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Giro Stage 20 Preview

The penultimate stage of the Giro and they’ve saved the best roads for last. The Colle delle Finestre is a beautiful climb and the top half is unpaved making it even more spectacular.

Fabio Aru Giro Cervinia 2015 tappa

Stage 19 Wrap: Another fast start and it took several goes for a move to go clear. Astana kept the breakaway on a tight leash and if the stage win wasn’t going to be possible Giovanni Visconti managed to get himself in the mountains jersey head on points of team mate Beñat Inxausti and Steven Kruijswijk but there’s all to play for on today’s Colle delle Finestre as it has double points.

Fabio Aru won the stage thanks to a late attack that saw him surge past Ryder Hesjedal. Alberto Contador seemed to give the move his blessing and sat tight while Mikel Landa had to sit still too to let his team mate win the day but let Aru leapfrog him on the overall classification. It was a huge stage but the televisual entertainment was saved for late, these 200km plus mountain stages have the riders in exhaustion while leaving TV audiences dozing in siesta.

The Route: it’s all about the giant climb. The race leaves the Aosta valley and crosses the Canavese area that sits below the Alps, skirts Torino and heads up the Susa valley to the town of Susa, so far so safe and all on big roads.

Colle Finestre profile

The Colle delle Finestre is a special climb, 18km long at 9.2% and very steady all the way up except for the short passage early Meana by a tunnel near where the 14% section is found. After this it’s very regular. This is no goat track or smuggler’s path that eventually became a public road. It is the product of war was ordered by decree and built by the army to military specification with a regular slope so horses could drag cannons up. It uses 45 hairpins to get to the top. After 10km there’s a small picnic area… and the tarmac stops, the remaining 8km are gravel, high altitude strada biancha, rough but rideable. The first to the top wins the Cima Coppi prize.

It’s easy to get to the top and think the Giro is over but there’s a very difficult and technical descent, it is paved but akward with the fatigue of the previous climb.

Sestriere profile

The Finish: after an easy early approach the road begins dragging up with awkward gradients, enough to reward riders who share the work but enough to expose any weaknesses too. It flattens out for the final kilometre, a short ramp sits with 500m to go and then it’s almost level to the line.

The Contenders: will Alberto Contador get the stage win while wearing the maglia rosa. There’s no doubting his grip on the race but tradition dictates that a stage win, especially while wearing the leader’s jersey, is the way to do it. Certainly a win today is within reach.

Steven Kruijswijk is a pedalling advert for team sponsor Jumbo who seems to deliver fresh produce every day. He can win the stage with his sprint but he might prefer to treat the Colle Finestre as his finish line in order to get the mountains jersey. We can expect Movistar to crowd the early break to try and mop up points but Astana are likely to chase again. This time Mikel Landa is the better bet for a stage win as the Finestre’s gradient suits him more but he just shades it over Fabio Aru. Ryder Hesjedal keeps on improving or rather the others are getting worse at a faster rate than him. Some were surprised with Aru’s recovery yesterday but Rigoberto Uran was the real surprise package with third place, the Finestre is much steeper but he’s back in action and could feature.

Alberto Contador
Steven Kruijswijk, Mikel Landa, Fabio Aru, Ryder Hesjedal
Uran, Bongiorno, Trofimov, Zardini, Chaves

Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top temperature of 23°C on the plains and in the valleys. The more the race goes into the mountains, the greater the chance of a rain shower.

TV: surely you’ve worked it out by now? As ever the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Cyclingfans and steephill.tv both have links to pirate feeds with the latter also listing where you can view the race properly too.

The Giro is: coming to an end. The race might award the Trofeo Senza Fine, the “Endless Trophy” but the race itself is done after today with just a procession remaining across the rice growing plains between Milan and Turin. It’s been a brilliant edition, if they still made highlight DVDs to watch over the winter the 2015 Giro d’Italia DVD would be a box set.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rusty chain Saturday, 30 May 2015, 4:10 am

    I congratulate Aru on the speedy recovery and the steroid like rage at the finish line. Contrador is already thinking Tour but who knows maybe he ll attack tomorrow. I would – better to dominate one race never know how Tour de France unfolds

    • Eskorrik Asko Saturday, 30 May 2015, 8:25 am

      Yawn-inducing (rather than provocative) is in this case the word for your congratulations. I myself was quite pleased to see the return of Aru to his more normal self and I viewed his celebration as benignly as I would that of any other young sportsman, no matter how over the top I may think it went.

      I believe we must not forget that (a) it had been a long day also for the top contenders and (b) those who conceivably could have put Aru to his place chose for a variety of reasons not to do so and (c) Aru’s form yesterday was not lightyears better than his form a few days earlier.

      BTW I sort of oscillated between (1) the opinion that Contador chose not to chase Aru because he deemed his chances of a stage victory against an Astana duo consisting of an Aru who was not to be easily dismissed with and a Landa in a formidable and explosive shape as too slim to expend the required amount of physical and mental energy and (2) the opinion that he quite simply was thrilled by the idea of watching Landa get more and more frustrated and, possibly, making sure that Landa would have his captain as baggage on today’s stage as well.

      • irungo txuletak Saturday, 30 May 2015, 9:41 am

        Probably a mix of both reasons. Plus Kontador rode a tough stage the day before, he just wanted to save energy. I guess the Cervinia is not a so slopy climb, so you can save a lot of energy by sitting in wheels.

      • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:30 am

        Agree with every single word.

      • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 2:12 pm

        Contador himself said something in his post-race interviews which would confirm your ideas. More on that below, also by inrng.

      • Rusty chain Saturday, 30 May 2015, 10:22 pm

        I don’t disagree with what you wrote necessarily(and i agree with your reaction that the dope argument has gotten boring) but i stick with my statements. Perhaps even a better testament to “not normal” than ARu’s performance is the fact that you have six Astana riders present on every climb even after other team leaders – dedicated climbers – have fallen off. Yeah ” not normal”… but what the heck entertaining as hell. This was one of the best tours i remember in a while till the very last stage.

        • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 10:53 pm

          I couldn’t see much that “far from normal” in Aru’s performance. He wasn’t brilliant at all. He was just the one whose characteristic were more suited to these finales and, I’d add, the one which had worked the least – when compared with his direct rivals for the stage win – in both his victories.
          And what you say about Astana’s gregari climbing performances is more or less false, first week apart. They were lined pulling on the front, so you noticed them, but whenever they were up there in numbers, the other team still had other riders besides the captains. When true forcing started, and a strong men gruppetto was selected, only their two best men remained there. We can include Kangert, as it often happened this third week – but he really wasn’t there during the first one. Whereas today Rosa did well, but he hadn’t been used to work… Tiralongo and Cataldo struggled, nor were they able to achieve a significant selection.
          Astana brought to the Giro a team vastly superior, on paper, to their rivals, and totally focused on their objective.
          They did great, but it’s nowhere near “not normal”.
          Obviously, not implying they’re clean, but even less reasons to imply they are (especially) doped.
          Landa was the big surprise, that’s true, but it’s not like an event that doesn’t make any sense. A rider known since years ago as a natural talent, labelled as such by several independent sources, all of them *in the know*, whom his DS, in a questionable way, indeed, publicly defined as an athlete unaccustomed to hard work… Maybe Martinelli’s hard words worked well to stimulate hard work? Whatever did happen, it sure means Landa had margins to get better – without need to include doping 😉 – maybe he just started exploring them.

          • Rusty chain Sunday, 31 May 2015, 12:14 am


            you need to re watch the race and see how long on the climbs Astana had numbers far superior to others. Not normal to have the entire team that fit. Kreuziger, Basso, Rogers no slouches long gone when much less recognizable names on Astana team kept chugging along. Other top notch climbers pooff gone. Martinelli’s words cannot be harder than Olegs. Whatever, till proven guilty they are innocent . Another thing that is not normal is the speed of this Giro – speeds not seen since the altered days.

          • gabriele Sunday, 31 May 2015, 3:26 am

            Rusty chain, perhaps you need to *watch* the race… 😛

            Astana had numbers far superior to others, indeed, but that was also partly because of the low average level of the teams they sent to the Giro to support their otherwise good captains. Are you aware of the fact that bar the first 18 riders – not even 20! – everyone there is one hour or more back from the maglia rosa in GC? (Lowest number in at least 30 years… or more, I didn’t check any further back. In Froome’s Tour 29 riders within an hour).
            To present date, we haven’t had anything as unnatural as what we’ve seen in past (far or less far) years.
            Let’s watch the stages.
            When they were more or less halfway up the Finestre climb, you had indeed some six Astana in the “best men” group they were pulling. The problem is that despite their “superior” effort that group included more than thirty (30!) riders, the difference with Zakarin was steady (or growing) and Pirazzi was out there on the front. Contador still had a teammate. Then Kangert tried and went, causing a gap to open, but BMC with Atapuma could bring everyone back together.
            It’s only when Kruijswijk put in a big progression that the front group was reduced to 8-9 riders, that is, the two Astana leaders (who I would have expected to be there) plus Kangert – who was left behind when things got tough.
            On Friday they were pulling, too. Yet, at the start of the last climb the peloton included some 40-45 riders: guys in numbers from Sky, Tinkoff, Movistar, BMC, FDJ… Androni!!! And that was everything the almighty Astana could achieve, until Siutsou went on the attack, unleashing a reaction from the top contenders.
            Seven men were on the front, Astana had only the two captains. Admittedly, Kangert wasn’t far back and nearly came in… with a couple of Movistar, another Sky, a BMC. Then went Hejsedal, and then Aru.
            Eventually, the best Astana gregario, Kangert apart, was Tiralongo – 12′ back! In the top 25 we had as many Astana as Sky or BMC. You’ve got many teams with captain & gregario: Cannondale, FDJ, Lotto, Movistar.

            Can’t see such a preminence, besides Aru, Landa and, this week only, Kangert.
            I can remember teams who could pull and destroy the group, it’s a bit different when you pull and the peloton remains around 30-40 riders. The selection has come from top riders’ attacks, maybe one Astana gregario could resist (different ones in different weeks), but nothing like what we saw from true war-machine teams. We saw something really different only on a couple of stages during the first week.

            An entire team fit? Kangert is, but he wasn’t at all during the first week, slowly building through the second; Cataldo hasn’t been too fit in the last two weeks (he was in the first one), Tiralongo – a proven top quality climber – isn’t that much anymore (no selection produced today, barely in the first thirty both today and yesterday).
            Rosa was probably a “protected rider”, today: he hadn’t to work and was supported as long as possible by another gregario; he’s in his region and he’s a mountain-biker, too (and he was fifth in Strade Bianche last March), good reasons to give a try to this stage. He made a top ten.
            Top form or a special day he had prepared for? Yesterday he crossed the line a quarter of hour back, same as Thursday. On Tuesday it was half an hour. He’s still quite young (26) which may explain why you don’t know him, but a couple of years ago, even younger, he was 23rd in Giro’s GC, 40′ back. What is he know? 23rd. 1h25′ back. Wow! What a change!
            I should know speak of Kangert, but this is long enough.

            No comment about “less recognizable names” and references to Basso or Rogers. Not every wine becomes better year after year for ever, that’s even more true for most cyclists. Basso and Rogers are 37 and 35 years old, you’ve got more time to get familiar and *recognize* them. However, don’t forget the workload Tinkoff team has been assuming hugely both in the first week and in the first part of nearly every stage to prevent Astana riders / big names from being out there and serve as a bridgehead in most tough stages. Hesjedal has been openly vocal on the subject, as well as many Tinkoff critics. It’s their strategy, but it’s obvious it has downsides, too – otherwise we would be speaking of an *unnatural* Tinkoff.

          • gabriele Sunday, 31 May 2015, 3:27 am

            Whoops… “low level” and “they” in the first lines above, referred to “other teams”, not Astana.

    • Dave Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:41 am

      I try to avoid making doping-related comments on INRNG, as the majority of the discussion here is more nuanced and in-depth that and I write this with some apology, but the only thing that made me more frustrated than Eurosport’s poor streaming service was seeing that winning ride. I watched a very similar mid-mountain stages recovery and epic win from the roadside barriers on the finish line once. In Morzine in 2006.

      Aru has gone from riding like a sick dog to sprinting away from his rivals after 4000m of climbing? Really?

      What was the prevailing wind for the first part of the stage – theyve covered several stages ahead of predicted pace and its almost impossible to see on TV footage due to heli downwash, but have they benefited from tailwinds?

      I do wonder what Ryder would have been capable of with a stronger team and a better first week or so.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:45 am

        I saw 2006, too. That were two totally different rides.

        • The Inner Ring Saturday, 30 May 2015, 12:13 pm

          Indeed, Landis rode solo for hours over several mountain passes and kept the chasing teams away. Aru just clipped away at the end with Contador’s benediction and Landa could not respond for tactical reasons. The pace was such that Uran rode past Contador and Landa. As for recovery, he’s not been bad all race, his managed his losses rather than cracked. None of this proves what he might be doing in private either way but it’s not a wild or unexpected performance.

          • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 2:19 pm

            I’d add that on Thursday, too, Aru rode well towards the finish: even if he was struggling uphill, he apparently felt good enough to take a numbers of (not even so necessary) turns on the front while chasing. If we want to look accurately, he put in quite a good finish on Aprica, too. He was clearly living hard moments, but it’s not likely he ever sank down like a stone, till now. Today we’ll have more opportunities to get a full picture, but his performances during this Giro have been interesting while at the same time pretty far from being suspicious in themselves. A number of others bring much more of a question mark. It seems people are trying to make up doubts more or less whatever it happens.

          • Dave Saturday, 30 May 2015, 5:05 pm

            yeah I know it was in a different league but it just struck me whilst I was watching it (my tolerance levels no doubt eroded by Eurosport-streaming issues!).

            And the motivation to post on here wasn’t to troll but to get some more reasoned, balanced argument against my ‘gut’ reaction (rather than the tabloid hysteria you might find on other sites) for both you Inner Ring and others.

      • Augie March Saturday, 30 May 2015, 12:49 pm

        To add to what is said above, this was actually a more typical ride from Aru – what we saw from him in 2014. Rolling along with his team until making a big jump in the last few km of a climb. I too am strongly opposed to the sort of accusations of doping so prevalent on lesser cycling dissuasion forums, but my view would be to look for a totally unexpected performance, such as Landis’ in 2006.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 5:58 am

    Got the impression Contador was saving himself yesterday and probably thought it was pointless to tow Landa up to Aru anyway.

    I reckon he’ll have a go today. Oleg will be going apeshit down the radio otherwise.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 6:00 am

      I think he was playing with Landa for the cheap win earlier in the week, putting Aru back ahead

      • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:07 am

        If Contador wants to win a stage-and I think he does-he has not much other choice than to play Aru and Landa against each other. So in some way yesterday was the first step for a win today. Plus, I think he suffered on Thursday.

        • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 2:57 pm

          I’m pretty sure that yesterday was a gift to Aru. By marking Landa, Aru was free to gain back as much time as he could and Aru made the most of it. On stage 20, after pushing hard to take advantage of Contador’s flat, Landa did almost no work in the three man break after AC caught back up. It was a little bush league for Landa to jump for the win after sitting on.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 5:58 am

    my favorite GT

  • GTGTGT Saturday, 30 May 2015, 7:18 am

    Am I the only one annoyed by Eurosport’s coverage of this year’s edition?

    Such a massive stage last night and we got coverage with 51kms to go. It’s really hard to engage with the race when it’s mostly unfolded, save for the finish.

    I’ll be spewing tonight if we don’t get the entire Finestre climb in the broadcast.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:21 am

      Annoyed and Eurosport go together well.

    • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:32 am

      Yup, the ‘home of cycling’ shows tennis on both of its channels, then gives us inane chit-chat once that finally finishes, rather than going straight to the race.

    • Tovarishch Saturday, 30 May 2015, 12:27 pm

      For most of that time RAI weren’t showing the race either (forum and Sports News) so it may not have actually been available.

      • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 2:29 pm

        Yes, they’re usually starting at 14:00 CET (Rome) time.
        Fans are quite upset, indeed.
        Funny thing as some people were calling for shorter TV broadcasting “to encourage “new fans” who don’t understand the race nor the need to watch “when nothing happens”, then suddendly everyone is complaining because we just have 3 hours on air.
        I’m absolutely for the longer viable broadcasting, obviously enough, but it’s important to remember this sensation of “I want more” for the hard times when, as it’s quite normal, racing could prove itself a little more boring.
        If we change the sport to make it more “televisable”, we risk to lose what makes it so peculiar when compared to the rest (and, in some sense, head and shoulder above: can’t really imagine many sports providing the quality and quantity of entertainment granted more or less *every day* by the last *three weeks*).

        • Larry T. Saturday, 30 May 2015, 6:54 pm


        • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 8:23 pm


  • TourDeUtah Saturday, 30 May 2015, 8:31 am

    Ryder Hejsdal has quietly been having a superb final week. Don’t be surprised if he pulls off a podium today and manages to move up a couple of spots on GC

  • Larry T. Saturday, 30 May 2015, 10:01 am

    Yesterday was the reason I watch bike racing, including going to the roadside when I can. Aru’s a guy who races to win rather than one who races trying not to lose. Too often with gaps like these from the leader a stage like this would be a grim procession of GC favorites, while guys none of them care about go on to win. Instead we got Aru’s attack (and I admit just before this to saying he didn’t look all that great, letting gaps open) and then “Wow, how much time can he gain? Will Contador be forced to react? If he does, what will Landa do?” I hope the penultimate stage will be more of this, a fight right to the end, though we all are pretty sure the Maglia Rosa is sewn up for 2015. Will Contador decide he needs a stage win or conserve himself for his challenge in July? What will the unpaved surface be like? I’ve ridden it in its normal, rocky and bumpy condition as well as on race day when it was rolled as smooth as a baby’s cheek. Will anyone swap bikes for one more suited to the dirt? A flat on this climb could be a BIG deal.
    W Il Giro!

  • Ronan Saturday, 30 May 2015, 10:31 am

    Did landa buy himself a protected slot at the vuelta yesterday?

    Hard to see the sense in Astana giving. Leadership to a guy who’s leaving right thr squad after the race.

  • Dodge2000 Saturday, 30 May 2015, 10:33 am

    Really no DVD package? I’ve been relegated to Twitter updates whilst on family holiday (away from work as much from Eurosport). I’ve ‘warmed’ to Contador, building from the Vuelta last year. You can’t help but admire the masterclass he gives. The fact the win has been so easy for him, but he’s earned those minutes with Astana throwing everything at him and a few low blows.

    I’m thinking a treble with the TDF and Vuelta looks a lot more possible than when it was being discussed when Oleg offered up the prize

    • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 3:00 pm

      It’s a shame Bjarne isn’t there to help and enjoy the results that are in no small part due to his own clever mentoring.

  • Ian Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:11 am

    Hesjedal has been awesome, shame that Aru found something extra yesterday to deny him the stage win his riding has deserved. I don’t think Contador will win today, the final climb isn’t hard enough. Aru seems to have recovered and is a big danger today. He has trained a lot on the climb to Sestriere, see the video on my blog where he was riding it last August.. Also did an altitude camp here before the Giro with Rosa, Cataldo and others.
    I’d like to see Uran sprint to victory from a reduced group at the finish though, it’s possible if they all mark each other, they’re all pretty tired.


    • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 2:34 pm

      Spot on.
      Aru said well before the Giro that this was the stage he was dreaming of, because of his ciclocross training and the perfect knowledge + emotional connection with the last climb.
      I’m also rooting for Urán for the stage win. A pity Etixx send him here with a below-par team. Even if bad luck played its part, if you compare it with last year’s it’s a bit of a shame. Did they know he couldn’t really go for the GC? No idea, but it was kind of a *lack of respect* and, more than everything, quite open lack of support which for sure didn’t help to motivate much Urán himself.

    • Ian Saturday, 30 May 2015, 5:52 pm

      That worked out pretty well! 🙂

      Aru and Uran in the first three. Crazy stage, great excitement though and once again Hesjedal left frustrated by Aru..

  • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:14 am

    I’m not sure Contador is that confident he can beat Landa, and he might prefer to save his energy as well as any potential lost pride.
    I reckon it’s going to be as tedious as yesterday, but I say that in the hope that like most other days on this Giro I’m proven wrong.
    The race for the mountains classification should be good, but the last hill seems uninspiringly flat – and doesn’t promote a lone attack.

    • Larry T. Saturday, 30 May 2015, 12:55 pm

      Here’s an account of a VERY interesting day on a similar course 10 years ago. This was far from tedious and was my inspiration for going up there to ride it myself and share it with our clients. My little photo on here is yours truly up there for his first time.


      • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 1:56 pm

        I like your optimism – let’s hope you’re right.
        Contador will hopefully not do the sensible thing and will attack. That could be why he saved himself yesterday. Letting Aru go could also be a good tactical move: odd to read that Landa ‘complained to a group of Spanish reporters that Contador had been “trying to create chaos in our team and a war between Fabio and me.”’ – of course that’s what he’s trying to do. And let’s hope he intends to exploit that today. Landa should hope so too – Contador attacking is Landa’s best chance of reclaiming that 2nd place.

      • STS Sunday, 31 May 2015, 1:59 am

        Thank you very much for that link, Larry. Really enjoyed the read.

    • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 2:50 pm

      I like some “flatter hill” finish from time to time: when adequately preceeded by some very hard climb, as we saw on Tuesday (and on uncountable occasions), it provides time differences *and* a good tactical chessboard. Giro 2005 on this same finale was a perfect example. Utterly thrilling, as the link above recalls, even if blurred with hindsight.
      Still, I get what you mean.
      We’ve received a bit of an adrenaline overdose, now everything will look like low profile.
      Yesterday, for example, wasn’t that bad, with a podium man attacking some 8 kms from the finish line, halfway through the last climb (shall we match that with so many last 8… hundreds mts. attacks? Or with riders saying “I went too soon” when they moved 3kms away from the line?). Plus, all the details Larry lists above.
      Well, at least we can entertain ourselves with the mountain views, can’t we?

      • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 7:14 pm

        Well, Larry’s optimism found some substantiation, I’d say 😀
        And the fact that the stage didn’t finish just up the Finestre made it better, IMHO, but that’s just guessing (the race would have been different). However, it was pretty exciting from the Gpm to the end, too.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 12:07 pm

    Of those who seldom get the news- glory, Yonathan Monsalve, who won last year’s mountain classification of the Giro del Trentino, is riding a really good Giro this year. Yesterday he was in the top 15, only loosing 2.48 min. Very good. Seems he is one of those, who is profiting from the GC-teams making the race hard and so he didn’t loose so much on the flat/medium-stages. If only there were no TT’s he probably is saying-along with many others!

  • Duesseldorf Saturday, 30 May 2015, 1:45 pm

    The tennis thing is the same every year. French Open, Wimbledon and US open take place at the same time as the 3 GTs. So get used to it. Last Giro week is usually the worst coincidence. Anyone remember Stelvio 2012 when De Gendt rode in virtual maglia rosa? No coverage here in germany at all

    That said I am basicly very thankful to Eurosport for broadcasting so much. Without them cycling would be totally dead here

  • Anonymous Saturday, 30 May 2015, 2:33 pm

    Yes. And to people with no idea about cycling, showing 50km of a race must seem like showing a massive amount of the race! Cycling is a nightmare for tv production and schedule. Maybe we should not be complaining too loud, because who knows what they have in mind to make cycling more tv/internet-friendly? Somehow I think most of us would not like it.

  • Ken Saturday, 30 May 2015, 4:00 pm

    Everybody’s talking about AC burning himself out before the TdF. What about the Astana team? Will Aru and Landa be in form to support Vincenzo Nibali?

    While in the subject, is Ivan Basso the best T-S can provide in the way of mountain support for Contador? Once great, Basso did not impress me in this race, dropping off in the way lower slopes. Is there someone else in reserve?

  • GTGTGT Saturday, 30 May 2015, 4:11 pm

    @ken, hard to think Aru or Landa (or Basso) would ride the Tour.

    You’d expect Rogers, Majka, Mørkøv, Kiserlovski to all ride in support of Bertie.

  • Rusty chain Saturday, 30 May 2015, 6:02 pm

    I love the giro!!!! Great stage!!! I don’t Alberto was saving himself but truly popped. Good recovery. Where was his team? Along the same lines where was once dominant Team Sky? Saving themselves cause the leader s out? I have developed a dislike for Aru. Truly irrational. He is becoming the Szarapova of cycling (very vocal) but who wouldn’t scream for joy after winning such incredible stages. His form is an enigma to me. Check his crit just to put my mind at ease:)

  • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 8:16 pm

    Never nice to see team orders decide things – the 2nd and 3rd overall – especially when based on nationality. Little doubt that Landa was the better rider in this race between he and Aru.
    In all probability Aru would have won neither of those stages either – pretty hollow victories.
    And today’s decision also cost Landa the overall mountains classification.

    • Larry T. Saturday, 30 May 2015, 9:47 pm

      Last time I checked it was TEAMS involved, so “team orders” are kind of standard issue? I’ve written this before but I think Giuseppe Martinelli has more experience and smarts about Grand Tours in his little finger than pretty much the rest of the current World Tour management combined. Mario Cipollini’s been critical of Astana’s tactics too, but lacking in details as to what HE would have done if he was calling the shots. Long-term, what would have been the benefits of, well..first I guess we need to know what YOU would have done differently had you been sitting in Martinelli’s seat in the car… doing whatever it is that you think should have been done instead of decisions “based on nationality”? Creating confidence in what is likely Italy’s next big GT contender after Nibali (a 24 year old guy with a long term contract with your team) taking 2 and 3 on GC, + the team prize and making Nibali’s rival at July’s Tour work pretty hard…. is pretty damn good in my book. Nobody at Astana looked sad today.

      • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 10:22 pm

        Anyway, judging from Landa’s post-race interview, I’d say they’ve very probably lost him. I wonder if both “human resources” tasks could be achieved.
        There’s time to set new contracts, and a lot of things can change meanwhile (see what happened last year with Agnoli), but the team treated the Basque rider harshly.
        Maybe they feel he wouldn’t sign anyway, or they themselves wouldn’t, having different projects or knowing more details about his potential or his attitude – that said, Mikel was literally on the verge of crying when he explained he was stopped to “try something for the GC with Aru in case Contador had further troubles”.

        • STS Sunday, 31 May 2015, 1:30 am

          I agree, Gabriele, that Astana made a huge mistake with how they handled Landa in this race. And thus disagree with Larry considering Martinelli’s knowledge in GT racing. I remember Martinelli saying when AC left Astana that he was glad to let him go because it was beyond his abilities to manage / direct / coach someone of his capabilities. Just because he was the DS of Pantani does not necessarily mean he’s brilliant. This giro showed again – in my mind – that he’s not. He had by far the strongest team in the race – for whatever reason – with two of the three strongest riders (not to mention Kangert and Cataldo) but still they did not win the race.

          Landa lost exactly 4 minutes to Contador in the ITT when Aru lost only 2:47. I did not see Landa ride on that day so I might have missed something but I suppose he was told not to go all out during the ITT. For seeing him ride in the stages before and after the ITT he nearly always seemed to be stronger than Aru if not the strongest rider on the road. Please correct me if you think I’m wrong but I think Landa would have been capable to stay within a minute or two of Contador’s time in the ITT. He doesn’t seem to be too skinny but still was the strongest rider in the climbs. So it was not due to low body weight but his absolute power. With the form he showed each day he should have been able to do a decent ITT if Astana would have allowed him. And he surely would have been able to get much closer to Contador in the climb before Verbania but was probably told to stay with the group Aru was in once he had made it back to them after his fall and wheel change.

          So my conclusion is that Landa could have won the Giro or at least become a very, very close second to Contador if Astana (Martinelli) would have let the road decide the leadership question.

          • gabriele Sunday, 31 May 2015, 3:38 am

            I agree only partially, but more on that tomorrow 😉
            In the ITT I consider quite hard that Landa could get a much better result, nor I think he received the order to hold back. Various reasons to support that, but not tonight, I’d say.

      • King Boonen Saturday, 30 May 2015, 10:23 pm

        Agreed. I personally think Astana over-performed in this Giro and they can be very happy, especially with what we saw happen to Contador today. The more tired he is the worse he will be at the Tour.

      • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:54 pm

        I wasn’t criticising Astana’s tactics – 2nd and 3rd is what they would have got either way and it is a very good result – just expressing my entirely personal distaste of team orders.
        As for it giving Aru confidence, only if he manages to delude himself into believing he was the 2nd best rider.

    • gabriele Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:00 pm

      Letting the blue jersey slip away maybe wasn’t a bad decision, after all, in the long term… You’ve got to leave something for others.
      Probably nothing would have changed for the final result, but today the biggest mistake by Landa was “stealing” that KOM title from Zakarin.
      Cycling is complicated – and great fun to watch – because a lot of objectives are scattered on the table, and more often than not you must choose one of them sacrificing the others… even when at first sight they *really* look like as if they are coming together (and this final part is what makes things even more interesting).

      • J Evans Saturday, 30 May 2015, 11:57 pm

        Agreed: as soon as Landa took the Cima Coppi I thought ‘Well Zakarin won’t help you one pedal stroke now’.

      • STS Sunday, 31 May 2015, 1:42 am

        Agreed, although I did not think that when I saw him snatch it from Zakarin in the very last moment. I really thought he was going for the blue jersey to consolate him for not being able to ride to his full potential. But you’re right, that was a tactical mistake in the heat of the race.
        I mean Zakarin was cooked by that point and would not have contributed much anyway but his refusal to do any work somehow brought Landa’s morale down. And then came the call from Martinelli. Or maybe even before?
        Knowing what we know now after his post-race interview I wonder why he did not go for it against what the team told him if his contract expires at the end of this season anyway. He would surely have won his third stage and become second on GC. And every team manager would have got an even better impression of what he’s capable of.

        • J Evans Sunday, 31 May 2015, 9:57 am

          But that would mean not being allowed to race at the Vuelta, possibly?
          Also, I suspect a lot of team managers would frown upon that kind of behaviour and it would put them off. Besides, like us, they will have seen that he was the second best rider.

          • STS Sunday, 31 May 2015, 11:16 am

            Right probably not. But if he will not have renewed his contract with Astana by July then he will most probably also not ride the Vuelta for them because he will take his points to another team and blablabla.
            There are certainly team managers who want their riders to follow any order from the car no matter how stupid it might be. But at the end of the day team managers want to win races and want to have riders who attract attention to their team and sponsors. And the best way to do this is win races and do it with panache.
            But I agree it was a difficult decision for him and it’s hard to judge for us since we know next to nothing of what’s going on in the sky-blue bus.

          • J Evans Sunday, 31 May 2015, 11:28 am

            I suspect that Astana will not let Landa ride the Vuelta – not because they’ll lose his points: they’ll have plenty – but because they’ll want a rider (Aru) who is staying with the team to win and Landa might well be less obedient in that race.

  • scomac Sunday, 31 May 2015, 5:10 am

    I’d sure like to know what was in those vials that Aru took just before the start of the final climb on the last two stages. It could have been something as innocent as a caffeine shot or it could have been something far more nefarious. Odd that he was the only rider caught on camera consuming such a product. I for one am highly suspicious of his recovery and subsequent winning attacks after appearing in difficulty on the penultimate climbs on both days. Considering the recent track record of Astana and the history of its principal, one really should look at this with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  • Larry T. Sunday, 31 May 2015, 8:39 am

    One last bit for the couch-bound DS’s. It’s really simplistic to say this guy was prevented from doing X and because of that he was deprived of his rightful chance to win. This assumes that all the other teams and their efforts are fixed, with only Team X’s able to be changed at the couch-bound DS’ whim. If Landa had been turned loose so the race could be “decided on the road” Contador (who rode a very Indurain-like race in many ways) and the other competitors might very well have reacted and ridden quite differently. Only time will tell if Mikel Landa is the real deal or just another in a long, long list of super-gregari who (might) go on to lead teams at big races but turn out to be not up to the challenge. Uran and Porte come to mind…but again, only time will tell.

    • J Evans Sunday, 31 May 2015, 10:02 am

      I only think – and said – that Landa could have won a couple more stages (maybe), come second and won the mountains prize (possibly) – not saying he was denied anything else.
      But, for me – like Wiggins’s TDF victory or Hinault’s last one (although I didn’t see that and so don’t know if Hinault would have won anyway) – Aru’s second place and stage wins are pretty hollow. From my point of view, when you win because a team mate was not allowed to ride against you, it takes away a lot from your victory.
      That’s also why I’m so impressed by Roche’s 1987 Giro victory – his refusal to bow to team orders.

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