perspective Froomes quoted race weight is 68kgs.

The whole discussion around weight does annoy me. On one hand people who suffer from eating disorders is a serious problem, especially in endurance sports. On the other hand, I HATE how people who are skinny get demonised by other, generally not athletic, people. Being 184cm-66kgs at race weight myself I get snarky comments all the time, just the other week, I got one from a lady who told me I should order another muffin as I looked ‘malnourished.’

AK May 26, 2014 at 10:52 pm

I like the way the plot slowly unfolds and the ending is still so open.
I hope the weather holds for tomorrow! If so would it be too far out for Evans and Sanchez to attack on the Stelvio descent? The’re both very fast down the hill and it would give Evans a buffer for the irregular climb at the end.

Razor May 27, 2014 at 2:48 am

I have been thinking the same thing. About the only place Cadel looks like he could take time is on a descent.
In my opinion one thing that this Giro is missing is a big mountain day with a finish 5 kms from the bottom of a climb after a huge descent. While uphill finishes can make for intriguing viewing, watching riders charging downhill and then trying to hold on to a finish line a couple of kms from the end is really fun to watch. It would be nice to see some attacking riding that isn’t just uphill which seems to be all there is for the last half of the Giro.

fcusa May 27, 2014 at 1:17 am

Is not surprise Uran maintain a strong ride but without main accelerations, Colombian riders often run on high altitudes from 0 to 3400 mt. altitude but with very long runs as 80 km length from 0 to 3400 mt. Just Bogota city is at 2600 mt. altitude.

fcusa May 27, 2014 at 3:29 am

I found this article about Paramo de Letras with 3.195 mt altitud for some riders in insane:
http://www.cyclinginquisition.com/2012/06/colombian-climbs-alto-de-letras-52.html

Bundle May 27, 2014 at 1:59 am

Urán said today that the gaps atop Val Martello will be the same Gavia & Stelvio or no Gavia & Stelvio. It sounded bad in my ear? What does he mean? That Gavia and Stelvio are not enough?? Do we need the Mortirolo as well, so that everyone gets really tired and gaps to get bigger?

leonn May 27, 2014 at 2:59 am

That is the point of strategy of Uran, IMO: no need for killing himself hunting down anyone else on 3rd week. Just mark the nearest contenders on GC, keeping close to them. Anyone who tries to gain time with “strong” effort on single day can lose much more time than gained on the next stages.

3 mountain stages, 1 chrono climb, and just 2 sprint stages. The great climbers are uncertainty at the moment (Pozzo and Nairo). Has Aru more matches to burn? Has Rolland more power for attacking so early and gainning time too? Cadel made big effort to gain 5s on day and lost more than 20s on the next day. That sounds to me like low fuel on his engine for such big tasks of that last week.

I think this 3rd week is very very tough. Maybe this year it will win who just stays safe [without fall or mechanical failure, but without a big showdown too -- unfortunately] on this week.

Robbo May 27, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Maybe Uran means just the opposite; the stage is so hard already that the contenders on GC will not attack until their last chance to extract maximum time.

Fatso Rosa May 27, 2014 at 3:32 am

Is Arredondo still in the mountains jersey? He attacked so early. I wonder if he overestimate his cardio or was that just a kamikaze attack.

Chris May 27, 2014 at 3:54 am

I think that his attack on Montecampione was team strategy. Send him off the front so Kiserlovski can get a free ride. Otherwise I think Arredondo would have kept his powder dry until 5 km to go.

Or maybe he just really wanted to attack early…

Andy Logan May 27, 2014 at 4:20 am

Surprised Pozzivivo is bad at descending, I would of thought that given he came from a MTBing background he would be a strong descender.

I can’t see Cadel winning it, he would need to put in some big attacks and he doesn’t look to have the fire power.

The Inner Ring May 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

It’s the wet weather he hates. It’s all relative though but if he has a weakness apparently it’s descending in the wet and cold. Apparently it’s not so much skill based, instead the cold gets to him.

nathang May 27, 2014 at 4:26 am

Is there any live steaming of today’s stage?
By the time SBS (Australia) starts live coverage the riders will already have climbed the Gavia & possibly part of the Stelvio.

Panda May 27, 2014 at 11:18 am

SBS will stream in Australia from 2050 EST, TV begins at 2300. Hopefully there will be some images to see.

Joe K. May 27, 2014 at 4:43 am

So far so good for GC contenders aka the climbers, but in this final week will be the really hard tests for them. Aru was impressive but did his lack of experience force him to show his hand too early in the game? Evans seems to be “playing the waiting game.” And Quintana seems to lack that aggressive campionnissimo quality that would see him attacking alone on a severe climb. So looks like a suspenseful final week.

Chris May 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm

You were saying about Quintana’s campionnissimo quality?

Dieter May 27, 2014 at 10:05 am

Why do the US have their national championships at a time which essentially penalizes themselves in the standings? Couldn’t all those lost UCI points mean the difference between sending 9 or 6 or 3 or whatever riders to the world championships?

Garuda32 May 27, 2014 at 7:01 pm

The tdf looms large and this is a consequence of this i think. The americans riding for the tdf will already be in europe and riding in one week stage races if it was held as other countries do. this timeframe means the generally plentiful americans not riding the giro will be riding the nats, but this has been turned on its head since the late 2000′s, when levi and george and zabriskie would routinely skip the giro to ride the tour, meanwhile raiding the nats for a change of clothes.

Robbo May 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Inrng – Do you know for sure that USA Cycling Pro Road National Champs race is ineligible for UCI points? The UCI rules use the word “may” (“no UCI points may be awarded”), and it seems a bit ambiguous if this is an absolute or not in this instance. Any thoughts?

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