Giro Stage 10 Preview

Giro Stage 10 preview

The first summit finish of the race. It’s not the high Alps but what this stage lacks in high altitude it makes up for in vicious vertical gain on the final climb where 20% slopes await.

Do we get a showdown amongst the GC candidates or will they sit tight? Normally a grand tour prompts conservatism but this Giro is doing the opposite and on such steep slopes it’s inevitable that the “fight for pink” sees many going into the red.

  • Passo Cason di Lanza  12,3km long, 8,5% average, 16% max
  • Altopiano del Montasio, 10.9km 7.9% average, 20% max

The Route: 167km this stage gets better the longer it goes on, at least for viewers and mountain goats. The roads to the feedzone in Tolmezzo are largely wide and flat, big ring boulevards that tell little of what is to come except for the peaks that crowd the horizon and the large stony riverbeds that signify mountain rivers. The road then drags up to Paularo and narrows too.

But it all changes with the Passo Cason di Lanza after the TV sprint in Paularo.

As the profile shows the climb is highly irregular. It’s also very narrow, the kind where two cars cannot pass each other. As it climbs through woodland the gradient is constantly changing making it hard to dose the effort evenly. There’s even a descent in the middle to break the rhythm and this is steep and twisty in places. You can see the climbing in the video clip here.

But the filming was done months earlier meaning the snow won’t be there but also the road has been resurfaced as you can see in the gallery of images from French journalist Guillaume Prébois.

The Finish: a steady approach along the valley road until the final 11km when the road kicks up and the climbing begins. An immediate section at 14% will help thin what is left before every rider is left to themselves and the personal battle between power to weight. It’s there there’s nowhere to hide and with 20% slopes there’s almost no benefit to being on the wheel of a rival or a team mate. Riders will have special low gears to confront the slope.

The Scenario: the flat roads at the start will likely see a breakaway go. Expect the usual suspects here from Vini Fantini and Bardiani-CSF to try, along with fellow wildcards Androni and Colombia although each team will want to hold some riders back for the climbing, letting others tackle the high speed main roads of the early part of the stage.

There are three tests today: how will Wiggins descend, what will Astana do, and the obvious display of climbing ability. Wiggins has been “descending like a girl” in his own words even the first climb includes a slippery descent on the way up. The prognosis is not good for him as once you lose your confidence going downhill, recovering it takes time. Nervousness means getting more tense, sitting upright, arms rigid and grabbing the brakes in comfort so you lose time on a corner, then get more of the same on the next bend, a vicious circle; if he has a bad day watch for Sergio Henao who should like this finish. It’s also a test for the Astana team. How well supported is Vincenzo Nibali once the climbs start? We’ve seen Tanel Kangert and Fabio Aru but who else will be there?

A time trial is called the “race of truth” but you can deceive the wind with work in the windtunnel or cheat the clock by knowing the course well, to a degree at least. But arguably a very steep climb is the purest test, for all the spectacle and fear it might engender, a 20% slope is a pure test of a rider’s power to weight ratio. This arithmetic cannot be avoided and results today will give big clues for the next two weeks although don’t extrapolate too far into the high altitude stages as they are subtly different. Is Hesjedal weight loss going to pay off? Will Gesink cope?

Will Pozzovivo play the Altopiano today?

“Watch out for Ag2r” is an uncommon warning but things have changed this year. The tandem of Domenico Pozzovivo and Carlos Bettancur is one to watch. The Colombian will want to avenge his Florentine humiliation where he crossed the line in celebration only to learn Maxim Belkov had won the stage. Pozzovivo was surprisingly good in the time trial and but the climber is better suited to this finish. He’s also a piano player so what better place than the Altopiano to win? If not the flatter run to the finish line could suit the punchy style of Cadel Evans and watch out for Michele Scarponi who seems to be floating on the pedals right now.

Weather: cloudy skies with a chance of rain and cool temperatures of no more than 16°C (60°F) for most of the stage with colder temperatures at altitude. Weather forecasts have not been reliable but if it’s been wet it could stay damp on the roads given the overhanging vegetation.

TV: live coverage begins soon after 3.00pm Euro time with the race crossing Paularo at the same time. Tune in to see the Passo Canzon di Lanza but don’t expect big fireworks although we’ll see how Wiggins copes with the descents. The final climb should start around 4.30pm with the finish as ever forecast for 5.15pm.

Local Touch: just as to most Italians Stelvio means cheese rather than a mountain pass, Montasio is also famous for its cheese. The area is also international and sits on the Austrian and Slovenian borders. There are no Austrians in the race but Robert Vrečer (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) and Grega Bole (Vacansoleil-DCM) could find extra motivation although they’re not climbers.

46 thoughts on “Giro Stage 10 Preview”

  1. I will be very interested to see how Evans copes with the first high mountains stage. Coming off a short preparation, the way he has been racing has been measured and consistent, but will he have the preparation in the legs to climb with Nibali and co?

  2. Today’s stage looks like climbers’ paradise. Astana will surely just keep an eye on other CG contenders and let all the climbers get away. Astana won’t act unless something unexpected will happen. Cadel will sit tight in the main bunch with Nibali. He will not risk his good CG position. Scarponi has been going really good and might attack in the last climb.

  3. Great preview piece as ever. Thanks inrng. Surely Wiggo has to go on the attack and gain a few seconds? If he doesn’t he’ll get to the high(er) mountains with the same (or larger) deficit and he ain’t gonna make up 1 min plus in the final TT. Forza Wiggo Oggi.

    • Anyone wanting to overhaul Nibali will probably wait, better to let him trip up along the way than try too hard today. But we’ll see who is climbing well today because the slopes are so hard.

  4. “..He’s also a piano player so what better place than the Altopiano to win?..” LMAO

    I think Pozzovivo or Rabottini will try to go for this stage. Also watch out for Salerno and Pellizotti. My bet for the stage win is Darwin Atapuma.

  5. Please can you include the UK coverage times on your race previews? Although the Eurosport app is great for saving money its timings are all over the shop.

    • I highly advise you avoid Eurosport at all costs. Not only do they have the worst commentary but they tend to have the most adverts as well as well as by far the least reliable TV schedule; you can always assume that whatever they say is wrong and that coverage will probably be delayed for 45 minutes because some tennis players are 17-17 in the final set or something. has the UK schedules, but really, you’d be better off with RAI’s coverage which you can watch online in the UK as they can at least recognise the riders and don’t have any adverts to speak of. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak Italian, as so many Italian words are used in English anyway. I’m not saying it’s an easy language to learn, but it is an easy language for an English speaker to understand.

    • New this year in the UK, there’s live radio coverage on BBC 5 live Sports Extra from about 2.30-3pm every day until the end of the stage (available online too).

      • lol – someone else who missed the Degenkolb win because of tennis pushing the f**king schedule back by half an hour. I’m working away from home at the minute, and steephill & cyclingfans have been my saviour

  6. I’ve hugely enjoyed the first week, plots and sub plots all over the place and plenty of attacking racing so hoping for more of the same in week 2. Could Sammy Sanchez do something today ?

  7. Agreed – a classic euskaltel euskadi type stage. Brutal and punchy in the latter stages : ideal for some wiry goat to take off up the ramps.

    • Agreed. Sexist shit does not stand. Anyone with a partner they respect has learnt long ago not only to talk like that but think like that. It’s the sort of comment inseure blokes make infront of their bar mates… not someone capable of being a role model.

      • It’s the sort of comment most kids start using when they are at school. Despite the desires of the Politcally Correct it is sometimes difficult to get out of ingrained habits (q.v Cavendish after the first stage!)

        • One small thing, swearing live on telly has the square root of bugger all to do with political correctness. And political correctness is often a force for good, though some folk do take it a step too far at times.

      • I disagree. We all know what is meant when we say something is “girly”, it is surely derogative when it qualifies the sportive performance of a 32-year-old male, but it can be positive when it qualifies the way a 45-year-old female wears a skirt. I’m sure Mrs. Wiggins understands both contexts and would feel concerned by none.

      • Kind of agree, but my girlfriend sitting on the sofa next to me laughed her socks off when she heard him say it. Got to say I find Wiggins’ attitude to the media refreshing. Nothing worse than listening to a manager or athlete who’s gone through media training. Wiggins is complicted and he’s got a brain in his head, so I think on the whole we should let him get on with it.

      • What would you rather though – the bland PR-spun comments of 90% of the peloton? No thanks.
        Cycling’s been lacking personalities for years and when we finally get one, we make it so that he feels uncomfortable on twitter, uncomfortable in interview, etc.

        Same with JV the other day. Let people be themselves.

        We’re all capable of making up our own minds without censoring everything to death!

        • Agree with Buddenbrook and Alex S – it’s refreshing to see a sportsperson respond candidly to questions and show his personality. It’s interesting to watch.

    • I’ll listen to your phoney outrage when you follow Wiggins’ example and fund a womens’ cycling team out of your own pocket.

      To even compare what he said with Sagan’s physical assault is just banal beyond belief.

    • Nah, it’s really not. Sexual harassment is worse than saying you did something like a girl. And for that matter, “girl” is different from “woman”. While perhaps it’d have been more politically correct to have said “I descended like a child” at a certain point you have to accept that these are athletes & not PR people. And he instantly corrected himself, so eh, there’s plenty of valid reasons to have a go at Wiggins, so lets stick to them rather than getting all worked up over something quite insignificant.

  8. “But arguably a very steep climb is the purest test, for all the spectacle and fear it might engender, a 20% slope is a pure test of a rider’s power to weight ratio”

    I would go further and say that a mountain time trial is the purest test – the real race of truth.

    I often find that having someone in my visual field can help me on a climb – even more so on a 20% slope!

    A question that occurred to me the other day: I assume all the riders’ bikes have transponders on them for timing purposes. What happens if a rider receives a bike change during a stage?

  9. Really can’t wait, I wonder if a GC contender (say Samtambrogio?) will do an early attack to force Astana to use up their domestiques, but then does this play into the hands of the other teams? I also think that a GC contender will want to get the stage win today because of the bonus seconds.

  10. I’d like to see someone lambast Wiggins for his “Ride like a girl” comment, considerably derogatory towards the womens’ sport that is seeking a fairer deal in the world of sports cycling. He knew immediately, the mistake he’d made and had to personally apologise to his daughter. I’d have thought he’d have rote learnt a response, like I “rode like a wus” or a “scardy-cat”. Imagine if he’d sad Harley Davidson Riders (South Park etal)

    • So would you also lambast Christine Lagarde (head of IMF) for saying women are less likely to take big risks? She used that just last week to argue that the financial crisis would have been less severe if more women would have been in high positions at banks.
      If you look at the results of the Red Bull road rage it seems that women are a lot slower descenders than men.
      Anyway, it’s highly irrelevant whether Wiggins descends slower, faster or exactly as fast as a girl, since all the contenders in the Giro are male. Let’s see if he can descend (and ascend!) like a Nibali.

    • Imagine if he had said “I descend like a politically correct, bleeding heart, couch potato with a runny nose”.. Then we’d all know what he was talking about.

    • Plenty of people have wasted space above complaining about that horrible thing Wiggins did.

      Frankly, I can’t stand the guy, but I find the outrage asinine. If that’s all you have to worry about, maybe find another hobby.

  11. Enjoyed the video clip of the climb. Look’s slow and painful. Hard to believe they made him talk commentary during that pain fest.

  12. RAI TV’s Davide Cassani called this one of the most difficult stages of the entire race and after seeing him riding some of it on TV at lunchtime I now know what he means! The descent from the first climb looks very technical, something not seen often in LeTour..probably another tough day for Wiggo and Co. from the looks of it.

  13. It was really great to see Evans dig so deep just to hold the wheel, then on to the front to bury the others or himself on the last few km. Where does someone get such strength? He is such a fighter – a true champion.

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