Giro Stage 13 Preview

Friday, 23 May 2014

A short transition stage to take the race to the foot of the Alps only without the foothills. It’s flat and one of the last chances for the sprinters.

Predictable? Yes that’s why today’s preview also includes a tale about the Calabrian mafia plus the the nearby Colle del Nivolet, the highest mountain pass in Europe you’ve probably never heard of.

Stage 12 Wrap
Rigoberto Uran won and by some margin. The Colombian was fourth in the Romandie time trial, a good clue to his form. Is this it for the rest of the race? Of course not, especially as his team aren’t obvious high mountain support. That said we saw a clean sweep for OPQS with four in the top 10, notably Gianluca Brambilla, apparently his best performance in a time trial to date was 30th place in the 2012 Tour of Slovenia. Uran is looking very lean and it’ll hard to see him toppled in the mountains, the others will hope he has a bad day.

It was a decisive stage with large time gaps. The top-10 overall went into the stage separated by 2.01 and came out reshaped with 4.41 now separating Uran from Robert Kišerlovski.

It’s always hard to tell with Cadel Evans on the bike, he can look powerful but rarely comfortable. Yesterday he resembled a crab being winched uphill during the first climb. He was well beaten but still finished third, a creditable ride. The question how he deals with the loss. As said here before his mental approach is one of momentum, he’s strong when all is going well but once clouds gather he seems to get more stressed by the little things provoking a vicious cycle. Among the other GC contenders Nairo Quintana was the biggest loser, conceding 2.41 and he said after the stage he’s on antibiotics.
Spare a thought for Thomas Ludvigsson who crashed out, hitting a barrier and flying into someone’s garden. TV cameras showed him on the ground many metres from his bike. It turns out he’s ok, at least no broken bones.

The Route: 157km north to the foot of the Alps. The race skirts around Turin. The day’s climb at 34km to go is short and sharp: 1km at 7%. Not enough to drop the sprinters and should any lose position they have time to make it back. The race crosses the finish line with 22km to go and then does a loop up one side of the Orco valley and back down the other.

The Finish: broadly flat the race crosses the river to reach the 1km kite. There are two roundabouts to negotiate, the first sees a wide road narrowed to one lane and the second, at 300m to go, is more narrow and will further string out the field.

The Scenario: another good chance of a bunch sprint. Once again several teams have an interest in a bunch sprint, notably FDJ, Trek Factory Racing and Cannondale,  assuming Elia Viviani is feeling ok as he was complaining of a bug a few days ago.

The Alps loom on the horizon today and if there are two more possible sprint stages left it’s more a question of which sprinters are left for those stages. Nacer Bouhanni for example has never ridden a mountain pass above 2,000m.

The Contenders: Nacer Bouhanni’s proved himself as the fastest sprinter in the race but this doesn’t mean things will continue to go his way. Then again he’s won stages against the odds. As usual Giacomo Nizzolo is the back-up pick.

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Nacer Bouhanni
Giacomo Nizzolo
Elia Viviani
Mezgec, Ferrari, Swift, Farrar, Petacchi

Weather: cloudy with a temperature of 20°C. There’s no wind to worry about but there’s a good chance of a shower in 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.

The finish is expected around 5.10pm so tune in to catch the late action.

Operation Minotaur: Rivarolo Canavese is today’s finish town and has made the news after the town hall was placed under special control. Several municipal officials were suspended following a police raid on Mafia activities, specifically a clan of the Ndrangheta criminal organisation from Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot. In recent times these groups have branched out well beyond their home regions and in a “maxi trial” 37 people were were convicted of various charges including election-rigging.

Amusingly the town’s former mayor, Fabrizio Bertot, caught in the wake of the crooked vote-rigging scandal, was forbidden from standing for election in Italy… so he got elected to the European Parliament and recently took time out from this job to be an election monitor for the recent referendum in Crimea. Full story in Italian over at liberapiemonte.it

So close and yet so far: the finish town today is an ugly place, one of those towns with industry on the slide and its better days are long gone. But it sits where the Orco valley opens onto the wide plains of Turin. But follow the river upstream and past Pont Canavese the terrain changes fast. Some hydraulic dams signal the gain in height and soon the valley road is hemmed in by vast rock walls.

Here starts the Colle del Nivolet, the biggest mountain pass you’ve never heard of: 50km later the road climbs to 2,614 metres above sea level which puts it in the top-10 of European mountain passes. Why isn’t it famous? For starters the Giro has never ventured up and second it’s a dead end and there’s no ski resort at the top either. But it is a scenic climb that’s a joy to ride because it’s relatively free of traffic and has several different phases. If you want more, see the Roads to Ride piece from last year.

Newfybullet May 23, 2014 at 7:50 am

Apparently the final roundabout has a second small piece of road furniture on the exit. It will catch a few out and the racing should be frenetic to get there first. I wonder if sky will do their homework better than the rest again and use this to position Swift as they did earlier in the race.

The Inner Ring May 23, 2014 at 8:10 am

Yes it’s narrow but most if not all of the teams will know about it, either by looking at the route before or having staff travel the course during the day to radio back information.

Larry T. May 23, 2014 at 8:26 am

Funny that mob story – so many think organized crime is only in southern Italy instead of the north, in Germany, New Jersey, New York, etc. I don’t worry much about it, it’s the DISorganized crime that’ll get one robbed or shot these days.
Evans seemed nervous and distracted – it looked like he hit a pedal on one of the turns, overshot the 180 degree turn and then almost threw the whole works away running wide on a descent – only his MTB skills saved him. And WTF with Pozzovivo rolling along opening an energy bar with both hands instead of being head down and cranking away? Today looks like a “tune in for the last 10 kms” affair but we’ll be out there for tomorrow’s stage to Oropa. I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t rain on me like it did yesterday

Sunny Day May 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

It is great for you that you are visiting the race, but of little interest for the rest of us. For the well-being of this great blog-site, please try to limit the comments to issues of wider interest than anyones personal holiday outings. Thank you.

David S May 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Seriously…?! Someone got out the wrong side of bed this morning :-). The comment related to 1) a part of the article, 2) yesterday’s stage and 3) the fact that the poster will be watching the very race the article is about.

It’s a cycling blog, and comments from those actually watching the race are surely relevant. I fail to see how they threaten the “well-being of this great blog”; rather they add a personal element to the whole thing. I often enjoy the comments/discussion as much as the excellent Inner Ring blog entries.

Anonymous May 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Rude and ignorant

Get Him SteveDave May 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm

This comment is amongst the silliest I’ve read on the whole entire internet forever.

The Inner Ring May 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Easy! If you don’t like a comment saying you don’t like can be read semi-aggressively too.

I sense the race isn’t grabbing much attention today, the upcoming stages should provide more drama than the blog comments.

David S May 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

True I know, sorry, but I just felt such a negative post / personal attack was unsavoury and unfounded, and definitely detracts from the blog.

Enough said here I think, back to the race for some entertainment. Keep up the good work Inner Ring!

Abdu May 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm

“a crab being winched up a hill”

Yet again, great writing. Love your work.

Abdu May 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm

The rest of us appreciate your posts Larry.

Evans’ ride was ‘normal’, as he so often has, a bad day as it were. Gives me some hope. The ‘out of his skin’ ride by Uran Uran worries me.

Weather update please? When are we going to get the snow like last year, to sort out the sheep from the goats as it were.

Steppings May 23, 2014 at 9:38 am

Possibly a good day for a breakaway group to stay away, hopefully with Ben Swift in it.

Emil May 23, 2014 at 10:03 am

It’s Tobias Ludvigsson.

Thank you for the preview!

Bundle May 23, 2014 at 11:14 am

Great show yesterday. More entertainment and passion than in the first 10 stages together. A TT that’s not ridiculously short has riders experience good and bad moments throughout the ride, and is much about pacing as about mental fortitude. Everybody had to fight hard yesterday, and I loved it. Now the race looks more open, and some riders know they have to attack hard and long if they want to put Urán under stress to try to make him explode. TTs are good for the whole show. Without them, climbers aren’t forced to take serious chances in order to create serious gaps. Very long TTs and pan-flat TTs would be even better, provided there is enough monstrous climbing to balance it. Let’s hope defensive teamwork doesn’t ruin what can be a spectacular challenge between the 6-7 strongest riders. Urán has usually had one or two days when he was not super, so I suppone Quintana and Pozzovivo will try and knock him out, especially on the Stelvio.

Abdu May 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Quintana is sick, chest cold will only get worse into the mountains.

I also think (hope?) Uran Uran might have an off day, and Cadel can take advantage of that to take out big time from him.

Cadel seems to never lose big chunks of time in these Tours, when he loses its not by much. Although, here t the Giro in 2013 Uran did stalk Cadel in the mountains and take 2nd place off him after solid rides on each stage.

RayG May 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

Cadel might have looked like a crab, but Domenico Pozzovivo was still riding the wrong sized bike.

Joe K. May 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Once again, like so much of this Giro, the rain was the influencing factor in yesterday’s TT. Cautionary riders paid the price in time losses while risk takers were rewarded, like Uran Uran, or paid for it with a hard head-knokkin’ like poor Ludviggsen! Thankfully, he’ll be alright!

gastro george May 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Apparently Focus don’t build a TT bike that would fit Possovivo, so he had to use a road frame.

Abdu May 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Here are AG2R’s TT bikes in close up:

http://cyclingtips.com.au/2014/05/time-trial-tech-at-the-giro-ditalia/

Maybe they just don’t make kids’ bikes?

gastro george May 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Sorry, Pozzovivo. He is only 1 metre 65 …

Petar Dundjerski May 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hesjedal, again.
No? No?? Somebody? Anybody? Buehler?

BC May 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Larry T. Keep posting. I for one appreciate and support many of your views and takes on pro bike racing.

It is truism from INRNG that a TT followed by todays stage were not the most exciting to watch. Tomorrow onwards should hopefully produce something a little more exciting. The race appears wide open between anybody in the top ten who has decent climbing legs, and does not suffer an off day.

Erik May 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm

As we head into the mountains, can anyone tell me who is Rafal Majka and does he stand a chance?

The Inner Ring May 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm

I’ve been meaning to read up more about him. Hopefully next week I can write something about him, similar to the Kwiatkowski piece from April… http://inrng.com/2014/04/kwiatkowski-makes-a-name-for-himself/

bikecellar May 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Larry and others like him who are “on the ground” give an added dimension to this blog, long may it continue, heaven forbid that it may drift towards the sad trolling that is the comments section of so many sites.

Larry T. May 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Sorry for offending anyone. Funny thing that – we sell cycling vacations in Italy and make no excuses for it. One of the toughest things to understand is in a world where so many think little of plonking down tens of thousands on the latest wonder-bike, flying over to “cycling heaven” to enjoy the riding, eating and drinking on offer here is often it’s seen as some sort of hedonistic extravagance, even by cycling publications. Granted, the amount we in the “experience” biz spend on advertising pales in comparison to those marketing ever-more “stuff”, but I thought cycling was about RIDING the bikes and experiencing these great races rather than simply yakking away about who rides what and how many watts so-and-so produces. Here that seems to be celebrated more than anywhere else and the comments are almost always civilized and I’m happy for it. Keep up the great work Inner Ring and have no qualms about editing anything I post here, it’s YOUR blog after all. :-)

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