The Spin: Giro Stage 4

Today sees a 33.2km team time trial in and around Verona. The city was used for the finish of the 2010 Giro d’Italia and now it hosts the restart of the race in Italy. But it could finish off the hopes of a few candidates for the overall as the distance is significant. Weak teams can pay a heavy price and the slight mountain climbers will struggle to hold the wheels.

This is not a technical course, a few corners matter but this is instead a high speed collective test. Teams will be cruising at over 60km/h as they head out and back from Verona. Indeed outbound teams will be able to see rival teams returning in the opposite direction, like passing trains on a railway line.

We saw big gaps in the Giro dell Trentino team time trial. Held on a similar flat route but just 15km, half today’s distance, Lampre lost 22 seconds and Ag2r gave up 50 seconds. Extrapolate these results and Michele Scarponi could lose 40 seconds to Roman Kreuziger or Ivan Basso whilst John Gadret could lose well over a minute.

The race is like a military drill where practice on the parade ground is everything. Riders need to learn to ride in formation, to swap the lead and above all to pace themselves. A squad with specialist time trial riders isn’t always at an advantage for if they don’t ride as a team then the uneven pace sees riders being dropped.

Worse, today comes after the rest day. Some riders handle the rest better than others and even with a decent warm up some will be raring to go but others will find wooden legs. It is a very painful event for all where riders will hit the front to hold 60km/h for a moment before dropping back in line to recover and then repeat.

The weather looks fine, sunshine and a few clouds with the temperature reaching 26C and only the lightest of breezes.

The favourites today must be Orica-Greenedge, Team Sky, Garmin-Barracuda and normally BMC but Phinney has a sore ankle so it is possible the overall lead changes. Also watch for Liquigas and Astana to see if they can put time into Androni Giocattelli and Colnago-CSF. This doesn’t make for TV viewing but look closely and you can spot who is riding well and which teams are all over the place. The first team is off at 3.25pm Euro time and the last team should arrive around 5.15pm.

27 thoughts on “The Spin: Giro Stage 4”

  1. Looking forward to this more than I expected actually, with such a flat week and a half of the Giro its this TTT that could see a bit of a shake-up of the GC before we hit the Mountains. My money is on Orica-GreenEdge for the win today, if i remember rightly they won the last TTT – Garmin-Barracuda and Sky always seem to dissapoint a little, especially Sky with a team full of strong TTers they just never seem to get it right come the team Time Trial.

  2. Have to disagree, GreenEdge had lucky weather at the TTT you are referring, the rain started immediately afterwards and disadvantaged the following teams. Garmin will go well.

  3. Do you still count the time according to the 5th rider above the line? This allows for some heavy tactical moves if you have a couple of strong bulls in your team. I’d be astonished if Sky won’t pulverize other teams today. But you never know with Sky (sigh). I’m expecting big time caps in GC after today’s stage.

  4. La Corsa Rosa’s back on home soil, not a minute too soon. If not for the crashing the Denmark adventure would have been pretty boring – the wife turned it on one day and thought they were replaying the previous day’s stage! Let the REAL Giro begin!

        • I’m going to defend the Danish Giro start a bit more than I would otherwise now, but these negative comments need some countering.

          I absolutely agree that the racing was boring. Two flat stages where basically nothing happened, and a time trial that wasn’t any more or less exciting than a time trial would have been in any other place.

          But the crowds on the streets were overwhelming – about twice as many as expected. In terms of spectators interest, Denmark is pretty much up there at the very top, probably beaten only by Flanders at the Ronde. The fact that we don’t have many high-profile events plays a role too, as people are practically starving for cycling.
          And it has to be stressed that the routes for the stages (and the Worlds) weren’t the best or hardest that could be made, but the organizers can only play with the cards they’re dealt. The Worlds in Odsherred would have been a logistical nightmare, and to have anything else than a mass sprint in Jutland, you pretty much have to go to Vejle. As Horsens was the partner Herning chose for their bid, that was out of the question – and although there is an uphill road rising from the harbour in Horsens as well, it’s only as long or steep as Geels Bakke that didn’t prevent a mass sprint last year. It would also have been difficult to incorporate in the circuit they rode.

          That said, races of WorldTour or similar level will appear “boring” to the neutral TV customer most of the time. But if a WorldTour one-day race was to be established in Vejle, I don’t see why it shouldn’t become a success the way the Canadian races are – and with insane amounts of spectators along the roads.

  5. Maybe Radioshack could pull off a surprise today? Assuming that the riders maintain their form from Saturday, and barring any mishaps, the form book suggests the following positions for each team;

    Garmin – Barracuda
    Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
    Sky Procycling
    Omega Pharma-Quickstep
    Movistar Team
    Astana Pro Team
    Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
    Team NetApp
    Rabobank Cycling Team
    BMC Racing Team
    Katusha Team
    Lotto Belisol Team
    Team Saxo Bank
    Colnago – CSF Inox
    FDJ-Big Mat
    Farnese Vini – Selle Italia
    Lampre – ISD
    Androni Giocattoli
    AG2R La Mondiale
    Euskaltel – Euskadi

    Garmin had five riders in the top 20 on stage 1, so it would seem they are the clear favourites, especially when it is a favourite discipline of Jonathan Vaughters.

  6. The one rule I really don’t like about the TTT is where a dropped rider DOESN’T get the same time as the rest of the team. That means a team with a mountain climber in it has to get to the end with him as one of the 5, yet he probably wouldn’t have been able to contribute much.

    I’d much prefer to see a total team effort, where sacrifices can be made and everyone gets the time of the 5th rider across the line.

    • Yeah but that’s what makes it interesting, if one of the favourites goes off the back and gets a slower time, or the team have to drop back to help them and then get a slower time. If everybody got the result of the fifth rider then the GC guys could just tootle around and rely on the rest of the team to put in a good time.

      • Well I understand you point, but I don’t agree with it 🙂
        imo it should be about the TTT and only about TTT, i.e. use up all the resources you have in the best way to get 5 men across the line. It should be a measure of the strength of a team as a whole, not any individual.
        Also, I don’t see that a GC contender would gain much from ‘tootling’ around, nor lose much from being the strongest TTer and therefore put in max effort.

        • Tootling around – Why expend all that energy when you can just relax and let guy number 5 bury himself to get you a decent time? Then you can just roll in later on and be fresh for the next stage.

          • Well, firstly, would a team do ok, if someone didn’t contribute? – we’ve seen teams suffer because of early dropped/punctured/crashed riders before. Plus, as with all stages, there would be a cutoff.
            Secondly, with a flat stage the day after, would it make much difference to the following day tootling or burying? I’m not so sure.

  7. ”Secondly, with a flat stage the day after, would it make much difference to the following day tootling or burying? I’m not so sure.”

    In this race it probably wouldn’t make much difference, but in others it could make a massive impact if the TTT was followed by a hard stage.

    The tootling may not make much difference to the riders form, but if everybody got the same time as the fifth rider it would certainly make for a more boring GC fight with all the main contenders less bothered about having to keep up with the pace. In a GT like this where theres pretty much two weeks of nothingness, without the shake-up in the GC that the TTT may provide and the added entertainment of watching the GC guys have to give it there all, it would make for an even more boring two weeks.

    • I think what you chaps are forgetting is that these days the GC guys are going to be one of the best 5 TTers in their team or else they’re not a GC guy…making the whole argument a bit redundant. There are no mountain goat GCers anymore who can put 5 minutes into the rolleaurs/passisti in the mountains and lose 4.30 on a TT…unless of course the parcours was set up that way….

        • Perhaps, but both Pozzozivo and Rujano and no worse than their teammates at time trialing, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Any legit GC rider who rides for a World Tour team can hang on during a TTT.

  8. All effort is felt in a stage race, it is like compound interest. Waste a small bit of energy here and there and it soon adds up.

    The format of the TTT is odd as it places the burden on the team as a whole in what is normally seen as an individual sport. But this just mixes up the race and time lost today can be regained on the climbs, sometimes organisers want to make the climbers lose time so they go on the attack.

    • My thoughts exactly. After a number of grand tours in the past years where organisers have added more and more high mountain stages in an attempt to spice up the racing, only to see the GC contenders mark each other out for most of the race*, the Giro and Tour this year look designed to force the climbers on the attack earlier in the stages rather than just in the last 2-3 km.

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