Giro Stage 15 Preview

Sunday, 25 May 2014

200km and then a decisive summit finish, a brutal change of rhythm from a high speed approach to a grinding uphill climb. Each time the Giro has finished on Montecampione the stage winner has gone on to win the Giro.

Stage 14 Wrap
A brilliant win for Enrico Battaglin, two in a row for Bardiani-CSF. Manuel Quinziato and Albert Timmmer led up final climb having jumped clear of the breakaway. A mechanical halted Quinziato and gravity got to work on Timmer. It was on the upper slopes that Timmer was caught and passed by Dario Cataldo and Jarlinson Pantano but behind others were coming back too and entering the final corner Battaglin got to the two leaders and, in a furious sprint over the cobbles, took the stage to end a great stage, albeit one where TV viewers were hampered by a lack of graphics on time gaps and other vital information.

This summary of the finish doesn’t do the stage justice though, there was a lot of action with different moves and a fierce pace from the start. We even got another Pierre Rolland Energy Wasting Attack™ where he surged on the penultimate climb and, accompanied by Ryder Hesjedal, secured 14th place on the day. It wasn’t futile though, he’s back in the top-10 overall.

If Battaglin’s name is familiar it’s because he won a stage of the Giro last year… there’s Giovanni Battaglin, the framebuilder and winner of the 1981 Vuelta and Giro. Enrico is related but just a distant cousin.
Domenico Pozzovivo attacked again and took more time. Ag2r’s tactics are obvious but effective: hit the front, turn up the pace and then when everyone is on the rack, Pozzovivo dances away. It took two moves to go clear and he had the inscrutable Nairo Quintana for company. The Colombian is on antibiotics for a lung infection. This can cause fatigue to build but if he can shake the bug, imagine what he’ll do in the third week once his Vo2 returns to the max? Rigoberto Urán looked steady but was giving away seconds in the final moments of the stage.

The Route: the Pantani tribute tour continues with a third hommage, this time to Montecampione, literally “Mount Champion” but remember the word champion is derived from the Latin word for field, campus, rather a hero. To get there, 200km across the plains of Lombardia. These are regular roads and largely unremarkable.
The Finish: 200km in the big ring and then a sudden change of gear. It’s not the mechanical operation but the change of rhythm that disturbs riders. All day at speed in the peloton and suddenly it’s everyone for themselves.

Montecampione is a ski station. As a rule ski resorts have easy access, it’d be bad for business if customers could not drive up or, having got there, felt sick from the journey. It’s 19km uphill and all on a very regular slope that’s a selective 8%. There are some covered sections and many hairpin bends. The road gets narrower and rougher towards the top as the gradient nudges 9%. This isn’t high altitude but it’s from a low base, 1,400 vertical metres or 40% more gain than Alpe d’Huez.

The Scenario: breakaway or GC showdown? The heart says a breakaway sticks but logic says they’re caught. The stage is predictable and linear, ideal for the chasers.

The Contenders: today’s long climb is a pure test of form for the climbers, break out the stopwatch and VAM calculations. Domenico Pozzovivo is making it look easy and Nairo Quintana appeared relaxed yesterday. Fabio Aru’s confidence should be high after yesterday’s ride but let’s note he caught Pozzovivo on the flatter upper sections of the climb and today’s 9% slopes are something else. Rafał Majka and Cadel Evans climbed well yesterday too and if Rigoberto Urán lost a few seconds yesterday, he might find today’s climb more suitable – the real test is to see if he has any team support on the second half of the climb.

We should watch Julia Arredondo too. This time there’s little point going up the road to get mountains points, he’ll probably sit tight until the final climb. There’s no obvious name for a breakaway but whoever builds up a lead on the plains will need to climb fast at the end, think the likes of Stefano Pirazzi and Edoardo Zardini (CSF Bardiani) or Europcar’s Romain Sicard.

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Domenico Pozzovivo
Nairo Quintana
Rafał Majka, Robert Kišerlovski, Julian Arredondo
Urán, Aru, Evans

Weather: sunny with a temperature of 24°C. There’s a mild headwind of 10-15km/h.

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 race is due to hit the final climb around 4.00pm Euro time but tune in before to see the approach to the climb and see who is fighting for position . The finish is expected around 5.10pm.

History: the race has visited Montecampione twice before, in 1982 and 1998 with stage wins for Hinault and Pantani respectively. Hinault dispatched Lucien Van Impe to win solo. Pantani famously struggled to shake Pavel Tonkov and even removed a diamond nose stud in a bid to save weight before riding away solo. Each time the stage winner went on to win the Giro. Maybe that is why it’s called Montecampione after all?

Jurgen May 25, 2014 at 2:58 am

Lack of information was a consequence of the accident that occurred on the descent, camera motorbyke on the ground & badly injured marshall – still in induced coma at Turin hospital – after the horrific live scene, italians commentators were speechless and video producers went somewhat lost: not so professional but comprehensible.

The Inner Ring May 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

Thanks. The volunteer’s still in a coma and let’s hope he’s ok.

Fay May 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Any update on the marshalls condition is he out of coma?
Thinking of him!!

Erik van Bommel May 25, 2014 at 7:25 am

I can’t the point of this stage: 205km of not much and then one relatively easy climb. They may as well start at Bergamo and race like hell over the plain to do their 8/9%. Much like MSR It’s only the last 15-20% (time-wise) that is of any relevance.

Sure, its good for a big breakaway to go early but are we too see any action from Evans, Uran et al? No, but I do hope I’m wrong.

The Inner Ring May 25, 2014 at 9:59 am

It allows the race to head east across the Alps but passes through a large population, so a lot of ground covered in front of many. The flat profile and then sudden uphill finish is difficult, the contrast between big ring and inner ring is something some find hard to cope with.

DrHeaton May 25, 2014 at 10:19 am

To me the profile looks exactly like the TdF stages climbing Mont Ventoux, lots of flat then a ridiculous climb. If those are anything to go by then it could be a cracking stage.

Jason May 25, 2014 at 8:34 am

It reminds me last years TDF stage to Mt. Ventoux, will there be a team that will put a furious pace on the flat?

AK May 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

With Uran showing weakness yesterday I expect the other gc guys to try and take more time back today. Re: team support for Uran, I don’t think they will spend too much energy chasing on the flat, and I think Poels can keep up for quite a while.

LM May 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

Was it weakness or conservation? He was the only contender with a teammate left, Poels (who looked like he was trying to box out Cadel at the line). I couldn’t really tell by watching, and I haven’t read around, if Uran was still recovering from the ITT, at his limit or just conserving energy for his long term plan. And you know his team has a calculated plan.

This year’s route choice seemed heavy handed, but I’m starting to like the idea that Bouhanni is going to have to earn his jersey a second time and that, even at 3 min down, the race is not close to being over.

Tovarishch May 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

He said afterwards that you don’t have to win every day and it wasn’t worth the extra energy to sprint against Evans. Montecampione does look his sort of climb.

LM May 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm

After today, I’m going with conservation for the overall win.

AK May 25, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Yes, conservation, or just fluctuation of form. In any case, things are getting very interesting now. The way I see it anyone currently in the top 7 or 8 may end up on the podium but who and in what order? I think either Quintana or Uran will take it and so I’m hoping for a Columbian showdown on the Zoncolan. But the story can change again after Tuesday.

RonB May 25, 2014 at 11:15 am

No love for Kelderman? He did well to bridge (solo?) to Pozzo and Quintana yesterday. Still seems to be making steady progress under the radar, so to speak.

The Inner Ring May 25, 2014 at 11:22 am

He’s doing great but can he surge or sprint for the stage win? I think he’s more a steady kind of rider.

Tovarishch May 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Inrng – don’t tease us. What is the Finish?

but it’s

The Inner Ring May 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

“…from a low base, 1,400 vertical metres or 40% more gain than Alpe d’Huez.”

Tovarishch May 25, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Spasibo

Andy Logan May 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Slowest sprint ever last night, the Columbia rider left a crater in the road when he blew up. Great stage last night.

MickR May 25, 2014 at 1:34 pm

I want to hear more about Pantini’s nose ring incident. Did he just throw the diamond on the ground? Ricordare Pantani!

peter c May 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm

With 2 kilometres to go, Pantani launched his attack, jettisoning – with a flourish – even his diamond nose stud in case it was holding him back (apparently it is still on the side of the road somewhere, for a dedicated souvenir hunter).

Bundle May 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Nothing is more thrilling that seeing the leader showing weakness on a mountain stage. Good fun yesterday. And And three tired guys sprinting is more fun than a whole peloton sprinting (so much for the Bardiani victories). If Hinault’s Giro-winning demonstration in 1982 is anything to go by, today is about setting a fast, potent, pace, with a heavy gear, and blowing the featherweights away one by one. We’ll see.

george May 25, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Well, today was Aru’s day. Did he just ride away or did the GC guys just not bother chasing him? In any case, he’s actually further up on the standings then Quintana or Pozzovivo now, and could definitely challenge for the podium

Anonymous May 26, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Sorry to have a moan but I wish people would not mention the result so soon. For those of us who missed the live race and wanted to watch the highlights, but still check Inrng’s preview beforehand, it’s really annoying to find out the result before watching, having deliberately avoided cycling news etc. Rant over.

The Inner Ring May 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I understand but surely it’s best to avoid the internet completely, possibly even TV, radio and SMS too, to avoid the dreaded spoilers.

LM May 25, 2014 at 7:08 pm

With only four mountain stages to go after the rest day, it seems like there are 6, maybe seven, riders riding for the podium and it’s Uran’s race to lose; he would have to give up almost 16 seconds a stage to Cadel (which, chapeau to Cadel so far but, not going to happen) and 40 seconds per to Pozzovivo or Quintana. Uran has clearly learned a thing or two at SKY.

It seems like the fight is going to happen during the ITT and then who’s got the most in the tank or who can recover most quickly for Monte Zoncolan; everything that happens on 16 and 18 is just setting the stage. Another great Giro.

Elle May 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I’m no expert but it seems like Uran learned a lot from Wiggins at Sky. Similar smooth, flat-backed pedalling style, similar focus on the importance of the ITTs, similar calculations about when to go for it, and when to save energy and still come out ahead. Good work, Rigo!

hoh May 26, 2014 at 11:59 am

By the time he perfected this trade, most armchair experts are going to call him boring.

299e May 25, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Are black shoes making a comeback?

STS May 25, 2014 at 11:44 pm

definitely hope so!

Larry T. May 26, 2014 at 8:06 am

I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand Rolland’s tactics – it’s like he’s using the Voeckler script but with zero panache. With or without crashes, RAI’s TV broadcast team seems a bit confused, perhaps by the seemingly complete absence of long-time chief Auro Bulbarelli? To me it mirrors the RCS situation since Zomegnan was forced out. But the racers are making up for all of it with entertaining action. We were atop Oropa but rather than offend anyone with those details, interested persons can simply check here http://cycleitalia.blogspot.it/2014/05/giro-ditalia-2014-oropa.html

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