The racing resumes with a monster of a mountain stage with the fearsome Mortirolo climb the highlight of the day.
Rest Day Wrap: did anything happen? Katusha announced the contract extension of Luca Paolini and former Giro boss Carmine Castellano has brought ought a book (in Italian) which sounds promising. The paradox of a rest day is that it’s all relative. Many riders opted for a hard ride in order to keep the legs turning well for today’s stage, spend all day lounging around the muscles will feel sluggish today. Similarly it’s important not to eat too much, to eat well with plenty of nutrients but not to excess.
The Route: The stage starts on the rollers with riders needing a warm-up before they ride uphill and the attacks will fly. They cover most of Sunday’s summit to Madonna di Campiglio as the opening ramp followed by the high speed descent.
The Passo del Tonale will take its toll later on, it rolls well with 15km at 6% but there’s over one thousand metres of vertical gain to pay on a large road that usually roars with revs of motorbikers who enjoy the wide road. After the reciprocal descent the road enters a giant finishing circuit at Edolo.The road rises to Corteno Golgi via some nasty 15% sections before the race crosses the finish line in Aprica to taunt heavy riders who might fancy their hotel.
The Passo del Mortirolo rates as one of the hardest climbs in Italy with regular 12% slopes with added ramps at 18%, all via a series of switchbacks. It is a very tough climb. It’s not the Zoncolan which reduces everyone to private W/kg contest, it’s just a bit easier to mean riders have follow their rivals, to respond to moves. The descent to Monno isn’t as tricky as the climb but still rates as awkward. Then it’s Corteno Golgi again with its leg-sapping 15% slopes before the road eases in Aprica.
The Finish: the easiest part of the day with the gradient softening the closer the finish line gets.
The Contenders: two races for the price of one? A breakaway could contest the stage while behind the contenders for the top-10 race each other. In fact there’s more at play with both the points and mountains jerseys still in play. Team Steamroller, aka Astana, are likely to drive a hard pace to the Mortirolo and claw back any advantage a breakaway might enjoy.
Alberto Contador has never packed much of a sprint. He’s got the edge on Fabio Aru on GC but if the two arrive in Aprica together maybe Aru is the quicker? Normally Aru is better but he’s beginning to look like a drained battery.
It all depends who else is there, we’re likely to see the same names as Sunday and Yuri Trofimov is going surprisingly well and he’s got a decent kick. If he can cope with the Mortirolo then Carlos Betancur packs a powerful sprint, he is looking leaner and meaner by the day but will he go for the stage finish or try to bag mountains points. His rival for the mountains jersey Beñat Intxausti is increasingly focussed on the jersey, a better bet for a points raid than the jersey, Movistar team mate Igor Anton is better suited to the Mortirolo but if he goes here can he stay clear?
BMC stealth rider Damiano Caruso has promised to attack but he’s probably more interested in sitting tight. Sky have options with Leopold König and Vasil Kiryienka, one can sight tight and the other might fancy a long range glory bid. Ilnur Zakarin is saving himself for a mountain stage? Today’s irregular Mortirolo doesn’t suit him so well, I think Friday’s stage to Cervinia is more advantageous to his long lever-like legs but many will be targeting the same day. The same for the human coathanger Steven Kruijswijk who almost deserves a stage so far for his efforts.
|Fabio Aru, Alberto Contador, Carlos Betancur|
|Trofimov, Landa, Inxausti, Visconti, Anton, Atapuma|
Weather: cool and cloudy with the chance of a rain show, the thermometer will struggle to beat 15°C.
TV: there’s been talk the stage will be live on TV from start to finish but scanning the RAI and Eurosport schedules it doesn’t seem to be the case. For a change the finish is forecast for 5.00pm Euro time, 15 minutes earlier. Cyclingfans and steephill.tv have the streaming links.
The Giro is: lacking foreign stars. Scan the start list before the race and it didn’t have many big name foreign entrants and now the collapse of Richie Porte and Rigoberto Uran means the field isn’t very deep. If Fabio Aru can stay on track he’ll become a bona fide GC star but glancing at the rest of the field a lot of names are a surprise in the top-10. What to do? The Giro can pay stars to ride but perhaps the key lies in Alberto Contador, if he succeeds in the Giro-Tour double then the doppio could become fashionable again just as it was in the past. That said the Giro doesn’t need to change much, this has been an exciting race all along and there’s no need to clone the Tour de France.