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Giro Stage 18 Preview

A long procession and then a superb finish to the stage with the Pramartino climb and, it’s not visible in the profile above, a savage steep cobbled climb just before the finish.

IAM winning

Stage 17 Wrap: Roger Kluge won the stage. It’s a welcome addition to the CV for a rider on a team that’s stopping but Kluge is just one of many valuable riders on the team who can join a team and make an instant contribution. Also if the hypothesis that a team ending motivated its riders then we’d have seen Europcar riders delivering plenty last year but they slumped and previous demises have seen weak results too, think Vacansoleil. No, Kluge just timed his move right, used his prodigious power – an Olympic medallist on the track – and benefited from the paucity of teams able to pull for the sprinters in the finish.

Behind Giacomo Nizzolo could only finish second once again even with all the sprinters gone he couldn’t get that win. His disappointment visible on TV but only momentary before RAI switched to Vincenzo Nibali’s situation with the same “crisis” tone usually reserved for natural disasters.

The Route: the longest stage of the race and placed in the third week too. After a start in the suburbs of Milan the first 170km are reminiscent of the early phase of Milan-Sanremo as the race crosses the pianura padana, the plains with their rice fields to make all that risotto and by the second intermediate sprint point the race has passed Turin and reached the Alpine foothills.

First comes the Colletta di Cumiana, 2km at 7% and on a smaller road and followed by a longer descent down into the next valley and then a ride into Pinerolo to cross the finish line.

Just after the finish line the route flicks right and tackles the Via Principi d’Acaja – pictured- 550m long but cobbled and steep with a 20% section. Once this is done it’s onto the climb to the Via Pramartino.

If the name rings a bell it’s because it featured in the 2011 Tour de France, Edvald Boasson Hagen won the stage but they did this the other way around, up today’s descent and vice versa. This is a sharp and difficult climb through woodland, 4.6km at 10% average means it’s as selective as a switch. It’s followed by a winding descent, then 9km to the finish. This is an awkward point because anyone away over the climb has to push on and conserve their lead because of the sharp climb that is about to come.

The Finish: they tackle the Via Principi d’Acaja wall again and at the top there’s just 2km to go. The descent is much more regular and better surfaced, tarmac with a few flagstones.

Alejandro Valverde

The Contenders: a breakaway bonanza or a GC gunfight? If it was shorter it’d be the latter story but the length could dampen things down. If breakaway wants to stick then a Milan-Sanremo style scenario comes to mind where it needs to build up a big lead on the plains in order to stave off the big names and their teams who rush to place their leaders into position. None of the GC contenders can afford to be badly placed in the finale and remember the Forcella Mostaccin, a much smaller climb, was enough to provoke a fierce selection last week.

This is another of those Diego Ulissi and Alejandro Valverde stages, both have the race craft, the explosive climbing ability and a good finishing kick and each has their arguments. Valverde reassures with his ability and form while Ulissi’s lesser status is an advantage as he can creep away while the podium contenders mark each other. Bob Jungels is another candidate, strong in a sprint or he could just barge away.

Giovanni Visconti‘s got a broken rib but doesn’t seem to care and should like a stage like this, Tim Wellens is strong and Nicolas Roche was tipped the other day, missed the move, but came in first of the rest.

Vincenzo Nibali looks downbeat at the moment, like a dog that’s been berated again and again. But if he can get his head together this could be a day for him. He was outclimbed the other day but this included efforts made after dropping his chain and crucially today he can put his descending skills to work.

Among the other breakaway riders this is the last chance for the non-climbers to have a go but it’s not easy, any move going away on the plains is bound to include some lighter riders hitching a ride. Still Adam Hansen or Alessandro De Marchi are the types of riders to pick their moments.

Alejandro Valverde, Diego Ulissi
Nibali, Roche, Jungels, Wellens, Firsanov, Visconti

Weather: a pleasant day with a top temperature of 23°C.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time.

Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France while Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage. As ever cyclingfans.com, cyclinghub and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • StevhanTI Thursday, 26 May 2016, 7:00 am

    What happened to Brambilla? Has he faded or is he just giving his all for young Bob and forgoing his own chances for a second stage, because this could be it no?

    • Harri Thursday, 26 May 2016, 7:27 am

      Help Bob Keep his Top 10 Spot in GC is Etixx goal now. Valverde might be looking at this stage? Battaglin hopefully let off the leash to go for glory in this stage? This seems like a stage for the Punchy One Day Riders( Meaning Chaves and Kruijswijk might have to hope they don’t lose too much time if any time at all on this stage)

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 26 May 2016, 8:21 am

      Another name to watch but uncertain for the third week and as Harri says I wonder if he’ll be kept back to help Jungels.

  • Larry T Thursday, 26 May 2016, 7:48 am

    “Vincenzo Nibali looks downbeat at the moment, like a dog that’s been berated again and again. But if he can get his head together this could be a day for him.”
    This first sentence puzzles me as I’m not getting that at all from the video clips RAI is showing here in Italy – are we getting something different than you guys? Your second one is just as puzzling as you seem to have decided there’s nothing physically wrong with The Shark, despite the Italians piling on about screwups in Nibali’s pre-Giro training, the changing of the crank lengths, etc.
    Hard to believe the guy who’s won all three GT’s, a guy who soldiered on to win a stage at last year’s Grand Boucle and then won his first monument after all the polemics with Astana …suddenly has cracked mentally.
    Do racers who have cracked mentally attack time after time, even when their legs don’t seem up to it – do they say they’ll finish in Torino no matter what? Do they hang around and sign autographs for hundreds of fans after the stage finish? It’s almost as if some of you guys are watching a different race than the one I’m watching. Or are my glasses really that ROSA?

    • N Thursday, 26 May 2016, 8:18 am

      Usually I am not too hung up on sentences, phrasings or metaphors and such things, but the dog-sentence bothers me also, plus I get a different picture of him and his situation too

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 26 May 2016, 8:20 am

      There’s clearly something physically wrong, when he attacks he gets 20 metres and no more. But it’s the pressure that seems to be getting to him, he looks down and put upon and told RAI yesterday he’s felt overwhelmed by the pressure and said the media was being too hard on him.

      • Kevin Smith Thursday, 26 May 2016, 9:09 am

        Haven’t Astana said that Nibali’s numbers are actually pretty good and they are a bit puzzled by the performance? As mentioned could be psychological?

      • Larry T Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:42 am

        Now I’m REALLY confused! First you write he just needs to get his head together, but now it’s “There’s clearly something physically wrong”….?
        As to the Iowa reference, I’ve lived there for at least 6 months out of 20 of my 60+ years, but I’m not from there – the culture of “deep fried butter on a stick”, “Snickers salad” (yep, it’s what you think) and chocolate pudding on every restaurant salad bar is totally lost on me. It’s truly a strange place – I often wonder if the people live there because they’re afraid of the outside world or vice-versa?
        But my eyewear lenses could very well be more rosa than the rest of you – I wanted a close race to the end with Nibali as winner and have yet to give up hope on either count as there’s still a lot of racing left – but objectively I have to admit the prospects for even one of the two are dimming, despite the color of my lenses.

        • Will Thursday, 26 May 2016, 11:26 am

          “”Why do you want to wound my pride even more? I’m already in pieces,” would suggest to me he’s feeling pretty fragile right now. He’s also spoken about being ‘massacred’ by his home media.

          I don’t think there’s anything mentally wrong with him (he even says “Some have even suggested that I’m suffering mentally, but it’s just not true. I’m fine.”) but I do think that the pressure from the home press and from within at Astana is exacerbating things – he just doesn’t seem very happy.

          All of those quotes are from Cyclingnews.com, who’ve taken them from Gazetta.

        • alex Thursday, 26 May 2016, 11:28 am

          Sounds like the Nibali fan’s dont take kindly to criticsm of their dear ‘shark’.

          Nibali has a history of cracking mentally, see last years Dauphine where he clearly just gave up and then his bizarre behaviour at the Vuelta

          • Larry T Thursday, 26 May 2016, 6:41 pm

            Criticism is fine, Nibali’s getting plenty of it from Italians. What does bother me is the “Oh, he wasn’t that good anyway” schadenfreude from folks who I guess are SKY fans who have a tough time with a guy who has won all three GT’s and a monument (so far) when their GC guys come to the Giro and rarely even make it to the finish. A couple of them were seen holding onto cars too as I recall.
            I like the guy because he races to win, competes in varied events and seems generally unafraid to lose – the old “heart and legs” stuff vs the cold, boring “marginal gains” strategy of SKY, though they’re not the only ones who too often race not to lose rather than to win.

    • Dr Manhattan Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:04 am

      Nibali’s problem is that unless he rides as dominantly as in the 2014 Tour, it amounts to crisis in the (Italian) media. This year’s Giro seems pretty much on par with what could be expected, based on his results since 2014.

  • Pax Thursday, 26 May 2016, 8:08 am

    Larry – From the media reports – and their titles – one doesn’t come away with the view that you are representing. Of course it sounds like you have dropped the your healthy Iowa winter food – like your State’s favorite – “deep fried butter on a stick” – for Rosa.

    Maybe too many people are watching Nibali trying to be superman in Italy. He and his strong team have really put some big moves in, which includes risk.

  • Dr Manhattan Thursday, 26 May 2016, 9:01 am

    If they race in the opposite direction of the 2011 Tour, that guy won’t have to worry about getting riders onto his patio…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLQqOGl5sp0

  • Paddy Dunne Thursday, 26 May 2016, 9:37 am

    Daniel Friebe indicated in the TCP that they intend to stop and try and interview the property owners today. Hoping for a Nico win today. But I can see Sky holding back for the Cima Coppi stage and Nieve.

  • Archie Thursday, 26 May 2016, 9:39 am

    Hi there. The section starting “Just after the finish line the route flicks right and tackles the Via Principi d’Acaja” doesn’t sound right, and the stage profile goes across the whole screen and into the advertising and blog links for me, which meant it took a little effort to unpack the parcours you were describing. The profile issue could be the browser I’m using, but the other stage previews seem to look OK. Do you mean “Just ahead of the finish line”?

    I hope this is helpful, it’s not intended as a criticism as I love the blog and these previews really help predicting how the race will unfold.

    • Lanterne Verte Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:50 am

      I believe the route does a loop at the end so crosses the finish line twice

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:57 am

      Fixed that oversized graphic. As Lanterne Verte says there’s a finish loop up the Via Pramartino, the big climb but the go up the Via Principi d’Acaja (the steep cobbled one) twice, first to get to the Via Pramartino climb and then second after they descent that climb and return to the finish town of Pinerolo.

      • Archie Thursday, 26 May 2016, 12:05 pm

        Yep, I can see the Pinerolo climb is there twice now the graphic is fixed. Cheers.

  • GeorgeY Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:04 am

    I can never understand how the pros are able to see the corners when there is a road through foliage with constant change in light conditions. This “sun-shade-sun-shade” is really terrible for the eyes, even at much lower speeds and with the best sunglasses I find it very hard to see, so I guess I found the reason why I can never become a pro, bad eyesight, ha,ha.

    P.S. 2011 last time the Tour was really really exciting !

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:58 am

      The race motorbikes are a big help to guide the riders, there’s often total trust in the vehicle ahead and it provides a reference for the speed needed into and out of a bend. Assumptions though are how accidents happen.

      • UHJ Thursday, 26 May 2016, 11:19 am

        Ah! yes, the trust in forward vehicles has caused many a group of escapees to detour in minor races.
        It also happens at high profile GTs; once in a while just meters away from the finish line. (Tried to find teh video but couldn’t, sorry)

    • Eskorrik Asko Thursday, 26 May 2016, 11:13 am

      According to my optician some people are more sensitive to the sun-shade-sun-shade thing. I’ve hit a big hole in the road (the ensuing cracking noise was rather horrific but fortunately it was just the sound of my handlebar turning) and steering my cyclocross bike right nto a deep ditch (the experience left me with a gash, a broken cheekbone and a memory blackout).
      Yellow or orange lenses are usually recommended, but I ‘ve found that it helps to try and have a sort of tunnel vision, i.e. look as down and as little ahead as possible. And to hope there isn’t a parked car just ahead…

      • GeorgeY Thursday, 26 May 2016, 11:59 am

        Joking aside, wearing contact lenses (as I do) increases light sensitivity and can cause a slight photophobia as my optician told me.

    • Anonymous Thursday, 26 May 2016, 1:39 pm

      The worst case of “sun-shade-sun” in sport is probably the Isle of Man TT. Practice starts this weekend.

  • Richard S Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:28 am

    I’m backing Ulissi today. He wants/needs the red jersey points and should be allowed off the leash a little compared to Valverde or Nibs. I’d like to see Brambilla and Battaglin in there too but maybe on such a long stage they’ll have been doing too much work for their leader? A Nibs win off the descent to regain a little time and lots of moral would be great.

    • Harri Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:58 am

      Brambilla Yes( When it Comes to Bob Jungles top 10 GC). Battaglin, at least Lotto NL should let him go for this stage( as its not a stage for Kruijswijk’s characteristics; the team need to hope he can limit any possible time gains from guys like Valverde on his own before going back into the mountains for stages 19 & 20).

      Nibali- I don’t think he’ll be a factor for the win stage wise( and honestly his podium hopes; maybe even top 5 hopes? Are slipping away at this point).

      Ulissi- his hopes to win the points jersey went up in smoke with Nizzolo getting 2nd yesterday( if a strong breakaway had gotten away yesterday then he would still be in the catbirds seat to win). I think he might be a favorite for this stage, but I think he’ll have a rival in the form of Alejandro Valverde( who will look to move past Chaves and also try and gain some time on Kruijswijk too?) to contend with for the stage win

  • Anonymous Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:59 am

    I did the climb and descent on the day of the 2011 stage. I hadn’t appreciated they were doing it the other way around today. That day the descent seemed freakishly dangerous – it was a bumpy road with lots of trees providing shade and light and plenty of “off-camber” corners which made it very difficult to judge. I’m trying to remember the climb: I don’t think it would be anywhere near as bad going the other way but, the winner today obviously needs to be a handy descender, with a good sprint at the end: @INRNG’s tips are therefore spot on.

    I wouldn’t say Kruijwick is bad downhill but he could be tested a bit here (although he’s got plenty of time to play with).

    • Tricky Dicky Thursday, 26 May 2016, 10:59 am

      Sorry, that was me above…

  • Velovibes Thursday, 26 May 2016, 1:36 pm

    I think Kruijswijk in his current form is underrated for a good placing today. Has he been outclimbed on any climb already this Giro, short or long, steep or gentle, regular or irregular gradient? I haven’t seen it yet. At the same time his lack of descending skills seem to be solely based on one descent in an earlier Giro stage where he made a mistake after which he took it easier, no doubt because the incident had scared him. But he is not known as a poor descender at all and I can only see him lose some time against Nibali if he goes for it.

    • MRJ Thursday, 26 May 2016, 2:39 pm

      Agreed – he has looked mighty strong any time the road has tilted upwards. just like in last year’s Giro. In retrospect, the way thing are turning out could have been predicted; but one would have put Landa ahead of him. Too bad we didn’t get to see them tussle above 2,000 meters.

      On a related note, Stevie K evidently posts all his rides to Strava. “I’ve got nothing to hide.” I love his confidence.

      http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/kruijswijk-i-have-confidence-in-this-cycling/