Stage 19 Wrap
A stage win in the maglia rosa for Nairo Quintana and proof that he’s the fastest in the mountains, the only doubts remaining concern his fashion sense. The whole topic of the “moral winner” of a bike race is could be worth exploring for a thesis but the essence is that the public doesn’t just want to see a rider top the rankings, they want to be reassured that the published hierarchy reflects the natural order.
Fabio Aru did a great ride and the word “confirmation” comes to mind. Aged 23 it’s one thing to win a stage on Montecampione but coming second was – secretly at least – as good. Why? Because it shows he’s got what it takes to go deep well into the third week of a grand tour. If he can do this now then he’ll be able to do a lot more in two years’ time. The podium is looking settled but Monte Zoncolan will have the last word.
A different result of the day was Belkin’s Jos Van Emden who dropped back to the team car where his girlfriend was sitting and asked her to marry him. It’s a charming story and one that illustrates just how many plots and sub plots a grand tour soap opera might have.
The Zoncolan gets all the attention but there’s some of the Giro’s hardest climbing to come on the road to the final climb. Before that there’s 80km to cover across rolling terrain. This might be the part of the stage you ignore as you look to the big climbs but it’ll be fast as a breakaway needs to build a buffer ahead of the final climb.
The first climb is the Passo del Pura, 11.2km at 7.7% but with a long steep section, this is a very hard climb and it’s followed by a difficult descent, riders concerned about their overall position need to be at the front here. Next comes the Sella di Razzo is long at 15.8 km and the 5.3% average is more suitable and the descend is the reciprocal, fast and measured.
Can you have a showdown that goes up? A showup? This is it. The approach to the final climb will be furious in the peloton as teams pace their riders to the start. The start is hard but there’s a flat section to disrupt the rhythm after two kilometres and then comes the hardest part of the climb, five kilometres at 15% with no rest at all. It continues as the gradient begins to ease but if the upper part is easier, it’s all relative. A tunnel, a tight hairpin bend on a narrow road and it’s 11% to the finish line.
Don’t underestimate just how much yesterday hurt, the intensity will have hurt. A breakaway will try to go away but resisting the chase of Movistar and other teams will be difficult on such a short and intense stage. As usual the third week breakaway names are often the same, expect the likes of Dario Cataldo and Franco Pellizotti.
Pick your Colombian. Nairo Quintana is the prime pick but he’ll have heavy legs from the previous day. He’s climbing fast and this is a perfect climb for him plus pride probably means he’ll fight for the stage win.
One Colombian with fresher legs is Trek’s Julian Arredondo. He can’t be beaten for the mountains jersey but he might still prefer to get up the road and pick his breakaway rivals apart on the final climb. Colombia’s Fabio Duarte is another pick.
Like yesterday I don’t think Rigoberto Urán can win this so it’s a question of what he can do instead with a podium place to defend. His best bet is to ignore the others and ride to his own limits and hope this works.
Now for the non-Colombians as the mountain stages have provided plenty of variety so far. What can Fabio Aru do? I think he’s longer build means he might find coping attacks on this climb hard and he might still pay the price for yesterday’s efforts. Domenico Pozzovivo could be the better option for Italian fans.
Can Pierre Rolland do anything? He surely deserves a stage win for his repeated attacks and not just down the Stelvio. He too is like Aru, a taller rider who tends to prefer more linear climbs but he’s stopped turning giant gears this year; he’s stopped using oval chainrings and his smoother pedalling will help here.
|Domenico Pozzovivo, Julián Arredondo|
| Fabio Aru,
|Pierre Rolland, Rafał Majka
Weather: sunny but a chance of rain in the mountains and just 18°C. If last year’s Giro was famous for snow, this has been a very damp edition.
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 riders should reach the foot of the Passo del Pura around 2.15 Euro time. The finish is expected around 5.10pm.