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.