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Giro Stage 9 Preview

A day for a breakaway with tough terrain all the way to the finish to disrupt any chase. But there’s no script and Astana might fancy another tug of war with Tinkoff-Saxo. Unlikely but the hilly course as means there’s uncertainty.

Benat Inxausti

Stage 8 Wrap: a clever win for Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) who made the day’s breakaway after a fierce start to the race. The move that eventually went clear was packed with quality riders, all with an interesting past or a promising future. It split and the trio of Steven Kruijswijk, Carlos Betancur and Krisof Vanderwalle started the final climb together until Betancur attacked only to see Kruijswijk come flying past seconds later. The Dutchman, who resembles a pedalling coat hanger with his wide shoulders, went solo but started to slow like a toy with drained batteries until he cracked and was passed by IAM Cycling’s Sebastien Reichenbach and Intxausti with the Spaniard sitting tight. Reichenbach looked smooth and powerful but on the 7% slope the Spaniard was saving muchos watts and, near the top of the climb, spent his savings on a huge attack to leave the Swiss climber and take the win.

Behind Fabio Aru tried a few attacks but could not dislocate Alberto Contador. The Spaniard seemed ok although he had his head tilted to the side at times. When Aru jumped Contador took time to close him down. Porte and Uran responded too and the Colombian seems back to form which bodes well for the contest. Astana hold all the cards and have a demonstration today with Landa up the road and three helpers around Aru late on the climb when Contador had just one rider with him. Contador’s shoulder passed the test and tomorrow is an easier day, Monday is a rest day and then come some softer days to help the recovery. Remember the official bulletin said this was a subluxation, not a dislocation and there was only small instability: it’ll hurt but it’s not as big as the headlines of dislocation could suggest.

Alberto Contador Giro

The Route: with the profile of an electrocardiogram this stage promises a hard day for everyone. The climb of Monte Termino is as steady as it looks on the profile, a 4% slope for most of the way. It’s followed by a harder descent and then straight up the other side of the valley, this time with a hard 4km at 10% for the Colle Molella before passing Lago Laceno, the scene of Domenico Pozzovivo’s only Giro stage win.

The Passo Serra might look small but it rates on the same scale as the long Termino. It’s 4km at 7% and with a 10% middle section, tough at the end of the stage but a large road where it’s hard to sneak away, an early attack on this climb can be monitored and reeled in by a steady rider but any climbers in the breakaway will have to try their moves here because the finish suits powerful riders.

The Finish: the race drops to San Giorgio Del Sannio on main roads crosses a bridge and climbs into town via 4% ramp 4km from the finish before circling the town on flattish roads before the road tilts up at 3% for the final 500 metres.

The Contenders: you might as well put the names of riders into a lottery machine and see who drops out. There’s climbing but the tough Colle Molella comes mid-stage so even the heavy riders can scale it and it’s surely too far for Astana to try and detonate the peloton.

We can look to those who had an easier day yesterday for clues, say, Pieter Weening, Kevin Reza, Luca Paolini, Simon Geschke, Adam Hansen or we can see in-form riders trying hard for stages, think Diego Ulissi, Luca Paolini, Philippe Gilbert or the quietly impressive Jonathan Monslave. But watch to see how many team miss the move, some might be obliged to chase and there’ll be a sprint. Michael Matthews is feeling under the weather but Lampre-Merida might fancy supporting Sacha Modolo and Movistar’s J-J Lobato is getting better each day and Fabio Felline will be in the mix too but we can probably forget the likes of André Greipel and Elia Viviani, this is too hard a day.

Luca Paolini, Diego Ulissi, Philippe Gilbert
Matthews, Lobato, Gerrans, Modolo, Hansen, Felline, Monsalve

Weather: early showers turning to sunshine with mild temperatures of 23°C. The route is a large U-shape and wind of 30km/h will blow the riders out to Monte Termino and then prove drag on the riders as they approach the finish.

TV: the feed starts at 2.30pm CET with and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Cyclingfans and steephill.tv both have links to pirate feeds and streams.

The Giro is: cracked roads. Potholes are everywhere across Europe as municipal and regional budgets are stretched but as a rule the further south you go in Italy the rougher the roads. Don’t take my word for it, the Giro’s own roadbook warns “the road surface is worn out” for today’s stage.

However in Italy there are not the rounded potholes, described in French as “chicken’s nests”, but long cracks in the road, often ideally placed to swallow a carbon rim. As such the experience of cycling in Italy can be different, rather than having to hop over an obstacle or two you may have to ride along the middle of the road to avoid the cracks. The good news is that as bad as some sections can be Italian roads have a universality about them, from north to south they are often made from the same materials and in the dry offer excellent grip.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • TourDeUtah Sunday, 17 May 2015, 7:37 am

    This is the stage I have been waiting for.

    Am hoping for a strong break and some aggressive racing from the stage hunters and the GC boys.

    The Astana/Sky/Tinkoff battle is shaping up nicely.

  • UHJ Sunday, 17 May 2015, 8:38 am

    Grelt Racing so far in Italy. Very aggressive riding from the favorites. What’s not to like so far. A minor race yes, but OT: Did you see the stage to mnt. Baldy in the Tour of California last night? Equally exciting and high quality racing.

    • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 1:35 pm

      I saw that, thanks to the ToC impressive LIVE (hats off to this free service!).
      The race was thrilling, indeed, but I’m not as sure about quality – which, anyway, wasn’t low at all.

      That is, it’s great to see riders who aren’t properly climbers (Alaphilippe maybe is, or, better said, will become something like that, which he wasn’t in the U23 ranks; Sagan sure isn’t, despite his good result in mountain stages, too) “riding themselves inside out” to get a win and/or defend the GC on a serious climb: exciting, emotive, and a very welcome change in comparison with the overcalculating style we’re getting used to.

      Still I can’t avoid wondering about the form/motivation/level of the others, and, even more, about the effects of the route as a whole on a single stage ride. It tells a lot about the importance of having stages like the Giro has, even when they may end up looking dull, that is, lenghty, tricky, demanding… and, which is quite obvious, why three weeks is so different from one or two.
      I always defend the utter importance of having a vast range of different sort of races in cycling, hence I’m not criticizing at all ToC for being as it is: however, what I’m underlying is that if you want to see “true” stage race riders giving their best, a certain depth in that “stage racing” is required.

      • Larry T. Sunday, 17 May 2015, 8:14 pm

        ToC will forever be “The California Vacation” for most riders. GC winners there have gone on to win…uh. Those gushing over the amazing climbing ability of Peter Sagan might want to remember the sprinter named Davis Phinney who won the Coors Classic in the Rocky Mountains of CO back-in-the-day. Too critical? Only in contrast to those who might anoint a ToC winner the next big-time Grand Tour contender.

        • Anonymous Monday, 18 May 2015, 12:39 pm

          What Gabriele is saying about the quality of the results becomes even clearer when you consider that Daniel Oss won the Mountain-jersey. Bet he never thought that would happen in his career! But I agree, it’s ok to have different races.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 17 May 2015, 9:06 am

    So injured Contador takes two seconds and manages to respond to everything thrown at him?

    Hard to see what Porte and Aru can do apart from wait for the TT, in Porte’s case anyway.

    I can’t see the GC changing on this stage unless Tinkoff want to give away the jersey to some in the break in the knowledge that Contador can win it back later.

  • Mats Sunday, 17 May 2015, 9:29 am

    I think Tinkoff were about to give away the pink jersey yesterday but Astana had other ideas and started to work hard in the last 35km section. Contador’s face looks like he is hurting. I’m not quite sure he can make it all the way to Milan.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 17 May 2015, 9:43 am

      Yes, he seems to be in pain now and then. When there is a bump in the road, you can see it, he can’t control the reaction of his body entirely, but I think he can manage it.

  • Larry T. Sunday, 17 May 2015, 9:36 am

    The paving situation is truly a shame. Back-in-the-day guys like Alex Zulle said the Giro was their favorite race due in large part to the great pavement. He may not have known how often roads got freshly repaved just for La Corsa Rosa, but we used to joke when working on routes for our tour itineraries and finding some pavement in need of replacement, “the Giro needs to come here”. This includes awhile back when they climbed the Colle Fauniera. We were up there mapping routes for a tour through the area in July but a few days before the Giro was due to come through we had to stop the car and wait while fresh asphalt was rolled flat. Sadly, it seems those days are long gone, making those 25 mm tires even a better idea than they were before.

  • Natty Sunday, 17 May 2015, 10:01 am


  • RizzaNZ Sunday, 17 May 2015, 11:04 am

    Love the comment about Aru not being able to dislocate Contador.

    • Philip Sunday, 17 May 2015, 11:30 am

      Agree. That and the flying Dutchman made my morning !

  • HWSB Sunday, 17 May 2015, 11:37 am

    Thanks INRNG – just to add to your review of yesterday that when the television coverage started, Kruijswijk had dropped the break and was riding solo go what seemed like hours. He was joined by Betancur and Vanderwalle quite late. When Betancur jumped, Kruijswijk went *again* and it took Inxausti / Reichenbach a long time to reel him in. An inspiring breakaway ride.

  • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 11:57 am

    Route has been slightly changed because of landslides or something like that, about 10 more kms:
    The main change is a longer “mangia-e-bevi” (rolling) section after Colle Molella, the climb where Ryder was dropped in 2012, before the final surge to Serro Tondo and the following descent. It shouldn’t prove itself especially significant.
    Typo: “muchos” watts.

  • J Evans Sunday, 17 May 2015, 12:13 pm

    With Contador dropped early in the stage for the second day running, Sky and Astana’s failure to lead from the very start yesterday (up a 30km mountain) is perplexing to say the least. Will they be more brave today?

    • Augie March Sunday, 17 May 2015, 3:07 pm

      As most people agree, Sky are looking to be strong in the 3rd week. Porte’s tactics seem very apparent to everyone else: conserve as much energy before the time trial, smash it, then try and maintain/extend advantage in the high mountains. Richie feels no need for a few Piere Rolland-style Energy Wasting Attacks ™ (thanks INRNG) just to entertain the punters and/or convince them of his strength.

      Sky were present when it counted yesterday, and should continue to be at the key moments, other than that they know they can sit back and leave it to Astana. Aru being the inferior TT rider, it will be up to him and his team to try and set something up.

  • Mortinsky Sunday, 17 May 2015, 1:15 pm

    Do not have the cash to buy a camper van a la Porte but still looking for some marginal gains.
    What do you people know about the plaster/band aid that Contador and Aru seems to be using? Do the work?

    • J Evans Sunday, 17 May 2015, 1:27 pm

      Apparently, medically, these are nonsense. And if you think about it, generally, the narrowest part of your nostrils are the boney bit at the very top: ergo, opening up the lower part will make no difference at all.

    • Tovarishch Sunday, 17 May 2015, 1:51 pm

      You couldd try those giant light blue Elastoplasts they seem to love. They don’t work either. And G seems to have improved since he got rid of the magic bracelet.

      • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 2:11 pm

        Kinesiotaping? I used them myself and they kind of worked (in my case, only for symptomatic treatment, not therapy)… Significant and repeated reduction of pain, albeit no healing (since mine is a cronical thing, I’ve got enough statistical material to sort these results out; that is, nothing of: “you got better and you thought it was the taping but it was just your natural recovery and/or other treatments”).
        As for the nose plasters, I tried them, too, but only because they were a gift in some GF “pacco gara”. You feel a change, indeed, breathing is noticeably different, but my impression is that it doesn’t have any relevant effect on performance. Maybe they’re useful if you have a tendency of accumulating fluids in the lower part of the nose – or maybe some riders just like the different breathing feeling they produce.

  • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 2:03 pm

    I find quite comical all the Contador’s “real” injuries debate. I agree that he’s probably *playing* with that, sometimes exaggerating his troubles, sometimes (we shouldn’t forget this part) trying to mask them.
    All quite logical, you’re not going to sell out to your rivals how do you feel, imagine any kind of more serious questions.
    That said, and given that he undoubtedly suffered some sort of significant injury (be it greater or lesser), it’s amusing that in the same sport we’re speaking of “marginal gains” granted by sleeping in a motorhome and not in a hotel room, aerostuff for aeroclothes and various other 0.01 scale similar matters… while, well, many look ready to assume that a physical injury producing pain maybe isn’t affecting you *that much*.
    Same goes with the Vuelta thing: yeah, he didn’t break his bone in two parts, still he suffered the best version… of an usually nasty injury, which, more than everything, prevented him to follow the optimal training programme (mainly because collateral troubles with the wound): people thinking that maybe it didn’t matter much are those following that same sport in which you’re calculating exactly how many days of altitude, how many days of race, how many watts in any single stage you must stick to, if you want to show your best? That sport in which a cold in March may seriously hinder your performances in July?
    I guess that if one decides to believe the marginal gains and ultraplanning theories as a justification both for good and bad performances (and I’m not referring just to Team Sky: see also the “no-top-efforts” discipline apparently imposed on Nibali), he or she should also be ready to admit that Contador is doing especially well when and if he overcomes his physical troubles which inevitably limit his performances, whether they’re as tragic as his entourage (and independent media… each for its own specific purpose) present them – or not. That is, excluding the “no injury at all, it’s just a fake” hypothesis which I consider we can relegate to some CN forum cave 😉
    IMHO, probably truth lies somewhere in the middle, however the whole fuss stays utterly funny.

  • Si Sunday, 17 May 2015, 3:37 pm

    Surely that should be “asko watts”? 🙂

    (thanks Google Translate)

  • David Sunday, 17 May 2015, 4:51 pm

    Is Contador racing under any TUEs?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 17 May 2015, 5:07 pm

      No, just ibuprofen.

      • Netserk Sunday, 17 May 2015, 5:08 pm

        Wouldn’t a little cortisone make sense given Tinkoff isn’t a MPCC member?

  • ronytominger Sunday, 17 May 2015, 4:51 pm

    poor seb reichenbach, got tricked by intxausti. “after pulling him, i did not have the watts to respond to his attack” maybe next time. anyway nice collection of 2nd and 3rd places for iam

    • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 5:08 pm

      À la guerre comme à la guerra, still I found Intxausti’s attitude really unpleasant (even if I generally appreciate the Basque rider and his fond memories of Xavi Tondo).

  • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 5:12 pm

    Well, till now I can’t complain 😉

  • BC Sunday, 17 May 2015, 6:40 pm

    Pardon me, but is there no one else more than a little surprised at Astana, and the seemingly unbeatable form shown by their riders ? It will be more than interesting to see if they continue to climb 13% ramps in the big ring without showing any sign of physical discomfort, into the third week. Unfortunately, I have seen enough, and won’t be watching !

    • Larry T. Sunday, 17 May 2015, 8:22 pm

      Really? All the others up there with Vino’s boyz are twiddling away in tiny “Froome” gears to keep up? Guess I haven’t been paying enough attention to be surprised – though I remember a story about how “Mr. 60%” used an early version of a compact chainset to ride up the Hautacam, demoralizing his rivals, according to a Dane I spoke with years later. Will you boycott TV coverage of all of pro racing or just the Giro as after all, a guy known for fast finishes and brute strength just amazed a bunch of folks out there in the California Alps?

    • J Evans Monday, 18 May 2015, 10:57 am

      I think most have their suspicions, but Cataldo does have two 12th places overall in the Giro and Landa could just be coming of age.
      Also, similar things could be said about Sky a couple of years back.
      If you take that attitude, what cycling will you be watching? Astana will also be in the TDF.

  • leonn Sunday, 17 May 2015, 8:14 pm


    I’m on that with you. Aru was underperforming on the season before Giro. Now all team is flying! That’s really is rising eyebrows to me, however let’s wait and see.

    Well I’m surge on July Nibali and his tema will be flying too.

  • leonn Sunday, 17 May 2015, 8:15 pm

    Surge= sure.

  • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 9:21 pm

    Great amusement with the Astana comments! Sure, I’m slightly raising my eyebrow, too, even if I’m more inclined to wait the end of the race, and at least the ITT and the first true mountain-top finishes, before expressing a judgement.
    That said, just give a look to the quality team Astana brought in, and totally focused on GC, too. What is more, if one is so worried about Astana, also second placed teams (at least) in the “collective” point and time classifications could be considered a bit suspicious… or not?
    I guess you people were absolutely astonished with the Sky train in 2012 (et al.), weren’t you?

  • BC Sunday, 17 May 2015, 9:53 pm

    Not really a SKY supporter Gabriele. But to answer your point. The obvious difference between the 2012 SKY team and what we are seeing with one team in the Giro, is that SKY were not endlessly riding up hills or mountains in the big ring, without the slightest sign of physical discomfort. I do however agree that the third week will be interesting.

    In this sport we all have to make personal judgments, based on little more than observations – that’s the journey the sport has taken us.

    • gabriele Sunday, 17 May 2015, 11:30 pm

      They’re riding strongly, but I don’t think this “big ring” point is especially significant. I saw a good number of photos in which they’re riding in the inner ring (inrng last post, for example 🙂 ) or with an ugly but realistic crossed chain, which I suppose to be some 53×23 that anyone could afford on most of the hills they’re riding through. These guys ride at 24-30km/h on most 5-7% slopes, and that’s perfectly compatible with a big ring (more than with an inner ring, indeed).

      If Tiralongo looked impressive, what about Kruijswijk or Betancur who arrived just 20″ down and had been in a hard breakaway the day before? Especially the Dutch, but we can also note that Bananito isn’t even on top form!
      Landa’s display yesterday supposed gaining a few seconds, he didn’t even arrive near Intxausti and Reichenbach hold in at some 10″.
      That said, I’m especially *interested*, too, when a team performs well in a peculiarly collective way, and Astana sure does look to be doing so: however, as I said, you can’t discount some considerations about the quality of the riders, which is probably the best in this race, GC-wise, at least in “quantitative” terms, since everyone is oriented to that purpose, and they’re quite good riders, indeed.
      All the same, I suspect that music will change in the third week…