Stage 20 Wrap
The breakaway stayed away with Movistar deciding not to chase and other teams content to sit back. The break was whittled down to two riders, Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani-CSF) and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) until a roadside fan gave Bongiorno a push which sent his front wheel into Michael Rogers’ bike, forcing the Italian to unclip and stop briefly. Ironically he was left to restart by himself, nobody around to push him as Rogers rode away for his second stage win. Remember he was a late call-up following visa woes affecting others on the Tinkoff team. With Enrico Pellizotti finishing second you wonder what Michele Ferrari will have made of the stage given the 1-2 for two of his old clients.
It’s speculation but I think Rogers would have won anyway but that doesn’t matter: we were denied the contest. Having a clear race unimpeded is essential and the number of “fans” interfering with the race was a disgrace, if it continues we’ll see crash barriers and a more sterile atmosphere. Hopefully some good comes of this and fans around the world see the idiocy of interfering with the race. By all means dress up, wave banners and scream your head off but just give the riders some room to do their job. If you want to push someone, save your energy for the 75kg sprinters.
Elsewhere there was no GC battle with only Wilco Kelderman leapfrogging Cadel Evans to move into seventh place overall. As suggested on here recently the Zoncolan is so hard that the climb is reduced to a W/kg contest as riders leg-press their way to the top, a big attack is out of the question, even a small ambush is hard to effect.
The Route: 172km which seems long given there’s little to ride for but the race starts in the Friuli region and has ground to cover to get to Trieste. It’s unremarkable.
The Finish: eight laps of a 7.2km circuit in Trieste. The profile shows a climb and it could annoy the sprinters but the rest of the circuit is on wide roads. The repeated laps will help the bunch learn the finish where they’ll see the more narrow section with 700m to go.
The Scenario: the battle for the red jersey is not over. There’s 26 points difference between Nacer Bouhanni and Giacomo Nizzolo in the points competition. As things stand should Nizzolo win the stage Bouhanni needs to finish in the top-5 to retain the jersey given there are points for the first 20: 50, 40, 34, 28, 25, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. To complicate the maths there’s also an intermediate traguardo volante sprint with 20, 16, 12, 9, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 points for the first 10. But for all the big numbers, there are few sprinters left in the race (see “contenders” below) and so the chances of Bouhanni being outside the top-5.
It all points to a stage win. Cannondale have had a quiet race and need to bet the ranch on Elia Viviani who is third on the points classification, he cannot take the jersey but needs a stag win.
The Contenders: Nacer Bouhanni is the pick but let’s see how he’s coped with the Alps. A near-certainty for the sprint two weeks ago things might be very different in Trieste. Giacomo Nizzolo is the second pick with the same reservations and Elia Viviani third.
There’s also reduced cast of characters. Francesco Chicchi, Nicola Ruffoni, Manuel Belletti, Kenny Dehaes, Kenny Dehaes, Michael Matthews, Marcel Kittel, Edvald Boasson Hagen all sprinters who have quit the race along the way. Which leaves only Ben Swift, Tyler Farrar, Roberto Ferrari and Luka Mezgec as the other sprinters in the race. This quartet has yet to prove themselves faster in a straight line than Bouhanni but it only takes one open door at 60km/h to fix that.
|Giacomo Nizzolo, Elia Vivani|
|Swift, Farrar, Mezgec, Ferrari|
Weather: it feels like the weather forecast has been a copy and paste for two weeks: cloudy with a chance of rain 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.
As ever the finish is expected around 5.10pm.
Moveable Feast: this year’s finish is in Trieste. The city is so far to the east of Italy and it sits next to Slovenia. Its location matters and especially to the Giro. John Foot’s excellent Pedalare! Pedalare! recounts the race history and how the Giro’s visit to this former city of the Austro-Hungarian empire was part of the establishment of Italy as a nation and built on the Italians annexation of the city in 1918. It’s similar to the way the Tour de France was instrumental in defining the French borders. We’ve come a long way when the Giro can be used as a peaceful trade export to Ireland.
The Giro often hops from city to city for the last stage. It’s a way to take the race around the country but does mean the finish isn’t famous like the Tour de France and its Champs Elysées, the end of the Giro doesn’t have this conclusive aspect. But nevermind the finish we still don’t know where the 2015 Giro will start. There’s talk about Venice with a prologue using pontoons to cross the canals.