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The Moment The Race Was Won: Tirreno-Adriatico

Nairo Quintana rides solo on the way to the Monte Terminillo, the “fantastic four” reduced to one. This was the moment the race was won.

The race opened with a prologue instead of the promised team time trial because of the ravages of a storm. Adriano Malori won. Malori means illnesses in Italian but hopefully he’s got a healthy future. The Movistar exile is a time trial expert and, with Tom Dumoulin, one of the few riders to threaten Tony Martin’s hegemony. Five riders finished within three seconds. Come the final stage, more a test of raw power than handling skills, and Fabian Cancellara was on top. Cancellara’s become a creature of habit and winning the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial usually presages classics podiums.

Stage 2 ended in a bunch sprint and a big crash. Jens Debusschere won twice, first with the victory celebration and the second time with his post race quotes which expressed humility, he knew he’d not beaten the whole field b. The next day Greg Van Avermaet won in Arezzo. Finally. As quipped on Twitter, what would happen if GVA and J-J Rojas arrived alone as a duo in the finishing straight is the stuff of philosophy. Van Avermaet won the same day as his lawyer was attending an anti-doping hearing. Headlines concentrate on “Ozone Doctor” but the case reportedly involves infusing a medical product for infants called Vaminolact. If anything it’s embarrassing, getting baby drugs from a quack doctor rather than just having a glass of milk or a recovery shake.

Wout Poels took a crafty stage win to the delight of Etixx-Quickstep sponsor Marc Coucke, although he was soon informed that Poels had left his team for Sky over the winter. The switch showed with Poels was described in L’Equipe as “anorexique“. Ironically his win owed plenty to descending skills.

Everything built to the weekend showdown on Monte Terminillo. There’s no accident the best stages were reserved for the weekend, they guarantee a TV audience boost and the race got 1.7 million viewers in Italy or 9%, a respectable score for Italy. The fear was the climb was too predictable to provide action but riders responded and the weather made things more dramatic. Quintana accelerated twice, one to test his rivals and the other to ride away for good. He came into the race as the unknown quantity and left ahead of the rest. As a climber he had only one real test to pass this week, it’s worked. Scanning his the bookmakers ds for July – a long way away – he’s been on decimal odds of 3.58 across the market for a while and his win has only tightened things to 3.47.

Quintana talks in the same way as he pedals. On the bike Quintana seems perpetually in one bigger gear than his rivals. The legs turn slower, a forceful style. It’s the same manner in a Quintana press conference, the words flow slower but with an assured and deliberate manner.

Vincenzo Nibali came up short, predictable after he was seen floundering on the Strade Bianche. Last year he was discreet in Paris-Nice so perhaps there’s nothing to worry about, besides Alexandr Vinokourov is probably too busy trying to save the whole team rather than write angry letters but all the same sponsors and Italian fans alike would have preferred to see a peak of form rather than a trough, he didn’t seem happy and avoided the media at times, presumably to duck questions about the team’s licence, about which he knows as much as you and I. The UCI has given the team until 20 March to get their files ready for a pending licence hearing and RCS race director Mauro Vegni says Brian Cookson has assured him the whole matter will be settled, even any CAS appeal, by May.

Alberto Contador was solid. There’s talk of a training accident before the race but was just heavily marked when he chased Quintana. In the words of Thibaut Pinot the Spaniard had only to “lift his rear off the saddle for everyone to throw themselves on his wheel“. Losing a race or two this year helps deflate his status a touch so that the next time everyone won’t look to him to do everything.

Pinot had a very good race. His chase efforts were like Contador’s he met a headwind up front and a queue of riders behind. The Frenchman can play the anarchist sometimes but this has been a solid week, he’s got a team around him and increasingly has the focus to stay out of trouble on the banal stages. He even made the top-20 on the final stage, finishing ahead of specialists like Matthias Brändle and Luke Durbridge.

Bauke Mollema had a great time but we’ll want to see him repeat soon to confirm the result. You sense that he was allowed to get away because he’s Bauke not Alberto, the others were content to let him go potato-hunting. Their mistake and he climbed onto the podium. It’s a great result and it’ll be fascinating to see what he does in the coming weeks and there’s room to improve longer term too, his “nodding dog” time trial action needs to be sorted. Adam Yates was very impressive, there’d been talk of Richie Porte becoming Orica-Greenedge’s GC rider but Yates looks like he’s got more potential.

Peter Sagan’s win matters. People have been counting the days, weeks and months since his last win. Anecdotal? Of course but telling because he’s been a rider capable of winning on varied terrain and therefore a rider who should be winning so much. One win is good enough to shorten his odds for Sanremo.

Classics Prep
Those who went to Italy in search of better weather made the wrong choice this year. Compared to Paris-Nice the stages were faster, the stages were longer and it’ll give some the workout they crave. It’s all in the details, if it was colder did they dress for success during the day and then wrap up the moment they crossed the line?

There’s been a polemico about the snow on Monte Terminillo with some riders quick to criticise the race organiser. The experience varies, Pinot said he enjoyed riding with bare arms because it gives him a look of “a warrior” for the photos but for most it was more polar conditions than Polaroid moment. The first got to the finish with relatively clear roads but the gruppetti had to endure it for 20-30 minutes more by which time the roads had become very slippery and even team cars were slithering across the strada bianca.

The Verdict
An enjoyable edition with varied geography and a big cast of actors, the race is evolving into a mini-Giro. If the route could be drawn with a mouse or paintbrush, an added uphill finish with a short and steep ramp, Montelupone style, would have been even better.

Billed as the first clash of “the fantastic four” the race showed cycling is complex contest and attempts to reduce to simple labels are fun marketing but sport throws up surprises. Nairo Quintana came into the race as the unknown quantity and leaves with the giant trident, one pointy tip for each of the three rivals he’s planning to skewer in July. Bauke Mollema had a great performance, confirming this with more results is the next test. Thibaut Pinot wore the white jersey for the best young rider but only because he was keeping it warm for Quintana who is four months older than him.

Milan-Sanremo looms large. Vincenzo Nibali says he won’t ride, the absence of the Le Manie climb doesn’t help him but it wouldn’t be any good if they put it back on the route and added Pompeiana too because his form’s off. It means a race tilted to the sprinters but others like Fabian Cancellara are waiting to spoil their day.

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew E Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 7:59 pm

    I think I’d probably be a little harder on Contador and Nibali than you were. If Quintana had failed there would have been a ready made excuse about coming back after a set back too. But he didn’t fail. He stepped up and won and that’s what Contador and Nibali should be doing. In the Ruta del Sol Alberto was trading blows with Froome but here he was more the Alberto of the 2013 Tour. Nibali looked like he was on a training ride.

    I won’t deny this keeps us all guessing but this year it seems to me so many riders have so much to prove and I would like to see people stepping up.

  • Netserk Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 8:03 pm

    Nice write, as for your first picture I’d prefer a picture where you see the chase behind him (like this: http://cdn.media.cyclingnews.com/2015/03/15/2/sptdw813_670.jpg). It was the perfect moment to strike for Quintana as Contador was gliding down the group on the other side, seemingly checking out how the rest were doing.

  • Mike Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 8:10 pm

    Interesting to see Nibali, Contador, Uran and Pinot all within seconds of each in the final TT with Quintana as much as 30 seconds back.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 8:36 pm

      Quintana’s made big improvements in his time trialling but it really wasn’t a course for him at all. Pinot was the surprise, he too has made gains but is another climber so being able to churn a big gear like will cheer his team ahead of the Tour de France opening stage TT.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 4:51 am

        If Q. is climbing like this in the Tour, the others are really going to need to try and put time into him on the cobbles

        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 9:33 am

          Only Quintana’s next few races are the cobbled classics, he’s doing the Dwars door Vlaanderen and the GP E3 Harelbeke to learn more. He doesn’t seem to have many weak points, he’s solid on the bike and anyone trying to bounce him off a wheel gets flicked back.

          • Sam Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 10:58 am

            hehe, thats very true. A team mate (or fellow Colombian) has said that Nairo’s no softy when it comes to responding to the rough stuff

          • gabriele Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:20 am

            I always remember him speaking of racism in Avenir’s peloton and his own bold reactions…

    • gabriele Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 10:52 pm

      Given the advantage with which Quintana started the TT, thus having nothing to gain and so much to lose, I guess it made no sense for him to take the slightest risk in the corners and so, on a conscious level or not.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 8:34 pm

    “The legs turn slower” are we seeing the end of the hamster wheel cadence frenetics which was the future. I certainly hope so!

  • Larry T. Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 9:56 pm

    I’m still wondering if the other three are fine with The Condor’s fine form….in March? How can one hold onto this kind of form until July? I’m no exercise scientist but it’s hard for me to fathom Quintana being this good in March compared to his rivals and repeating the same feats again in July when it really counts.

    • Netserk Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 10:03 pm

      It’ll be like with Contador last season. First peak from Tirreno to Basque Country and then the big peak in July. It’s not like he’ll be in top form all the way from April to July.

      • Larry T. Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 7:43 am

        Netserk: My memory of Contador once July 2014 came round was that he wasn’t in dominating condition before he fell off and went home, despite looking so good in March. My comments were directed at so many who act like whatever form the top guys have now will be the form they’ll have come June or July. I remember all kinds of this rhetoric last season when Nibali was declared hopeless for July based on his early season results. A lot of chamois’ are getting bunched up way-too-early in my opinion. The real racing season begins on Sunday in Milan. 🙂

        • Anonymous Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 9:28 am

          He looked alright at the Dauphine…that wasnt long before July

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 10:39 pm

    Excellent piece (although I always prefer the cycling jargon in the original language, but that’s my personal taste).

  • PaoM Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 10:48 pm

    Thank you, enjoyned the story as usual on inrng. Italian right spell is “polemica”, not with final “o” as it is in the article (discussion of course is female in italian…)

  • Othersteve Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 10:55 pm

    Thanks for the great overviews all week.

    Nibali too me is the disappointment, he was riding with the # 21 team leader, Italian first big stage race in Italy. A bit weak for the size of his pay check.

  • rk Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 11:03 pm

    quintana seems to really like snow

  • gabriele Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 11:22 pm

    Looks like Nibali changed his mind again about La Classicissima, apparently he’ll ride, says Spaziociclismo.

    Perfect analysis of the whole race and contenders by inrng once again (no need to say…).

    Funny that some riders complained about the Terminillo without being there! Others underlined how the organisation knew it would snow and did nothing… but they themselves knew that, and didn’t bother to wear a proper outfit, even if they weren’t fighting for any result nor for the time limit, so they could even stop and dress up to the occasione 😉
    Someone else speaks out “representing everyone” but doesn’t care if other riders had already expressed quite a different opinion from his.

    The problem, we’re said, is that the weather was ok for the first 80-100 riders or so, but it was terrible for the rest. Then, I wonder if it wouldn’t be a pity to remove such a promising climb from the race if it doesn’t even represent a trouble for most riders. As I said, those who aren’t fighting for top positions can take it easy and choose the best equipment on the go. If the riders know it’s going to snow, maybe they can even ride differently the rest of the stage, for example avoiding to play with the last second of the time limit – anyway, the time limit itself can be modified by the jury in situation like this.
    As a last resort, I’m also wondering if it could be possible for the jury to “partially neutralise” the race, that is giving a different treatment to different groups, stopping the race some 3-4kms down for the gruppetto and giving everyone who wants to stop a default 15′-20′ malus difference.

    (PS I happened to be riding uphill under heavy snow on snowy roads, and if you’re not racing it’s no inhuman feat, even if you don’t have a warm bus waiting for you on the summit)

    • Nick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:14 am

      Agreed, uphill in the snow isn’t too bad. Downhill, on the other hand …

      • gabriele Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:30 am

        Yeah, it can be really tricky, even if it sometimes depends on the “type” of snow, but since I’m no Sapir-Whorf-Eskimo nor wax expert from cross-country ski, I won’t even try to discuss that 🙂

        • Othersteve Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 5:39 pm

          cycle cross guys would have the advantage going down hill in the snow

    • King Boonen Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 4:33 pm

      A perfectly sensible thing to do would have been to either extend the time limit for the guys at the back or suspend it but insist everyone finishes the stage under their own steam.

      That would have allowed the riders to get o some warm, dry clothing, maybe a hot drink and then carry on. They wouldn’t want to be out there any longer than they had to, so they’re not going to take ages, but it would let them finish in slightly more comfort and minimise any risks.

      Cancelling the stage wasn’t needed as we have seen, a good policy in place would have made it a non-issue. Instead we have race organisers who obviously do not want to suspend any racing at all being put in the position of power. It would be similar to allowing the bowling team to decide when the light is bad in cricket.

  • Joe K. Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 1:11 am

    Quintana and snowy cold conditions: he took the lead on the controversial stage at last year’s Giro when race directors tried to slow down the race due to ice and cold on the descent, and at this T-A he takes it in the snow and ice atop Terminillo. For someone from a hot tropical climate, he surely excels in these conditions!

    • Finn Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 9:08 am

      His town is 2,800M elevation, he probably is used to snow up there

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 9:29 am

        Yes, he’s said he’s used to training in the cold, it’s often normal at home for him. Maybe not snow but close to freezing temperatures.

      • Chris Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 1:33 pm

        @Finn, it’s cold in Boyacá, but there is no snow, or at least it’s a very, very, very rare occurrence (and even then it’s probably just flurries). Since Colombia is near the Equator, there’s no such thing as winter.

  • Larrick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 3:25 am

    I’m confused about Sagan and the final TT. I was under the impression that the time limit in a ITT is plus 25% of the winning time. Sagan was at 26% by my calculations (though I’ve been known to have been wrong 🙂 ). Did the jury make an exception or have I got it wrong, anyone know the answer?

    • Augie March Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 7:55 am

      I think I heard the race jury made an exception, but anyone with better info jump in.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 9:30 am

      I can’t find the 2015 rules online but the 2014 PDF says 25% cut off and he was outside that. In any case he was on the podium collecting the red jersey so he was not thrown off the race.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 10:01 am

        As ever in cycling, rules are disregarded – especially for the big riders (was it King who got punted off a grand tour for being seconds outside the time limit, when injured/on a non-TT bike?).
        If you allow people to ignore some rules, they’re more likely to ignore others.
        And, as is so often the case, more stupidity from Sagan. Surely, he (and his team should be telling him) can pedal just a little bit harder and not take an unnecessary risk?

        • Larrick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 10:25 am

          King was the first name I thought of. Different organisation I know but he puts in 100% injured and is kicked off for a few seconds but Sagan soft pedals through and seemingly an exception is made.

          All the teams live in glass houses as far as following the rules are concerned but I’m surprised Trek and Cance haven’t piped up and said something as he’d take the points jersey if Sagan was DQ’d.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 10:41 am

            Jens Debusschere ‘won’ the points competition. Cheated; pure and simple.

          • Larrick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 10:58 am

            Cance was 1 point ahead of Dubus 21 to 20. Sagan had 22 points. But yeah, cheated.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:06 am

            Cyclingnews has Cancellara at 18th – my fault for trusting them.

          • Larrick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:14 am

            🙂 Cycling-news. They do a good job but accuracy isn’t their strong point!

    • gabriele Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:15 am

      I just love the way people are fond of the word “cheat” when discussing about cycling. When they didn’t even bother to read the rules! (which are publicly available online)
      It’s also quite funny as in a three hours or so we pass from kind of a (totally legitimate and reasonable) doubting position to the pomposity of “as ever”, along with insinuations about moral general consequences, gratuitous insults and the likes, until the magic word finally appears. Cheers!

      No exception was made. We can also add that the time limit was reasonably known with practically no margin of error before the race, hence I suspect that Sagan and good ol’ Oleg did it on purpose to get the fuss and susbsequent visibility on. We could debate if this is good or bad, funny or lacking of sporting attitude, but it has nothing to do with cheating nor respect of the rules.

      • Sam Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:21 am

        Quite.

        When did the moral high grounders shouting for black and white in all situations – and if its not black and white ‘then it MUST be cheating’ – kick in?

        Sport aint like that. And cycling certainly isnt.

        • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:36 am

          I didn’t say it was cheating, I said that the person who came second in the points competition was cheated. Different things: one implies that Sagan cheated (he did not); the other says that Cancellara was cheated by the race organisers – which is true if the 125% rule was the case and was broken.

      • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:30 am

        Do enlighten us on what the rule actually is then.
        Either Sagan was inside the limit and won; or he was outside and should have been disqualified.

        • Netserk Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:45 am

          AFAIK he was inside the time limit. The rule was 25% + rounded up to the nearest minute or so. No special treatment for Sagan.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:51 am

            Thanks. No-one else seemed to know what the rule was – including inrng – or couldn’t provide it.

          • Netserk Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:04 pm

            Quoting the rule regarding time limit for TTs:

            “for the d) category, the winner’s time plus 25%.
            According to Article 2.6.032 of the UCI Regulations, under special weather conditions, or other exceptional circumstances, confirmed accidents or incidents, the Commissaires Panel, after consultation with the organization Director, may readmit in the race any Rider finishing in a time exceeding the time limit, by increasing the latter by a maximum of 25%
            of the time set forth in this Article.
            The time limit, established based on the winner’s time expressed in minute seconds, shall be further rounded off to the subsequent minute”

            Pay special attention to the last sentence.

          • Larrick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:04 pm

            He was 26% outside the limit fwiw.

          • Larrick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:20 pm

            Netserk

            That last sentence is interesting. It could be read that the rounding up only applies where there are special weather conditions or exceptional circumstances.

            The rain had stopped, there were no issues that we saw so what caused the exception to be made do you think? Or is it that as with many rules and regulations, the meaning is in the eye of the beholder?

      • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:31 am

        Oh, and rules are constantly disregarded in cycling – you don’t need me to provide a list – hence ‘as ever’.

        • gabriele Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:52 am

          He was inside, 1″ in to be more exact (no random feat, IMHO).

          The pdf with the rulebook – written & published *before* the race – is online. It’s even in English!
          If the spirit was that of Augie March’s or Larrick’s first comment, I’d gladly post the link, but now I think that I’ll take the childish pleasure of forcing interested people to look for it (it’s no hard task, but maybe doing it yourself next time you’ll try that instead of unleashing random insults) or to believe my word on it.
          OR, you can go on until Oleg sues you and/or inrng until when he’ll be drinking vodka from your skulls ohohohohoh 😛
          And, no offence intended, I’m obviously more worried about inrng’s fate than yours!
          (Just kidding)

          Oh, and the problem with “as ever” is not “ever”, it’s “as”.
          And possibly the absence of any modal adverb/modal verb in proximity of the susbequent present tense of the verb “to be”.

          • gabriele Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:54 am
          • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 11:58 am

            ‘As ever’ – perfectly normal English use: languages are how people use them.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:00 pm

            But otherwise you’re right and I hold my hands up for my over-reaction without the facts.

          • Larrick Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:12 pm

            My original question was simply was he outside or not. My agreement with the term cheated was as as J Evans said, it was in relation to the meaning of being/feeling cheated out of something. It doesn’t mean I think anyone ‘cheated’.

            Reading your initial post, I humbly offer the view that you got the wrong end of the stick and your diatribe was unwarranted.

          • Anonymous Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:17 pm

            And as for ‘pomposity’… pot/kettle?

          • Anonymous Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 4:04 pm

            Larrick +1

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 8:50 am

    Sagan’s outfit. I mean you have to love it. It’s so bad! So Euro-pro. Whoever was commissioned to design his national champ outfit didn’t really bother to come up with anything vaguely appealing, but then add the flouro arm warmers, the orange lenses, the non-matching blue leg warmers, and of course his goatee… well done Peter!!!

  • Gargatouf Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:35 pm

    Quality stage on the Terminillo. As a spectator, the snow made it even better. Great ride by Quintana, clearly the most natural climber out of the lot.

    Happy with Pinot’s efforts, it’ll be interesting to see how he fares against the Top 4 in the Tour (if everyone stays fit) as his podium place last year was greatly helped by Nibali being the only one left in the race. He has made great progress in TT which was criminally ignored by the French for years. We’ll hopefully have a French winner in the Tour very soon.

    As a French, I can only be very happy with the renaissance of French cycling with future strong GC contenders.

    • gabriele Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:54 pm

      I especially liked the way he (Pinot) was sometimes trading turns – not just playing the waiting game or trying sneaky counterattacks on Contador – on the front.
      I’m not criticising the others (I generally don’t dislike Pozzovivo or Purito, who were *very* passive), anyone races as he feels or likes… but it shows that Pinot really stepped up from a psychological point of view (as we started to see in the past, too): he sees himself as a real contender, not just as someone who can snatch a day of glory taking advantage of the circumstances.

      • Sam Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 1:03 pm

        Agreed. Looks like that Tour podium has given Pinot belief. Good to see – I like him.

  • Sam Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 12:36 pm

    RIGHT. So didnt Nairo look good! Disappointment for Bert, no wins twice on the bounce now. Nibz looking like he wanted to be anywhere but there.

    • gabriele Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 1:40 pm

      … Anywhere but in Italy, I’d add. Last year he just rode two days in Italy before the Nationals and the Tour. It was a great idea. This year he’s already got his good share of polemiche and nonsense interviews, starting with Strade Bianche.
      On the other hand, I guess organisers feel his presence his paramount to keep things going, trying to break the wall between the (very large) number of cycling fans and general public. Apparently, it’s working, even if the big problem is on the media side, not on spectators’.
      Astana took things a bit too far last year, preventing Nibali from racing with a decent form in Italian semi-classics as a build-up for the Worlds after the Tour and even reserving him for Almaty instead of Lombardia (a Monument!).
      Now the balance of power is shifting, maybe Astana and Nibali will really need a – traded – wild card to race at least in the Giro, thus they’re suddendly way more compliant with RCS (see the hard interview about excluding Le Manie, threatening not to start the Sanremo, and the prompt U-turn… someway like Froome saying he was going to the Giro 🙂 )

    • noel Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 3:47 pm

      Sam –
      Quintana – assuming Movistar find a way to accommodate Valverde’s ego without compromising his chances, he has to be favourite for the Tour now, surely…
      Contador – love him or hate him, a race is so much more interesting with him in it… even when he’s not top dog.
      Nibali – I guess we should cut him a little slack… he has a certain amount of uncertainty swirling around his season – not that I am particularly sympathetic about that, but it must be something of a factor…
      Froome – well, the rest of his team is looking like a very well oiled machine right now… can he please just turn up in July fit, and not fall off too much (actually if I had one bet to make I’d put it on Porte for the Giro rather than Froome for the Tour I think…)

  • Sam Wednesday, 18 March 2015, 3:49 pm

    Nairo will be the one I’m cheering on, personally – but like everyone else, lets hope at least 3 of them are on that start line, fit and healthy, to make a real race of it.

  • Sebastian Thursday, 19 March 2015, 1:28 am

    Interesting to see how after 63 comments there’s just one with a mention of Urán. Think he did a good race in general, the final TT wasn’t as expected though. He’ll be in fine shape for Giro.

    • Sam Thursday, 19 March 2015, 4:05 pm

      Sure he will. But it’ll be interesting to see what level of support he gets from EQS especially in the mountains. Last year’s Giro, it was mainly Poels with him.

      • Sebastian Thursday, 19 March 2015, 6:10 pm

        I guess Brambilla and Verona would be in the roster, not the best swords. Some wheel he will have to suck, though.

        • Sam Thursday, 19 March 2015, 6:21 pm

          Yes. In the off season, climbers to support Uran’s ambitions didn’t appear to be on Lefevere’s shopping list.

        • Chris Thursday, 19 March 2015, 6:23 pm

          Yes, that’s pretty much it for support in the mountains. This is probably one of the reasons why Rodrigo Contreras was hired for next year. Urán desperately needs high mountains support.

          Now, let’s hope for Urán’s sake that his Giro aspirations won’t be hampered by Cavendish deciding he wants to do this race as well. I don’t think it’s in the latter’s racing programme (especially after the last two TdFs) but they already had to “share” leadership back in 2012 when they were both at Team Sky. Urán managed to get a top 10 and the white jersey despite only having Sergio Henao for support who, at one point, got sent chasing after Purito to protect Cavendish’s points jersey aspirations while Urán was left struggling on his own.

    • German Ospina Thursday, 19 March 2015, 5:39 pm

      He will be my favorite for the Giro. He rode Stage 5 perfectly, saving it for the final TT. He stayed with the right group and contrary to what people said afterwards I did see him pull his weight a few times. He didn’t have it for Stage 7, not sure how much if affected him that half his team quit halfway through Stage 6. Loved seeing the C0lombian colors too :). Uran is about 80% right now. He should have won the Colombian road race as well, IMO. He was marked more than Nairo.

      Thank you for your comment on my summary :). Nairo is only 25 years old..but he keeps on showing that his head and tactics are on par with his legs. Force for years.

      BTW: I’m calling Uran to win Lombardia this year. We shall see

  • German Ospina Thursday, 19 March 2015, 3:21 pm

    With 6km to go on Stage 5, Uran had his teammate pulling while he adjusted his jersey…he dropped back from the front a bit thinking that the big action was probably with 2-3km from the finish. Contador then had his teammate pull, latches on and Nairo jumps on Alberto’s wheel. If you look at the replay, Contador keeps on looking around and knows Nairo is on his wheel. He is looking for Nibali and others, trying to get an idea of who is struggling and who is strong. He swings to the right and starts fading back, asking others to pull as he starts checking everyone (ala Armstrong “flexing”). It is here that the race is decided, the 1st punch. Nairo swings left, looking at Contador. Nairo has already been checking and knows his only rival is Alberto. Alberto is now too far back and boxed in, too late to react. Uran sees Nairo and tries to swing left, but too late. Nairo pounces with no one near him, no one able to latch on. Alberto has to pass like 12 people to be able to react…of course he does, pulling a few with him, dropping half with this hard effort. Eventually, Alberto tries hard to catch Nairo, pulls Uran with him, with a turn approaching. Here is the 2nd punch. Nairo is playing rabbit, making Contador and Uran use all their energy to latch..they almost have him, they think, so they try harder and harder (Hinault/Lemond style?)…at the turn, Nairo sees they are almost done and goes hard again…at this point (watch the video), Contador looks for someone else to pull, no one does, and he has to stop, make sure he doesn’t bonk. The chase all gets regrouped. Game over. They know the strategy has changed, the strategy now is for 2nd place.

    • Sebastian Thursday, 19 March 2015, 3:52 pm

      Nice piece of comment, German. Really enjoyed the reading. You detail facts I wasn’t aware of.

    • Dennis Sunday, 22 March 2015, 4:49 am

      Thanks for this account of the stage! You highlighted important details that I missed in the excitement of the moment.