Giro Stage 14 Preview

The Dolomites stage, a tappone as they say in Italian: not just a stage but a big stage. A 210km race across some of the most scenic climbs in the Alps and with five mountain passes above 2,000m, a total of 5,400m of vertical gain and a nasty “wall” just before the finish.

Mikel Nieve

Stage 13 Review: Mikel Nieve wasn’t supposed to win because he wasn’t supposed to race the Giro, he was a late call-up for Team Sky and was supposed to work for Landa. Freed from duty Nieve joined the early breakaway and  bided his time until going solo on the climb to Porzus and staying away for the stage win. It was convincing and he could strike again in the coming days.

The first day in the mountains ended in a draw among the big names but gave us plenty to consider. Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde traded attacks which suggest neither is superior which will give hope to Esteban Chaves, Steven Kruijswijk and Rafał Majka. Nibali’s attack was reeled in by Enrico Battaglin working for Kruijswijk, it was only a brief pull but all the same if Battaglin can claw back Nibali then the Italian champion’s efforts are proving far from decisive. Glance at the results and you’ll see Ilnur Zakarin finished in the front group but he was in the red on the last climb and we’re not talking about his Katusha kit. Andrey Amador struggling too, dropped at one but rode back and into the race lead. Movistar still have one leader in Valverde and in today’s Gazzetta Amador professes loyalty to Valverde.

Giro Friuli

The Route: it looks uphill all the way from the start and it is. At first it’s a gradual climb up the valley, a big ring road but at 70km the route takes a narrow road, effectively a short cut, and starts to twist and climb through Digonera with some steep sections and hairpin bends and from here onwards the climbers are at ease. The roadbook says the Passo Pordoi starts in Arabba at 85km but it’s hard work just to get to this point.

The Pordoi though is a steady climb, 9.3km at 6.9% and on a large road, after yesterday’s narrow lanes today will almost look like the Tour of California’s highways. The comes the Sella pass (5.5km at 8%) and the Gardena (5.8% with two 7% sections separated by a kilometre of false flat) before the race drops into Corvara, the finish town with 83km still to do. It climbs out of town via the Campolongo (6km at 5.8% and a steep start).

The Passo Giau is the big difficulty of the day. So far the climbing has been reasonable but here things get harsh. That 14% point on the profile above is more than the inside line on a hairpin, it’s a long ramp. The climb starts hard and barely relents all the way up. It’s hard but on a wide road, gentle bends and, if anyone cares to notice today, huge views. There’s a regular descent.

Next is the Valparola, 11.5km at 5.8% and another long steady climb, a classic ski station access road and it’s followed by a regular descent with some very long fast sections.

The Finish: with 5km to go the road flicks on to the Muro del Gatto, the “Cat’s Wall” with its 19% slopes. It’s awkward and sounds sinister but it’s just a road on the edge of town surrounded by grassy meadows. It’s a wide ribbon of tarmac that’s probably a ski slope in winter – it passes under the ski lifts – but a nasty addition to the route, after 205km not many will have zip left in their legs. After cresting this sharp climb the road drops and then resumes a 2-3% drag into the ski town of Corvara.

The Contenders: 78 riders came in together yesterday in a group over half an hour down, among them several climbers: Tim Wellens, Przemysław Niemiec, Francesco Bongiorno, Philip Deignan, Jelle Vanenedert, Marcel Wyss and 20 year old Daniel Martínez. Who saved their legs and who is on their knees?

Meanwhile if stage racing is an exercise in hierarchy we’ve still yet to get a pecking order in the mountains but it’s not certain to emerge today. This is one of those stages that is so hard that it incites energy conservation rather than wild raids. Alejandro Valverde is again an obvious pick for his climbing and his ability to sprint in a finish like today, even if Vincenzo Nibali pipped him yesterday. The pair seem to be the most active and assured but neither could deliver. Perhaps they want it this way, why take the race lead now and assume the burden that goes with it? Jacob Fuglsang is an intriguing prospect, he’s lost some time and can benefit from the tactical marking to get away late in the stage without threatening Movistar.

Team Sky’s orphaned riders can take their chance with Nicolas Roche and Sebastian Henao looking the best on paper. Roche saved Landa last week on the road to Praia a Mare which suggests the climbing legs are there while Henao was Sky’s best rider on the hilly day to Sestola. Normally today would have been for Mikel Nieve, I thought he’d have preferred a raid today compared to yesterday. A double seems too much given the extremity of this stage.

Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali, Jacob Fuglsang
Roche, Henao, Anton, Niemec, Wellens, Wyss

Weather: sunshine with clouds building and a top temperature of 17°C at the finish in Corvara, 10°C above 2,000m.

TV: live on TV from the start at 11.05am Euro time. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm. They start the Passo Giau at 3.30pm.

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.

32 thoughts on “Giro Stage 14 Preview”

  1. Ahh, the Dolomites – where we say “God takes His vacations” The Passo Giau is murderous from this side, but probably too early to make any real damage, though I’d rate the descent a bit tougher than “regular”. I’ll be keen to watch them fly down the Valparola, a descent I dearly love. Wouldn’t mind seeing the Green Bullet take the jersey today so the strongest team can move into defense mode against the attacks from the Shark. Vai Nibali!

  2. Inrng: why no Majka as a pick? Stage seems made for him and he has ridden a stealth but confident race. Curious what he’ ll show tomorrow? You don’t think he has the legs?

  3. Rode the Maratona last year. Absolutely stunning ride, probably the best mountain ride I’ve experienced. 5 stars. Unlike the rest of regular Alps I noticed there’s no flat sections in the valleys, just down then up again! Looking forward to seeing the pros do this.

  4. Second para of stage 13 review has a few problems, maybe this reads better?

    “The first day in the mountains ended in a draw among the big names but gave us plenty to consider among a reduced lead group which eventually saw Bob Jungels ejected. Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde traded attacks which suggest neither is superior and will give hope to Esteban Chaves, Steven Kruijswijk and Rafał Majka. Nibali’s attack was reeled in by Enrico Battaglin working for Kruijswijk. Glance at the results and Ilnur Zakarin finished in the front group but he looked to be in the red on the last climb while Andrey Amador was worse off, he got dropped but rode back and into the race lead.”

    Hope this isn’t out of place – you’re doing an amazing job producing so much quality coverage day in day out!

    This is a mouthwatering stage indeed!

  5. Deliciously cruel stage. Lots and lots of altitude, lots and lots of climbs, and a good climber may well stay with the best all stage long and still lose half a minute on that monstrous stretch of Giat. Expect both Valverde and Nibali (and maybe Chaves) to put time into the more staid climbers like Kruijswijk and Majka and cement their favourite status.

  6. Murderous certainly. I need an energy bar simply having read the preview. It’s days like this where the inherent insanity of the sport shows through. As for a stage winner maybe an Orica or Tinkoff shirt to get over the line first is as decent a guess as any. Good luck fellahs.

  7. And the weather is good; no shortened or omitted sections due to snow etc. Seeing this route on paper months ago and wondering if it will actually take place due to weather; that question has been answered.


  8. You don’t make them sound the most interesting of climbs – are we looking at another stalemate for the big contenders? I certainly expect Amador and Zakarin to falter.
    Valverde totally mistimed his sprint yesterday – went far too early – hence losing to Nibali.

    • They’re great climbs – some of the best riding in the Alps – but in aggregate, and given tomorrow’s mountain time trial, there’s a high chance the big names are content to mark each other. To win the stage today would mean launching an attack from afar and that’ll be paid for in cash during tomorrow’s stage.

      • I agree – I think they’ll leave it. But Valverde might decide that he has more chance of gaining time on Nibali today rather than tomorrow (Nibali’s my favourite for tomorrow) and so think it’s worth the risk on the final descent and climb.

  9. As beautiful (and hard) as riding in the Dolomites may be, I’d be leaving the two wheels behind and doing the roped / laddered climbs in the mountains. I don’t have a bucket list, but this remains as my top ‘to do’ activity.

    It’ll be worth watching later just for the views, and hopefully the weather is kind.
    Sky to go for it again today, I feel.

  10. I’m feeling less of an outlier on this blog nowadays. Typically, I’d rather watch elite competitors grinding each other into submission, rather than a less formulaic race with second-rank riders exploiting circumstances to sneak ahead of the top guns. However, with the top sprinters leaving and only Nibali and Valverde left from the names I’d normally , I’m hoping for someone like Chaves, Uran, or Pozzovivo to upset the big teams. As usual, it probably won’t happen, but then they said that about Leicester.

  11. “After 205km not many will have zip left in their legs”… the stage is certainly very hard, but not because of its distance. If anyone considers 210km long distance, it means the bar has been lowered spectacularly. Why isn’t this bar-lowering ever discussed except for a few grumpy old-timers?

  12. Perhaps the way to put it is that the best part of 7 hours racing seems a pretty decent shift for their money. And in effect the first climb is over 90km long without respite before the big stuff.

  13. I never understand why a team like Movistar today feel they have to lead the peloton. Yes, it’s tradition if you’re in the leader’s jersey, but if it’s not to your advantage – which it isn’t today because Amador is not their main man – then why waste all that energy? Just don’t do it and nuts to tradition.

  14. A cracking stage serving Scarponi’s orchestration; Nibali’s animation; Chaves’ culmination; Kruijswijk’s jubilation; and Movistar’s annihilation. Now there remains the coda of the ITT to see how much of it sticks.

  15. For once a big stage lived up to its billing. Glad to see Valverde and Nibali fail and a new and hopefully cleaner generation take over.

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