Giro Stage 12 Preview

Look closely at the finish on the profile because the race finishes on Monte Berico where the road rears up to 11% just before the line. Will this be where Fabio Aru give it everything to take over the race lead from Alberto Contador?

Ilnur Zakarin

Stage 11 Wrap: just when you think the race can’t get stranger, up pops Ilnur Zakarin. The surprise winner of the Tour de Romandie had a tough opening week but the Crane of Tartarstan bounced back to win on the Ferrari track in Imola. The way he rode suggests he could win more stages and if he’s back to his Romandie form he’s a contender for the time trial too. Behind Carlos Betancur won the sprint from the breakaway for second and further back Alberto Contador tried a small attack, saying later he sensed Fabio Aru was tired.

Contador giro

Had enough of Porte’s wheel change and the time penalty saga? So have Team Sky, they have apparently taken a vow to forget about it and not mention it again internally. It’s done and the focus isn’t on rules and penalties but how Porte can take back time in the upcoming time trial and the final week across the Alps.

The Route: unremarkable except for the short climbs along the way. The first climb of Castelnuovo-Monte Venda is steady at 6km. Crosara is a mini-wall with a 17% section and 12% for 2km, steep and spiky and with hairpins to make positioning even more important. The uncategorised climb after Finon isn’t easy, 2km winding uphill with more tricky uphill bends at 8-10% before a sharp and tricky descent into Vincenzo and a fast flat road that passes a few chain lengths away from the Campagnolo factory.

Monte Berico

The Finish: one kilometre at 7%. It’s a gradually curving wide road that rises gradually then kicks up just before the end.

The Contenders: the perfect finish for Diego Ulissi. He’s won uphill finishes before and this suits him just right. However the final climb is short and open to many more candidates, it’s just the kind of finish where a rider can be blocked by the wrong wheel. Michael Matthews is another obvious pick or will Orica-Greenedge back Simon Gerrans or maybe a two-pronged approach? At the risk of repeating the same names Philippe Gilbert could be in the mix although he’s not looking so sharp but the day we write him off is the day he’ll probably win. The same for Fabio Felline and Damiano Cunego. If the sprinters are still there then Movistar’s J-J Lobato will be close while team mate Giovanni Visconti is contender too, will they work together? Don’t discount the fast-improving Carlos Betancur. While breakaways are proving successful today’s finish suggests any move will need to be packed with heavy hitters from all the right teams otherwise the bunch will be chasing hard behind.

Fabio Aru and Alberto Contador are trading attacks and RAI’s studio pundit Beppe Conti is yearning for Aru to attack and take the time bonus and with it the maglia rosa from Contador. Just the small matter of doing this, Aru is very aggressive on the climbs but this kind of finish simply isn’t long or steep enough for him.

Diego Ulissi, Michael Matthews
Simon Gerrans, Fabio Felline, Carlos Betancur
Gilbert, Cunego, Lobato

Weather: wet with cool conditions and a top temperature of 17°C. Long range the forecast is for wet weather in the Alps and some of the high passes have fresh snow.

TV: the feed starts at 3.00pm CET with and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Cyclingfans and both cater to you feed needs.

The Giro is: geographical variety. Of all the places in the world to stage a three week grand tour Italy has the perfect geography and road networks. French writer Paul Fournel once wrote US landscapes don’t always suit cycling as scenery is so big it takes a long time to change and you can sense this watching the Tour of California, the racing might be good but the scenery passes differently. Meanwhile the Tour de France is a great race but half of the country is flat farmland making it hard to have a variety of stages. Italy just has the variety, take today’s finish is able to use a sharp uphill climb to Monte Berico above Vicenza and the race can dip in and out of the mountains almost at leisure, budget permitting.

56 thoughts on “Giro Stage 12 Preview”

  1. True, the Giro has beautiful backdrop scenery. But yesterday’s finishing circuit around the Imola raceway was boring, and risky for the riders as well with paint on the corners and residual engine oil on the track. To top it all off, there was light rain too. Watching circuit bike racing on car race tracks–a sure-fire cure for insomnia.

    Inrng truly popped a boil by posting the preceding blog “The Do’s and Don’ts of Racing,” with over 200 comments. Doping and UCI rulings–the bread and butter of cycling fanatics!

  2. Thanks, especially for the last paragraph. The only negative is the current state of the pavement in way-too-many places here in Italy. The economic crisis has really seemed to put a stop to keeping the roads in good shape. There will be a lot of work to do when (if?) the funds finally become available again.

    • Seems to be the same across much of Europe, budgets have been cut back and worse, when a repair is made it’s done on the cheap so it falls apart over winter. Hard to see it changing. Germany and Switzerland seem to be the exceptions, there must be others too.

      • I have to object that. In Germany many roads are overdue and all the cities and municipalities have no money to repair them. If they are repaired, at least, it is done properly, but the question is how long, since public-private-partnerships are all the rage at the moment despite some test projects proven them to be more expensive and cheaply done in comparison. For the Netherlands though I could concur…

        • Germany; the best roads I have ever trained and raced on. And if you flat, you’re sure to be able to take a bus and train back home.

          • I just rode in Germany for the first time last fall, in the Black Forest, and was blown away how good the roads were. I fear you’re all spoiled relative to what we have in California. In the US there tends to be funds for building new roads, and they’re way overbuilt with more lanes than are sanely needed, but then there’s no funds for maintenance and they fall into major disrepair.

            In any case, the ATOC stage near San Jose was really gorgeous this year. It tended to dip into the natural oases above the sprawl. If you ever are in the neighborhood, using the stage map as a reference wouldn’t steer you wrong.

        • I’d second that. And over all you can’t generalize “in Germany”. It heavily depends where you’re riding, how fiscal healthy the local authorities are or how deep in debt. You’ll see it on the roads. Not to speak about bridges. Surface may be good, but under the hood, they’re rotten like those in the US or elsewhere, cause nobody has the money tp modernize them

      • Spanish roads are an excellent indicator of the economic crisis. You’re riding along beautiful tarmac, then all of a sudden you wish you’d brought a mountain bike. You can see exactly where the money ran out in some places.

        • I’m doing the Maratona in July so hope they’ve spent some money repairing the roads around Corvara, it was dicey in parts last year.

        • I’ve just returned from a cycling holiday in Tenerife, where I was amazed to find the roads in immaculate condition – half appear to have been relaid in the last few months. There is even a brand new motorway that doesn’t appear on google maps yet. Is there some separation of budgets from the mainland?

          • Impending local elections 😉

            It was really shameful how a lot of roads have been kept in horrible conditions along a couple of years, when they already *really* needed a new pavement, just waiting for the elections. And they’ve been repaired in the cheapest of fashions, even if, at least, in a more or less uniform way (I mean, no patches).
            Still, the gap to fill that has been created made it hard to repair everything, so that a good number of important roads remain in bad conditions. However, if anyone needs tips about cycling Tenerife, just ask 😉
            The “anillo insular”, the motorway you hint at, is a long term project. Even that has been timed with elections, anyway.
            Generally speaking, we’re observing an “artificial” restart of the economy fostered by a new construction bubble (live & learn, huh?) and the unblocking of already funded projects. National elections are coming, too 😉
            One of the most terrible things I see here is how an impressive growth of tourism isn’t producing at all any economic benefit for the local population, due to the disgraceful job regulation (and the reduced taxes in the islands). Tourism breaks historical records every here, still unemployment is tragic (no fight against illegal labour, too, “not to discourage business”), health care is worrying, and you’ve got some emblematic situations like Arona, labelled by El País as “The poor rich town of Arona”, a municipality which is the third poorest in Spain when average personal income is concerned, but which has an impressive total PIB, among the highest in the country… 23 subjects out of 50k inhabitants concentrate the 7% of total economic resources.

            What maked me really sad is that many times it’s a problem, as cthulhu suggests above, of political willingness, albeit expressed in different forms from country to country. Italy’s problem is that municipalities have been prevented since a good number of years from spending freely the money *they have got*, but, in the mean time, the State has moved a lot of its functions to local institutions… without any correspondent money (while at the same time subtracting from them a lot of power in terms of autonomy and participation in “strategic” decisions about their territory). Italy is still a big economy, and even if it’s been slowly decreasing, theoretically expansion may become a problem but maintenance shouldn’t necessarily be.
            In Spain, truth is, as Nick noted above, that it depends quite a lot from the different municipalities, especially when roads “interesting for cycling” are involved.

            Roads represent one of the big features of the State, in a sense: what is done with your tax money, and something which would quite hard to be done just through private interventions.
            A couple of phenomena, besides the crisis, is really affecting the roads, more or less all around Europe, I’m afraid: the decline of “public space” (or of “the space of the Public”, if you prefer), and the passing over of quite a lot of “public service” to the municipalities, thus promoting a sort of *competition* between municipalities and, in some cases, subordinating your rights as a citizen – even the most basic ones – to the economy of the town you live in.

            Road cycling is a sport which submerges you in reality, like it or not 🙂

          • I was in Tenerife at the beginning of March. Some of the roads were horrendous! The West ascent of Teide, and the coast road soon to be bypassed by the new tunnel/motorway in particular.

          • @brianthemagical
            The West ascent of the Teide is historically terribly paved and I doubt they’ll fix it now, despite elections. Few locals use it, so big expense and no image effect. I’ll be descending it in a month or so and my back is already hurting. A shame, because it maybe could be the second-best one, after my favourite (from North-East).
            I don’t really like all the South-western part of the island, bad roads to ride for one reason or the other, but that’s where the hotels are, besides the main bike renting facilities. It was a stone desert until some thirty years ago, so the road network is not “natural”, it grew fast just to answer to the hotel’s needs, hence it doesn’t provide enough secondary roads nor alternative routes.
            North-West was magical, but car traffic has grown a lot, and since they’re tourist visiting the same ultra-spectacular roads you’re keen to ride, the new motorway won’t help, either. A huge shame they let the South-Eastern “Carretera general del Sur” get all wasted, it could become a cycling paradise.
            Though, there are still little precious parts of the island with barely any tourism, and I’m praying it goes on like that… The huge “concentration malls” in the South, sparing what’s a little more far-away and hidden.

          • @gabriele
            Thanks for the info – makes sense of a lot of what I saw out there.

            I found some less than perfect roads, but the holes are nothing compared to the state of the roads in my part of the North of England!

            I was based in Puerto de la Cruz, so most of my riding was in the North of the island, where I think the roads are at their best. Looping north from Puerto and climbing Tiede via La Esperanza, the roads were great. Riding a loop down to the amazing Masca climb had me on brand new tarmac most of the way. Up North at San Cristobal the roads were fine also. The only place where roads were in any way quesstionable was climbing Teide from El Medano, in the south. I guess the problem is that the south is where most holiday makers are based and so where most people ride.

        • Don’t agree. Around Madrid at least, roads are in pretty good state, even in the mountains. Navacerrada and Cotos pass have excellent pavement, Morcuera is not bad neither. The exception is Alto de Abantos (a finish used various times in the Vuelta in the past), where the road has plenty of deep holes…
          The problem is that there is not many little secondary roads, but only a few main roads with quite a lot of traffic, which makes road cycling unconfortable and something dangerous (must say as well that spanish drivers contribute to this danger feeling…).

          • Fair enough. I was only in Mallorca and Almeria. Lots of lovely minor roads in both. I have to say that every time a driver tried something dodgy, I assumed they were a British expat!

    • If I was smart and rich, I’d make a plan to get even richer by buying up asphalt plants all over Italy. Eventually these roads need to be totally repaved, like they so often were pre-crisis when the Giro was to ride over them. Someone’s going to make a pile of money selling all that asphalt when the time comes!

      • Unless Italy is going down Argentina’s path (speaking of the Nineties).
        Then you could wait quite long.
        Maybe that’s why FIAT has started building SUV with its new American know-how (developing city cars for the USA and SUVs for Italy o__O).
        The “eventually it’s essential, time needs to be coming” argument is what we’ve been dreaming around in universities for some… seven years now?
        Still the prohibition to hire new (young) researchers follows on from 2008 on, kicking out a whole generation and new blood for public R+D, besides creating overpopulated classrooms, which hinders teaching, and overloaded professors, which again hinders research.
        Well, ok, now I’m in a sociology project about the decline of Italian university and how it has been transformed in an inequality factor whereas it used to promote (among other things) a good bit of *social mobility*. How do they say?, if you can’t join them, study them.

  3. I think it is extremely important for Philippe Gilbert and for his role in the team to finally score his first win this year. But I don’t really see it happening and I’m not so sure it’s only because of the crashes he had. Hope he proves me wrong!

    • BMC were chasing but nobody else was helping so they decided to stop and this gave the breakaway the space it needed. Gilbert then clipped away for pride. If he’s at 100% today could be his day although I wonder if he fancies a raid across a mountain stage instead?

    • Agreed on the importance for Gilbert’s role in the team to score his 1st win.
      However, I really think he was in good shape before crashing in the Flèche. Compared to other years, he looked thinner and had been very active in races like Paris-Nice or Het Nieuwsblad. In Amstel, only a fantastic Matthews was able to follow him in the Cauberg, and with great difficulties, whilst everybody knew that PG would attack there.

  4. Aru looked absolutely cooked on the line. I think he was lucky the finish wasn’t harder, I think Contador will be taking the fight to him next time the road goes seriously uphill.

  5. Looks all set for a showdown between Ulissi and Matthews to me. I really hope we get a group finish today, a bunch sprint involving Ulissi, Matthews, Gilbert et al on that kind of road is far more exciting than watching someone roll over on their own.

    I agree with the Anonymous poster above that Gilbert could really do with some wins. He’s been surpassed in the BMC team over the last couple of years by GVA and the also have some good young riders. Unless he has a good second half of the year I’d be surprised if BMC kept him.

    I also agree that Italy is the perfect place for a grand tour, or any bike race. It is just so beautiful, those first few stages in Liguria were amazing, and the variety is perfect, over nearly the whole country. They could have a hard mountainous race without ever going near the Alps! Plus nearly everywhere has a little lump like the end of today to keep it lively. I love the Tour too though, even the flat bits of France look beautiful in the summer sunshine. In the USA it’s not just that the scenery is too big, the roads are too! Really big wide highways have the effect of reducing the visual impact if the speed. Plus a few corners add a bit of interest!

  6. Well, Sir Dave was not too concerned about the “spirit of the rules” when he approved that TUE for Froome at the 2014 TDRomandie… So its giid that they have moved on…

    Today is definitely a GC day- Uran and Prote have GOT to get some time on Alberto before the TT- Porte in particular needs at least 30-45 sec on the MR and he says he has the team and the legs, so its “put up or shut up” time…

    Uran is coming round…slowly but still wants that podium,given that he will certainly take time out of Aru whi seems to be feeling that accelerated 5kg weight loss more and more… That said, he IS Italian and a pure climber so you can be sure that he will still try for something spectacular, knowing that he could lose 3 min on Saturday…

    The finish terrain is right in the Contador wheelhouse- sharp gradient, close to finish after a few climbs to soften cats up. It was not random that he tested his dancing shoes yesterday…

    I expect some,serious fireworks and a VERY pacey stage as there are at least half-a-dozen teams who will fancy their chances today…

    Should be fun!

  7. Big fan of Mathews, but how much evidence is there of him taking wins that finish on categorized climbs?
    Also looking forward to Kruijswijk flogging himself in the break for another day…

  8. I think Matthews is a classy rider, but actually I don’t see him as a favourite for today. He can climb with the punchier riders but the finish looks a bit too steep for him to overtake them.

    • I’m curious, too.
      Matthews did well on the Cauberg, but if the finish line was uphill, I think Gilbert would have taken it and Matthews would have scored “just” an incredibly good second place.
      That said, I think troubles for him may start in Crosara. He coped with similar climbs in Amstel, that’s true, but much depends on the strategy of the big guns. If there are strong acceleration that far from the finish, and a steady rhythm from then on, it would be hard for him to follow and/or to be brought back to the front group, albeit Orica has the men to help him. Whereas if some waiting game is played, he’s far from being discarted because of the last ramp.

  9. Such an odd stage to call – everything screams sprinter until that final climb where suddenly it turns into the end of a one-day Classic and may let the GC boys come out to play.

    Have a feeling Contador may cheekily lose a couple of seconds to Aru if he can on this one.

    • No sprinter stage even without the last climb. The preceding two are more than enough to see a late attack get to the line, possibly from a small group. Remember Visconti’s victory in 2013, and the course was easier.

    • “Have a feeling Contador may cheekily lose a couple of seconds to Aru if he can on this one.”

      I’d be surprised if putting Aru in pink for a day will be done. It’s the Time Trial on Saturday and Aru should lose a boatload of time.

  10. I used to live nearby to the middle section of the course and take note at around 53km to go if you’re a switchback fetishist (i’m not the only one, surely!). There are 8 short sharp bends just after the categorised climb to Castelnuovo. Hopefully some helicopter shots over dry roads with the bunch stretched from the climb. If the roads are wet some of these descents are going to be sketchy.

    I think that Visconti could be a chance. He won the last time the giro came to Vicenza over similar terrain (But without the kick up at the end)

  11. A good quote from Chad Haga on yesterday’s stage:

    “On stages like today, riders were not differentiated as climbers or rouleurs or sprinters, but instead by who has the legs after 10 stages and who didn’t.”

  12. Prolific words!
    “Philippe Gilbert could be in the mix although he’s not looking so sharp but the day we write him off is the day he’ll probably win”

    • Prophetic I believe you probably mean, but yes, a great win for Phil Gil on what looked like a very Cauberg-esq finish.

      I presume he’ll probably bail fairly shortly as there look to be a few tasty stages for him in the first week of the TDF.

      • Yes. Also because, as he himself pointed out, this is really the last stage suitable for him here in the Giro. His problem was that a couple of good stages in the first ten days were raced so hard that they became “too good for him” 🙂
        He could try a long range break, but truth is that the remaining sprinter stages are too easy, those in the mountains too hard, and in a break, anyway, pretty much everyone else would play against him. I guess it just depends on what he considers the best training programme. However, if he arrived in Milan, be it as a simple tourist strolling with the gruppetto, I’d say “tanto di cappello”. Not that I’m blaming him if he doesn’t.

  13. I don’t know if its the rain or what, but more than an hour has passed since the stage finished and there are still no full results on the giro or any other website. Just top 10. This sport needs help.

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