The Spin: Giro Stage 8

Italy has mountains running down its spine from north to south so when the weekend comes and the organisers want to pump the viewing figures they just need to head inland to find ski stations, long climbs and steep finishes.

Today is no exception with the finish in the small ski station of Laceno just 4.4km after the top of the Colle Molella, a climb with double-digit percentage gradients.

In addition to the preview there’s also a look back at the lessons from yesterday’s first summit finish.

Note the start, the race heads uphill from the beginning. This is the perfect launchpad for a breakaway but the sprinters and those on a bad day or with injury or illness will spend the first half hour cursing as the attacks fly up the road. The rest of the day features moderate climbing, good terrain for a breakaway but suitable for a team to chase as well.

With the overall lead we should see Garmin-Barracuda working on the front, if Hesjedal can retain the lead today then it’s possible he keeps the jersey until next weekend given the relative ease of the mid-week stages. The team of the Giro so far, the riders must be feeling the effort though.

The final climb is tough. It’s been used twice before, once classics specialist Roger de Vlaemink won in 1978 (it can’t be that hard then) and then in 1998 Alex Zuelle won ahead of Laurent Jalabert (it must be hard then). There’s a good chance there’s a breakaway but behind several riders will want to test Hesjedal on the final climb knowing whoever takes the overall lead today can hope to keep it for up to a week for minimal extra effort, a huge prize. The old line that “it’s not the route that makes the race hard but the riders” should ring true.

The weather for today looks fine, with sunshine and some light cloud but this is expected to change for the next few days and could reach the mountains today. The finish is expected between 4.50pm and 5.30pm.

Scarponi Tiralongo

Yesterday taught us plenty. The finish was hard but not humiliating for the weaker riders. Instead if offered a steady test with a sharp sting at the end. Paolo Tiralongo had been strong all week in the recent Tour de Romandie, collecting several placings during the stages. He’s had a long career and had never won a race until last year when Contador gifted him a stage in the Giro, although went on a long and painful uphill treasure hunt to secure it. Now the Astana rider is capable of rivalling with the best and it bodes well for the whole Astana team.

Scarponi has been looking the part for over a week, if only because he’s as lean as can be. Yesterday he demonstrated his power-to-weight ratio and left others behind. Frank Schleck is back in the game and Ivan Basso is riding stronger too, building in form. Don’t rule out Rujano who lost 25 seconds yesterday as he paid for his early attacks; tactically not wise but he could still be a threat later in the day.

The leader of the pack

Hesjedal is an unknown force. The first Canadian to wear the maglia rosa, he’s had some good results to his name but few big wins. A very strong climber who tends to ride like a steady diesel he could hold the jersey for some time. As well as the efforts involved to keep this on the bike he now faces press conferences, photo opportunities, photos and an email inbox that pings with new messages by the minute. Meanwhile Scarponi, Kreuziger, Basso and others are waiting.

19 thoughts on “The Spin: Giro Stage 8”

  1. I’m not so sure what can conclusion to draw from yesterday. Positioning, I think, proved to be more important than strengt. Astana seems strong indeed, but Androni look even more dangerous and restless.

    • “Positioning…proved more important than strength.” So, in other words, it was a bike race. 🙂

      I’m not particularly fearful of animals, but it’d take more than a pink jersey to get me to do a photo op with a pair of coyotes. Yikes.

      • When I first read your post I thought you were referring to the podium girls, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me :).

        Are those things alive or stuff – either way a little disturbing. 🙂

  2. The breakaway has to make it stick till the end this time. There will certainly be fireworks on Colle Mollela and given the restlessness of Androni team, I won’t be surprised to see them animating the race. There’s a flat section of 4K after the climb which will help the leading pack to regroup. I think Ryder will be able to hold onto the Maglia Rosa today.

  3. Joaquim Rodríguez won Fleche on April 18, meaning by the time the 3rd week rolls around he will have been on form for at least 6 weeks already. He needed to win and take the bonus seconds yesterday but instead he couldn’t even come around Frank Schleck. That can’t be an encouraging sign.

  4. My interpretation of yesterday was that the GC riders with time to make up on Rodriquez wanted to win the stage for the time bonus and pull themsleves closer to him on a ralatively easy day – but not get into pink. The steep big climbs later in the race will have plenty of opportunities to open big gaps but this was a good day for positioning. Ryder (YEAH CANADA!!), did what he had to do to get pink and nothing more IMHO.

    I see today as either a breakaway (depending on it’s composition) or another tactical GC stage where GC riders work for the bonus’s but not big attacks.

  5. kinda don’t like saying this, but that must have brought franks odds in massively… he was coming back to them with joaquim who couldn’t come around for 3rd.

    and franks not hit form yet this year, so surely he should come pretty good week 3 if he’s trying to ride into form right now… maybe he’ll wake up next week sometime and think, winning the giro then being a domestique for andy wouldn’t be a bad year at all for his palmarés, it would definitly look better than a tour de france podium IMO

  6. Kreuziger, Basso, Schleck, Uran all taking it easy and waiting for week 3. I don’t see Hesjedal holding this in the Alps.

  7. Purito, Kreuziger, and Fränk can’t be that good, since:
    1) Hesjedal and, more importantly, Cunego, were plainly ripe to be eliminated, and no one took the initiative to grab the maglia and reduce the number of contenders. This one for Rodriguez.
    2) Everyone should know by now that when Liquigas with Szmyd and others sets out to mark time as they climb, it means their leader is not doing well. We’ve seen it with Nibali, and we’ve seen it more with Basso. What’s more, w’ve rarely seen the Liquigas capi attack after having Szmyd lead the climb (I don’t remember even once). When Liquigas moves to the front, it’s the time to call their bluff. This one for Schleck and Kreuziger.

    • Hesjedal was suffering and I was surprised that nobody tried to get rid of him. Then again Astana, Liquigas and Katusha don’t want the jersey this week. Instead they can have Garmin working to chase down moves and conserve energy for the final week.

  8. I’m just recovering from the discovery that Rigobertie’s full surname is Uran Uran. His name is Rigo and he dances on the pedals…

    • That’s so bad it’s good Steve

      I’m easily amused because calling your son Ryder and then him actually becoming a Bike Rider as a career strikes me as hilarious . How did they know ?

      Is Ryder a popular name in Canada ?

      Great coverage of the Giro as usual Inner Ring . Even when I disagree with you sometimes I always read what you have to say and find it interesting

      I’m not a Sky fan but I will certainly be cheering on Rigo Uran Uran , so good they named him twice !

      • The ‘Ryder’ thing is called nominative determinism – like Ben Swift, Ursain Bolt; maybe Mancini and Arsene also.

        I spotted the Duran thing recently too, but didn’t have the wit to find the joke. Chapeau!

  9. none of the actual favourites have looked in trouble yet, that’s why all the next tier of riders are still around them, why would any of their teams want the jersey before week 3? the longer they save their domestiques the better… like rsnt, look at their weak giro team, how can they protect frank?

    what i’m really surprised about is how astana are all over this race, why are they not saving themselves to help roman?

    • You can get the jersey on a stage like Laceno, and give it away the next day to a breakaway, or let the sprinters’ teams do their job if they want.
      In every mountain stage there are people who are stronger than others – that day. That’s why they have to “shake the tree”, and drop the ripest apples.
      I personally expect riders and teams to think first of the pain and exhaustion they intend to inflict on others (I mean competitors, not us the audience), and not on the energy they might be “wasting away”.

  10. I’ve been following Ryder for a few years now, and I’m not sure I believe the “Stomach troubles”. He was at the back because he’s not really an attacking climber, so he’s probably unwilling to try and match attacking climbers like Scarponi. He climbs like Menchov, or at a pace that is comfortable to him, and he doesn’t try and match wheels too much, especially when there’s 4k of flat racing at the end of the stage. When the climb flattened out, he was right on the front again.

    Sky and others will work like hell to bring the breakaways back next week, and now that they’re not looking for stage wins for Farrar, Ryder’s chances of keeping the maglia rosa just bumped up a notch.

    Having said that, he’s hanging on by the skin of his teeth right now, and he just needs one day where he’s not in top shape to lose it.

  11. Ryder has, historically, always performed his best in teh 3rd week of GT’s when loads of others are struggling or falling apart. Can he continue in this vein this year? We shall see.

    He is definately more of a diesel style climber, but everyone seems to forget that he won that insanely hard Vuelta stage a couple of years ago that had 6000+ meters of climbing in it. He also finished 4th on the Tourmalet stage in France in 2010. So he IS capable of climbing well and limiting losses a la Wiggins.

    So unless Rodriguez gets some sort of time bonus in the next week to pull the jersey off his shoulders, expect to see him in Pink for awhile. Once that 3rd week rolls around, who knows what will happen?

    Scarponi looks just a little too fit right now, I am wondering if he times his peak incorrectly and will fade in week 3. Basso is looking good and clearly still rounding into form. As for Rodriguez, he has been going strongly for some time now. Will there be any drop-off from him or is his 2012 base level just really high?

    Lastly, Hesjedal has very few race miles in his legs so far this year compared to many. Will this be to his advantage in the final week?

    This is going to be one interesting edition!

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