The time trial stage to reshape the overall classification. That was the idea but Simon Yates has taken more than two minutes already from Tom Dumoulin and beyond today come three more Alpine stages.
Stage 15 review: Time has passed so for a simple look back let’s cite Victor Hugo: “in the Alps you are either an eagle or a cretin”. In a hard stage ridden fast from the start in the rain Simon Yates was the eagle, flying away with 18km to go. In the moment it looked like he might be risking it all, there was some way to the finish and the road ahead was awkward for a lone rider. But he was helped by the cretinous bickering behind with his rivals unable and at times unwilling to chase, the presence of Lopez and Carapaz marking each other for the white jersey competition weighed down Pozzovivo, Pinot and Dumoulin who all had a shared interest to contain Yates and put time into Froome who was floundering.
The Route: mountains, mountains everywhere but hardly a climb, this 34.2km has about ten corners and just over 400m of vertical gain in total. It sits below Monte Bondone, home of a Giro legend or two but this is a flat course south along the Adige valley, downstream and for much of the time parallel to the Autostrada. The second checkpoint in Nogaredo is up a small hill but it’s climbed on a big wide road and the descent is straightforward as it whizzes through the vineyards back down to the valley floor.
The Contenders: there are several races on at the same time. First there’s the battle to win the stage where the specialists have been taking it as easy as possible in the last few days in order to be as fresh as possible for today. Then there’s the “fight for pink” to borrow the Giro’s awkward term with Tom Dumoulin aiming to put as much time into Simon Yates as possible and if the stage win comes his way it’ll be an accidental bonus. Next there’s the podium with five characters in search for three places, a Pirandello knock-off. Then come lesser contests such as the struggle for a top-10 place, the white jersey contest and more. That’s plenty even if more than half the field has no interest today and will aim to complete the course in a satisfactory time to avoid elimination.
Katusha have a trio of picks in Alex Dowsett, Tony Martin and Mads Wurtz Schmidt. Dowsett has won in the Giro before but little else but has been biding his time, Martin has tried an attack or two but should be rested. Trek have Ryan Mullen and Mads Pedersen with Mullen suited to the flat course but there’s little to tell how they’ll fare in the third week of a grand tour.
By contrast Lotto-Jumbo have Jos Van Emden who won in Milan last year on the flat course and should be aiming for a similar result again. Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-FixAll) had a great ride in Jerusalem and is another specialist, he should be close. Finally Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka can do well here although he might prefer a tougher course.
Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin should be fighting for the stage win, never mind the Giro and GC they’re the two best time triallists in the peloton today. But the fight will be costing them, especially Dumoulin who has been working so hard in the last few days. Today might be his stage on his terrain but for all the extrapolations made, how many account for mojo? The problem for Dumoulin is that even if he can take two minutes back on Yates he’s going to be borrowing the maglia rosa until Yates decides to take flight again in the Alps. Sunweb are looking solid but when the race reaches boiling point Dumoulin is quickly isolated and prone to be attacked. Yes the upcoming climbs this week suit him as Prato Nevoso is a long and steady climb, ditto the road to Cervinia but Yates could still hope to take time and the Jafferau is much more the Briton’s climb. Advantage Dennis today who has been pushing hard in the mountains but once dropped riding to his limits.
As for the podium battle Thibaut Pinot ought to pull ahead of Domenico Pozzovivo, they’re separated by nine seconds. But it’s the day after the rest day and he often needs some racing in the legs before a hard effort. Pozzovivo, who counts meteorology among his hobbies, can do a good TT sometimes although when he has done this it’s typically been on a hilly or even mountainous course where climbing and bike handling have trumped power and CX. Still he has a good chance at the podium between now and Rome and hopefully sections of the Italian media get more interested; Fabio Aru’s every move and daily hopes of turning things have got a lot more coverage than Pozzovivo’s performance. One rider with even more media attention Chris Froome, over two minutes down on Pinot and “Pozzo” and in the words of Greg LeMond in late July 1989 “if he has a great day and [they] have a bad day” then a surprise can happen and the podium awaits but Froome is looking all over the place, his win on the Zoncolan was a surprise… but it was based on 40 minute effort which is roughly what today is all about.
Finally what of Simon Yates? Again he hasn’t made a mistake so far this Giro and has been confident, agressive and his attack on the stage to Sappada last Sunday was almost presumptuous. Given the form he’s in it’d be reasonable to expect he ends the day as he started, in the maglia rosa again.
|Rohan Dennis, Tom Dumoulin, Victor Campaerts|
|Jos Van Emden|
|Tony Martin, Alex Dowsett|
Weather: a mild 21°C and a chance of rain for the early starters, reducing for the later riders, in contrast the wind could help the early starters but hinder the later ones, like many big mountain valleys there’s a micro-climate and the wind can blow according to local factors.
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 in the US and Dazn in Japan. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm.