Giro Stage 13 Preview

So far, so little. The general classification has seen small climbs used to tease apart time gaps measured in seconds. Today’s stage is the first mountain stage and features a series of very steep climbs and twisting descents to put race leader Bob Jungels under pressure.

Greipel Giro Bibione 2016

Stage 12 review: a stage of stultifying boredom with nothing happening until the sprint finish when a late crash took some riders out and saw a reduced group of sprinters contest the finish. Once again André Greipel left no doubt about his superiority, his raw power simply too much for Caleb Ewan’s aerodynamic advantage. The future of sprinting will have to wait for tomorrow.

The Route: a concentration of climbing with a figure of eight loop around the finish town of Cividale del Friuli in Friuli, a semi-autonomous part of Italy on the Slovenian border where you find bilingual roadsigns and why Montemaggiore is Matajur to the locals.

The first climb sets the tone for the day, 8.3km and much of it above 10% and on a very narrow, winding road through woodland, the kind of road that’s great for cycling but you wonder if the Giro’s travelling caravan will fit (it will, just). The descent is similar although opens up on some wider roads at times and there’s the Passo San Martino, a bump on the profile but a steep climb for the race and again on a narrow road.

There’s a toboggan run to Clodig where it pays to spin the legs as much as possible on the way down to keep the legs supple given because the race goes straight back up the other side and with some sustained steep sections. The gradient might ease after Trusgne but the road doesn’t, it’s uphill and very twisty with sharp 90 degree bends in the road at times and very easy to get out of sight.

The Cima Porzus is the big climb of the day and steep again but this time wider, just, and freshly surfaced for the Giro. The road climbs to the village of Porzûs – known as the scene of a late wartime massacre – and beyond and is chased by another steep descent which leads to the foot of the final climb again, another consistently steep climb that twists up through the woodland and then the same again on the way down. Complete the descent and there’s just 7km to the finish.

The Finish: flat and rather humdrum. The Giro often serves up charming finishes in front of picture-postcard romanesque buildings. Not today, this is a plain road on the outskirts of town transformed for a day into the centre of the world.

The Contenders: a good day for a breakaway, today’s stage is exciting but tomorrow’s is critical so the GC riders could play it safe. This requires everyone to agree though and there’s a game theory proposition here, only if all sit tight will the truce hold. It only takes, say, Rigoberto Uran, to jump which promps Esteban Chaves and Ilnur Zakarin to follow and in no time Rafał Majka and Steven Kruijswijk jump and by now the entire hornets nest is buzzing.

Among the breakaway candidates BMC Racing’s Alessandro De Marchi ticks all the boxes, a strong raider who has won vicious mountain stages in grand tours before, he’s a local – the Redhead of Buja – and there are no team duties plus it was his birthday yesterday. None of this entitles him to win but but expect him to try. Giovanni Visconti is another contender, active the other day which is proof he’s off the leash rather than serving Valverde but he was spotted on the post-stage Processo Alla Tappa TV show yesterday evening, maybe not the thing to do if he wanted to give it everything today. Tim Wellens is another contender but these climbs are long for him, although the mountains jersey will surely tempt him go to in the early move. No mountain breakaway seems complete without the indefatigable Stefano Pirazzi either.

Alejandro Valverde is the default pick given his sprint finish and crafty ways. He’s climbing well and team mate Andrey Amador could play the team card trick again and go clear while everyone marks Valverde.

The tricky descent suits Vincenzo Nibali too and he might try to put the others under pressure. Ilnur Zakarin‘s already lost time but seems to descend like an articulated bus finding its way down a mountain and so the Russian could be tested here… unless he surges clear and given his climbing abilities this is worth watching out for.

Bardiani-CSF are having a good Giro and Francesco Bongiorno is a good climber. You might remember he was pedal to pedal with Mick Rodgers on Monte Zoncolan two years ago until a “fan” disturbed him. Another rider in a bright green jersey is Davide Formolo, released now given Uran’s GC ambitions are toast.

Finally which Sky rider would you pick? They’re orphaned after Mikel Landa’s departure and have no Plan B other than stage wins. Mikel Nieve seems the best bet but better suited to tomorrow’s stage so perhaps Nicolas Roche gives it a go?

Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali, Alessandro De Marchi
Visconti, Wellens, Bongiorno, Pirazzi, Nieve, Formolo, Roche

Weather: dry and sunny with a top temperature of 23°C in the valleys, probably just enough to dry the woodland descents.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. They reach Attimis, the start of the climb to Porzûs, at 3.55pm.

Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France while Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage. As ever, cyclinghub and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

44 thoughts on “Giro Stage 13 Preview”

  1. Breakaway Vs GC Group sort of Day, Movistar might benefit more if a really strong Break
    got away and steal the stage(and boni seconds). If Astana wanna put time into Valverde and Movistar, They HAVE to Race it Very Hard and Force Valverde to use up some energy before week 3.

  2. One note: Montemaggiore is not Matajur for the locals: Montemaggiore is the last town up the Matajur mountain. A shame the race can’t go to the Rifugio Pelizzo, because that is the hardest part of the climb.

    An historic note: General Cadorna took his generals, his son, and the King of Italy on the Matajur summit from time to time to have a look at the battlefield in WW1. From the summit you can see deep in the Isonzo valley, you have Monte Nero and Monte Rosso right in front and down to the Adriatic coast.

    …and, yes, Rommel walked these fields entering Italy during Caporetto.

    • He never looked like he had the speed and he wasn’t boxed in because the non-barrier side was empty – all he had to do was ride behind Greipel and then sprint past him on that side. Don’t know why Ewan was even trying the barrier side and Greipel didn’t deviate from his line.

      • Agreed. I think he tried to get into Greipel’s slipstream with the wind coming from the left because he thought this was the only way he potentially could pass Greipel if he faded. But Ewan could just keep Greipel’s wheel and if he felt really faster he could have easily switched to the other side. It was a desperate move to try and see if Greipel makes that beginner’s mistake and open the door along the barriers. So in hindsight it was Ewan’s beginner mistake to even try it that way. If he really wanted to beat him he should have tried on the left side in a sprint royal to really find out who’s faster.

      • There was a cross wind to it was natural to try and come around on Greipel’s right, just as it was natural for Greipel to tend to that side of the road. Ewan will learn that no sprinter will leave the door open on a sheltered side for him at this level.

  3. I think this could be a stage worth watching early – a direct contrast to yesterday’s. Does Pippo Pozzato suffer a flat tire every day? Is he sticking a knife into them as an excuse to not be anywhere near the front? I’m starting to wonder…

    • I had the exact same “conspiracy theory” last night. Get on TV anyway you can, either by signing on riding a retro steel bike, or by having a mechanical as the action heats up.

      Although watching that is preferable to the “Welcome to 1970” sensibilities of the TV director and his endless shots of the jersey models and other young women in the crowd, or the slo-mo of Greipel wiping his nose, or every toilet break they managed to capture…

      • The Voeckler Technique.
        Not riding well? Just go to the back and pull a few faces – French TV will show you. Again and again.

  4. a bit unfair to say Caleb was unable to challenge the big German in the sprint when its easy to see from the video coverage that he had to soft pedal at the crucial point as he was kinda pressed up agains the barriers.

    • Gone home or not, Greipel is fair racer and did not deviate. There was a cross wind which should have been apparent to all those riders who had circuited the final run in. Greipel certainly knew it. And it meant to get round Greipel Ewan needed to be on Greipel’s wheel to his left, not on the rails. In his postioning, this time Ewan didn’t know what he was doing I’m afraid.

      • I’m with CM here. Error of judgement on Ewan’s part rather than blocking by Greipel. It may have looked a bit dirty from the initial frontal view, but the helicopter images show that Ewan has plenty of room to Greipel’s left. Another learning experience for young Caleb…

          • That’s how I saw it, too.

            Has been really interesting seeing Ewan compete against the world’s best sprinters. It’s pretty clear that even with his supreme aerodynamic efficiency, he can’t yet compete with the monstrous power of Kittel and Greipel.

            I’d love to see him face off against Cavendish and Gaviria, to see how he stacks up.

          • Chris J: re your last sentence. Of course Cavendish used to beat Greipel for fun and might on occasion provide a match for him today. With his smarts I think Cav would still be a bit too much for Ewan at the moment. On the little evidence so far: Graviria beat the ultra -areo Ewan whilst riding on the hoods at Tirreno-Adriatico, though it was an uphill sprint. Bit of a lesson from the quiet Columbian? Maybe that will be another career long sprint rivalry in the seasons to come but it would not be a big surprise if Graviria may turn out to be more of a classics rider at Etixx – he seems versatile and hard enough.


          • Agreed with CM’s point – Ewan and Gaviria would be a great rivalry, but will have to wait until Kittel/Griepel/Cav take a step back.

  5. A strong breakaway of second tier climbers like De Marchi, Betancur, Roche, Pirazzi and Cunego would seem like a decent shout today. Maybe young Conti from Lampre too?

  6. I won’t be able to watch this live, can anyone recommend best streaming site or youtube account to catch up on the stage after the event (I’m in the UK) ?

      • Thanks J but thats just the 3 minute snippet that I can get elsewhere…. I used to rely on somebody uploading entire race or last 30km or so on youtube within a couple of hours of the finish but that seems to have been clamped down on lately.

        • Oh, they do about the last 20k of other races.
          Eurosport online is a fiver a month and would give you the 8.30-10pm highlights – plus, you can ‘go back in time’ with it, so you can watch that show any time between 8.30 and 11.30.
          Means you’re paying Kirby’s wages… but at least he’s not doing the Giro.

          • “Means you’re paying Kirby’s wages”. And, because TV broadcasts create much of the value for the team sponsors, the riders’ wages too.

  7. I’m interested to see how Chaves goes in the next week. I think he has been the strongest climber thus far. A lack of team support may mean he will be limited to late snipes rather than stage domination, but I think he is on his way to a podium.

  8. “Another rider in a bright green jersey is Davide Formolo” ……….. isn’t he wearing Jungel’s best young rider jersey at the moment?

  9. Very depressing that all bar the Italian sprinters apparently think the red jersey is worthless and don’t bother to compete for it. It seems like a couple of glory stage wins is enough and the Tour de France is the only race in town. If I were running the Giro I’d be pulling my hair out at the way my competition is being devalued by constant abandons. Maybe they need to make prize money in these events contingent on riders completing the entire event. Just a thought.

    • It’s being talked about, but I don’t think RCS will go down that road.
      It’s true that the abandons create a devaluation effect, yet the Giro granted the sponsors and the general public five top winners out of five sprint stages, until now, and there is a total of seven possible sprints in the race. Besides, it’s to be seen if Greipel could cope with the mountain keeping his kick (Kittel wasn’t going to make the time cut today or tomorrow, anyway).
      Hence, I guess they’ll weigh the “devaluation” (mainly perceived by hardcore fans) against the impact of having the supposed best name winning when they’ve got to, which works great for the occasional spectator and corresponding sponsors.
      As I wrote elsewhere, the likes of Petacchi and Cav won the three GT point jersey (one time each, if I remember well). Which means it’s no easy feat, and those who quit shouldn’t take for granted they’d make it. At the same time, when we’ll look back to the decade in the future, nobody will doubt about the relative value of all these athletes.
      You needn’t be a great sprinter to take home a points jersey, but to be a champion “despite being a sprinter” (eh eh eh, I’m joking) you need to collect a couple of them at least 🙂

        • The trouble with any incentive or punishment to encourage sprinters to complete stage races is that they will disadvantage riders who DNF for other reasons thereby making the race unfair. As INRNG makes plain in a recent post teams will construct a false narrative to explain withdrawal if they feel obliged to so what’s the point of punishing those who are honest? Far better as others have said to create a parcours that either encourages pure sprinters to complete the race if thats what organisers really want, or perhaps one that discourages them entirely as in recent Vueltas.

          • Greipel was asked this in the eurosport interview and I thought he was diplomatic but honest which was “I don’t want to quit but I’m human not a robot and I have lots of other objectives throughout the season all the way to October”.

            The choice for any grand tour sitting earlier in the season than the TdeF is have the A-listers leave half way through, or not turning up at all.

      • Well, he did, in three or four editions at least, but only for the Giro.

        (I think he won the final point classification a couple of times, while in other occasions he couldn’t make it despite finishing the race and winning a good number of stages, because someone else was collecting a lot of intermediate sprints).

        And, to further prove my point, as Gingerflash points out elsewhere, with hindsight he’s regretting not having done the same in the Tour, too.

    • So with Ewan out as well now the Maglia Rossa competition is becoming a last man standing situation…which I rather like actually, somewhat in the spirit of the early grand tours.

  10. On GC riders playing it safe, I think it has been a pleasant surprise how unsafe they’re playing it! Nibali attacking downhill, pink Jungels on the attack with Amador, Valverde (!) attacking as soon as they hit the gravel section…

    I have no empirical evidence to back this up, but a loose theory on my part is that the GC guys race with less restraint at the Giro than the Tour, making the former all the more interesting for it!?!

    • Recent Tours have not been the best comparison though. Team Sky’s plan is to get the lead as early as possible and then defend it because in Froome and Wiggins they had riders who could do that. In 2014 we were denied a real race when Froome and Contador both crashed out and Quintana didn’t compete. The Giro always seems second rate to me and, judging by all the abandons, to some riders/teams as well.

      • Sure, in prestige the Giro plays second fiddle to the Tour, but as a fun thing to watch I generally look forward to it more than the Tour. It’s a great race.

      • Davide Cassani pointed out on the Processo a few days ago the strongest team at the Giro is Movistar, not Astana…and this was before Nibali lost Valerio Agnoli. Right now it’s the Green Bullet’s race to lose…and I’m hoping he does and Nibali pulls off a close win despite the failings of his team.

        • My opinion, once we get into the mountains, Nibali’s climbing superiority will count more than relative team strengths. A long time since Valverde won his only grand tour.

  11. What happen to Serguei Firsanov today? Crash? or is he just aiming for tomorrow? Normally he finish just behind the GC’s..

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