Giro Stage 15 Preview

Sunday, 20 May 2018

A short and explosive stage with a rollercoaster course to the finish. On paper this is a tricky mountain stage with a hard finish, especially the penultimate climb.

Stage 13 review: no chance for the breakaway. No team seemed intent on shredding the peloton on the approach to the Zoncolan. Team Sky made a brief appearance on the front of the peloton before vanishing, the same for Astana mid-way up the Passo Duron. So Mitchelton-Scott led the race and set a strong tempo, enough for the breakaway to be caught on the early slopes and to make for a hard stage.

The maglia rosa group was quickly reduced to a few riders. Wout Poels led up the climb, opening the road for Chris Froome to attack, his high cadence acceleration just enough to open up a gap of a few seconds which he held all the way with Simon Yates closing in, the maglia rosa metres behind but so much further when measured in time. It was a surprise win for a rider visibly struggling a few days ago and it’s hoisted him into fifth overall with the podium in range if he’s back to the Froome we’ve been used to in recent years. Only with the salbutamol case still ongoing there’s an asterisk that any result is pending the resolution of his case. Whatever may or may not happen in hearings, out on the road this changes plenty for the race with Froome climbing well and Team Sky able to line up behind their leader again.

Simon Yates had the perfect result, dropping all his GC rivals and collecting a time bonus. He still hasn’t put a foot wrong, passing this test and now faces Alpine racing and the time trials without too many doubts but can he avoid the dreaded jours sans? Tom Dumoulin rode steady and should be happy with his performance, losing 31 seconds to Yates means he can hope to take the maglia rosa on Tuesday’s time trial but holding it during the upcoming mountain stages is going to be had work.

Among the others Domenico Pozzovivo is doing what we’ve seen him do before in the Giro, he’s active and collecting high places but is at risk of finishing the Giro off the podium and without a stage win: will he be forced to chose between these in order to secure one? He’s the best home rider by some way now after Fabio Aru and Davide Formolo were dropped early.

The Route: a steady start into the Dolomites. The Passo Tre Croci rises out of the winter resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo and is 8km at over 7% with long straight stretches, a hard road for a lone rider to jump away from a team setting the pace and the descent is similar, a long straight road down to the valley floor. There’s the best part of 20km here through woodland and past Alpine meadows, nice for a ride but awkward for the breakaway again as it’s advantageous to a chase behind.

The Passo di Sant’Antonio begins with some hairpin bends and some 10% slopes, it’s hard going but on a large and regular road with a twisting descent down to Campitello in the valley below.

As soon as they reach the valley they go up the other side and the climb to Costalissoio is irregular, twisting and steep with the early slopes well over 10%, the hardest part of the day. It eases towards the village at the top. Then the profile suggests another descent but there’s a balcony road for some time along the valley where the road rises and falls, this is a lumpy section of the course rather than a straight drop back down to the valley. Once they reach the valley they pick up the main road again.

The Finish: the race rides up the valley road into town. Once in Sappada at the 1km to go point the road bends left, then right, then left again all in quick succession but it’s not technical. The road is rises slightly to the line.

The Contenders: it’s not been a good Giro for the breakaways. Esteban Chaves held on to win atop Etna but only just with help from Simon Yates and Matej Mohorič won this week but that’s it. Here the course suits two races today, one for the stage and hopefully some action on GC.

For the breakaway picks there’s Luis Leon Sanchez, a redoubtable stage hunter and Astana seem willing to send riders up the road. BMC’s Alessandro de Marchi hasn’t won much for a long time but can pick of these hard stages and he’s almost a local today. Ben Hermans (Israel Academy) is another breakaway pick but it’s not clear how well he’s faring this far into the race.

Among the GC picks and others then Simon Yates and Thibaut Pinot have a good chance for this kind of flatter finish, possibly Rohan Dennis if he’s there too.

Then comes a second wave of riders outside the top-10 who have the space to attack on the Costalissoio climb, their Giro hasn’t worked out but they can still climb well, think Davide Formolo, Michael Woods, Alex Geniez and Carlos Betancur, the latter too less at ease in the mountains but with a strong sprint. Lastly what can Fabio Aru do? He gets a page a day of coverage La Gazzetta but the hope to turn things around has to be drying out, does he try to sit up and recover in order to pick off a mountain stage next week?

L-L Sanchez, De Marchi
Yates, Pinot,Hermans, Polanc, Visconti, Großschartner, Pantano

Weather: showers and cool conditions, 18°C at most but often 12-15°C at altitude.

TV: Host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage, Eurosport has the rights for many countries across Europe and Australia and it’s streamed via Fubo and Flowbikes in the US and Dazn in Japan. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm.

Augie March May 20, 2018 at 9:51 am

Dumoulin rode very well to limit his losses to Yates, yet losses there still were, which will be worrying for him even with the time trial coming up. Cillian Kelly compared all 7 times Yates and Dumoulin have gone head to head in a TT, and discounting the profile, relative motivation, fitness levels, position in the race etc, the raw numbers end up with Yates losing 2.68 seconds per kilometre to the Sunweb rider, meaning that over the 34.2km TT coming up Yates should end up down by about 92 seconds. Even if Dumoulin has a great day on the bike and Yates an only average one, it’s unlikely that there will be more than two minutes between them over this distance. And with three more cat 1 stage finishes to come after the TT I still think it’s very much advantage Yates in this Giro as just a few metres gap here and there and some bonus seconds can really add up as we’ve seen thus far. If Dumoulin is to win he’ll need to take time on his rivals in the mountains (as he did last year) as well as on the flat.

https://twitter.com/irishpeloton/status/996705479526055936

Lord Flash May 20, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Small detail there was the inclusion of the Abu Dhabi time trial where Dumoulin was fastest at the intermediate check point, but then his bike broke down.
Substituting his time for winner Rohan Dennis puts the average up to 3.08 s/km in the normal average Cillian Kelly uses.
If you would take a weighted average, you would end up with 2.91 s/km.
That would put the difference at between 99 and 105 seconds.
I also plotted the data and pulled a trend line.
Lineair trend leads to a difference of 85 seconds, exponential trend to 105. (both R2 around 0.77)

Last datapoint: I assumed both would be able to hit 5.8 W during the time trial, and used the bike calculator app to see what kind of time deficit this would give a 59kg rider vs a 70 kg rider on a flat course.
“Yates” : 45:22
“TD”: 42:56
aka 2:26 or 146 seconds.

Long story short, the worst prediction puts TD on equal time as Yates, best case puts him a minute ahead. I would guess TD needs a best case performance (and not lose time today) to be the slight favorite vis a vis Yates with the 3 mountain stages still to come.

Lord Flash May 20, 2018 at 12:17 pm

*5.8 W/kg that is

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 8:40 pm

This, unlike what’s been posted above, is a better approach. Which doesn’t mean that the better approach will be right and the bad one will be wrong(Umberto Eco wrote some good pages on the topic in “Il nome della rosa”), but if one decides to read tarots through figures, at least let’s try to set the cards right…

Utah May 20, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Ok, so if that data is correct I need to retract my post from a few days ago about Dum. v Yates head to head ITT’s. It’s more likely to be user error, but I like to think that there is something defective with Procyclingstats head to head feature.

Lord Flash May 20, 2018 at 12:26 pm

You looked at comparable time trials since 2016. Kelly looked at head to head performances since 2014.
So that’s a difference.
Your data would show that Yates loses 4-6 seconds per km against the winner of a time trial.

That would put the expected difference somewhere between 2:17 and 3:25.
If the outcome is towards the higher, TD has it in the bag.

Augie March May 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Yes, the more data points the better. However guesses about W/kg are not proper data points so should be discounted.

While obviously TD has won a GT before and Yates has not, Yates has finished in the top 10 twice before, whereas Dumoulin only had that 2015 Vuelta before his Giro breakthrough, so in terms of experience as a GT rider I think the two are comparable. Barring any major crash or illness, looking at the last week I just see more of those steep finishes where the punchy Yates can jump away and steal some seconds compared to Dumoulin’s steady diesel climbing, but it should be a fascinating contest.

Ecky Thump May 20, 2018 at 12:28 pm

That’s a very interesting link for us non-Twitterati, Augie, thank you.
Many of those TT’s were early season efforts, which can be difficult to draw conclusions from.
The Pais Vasco was a humpy course, if that reads correctly.

I’m tempted to look at the Utrecht TdF 2015 comparison, which showed an advantage of just shy of 3″ / km for Dumoulin over Yates (in line with Kelly’s conclusion) but that day was only 13.8 km long.
Stage 16 is almost three times longer.
The weather forecast for Tuesday is wet, with a light tailwind, which could have been worse for Yates as the much lighter rider.

Personally, I’m thinking Dumoulin will take out well over 3″ / km of Yates.
Perhaps 2′ – 2’30” in total?

Augie March May 20, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Others might have more insight but wouldn’t a tailwind tend to benefit the lighter rider in a head to head to head contest or at least neutralise the difference, whereas a strong headwind would benefit the rider putting down more power?

Based on last year and their history I’d agree that Dumoulin could put almost 3 minutes into Nairo Quintana on such a course, but Yates has a better time trial than the Colombian, and has been working in the offseason on his TT which is probably why his result in the first stage was a surprise to many.

MGA Stolze May 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm

All of the above is interesting. But it should also note that Tuesdays TT is in Dumoulin’s favour. It’s a long, windy road in a valley, not too technical nor undulating. Once he can get in his big ring he’ll gain and gain on the climbers. I think the difference will be on the higher end of the realistic spectrum.

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 8:48 pm

Headwind or crosswinds kill lighter riders, tailwind might help ’em.

What’s not sure at all is the wind direction on Tuesday. Weather prediction are about general daily & global trends (air masses), but in that valley there’s normally a typical afternoon wind (“Ora del Garda”), especially during Spring, which *would* blow against the riders. If sun’s out, it would be quite strong, not as much if the sky is gray, and the latter case might allow the general air movement to prevail, but this Ora thing is generally dominant.

RonDe May 20, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Three minutes is too much. Three minutes is Dumoulin at his best and Yates on a bad day. Yates would hope to keep it under two minutes. Yates is not Chaves in the ITT.

Tom May 21, 2018 at 11:37 am

“Dumoulin at his best”

You mean Tom Domoulin, the current TT WC and winner of the previous TT in this year’s Giro? Yeah, I think he’s at his TT’ing best.

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Over 5″/km to the winner would mean going into the same terrain of Yates’ worst performance ever (usually when he wasn’t fighting for GC), something we’ve already seen from him, indeed, but sparsely – and well below most performance we’ve seen in the past by, dunno, Quintana or even Aru. Of course it can happen, but I think that it’s not by chance that RonDe above wrote that such a difference required a great performance by Tom *and* a bad day by Yates. Still plausible, given the rest day risk, and even more so if we had a strong headwind blowing, but that would need to be analysed in order to understand the combination of factors, it wouldn’t be the most expected outcome, things as they are. Crossing results with other contenders’ will be useful to provide insight.

RonDe May 21, 2018 at 4:51 pm

I said “Three minutes is Dumoulin at his best and Yates on a bad day. ”

I love it when contrarians only quote HALF your argument.

Larry T May 20, 2018 at 5:16 pm

“…take time on his rivals in the mountains (as he did last year) as well as on the flat.” Geez, we must have watched two different races – seemed pretty much a “defend in the mountains and mow ’em down in the crono” race by BigTom. Same topic discussed today on RAI about what he’s gonna do this year.

Augie March May 20, 2018 at 5:48 pm

Yes, you were clearly getting confused with Miguel Indurain in the early 90s. As a refresher, Dumoulin took time on Nibali on the Blockhaus climb on stage 9 and on both Nibali and Quintana on stage 14. Not decisive victories for sure, the race was won in the time trials, but he was attacking as well as defending not just sitting on and watching.

RonDe May 20, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Larry isn’t here to be objective. I’m pretty sure he never watches the same race as everyone else. That’s probably why he forgot Blockhaus and Oropa due to Nibali’s poor showing there.

Larry T May 20, 2018 at 7:17 pm

A quick look at 2017 shows BigTom won the Maglia Rosa by 31 seconds over Quintana and 40 over Nibali while taking more than two minutes out of both on the long crono and almost a minute to minute and a half on them in the final crono.
If that’s not “Defend in the mountains, mow ’em down in the crono” I guess yours truly (and the RAI TV commetators) don’t know what is….

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 9:27 pm

You’re right, but… it’s not like Indurain didn’t went on the attack in the mountains, either! But I guess that the general feeling was what Larry reports.
OTOH, Dumoulin was defending himself on the Blockhaus, not answering to attacks, and that’s precisely *why* he gained some terrain on Nibali, because the latter blew himself up fighting against Quintana. On Oropa – which I’d never call “mountains”, anyway – Dumoulin again defended himself against Quintana, who was the one “attacking”, then Tom essentially won the final run to the line.
*However*, Dumoulin is far from being the boring kind of ITT man. He’s aggressive and proactive, we’ve seen it many times, and perhaps even more so… when he’s defending, or even suffering (today was a decent example, for me, wasn’t it?).

mabarbie May 20, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Such a misconception that Indurain only won due to time trials. He won the first of his 5 by attacking down the Tourmalet with Chiapucchi. Also attacked before the first time trial one year on a flattish run in that I could remember and how many times was he second on mountain top finishes, “gifting” stage wins to others.

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 8:10 pm

That’s not at all a good way to work with figures… although the sum of two *separate* errors might help the guy (barely so, come on). But this is a lesson about what you should avoid if you want to make stats.

To start with, when a rider is at the beginning of his career, like Yates is, it’s not a good idea to match him with one who’s two years older. Somebody should explain me how is it a good idea to throw in the stats races where Simon was a *junior* rider while Tom was already a U23 racing for a Continental team (the Rabobank one!). It’s 2 out of 7 and the funny thing is that this crazy stuff *helps* to make the figures slightly more reasonable, because the second factor is even more distorted, but in the opposite direction.

Secondly, you’ve got to look into your sample. How can it possibly make sense to check a head-to-head series of results, if most of them don’t have anything in common with the performance you need to foresee? 5 out of 7 were less than *15 km* long. Hardly more than a prologue. I hope that I don’t need to explain what’s the difference between such a *very* short ITT and a longer one. And what about the two remaining ones? They’re both País Vasco ITTs, both anyway quite short (18 and 25 km) and very hilly: the average speed of the winner didn’t exceed 40 km/h in either case, imagine that.
If we imagine a continumm of ITTs, S. Yates is going to lose *less* time as the ITT is shorter and hillier. Now, the stage we want to forecast is both *way* longer and/or *way* flatter than the totality of our sample. On a graph, it would be placed way out.

That said, Yates is full form, pink dressed, better than he ever was, so literally *whatever* might happen… but, please, let’s not cook figures so badly.

Ecky Thump May 20, 2018 at 8:51 pm

My final total was obviously incorrect.
If I’d estimated over 3″ / km, then Dumoulin could take out 3 and more minutes out of Yates on the TT.
He needs that now, 3′.30″ even perhaps.

Ecky Thump May 20, 2018 at 9:00 pm

Doh. Scratch that, 2 – 2.30 minutes.

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm

@Ecky Thump
Mine was a reply to Cillian Kelly’s analysis posted by Augie above, the first post of the thread, although it’s hard to say with so many replies in-between. Your considerations made sense, even if then you got your maths wrong. But, look, I think that you could be right with that estimate, especially if it will be Ora’s hour ^__^
OTOH, if it’s bad weather and no Ora around, Yates could keep it lower.

However, let’s put some sure things down on paper (*not* the part in the brackets, which is more *opinion*):

2″/km = 1’08” (monster performance by Simon and/or terrible ITT by Tom)
3″/km = 1’43” (something we could expect, on the good side for Simon)
4″/km = 2’17” (something we could expect, Simon *not* showing his great form or Tom compensating for that with a huge performance)
5″/km = 2’51” (Simon suffering, Tom triumphing)

Ecky Thump May 20, 2018 at 11:28 pm

I was rather flabbergasted what had happened today.
I didn’t see it live, just the evening highlights on tv here in UK.
Yes, 2 – 2.30 I would go with.
Although looking at the standings now, Dumoulin probably needs over 3 minutes advantage from the TT.
Yates form has staggered everyone. Today could have been the day that we’ll look back at on as being decisive.

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 11:47 pm

Frankly, it would already deserve to be looked upon as such… whether it will decide the final winner or not!

And it was not only about form, which mattered a lot, sure. Yet, it was also a good deal about going precisely when the dynamics within the selected group were becoming self-destructive, and when he was running out of steep kms on the penultimate climbing, not being afraid of the risk of facing a chase by several rivals, all in spite of the 17 kms and predictable half an hour of deadly, lone, full gas racing. He had already tried to go away with a fellow break ally, but it wasn’t going to work, they hadn’t enough margin on Dumoulin, so he took the risky way. And before he went hard, note how he was constantly checking where Froome was, killing him out precisely when he needed to.

This was going to be Yates’ stage from minute one, from the very same moment the route was published and the decision to send him to the Giro was taken. He was probably going to try and win it even if he was sitting “only” on the same physical level he had already achieved in the past, let’s say being now 4th ot 5th in GC. But it’s proper of a great rider to grab his occasion whatever it takes, even if the “pink” circumstances might have suggested a calmer behaviour… which he’d have probably regretted later!

Now his true test is going to come in the two “high” mountain stages, rather than in the ITT (well, unless it shapes into an unpredictable disaster!).

RonDe May 21, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Give him a bandana and call him “The Pirate” because Yates has attacked the race from the start like no other contender has dared.

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 5:42 pm

@RonDe
No need for any bandana, he’s already got “quel naso triste come una salita / quegli occhi allegri da italiano in gita”… hasn’t he?
http://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/07/Simon-Yates-TdF2014-GB.jpg

RonDe May 21, 2018 at 7:48 pm

Hahaha!

Ablindeye May 20, 2018 at 10:12 am

Not an ideal finish for him but wonder if Ciccione will give it a go and try to make the difference on the penultimate climb. Otherwise De Marchi, LLS and Masnada all looked super strong the other day. Hopefully Astana will remain happy to send people up the road.

JT May 20, 2018 at 10:20 am

Some stand out performances yesterday:

Anton: Clearly out of form and not the rider that he once was but he gave it a go. What is the point of holding on through the whole stage if you are not going to at least try and win. Great to see.

Reichenbach: He had a mechanical and had to make an effort to join back to the peloton but then did really well keeping up with the main group and being a support for Pinot. Just a shame that Pinot was such a disappointment…

Aru: I know he lost a load of time but he didn’t give up. In his usual style, he gave everything he had and even more. I salute him.

The time: The race is still finely poised. Dumoulin did very well to limit his losses and we still do not know who is going to win. Some are saying it is Yates,others Dumoulin and maybe even Froome. In all and all, it is still an exciting race.

Netserk May 20, 2018 at 10:35 am

Would you say that the final two descents are difficult enough for Pinot to be distanced if the better descenders goes full gas? Even if he has improved, we saw it as recently as in Tour of the Alps how much better Froome is than him.

And surely it’s about time for Bilbao to infiltrate a breakaway (from the beginning of the stage, not like his failed attempt in the stage Mohorič won)? I cannot believe the strategy is to have another rider in the bottom of the top-10 for the rest of the race.

KevinR May 20, 2018 at 10:54 am

So, the Sky (high risk) plan all along was to do little or no work in the first two weeks and for Froome to hit fast forward from the Zoncolan and into the final week – they just hadn’t planned for him to keep crashing.
Froome’s got himself in the hunt now – subject to how he and the rest of the favourites go today after the big Zoncolan effort – but it’s more likely to be for the podium than the win. It’s shaping up as Dumoulin, Yates, Froome for the podium and probably in that order but there are many twists and turns to come, no doubt starting today!

RonDe May 20, 2018 at 11:03 am

Happy birthday to Froome, happy birthday to Froome, happy birthday to Froomey, happy birthday to Froome.

Pinot and Pozzovivo must be worried now if the Team Sky rider is back in the game. Both are now within ITT range and what looked like a fight for the podium for them has now become more complicated. This isn’t to assume any more heroics from Froome or to assume a third week of amazing success for him but yesterday seems to suggest he is getting better. Can they?

Overall, I still see 1st and 2nd places in this race being Yates and Dumoulin, in either order. Dumoulin’s race has been unspectacular and defensive (which some fans have criticised Froome for as a Tour-winning strategy) whilst Yates has been proactive – which is often what many cycling fans say they want to see. Still, a week is a long time in bike racing. How I’d love a “Formigal” or a Tour 2013 stage 9 in the Giro before next Sunday!

Motormouth May 20, 2018 at 4:34 pm

What I don’t get about these perennial GC top tens, but never winners, is: why don’t they improve their TT – Is it really that hard, or do they just not care about actually winning? Do their team DS’ also not care (top down problem)?

Is there actually a trade-off in form or is that just a myth? You look at Dumoulin, Nibali, Froome and others, and it’s clear that being good in a traditional TT does not preclude also being a good climber.

They all have big salaries and access to great trainers so the resources should be there. Pozzovivo is a classic disappointment here – I can’t think of a single grand tour I’ve ever considered him a serious contender for even though he’s a consistent rider, and great climber. Year after year he just disappears after TT stages.

Road furniture May 20, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Pozzovivo is a 165cm, 53kg climber. His power output is likely to be a lot lower than Dumoulin, Nibali and Froome, to name the riders you cited.

tedba May 21, 2018 at 9:23 am

I don’t know whether it will have changed with teams and suppliers… but at AG2R, he was also unable to get a proper TT bike as the manufacturer didn’t make one small enough… can’t remember which tour it was, but he was basically riding a road bike is tri-bars.

Gabriel Constantin May 22, 2018 at 12:57 am

Contador was light and small too. Not that small, but alas, almost no one is. Quintana’s TT is usually better, no?

gabriele May 22, 2018 at 10:31 am

Quintana is +3/4 kg to Pozzovivo and Contador is +6/7 kg to Quintana. A huge difference. And, answering to the users above, Pozzovivo had some good ITTs in the past, it’s just complicated to keep a high standard. That said, training ITT is very important… but you’re not training in something else (besides needing expert coaching and often some material structure, too).

GrahamG May 20, 2018 at 11:03 am

Any views on how Sky will play this now? Will they go all out for a podium (at a huge stretch, a win) and what does that mean tactically? I am thinking they will want to make it very hard in the mountains , to distance Dumoulin and hope Yates cracks. If Yates and Michelton can weather the storm this may be a positive for them.

GrahamG May 20, 2018 at 11:09 am

The other option being that Froome now feels he’s earned his money and rides more with an eye on Paris than Rome.

Michele May 20, 2018 at 11:30 am

I’m hoping the Sky train doesn’t now take over & ruin my favourite GT.

Martin D May 20, 2018 at 11:58 am

+1

Ecky Thump May 20, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Depending on the TT results, I think that you gentlemen may be disappointed.
If Froome is in contention after stage 16, you bet your bottom Euro that the Sky train will be leaving stage 17.
Yates’ and Dumoulin’s climbing support are going to come under serious pressure next week. Serious.

Frank Carbo May 20, 2018 at 11:09 am

I’ve been busy in the last few weeks, so that was the first stage of this year’s Giro I had a chance to see, and I found it thrilling in the final 1,500 metres, when it looked like Yates might catch Froome. The Zoncolan is incredible as a spectacle, but so steep that is the only way to score serious time is for the other guy to crack, which incentivises riggers to ride just within themselves, like 400m runners.

Anyway, don’t be too hard on the race, a mountain like that, with the natural stadium at the top, the tunnels, the steepness, the personal battles of the cyclists against suffering. Maybe it was because I’ve been working so hard and have only seen the monuments some the Vuelta, but I very much enjoyed it.

By the way, I heard Froome was riding 34×32 yesterday. Is that normal? Pretty low, no?

Mancuniancandid May 21, 2018 at 11:10 pm

34×32 Froome’s go to low gear, Wiggins also like low gears iirc to keep the cadence high

Martin D May 20, 2018 at 11:31 am

When Froome whisked off the front like a spider on a smoothie machine I thought Oh no! He isn’t is he? He can’t be! Oh no! He is!

Just when we thought it was all over he climbs back from the dead. And on the Zoncolan of all places.

It made for a spectacle though. And I have to admire his tenacity. It’s almost cinema; the softly spoken English gentleman villain is a Hollywood staple.

The plot just got a whole lot thicker.

Stuie May 20, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Teams are going to full gas from the start today, it’s ambush territory. I fancy Sky and Astana to really go for it from the off.

Simon May 20, 2018 at 12:55 pm

While Sky are aiming to win the Giro, it can’t have been at risk of losing the Tour, and I can’t help think they’ve have been calculating just how frequently and how deep into the red Froome can go in the first half of the race, while he rides into form. Was it the year Contador won last when Astana hit the turbos from the first day and while he won overall, he was cooked for July. Maybe Sky were worried about the same, and were happy to lose time rather than lose the tour. Its maybe a bit far-fetched but would fit Sky’s MO.

The GCW / Strictly Amateur May 21, 2018 at 1:26 am

Simon,
That gets Me wondering;
Was Froome really after the G-win or the appearance fee / SKY exposure / 3 wk Tour training? That is: did He do for the Giro what He’ll do for the Tour? & is that disrespectful?
Further, if We must suffer through another SKYbot Tour in relationship to THIS Giro, I’ll be extra happy to have experienced this race.

That said, This edition is way exciting. We don’t know what’s going to take place next. Seems DooDumoulin’s more drained than Simon for the TT, however, there is a rest day which may shift all that thinking. -& that may not effect D’s TT.
Of course, TT is going to perhaps reduce a lot of the suspense. But maybe not.
The bad thing about rest days is that it forces Me to be patient and have to wait to get the next rush.

E_Pi May 20, 2018 at 1:18 pm

I’m surprised there’s no mention of Dumoulin for today. That finish looks more Dumouliny™ than Yates to me(?)

E_Pi May 20, 2018 at 5:13 pm

Well Yates has pink pilled me, I’m with him now. Great to see TT boys having to get creative.

GrahamG May 20, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Almost Contadoresque – in the very best possible sense

RonDe May 20, 2018 at 5:32 pm

If Yates was Italian or Spanish and riding like this everyone would be talking about “flair” and “panache”. Three stage wins (so far) and could already have been four. Its an amazing race by the Briton. He now has 2.11 on Dumoulin and even if the Dutchman regains pink on Tuesday it will only be by seconds. Yates is looking more and more the winner with every stage and the way he’s going about it is thrilling.

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 6:59 pm

I’m back just for a few minutes, but feel assured that I’m going to write flair, panache, class, style, emotion, intensity, bravery, élan, vim, courage, feat, quality, zest, esprit, delight, gusto for all the available time to celebrate such a glorious performance.
Simon’s victories were seldom ordinary: with his record of impressive showings from Spanish semiclassics to that wonderful stage in Romandie this was *his* stage… but it was never going to be easy, even less so with the maglia rosa on. I’ll always support a rider like this rather than a last ten minutes man like, say, the “best” Aru became more and more in the pro ranks (he was quite the opposite as an U23).

Augie March May 20, 2018 at 7:02 pm

Well said. Simon Yates might be extremely dull off the bike (like too many modern pros, sadly) but he’s electric on it.

gabriele May 20, 2018 at 11:49 pm

He looked emotional in today’s RAI interview.

Richard S May 21, 2018 at 10:22 am

He has a really weird way of accentuating the last word in every sentence as if he was speaking French. Cavendish does it as well. It must be from hanging round with so many team mates who speak English as a second language. I’ve found him and Matt White to be relatively open and interesting (as far as sportsmen go) in interviews though.

Larry T May 21, 2018 at 8:32 am

You are spot-on, except Brits don’t have any flair or panache, it’s just “keep calm and carry on”. 🙂
But you’ll think my moniker has been highjacked when I say I’m liking this Yates kid. Someone else here wrote Contador-esque and I have to agree. The guy attacks and is unafraid to lose while having a bit of a doping taint. But he admitted his error and served his time without wasting everyones’ time with endless legalese and BS. I cheered for him on Zoncolan and again today, hoping somehow he’ll have enough time to avoid being mowed down on Tuesday. But BigTom sounds a little scared about taking the jersey only to have Yates ride away from him again.
Meanwhile, Il Frullatore could finally be emerging as a non-factor though I won’t write that guy off until he concedes, gets sanctioned or crashes himself out of the Giro. C’mon sporting gods!
Pozzovivo needs to pull off some big exploit so we can see at least one Italian on the final podium. Forza Domenico!

nortonpdj May 20, 2018 at 5:45 pm

What a joy to see a racer!

Snoopster May 20, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Seems like Yates held something back for today while Froome went all in for the stage, and possibly hope his main rivals blew themselves up.

AP May 20, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Yates seems to have undergone a step change in improvement… I’m not sure historical TT comparisons are really worth that much.
He will go last so has updates and something to chase. He’s climbing better than ever so by extension I think he will TT better than ever.

Tom May 21, 2018 at 1:46 pm

“He will go last so has updates and something to chase. He’s climbing better than ever so by extension I think he will TT better than ever.”

More W/Kg doesn’t compare in a flat TT. The faster you go, the more watts are wasted by wind resistance – It’s predominantly about aerodynamics, and TD is damn aero.

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 2:12 pm

But since Yates doesn’t look he weighs much less, he must have more watts available, mustn’t he?

That said, maybe the big watts he’s been showing on 10′-15′ intervals (he was losing time on Sappada’s very last kms) aren’t equally there for him if the performance must be steady and 40′ long – although the Zoncolan bodes well for him, in that sense.

And you’re right about being aero: maybe (pretty much sure) Yates’ got some + x % watts when compared with himself in the past, but if he isn’t aero enough in an ITT more of them will be wasted. That is, it would be normal that his improvement will be less manifest in the ITT than on a climb.

No improvement at all would be equally strange, because of what I just commented at the beginning of this post.

KevinR May 20, 2018 at 9:04 pm

What price Yates ‘doing a Chaves’ after the rest day and falling apart in the TT?!

E_Pi May 20, 2018 at 11:40 pm

Reading Dumoulin’s post-stage comments I’d say Dumoulin’s the one in danger of falling apart right now.

RH May 21, 2018 at 12:23 am

I hate to bring it up, but I really hope there is nothing sinister in Yates’ results at the Giro. I hope it’s just a case of an extraordinary cyclist at his best. I couldn’t bear another Contador or Froome situation!

Giorgio May 21, 2018 at 5:57 am

Unfortunately yes, when a rider seems so superior than the rest and when that rider has never really been that superior in the past, lots of questions start popping in my head…

Travo May 21, 2018 at 9:20 am

Really??? A rider who has been recognised as a future GC contender for years, has had great results, incremental improvements, top 10’s, won best young rider at tdf and is now 26 and coming into his window for winning grand tours and is at the race he is targeting this year and doing well and his performance raises questions?

Michael B May 21, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Agree with Travo, someone has to win the Giro and I don’t see why Yates’ form should raise question marks. He’s in his peak athletic years, isn’t that far ahead, and the pre-race favourite might yet be in pink after the time trial. It could be neck and neck going into the final week. So he’s hardly riding away with it!

Also his career progression looks totally normal – British academy, World track champion, Tour De L’Avenir top 10, top 10s at the Tour of Britian then Dauphine, Romandie, Paris-Nice, and then a top 10 at the Tour de France with the young rider’s jersey all by 24. If that type of rider DIDN’T go on to challenge at a Grand Tour you’d have to ask questions of their coaching.

Utah May 21, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Agree. I doubt there would be much gap in climbing ability or time gap if he was racing Nibali, Froome or Porte at their peaks/primes.

Nick May 21, 2018 at 3:03 pm

It’s always sensible to ask questions, given cycling’s (sport’s) history. But in this case, “he’s still in his mid 20s” is a fair answer to the question of why he’s getting better.

Steve May 21, 2018 at 1:29 am

As my wife shares her birthday with a certain Kenyan born cyclist, I’ve been on family duty all day and have only just seen the highlights. Today I learned-
If you want to catch an escapee don’t follow Thibaut Pinot down a mountain.
Tom Dumoulin is the Bradley Wiggins de nos jours (not an insult, just a truism). Can do hills, should probably have learned to do workplace relationships too.
If Nairo Quintana ever rode like Yates has done in this Giro, he’d have won several GTs already.
Winning is a hard habit to get but harder to break in a stage race.
Simon Yates could win a monument before he finishes, but not Paris Roubaix.

Great entertainment, whoever takes it in the end.

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Sorry, Steve. The Quintana-bashing window ended yesterday around 8 pm 😉
Quintana already won “several GTs” (well, two, but, hey, somebody else here in the past used “several” to mean “two”, ah ah ah ah!).

And, well, Quintana has been already attacking from further out than Yates, and more aggresively, too – for years.
*Most* of top-selection climbing finishes (most impacting time gaps) in cycling in the last 5 years actually belong to him (I’ve been checking that for the Zoncolan debate 😉 ).

But, in a sense, you’re right. When he rode that aggresively, he ended up winning more often than not. In 2015 he was aggressive enough, but he should have been… more. That year was mostly a team issue, anyway.
In TdF 2016 and Giro 2017 I suspect that he mainly didn’t have the legs (TdF 2017 is obviously a different story because of the double).
Yet, at the 2017 Giro, Quintana’s Blockhaus attacks were impressive, so was his Oropa one (Pantani level). He tried hard 55 kms to the line (not 15 or 20…) in the Dolomites. But it wasn’t the best course available. He didn’t have the legs to do more (trying something on the Stelvio, essentially, or having a good Piancavallo, despite the high-speed flat riding before it), but it’s not like he didn’t attack, though.

Everybody’s been praising yesterday’s stage for months, just as several people (more than two) were criticising 2017’s mountain stages. Believe me, there’s a reason for it: we love attacking cycling, and some conditions allow that, others simply don’t.

Steve May 22, 2018 at 10:49 pm

I’m honoured with a reply, as I sank a bottle of rather good southern Italian white currently on offer at Waitrose and called Triade (or Tirade in our house) as I penned that. Of course if sober I would have made it clearer that an attacking Quintana might have won more often. It wasn’t a dig at him, more of a plea.
Incidentally, ‘several’ generally means three or more, two being ’a couple’, or even ‘a brace’. Not ‘alla brace’! which means something entirely different in Italian, yet not totally unconnected with cycling in week three…

skiddley May 21, 2018 at 8:56 am

+1

Richard S May 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

People are saying Contador-esque but I’m thinking Yates has been more Pantani-esque so far in this Giro. A little lightweight in the pink jersey repeatedly attacking on the drops on the steepest climbs. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Yates had pipped Chaves on Etna and caught Froome on Zoncolan and won a third of all the stages so far. He’s leading the overall and the mountains and if they’d kept the old points system he’d be bossing that too. To complete the Pantani impression all he has to do is produce an unexpectedly great TT (or fail a drugs test with a couple of stages to go). As a Brit I’m enjoying Yates’ performance but as a cycling observer of 20+ years I do have that feeling at the back of my mind, the ‘Christ this guys good, is he too good?’ feeling. Zakarin has similar form to Yates, in terms of GT results and doping infractions. What would we be saying if 15 stages into the Tour in July he was doing something similar?! Anyway, I should probably just enjoy it and assume it’s a special talent that’s come to maturation and is in the form of his life.

tedba May 21, 2018 at 9:29 am

I’m not sure what anyone gets out of wildly speculating about every rider who shows the slightest upturn in form… Yates has been a young GC contender for a few years now, its much more likely we’re seeing a combination of a maturing talent and a misfiring field of favourites than another page from the dark arts of cycling.

As for his ‘doping history’ its not ideal… but it’s paperwork (and if memory serves the teams fault rather than the riders)… I think everyone should get the benefit of the doubt with something like this (once!)… not least for the sake of enjoying bike racing at face value.

Your point about Zakarin is probably well made… he would unfortunately be given a harder time due to his nationality.

STS May 21, 2018 at 9:39 am

+1

Richard S May 21, 2018 at 10:17 am

I wouldn’t say I was wildly speculating. I’m not suggesting he’s on the next undetectable version of EPO or carrying a suitcase of his brothers blood around with him. Its just a feeling I’m trying my best to fight. As you say its not a massive turn up from nowhere. I get the results of the two muddled up but ever since they were riding in GB colours at the Tour de l’Avenir and the Tour of Britain and then winning major races in their first years as pros this sort of thing has probably been on the cards. There has been a steady progression to the point of GT GC contender.

Tedba May 21, 2018 at 11:10 am

Fwiw… I was aiming that more generally… Your comment just happened to be conveniently at the bottom.

Although… Twins… Never thought about the possibility of genetically identical blood… (~_^)

Mattgc May 21, 2018 at 11:20 am

If Adam wasn’t in California they could pull all sorts of tricks…

E_Pi May 21, 2018 at 12:11 pm

I’m not even sure that Simon is at the Giro. I’m just taking M-Scott’s word for it. I wonder how many journalists are just doing the same.

Utah May 21, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Not every feeling needs to be expressed 🙂

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 2:06 pm

You’re absolutely right, and you make me regret the full page I wrote below… ^__^

Tovarishch May 21, 2018 at 11:40 am

They are dizygotic, so unlikely.

Tovarishch May 21, 2018 at 11:41 am

That weas meant for Tedba’s second comment!

Gargatouf May 21, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I have a couple of questions after the last couple of stages:

1) Is it wrong to think that Froome is just using the Giro for training? He has been bad (by his standards) for all the Giro (except the Zoncolan stage). He went backwards every time the road went up (even struggling a little bit on the hill before the Imola finish if I’m not wrong), but then found some form on Zoncolan. Everyone thought he was back in contention but he went backwards again yesterday. He basically took the appearance fee they gave him and is using the Giro as training no? Or is it to do with his AAF? He’s just taking appearance fees etc… before getting a ban? Because according to some reports, he could keep his palmares and fees between the AAF and the ban.

2) About yesterday’s stage, I can kind of understand Lopez and Carapaz not working with Pinot and Dumoulin, but I can’t understand why the latter two didn’t drag them along. At one point, Pinot and Dumoulin seemed to get an understanding and were working well together and, if the timings were correct, they were pretty much gaining 1 sec per 100 meters on Yates (the gap seemed to quickly go down from around 35 secs to 25 secs in a very short space of time). But then they stopped working because the other 2 weren’t helping with the chase. I’m not saying they would have caught him but surely, would it not be better to lose 20 secs by dragging the group and then potentially lose the bonus secs than to lose 40 or 45 secs (and then lose the bonus secs in Pinot’s case) by bickering about not working for the group? Lopez and Carapaz are too far away in the GC and will surely lose more time in the TT to Dumoulin and Pinot. except if Yates has a very bad day, Pinot has lost the Giro now and Dumoulin has made it even harder for himself.

Neuron1 May 21, 2018 at 9:42 pm

The following is speculation, but I have read and reread the recent paper regarding urine salbutamol levels and started to ask myself how could this be used to clear Froome’s name. I can’t help but think that Froome is continuing to ride to “stress” his body in a GT with the plan of documenting his salbutamol use via independent verification and popping a greater than 2000 pre correction or 1400 post dilution. Does anyone think he wouldn’t be livid at losing time on every climb, except of course when he uncorked one on the Zoncolon, if there wasn’t something else in play? He loses the battle of the Giro, but wins the war for his reputation and keeps his Vuelta. (Much more important to have the “double”, and he gets to keep that big “2” the ASO gave him) This would explain his Strava rides earlier in the off season which seemed to mimic a GT. The very smart authors of his defense paper, the pharmacologists back in the Netherlands, (even though the science girding it is bad) are behind the planning of this. They had months to plan it out since they knew long before us that he had exceeded the limits. Thus the riding to dehydration on the Etna stage and probably others. When else in his career has he needed 2 hours to produce a urine sample? Why did he urinate 30 km from the end of the stage? Answer: So that he would not have any dilution of the sample. (They adress this in their paper) Also, has anyone noticed that he is disappearing into the team bus for a while before warming down. We have never seen this in the past. I believe they are drawing blood levels to correlate with his urine samples. Read the paper closely, they were telegraphing their strategy when they stated that it is impossible to recreate the stresss of a GT in a PK test and would require multiple runs over several days, which is not allowed in a PK. Thus, you have the UCI do it for you using their WADA accredited labs and full testing standards. Team Sky uses the protocols to create their defense.

AP May 21, 2018 at 9:55 pm

But then either he’s risking a 2nd failed test, or he’s not using inhaler and therefore risking his health, no(?) It all seems a bit risky to me. Also, one of the rumours is that he claims illness played a role in the AAF… illness is a variable that’s not repeatable.

You might be right, but I think he’s just using the rest of the giro like he used the Dauphine last year… trying to get some racing in his legs for the TdF (assuming he can ride it.)

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Ok, but *if* during the Giro he’ll test positive again, how will he prove that he didn’t take an extra salbu pill in order to obtain *that* result, to justify his former one?

The Inner Ring May 21, 2018 at 10:59 pm

One of Sky’s best achievements is to have people thinking everything they do is planned, eg Froome is losing time because it’s part of a secret plan rather than because he can’t follow because of form/injury etc.

You can’t do a test like this in the wild, there is nobody official to control how much salbutamol is going in and should too much come out again he’d be on a second AAF.

Neuron1 May 23, 2018 at 6:40 pm

I respect all of your comments and commentary and read each of your postings with the greatest interest. I was tossing this out to see other’s thoughts. As a physician and one who does a significant amount of medical malpractice review, I always try to attack an argument from both sides to find it’s weaknesses. Froome and Sky seem to be in a difficult situation here but they know he is worth it. Heck, they just picked up a few million to ride the Giro, why not invest it wisely. All riders with equal or lower levels of urinary salbutamol have been sanctioned so they need to create doubt in the reliability of the process. Froome has been his own control for urinary levels for the last several years, and we can presume never had a level this high. He was not, however tested on every day he rode, thus leaving gaps in testing and nobody knows how much he took on those stages. Since GSK is a British company, they make salbutamol, and it would be in their best interest to help another large British company save face, their assistance could reasonably be obtained. GSK provides a new inhaler each day, which is chipped to show it’s location. We have that in our hospital on many drugs to prevent diversion. That inhaler is weighed before and after the stage to show the dose that was used, blood and urine levels are then submitted to a WADA approved lab after having been obtained in a controlled, verified fashion. If at any point they can show that his levels exceed the WADA maximums, they can create enough doubt to give CF a shot at, if not legal but public redemtion. I believe they are playing to the appeal to CAS. The paper that I quoted is a defense exhibit not a true piece of science. It was published in the peer reviewed literature (British of course) and likely “comissioned” by someone at Sky, the lawyers or more likely someone distant enough that the defense team can claim they had nothing to do with it. (Remember SDB’s claim that they would have the same thing done to defend Henaeo, he was too small potatoes to go out on a limb for though.) The authors attack everything about the system regarding urinary salbutamol testing, too much uncertainty they claim. Froome’s early defense that he took some puffs immediately following the stage and prior to the testing, fits the narative. Remember, this story only came out months after actual test, the team knew of the results long before the public did, and they had time to incorporate this study and be ready for the inevitable questions. Classic damage control. The reason he would not get a second AAF is that he is staying within the dose guidelines during the stage, (even if they test him he is going to be below the limits, which they know from years of urinary levels) taking a few puffs after, waiting in the bus and getting his levels drawn. Thus the two hour delay in returning to the public eye, the same amount of time between final pufffs at the Vuelta, and his testing. They will argue that he used his 800 mcg in the last half of the 12 hour window (allowed, since it says divided doses, not how to divide them) and then started the next 12 hour epoch when he took the doses post stage. (All just an innocent mistake really) In reality he most likely used a nebulizer treatment prior to the stage to get amped up, overcome his central fatigue and put just enough time into Nibali to make it impossible to come back without a miracle or CF crash. When watching the stage, or the prior ones, does CF look to be in pulmonary distress at any point? Is he coughing? Like he is just recovering from bronchitis? No, No and No.

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Yates’ situation isn’t about “form”. We’ve seen enough from him to know where his “youngster form” could bring him and it’s not this high.

He obviously made a *leap* in his general quality as a rider. But this doesn’t *necessarily* require any leap of faith, yet. It’s simply possibile that this is level as a more mature athlete. Have a look to his total race days and kms last year in the context of his career. He banked in two GTs, but racing the latter of them in the most relaxed way – he knew from scratch that he was going to be the number three card to play (although he finally went slightly better than Adam). Coming from the TdF, where he said that he actually didn’t burn himself out, he took a lot of time off the bike and focussed on base condition. At the Vuelta, once he saw he wasn’t competitive, he flew low, barely making a couple of top 20 or so. Then, he ended his season and went on to rest.
It’s the typical season which can be the premise to a positive leap in level for a young rider who raises his yearly kms by a sudden +20% but without overburn.
Compare that with Aru. Aru’s been doing more or less as many kms as S. Yates did last year… since 2013 (and it’s in 2014 that he had a “coming of age” season). But last year he raced *both* Tour and Vuelta eyeing GC *and* stage wins. He was on the verge of making a double top-ten. Then, disappointed, he insisted racing four Classics in the Italian Autumn, getting 3 top-tens and an 11th place as his worst result. That is, it wasn’t base building, it was being cooked and kicking himself on and on over the limit.

Yates’ curve doesn’t look as gradual in his development as Nibali’s, nor as immediately promising (and plateau-hitting) as Quintana’s, but it’s not immensely different from, say, Bardet’s… or Dumoulin’s! Very similar to the latter, indeed.

We’ve no special hint to believe that in his team they’re doing something hugely different from the rest of the top teams, no special privilege or practice has surfaced yet.
Of course, we know enough about Orica’s management to conjecture or feel that they don’t exactly fall within the more straight-edge side of cycling (if such a side even exists).
A healthier approach to riders’ development or to team environment – which they look to be promoting – , way healthier than, say, Sky’s is no guarantee that the “healthy way” is applied to other aspects, too (whereas a certain sort of team environment might favour or suggest negative physiological practices – be them exactly doping or not – sadly, it’s not like a good environment *excludes* pharma support).
Yet, it’s a decent starting point. I would not place this structure on either extreme of the “suspect range”.

And, in a sense, same goes with Yates. He’s doing special things, a bit different from what he could do before, but not substantially different (unless he now throws in a monstre ITT). He’s been attacking from middle range on mixed terrain. He’s been jumping high speed from a selected group. And what he showed in this Giro in-so-far is along those lines. His top-speed attacks were always on very short sections. Look how well did he pick the moment yesterday or in Osimo or on the Etna. Always, and I mean*always*, exactly in the last 150 mts of the hardest gradient! Even yesterday’s finale was classics-like, especially similar to the stages he won when he was younger in other WT races, not high mountain at all.
Let’s not hide the darker shades of gray, either. British Cycling programmes, well, I praise their social impact but it didn’t look the cleanest place around. The asthma thing. Ok, maybe we’ve no new Moncoutié here, but it’s not enough to believe that the guy’s got a serious differential thanks to doping practices only.
If you’re just being “given” more watts than the rest, you don’t wait the final sprint on Gran Sasso, you’d go with three kms to the line or so. OTOH, you’d wait for the last climb of Sappada to open gas. And you wouldn’t lose 20″ or so (didn’t take exact differences) in the last 3-4 kms of Sappada against a group of “chasers” who can’t find any minimally functional agreement to… actually chase.

If tomorrow or in a month or in six months they tell me they caught him positive, I wouldn’t be shocked. But I wouldn’t believe for a second that the story is that *before* this Giro he was clean, *then* he started doping, *and so* he became that stronger. Nor I believe for a second that him being doped *meant* that he started winning because the rest were clean. To me, the most reasonable explanation would still be the technical one. Again, things as they are.

And, last but not least (probably even more important than everything else): you normally need a context of *several* seasons to understand up to what point a rider is actually enjoying a pharma bonus which becomes more significant than the rest of factors. A single season isn’t enough, let alone a single race.

Richard S May 21, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Yates is doing well here and people, including myself a little bit, are thinking ‘hang on where’s he come from?’ When Froome wins the internet goes into meltdown saying he’s a doper he’s no better than Armstrong. When Nibali won a couple of years ago it was all ‘oh Italians are dopers, Astana are a dodgy team’. As I’ve noted if Zakarin won he’d be called to question as a Russian. And we all get a dig in at Valverde, and some at Contador too. Its interesting to question who is actually allowed to win?! It would appear that people are fairly happy with Dumoulin winning, and Sagan could win every race he entered without a question ever being asked. We all seem ok with Quick Step and/or Van Avarmaet as well, and the Classics in general are rarely subject to the same innuendo. But it seems whoever does well in a Grand Tour is called to account.

gabriele May 21, 2018 at 2:44 pm

I acknowledge that yours is a worthy reflection.

But it should be *more* about the fact that it doesn’t make much sense to question most of the people you name *than* about: “let’s question Yates, then”.
That sort of general questioning is more akin to being aware of the general nature of pro sport, hence not being surprised if some infraction should surface in any given moment. But you could apply it to pretty much anyone, not only the winning guy of the day. Look at most who were caught in recent seasons…
And Yates is no Froome (in any sense, for good or ill).
And Froome is a very, very peculiar case. Not even by far comparable to Armstrong, yet… very peculiar. It’s not about judging him on the internet, either. But it can’t be denied that his career asks for a reflection of sort, maybe concluding that it’s peculiar because of a sum of factors and his personal story is not commonplace, either. Whatever.
Anyway, Yates’ career requires much less wondering – things as they are currently, I mean.
Asking where Yates is coming from means not following much cycling. A similar question about Froome 2011 wouldn’t have been as far-fetched.
Froome is not the only GT winners who could raise eyebrows in very recent years, anyway, although he’s the most winning one.
And, anyway, in *any* case hats off from me to Froome’s determination and mental strength. The guy made a personal step up in psychological skills – from the 2014 Vuelta on, I’d say – which no doping is going to grant you. My respect towards him grew year after year, even if it didn’t change my opinion about him being in a different situation than most other pro cyclists.

But this is taking me on a path I don’t especially like to be taking, thus I’ll go for a ride 😉

DAVE May 21, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Didn’t see that coming.

cd May 21, 2018 at 3:11 pm

I haven’t been following the discussions here so closely, but has it been mentioned that maybe having a TUE for Asthma may be more beneficial than we think? Also, would we not be as concerned about Yates if MS were part of MPCC? Everyone went pretty easy on Dumoulin last year. Was it Sunweb’s MPCC membership that helped that?

DAVE May 21, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Plus funny chat has turned to doping after yesterday’s result – Adam and his brother have won San Sebastian and Indurain classics between them and seem to me to have always had a great eye tactically – I’d previously seen them going down the Dan Martin route of the Italian classics and LBL and top10s in GT’s – so yesterday was almost the least surprising result of the Giro so far.

It was a stunner though.

I’ve always thought the criticisms of Quintana lacking aggression were unfair but admittedly S.Yates is adding a little fuel to that fire as whether you can point to Quintana’s far out attacks or not etc, I think everyone knows he would never have made the attack Yates did yesterday.

But then very few would… it was pretty incredible…

noel May 21, 2018 at 6:25 pm

away from Yates for a moment….
For Pinot to win the race (which I hope he came here trying to do) he would have had to take time off Dumoulin/Froome on the slopes in the way that Yates has been able to do, but there has been no sign of him attacking at key points… (maybe I missed some?)
or has Yates just torn up the script, and everyone else is on the back foot scrambling and limiting losses etc… otherwise it seems he’s here looking at 2nd/3rd spot as his max – not much for a French guy to give up a leadership spot on Le Tour for….

JT May 21, 2018 at 6:40 pm

Pinot is, for me, an eternal disappointment. I am a fan of his but he never delivers and here he came in aiming for the podium. He should be more ambitious and at least aim to win the race.
He hasn’t put a foot wrong yet but he hasn’t done anything at all (except go for a few bonnus seconds).
On his day he can climb with the best and tt with the best but he seems to lack something.
I was really disappointed with him on the Zoncolan. I know it’s a climb that doesn’t suit him but neither does it suit Dumoulin. Pinot should have done better.
And yesterday was farcical. Instead of trying to distance Dumoulin he was scared of Pozzovivo taking a few seconds from him. (Pozzovivo was just as bad).
I really hope one day Pinot can prove me wrong but right now he seems to be lacking a mentality to one day win a GT.

Richard S May 21, 2018 at 9:10 pm

Eternal disappointment is a bit harsh. I think to be disappointed in him you’d have to have had unrealistic expectations. He can be an ok time trialist but he isn’t top level, just not as bad as Bardet etc most of the time. He’s not going to out climb the best or out time trial them so it’s hard to see how he’d win without some sort of ambush.
Pozzovivo is probably the most defensive rider in the peloton. He just never has anything to defend.

routedusud May 21, 2018 at 7:50 pm

My read is that Yates is the standout and the Pinots, Pozzovivos, Dumoulins, Lopez’s and Carapaz’s are all at pretty much the same level.

The Inner Ring May 21, 2018 at 11:02 pm

Exactly, if it wasn’t for Yates being superior than Pinot would be contending for the overall lead right now and plotting ways to crack Dumoulin and win the race outright. Improving on last year’s ride of 4th place overall + a stage win isn’t easy but he’s in with a good chance here.

Bern May 21, 2018 at 7:01 pm

I’m struck by the possibility that, in this event, we may see more than one rider suffer not just a jour sans, but an entire semaine sans…

cd May 21, 2018 at 8:05 pm

Or more improbably, trois semaines avec…

AK May 22, 2018 at 1:18 am

As a fan of Dumoulin I hate to admit it, but Yates is stealing the show with some very attractive riding. Tom is trying but he has been on the limit (or over?) the past two days. The rest has clearly given up on winning and are competing for the third podium spot. B ig mountain stages and the TT are still too come though. Anything can happen but Yates would need ťo implode or crash for this to go wrong for him.

Stuff May 22, 2018 at 5:41 am

I acknowledge that yours is a worthy reflection.

But it should be *more* about the fact that it doesn’t make much sense to question most of the people you name *than* about: “let’s question Yates, then”.
That sort of general questioning is more akin to being aware of the general nature of pro sport, hence not being surprised if some infraction should surface in any given moment. But you could apply it to pretty much anyone, not only the winning guy of the day. Look at most who were caught in recent seasons…
And Yates is no Froome (in any sense, for good or ill).
And Froome is a very, very peculiar case. Not even by far comparable to Armstrong, yet… very peculiar. It’s not about judging him on the internet, either. But it can’t be denied that his career asks for a reflection of sort, maybe concluding that it’s peculiar because of a sum of factors and his personal story is not commonplace, either. Whatever.
Anyway, Yates’ career requires much less wondering – things as they are currently, I mean.
Asking where Yates is coming from means not following much cycling. A similar question about Froome 2011 wouldn’t have been as far-fetched.
Froome is not the only GT winners who could raise eyebrows in very recent years, anyway, although he’s the most winning one.
And, anyway, in *any* case hats off from me to Froome’s determination and mental strength. The guy made a personal step up in psychological skills – from the 2014 Vuelta on, I’d say – which no doping is going to grant you. My respect towards him grew year after year, even if it didn’t change my opinion about him being in a different situation than most other pro cyclists.

But this is taking me on a path I don’t especially like to be taking, thus I’ll go for a ride 😉

Wert May 22, 2018 at 5:43 am

I acknowledge that yours is a worthy reflection.

But it should be *more* about the fact that it doesn’t make much sense to question most of the people you name *than* about: “let’s question Yates, then”.
That sort of general questioning is more akin to being aware of the general nature of pro sport, hence not being surprised if some infraction should surface in any given moment. But you could apply it to pretty much anyone, not only the winning guy of the day. Look at most who were caught in recent seasons…
And Yates is no Froome (in any sense, for good or ill).
And Froome is a very, very peculiar case. Not even by far comparable to Armstrong, yet… very peculiar. It’s not about judging him on the internet, either. But it can’t be denied that his career asks for a reflection of sort, maybe concluding that it’s peculiar because of a sum of factors and his personal story is not commonplace, either. Whatever.
Anyway, Yates’ career requires much less wondering – things as they are currently, I mean.
Asking where Yates is coming from means not following much cycling. A similar question about Froome 2011 wouldn’t have been as far-fetched.
Froome is not the only GT winners who could raise eyebrows in very recent years, anyway, although he’s the most winning one.
And, anyway, in *any* case hats off from me to Froome’s determination and mental strength. The guy made a personal step up in psychological skills – from the 2014 Vuelta on, I’d say – which no doping is going to grant you. My respect towards him grew year after year, even if it didn’t change my opinion about him being in a different situation than most other pro cyclists.

But this is taking me on a path I don’t especially like to be taking, thus I’ll go for a ride 😉
I acknowledge that yours is a worthy reflection.

But it should be *more* about the fact that it doesn’t make much sense to question most of the people you name *than* about: “let’s question Yates, then”.
That sort of general questioning is more akin to being aware of the general nature of pro sport, hence not being surprised if some infraction should surface in any given moment. But you could apply it to pretty much anyone, not only the winning guy of the day. Look at most who were caught in recent seasons…
And Yates is no Froome (in any sense, for good or ill).
And Froome is a very, very peculiar case. Not even by far comparable to Armstrong, yet… very peculiar. It’s not about judging him on the internet, either. But it can’t be denied that his career asks for a reflection of sort, maybe concluding that it’s peculiar because of a sum of factors and his personal story is not commonplace, either. Whatever.
Anyway, Yates’ career requires much less wondering – things as they are currently, I mean.
Asking where Yates is coming from means not following much cycling. A similar question about Froome 2011 wouldn’t have been as far-fetched.
Froome is not the only GT winners who could raise eyebrows in very recent years, anyway, although he’s the most winning one.
And, anyway, in *any* case hats off from me to Froome’s determination and mental strength. The guy made a personal step up in psychological skills – from the 2014 Vuelta on, I’d say – which no doping is going to grant you. My respect towards him grew year after year, even if it didn’t change my opinion about him being in a different situation than most other pro cyclists.

But this is taking me on a path I don’t especially like to be taking, thus I’ll go for a ride 😉

I acknowledge that yours is a worthy reflection.

But it should be *more* about the fact that it doesn’t make much sense to question most of the people you name *than* about: “let’s question Yates, then”.
That sort of general questioning is more akin to being aware of the general nature of pro sport, hence not being surprised if some infraction should surface in any given moment. But you could apply it to pretty much anyone, not only the winning guy of the day. Look at most who were caught in recent seasons…
And Yates is no Froome (in any sense, for good or ill).
And Froome is a very, very peculiar case. Not even by far comparable to Armstrong, yet… very peculiar. It’s not about judging him on the internet, either. But it can’t be denied that his career asks for a reflection of sort, maybe concluding that it’s peculiar because of a sum of factors and his personal story is not commonplace, either. Whatever.
Anyway, Yates’ career requires much less wondering – things as they are currently, I mean.
Asking where Yates is coming from means not following much cycling. A similar question about Froome 2011 wouldn’t have been as far-fetched.
Froome is not the only GT winners who could raise eyebrows in very recent years, anyway, although he’s the most winning one.
And, anyway, in *any* case hats off from me to Froome’s determination and mental strength. The guy made a personal step up in psychological skills – from the 2014 Vuelta on, I’d say – which no doping is going to grant you. My respect towards him grew year after year, even if it didn’t change my opinion about him being in a different situation than most other pro cyclists.

But this is taking me on a path I don’t especially like to be taking, thus I’ll go for a ride 😉

I acknowledge that yours is a worthy reflection.

But it should be *more* about the fact that it doesn’t make much sense to question most of the people you name *than* about: “let’s question Yates, then”.
That sort of general questioning is more akin to being aware of the general nature of pro sport, hence not being surprised if some infraction should surface in any given moment. But you could apply it to pretty much anyone, not only the winning guy of the day. Look at most who were caught in recent seasons…
And Yates is no Froome (in any sense, for good or ill).
And Froome is a very, very peculiar case. Not even by far comparable to Armstrong, yet… very peculiar. It’s not about judging him on the internet, either. But it can’t be denied that his career asks for a reflection of sort, maybe concluding that it’s peculiar because of a sum of factors and his personal story is not commonplace, either. Whatever.
Anyway, Yates’ career requires much less wondering – things as they are currently, I mean.
Asking where Yates is coming from means not following much cycling. A similar question about Froome 2011 wouldn’t have been as far-fetched.
Froome is not the only GT winners who could raise eyebrows in very recent years, anyway, although he’s the most winning one.
And, anyway, in *any* case hats off from me to Froome’s determination and mental strength. The guy made a personal step up in psychological skills – from the 2014 Vuelta on, I’d say – which no doping is going to grant you. My respect towards him grew year after year, even if it didn’t change my opinion about him being in a different situation than most other pro cyclists.

But this is taking me on a path I don’t especially like to be taking, thus I’ll go for a ride 😉

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