Giro Stage 17 Preview

Giro Stage 17 Vicenza

A day for the sprinters? Well the more you look, the less likely it seems. The profile shows a mischievous climb 16km from the finish but the secret lies in the narrow roads.

The race visits Vicenza to salute Tulio Campagnolo, the inventor of the quick-release lever and perfecter of the derailleur. Riders today will need to master more than their gear shifting to cope with the final climb.

Yesterday’s Stage:  a day of greed and fear. A large breakaway went away but the presence of Cannondale’s Damiano Caruso meant the likes of Katusha and Radioshack feared for his high overall placing so they contained the move all day. Greedy of Caruso to sit in a break and condemn all the others with his presence? Yes but he had the last laugh when neither Katusha or Radioshack had riders left in the final after working for hours to chase.

With the breakaway reeled in before the finish it left the big names to dispute the finish on a climb that caught out many although loyal readers were well informed.

The obvious loser of the day was Mauro Santambrogio who was invisible in the front group over the climb. Greed too from Astana and Lampre-Merida with Kangert and Niemiec working hard to win a stage but at this stage in the race you fear that’s energy being spent when it could be needed in the high mountains. No greed for Movistar who collect three stage wins, not bad for one of the most modest budgets in the World Tour.

The Route: the stage starts in Caravaggio, home of the famous painter but today’s route is as flat and linear the electro-cardiogram of a corpse rather than any oil painted magic.

But the brush strokes and pedal strokes all change after 170km and the intermediate sprint in Orgiano where in a place called Ponte Alto the road switches to narrow roads, heading into the Colli Berici, the Berici hills. In no time the road is so narrow that if a cyclist and a car met each would have to check their path.

There’s the climb of Crosara, 5.3km and 6.8% average with max at 12%. The point to note here is that you can’t take the climb in isolation. The roads before are narrow and the descent is technical is too. So pacing a sprinter up is no easy task as it’ll be hard to control before and after the climb too.

The Finish: flat but with a few hazards in the way, including a right-hander with 400m to go which sees the wide ride shrink to feed traffic and so the race, into a roundabout. The final road is flat and wide.

The Scenario: some tipped Cavendish yesterday but I couldn’t see it. Glance at this stage and it looks like a sprint finish, albeit with a hill to mix things up. But now I’ve looked in more detail I’m less sure. The climb is so steep and narrow that if the bunch hits it full gas then the sprinters can get flushed out the back of the peloton like a bad case of dysentery. Crucially the twisting roads before the climb allow inventive teams to break the race up although whether OPQS and Cannondale consent is another matter.

Mark Cavendish is riding well and his team is dedicated to helping him and there’s 16km from the Crosara hill  to recover things. So expect to see him lose ground he could come back to contest the win. Perhaps the question is what state his legs will be in if he makes it to the finish?

If not Fabio Felline was the first of the fastmen home yesterday and with Gavazzi eliminated from the race after being caught taking a tow on a car the Androni team has only one sprinter to cater for. Similarly Sacha Modolo was dropped yesterday but didn’t finish too far down yesterday. But there’s a good chance this wild Giro continues and we get a breakaway.

Weather: sunny skies and the thermometer sits above through the 20°C with little wind. A nice day for April and summer still hasn’t arrived at the Giro yet.

TV: tune in from 4.30pm to catch the final section through the Berici hills and the suspense of whether the sprinters can make it over the hills and through the bends to win.

Word of the Day: cambio meaning change. In 1927 Tullio Campagnolo needed to swap his rear wheel from one side to the other to change gears because in those days bikes had one sprocket on each side of the hub. But his hands were frozen and undoing the nuts proved a challenge.

Bisogno cambiá qualcossa de drio
Something’s got to change at the back here

With necessity came invention and the quick release lever was born and the Campagnolo company followed. In time Campagnolo moved to gears. Others had invented different systems but Campagnolo created the Cambio Corsa (“Race Change”), a system with two rods on the rear seat stay used to shift the chain from sprockets on the rear wheel and in time came the Gran Sport groupset. As such Campagnolo was refining and evolving technology elsewhere, a tradition that lives on today with the way the firm from Vicenza brought 10 and 11 speed gearing to the market.

22 thoughts on “Giro Stage 17 Preview”

    • With the narrow roads, OPQS will need to position him at the front of the race. All the stage hopefuls and GC teams will want to do the same. This could get interesting.

      Sad to hear it will be cold and snowy in the Dolomites. -20c forecast for the Stelvio. Organizers are looking for alternative routes (drat and double darn) Hopefully the organizers can put together some medium mountain or hilly stages. The racing has been very animated on theses stages this year.

      • Sorry about not posting entire user name in the above.

        Forgot to mention, Cav needs to score at least double digit points today if he hopes to win the Maglia Rossa. Cadel is breathing down his neck and there are 3 other riders who with a 20+ point day, could really shake up the standings. Love that about the Giro with the equal points daily as opposed to weighting the points towards the spriters.

  1. What amazed me about the whole Katusha-Radioshack thing was that Kiserlovski and Trofimov got dropped and couldn’t make it back to the favourites and lost minutes, of course not as much as Santambrogio but I think they lost more places?

    You say Caruso got the last laugh, well after yesterday he dropped a massive 18 minutes and 6 places – so if he’s laughing…what did he get out of it?

    Bit of a lose/lose situation in the end for all involved there.

  2. What an entertaining, albeit not vintage, Giro d’Italia we are witnessing. Lots of plots and subplots, every day. A lot of action too. We can’t repeat too much the difference it makes for a stage to have decent mileage (in painful contrast to this year’s Dauphiné).
    And what a way of Katiusha and RadioPard to make complete asses of themselves. I wondered if Cannondale or someone else wasn’t being punished for some unnecessary chasing earlier in the race or in the season. Anyway, in these situations, with still plenty of stages to go, it’s always up to the pink jersey’s team to control or else take the risk of an échappée-bidon finally affecting the GC. But definitely not someone defending a top-20 placing, it doesn’t make any sense at all, and I find it almost impossible to believe.

    • It’s not finished yet either. Although this morning’s Gazzetta says the RCS team of Mauro Vegni are working on alternative routes in the mountains with very cold weather and snow forecast for Friday and Saturday.

  3. Having once had dysentery, I can state with confidence that every case is bad. No-one ever complains of suffering ‘a touch of dysentery’.

    Beautiful simile though. Chapeau.

  4. Cav said himself that today would be too hard for him, although he may be managing expectations as he’s looked in superb climbing form.

    If he doesn’t make it over Viviani really needs to take the points here, not sure he will though.

  5. I feel guilty for working today instead of riding over to see this one, as these are roads I know well.

    The roads are only narrow between Orgiano and the start of the climb, after that they’re a bit wider, although they stay twisty all the way through the hills.

    Look for an attack from Sella as he’s from this area – his nickname was (is?) the Pulce dei Berici – the flea of the Berici.

  6. Lampre and Astana were fighting to for the bonus seconds with Evans present in the group. That seems a reasonable tactic and this was only in the finale so I doubt is was a serious waste of energy. Besides these guys are in the race so they know more about what they can and can´t do and when to burn the matches.

    I bet Tullio if he is watching is perplexed he sees how wheel changes have to be carried out today! In fact the need to constantly twist a skewers tight either in a race or in the lorry increases the risk of it breaking over time. When was the last time we saw a Pro ride down the road with his wheel undone?

    • Last time I saw that was Flanders last year, but it looked more like flying then riding.
      Anyway, the first thing Tullio might be perplexed about is riders switching their whole bikes just because they have a flat. Pretty different from his racing days!

    • They obviously burnt a lot of matches.

      If anything the curiousity of who chases whom and when has made for some very animated racing. As we speak OPQS started chasing the break with 80k to go. Just to ensure Cav is well positioned for the narrow roads and climb.

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