Giro Stage 20 Preview

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The final stage of the Giro given tomorrow promises a procession followed by a city criterium. What a way to finish with the infamous Monte Zoncolan too.

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 Route
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.

The Scenario
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.

The Contenders
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.

Nairo Quintana
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.

Pin It

{ 23 comments }

Thesteve4761 May 31, 2014 at 6:05 am

What if she said no?

Petar Dundjerski May 31, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Negative split?

TP May 31, 2014 at 7:49 am

There are four time zones used in Europe. It’s a continent, not a country. Just say “2:15 local time” and we won’t have to deal with the ambiguity.

Tovarishch May 31, 2014 at 9:16 am

There are actually seven time zones (although some coincide at different times of the year). I, personally, think all times should quoted in UTC then we can work it out for ourselves

The Inner Ring May 31, 2014 at 10:37 am

I’ve put local time before but readers thought it was local to them. CET leaves some confused and I could do UMT like Tovarishch suggests but the calculations mean extra work.

Tovarishch May 31, 2014 at 11:11 am

Sorry about that, you do quite enough already

Vitis May 31, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Nitpick: It’S CEST in the summer ;-)

Alison May 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I know I’m a bit late here (depending in which time zone you’re reading?!?), but just wanted to say this seems a somewhat ungrateful comment. The vast majority of readers of this blog appreciate the huge amount of work that must go into commenting with such insight and erudition on this fascinating sport, together with the historical/geographical snippets. And as for the sublime word play at times…fantastic (although I probably miss half of it!). Thank you Inner Ring.

Vitis May 31, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Italy is in only one timezone. Like most of Europe. Just that easy…..

Matt May 31, 2014 at 9:06 am

The columbians are that good it makes watching rather pointless

Chum May 31, 2014 at 9:57 am

You don’t like watching good cyclists? Because you can come watch me cycle up a hill if you prefer bad cyclists.

simon May 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

You seem to know plenty about time zones for someone so irked by the ambiguity of euro time. Go back to bed and have a nap. I hope you wake up in a better mood

Right Knider May 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

for those of you who havent seen. you can watch the legendary eros poli (sprinter, who won mont ventoux stage in 1994) climb the zoncoloan and give a preview of todays stage. mamma mia! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBSFlZD-hok

Tovarishch May 31, 2014 at 11:10 am

The frightening thing about that video is that his waistline looks about the same as mine. I can give up any hope of using cycling to lose weight!

leonn May 31, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Actually cycling (one o them at least, I mean, activity) is half part of deal to lose weight. To Eat properly is the other half one. If you ride enough and don’t get lean , so certainly the quality or quantity of your meals it’s the key for scale’s problem.

A big gluton, as I am, knows how frustrating is not eating delicious meals in big quantities as I want and my belly holds up.

Well, it’s better can eat a bit of food than can’t anything. ;0)

Anonymous May 31, 2014 at 9:18 am

Nice comment TP, you seem really grateful.

betabug May 31, 2014 at 10:01 am

“…the only doubts remaining concern his fashion sense” – wonderful and fitting!

Another story that might come up: If Svein Tuft falls back some minutes more today, he could come out having held both the maglia rosa and the lanterne rouge (lanterna rossa?) in the same Giro.

Right Knider May 31, 2014 at 10:17 am

already happened. from stage 10 to about 13 he was last (http://www.procyclingstats.com/race/Giro_d_Italia_2014_Stage_10_General_Classification) , then his greatest rivals bol and courteille could underrun him.

betabug May 31, 2014 at 6:09 pm

OK, let’s up the pace a bit: he could start the Giro with the maglia rosa and finish with the maglia nera, I guess that won’t have happened a lot of times before :-) Though Jetse Bol’s has 11 minutes on him, so it’s a bit unlikely.

The Inner Ring May 31, 2014 at 10:35 am

In the Giro it’s the “maglia nera” or black jersey. Obviously there’s no longer a jersey but the Italians still use the term.

Chris May 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

Another insightful preview. Good job on the Giro so far. In contrast to Matt, I’m loving watching the Colombians kill it in the mountains. More than that though, I’m hyped about all the young riders making their mark.

Timojhen May 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Some irony that the time zones would get more attention than the stupendous racing we’ve been enjoying. Eager to see today, a fitting end to a great Giro.

RocksRootsRoad May 31, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Have to say the Sella Razzo looked fantastic on the TV today. Wonderful scenery.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: