Giro Stage 13 Preview

If a picture says a thousand words the profile above says enough: a day for the sprinters as the race heads to the seaside resort of Jesolo. But this Giro brings a surprise every day and the odds on a breakaway surviving are higher than usual. The biggest obstacle is the tricky finish, described in the roadbook as “sprinkled” with roundabouts.

Philippe Gilbert

Stage 12 Wrap: It was another fast stage, no tailwind but a lot of motivated riders. Philippe Gilbert won “his” stage, he targeted this and said he knew “every metre” of the last 70km. He seemed nervous though, at one point going in a move in the final kilometres rather than banking on his trademark uphill punch. He was well clear of the others but Diego Ulissi had to expend a lot of energy to join the front group after being caught.

La battaglia every day. Here was another chance for Alberto Contador to stick it to Fabio Aru, the Italian said he’d run out of energy and the Italian tifosi are getting nervous: is Aru paying the price for his aggressive start? On the one kilometre uphill finish at Monte Berico (Mont Ibérico?) Contador got a small gap plus a time bonus to extend his lead over his rivals. Even on the small stages Contador is taking time, the other podium pretenders will be sleeping with one eye open in case the Spaniard gets the jump on them.

Fabio Aru

The Route: a short 147km stage. The profile says it’s for the sprinters but the precedent of the 2015 says otherwise. The Giro is rewarding breakaways and as we saw in Forlì if the bunch expects Lotto-Soudal to do all the work then a breakaway could stick. All this however depends on the peloton and the road to the finish is unremarkable. Watch the GC candidates as they all need to soft pedal today without incident or accident to stay fresh for tomorrow’s time trial.

The Finish: the biggest difficulty of the day is the finish which is littered with roundabouts, central dividing islands and other street furniture. As the race speeds around Jesolo it has to contend with a lot of central dividers, either we have two opposing trains on each side or the race just gets lined out on one side making for a narrow road. It’s the kind of finish that needs to be bossed by a team but is there anyone willing and able to do it?

André Greipel

The Contenders: a sprint? You’d think so but as we saw in Forlì even Greg Henderson had to contribute to the chase for Lotto-Soudal. The rest of the field were banking on the Belgian team to work all day but they couldn’t shoulder all the burden and so the break, thanks to hard work, stayed clear. The mere possibility of weak chase and peloton politics will motivate riders to go in the breakaway again and create a self-fulfilling scenario where several strong riders are willing to give it a go as opposed to some riders going away just for the desperate need to show the jersey.

Still if it comes down to a sprint André Greipel is the obvious pick, he’s got the form, pedigree and team and the trick finish lends itself to a team that can guide a rider into position. Sacha Modolo is another rider with the Lampre-Merida team at his service and he’s getting closer in the stages. By contrast Giant-Alpecin have a tradition of sprint lead outs but Luka Mezgec hasn’t impressed yet. Giacomo Nizzolo also has riders in service but seems to be sprinting hot and cold. Moreno Hofland by contrast is a very fast rider but doesn’t have the team support and Elia Viviani will probably have to fend for himself given Team Sky’s need to protect Richie Porte and Leopold König.

André Greipel
Sacha Modolo, Giacomo Nizzolo, Moreno Hofland
Viviani, Mezgec, Porsev

Weather: the race might visit a seaside resort but this is not a day for the beach. It’ll be wet and cold with a top temperature of 15°C. There will be a 20km/h breeze from the north east, a headwind for most of the stage until the race loops back for the finish, a tailwind in the final to heighten the crash risks.

TV: the feed starts at 3.00pm CET with and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Cyclingfans and will serve up your pirate feeds.

The Giro is: missing the sprinters. Manuel Belletti and Matteo Pelucchi have left the race in recent days to shrink the field but this is more about the way the Giro didn’t start with a big list of sprinters, Marcel Kittel is still trying to find his legs, Mark Cavendish rode the Tour of California and Alexander Kristoff is riding his home Tour of Norway. Last year’s sensation Nacer Bouhanni is winning small races in France but nothing more. Meanwhile even a good Italian sprinter like Andrea Guardini can’t race his home grand tour because he’s surplus to requirements at Astana’s given their pink ambitions. In fact it’s practically once a year that we get a sprint royale among all the top sprinters at the Tour de France. It’s more common to find the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali racing together than it is to see the sprinters together.

56 thoughts on “Giro Stage 13 Preview”

  1. Agreed, the peloton is not packed with quality sprinters this year. However, both Kittel and Cavendish have taken part in recent years, and Kristoff has hinted at doing it in the near future. So, all is not lost, let’s pray for the return of the star sprinters!

  2. It is a shame that the top sprinters I.e. Cavendish and Kittel, only ever seem to face off at the Tour and Schelderprijs if they are both fit. There is far too much keeping powder dry and resting in cycling. More than that though there seems to be a paralysing fear of losing rather than a will to win. Riders are petrified of losing to a rival so don’t race! They only have one career, sit out too many big races and it’ll be all over before you know it.

    • I do not think it’s fear that keeps the pure sprinters from going head to head as often as one might want. The one-day races for this type of rider are few and far between, meaning the most fertile hunting grounds are in the Grand Tours. Of these, the Vuelta’s “climb or die” attitude is not popular with sprinters, leaving the Tour and the Giro. Doing both of these takes it’s toll one sprinters, as Cav admitted the year he took the Points jersey at the Giro, only to feel knackered all through the Tour. In my opinion, the number of “sprint royales” as Inrng calls it, are one the decline because of the lack of options for the sprinters, not lack of balls!

      • In the past Cavendish has done the first 10 days/2 weeks of the Giro and then bailed, as have many other sprinters. Surely this is better for the race having the big names square off against each other in the first couple of weeks before the real GC action happens in the third than having only one or two of the top guys show up.

        Interestingly The Cycling Podcast said there were rumours the Tour of California might be shifting dates, apparently this year’s low quality field has prompted a bit of a rethink on the part of the organisers, so this in turn could help the Giro.

          • I not convinced Oleg’s that bothered by my, or anyone else’s opinion, but it’s undeniable that Sagan winning a race with a proper mountain stage suggests that the competition was not so strong, unless of course he’s decided to lose a few kilos and turn himself from a cobbles-pounder into more of an all round/GC rider.

    • Not sure I agree, Cav has spent years taking on all comers, I think it’s only after a disapointing year in the tour last year that he’s trim his calendar to focus on that

  3. What chance the break staying away today, with all the street furniture in downtown Jesolo, will there be a couple of bandits going for it? Hoping Rigo stays out of harms way, and puts himself in contention for a top 4 finish. Wouldn’t a Nick Parkes short film about a bike race be awesome? Or is it just me. Wallace could play (doh) Fabio Aru. I’m not sure i would want to be the one tasked with modelling the Pave in clay though!

  4. I – like many, I suspect – am not buying Aru’s ‘I didn’t eat enough’ excuse. Contador could see he was tired the day before: hence positioning himself so near to the front on the final climb – he knew time was there to be gained.
    Unfortunately, after the time trial, C0ntador is very likely to have an unassailable lead.
    I think today will prove to be my ‘least watched minutes of the Giro’ – just the last hour: you never know.

      • You’ll hear plenty of excuses if Contador doesn’t beat Porte by more than 2 minutes – and, as he’ll be saving himself as much as possible for the Tour, Contador will probably only ride as hard as he has to.
        I strongly suspect that this will come to pass and then we’ll have to endure fanboy newbies screeching that this is proof that Porte would have won.

          • As much as we all benefit from the knowledge that comes from the poster called ‘Anonymous’, I care too little about unimformed opinions of strangers to bicker – unlike the poster called ‘Anonymous’ (who commented a coincidental two minutes after you did) who evidently values meaningless popularity above all else. To quote: ‘If I were Porte, I’d try to finish less than 2min down on first overall. That would be the best result for the best press.’
            I’ll leave it at now at that fine ambition.

        • I see that your complete bias is on show. What is it about this Giro that is making some of the usually top notch contributors turn into brazen tabloid posters. I guess I have seen the anti-Sky rubbish before but this seems like more.

          Calling anyone new to watching cycling who wants to comment on it or question the rulings, a screeching fanboy is vial and poor form. It should be celebrated that there are new fans of cycling. And they can support whoever they want in what ever way they want. This blog is about informing them. If they don’t share your views then so be it. I know I disagree with many things that you say but don’t call you screeching fanboy.

    • I am not buying it neither. It is now two days that Aru looks tired. We will see what happen in the ITT, but I am not very optimistic for him.
      In turns, Kontador’s shape seems to be growing. So I am afraid that after the ITT things will get very clear regarding the GC.
      On the other hand, I would expect Uran to improve in the coming days.

        • Hopefully, but unless Kontador cannot adopt a good TT position on his bike due to his wounded arm, I won’t put my money on this… Kontador can time trial very well when in shape.

  5. Giuseppe Martinelli: “It’s not only difficult to beat Contador, it’s all but impossible … What Fabio should do is improve on his third place from last year, and a second place overall right now, I’d take that.”

    Well that’s not fighting talk!

    • HWSB-I’d chalk that up to trying to take the pressure off young Aru. All of Italy’s hopes are on this kid to be the next Nibali if not the next Coppi/Pantani. Lots of folks think Il Pistolero’s not the chrono man he used to be while Aru’s been working on improving his efforts against the clock. If Porte’s as good as his fans like to think, he should be back in contention Saturday. Maybe even Uran can show something tomorrow? Tomorrow’s the day I’ll probably tune in only for the last hour as I find ITT’s dull and aesthetically awful – too many riders going along like the dog scraping his butt on the carpet on bikes I find to be very, very ugly. Today on the other hand, with some wind, rain and guys knowing some riders will be trying to take a sort of rest day might be more interesting than we think?

  6. I wonder how many people who hinted that Aru’s good and aggresive first week after his severe illness was medically enhanced above the legal ways now will claim, they knew after that he couldn’t last full three weeks.

    Well, the race is far from over but it is a shame that Porte is so far off, although his own fault, he would have given Contador a good run for his money. And although clearly not as strong in the mountains as the other three, I wonder how good Uran will fair in the ITT.

    I for one believe today will end in a sprint finish. The other sprinters’ teams will not leave Lotto-Soudal high and dry again, if they want a realistic chance on the stage victory. Although the peloton did they same with BMC in Imola…who knows, some people just don’t learn. Better Lotto-Soudal place a rider in the breakaway.

    • If I were Porte, I’d try to finish less than 2min down on first overall. That would be the best result for the best press. Add that to his good attitude and he’d be the media’s darling for at least the year. That’s something that Froome n Cound never understood.

      • What an odd thing to aim for.
        Why would Porte – or anyone else (including Froome) – be more interested in media popularity rather than winning a race?
        Indeed, why would anyone have such a burning desire to be liked – particularly by people who don’t even know you?

        • Cycling has seen many “moral winners” over the years, decade after decade it has made riders like Vietto, Magni, Poulidor and others wildly popular and very wealthy too. It’s the subject of an upcoming piece on here soon.

          • True, but they didn’t actively aim for that.
            And I can’t help but think that Poulidor’s popularity was scant consolation for never winning the Tour de France. (But there are few things more multifarious than the human personality, so maybe I’ll learn more from your piece, as I so often do.)

  7. Aru doing his Ed Milliband impression in that photo (apologies to the non-UK readers).

    It was interesting to see Contador gain a few seconds (plus bonus for 2nd) on Aru and Porte – is he worried about the TT or just being opportunistic? Some great sketchy descending in the wet too – one for the CXers!

  8. Happy to see again the good old Gilbert. Impressive how he accelerated from in front of the peloton and leave it 3 sec behind in less than 0,5km. I think that he was really in good shape this year for the Ardennaises before he fell.

    What happened to Küng, did he fall?

    • We’d like to hope so but it might not be windy enough. The roads are exposed but once of the benefits of coastal races means maritime forecasts which are more accurate on the wind and all they’re saying is 15km/h now, not enough.

  9. Last year I was shocked with Aru’s weight (62kg) and BMI (62/1,83²) when his coach said he should lose more 2kg on his upper body. I showed my concerns here that time. I came to know after 2 precious information:
    1) trainings with high workloads or HIIT affects negatively immunological system;
    2) less than 5% of body fat creates a lot problems on the immunological system.

    Health issues on peloton are real. The obsession with power-to-weight ratio maybe is one of main causes of health issues.

    If the last year Aru coach’s plan is on the move, I won’t bet surprised with his performance this year is worse that than last year and why we didn’t see this season Aru shinning in another stages races.

      • Indeed. As most International Rugby Union players are Obese according to the BMI regardless of it being pure muscle and immense fitness.

      • Perhaps I can make myself more clear. BMI has a lot limitations, but body composition not. If a person has x% of fat, the rest of body composition would be 100%-x%.

        At ordinary day any healthy person has encountered great amount of environmental subjects and his/her immunological system copes without problems, it means person doesn’t get illness. But on Aru’s case he is too taller and extremely light. And even he has more than 5% of fat, I believe it isn’t too far on that number.

        And something I don’t mention earlier, the body’s mechanism naturally try to prevent such low fat rate and consume muscles instead of fat.

        Translating those facts for Aru’s case is more susceptible to get ill easier and slow recovery than the others.

        Curiously he admitted yesterday he eaten less than he should and that is why was weak on last km (accordingly to him). Contador said he felt Aru’s weakness on the last 50-60km. Last year on the Stelvio stage Quintana considered to quit and his team mate (Gorka Izaguirre) made his mind and made Quintana swallow food by force. Maybe Astana should sign contract that Spanish too.

        • Long ago, before the peptide revolution, what you describe was basically true. A cyclist could get their weight below some number where their body operated reliably for a couple of weeks. The power was pretty great. It always seemed to end the same way, either sick or the power steeply declined. The exception was always grand tours

          It seems like the UCI has a some control over EPO abuse despite new undetectable variations available. What we’ve seen instead is riders getting incredibly skinny and maintaining enormous power for months. A clear departure from 50+ years of elite level cycling “morphology.” This is probably being done with peptides.

  10. I believe Contador knows he’s going to loose awfull time in the ITT, he has tryed his bike position and still hurts. That’s why he wants every second he can get. After saturday`s stage is when the Giro starts.

    • I hope so for the races sake, but I have a feeling he’ll end up losing only a small amount to Uran and Porte, and taking large chunks out of Landa/Aru etc.
      Bertie’s body language is very strong right now, Aru’s is not, and Porte seems subdued since his penalty.

    • I wondered something similar, he really does seem to be trying to put the hammer down whenever possible. I know he has an attacking style (and I learnt the ‘never lost a GC jersey once he had it’ fact from this marvellous blog and its commenters, so maybe he can’t countenance losing it on the TT even if he is confident of getting it back ). But I don’t recall him going for every last scrap of time on every possible stage. Any Contador experts know if this is actually normal?

      • Oops, just remembered the the crosswinds of Stage 13 2013 Tour, Saxo did exactly that then, so maybe I’m talking rubbish

  11. Any chance Contador, Aru, and other leading GC contenders will informally agree to neutralize their race in the run-in? Lots of road furniture, and nobody wants to get hurt.

    • That’s what I would try to get organized between all the GC contenders if I was one of them. Cancel out (informally) the GC battle on stages where there is definitely more to lose than to win. They would all do a Voeckler and ride safely with their teams at the end of the field always able to ramp it up in the rare case that it should for whatever reason become necessary.
      Today’s crash also showed how much of a progress disc brakes will make. You could see some guys who could not brake at all because of their wet carbon rims and crashed into the pile-up and couldn’t do anything against it.

  12. You know who I’m most impressed by so far? Andrey Amador. He goes from wildcard entrant to GC contender in nothing flat, and has stayed in the top 10 for a very unexpected length of time. It’s always great to see non-European riders (a rider from Central America, very rare at this level) sticking it to the big men. Depending on how well he does in the TT (which history suggests could be a good ride for him), I think he may pull off a top-10 finish overall, which would be fantastic.

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