A giant mountain time trial, a maxicronoscalata. This stage is long and deceptively hard. We could and should see Nairo Quintana win but the greater uncertainty is over who could claim third place overall. Not that today will settle everything, push it too much and a rider could be cooked for tomorrow’s crucial Zoncolan showdown.
Stage 18 Wrap
The signing of the year? Certainly the move from Team Nippo-De Rosa was a leap for Julián Arredondo but he’s landed on his feet at Trek Factory Racing. I thought he was fading in the third week – and a GC push is something else – but a deserved stage winner. Behind Pierre Rolland made a move on the final climb that took up up the road and the overall classification but the attacks and chases were too much for Cadel Evans. It’s a remarkable Giro for the Colombians.
The Route: it’s only 26.km right? Factually correct but this very long for a mountain time trial and there’s a solid 19km uphill at an average of 8%. After an opening flat section to the first time check the climb begins. It’s tough from the start with series of hairpin bends through woodland where the road is cut into the rock. With the foliage it can be hard to measure progress although locals know the landmarks on the way up, a rock here, a bend there.
The Finish: it’s uphill to the line, in fact it kicks up above 10% during the final kilometre.
Prediction: we can extrapolate ride times today. It should take 9.40 to get to the first time check based on 48km/h. Given Fabio Aru clocked a VAM of 1650 the other day let’s imagine the winner today is fresher because there are no proceeding climbs so they ascend at 1,700m/h. This means he should do the 1540m of vertical gain between Semonzo and the finish in 54 minutes (1540m/1700m x 60 minutes). So the winner’s time should be around 1.03.
This is back-0f-the-envelope stuff and others can probably craft a better estimation by modelling more factors. But there’s something in the maths here, it shows us how reductive an uphill time trial is. There are no rivals, tactics or other extraneous factors, just pacing and concentration. You might feel different but I find there’s something missing if today’s stage selects the overall winner, as if we should see the rivals locked in a battle, mano a mano or more appropriately gamba a gamba.
I think this is for Nairo Quintana, he’s climbing well, has won these type of races before and can pace himself. For more motivation he needs a stage win to prove he’s above the rest, to collect the “moral winner” label that’s often so important in cycling.
Domenico Pozzovivo has been dreaming of this stage for some time but he’s been ill. We should him challenge but he’s no longer the top pick.
Pierre Rolland is third overall and has three riders within 22 seconds. Rolland is a great climber not so good a time triallist and his pacing strategy is crucial. The same for Fabio Aru who’ll be roared on by the crowds but he started too fast in the Barolo time trial. I think Rafał Majka – 4th in Barolo – is the best pick as he can climb and time trial.
Rigoberto Uran could be the surprise. He’s faded in status only since the Stelvio and will look to regain time today. He might not be able to count on improved aerodynamics but he should shine, a top-3 is likely. Meanwhile Wilco Kelderman could be the outsider but the Dutchman is more TT specialist than climber.
| Domenico Pozzovivo, Rafał Majka
|Rigoberto Urán, Fabio Aru, Wilco Kelderman
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 top riders will start soon after 3.30pm Euro time . The finish is expected around 5.10pm.