The Final Week of The Giro d’Italia

Monday, 25 May 2015

Landa Contador Aru Giro 2015

Have Astana settled for second place? Their pacing on Sunday suggests so. The fast but steady tempo towed Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa up to Madonna di Campiglio and with Alberto Contador riding pillion. If Astana wanted to contest Contador’s maglia rosa they would have surely taken turns to attack and put the isolated team leader under pressure. Barring major upsets and minor incidents the race seems settled now.

Contador Aru Madonna di Campiglio

Contador leads Fabio Aru by 2.35 and there’s nothing to say Aru can close the gap. If anything there could be an understanding where Contador gets one win in the maglia rosa – to win the race without winning a stage seems a touch amiss – and Aru in turn could get the stage win he craves in front of his public, all the more necessary because team mates Mikel Landa and Paolo Tiralongo have won already and the public expect more than the white jersey.

It’s hard to see what can stop Alberto Contador beyond misfortune. “My legs were killing me” he said on Saturday but still placed third in the time trial, a hyper-hypochondriac? Now he did sustain an injury but it was never as much as some thought. Now he’s back and there’s little to doubt. His team look weak but this has been the case since the early stages started to climb and Contador can cope fine without them. If he punctures at the wrong time on a mountain stage a team car won’t be far behind.

Fabio Aru

Fabio Aru is becoming a star in Italy. With his big eyes, gentle voice and polite manner he is appealing to many Italians. His regular appearances on Italian TV’s post-stage show help, he’s always available for a comment and a joke before leaving the stage with the air a schoolkid who ought to go because he’s still got maths tuition to do. The popularity is redoubled by his angry hornet performances on the bike, even the smallest climbs have been used to attack his rivals. However the fizz went out in the Prosecco time trial and he’s now finishing every stage with his catfish-wide mouth gasping for air. The upcoming stages should be his terrain but he might have to play it steady especially because fatigue can prompt small mistakes and crashes.

Mikel Landa is fourth overall and 27 seconds off Andrey Amador and a podium place and he should be able to get this. The risk is Landa’s ambitions get ahead of Aru’s needs, Astana will want the two to ride side by side as much as possible. Amador has been a revelation, a tough and valuable rider for Movistar, visible in the spring classics and a Giro stage winner in 2012, winning in Cervinia from a breakaway on the day Ryder Hesjedal distanced the GC rivals. Now he’s climbing even better. If Andrey isn’t the most Latin of names it’s because his mother is Russian.

Richie Porte

Is that it? It’s hard to see anyone challenging. Leopold König is fifth overall, over six minutes down on Contador and almost two minutes behind Landa. He’d need to go a long raid to leapfrog Landa and Astana just won’t let him. König has risen up the rankings while team mate Richie Porte has fallen out. One report said last night that he’s leaving the Giro, certainly the Giro is done with him. Some are saying this is proof Porte isn’t a rider for three weeks but his knee injury says otherwise, a random result rather than proof his body isn’t cut out for grand tour leadership. A pity as it means less of a contest in the Alps. The Forlì fowl-up where he took Simon Clarke’s wheel is now an anecdote rather than anything consequential to the end result although it’s got many interested in the rulebook. The motorhome may aid performance gains but these are offset against popularity losses. RAI and La Gazzetta have both made public grumbles about how hard it’s been to get a quote from him at times and on social media people seem more interested in the vehicle than poor Porte. Still if it hasn’t worked out for Porte Sky have two stage wins and there could be more plus a high GC finish with König.

Rigoberto Uran the other rider with a disastrous performance, a cold in the opening days followed by crash injuries on the Imola track. There’s not much more he can do, he certainly won’t be riding the Tour de France in a team built around Mark Cavendish, Michał Kwiatkowski and Tony Martin.

Contador Giro Madonna di Campiglio

Can Contador be sapped? So far so good for the Giro-Tour double. One reason the double is rare is it’s hard to recover for the Tour de France. Some are suggesting if Sky and Astana can’t beat Contador in the coming days they must still take the fight to Contador to sap him for July. It’s true his rivals can push him harder but they should do this for the sake of the Giro rather than long range thoughts of the Tour. There are stages to aim for, podium places to decide and points to win. Who knows what will happen? As for the physiological demands on Contador there’s probably not much in it: everyone has to scale the Alps and Contador has to follow the big moves by Astana anyway, it’s not as if he can sit in the gruppetto.

What’s next? The week brings a lot of climbing with three Alpine stages, one medium mountain stage and two possible sprint stages:

  • Many of the hilly stages so far have been defined by aggressive racing and this could continue in the battle for stage wins. Of the 22 teams who started 12 have yet to win a stage and now it’s pressure time. Sunday’s stage saw the bunch cover 47.9km in the first hour as riders battled uphill to breakaway
  • Among the GC contenders things could settle down. These long Alpine climbs are all about watts per kilo instead of WTF ambushes, they are 30-40 minute efforts where searing accelerations are more likely to lose time than win the day. Sunday’s stage to Madonna di Campiglio was a case in point with Astana setting a high tempo to asphyxiate their rivals and stop the attacks
  • Stage 18 on Thursday (pictured) could be more interesting, the climb of Monte Ologno above Lago Maggiore is 8-10% for 10km and followed by more climbing to Alpe Seglette and offers terrain more suited to an ambush
  • Several sprinters have bailed on the Giro despite two flat stages, a clue as to the value of a finishing medal and André Greipel’s exit means Lotto-Soudal won’t be working for a sprint, reducing the chances of a sprint. Is it disrespectful to quit? A little yes, the day a sprinter can stand up on the first rest day and announce they’ll be gone by the second one is the day it’s ok but for now these exit routes are kept hushed until it happens
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Augie March May 25, 2015 at 10:22 am

Porte out: http://www.teamsky.com/teamsky/home/article/53358#GLFc3hlLIlbbp8pI.97

A shame really, as it looks like sequel to the Alberto Show from last year’s Vuelta. I really wanted to see Contador pushed to the limit in the mountains, but from last yesterday’s stage it seems more likely that Astana are going to tow him around Italy while they protect Aru’s podium place and hunt for stages. Still, given his form here, I wonder how Chris Froome is sleeping?

The Inner Ring May 25, 2015 at 10:34 am

It’s almost a psychological win for Contador, once famous for those darting attacks now he’s lost that but seems indestructible, grinding out wins and even taking time bonuses yesterday at intermediate sprints to intimidate his rivals.

Augie March May 25, 2015 at 10:42 am

Very true, you think back to those duels he used to have with Andy Schleck back in 09/10 where he would leap away, gazelle-like, up climbs… Must be dispiriting for Aru though, despite ending the stage on Contador’s wheel he conceded another 7 seconds.

Another ride worth highlighting yesterday was that of Ryder Hesjedal. I know this is alternative history, but if he hadn’t lost that 5.25 on stage 4 he would currently be in 5th position (ahead of Koenig) at 5:52 down on Contador, and very close to Amador who rounds out the current podium at 4:19.

hahostolze May 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Same for Kruijswijk, if he hadn’t lost eight minutes on stage 4 he’d be right up there too.

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 2:15 pm

He showed his form is very good with two 5th places this weekend!

Jan May 25, 2015 at 1:22 pm

In the alternative history Konig wouldn’t have lost 2 minutes in that crash 200m before the 3k mark. Every experienced traveler to parallel universes knows that if you go there, all outcomes change, not just the one you pay attention to.

Andrew May 25, 2015 at 3:30 pm

If Fausto Coppi was born 24 years ago, he could well be in the mix.

Alex TC May 26, 2015 at 12:05 am

lol

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 4:36 pm

He still looks pretty explosive to me, he just went really deep in the ITT when Landa was holding back for Campiglio. There were a couple of times when he left Froome for dead towards the end of last year’s Vuelta, and I wouldn’t put it past him to do that to Astana in week 3 here…

Dodge2000 May 25, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Contador’s gift (well one of them) is his resilience. The environment at TCS does not appear to be the best, the couple of crashes, and yet he is never ruffled. Whatever is going on around him, he always seems to just get on and deliver time and time again. If you think there might be a stage or an incident where he might ship some time, then he always limits the losses or gains more than you’d expect. Love him or loathe him, you have to be impressed by his ability. I love an underdog surprising the big names, but I love a master of their trade going to work.

Alex TC May 26, 2015 at 12:10 am

Very well said, I agree. I´m not a huge fan of his, but he´s undoubtedly a superb, differentiated cyclist and a tough man in face of adversity. And I have a deep appreciation for that.

bmj May 25, 2015 at 4:28 pm

So, does Porte rest and try his hand at the Vuelta? I guess the last statement of that Sky press release says he wants to get ready for the Tour team, but you have to think he wants another crack at leadership.

J Evans May 25, 2015 at 4:32 pm

If I was him that’s what I’d want to do. But, of course, it might not be his choice.

Augie March May 25, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Sky want him at the Tour, so I imagine he’ll be resting for a bit and preparing for that. Interestingly his contract is up at the end of the year. If Froome doesn’t find some form soon he could still get plenty of leadership opportunities at Sky, but then again Sky is looking a bit top heavy of late and there’s plenty of other teams, led by OGE, jostling for his signature.

J Evans May 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm

Don’t think I’d spend too much money on Porte: very much unproven – at best – at grand tour level. I reckon OGE would be better off working with what they have: are they that interested in winning some stage races?

Fabio garew May 26, 2015 at 1:17 am

Unproven at Grand tour level… But certainly a proven one week stage race winner. That is something OGE don’t have at the moment

Augie March May 26, 2015 at 5:43 am

Recall that Porte has already won 8 races this year and it’s still May. Also that this Giro was the first since 2010 that he rode for himself, so this “unproven” status as a GC leader is based off what, his performance as a super domestique? Mick Rogers isn’t in the top 10 but doing his job for AC, so not every rider in that role needs to pull a Froome and finish just behind their leader on the podium.

OGE have signalled that they’re more looking to develop Chaves and the Yates brothers into GC contenders. As long as Porte continues to display the form he’s shown so far this year I don’t doubt he’ll continue to be given a leading role at Sky, although perhaps BMC would be an option for him (I’m sure he’s too clever to fall for EQS’s “we’re a GC team seriously!” thing).

MattF May 25, 2015 at 10:23 am

I presume when you say that the ‘Giro is done with him’ that Porte has been disrepectful to the media, tifosi and the event itself? As an Australian, it pains me, but I agree with you. It reminds me of Wiggin’s sullen failure in 2013.

The Inner Ring May 25, 2015 at 10:32 am

Didn’t quite mean that, just that the GC ambitions were finished and salvaging a stage win looked too much as well. But certainly there’s been some griping about Porte post-stage jumping on the rollers and then driving away rather than going on TV, nothing big but RAI and La Gazzetta didn’t seem to warm to him much.

Tovarishch May 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

He does seem to excessively introspective

“It’s a strange thing mentally, to be so motivated for this race, to have come into it in great form and suddenly to find myself about to head home. I guess I’ll have to ride my bike in the not too distant future but it’s a hard one.

It’s not as if he hasn’t seen it happen, to a close friend, before

HWSB May 25, 2015 at 10:28 am

Thanks INRNG. Just to add that Viviani could take the red jersey. That + a high GC for König would be brilliant for most teams. Obviously SKY are all a bit doom-and-gloom at the mo.

The Inner Ring May 25, 2015 at 10:32 am

We’ll have to see with the red jersey, the sprinters need to get those points otherwise Contador is closing in too.

Francisco May 25, 2015 at 11:02 am

“fowl-up”. Nicely done, and Bowdlerised for the american taste as well!

HWSB May 25, 2015 at 11:04 am

Also, never say never but Van Den Broeck looks like he’ll struggle for a top 10 finish now after yesterday’s stage, despite his excellent ITT.

irungo txuletak May 25, 2015 at 11:46 am

He crashed in Daone downhill, but afterwards he could not maintain a good pace in Madonna. I think he may enter top ten, but he’ll struggle for it.
It is the same story as in Romandie: good in the ITT, but not as good as in the past in the mountains.

Pierre-Jean May 25, 2015 at 11:15 am

Not knowing exactly how bad Richie Porte’s injury has been, my perception has been that his head may be not hard enough for a GT. He seems to lose concentration when things go wrong, and in 3 weeks something always goes wrong. He has been unlucky, for sure, but he also hasn’t seemed able to cope with the stress.

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 11:36 am

The way he couldn’t hold the wheels of his team mates on tuesday after the wheel changing suggests just that. Too easy to distract, not focused enough, not aggressive enough.

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 9:23 pm

That seemed an important detail in that event to me as well. Most focused on the penalty, but it seemed an indication that Porte wasn’t strong enough…

Larz May 25, 2015 at 11:24 am

“Some are saying this is proof Porte isn’t a rider for three weeks but his knee injury says otherwise, a random result rather than proof his body isn’t cut out for grand tour leadership.”

Thats true. His exit from this years Giro is not the result of some physical limitation in him as a rider. In fact, judging from his palmares he certainly seems to posses the tools needed for winning a grand tour. Good in the mountains and excellent time trialling skills.

I do however wonder, why Richie Porte haven’t performed better in grand tours (in terms of results). His best result is a 7th place in his first GT. Since them his results have been worse. Porte has never been close to winning a GT.

A part of the explanation for that is probably that Porte has been focusing heavily on being a super-domestique in the tour for Wiggins and Froome. And some can be ascribed to bad luck and injury. But is that all?

The question is that whether Porte (and the team around him) at some will time lose faith that Porte is ever gonna win a GT?

hoh May 25, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Winning a grand tour is as much about the mind as the body. Nobody can fault Contador in that department & Froome demonstrated the same quality in last year’s Vuelta.

Winning or at least hanging on whilst things are against you is certainly a very daring quality.

GeorgeY May 25, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Well said! If you don’t have the confidence you can win a GT, you won’t. It is a rare individual who possesses the strength to overcome the mental stress of a three week tour.

gabriele May 25, 2015 at 4:04 pm

+1!

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 11:28 am

Leopold König has a bad knee from crashing and he is still going strong. I hope he at least keeps his 5th place. In an interview yesterday he really seemed to have enough of being constantly asked about Porte. If Porte really would have an injury, Sky surely wouldn’t have let him ride all the way to the finish on sunday? I don’t buy that.

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Just a thought, but anyone considered that Konig might have been holding back for himself. He considered himself a co-leader if this interview is anything to go by, http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/knig-targeting-podium-at-giro-ditalia
In the first week, really wasn’t present in the hills for support for Porte, and when it came to the crash, he was closer to Richie’s size than Kiri’s so maybe he should have given his bike and taken Kiri’s.

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 8:29 pm

maybe he should’ve been leader anyway – considering he has an arguably better record in GT’s in the past 18 months.

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Maybe if he’d been there for his leader in the first week, Porte would have been better placed to attack and gain time. Poor support from the team over the whole race. Lots of ifs, buts and maybes, we’ll never know.

denominator May 26, 2015 at 10:06 am

I disagree. You are clearly an Australian or at least a true Porte fan, but try to have a look from Sky DS perspective. Would you really endanger your plan B (Konig) because of possible few seconds? Superdomestics / possible co-leaders should be there especially in the mountains, other riders at flat stages.
Konig gets better in the last week of GT, Richie has yet to prove that ability and mental properties of a champ.

Larry T. May 25, 2015 at 11:39 am

This was a final week preview that reads more like an end-of-race wrap up. I hope there’s more life in the final week than you predict. Aru’s pretty secure in 2nd, one place better than he was last year so why-the-hell-not throw everything but the “lavandino da cucina” at Contador in this final week, one designed for exciting battles in the mountains? Climbs like the murderous Mortirolo are where the Pantani myth was born. If he fails there he can try again on Colle Finestre. He’s got a lot of time to make up, but why settle for 2nd? FORZA ARU!

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 11:40 am

Great piece for those of us who realise the Giro is a 3 week race and not an 8 day one.

irungo txuletak May 25, 2015 at 11:51 am

I do believe that Astana are going to ride hard in coming stages in order to sap Kontador for the Tour. So I expect quick climbs of the Mortirolo and of the Finestre.

Tovarishch May 25, 2015 at 11:56 am

At least Porte finished in front of Zakarin. Hope we don’t see a sudden improvement tomorrow.

gabriele May 25, 2015 at 12:35 pm

About sprinters… Well, maybe that’s not just a clue about the value of the finishing medal, but also something that hints at the value of the sprinters themselves.
Someone here some time ago commented about Cavendish not finishing the Giro, if I remember well: it must be said that in 2012 and in 2013 Cav finished both the Giro and the Tour, winning at least a couple of stages in both (up to five stages in 2013 Giro). As he did in 2008. He was able to / decided to finish the Giro more times than not. And then to take on the Tour. Cavendish is not my favourite rider, but it’s this kind of things that deserves him respect, and will probably lift him up to another level when compared to most present sprinters – now stronger than him -, when the dust will set on everyone’s career.
Sprinting is not like the GC, if you’re strong enough you can perfectly end more than one GT in a year and perform well everywhere. It’s when you’ve got reasons to doubt about your strength that you try to get that little bonus in freshness, racing less.
It must also be said that the peculiar hardness of the first two weeks put a number of sprinters far back in the point classification, which otherwise tends to be an important added motivation. It’s telling that on the top of the Maglia Rossa classification we find not the *fastest* men, but the sprinters with a propensity for hillier terrains, like Viviani, Modolo, Nizzolo. As well as Gilbert, Ulissi… Contador (in spite of a change in rules, similar to what happened in the TdF, to favour sprinters!).

leonn May 25, 2015 at 12:41 pm

I try to analyze situations without passion. Contador fell and lost 40s for a furious pacing peloton on 3km to go on last Friday. Porte lost 46s for a furious pacing on 7km to go on last Tuesday. Those facts lead me to believe those Porte’s injuries on the last Friday were serious and made him out of contention.

gabriele May 25, 2015 at 2:13 pm

On Tuesady you had a breakaway up the road. And it made it to the finish. The pace went down when Lotto renounced, before Etixx started to notice Porte wasn’t there etc. You can’t really compare. If Sky don’t tell us what’s the problem with Porte, we’ll never know.

Joe K. May 25, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Why is EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, not only in the Giro, but even at the World Ports Classics, from Team Astana riding so well? Even the mountain stage looks like a TTT. Has Vino and team management completely lost all sensibility and unlocked the top secret files on the secret formula that allowed Vino to win the 2012 Olympics without getting busted? Is this his way of thumbing his nose at the UCI and the licensing commission? They were never this good.

gabriele May 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Hope is just as you say, since the secret formula in 2012 Olympics was “pure class”, and I’d be delighted to know that Astana are riding on that! (Vinokourov didn’t win that out of pure power but grabbing the perfect instant, something which is only relatively related to doping).

That said, I’m with you about the need to scrutinise any especially good collective performance, though that verb means “examine carefully” and I’m afraid you kind of lost touch with the adverb. Yes, Guardini won against the likes of Hutarovich, Boeckmans and Markus, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a feat beyond his possibilities. Then, he tried to go for the GC but he failed because when he had a flat with some 10 kms to go the team was unable to bring him back. He was 35th, more than half a minute down, whereas the rest of the team sailed in from the 80th place down in the last third part of the stage classification.

Yesterday they looked impressive, at first sight, but note that the peloton was broken in the descent, and they were just lucky (or clever) being on numbers up the front. You also need to consider that they didn’t need to work at all until halfway up Passo Daone (about 36 kms to go), since Tinkoff assumed responsibilities as the maglia rosa wearer’s team.
From then on, it’s quite logical that an organised team work makes a huge difference against a mixed chase, where captains are forced to work, others are just sucking wheels and so on. Though, if we give a look to the selection made on the very hard Daone climb, we can notice that it wasn’t that astonishing thanks to the rhythm, good but not impressive, they won back just 30″ from the break and Intxausti was able to ride away strongly towards the end.
What about Madonna di Campiglio? It wasn’t until Kangert started to work that a true difference was made. During the first 7 kms of the climb, nor Rosa nor Tiralongo could shake off the likes of Visconti (from the early break!), Geniez, Damiano Caruso or Monfort; Hesjedal, alone, remained steadily about one minute back.

Well, Kangert has been strong… but what about him during that famous first week? He was often 5′ back, which became 3′ while days passed. Fans couldn’t recognize the rider who was so brutally effective heping Nibali in 2013. During the second week he started to arrive with the best, and we saw him performing good in Vicenza and in the ITT. Whereas Cataldo, who’s now on the back foot – or resting – was *the man to watch*. Rosa was often visible, doing the hard work, but don’t forget he took two or three good days out, notably on the Campitello, Vicenza and ITT stages.
Hence, ok, we see the unnamed light blue shirts up the road and we let our jaw drop and our eyebrow raise to the sky, but managing your gregari well is also an art and if you start to follow them one by one, a lot of performances start to make more sense.
With that, I’m far from saying that they’re clean or the likes, but we should give an attentive look to what’s really happening before crying wolf: many times it’s just *cycling know-how* from a good DS and we end up accusing those who simply are doing a great work from other (technical) points of view. Doping or not.

Larry T. May 25, 2015 at 5:12 pm

+1 Rather than suspecting/blaming some “magic” from Vino it’s important to remember Astana’s Giuseppe Martinelli probably has more stage racing knowledge and experience in his little finger than SKY and Tinkov combined.

garuda May 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Or the fact that Astana brought a big sack of talent to the Giro. Kangert and Landa and Cataldo has been known as climbers for a while now. Kangert has been touted as a GC leader for the last several years now. Tiralongo of course was “gifted” a stage by Contador, because Contador couldn’t shake him off outright, it became in his interest to be paced by Tiralongo instead of pushing the pace.

haps May 25, 2015 at 4:27 pm

I was thinking the same – with Landa being as strong as Berti and also LuisLe getting second in the TT – but I checked LuisLe and he used to be a very good time-trailist – and Landa might well be a new shining star on the Spanish cycling scene, I choose to hope so –

gabriele May 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Landa is a long known huge climbing talent who hadn’t much will to sacrifice himself and work as needed. Like he was ok with minimum effort, both training and racing. Martinelli commented on this subject months before the Giro, hence not some kind of “justification” for the Basque’s present good results.

maximflyer May 25, 2015 at 7:12 pm

I was wondering the other day that so many young talents of the former Euskadi squad are having success these days. A pity that they weren’t so effective when they were there. I don’t know if it is only maturation or better coaching/managing.

gabriele May 25, 2015 at 8:13 pm

IMHO, partly a “French flu”.
That is, you know, French riders and teams with their granted participation to the biggest event have long had less need to gather wins all year long, and even in the Tour many times a “whatever” result was well enough (“the best placed French rider in GC” as a success in itself), all combined with the self-indulging myth that “they were riding clean whereas the rest of the world…”.
Obviously the Euskaltel case was way different, but it had some elements in common. Being such a small team, more or less public funded, with a strong national component, any given success was considered enough. And if you were a Basque rider a bit above the rest, you’d had your place secured even without performing at your best possible level.
Martinelli had followed Landa for years, since juvenile ranks, and tried to secure him for his team right when he was going to become a pro, but he decided to stay there, probably also because of some possible penalty (Martinelli says he would have lost the “patentino di basco”). Astana could have him when Euskaltel closed.
Martinelli said about him last autumn: “he never had to suffer before joining us, nor was he going to. He never had to work for teammates. When he had a good day he could as well win a stage in the Vuelta or the Trentino, but that’s not enough, here. He must be important for Aru during the Giro, he must be ready to stay always on the front to help [Aru] as a gregario, then maybe he enters a break and we’ll let him win a stage, no problem. But he must work hard to get better. He’s been lucky to be born with talent, but this is a big team and he’ll have to fight on if he wants a place”.
Not that I am favourable at all to a Spencerian vision of the sport, nor that I believe in the marvellous benefits of competition, but in cycling environment these dynamics can’t be ignored (and, yes, I’m afraid that doping can be a part of those same dynamics; not that Euskaltel nor the French teams were clean, we’ve more than enough proofs about that, but maybe it was easier for some rider to stay clean there).

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 5:04 pm

What do you mean with “Astana”? Dario Cataldo who was second in the mountain competition in last years’s Giro? Oh, wait that was for Team Sky, not for Astana last year. Or Kangert, who is doing the same hard work every year or Diego Rosa who is right now 3 places better than in the 2013 Giro racing for a different team? It isn’t “Astana”, these are riders racing for the team Astana. And if you mean Guardini with your comment about the World Ports Classics, Gabriele already put that in perspective. And I am not saying they are doping or not doping, but you have to look at the riders and their abilities. You have to know if this is their main goal for this season, if they were sick and and and. If you want to win a Grand Tour, you bring either a dominant rider (Contador) and a competent team or a very good rider and a strong team. That is what they are doing. And you need some experience and racing smartness on the road and I think with Tiralongo and Tossato Aru and Contador have that in masses. Some luck helps,too. Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo are the only teams fuelly commited to win this Giro. You can see that. No places for sprinters or Co-captains on these teams.

Pierre-Jean May 25, 2015 at 1:55 pm

One thing I am slighly skeptical about is this idea of Contador getting sapped by the Giro. It seems to be common knowledge, so there must be truth about it. But if I (had the time to) dig this deep in May, I believe I would be flying in July after some rest. My endurance would surely have been increased.

irungo txuletak May 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm

I am not an expert in training and stuffs, but I suspect the difficulty in combining Giro and Tour is actually to peak in both. Plus, recent story showed that for riders doubling Tour and Giro it is difficult to perform at the top of GC in both.
Maybe somebody could explain us more the reasons for this, because really I am not an expert.

kazan May 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Contador already tried the Giro-Tour double in 2011. He won the Giro and then faltered massively in the tour, only finishing fifth.

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 8:23 pm

True but crashes happened to him in the 2011 tour and i don’t think he was planning to do the double

Shawn May 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm

And, according to Contador, the mental element is part of it. To be hyper-vigilant for 21 days of racing is mentally taxing and to come back a month later to do it again is a challenge.

Ken May 25, 2015 at 3:31 pm

It seems Tinkoff-Saxo’s team strategy for mountain stages is to focus on the first 3/4ths of the race, whittling down the peleton until Contador can be safely left alone in a small group at the uphill end. What do you think of this strategy? Will teams be able to counter it in the TdF?

Anonymous May 25, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Its a common one.

Marco Lourenço May 26, 2015 at 2:43 am

Vamo Vamo Contador!

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