Giro Stage 9 Preview

A decisive stage and a chance to turn the race upside down or at least invert the hierarchy before the race heads into the high mountains. The route celebrates the Chianti vineyards, branded these days with the Chianti Classico label and a black rooster.

Once upon a time the cities of Siena and Florence decided to stop fighting each other and draw up borders and hit on a novel idea: at dawn when a cockerel crowed for the first time in each city a band of horsemen would gallop out of the city gates towards their rival city. The point where they met their opponents would be the frontier between the two city states. Siena picked a white rooster and cosseted the cockerel. Florence opted for a mangy black one and kept him hungry. On the appointed day the white bird rose to announce dawn but long before he’d deigned to announce the day, his black rival had stirred and sent the Florentine soldiers on their way so they took more terrain and won and the legend lives on every wine bottle now with the black rooster brand. The moral of the story? Style is all well and good but being faster gives you the win. Does this foretell a win for the gangly but effective Ilnur Zakarin? Or perhaps now that Tom Dumoulin is back in black he’s going to win?

The Route: arguably more famous for its strade bianche and the birthplace of the Eroica vintage ride, today’s stage sticks to larger roads for most of the day. The road climbs up from the start and sets the tone for what is to come for the rest of the day, a twisting road that is never flat. It’s a course where having team staff with rally-style notes to relay over the race radio could really help, to know which line to take into a corner to set you up for the next one or whether the slight rise in the road is going to continue in which case change down a gear or whether it’s temporary. Do this right and you can save a lot of time around a course like this.

The route takes a smaller road after the second time check in Madonna di Pietracupa with a technical descent and a punchy climb up the the tiny hilltop village of Sicelle. This is the exception, elsewhere all the slopes along the way are gradual, typically 3-4%. They’re awkward, a real load on the legs uphill but also the descents rarely offer moments to freewheel meaning a sustained effort for over 50 minutes.

The Contenders: Tom Dumoulin is the prime pick. He’s been targeting this stage and has found winning ways this season. It’s ideal for him, a technical course with some climbing where is power to weight ratio gives him the advantage on the bulkier time trial specialists. Giant-Alpecin team mate Tobias Ludvigsson should thrive here too for the same reasons.

Fabian Cancellara is the time trial specialist but this course could be too hilly, he’ll suffer on the climbs and his position doesn’t look as aero these days when compared to his rivals. He’s bound to be close and has the benefit of having been able to take the last few days easy while Dumoulin has had to race hard and do all the media work.

Rigoberto Urán is first among the big contenders who will count on today’s stage to gain time on the climbers who will put the hurt on him in the high mountains. He’s gained a reputation as a time trial expert thanks to the Giro but has been poor this season, 43rd in the opening stage of the Giro is his highest place in a time trial this season.

Ilnur Zakarin‘s a contender too. He didn’t impress in the opening stage but today’s terrain suits him and the time trial used to be his speciality so today’s technical course should not scare him. He hasn’t put a foot wrong so far in the race, following the right moves and always on the right side of any time gaps on the finish line. Now the maglia rosa is within reach too and should he take it it’ll be hard for the others to pull it back off him.

What about Diego Ulissi? He’s in form of course but can he time trial you ask. He was second in the wine country time trial of the 2014 Giro, a result few predicted. A result today seems improbable but that 2014 ride stands out.

Rafał Majka is improving against the watch. A win is improbable but watch to see how he does, he could well beat the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Steven Kruijswijk, Esteban Chaves. Another pick among the GC riders is Jacob Fuglsang who is in great shape and extra motivated. Also Steven Kruijswijk has been targeting this stage too and could and perhaps should make the top-10.

The distance and hilly nature means some time trial specialists will suffer. Stefan Küng is young for such a long course and his bulk won’t help, nor will the accumulated fatigue from breakaway efforts. Primož Roglič had a great start in Apeldoorn but it’s been downhill since with a crash and more time losses. Perhaps he’s been riding in economy mode ever since losing time in order to make a surprise today?

Tom Dumoulin
Fabian Cancellara, Ilnur Zakarin, Rigoberto Uran
Fuglsang, Kruijswijk, Jungels, Ludvigsson, Roglič, Kangert, Roglič

Weather: sunshine and clouds and a top temperature of 18°C with a moderate chance of rain. There will be a light southerly breeze, 10km/h, barely enough to register but some of the roads are exposed on top of ridges so maybe it’s noticed in places.

TV: as ever the last rider is expected for 5.15pm Euro time. 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.

53 thoughts on “Giro Stage 9 Preview”

    • Sorry for any readers wanting a review of Stage 8 above, travelling and have an internet connection that is very slow. It seemed Dumoulin had a bad day but this longer climb did not suit him, the steep start was used by the others to put him in trouble early on. It’ll be interesting to see if he can bounce back today.

      • But your previews are growing better and better, even if I struggle to see how can that be possible given that they’ve always been very good.

  1. Dumoulin had bad legs and issues in the sitting area, but yeah, it wasn’t great. Says he still doubts he has the legs for this TT. Not that much of a shoe-in as he seems on paper.

  2. Rigo flatters to deceive when you expect it most, I find. Hard to recall a time when he met the high expectations to the nth degree.

    Tom will show today what goes around comes around. Like a windmill. Will be a satisfying end to the week if he can recover his mojo a little.

    • Zakarin is looking good.
      If Landa were a cockerel, he could be Coq Au Vin after today’s stage (French, I know but give me a Tatie Pot regardless); a disaster here and it will add to Sky’s Giro woes.

      • Mind explaining the context? Google & BBC told me it is delicious dish involves chicken breast. Do you imply he will be cooked here?

        • It was indeed a cooked reference hoh (the authentic dish is made with the cock bird), I feared his race could have been effectively over if today had gone poorly.
          But it was Zakarin that had the nightmare.
          I can’t see him making up over a minute on the other climbers now.
          Shame, as he was looking good for a podium.

  3. No rings for Kruijswijk? Last Giro 2015 TT, he put nearly 1’30” into Uran and over 3′ into Zakarin. I expect a Dutchman in pink tonight and it may not be Dumoulin (who looked busted last night – I wonder if the saddle sores are leading to a general infection).

    Cancellara for the stage.

    • Just added him a few minutes and came back here to hold up by hand for leaving him out only to find your comment. He should deliver a consistent performance and as some riders start to fall away he’s still standing.

  4. Uran’s rubbish prologue surprised considering his 2015 TT form, but he seems to be riding himself in as the Giro continues. Will be looking closely at Chaves the up and down of this profile will suit him more than if it was dead flat and simply a matter of watts at threshold. If not Küng in this then BMC will probably look to De Marchi to win from a breakaway as it’s not their A team in Italy, many more of them appear to be in California….

  5. Great little story there about the ancient Florence – Siena rivalry! It also shows in their church spires, if I remember correctly.

  6. Yesterday Fuglsang had a mechanical just when he had bridged up to the small Valverde/Nibaly group (with Landa and Amador). After fixing it he remounted and caught the dropped the larger Dumalin group and as the only one he rode up to the Valverde/Nibali group again – just as he regained contact before the top Valverde put down the hammer for the 2nd time and Fuglsag was dropped because we was in the red zone when i caught the Valverde/Nibali group again.

    Too bad, he actually did the fastest accent of Alpe di Poti yesterday, but both Valverde and Nibali shared a common interest in gaining time on him. (Nibali don’t want Vino to demote him again like in last years TDF)

    Fuglsangs ITT is no longer as great as it was 5 years ago – in 2011 he rivaled ITT monsters like Wiggens and Phinney in the Vuelta TT… Since joining Astana his ITT seem to be sub GC std, while he used to be among the best when it came to the ITT’s

    • I had the impression that he was the one on the front when bridging up with Landa and Amador. That would be a huge gift to the Spaniards, especially Landa.

      • He was (I belive that Pozovivo was on his wheel as well) Just as they bridged Fuglesangs chain fell of and got stuck so he had to unmount and fix it. He got back to the Dumolain group on the mid flat section and when the ascent to kick in again he brigded the 40 seconds gap alone – Valverde hit the gas as soon as he gotback and Nibali continued when he noticed that Fuglsang was in the red and had a problem answaring to Valverdes acceleration. He lost contact just before the top.

  7. Does your story about Florence, Siena and beasts with an ungainly flapping style mean that Chris Froome’s nickname should be the Black Rooster of Nairobi? Beats the hell out of ‘Froomey’.

  8. That second paragraph is exactly the reason why I love this blog so much, brilliant, witty and informative! I can’t help wondering if there is a parallel with sporting ethics in the rooster story, Siena could have simply cheated and despatched their horsemen without waiting for the cock to crow….after all if the system makes it easy, no one is really checking and everyone else is probably doing it anyway, why not? Also can we infer from the ‘back in black’ reference that Msr INRNG is an AC/DC fan? Or Perhaps knows that Dumoulin is?

  9. On a side note I am looking forward to seeing Nibali in something different to that washed out Astana kit with its poor National Champions gesture! and what with black shoes and white socks! come on Nibs get it together man your Italian!

  10. Never a big TT fan, but fascinating stuff.
    Very pleased for Roglic after the first stage.
    Great ride by Jungels – what future for him? Shame Amador lost time earlier in the race.
    I find it hard to have any sympathy for Zakarin. Yes, people bang on about his drug use – and others bang on about how this was a youthful mistake – but the science does seem to show that he will benefit from his previous steroid use for the rest of his career (and he doesn’t have the excuse of it being ‘the bad old days’).
    Also, bike-handling is a big part of the sport – and Inner Ring did point out Zakarin’s technique.
    Good to see Kruijswijk still in the GC race and glad that Landa did so well too – keeps more people in it. Who knows what’s wrong with Uran.
    Fantastic by Brambilla.

    • A little note to say this “doping benefits you forever” study was a test done on a small sample of mice and involved extrapolations from a mouse’s brief lifespan to a human. It’s an interesting little study but offers no conclusions for humans yet.

      • It is speculative – hence I used ‘seems to’ – but it’s also logical that if steroids result in extra nuclei in muscle cells in a mouse the same effect would occur in humans, because the cellular mechanisms are very similar within mammals. There’s no data because you can’t experiment on humans.

        • You can, however, keep an eye on the results of those who doped in the past and now say they are clean. It is unscientific because you don’t know how they would have performed if they had never doped but it may give some hints, particularly if you compare several ex-dopers and there is a common theme in the results.

          • But a) you don’t know that they are clean now; b) the very point you make; c) there doesn’t seem to be a trend: some ‘ex-dopers’ do brilliantly, whereas others almost disappear into obscurity.

        • On Instagram Uran talked about crash and derailleur (or shifting) problems.

          I really love TT stuff. Some points that I noted on the topic:

          bike: not all models have the same or close performance (as expected from premium models). I think as a point on the matter on Lapierre’s as example. FDJ performance this year is astonishing. Perhaps a sum of more training with new/better bike. The new Bolide is 350g lighter and have some new design.

          training: Landa and Rolland have said they have been alot of work on TT and pay attention on details. So far Rolland doesn’t show anything significant, but Land does today. It seems a lot climbers and GC contenders neglects TT bikes/training.

          team: some teams seem to put a lot effort on TT training or it is a relevant quality at the moment of hiring a rider. I see Lotto-Jumbo, Etixx, Giant, Movistar with a good amount of ITT riders. OTOH Astana, Ag2r, Lampre seems neglect his domestiques on the training side. It can be said that domestiques must worry only with time cut.

      • Is it just me or did the taller late-starting riders struggle the most today? Perhaps a combination of sidewinds and wet roads?

        • i cant see where there could be sidewinds on that route exept on the last km uphill to Panzano and a few km downhill just after Panzno. The entire course is pretty sheltered from the sourounding hills.

          I actually did that TT course in october when i participated in l’Eroica Giaole (stayed on a top of Montemuro – a nearby hill at 750m between Greve and Rada). That road between Rada and Greve could have been a lot of fun… a 6km climb from Rada – 3 of them at an average at 11% with steep corners through the village oif Olando maxing out at +25% on shitty slippery asfalt. On my last day there i actually had to walk throug the steepest corners on my way back up because it had recently rained – 27mm Pave tubs couldnt produce sufficent grip on the steepest inclines.

  11. Etixx-Quick-Step are currently one and two in both the GC and the young riders category, first in the teams competition and have three stage wins, three pink jerseys and five red jerseys so far in this Giro. Perhaps they’ve grown bored of the cobbles and decided to specialise in stage racing. It would explain this year’s poor Classics performance.

    • I would guess that they always try for the best result. It doesn’t always work out. LeFevere has always worked hard with considerable skill.

    • I was writing this already yesterday, then I thought: Nah, let the people have their fun. And deleted it again. But now I just can’t shut up any longer. Imagine, if this would be Katusha or Astana. People would go nuts! Just as they went nuts here last year about Landa, who is now a changed rider in 1 year and you don’t hear a peep anymore. Scary, scary stuff.

      • EQS’s performances? Well, Kittel’s were to be expected, Jungels has always been good in a TT, Brambilla has been looking a good classics rider for a good while – none of these have been particularly exceptional.
        And we haven’t been up a big mountain yet.
        True, though, that when Astana rode well in the Giro everyone went bonkers, ignoring the fact that they were using their riders well and that these riders had had good results in GT GCs.
        And if EQS were going to cheat, en masse, they’d surely have done it for April, not May?
        Lotto-Jumbo had three in the top 10 and IAM had two in the top three of yesterday’s TT – and I doubt many of us, bar Inner Ring and Scandinavian readers, had heard of Vegard Stake Laengen.

        • It’s not about any team or a rider. Last year I was one of those explaining here, rider by rider, why Astana’s performance was not out of the ordinary, if you looked at the riders and their results and the team tactics. But many were bitterly biased. It is nothing wrong with being biased, everybody is. I am (I am totally biased and have my fun with it), you are. It just gets dangerous and on my nerves if people think they are so balanced, when they are clearly not. And comments sections, forums, social media bolster this belief and take away the need to look at our own behaviour, cause when others agree with our opinion, we feel justified. But being many or more than one in reality never justifies a feeling or belief, just look at history (or present). Take Larry (sorry Larry for using you as an example):he has a clear bias, but mostly is aware of it and sometimes able to put it aside, if it gets to serious talking. So while some of his repetitions get tired, I don’t mind much, cause he mostly knows he judges by personal preferences.

          • I remember there being a fair amount of balance… Gabriele went into quite a lot of detail (as he does 😉 ) about why Astana’s performances were not unexpected at the time as I recall.

          • I know Noel’s comment was tongue-in-cheek, but I do wonder if people are put off posting by others’ criticism of them for doing so too often/too lengthily (no, it hasn’t affected me).
            Gabriele is my favourite poster on this site: his knowledge is incredible and I find his posts fascinating (and if I don’t, I can skip over them). Of late, Gabriele has posted less and I have missed his insight. This is particularly true during the Giro.
            I’d also spring to Larry’s defence, but that might seem too biased as I agree with him so often.

      • To be fair, my collection of last year’s discussion re-Astana on this site is that most people wasn’t that disturbed by their performance, especially after Mr Inner Ring’s level headed analysis. I think he pointed out Landa’s past performance was consistent with his showing last year and the possible reasons why he hadn’t win a lot before.

      • Can’t speak for others, can only speak for myself and I stopped commenting here, because I have a different definition of cycling or interest in cycling or writing/speaking about cycling. I simply have nothing to say to the subjects or ideas that are written about here. It got very boring and pointless for me. So I stopped commenting here and only do so on rare occasions. That is not saying one is better than the other, it just isn’t for me.

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