So far the “fight for pink” has been a group hug with riders marking each other. Exclude Domenico Pozzovivo’s 30 second raid to Sestola last Sunday and most of the time gaps on GC have been created when the riders weren’t racing together, whether in the team time trial or following the Montecassino crash. All change today as riders are forced to show their form.
Stage 11 Wrap
How many riders had been dreaming of this day? In the end a rider who wasn’t supposed to ride the Giro won. Michael Rogers was a late call-up after visa problems blocked Tinkoff-Saxo’s
Ivan RovnyNikolai Trusov.
Gianni Savio’s dreams turned to nightmares because the day’s breakaway didn’t have a single rider from Androni. Consequently the Italian team chased the move down and on the Naso di Gatto climb it all came back together. Julian Arredondo jumped away to bag the mountain points. At one point it was heading for a bunch sprint, albeit in reduced company. But then Michael Rogers attacked. It was perfectly timed, there was not much of a chase from the peloton and few teams had strength in numbers. He took 45 seconds lead and if it began to get close in Savona he had time to savour the win.
— John Galloway (@wjohngalloway) May 21, 2014
Note the crashes of Luke Durbridge and Adriano Malori. The Australian left the race and Malori rides on but looked a mess at the finish. Both were contenders for today’s time trial.
The Route: 41.9km of rolling roads through the Barolo vineyards. Say vineyards and most people say wine and today’s route will have gourmets salivating. But for the cyclist vineyards typically mean hills and exposed terrain. Vines are cultivated never to reach more than shoulder height, they provide no shelter for the rider and more so now since the growth on the vines is still emerging.
There’s a climb right from the start but it’s a gradual affair. Most will be in their tri bars and a large chainring as the road is wide and rarely exceeds 5%. If you see a rider on the inner ring, it’s likely to be something like a 46T. Then follows a regular descent, fast but just enough to require effort. There are some technical bends and they bare witness to various accidents with skid marks and dented crash barriers as the riders descend into Alba, Italy’s truffle capital. Then follows a long flat section out of town to leave the climbers floundering. After 34km the road tilts up but just, the last climb is another steady affair where the road rises at 4%.
The ensuing descent is the most technical part of the course with a narrow road, a sketchy surface and at one point, a double-digit slope down. It’s not treacherous but the rest of the course can be paced to perfection while this is all about nerves and skill. The finish in Barolo sees a strength-draining rise to the line.
The Contenders: a difficult pick but Cadel Evans is the default choice. He has the experience and ability to win the stage. His selection is also because of the relative weakness of others, the GC challengers in this race are primarily climbers and there are few time trial specialists in the field.
Adriano Malori would be my second pick. The Italian chronoman has been targeting this stage but he had a big crash yesterday and lost a lot of skin. Even if the injuries are superficial it’ll hurt to wear a skinsuit. Given the uncertainty he could surprise but he might just opt to complete the course and serve Nairo Quintana later in the race. Fellow Movistar rider Jonathan Castroviejo is another specialist but he excels in shorter distances. As for Nairo Quintana everyone took one look and thought he was just a climber but now people appreciate his all-round abilities and he has a good position. A top-10 ride should be priced in and today will reveal the extent of any injuries, he’s been complaining of bruising on his hip and reduced power.
Next comes Belkin’s Wilco Kelderman who has pedigree in time trials. He first made a name for himself in the 2012 Dauphiné time trial when he was fourth in the 54km time trial. He’s in form and the course should suit him.
Thomas De Gendt is one of those erratic riders. Capable of great rides one day but invisible the next. Instead OPQS team mate Rigoberto Uran is obviously one to watch. Not normally a name to associate with time trialling but he was solid in the Tour de Romandie and should crack the top-10 today.
What about Domenico Pozzovivo? Only Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara beat him in the Vuelta’s 39km time trial stage. Some are tipping him for today but the course is different, he’ll lose time on the flat section around Alba but many are still tipping him as an outsider to win the race outright if Evans falters in the third week. Giant-Shimano’s Tobias Ludvigsson is a good pick… for the future. He might surprise today but the distance is long for 23 year old.
Team Sky are being outclassed in this race by the likes of Ag2r La Mondiale and FDJ and that’s not something many expected. But Kanstantin Siutsou was
fourth tenth in the world championships last year but has been quiet in this race, Edvald Boasson Hagen can do well as can Dario Cataldo. A stage win seems unlikely for the team.
Any others? Ryder Hesjedal should find the long drags just to his liking but a stage win would be a novelty. Orica-Greenedge’s Michael Hepburn is a specialist but also young, today should be a learning experience while the course is too hilly for team mate Svein Tuft. Lotto-Belisol’s Maxime Montfort is a steady rider and why not Adam Hansen who is in good form but has yet to emerge in this race, after all the Australians are having a great time? Finally Michael Rogers should be rinsed after yesterday’s efforts but this is his speciality.
|Thomas De Gendt, Jonathan Castroviejo, Rigoberto Uran, Adriano Malori
| Hansen, Ludvigsson, Monfort
Weather: sunshine and clouds with temperatures of 22°C. There’s no wind to worry about but there’s growing talk of rain for the afternoon.
TV: the race is on a variety of TV channels according to where you are in the world. Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France. There’s cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv for TV schedules and pirate feeds and more.
Time trials never make great TV but this stage is important to the race so watch to see who is in form. The finish is expected around 5.10pm.
Production Note: these previews are freshly baked every day to go out at dawn. But if there’s anything useful in the newspapers or elsewhere later in the morning, I’ll add it. For example today the risk of rain has increased so I’ve revised the weather section plus added the embedded tweet to show Malori’s problems.