Giro Stage 21 Preview

Sunday, 29 May 2016

A procession and a sprint, that’s the usual formula for the final stage of a grand tour. Last year saw a breakaway stick and with so few sprinters left in the race it could happen again.

Stage 20 Review: Vincenzo Nibali only needed 44 seconds so he and his Astana team could afford to wait until the last mountain pass, the the Col de la Lombarde before testing Esteban Chaves. As they scaled the Lombarde Tinkoff were replaced by Astana on the front of the now depleted maglia rosa group. Michele Scarponi upped the pace and was grimacing with the effort, as were the others including a visually disturbed Esteban Chaves, the cherubic smile long gone. Scarponi pulled until the ski resort and was finished. It looked too early, he dropped Nibali off just as they were on a flatter part of the climb but no matter. Nibali picked up the pace and only Chaves and Alejandro Valverde could follow. That’s all they could do as Nibali spun the pedals and then a gap opened up. Five seconds, ten seconds, the gap was opening up. You could see it but you needed a stopwatch to measure it as there were no on-screen graphics. It was soon clear Chaves wasn’t managing this, he didn’t let Nibali surge only to reel him back in. While Nibali picked up help from team mate Tanel Kangert, Chaves hooked up with compatriot Rigoberto Urán but the duo didn’t last long as Chaves lost more ground. As Nibali rode into Italy he was the virtual race leader. Ahead Rein Taaramäe won the stage and Mikel Nieve’s early raid saw him collect enough points to take the mountains jersey from Damiano Cunego.

The Route: a ride out of the Alps from Cuneo and eight laps of a finishing circuit around Turin. Unusually this circuit includes a hill just after the finish line. It’s 750m long and averages 6% and climbs up in long straight line. Then the road meanders gently downhill.

The Finish: after the 1km to go sign the race turns right with 750m to go, then flicks left and a flat 600m finishing straight awaits.

Giacomo Nizzolo

The Contenders: Trek-Segafredo would love to win this and Segafredo especially given Torino is the home of Lavazza, the coffee giant that is Segafredo’s great rival. Giacomo Nizzolo would really want to win because of all those runner-up positions. His chances are boosted further by the absence of more sprinters, Manuel Belletti quit the other day. But what if this is bad news for Nizzolo. It means yet another team without a chance in the sprint so they’ll attack instead. The other obvious pick is Sacha Modolo who has also ran close but not got the win he wants. Lampre can go all for him. Giant-Alpecin’s Nikias Arndt is going well and good for a long, seated sprint, Matteo Trentin can aim for a second stage win and Katusha’s Alexander Porsev seems to finish among the best in each sprint even if a win seems unlikely. Heinrich Haussler could give it a go but he’d surely prefer a harder finish with a hill or some cobbles? The same for Sonny Colbrelli.

So who for the breakaway contenders? Katusha’s Anton Vorobyev, Orica-Greenedge’s Michael Hepburn. Roger Kluge might find the finishing circuit too hilly so Filippo Pozzato is the third breakaway pick.

Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo
Arndt, Porsev, Pozzatto

Weather: cool and cloudy with a top temperature of 19°C and with rain showers clearing.

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

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Ecky Thump May 29, 2016 at 6:51 am

A huge thanks to all the riders for a top three weeks; it’s gone in so quickly.
The Coat Hanger should push those shoulders back and hold his head up, what a hero.
Renaissance Man Nibali does it again.
Thanks also to Inner Ring and posters, you make life better.

If Trek Segafredo go all out for the win today, does that mean Jack Bobridge might shift his a*** and gain some time on GC, thereby allowing a dramatic final day Maglia Nera to my man Murilo Antonio Fischer?
C’mon Trek, Ecky Thump’s meagre cycling library needs the giveaway book!

Augie March May 29, 2016 at 7:06 am

Some great sportsmanship on display yesterday from Nibali hugging Chaves’ parents to Rein Taaramäe making the zed sign as a tribute to Katusha’s fallen leader. Also chapeau to Uran who like Nibali has really struggled this Giro, but never gave up and fought his way into the top 10 alongside his equally plucky compatriot, Atapuma.

_kw May 29, 2016 at 9:00 am

That’s how it was portrayed on Eurosport but I am not sure it wasn’t the other way around with Chavez’ mother walking away again afterwards.

Say what you will but but without having been a supporter of a specific GC candidate I cannot get excited about a guy who has a huge turnaround after a whole giro sans let alone the two days before the rest day and then rides everyone else off his wheel on two very demanding mountain stages. Add the history of his team and things like the Vuelta incident last year or his attack on the stage to La Toussouire at the Tour last year and it just completes an overall picture for me.

I am not saying his win may not be legit but I do not see him as a great sportsman. Having said that, Kruijswijk undid his own Giro with a split second lack of attention and Chavez just seemed to not have the legs.

At least Italy has an Italian win which the sport seems to need for a possible boost.

Thanks to INRG for another serious of perfect posts during the Giro.

Augie March May 29, 2016 at 9:40 am

I agree with much of that, but with no win for Chaves or Kruijswijk (not even a deserved podium) and no stage victory for Atapuma, we see once again that cycling is a cruel sport with very little in the way of fairness, that’s just how it goes. I can’t say I’m thrilled at Nibali victory, but again, fairy tales are just that.

On the plus side Chaves has one of the best personalities in cycling, and I look forward to seeing what he and the team can achieve in the next few years.

_kw May 29, 2016 at 1:01 pm

True, sometimes things play out like that. I can also see how riding back into your home country with the Tifosi lining the road will have given Nibali an extra bit of energy after a good descent.

Really felt sorry for Atapuma in the Dolomites stage but could relate having ridden the Mur dl Giat at the end of a longer ride after the Campolongo, Pordoi, Fedaia, Falzarego and Valparola.

Chaves and Kruijswijk should have another chance in future grand tours.

Let’s see whether the Dauphine, Tour and Vuelta can live up to the last three weeks.

Alex M May 29, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Seems Chaves was sick the last two days, too. Nibali had his “miraculous” turnaround just as his two biggest rivals had their bitis of bad luck (self-inflicted or otherwise).

BC May 29, 2016 at 10:07 am

It was an exciting final week with the ‘moral’ victor Kruijswijk showing how tough, unpredictable and demanding the sport can be.

I don’t want to raise the obvious problematic, BUT, Nibali’s complete turn round in form after a rest day, leaves me wishing for a somewhat different outcome. Nothing against Nibali, but if something is too good to be true…… Oh – and still too many moto’s in the race. UCI please take urgent action !

I’ll get my hat and get out on the bike before Larry gets out of bed !

LeoA May 29, 2016 at 12:18 pm

How does falling off your bike make you the moral victor? Bit of a chump more like it. I don’t mean him any ill will but he acknowledged his error. Why can’t the apologists read that and move on.

morten Reippuert May 29, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Which rest day are you talking about? The first day after the rest day was an even larger defeat than the uphill TT the day before the rest day.

Kruijswijk and Valverde had problems near 2700m on Colle Agnelo – at lower altitude Nibali had was almost dropped himself. Kruijswijk himself said that his crash was due to fatiuge as they crossed Angelo.

This Giro was won and lost on decents and the ability to perform above 2000m AND 2500m + have a teammembers up the road.

Nick May 29, 2016 at 10:59 am

Man who’s good in the 3rd week of a GT is good in the 3rd week of a GT shocker!

Neuron1 May 29, 2016 at 1:02 pm

You must have watching a different race, or know very little about bike racing! The days leading up to the rest day he got caught out and had to “time trial for about 50 minutes into a headwind while SK and EC worked together. This effort drained him for the mountain TT, which along with the dropped chain and bike chain further cost him time. The day after the rest day Nibali pushed to hard early in the stage and tired out on the final climb. The next few days were “rest” days for him, while it seems that EC caught a cold. This played a role in his subsequent decline and Nibali’s ascendency. On the stage to Risoul, Nibali’s attack forced SK into a bad decision and a crash. Thus he and Chaves moved up. Going in to Satge 19 Nibali was 1:43 behind EC. Certainly not an unachievable goal. He took about half of that on each of the next two days and remember Chaves had a cold/bronchitis. On the final stage Nibali did the climbs only marginally faster then the breakaway riders and slower than some of the other top riders.

It is time to get past the “anybody I don’t like is a doper” idea. It does nothing but detract from the sport. Go over to the cycling tips page and read some analysis by Michele, not a Nibali fan and clearly knowledgable about cycling for more on this.

Alex M May 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Agreed on all counts. Yes, Nibali might be as clean as they come, but when the team manager is Vino and the top lieutenant was a Dr. Ferrari patient and the team appears as dirty as Russian track & field, it will come up, and rightfully so.

_kw May 30, 2016 at 8:47 am

Being so knowledgeable I am sure you also already knew at the time that Nibali apparently had a stomach problem on the stage after the rest day.

The reaction of “everyone I don’t like is a doper” is certainly wrong as is the bias with some English speaking followers believing in Sky but readily condemning others even without a string of recent doping violations. Likewise the other way around re Sky at the Tour.

Michele has some good points but I would not agree with all of them most importantly, I think that combining hematology and power data in a standard way for all athletes (not in whatever way each athlete chooses) is an avenue worth pursuing.

While cycling is doing more than athletics to regain trust, I think that there is still quite a way to go and as long as you tolerate people like Vino to continue there will be more quick accusations, whether justified or not.

Rooto May 29, 2016 at 7:16 am

Thanks, from this corner of your large silent readership, for your great coverage of a fantastic three weeks. A lot of effort, greatly appreciated.
BTW, I think you have put the profile of the finishing circuit at the top of the page, rather than the profile of the whole stage. Is this deliberate?

The Inner Ring May 29, 2016 at 9:34 am

It’s deliberate as there’s nothing of note before.

M.M. May 29, 2016 at 8:02 am

From yesterday’s preview: “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.”.

Looks like someone has to eat spaghetti today.

Lesson to be learned: never write off Nibali. Never.

Busy Little Bee May 29, 2016 at 8:52 am

What a silly post, M.M. Everything the writer says has to play out that exact way otherwise he’s in for some smart arse response from an after-dinner speaker?

Considering Aru’s back-to-life story in this race last year, can we say ‘never write off an Astana rider’.

The Inner Ring May 29, 2016 at 9:36 am

It’s a fair point. Chaves “only” had to mark Nibali but he couldn’t, he’s been suffering with bronchitis/a cold and he was struggling as rider after rider passed him, even Uran who was trying to help him, dropped him. Chaves was coughing up a lot on the finish line.

M.M. May 30, 2016 at 9:02 am

And this is how champions treat diseases: “Before the time trial I wasn’t very well on account of intestinal problems, but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want my rivals to know it,” Nibali said by way of confirmation. “I had some intestinal problems but I tried to put it to the back of my mind at the time. Maybe that was what weakened me slightly. But the rest day was useful for putting me right.” (Nibali).

After you win you reveal your illness.

“No one will be interested in your excuses after you have lost” (Bobby Fischer)

M.M. May 30, 2016 at 8:53 am

I have the maximum respect for the author of this blog, which always gives an intelligent analysis of what happens in the races, instead of just copying down PRs like all the other sites do, hence it seemed strange to me that the GC in this Giro was written off as a minor business, so I took the chance to have a go. 😉

I admit that I had written off Nibali weel before InRing, after the uphill TT: Kruijswijk seemed unassailable, while Nibali seemed lost, panicking, after a Giro in which he made all the possible wrong moves, which constantly backfired on him. (and IMHO, in his mechanical in the ITT he didn’t seem focused and professional)

But.

But I think that in sports you can’t understimate momentum. Have you ever watched a Football game where a team scores one, two touchdowns and the other team doesn’t put points on the board?
But then, as the winning team is about to score again, the losing team puts on a goal-line stand…then they score a field goal…then they intercept a pass and score a touchdown…
Suddendly, the leading team is not able to score anymore, and the fate of game changes.

That’s what happened in this Giro, and you could sense that after Risoul.
First it was the Agnello climb: hey, look, Nibali stays with Kru and Chaves and makes tempo towards the summit. Oh, yeah, he will go bust…
Then it was the descent: oops, Kru played it stupid and fucked it all up (his words). The reason? Follow Nibali.
Final ascent: yeah, this is the moment when Nibali gets dropped by Chaves and goes home, after a pointless Giro. But, hey, look, Nibali shakes Chaves off his wheel (from the front) and gains almost a minute.

Who is the headlight of the race now? Chaves? Don’t think so. Who has momentum?

Plus, there were more factors to take into account: teams strength, Nibali descent abilities and, last but not least, the fact that Nibali had won 3 GTs to Chaves none. Want to talk about charisma and leadership? With all due respect: what did Chaves in this Giro to make him stand out?
And, of course the fact that Nibali in last year’s Tour was able to put on a strong performance at la Toussuire -solo- after he had been humiliated in the first part of the Tour.

So, with all these stars aligning, dismissing the final mountain stage like it was a formality seemed unbelievable to me, and thought: huh, after all these years, finally InRing pulled a Kruijswijk judging the final stage! 😀

Oh, yes, Chaves had bronchitis, when he lost the jersey. The day before he hadn’t bronchitis when he dropped Valverde and tried to stay with Nibali. But, of course, these kind of diseases usually happen this way. To losers.

No hard feelings guys: InRing, just keep up the good job, can’t do without you.

HorseOfTheYear May 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

“Have you ever watched a Football game where a team scores one, two touchdowns…”

Given that cycling is still a very eurocentric sport, and with it the audience, choosing this American version of rugby for your comparison seems rather peculiar.

Nonetheless, Nibali has shown to be a very resilient cyclist overcoming earlier misfortune in the race albeit with some luck, but that’s common at the top-level in professional sport as differences are often close.

M.M. May 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

Sorry for the comparison, it’s the first it came to mind.

But you get the point.
I tried to make cycling comparisons: the first which came to mind was the 1989 Tour, but it all happened too quickly in the final stage. That was a mix of adrenaline, determination and attitude.

Maybe the 1998 Giro? Of course with much more time to play, but Pantani looked lost and at the centre of media attacks after the Trieste TT. He came back (no doping jokes here, as they were all on the same juice).

I don’t recall other cycling examples (barring final TTs) of turning around the tables in cycling. At least, not seen first hand.

Going into the history books you can read about the 1953, 1956 and 1959 Giros, but I wasn’t born at the time…

RonDe May 29, 2016 at 9:43 am

I don’t know the statistics but how common is it that a rider is the thick end of 5 minutes down with two racing stages to go and he ends up winning by the decent end of 1 minute? It seems somewhat unusual to my analytical eye. Were to this prove unusual statistically might it be reasonable to suggest we have just witnessed a freak occurrence?

Dodge2000 May 29, 2016 at 10:00 am

There has been discussion on the cycling podcast on this point and it was generally agreed that ‘bad days’ and multi minute gains and loses were much more common prior to the bad-ole-days.

No way to tell here obviously, but his time gains really were only dramatic due to a cash that robbed 3 mins from Kruijswijk and Chaves cracked. Valverde (the only other favourite left in the race) was not far behind today and he isn’t the best high mountain climber.

Nibali’s performances in these last two stages is similar to his performances in the TDF last year and in 2014. These stages seem to suit him – long steady climbs at altitude. We shouldn’t be surprised that Nibali was stronger than the other contenders on this stage. He was favourite to win at the start (I had money on Chaves at 40/1, which shows what the bookies thought)

Would we be raising these questions if he was putting out the same numbers, but Quintana, Landa, contador, Froome etc were all fighting for the win? I can’t remember people questioning Nibali over that very thing in last years TDF when he won the stage with a a similar performance.

One funny annecdote. Kangert was ordered to wait for Nibali. When Nibali caught him he just shouted 375watts. The romance of Nibali is that he works on feel and passion. But perhaps he is just like the rest

Brazil Brush May 29, 2016 at 10:37 am

Dodge2000 the narrative may well be feel and passion but once one has ridden to a power number and know exactly what works it’s difficult to undo.

How long did he sit on Kangert’s wheel? Does this tell us anything about his power / weight? I can’t recall how much nibali weighs but presumably he was looking for a short recovery time at Sub FTP before launching another burst, 375 w (and knock ?5%-10% off maybe for sitting on a wheel) doesn’t sound extraordinary or superhuman

calypso king May 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

Well said Dodge2000, this seems like a rational analysis of events until proven otherwise. I write this as a fan of Nibali the competitor so I’m not without my own bias.

Anonymous May 29, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Let us all also remember that the largest factor in Nibali’s deficit was the time trial mechanical, not a physical issue.

RonDe May 29, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Nibali was already around 1.20 down BEFORE he had the mechanical. It now seems he is saying he was also sick the night before as well (intestinal).

Anonymous May 29, 2016 at 10:07 pm

1:20, halfway through a GT is not that big of a deal with preferred stages to come. The TT derailleur issue was a big deal and put him into trouble. Everyone else ended up with more trouble.

Irungo txuletak May 29, 2016 at 9:56 am

I would have never put my money on such an outcome just 3 days ago. Chaves ill yesterday, Kruijswijk fallen the day before. Sounds more to “the moment the race was lost” than the moment it was actually won. And even the bala ends up on the podium less than 1.30 behind Nibali. Cannot believe this as I have the impression he only managed to limit losses in the big mountain stages (except in the ITT and in the stage he won of course).
I would have been interested in seeing Landa in the 3rd week, he looked sharp, but I don’t know if he would have managed the pressure. Is Sky to let him try the Vuelta as a leader as well?

Ferdi May 29, 2016 at 10:23 am

Well, Nibali’s done it. He’s done what Hinault did to Panizza in 1980, to Contini in 1982, and to Gorospe in 1983: turning around race he was losing, in the last mountain stage. Only Nibali’s done a “double Hinault”, by overcoming two different rivals in the last two mountain stages. Panizza, Contini, and Gorospe were crushed when they started to believe they’d make it, and never came back to contesting a GT again. I hope (and believe) it won’t happen to Kruijswijk and Esteban Chaves.

Joe K. May 29, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Astana and Nibali had the right plan, and executed it to perfection. Chapeau to them. Vino and the Kazakh owners looked Al-mighty happy at the finish line. Does this mean Nibali is now the favorite child over Aru? Send Nibali off to do the Tour, and let’s find out.

Augie March May 29, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Well Contador showed last year that’s it’s not really possible in the modern era to do the Giro-Tour double. Plus while Kruijswijk and Chaves are great riders, Alberto and Froome Dawg are a much tougher proposition, and they’ll be arriving fresh not fatigued, so basically no. Also Aru is definitely still the favourite child because he’s not leaving the team at the end of the season.

Anonymous May 29, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Aru is the team member with the most preference. Aru will do anything to be a winner, Nibali is more like Cofidis’ Moncoutié. We all can guess what Vino’s thoughts are.

Neuron1 May 29, 2016 at 1:12 pm

I can’t help but wonder if Sir Dave Brailsford’s comments that, Astana and Movistar were the two strongest teams with the two weakest leaders, while Lotto and OGE were the weaker teams with the strongest leaders, didn’t in some way motivate Nibali. If that is not a direct slap in the face to a rider with pride,and a multi-GT champion, I don’t know what is.

STS May 29, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Agreed. If Nibali read it this will have certainly motivated him. So thanks to Dave, the mastermind! His comment provided us with one of the most exciting GTs in recent history. Now, go one step further, Dave and try (once again) to show us what a strong team with a strong leader can do in the Giro.
The Giro is as far away from a it-comes-down-to-the-numbers-race as GTs go. Last year a very strong leader of a rather weak team won against all what a very strong Astana team threw at him. This time Astana was again very strong and also had the strongest rider over three weeks but only just managed to win it.

gabriele May 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm

I still struggle to understand how people can’t see the common points in terms of course and structure among the three stages where Nibali overperformed the rest (including the Dolomites), as well as the common points which joined the two stages where he was really suffering. Some commenters explained that pretty well, but others just don’t get it.

All that without even starting to consider the obvious troubles to recover from that Saturday’s impressive solo effort.
Besides, performing well when the top wattages are hindered for everyone has been a fil rouge throughout the last years of his career, even if OTOH he arguably underperformed, this year, in the uphill ITT which is normally suited to him (but he had no time to rest, this time).

I’m really amazed by people saying that he was having a bad Giro when you think that just before the Dolomites stage he was practically leading (Jungels and Amador doomed to fall down on the higher mountains)… and that it was happening despite a first part of Giro which really didn’t suit him that much (too explosive). Not “against” him, for sure, but not his favourite terrain, either. He wasn’t on his best level? Perhaps, but what he’d got in his legs had been more than enough to keep the rest behind, however by a reduced margin, and just when the best stages for him were about to start.

But I guess that a lot of cycling fan are coming from football and so on, hence they’re the hate/love tifoso type, and it’s really hard for them to look into the race.

The doping cheap talk is so low-level that would really deserve no answer… in fact, one can speak about doping in a more or less meaningful way – even if it’s intrinsically hard due to the lack of proper up to date information – but here we are again on a nonsense free talk comparable to “lucky Nibali” or “he’s got a history of cracking mentally”. Whether he was on doping or not, that element would be anyway far from sufficient to explain his different performances, so it would bring us nowhere.
Not to speak of trying to conjecture any implied doping situation on the basis of race performances, which is beyond the abilities of most experts, imagine keyboard warriors trying to sort out that.

Anonymous May 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Take three deep breaths.

This is the result of wishing the sport were more popular; of the Postal era fallout, of the dumbed down media presentation (most comments are just reiterating what they read elsewhere), of the UCI’s misguided focus and also that in five mostly long paragraphs you fail to concisely convey your point(s) beyond “(You) still struggle..”.

Kaz May 29, 2016 at 5:15 pm

He was 3 minutes down at the start of the last two stages on the best climber in the race so far? Did you somehow miss that in your analysis of how he wasn’t having a bad Giro?

The most revealing stages of all is just the uphill ITT. Pure W/kg.

Anonymous May 29, 2016 at 6:54 pm

And the most important part that everyone in a tizzy is forgetting is that a large percentage of Nibali’s deficit was from a mechanical breakdown in that TT.

STS May 29, 2016 at 6:57 pm

Gabrièle, reading throug INRNG’s posts and the comments my forecast that Nibali’s victory will make the haters, especially from the English speaking cycling “fans” come out again and express their disappointment with doping-related allegations became reality. Most of those comments (“when something is to good to be true …”) are so …, well inappropriate, I felt they don’t deserve any answer.
But you did answer them. Thanks for that.
There was no miracle involved in Nibali’s late win of the race. For the most part he won because his competitors became ill, weaker or made fatal errors. And Nibali who seems to be affected by his emotions more often and more strongly than other great cyclists did not do any of this. He already had the time span when he was weaker than usual (but not ill) before during this Giro and managed to overcome it and produce some efforts which are fully explainable for him and absolutely not unusual.
An interesting thought that most of the fans from those countries who discovered their interest for cycling only in recent years are behaving like football or soccer fans. Yes, that might explain their behaviour really well. Whereas those that were into cycling long before still may have their personal favorite(s) but cheer for (nearly) everyone and would honor the perfomance of the winner no matter if they personally like him or not.

ChuckD May 29, 2016 at 8:13 pm

What’s missing from any of the comments on any of the forums I’ve skimmed, is any mention of the psych game. My goodness, hasn’t anyone here ever been in a bicycle race? I’m not saying Nibali was faking his turmoil; it’s not an A or B scenario. But somewhere between A and Z lies the whole story and part of that is in the minds of the competitors.

Anonymous May 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm

You don’t think he was faking his turmoil??

4th overall, less than a week to go, no signs of real trouble, two perfect stages for Nibali coming up and he’s going to visit a doctor in order to decide whether he should continue the race? And almost Everybody, it seems, believed him!!

Right Now, Vino is in some back room club with hookers and blow having a laugh with his homies retelling the story of how he duped Matt White…

Falahun June 1, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Thanks a lot !

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