Giro Stage 8 Preview

Saturday, 12 May 2018

A summit finish? Sort of, today’s stage has a long uphill finish only it’s not so steep.

Stage 7 review: a win for Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe). Having launched too early in previous sprints this time he was waiting on Elia Viviani’s wheel and surged late towards the line to take the win, his biggest so far and it’s good for the race, adding suspense and uncertainty to the sprint finishes to come.

The Route: 209km north up the coast via Agripoli and Saterno, a scenic route not far from Vesuvius, the dormant volcano, and alongside many buffalo farms which make the milk for all the mozzarella cheese.

The Finish: almost 18km long, today’s climb is has a steady and gentle gradient. It’s the final 10km that feel like a climb proper because if the slope is not savage it heads into the chestnut woodlands and soon starts to snake and sashay it’s way up the hill via a series of hairpin bends. Just because it’s not 8% doesn’t make it easy, 5.5% is still enough to let gravity force a selection. The winner needs to play it just right, to sit on the wheels for as long as possible and to take the smoothest line through the hairpins in order to save energy for the final ramps to the line, still 5% again.

The Contenders: there’s a good chance the breakaway survives now that plenty of riders have lost time on GC. Mitchelton-Scott might prefer to see a move go clear and take time so that someone else can lead the race for the coming days in the expectation they’ll collapse come the real mountains. Many breakaway specialists will have made an appointment for today. To win our winner has to cope with the climb, they need to be a forceful rider. So prototype riders are Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing), Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Robert Gesink (Lotto-Jumbo), Ben Hermans (Israel Academy) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-FixAll). Diego Ulissi should be on the list but hasn’t seemed so convincing so perhaps UAE-Emirates team mate Valerio Conti is the better pick?

Carlos Betancur (Movistar) is still within two minutes of the maglia rosa so won’t get much room but packs a punch for this climb. The last winner here was Bart de Clerq, once a promising middle-distance runner before turning pro so what chance Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac)? Etna didn’t work out for him but this may be better terrain.

Can we get a GC showdown? There’s still the chance that some of the big teams drive the pace and so the day’s move is swept up. Astana could try but all the same teams will want to save resources for tomorrow; the Kazakh’s best rider on GC is now Pello Bilbao who has a chance today ahead of Miguel Angel Lopez because the Basque rider is punchier and more experienced. Otherwise Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) come to mind among the top GC riders with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) the obvious choice too, he’s quick out of a group too.

Ben Hermans, Felix Großschartner, Alessandro de Marchi
Woods, Wellens, Conti, Bilbao, Yates, Dumoulin, Gesink, Pinot, Betancur

Weather: cool and cloudy, a top temperature of 21°C and the outside chance of rain.

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.

Martin D May 12, 2018 at 9:14 am

I’m really enjoying the variety of parcours in this Giro so far. And there has been a decent spread of winners and losers: new faces vieing with the more established.

Even the Israel stages offered something different. Including a chance to reflect on the tragedy of the region and it’s ancient city of tears.

Maybe me being from the British Isles is slanting my perspective a bit as we see Yates and Bennett and Mullen rising from the fallen graces of team Sky. But I’m enjoying all the racing and love the internationalism of the peleton.

This weekend is a good example; a steady “diesel” climb finish one day followed by a steeper gradient the one after. An artful design playing to different riders strengths.

And enhanced, as always, by the excellent coverage here at inrng.

Mike A May 12, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Well said!

Richard S May 12, 2018 at 10:51 am

It looks like one of those climbs where all the top men will stay together until sight of the line and then have a bit of a final dash. I think though that everyone is aware that Froome/Sky aren’t on their A game and will be looking to force some gaps. I’d certainly expect Chaves and/or Yates to try something again.

Tom L May 12, 2018 at 11:32 am

I actually dont think Froome is far from where he planned to be…
The way he rode on Etna is just like he usually rides when he is preserving energy, and is mostly focused on not going in the red.
The fact that he could do that without loosing time, is perfect for him! When he gets to his top form in about a week or so, he is gonna tear it up on the Zoncolan! And even thoguh he lost more time than expected, he still hold the TT as an advantage over most guys, so he can even get Pinot, Lopez or some other riders with him, as long as they distance Dumolin…
I was a bit in doubt after stage 4 and 5, but the Etna stage showed me, that Froome is still the man to beat…

Richard S May 12, 2018 at 11:47 am

So if he is going to be where he wants to be in a week he isn’t on his A game now is he?! I agree that it’s probably part of a plan, you can’t be on top form in the first week of the Giro and the last week of the Tour. Now would be the time to try and make him pay, though as inrng says it might not work on this climb.

hoh May 12, 2018 at 11:57 am

Not far, but not there either.

Tom L May 12, 2018 at 1:25 pm

I agree, but if they cant take time on him on Etna they cant do it today either I think…
Also my point is merely, that I think he is up to the task of preventing further time loss this weekend, and then he is gonna attack Dumo in the 3rd week. After the TT he will also know excactly how much time he needs to claw back…
I think he is fine with the way things are going, when you take the crash in to consideration.

Vitus May 12, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Last time I checked, Chaves and Yates took time on him on Etna. Or don’t hey belong to the “they”?

Digahole May 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm

But Froome actually lost 30 secs to 2 GC rivals on Etna.
And he himself in his book described the Zoncolan as his most hated climb anywhere. We’ll see who rips who 😉

Bikefoolish May 12, 2018 at 9:53 pm

Well said, it’s also worth noting that he was in the final sprint group yesterday with no other GC contenders around.classic Froome trying to force gaps, hopefully he will give Tommy D a good fight

The Inner Ring May 12, 2018 at 11:40 am

It should stay together on the final climb among the big names. There’s still a big advantage to drafting so if suits the group over the lone attacker. Also the big names will want to save energy for tomorrow, the Gran Sasso is a long and gradual climb until the end when it rears up to 7/8/9/10% sections in the final 4km, just the place where the climbers need to attack the likes of Dumoulin and Froome.

Ferdi May 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

This is where the Giro gets an 80s feel, the kind of stage Saronni would win ahead of Moser, Visentini, Contini, and poor Beccia and Lejarreta (in this order). An era where Sean Kelly could have won as many Giri and Giro stages as anyone in history (probably killing the Giro on his way).

The Inner Ring May 12, 2018 at 11:44 am

We just need a feud or two between riders. Today’s Gazzetta tries to look at Yates and Chaves via Cunego-Simoni, Roche-Visenti and other inter-team rivalries but for now things look quiet at Mitchelton-Scott, especially as both riders are usually very tame in what they say to the media, so there’s unlikely to be any phrase that can be extrapolated and blown up, let alone an actual beef.

Anonymous May 12, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Yates and Chaves feud? more like the Chuckle Brothers! in the nicest possible way.

PaulR May 12, 2018 at 12:30 pm

(Maglia Rosa) to me, (Stage Win) to you….

jc May 12, 2018 at 12:02 pm

From what I have read elsewhere there are suggestions that the road surface after Salerno gets pretty rough and is very narrow in places, plus the numerous hairpins. There is also a significant possibility of thundery showers (you could see showers in the hills above on yesterday’s stage). Given the huge stage tomorrow I guess many might want to conserve energy but this is just the sort of stage when “stuff” can happen. A puncture for one of the contenders, the others push on in a heavy shower, confusion on all the hairpins and one team or other suddenly grabs the advantage. Perhaps time for a typical Giro polemica especially if Fabio Aru is involved 🙂

However I guess more likely is a steady climb with the GC guys marking each other and a small break fighting for the stage win.

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