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Giro Stage 20 Preview

Yesterday’s stage had a fast start, saw the big names fighting hard on the Colle dell’Agnello, pulling on the long descent and emptying the tank on the summit finish to. Now they’ve got to do it all over again and Vincenzo Nibali will duel with Esteban Chaves.

The Route: just 134km so hold on to your hats. This has one of those cruel starts that forces everyone to warm up before the start in order it get ready for the Col de Vars. This is no gentle way to start the day, it’s a hard Alpine climb that’s been important to the Tour de France over the years. This is 18km at at an average of 6% but it’s hardest at the start and the average is flattered by a descent along the way. If the upper part looks easier remember it’s above 2,000m. Cruelly there’s an intermediate sprint. There’s a descent in two parts, first the other side of the pass including some tunnels then the gentler but awkward Ubaye valley section to Jausiers, downhill but often a windy spot.

Next is the Col de la Bonette, another Alpine giant and like yesterday’s Agnello, a long drag. It’s a wide road and well surfaced, a regular climb defined by both its length and its altitude, starting at 1221 metres is high enough already and reaching 2715m. It’s followed by a long and fast descent.

The Col de la Lombarde takes the race into Italy via Isola and the Isola 2000 ski resort. It’s both a ski station access road and a traditional col, a wide road but with an irregular gradient. The steep start makes things hard and the road sweeps its way up via a series of hairpins. It’s scenic if anyone has the time to look up. Once past the ski station there’s the temptation to think the pass is coming up right away but the best or worst is saved for last with a snaking road and 10% slopes. A fast, technical, winding descent awaits.

The Finish: a tiny place to end a giant race. There’s a small road on the side, the kind that’s easy to ignore when you’re hurtling down the mountain. The road is just 2km uphill but punchy at 10% and very narrow.

The Contenders: today could be as much a test of recovery as form. Yesterday’s efforts will felt walking down to breakfast, yet alone on all these climbs.

The finish is perfect for Vincenzo Nibali. A climb and then a tricky descent where he can try to go solo and make the most triumphant return to Italy since Garibaldi in the mid 19th century. Still as successful as he was yesterday and that he does seem to run on pride he is also volatile, one good day doesn’t mean he’s certain to deliver again. Astana will do all they can and they have the team to try and take the fight to Chaves on the climbs, if the Colombian shows the slightest weakness Nibali can jump, take ten seconds over the top of the Lombarde, parley this into 40 on the descent and grab the stage victory and the accompanying time bonus to win the Giro in extremis.

That’s the Hollywood script but this is no spaghetti western. Esteban Chaves is in control of the race and only need mark Nibali, he knows the Italian will attack but between the two he should have the more explosive finish if the reach the final climb, he’s built for a finish like this.

Watch Joe Dombrowski, almost a local given numerous altitude camps at Isola 2000 on the slopes of the Lombarde. Yesterday he finished down on the action but could be back in the mix. Cannondale team mate Rigo Urán has got over his bronchitis but was pushing hard yesterday which means less energy for today but he has room for manoeuvre.

The same for Mikel Nieve who fought hard to finish second yesterday. He still has room on GC for today. Alejandro Valverde doesn’t liek the altitude but can he hang on for the finish?

Without Ilnur Zakarin Rein Taaramaë might have a go but there’s big competition. Tim Wellens hasn’t placed high for a few days but I’m told it’s deliberate, he’s been saving his legs. Igor Anton is a good climber who has been quiet so far.

Finally there’s no mention of Steven Kruijswijk. His crash and chase alone is enough to make him sore but a hospital visit has revealed a broken rib and he’s in pain, it’s not certain he starts. Is there a crueller sport?

Esteban Chaves
Vincenzo Nibali, Joe Dombrowski
Wellens, Valverde, Anton, Taaramaë, Majka, Nieve

Weather: sunny and warm in the valleys with a top temperature of 25°C but cooler at altitude and an increasing chance of rain later in the stage. It could be windy in places too.

TV: they’re forecast to cross the Bonette at 3.00pm Euro time, to start the Col de la Lombarde at 3.50pm and finish is forecast for 5.15pm. 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.

  • piwakawaka Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:50 am

    None crueller, nor better. Chapeau to Orica the organisation who really seem to get the best out of their roster. Thanks for the blog, absolutely none better.

    • Bill Hostile Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:57 am

      Horse racing is crueller. I think the still wonderful film The Triplets of Belleville alludes to this when the captive and exhausted cyclists start neighing and resembling horses before being shot once they’re of no use to their gangster kidnappers. Boxing too would have an argument. Like pro cyclists, jockeys (espcially jump jockeys) and boxers are made from stuff that is very, very hard. Though I do agree there is no better sport than cycling.

  • Ecky Thump Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:10 am

    I’ve had bruised ribs before and it was unpleasant to say the least. I can’t see Kruijswijk starting later, he won’t have slept well with his injury and he will get found out from the off today. Cruel indeed. He was in the form of his life.

    God only knows what’s going to happen today. Astana are going to work Chaves over, that’s for certain. Riders up the road, up the pace and isolate him, Nibali break and a relay with his team mates.
    Chaves will be a tougher nut to crack than Dumoulin was. I love a good conspiracy theory, and the idea of secret Colombian / Italian midnight-brokered pacts is too delicious to resist.

  • Gazelle CM Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:10 am

    Hoping for a resurrection of Steven Kruijswijk, a miracle is needed 😉
    No European soccer this summer ( we have to root for the Belgians), and now this dramatic change of fortune in the Giro. Exciting !

    • MultiplexRant Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:35 pm

      Really? You’ll be following the Belgians??! Would they do the same?

      I pretend to follow other British nations (other than England, I mean) and Ireland to irritate and patronise their fans, but that’s it. When England are out of a tournament (this happens a lot) I tend to follow Italy, or whoever is playing good football, or an underdog team.

      I suppose the overwhelming Dutch rivalry is with Germany though, and nothing else really matters.

  • L'Islandais Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:25 am

    Nibali’s resurrection and Kruijswijk’s tragedy have definitely shook things up. Combine that with Orica’s relative inexperience in protecting a top-step GC bid and the fact that this is a stage that has Movistar written all over it. The suspense is almost too much.
    But I seem to remember Nibali going on a similar rampage a few years back only for him to come to a standstill the following day. He probably didn’t expect to be in such a promising position before yesterday’s stage. If Kruijswijk wouldn’t have fallen, then Nibali would have been able to salvage a podium and a stage, a successful end to a difficult home tour. But he will now have to push on for victory because the pressure is back on.

  • RonDe Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:37 am

    I saw Nibali’s win yesterday as the last efforts of a man who thought he had lost it all. This often happens with Nibali. Whatever else I think of the guy I can see he has pride and, as in last year’s Tour, when it was all over for him he still managed a stage win (also stage 19, incidentally). But was this all Nibali has to give or can he finish the job?

    I’d rather Chaves won. Nibali already has more grand tour wins than he abilities deserve.

    • Gian Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:43 am

      I don’t agree with that last comment. If you win any GT then you surely have the ability to do so and so deserve the victory (unless there is some sort of cheating involved).

      • RonDe Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:47 am

        I think your comment below this one explains why you don’t agree with it. Everyone has his own opinions. Mine are that Nibali has beaten weak fields in previous Grand Tour wins. They are thus, in my mind, less valuable even though I can’t deny that they all count.

        • Gian Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:58 am

          I can understand your point of view but in my mind when a rider aims to win a GT he does it regardless of who else is entering or who may retire during the race. Hypothetical situations where we say if this rider had been there or if these riders hadn’t crashed are exactly that, hypothetical, and we will never know how they would have played out.

          As you say, we all have our opinion which is what makes this comments section so interesting. Let’s agree to disagree. Regardless of our opinions it’s been a lot of fun watching this giro.

        • VeloClubManuChao Saturday, 28 May 2016, 3:53 pm

          But didn’t Froome and Contador ride the 2014 TDF? Wouldn’t call that a weak field? I understand they crashed out but finishing a grand tour is a big part of the challenge and much like yesterday Contador’s crash could be seen as a result of the pressure Nibali had put him under after Stage 2 then Stage 5..

          • Tedba Sunday, 29 May 2016, 8:07 am

            Nibali is unfairly classed as a lucky winner… I didnt really see his vuelta win, but in the tour and first giro he was head and shoulders above of the field. Even before froome and contador crashed out there were facing an uphill battle.

            This win (if he makes it) is testament to his grit rather than ability… but there ate other riders who would have been sat at home by now, or sitting on a consolation win because they let themselves drift out of the top 10 as soon as the win looked unlikely.

        • ebbe Sunday, 29 May 2016, 11:32 am

          “Not crashing” is as much a part of winning as “putting out big Watts” is. You can’t deny Nibali is pretty good at not crashing 😉

          That’s not to say he never crashes, makes a mistake or is impacted by others crashing, but it seems to happen to him less and with less severe consequences. That’s a very useful skill to have.

      • dave Saturday, 28 May 2016, 12:56 pm

        Juan Jose Cobo.

        Chris Horner.

        The prosecution rests it’s case 😉

        • Neuron1 Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:15 pm

          Nibali said after that defeat that he would never underestimate another rider again or not close the door given the opportunity. Lesson learned and applied.

    • gabriele Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:08 pm

      “I saw Nibali’s win yesterday as the last efforts of a man who thought he had lost it all”.

      Everyone has his opinions, but some are worse-founded than others 😉

      • Nick Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:08 pm

        Funnily enough, it’s not a million miles away from what Nibali was reported as having said: “I thought maybe everything was lost but also maybe that it still wasn’t over”. An excellent race.

        • gabriele Sunday, 29 May 2016, 12:42 am

          The problem wasn’t with “who thought he had lost it all” but with “the last efforts”.

  • Gian Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:40 am

    Great preview as always and thanks for the excellent Giro coverage. I was gutted to see Kruijswijk crash yesterday even though I wouldn’t say I was a supporter of his. He was a deserved leader.

    This could be some sensational comeback in a typically melodramatic Italian way. VAI VAI NIBALI! W IL GIRO!

  • Mike Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:54 am

    Does anyone know if there is TV coverage of the whole stage today?

    • Gian Saturday, 28 May 2016, 10:00 am

      I think RAI starts around 11am

      • Mike Saturday, 28 May 2016, 10:17 am

        I checked on their website:
        Ciclismo: Giro d’Italia 2016 – Prima Diretta 20a tappa: Guillestre – Sant’Anna di Vinadio
        In onda: 13:00 – 14:30
        Durata: 90 minuti

        According to the stage time table the depart from Guillestre is at 12:45 so there should be coverage almost from the start:) Great because this could be one of the most compelling stages in the last few years!

  • Ferdi Saturday, 28 May 2016, 10:12 am

    Vintage Giro, whatever happens today. Second in a row, but even better this year. Richer and more dramatic story. Kruijswijk is officially a hero and a giant now. He’ll bounce back sooner or later, like Ocana. However Froome or Quintana take the Tour, they wiĺl now look small compared to Kruijswijk, Nibali or Chaves. The Tour itself looks smaller and smaller. Froome must be made to understand he needs to prove he’s able to overcome Italy.

    • Mike Saturday, 28 May 2016, 10:22 am

      Fully agree. In my eyes both the Giro and Vuelta are by far the more interesting races. It has been a long time since the Tour offered any excitement whatsoever, the last one being probaby the 2011 edition. Since then it was one snoozefest after another.

      • Richard Saturday, 28 May 2016, 10:30 am

        Agree – the Giro is by far the better race

    • Augie March Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:56 pm

      I don’t think it’s Froome, it’s probably more Brailsford, Murdoch and the collective Anglophone monomania about the Tour de France.

  • Lanterne verte Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:55 am

    I can’t be the only one imagining an even more dramatic scenario where nibali takes time out of chaves today but fails to take pink… So breaks with the greatest unwritten rule of all and attacks on the final stage into Turin and wins the overall. That would be truly sensational! I like the Colombian but pretty sure this will not be the last time he is in contention for a GT win whereas for the shark perhaps it is… And I love dramatic comebacks.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:42 pm

    yeah, Nibali is such a second rate champion…

    I thought he might work with Valverde, but Kagert in the break was classic clever and just enough. Scarponi deserves a Big bonus. Awesome Giro.

  • MultiplexRant Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:42 pm

    I see we’re still on the lucky/undeserving Nibali thing, or at least some of us are.

    Nonsense. The guy is a champion. The ability to not fall off your bike is just as valid and important as pure climbing ability or TT power. He might concede to Quintana, Contador and Froome on one or both of those – but he’s a better descender, at least as good a tactician and a better bike handler (i.e. better bike rider).

    And: today and yesterday he showed his resilience and leadership too – and of course the strength of his team. What a win – and what a tour. Nary a dull stage (hats off to the riders for this, of course, but also the organisers).

    • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:49 pm

      That was sarcasm. Nibali is a shark. And he just won Another GT…

      • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:52 pm

        Vuelta, anyone? And then, on to a raise and, hopefully, a better team.

      • MultiplexRant Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:13 pm

        That wasn’t directed at you, mr/ms Anon.

  • Alex M Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:52 pm

    Ugh. Seeing Vinokourov celebrate is just the worst image for the sport. Instead of the clean images and good sportsmanship of Chaves and Kruiswick, we get Astana, Katusha, and ScarponiValverde celebrating. Doping is still creeping around and sullying the image of the sport. Oh, and I found Scarponi’s celebration in poor taste, beyond the fact he’s an epic doper himself. Vino is the perfect face for the sport, the creepy guy lurking around the edges and keeping the sport from moving on. Nonaligned might be clean, but being on that team one must doubt him more than a little bit.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:56 pm

      Cookson and Makarov are the creepy guys; they have a plan and it’s got nothing to do with clean.

    • Vitus Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:56 pm

      Oh yeah, the bad juiced boys of Astana and the clean other ones. Nobody ever heard of a Columbian doper or organized programs at Rabobank. Vino is devil in flesh and your world black&white. Dream on.

      • Larry T Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:14 pm

        Vincenzo Nibali – a racer I like on a team I hate. It’s as if a ruthless, corrupt plutocrat…. someone like say….Rupert Murdoch …was to bankroll a pro cycling team…..
        But just like Mr. Froome, the guy has to go where the money is…I just wish there was an Italian team with the euros to hire Nibali and Co.

        • Tovarishch Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:04 pm

          Murdoch only owns 39% of Sky. If you subscribe to a pension fund in Italy you are, probably, also a share holder. I am, through my pension fund, so I take your comments personally.

          • Larry T Sunday, 29 May 2016, 6:08 am

            Sorry, I don’t believe I have any financial ties to Murdoch though I’ll admit I find his BIKE CHANNEL entertaining – but that could NEVER offset the effects of his ghastly FOX NEWS network in the USA…so he’s right up there with the money-men behind Astana, Katusha Gazprom, etc. on my bad-guy list. Meanwhile, what’s your opinion of Marco Pantani?

      • Alex M Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:52 pm

        You might have been trying to be sarcastic, but what you said rings very true.

        • Larry T Saturday, 28 May 2016, 8:37 pm

          Grazie!

    • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:14 pm

      Once upon a time I might have felt the need to discuss things with people of such an opinion, to show them that there are surely no such clear good or bad sides in this and if you need drama and judgement and if you need to find faults to be happy, then look a bit deeper, with more honesty and things are a bit different and not so onesided (Matt White? Yates?Rabobank for whom Kruijswijk raced and so on). But today if anything at all, I only feel the need to say: Get over it, it is so boring. And unhelpful.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:34 pm

        Get over it yourself. When Russia and the US had an arms race the victims were the silent masses that saw money directed away from their well-being and focused on nukes and ‘Star Wars’. Similarly Nibali’s miraculous and incredible return to form in the final two stages only speaks of that same arms race and the victims will be forgotten and largely nameless.

        • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:43 pm

          What??

  • Alex M Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:55 pm

    *Nibali not “Nonaligned”. Autocorrect is funny

    • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 5:59 pm

      He may be cleaner than most, but who really knows? It’s just entertainment.

  • ATWJ Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:19 pm

    I’m just what you guys might justifiably regard as a dilettante fan, I never raced a bike and can’t even ride one anymore, I just watch GTs on TV: but to me these racers are heroes — Chaves (what a comeback after his terrible crash), Krusiwijk, and yes Nibali. And what a Giro!! Bravi!!!!!

    • gabriele Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:31 pm

      I, for one, share your view 🙂

  • gabriele Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:30 pm

    I hope that now the concept which I previously tried to express about the different results in climbing performance among a set of riders, whose “climbing classification” would end up being different on the basis of what kind of effort is involved and a whole set of other circumstances… might be a little clearer 🙂

    How was it possible that Nibali could be *stronger* (producing more watts/kg, and probably more total watts, too, along some 60 kms, 25 of which were uphill) than, say, Froome – and the rest – in stage 19 of the last TdF, when he was that much weaker on stage 10?
    Doping, people will say, or “they let him go” – the contenders complained a lot, for someone who doesn’t care -, or whatever.
    Maybe, just maybe, a very different racing situation, along with other troubles Nibali had had during the first week (which could explain why he was performing badly, but not such a spectacular improvement).

    Here we are again: what an incredible coincidence, Nibali performed better (better than anyone else, indeed, in athletic terms, even if with different race results, which depend on the rivals, too) during stages with similar characteristics, whereas his worst results came in a very different kind of stages… more or less the opposite.

    Obviously, it’s also about the huge and exaggerated effort he decided to sustain during the Dolomites stage, plus its consequences, as well as a number of different factors (entering the race on low form thinking about the Tour, too… a plan which simply won’t work, as in Contador’s case, because it looks like you’ve got to push hard to win the Giro, these times; the absurd media pressure; some sort of psychological tension which made him make big errors when he was weaker). That said, it’s pretty clear that such a dramatic change can’t be explained on those basis only, at least because some of those factors simply don’t change much in a couple of days – and in fact didn’t.

    All that said, I’d also be happy to read a better description of Nibali as a rider “who cracks mentally”. Its whole career is more or less about the exact contrary, but I guess that a lot of commenters know his perfile better than me.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:51 pm

      I don’t understand what you’re saying; that Nibali has more heart? Because he certainly has a lot of heart.

      But, isn’t it also possible that some of the drama, especially the part where he was going to get some tests to decide whether he would stay in the race, was all a ruse?

      • gabriele Saturday, 28 May 2016, 6:58 pm

        I’m saying that if you and a pal sometime go riding some 50 kms and then decide climbing a 6 km uphill road and, let’s say, he’s often faster than you at it, you can’t take for granted that if you’ve got to ride three days in a row and on the third day you’ve got to ride two or three climbs, your friend will still be the fastest guy. Maybe yes, maybe no. Who’s the best climber?

        Maybe for some guys it’s easier to get to 6.5 W/Kg, for someone else it may result easier to keep his 6.0-6.2 W/Kg even if you haven’t be tucked on a steady rhythm all day long – or during the third week, or in any other set of circumstances which tend to hinder top wattage.

        • Larry T Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:00 pm

          Sadly Gabriele, you’re speaking to an audience, who, in the words of a good friend, ” are swimming in the sea of knowledge, but refuse to get wet”. This is an Anglo-centric blog – no surprise there. But that means the opinions here are almost 100% colored by English interpretations of what non-English speakers say.
          I can still remember watching interviews with BigMig on British Eurosport back when Duffers was the commentator. (Heckel, not yet with Jeckel was on British Channel 4) We were in a room in a French hotel watching an interview with BigMig. With us was a Spaniard who lived in the USA. He pointed out to us all that what the translator (I suspect provided by Banesto?) was saying was vastly different than what BigMig was actually saying in Spanish – his nice, rather dumb guy (his hobby was listed as sleeping) persona was created by the translator, he was actually saying some nasty things about his competitors, stuff that had our Spanish friend agog!
          The final thing with Anglo-centrism is this – why is Tom Simpson respected and venerated in the UK while Marco Pantani is referred to as a mentally unstable dope-fiend whose entire success came out of a syringe?

          • Tovarishch Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:12 pm

            For a start don’t confuse Anglo and UK. I am from the UK but certainly not Anglo. Secondly do not tar everyone with the brush you picked up from your limited contact with Brits. We do, however, as a nationality, tend to root your the underdog (perhaps because we so often occupy that position). Don’t confuse that with some sort of nationalism.

          • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:30 pm

            Easy there, Big Boy.

          • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:34 pm

            @Tov, Larry is a corn fed ‘merican

          • ZigaK Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:54 pm

            “We do, however, as a nationality, tend to root for the underdog (perhaps because we so often occupy that position). ”
            Seriously?

          • Larry T Sunday, 29 May 2016, 6:22 am

            You correct Tovarishch – I should have written Pantani venerated in the “Anglo-world” instead of UK though the main book promoting the nasty image of The Pirate was by Matt Rendell, who last time I checked was a Brit. The books and articles lauding Tom Simpson tend to come from the UK as well. Of course my contact with Brits is limited since I don’t live there, but I DO read a lot of cycling-related writing that comes from there, have contact with UK clients, journalists, publishers, etc. so I think I get a generally accurate view…since we sort of speak the same language…but of course that doesn’t mean 100% of you guys think the same way any more than Italians or “corn-fed” Americans do.
            Finally, your “underdog” comment had me laughing too!

  • CM Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:16 pm

    For sure a fabulous, emotional edition with more twists and turns than the Stelvio. Calculating the time differences and checking by counting down the seconds between riders as the television showed them passing noticeable roadside markers was the order of the day for the finale of Stage 20. Whatever his past Scarponi has given an absolute master class of being the first lieutenant to his leader throughout the race. He has certainly dished out some hurt. Once more a well conceived and well executed race plan by Astana.

  • Zanonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 7:26 pm

    Astana is filth from the top down. From Vinokourov to Scarponi (and his “testing” with Ferrari) to rampant EPO use within the team ranks. Scarponi must have had a recent “meeting” with Ferrari as he was superman today, putting all the GC contenders into difficulty. Quite reminiscent of the Postal-Disco years.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 9:47 pm

      Your favorite cyclist is a doper, chances are.

      To put it in perspective; Kruijswijk is 28 with two wins on his palmare;s Dutch National RR and Arctic Race of Norway. Chaves at 26 has done a little better, but has years to go. The great cyclists all had their bad days and undid themselves over the last three weeks; Valverde is the poster child, Uran too. Nibali waited. I don’t think what he did was superhuman (and Scarponi is a great cyclist, clean or not), he looked at the course and knew he could do well these two days. Yes he had a few bad days, maybe, but by yesterday he was racing two slightly above average kids. Nibali is not slightly above average.

      • Zanonymous Sunday, 29 May 2016, 1:12 am

        Scarponi is infamous rather than “great” for his association with both Fuentes and Ferrari. Other than that he has a few wins in minor races and a gifted Giro. Nothing “great” there. Nibali pedalling squares in the 2nd week then miraculously leaving all GC contenders behind on 2 of the toughest days in the 3rd week smells like Postalesque BBs. Perhaps if it was anyone but Vinokourov’s Astana and their EPO programme it might be believable.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 29 May 2016, 1:32 am

          Funny, I saw a lot more than that. Who is clean in this sport for certain?

          You might enjoy curling more, despite the dumping.

        • ebbe Sunday, 29 May 2016, 11:56 am

          Can you name a couple of successful big teams that are beyond any doubt, and any doubt by association, doping wise? This would mean: No doping history. No doper as DS or owner. No doping doctor. No caught riders. No politics and bullying. No dirty money behind it. Etc. Just a 100% humble, honest and transparent team with all nice guys and girls.

          In other words: Which World Tour team would Nibali have to ride on for you to *not* doubt his performance?

          The only two (2) I can think of both do not even come close to having the money to be able to afford somebody like Nibali, let alone build a team around him.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:46 pm

    Most dopers are caught out by being betrayed by jealous/scorned former colleagues. Two good days in the final week despite pedalling squares earlier on. He’s ‘not normal’.

    • Andrew Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:57 pm

      Given Nibali’s won 3 GTs before, was up against a weakening Chaves & a comparably lesser field – after the strongman of the race in effect lost his victory through crashing . . . and given the time Nibali took out of rivals was far from extraordinary – only a handful of seconds over Uran & Valverde today . . . well I don’t see anything miraculous, more that the pre-race favourite performed at roughly the expected level late in the race.
      Seems to me plenty were delighted to see Nibali perform beneath his expected level, but quickly accuse without dignity when he performs to his expected standard. That his form does fluctuate is more in his defence as a ‘natural’ athlete than if he was at will at top level without such fluctuations. And if was doping, why the hell would he wait till the last few days, & when the race was all over barring a crash such as Kwjk had, to start doing so.

      • Nicktarios Sunday, 29 May 2016, 12:25 am

        Very well said. That’s a logical statement from start to finish. Great race overall, the last few days are what it’s all about for mine.

      • Zanonymous Sunday, 29 May 2016, 1:37 am

        When a team is as tainted with systemic doping as Astana is, the above logic is not sound. Obtrusive doping controls, BBs not taken due to “circumstances – whatever the reason – Nibali went from pedaling squares 20 watts below the norm to leaving everyone in his dust. Not normal. And Vinoukorov’s Astana does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

        • gabriele Sunday, 29 May 2016, 11:31 am

          When you speak about watts, copy-pasting what you read in the news, you’d at least need to know a little more about the whole things.
          Besides, apparently Astana was looked into more than a good number of WT teams ever are, and it was decided that the situation didn’t allow any sanctioning action. The team is subject to way more scrutiny by the media (including outright false accusations).
          The troubles with the feeder team are significant and I consider them especially serious (I’d never have allowed the involved DS to stay within the structure, that was bad & wrong) but have however little to do with the pro team.
          Be they doping or not, it’s probable it’s quite less systemic than in other big teams, mor a thing of little subgroups encouraged by the team to *find their path* to the results… which is horrible, but different from other well-known situations.

      • Ronin Sunday, 29 May 2016, 5:08 am

        Well said. Nibali’s turning around a bad position against upstarts with no teams and an aging one-day racing legend who’s never delivered on any GT ambitions does not require positing a “miracle”.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 28 May 2016, 11:50 pm

    Has it occured to anyone that we saw an exciting raceday with all the drama one can wish for: The teams deprived of their leaders, Katusha and the sky team, could both salvage something on the last day. The race-favourite could regain his status, a few tried hard for a few days and failed to win a stage, like Atapuma (every good script needs those) and much more, even a conspiracy by nationality with Uran and chaves (god, if those would have been russian or italian riders all hell would break lose here!): And what is it people talk/write about, what moves their heart? Doping and how this or that rider is overrated or did this and that. Old hate and distrust. Don’t we look cycling to ENJOY it and to admire the racecraft of a team or a rider, his bikehandling, his strength and tenacity? Let’s talk about the racing. Please. Astana showed once again, like they did with Aru last autumn, how good teamwork wins you races (like they say defense wins you championships in other sports) and Nibali and Valverde were perfect leaders, executing and bringing that teamwork fearless to fruitition. The old(er) foxes showed they still have teeth!

    • Anonymous Sunday, 29 May 2016, 12:08 am

      Look at you, and Andrew before, posting with the voice of reason…

      Watta Giro!

      • Andrew Sunday, 29 May 2016, 12:11 am

        What a comeback ANonymous. Is that your real name btw? People writing reasonable posts instead of anonymous accusing whines! What is the internet coming to at all? Shocking.

        • Andrew Sunday, 29 May 2016, 12:14 am

          To add, there was I thinking th’internet was a safe place for those souls seeking to gain vengeance on a wicked external world wholly to blame for their inner frustrations . . . And now , look at people posting with the voice of reason. Who the hell do they think they are?

          • Anonymous Sunday, 29 May 2016, 1:18 am

            You’ve lost me here; I apologize for opening up your can of worms.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 29 May 2016, 1:15 am

          I am posting pseudonymously, just like you are; I was complimenting you both but you missed that, and I don’t whine. Ever.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 29 May 2016, 1:52 am

          Yes, Anon Anonymous is my real name. It is incredibly unnerving that so many other people think it is funny to pretend to be me. You have no idea! I don’t know why they must chose my name to do that??? But it seems to be something in that name, that brings out the very worst in people, cause I saw that this seems to happen to other people with the same name, too!

          I already thought about posting with other posters names, just to show them how that feels and that this isn’t “funny”. But then I thought: “Am I any better, if I do the same thing? Should I really stoop so low?” And now I just endure it. Silently. It is therefore so nice to know that some people still notice and care!

          (Couldn’t resist the fun!)

  • Adam Sunday, 29 May 2016, 2:13 am

    A big thank you to Inner Ring for a marvellous 3 weeks. One of the most exciting GTs in years, and with a worthy winner, regardless of the team he rides on. Nibali might not be the best climber among the big GC men but his all round ability is what marks him apart.

  • Pax Sunday, 29 May 2016, 6:13 am

    Thanks to Inrng.

    It was a great Stage to watch- and from my perspective a worthy winner on a very strong well coached team.

    Nibali seems like a real human being that has ups and downs. He went out his way to acknowledge Chaves’s parents. He is a real person with emotions. (This coming from someone that does not actively cheer for Astana at all).

    Movistar – used good tactics to move up Valverde.

    I think Chaves and Kruijswijk made for good stories – riding with a broken rib – and Chaves got a cold? With teams that weren’t as big budget or optimized for the race. I also believe that Jungels really stepped it up.

    There were many subplots in today’s – kudos for TAARAMÄE riding a smart stage and would have liked to see Dombrowski win a stage – for Cannondale – he was strong in the second half of – and likely learned for the future. Pozzovivo (what happened there?)

    Cycling over 22 stages – and being 60 seconds apart is so little. Marathon runners only have to run for 2 hours plus a bit… Cycling racers endure much more.

    I disagree with those that view Nibali’s performances as subpar, perhaps others view some of the TDF winners as boring to watch.

    As for supplements – @digger_forum on twitter can share many thoughts, that is good place to vent your frustration and to spread rumors or innuendo – instead of Inrng’s excellent writeups.

    There are numerous riders that had bad luck – to list a few…Zakarin, Perraud, Landa, Hesjedal.

    Finally – Pirazzi spent a while pulling yesterday (Friday) for Nibali- to his own detriment – so no reason to jump on others.

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