The Giro reaches the Alps and we’re in for a week climbing with a variety of uphill finishes. Today doesn’t reach high altitude, instead it compensates with steep gradients and scenery, passing through the Zenga Oasis park before the finish at the Oropa Sancturary.
Stage 13 Wrap
13 is a lucky number in Italy. Every day those moves flooded by wildcard teams look unlikely to succeed but for once it worked and Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF) won the stage. Did he get lucky? Yes and no. Yes in that a violent hailstorm hit the road ahead of the race and it cooled the race and made the roads slippery.
No because Nacer Bouhanni lamented after the race that the other teams would not chase and they left it too late. His sprint for fourth place explained everything: why would a team toil only to get soundly beaten by il diavolo rosso? The Frenchman is clearly the fastest in the race and consistently so but the resignation of the other squads is their loss. But if you want confidence, see Canola who sat up to straighten his jersey before launching the sprint.
Canola’s win marks a great week for the green team as the sponsor extended its support until 2016. Note Bardiani and CSF are two brands… but owned by the same company. They make steel piping for use in food factories, imagine cans on a line being pumped with tomato sauce, it might be Bardiani valves and CSF stainless steel piping.
The Route: the profile might resemble a saw blade but look closer and the altitude is moderate, the highest point is only 1,482m. But, to exaggerate, the Koppenberg isn’t high either but it’s still hard. So what today lacks in altitude it compensates with gradient. The first climb of day, La Serra is not worth writing about, 7km at 5%. A trampolino for the day’s breakaway but no leg breaker.
The second is much more notable as Alpe Noveis is a novelty, never scaled by the Giro. It’s tough and scenic and with 6km of double-digit gradients, it’s not the Zoncolan but it’s the next best thing. But it’s the first big climb of the day rather than a summit finish and it’ll be interesting to see how this affects the tactics.
Onwards and the climb of Bielmonte is a more gradual affair but the finish is approaching so there’s no time to enjoy the Zegna Oasis created by Italian wool king Ermenegildo Zegna. It’s more than a park but a protected area for wildlife with initiatives but back to the race. It’s a long climb to wear down the field and includes five kilometres at 8% and if a team sets a tempo up here a lot of riders can be distanced. The follows a long descent, the road is narrow and wooded meaning hazards but it’s not highly technical.
The Finish: the final climb is famous but it’s never been a decisive climb for the Giro. As the profile shows the climb has a steep middle section before a varied finish, it’s very much Alpine but concentrated. What the graphic doesn’t show is that sections of the climb aren’t tarmac, instead there are smooth cobbles midway and at the finish line too. It’s a good climb but not fearsome but irregular gradient can undo any none climbers.
The Scenario: recent memory associates this climb with the most outrageous of Pantani rides. He had a mechanical but was paced back by team mates and then passed everyone to go on and win the stage. But several other finishes here have not gone to the pure climbers. The last win went to Marzio Bruseghin in an uphill time trial, he was no climber.
Like last Sunday’s stage to Sestola there’s a good chance of a breakaway going early and sticking. Look again at the profile and there’s a 30km descent from Bielmonte to Biella, an attack over the penultimate climb could see a brave rider take time on the descent and hold this on the final climb.
The Contenders: Julian Arredondo has an interest in grabbing points for his mountains jersey. Whether he decides to go on an early raid and take points on the Alpe Noveis or try for the points at the finish along with the stage win remains to be seen.
Otherwise among the main contenders Diego Ulissi seems the default choice. We wouldn’t have said this before but he’s won two stages and excelled in the time trial. Is this too mountainous? We’ll see but in the absence of high altitude and his form, why not?
We’ve been expecting a move from Nairo Quintana but each day brings a new medical bulletin and he’s not well. Rigoberto Uran is clearly in top form and feeling confident but he’s a relaxed rider and I suspect we’ll see him happy to follow the moves. Perhaps if he wants to win the stage a win in the maglia rosa is needed to cement his status but there’s time to judge the others. We’ll see what Cadel Evans does, will his team set a tough pace because a stage win brings a valuable time bonus.
Otherwise if it’s not for what Italians call i big or “the big [riders]” there’s a wide list of breakaway contenders from an early move but Pieter Weening stands out.
|Diego Ulissi, Domenico Pozzovivo
|Rolland, Uran, Kišerlovski, Evans
Weather: sunshine and clouds with a temperature of 22°C. There’s no wind to worry about but 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 whole stage is live on TV. Tune in to see the early breakaway form, a rare sight for TV viewers. If not The finish is expected around 5.10pm.