Giro d’Italia Stage 13 Preview

A flat procession to Tortona, the town where Fausto Coppi died from malaria aged 40. Maybe not the most cheerful commemoration but there’s music along the way too.

Stage 12 Wrap:  a long and uneventful stage, the kind where you wonder if the majority of the audience is only made up of people unable to avoid watching, for example near-mummified hospital patients in traction in a room where there’s a TV stuck on RAI. We got a repeat episode too with Fernando Gaviria taking his third stage win thanks to a perfect leadout from Ilio Keisse and Max Richeze.

The Route: so flat and uneventful let’s talk something else than the roads. The race visits Parma, always good to see the Giro riding through a city because it’s a way to reach more people. Later on they reach Piemonte, the home region of Fausto Coppi. It’s also home to songsmith Paolo Conte. Who? You may not know him but you’ve probably heard his music in film soundtracks or ad campaigns, probably “Vieni Via Con Me” with its English chorus of “it’s wonderful, s’wonderful”. The Giro rides through Stradella, once a big centre of production of accordions celebrated by Conte. This isn’t coincidence or a tenuous filler to pad the pixels here: Conte celebrates cycling. His lyrics include references, for example “Boogie” has a fondo come ciclisti gregari in fuga or “going flat out like cyclists in a breakaway” and of course the energetic tribute to Gino Bartali, Coppi’s arch rival which brings us to Tortona…

The Finish: flat and the bend with 500m to go isn’t sharp but has traffic islands and the riders will be funnelled through the gap.

The Contenders: the last sprint stage of the Giro. Fernando Gaviria and Quick Step put on a convincing show yesterday so they’re the obvious pick but remember sprints are never the same, if you could re-run the same sprint in some kind of sporting Monte Carlo simulation the results would surely change. So Caleb Ewan should be a bit fresher after a flat stage so his 82nd place yesterday after tangling with another rider can be amended. André Greipel will give it all before he quits the race today. Jakub Mareczko is showing his speed too while Sam Bennett is close but keeps missing out. After these riders it’s hard to see another riding winning, the likes of Sacha Modolo, Roberto Ferrari, Phil Bauhaus and more are taking part but beating all the previously cited riders sounds like too much.

Fernando Gaviria
Caleb Ewan, André Greipel
Mareczko, Bennett

Weather: turning cloudy with a good chance of rain, a top temperature of 23°C but cooler later as the rain arrives. A downpour or thunderstorm is possible too. A 20km/h wind will blow from the south-east, a tailwind all day except for the finish in Tortona.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CET. There’s live coverage on home broadcaster RAI in Italy and Eurosport for much of Europe and beyond. Otherwise and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

40 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 13 Preview”

  1. It’s like they want us to only tune in for the last 20 minutes.

    Both Greipel and Ewan seem to need almost perfect leadouts to win, making Gaviria look all the more impressive.

    • Talking of perfect leadoouts – the peloton was travelling about 55 kmp/h when Richeze had to get back on and it took him 3″ to re-join, so he was travelling.
      Then he was still there at the end, over 13 km later, and finished 5th wheel ahead of Greipel.
      And this after 229 km on a supposedly easy day.
      It helps to partly explain Gaviria’s success, absolutely top notch team behind him and that isn’t Quick Step’s strongest line-up.
      Saying that, Bora were excellent too. Very impressed with them, not all about Sagan by any means.

  2. I’ll even admit to running some errands during yesterday’s race, but today might be different if the wind and rain show up and someone wants to take a chance on breaking things up. Of course the current Maglia Rosa is well-schooled in racing in these conditions, but I think I’ll try to get my errands (and bike ride) in sooner today.

    • Isn’t this simply the race organisers showing some love to the sprinters?

      It may not be entertaining in isolation but a stage like this might add interest to the Giro when viewed in a wider context, like a long straight on a racing circuit. Does it help to focus GC battles and make other stages more interesting?

    • You can watch the bikes, read about Mapei and remember the 90’s and the terrible psychedelic kits which were inspired by the culture of Italian piano house and substance abuse (very apt), think about the riders’ top speeds and their gear set-ups and why kids on fixedys take some chasing down, wonder how Poulidor got up Mont du Chat on 44/23, and vintage-era bikes. Start googling old Colnagos, De Rosas and wonder if you should get an Eddy Merckx Liege 75 in Molteni livery…
      Before you know it. it’s bedtime 🙂

    • I quite liked it as I regularly visit Toscana for holidays and saw much familiar scenery, though can see that they could have easily knocked 40km off the stage without affecting anything. It was an interesting sprint, better than some earlier in the race.

    • Apparently, this year’s 100th Anniversary Edition of the Giro is paying homage to the great Italian champions of the past by visiting their respective towns. So, rather than creating a challenging route, it appears this stage was designed for paying respects to the great Fausto Coppi–regardless of the flat terrain–which is odd, because he was such a great climber!

    • Somewhat perversely, I actually quite like them. Part of the distinction of a Grand Tour is that you actually need to cover distance to get the feel of actually ‘touring’ around a country. And the down time for the climbers mean that you get better action on the ‘GC’ days.

    • I for one don’t have time to watch a couple hours a day so it’s nice that I can tune in for 3 minutes and not miss anything on some days.

    • What do you want instead? 20 mountain stages and then wondering why the GC riders put in every juice they can get? Transfer stages fro sprinters are crucial part of a GT. And that’s okay

    • Guilty as charged. It’s a source of interest here, that if you could take the bunch and send them into the same 5km finish again and again would the same rider always win or would things turn out different, and if so how often? There are so many variables.

  3. Gaviria is the new Sagan I read (elsewhere obvs.). He certainly benefits from the best lead out squad in the business. Richeze and co have been top notch. It must give great confidence to know you will be in the armchair until its time to detonate.

  4. So Thomas has abandoned the Giro. I don’t believe in “curses” and all similar mumbo jumbo but it has to be said Team Sky haven’t had a lot of luck in this race with their GC tilts. Only Uran in 2013 and he was only supposed to be there to be a superdomestique to Wiggins.

    • Hadn’t heard about this – surprising given the Sky-centric british press – must be an election on or something.

      Not something I’ll often focus on, but I wonder weather they would benefit from a ‘road captain’ type in races like these… the older heads in the team seem to be the diesels on the front of the peleton often… so they could maybe do with someone shoving the leaders around and keeping them out of trouble?

        • Indeed – but as augie mentions it appears to happen to them a fair amount… especially for a team hardly lacking in the resources to protect the leader. The point is moot in any case – a moments google confirms that Golas was fulfilling the role at the Giro.

          • No offence intended to Golas, but if you compare that to other ‘road captains’ you might notice that your point is less moot than you think 😉
            Part of Froome’s problems in 2014 were more a failure by his team than sheer bad luck. Same goes for Porte in Giro 2015 etc. (there’s a fine list of examples).
            Very sorry for Thomas, I was looking forward to his role in the third week. Speaking of curses, another victim of the knee curse that went rampant this Spring.

    • I kind of believe in a curse – one that bites you if you fail to respect the race. Same with SKY and La Vuelta. They send a 2nd thought team and each time (so far) their challenge mostly fizzles out for one reason or another. When/if they elevate their program to give these other GT’s the same respect they show for LeTour, they might have more success?

  5. I fell asleep watching the ‘highlights’ yesterday

    Liked Bora’s leadout just a shame Sam Bennett didn’t pull it off as always had a soft spot for him especially after last year’s TdF watching him struggling with his injuries to finish race and claim the latern rouge

  6. Great, great Paolo Conte reference!
    In recent years he’s become more famous in France and in Spain than perhaps in Italy itself (at least in music circles), probably thanks to the jazz turn his career took decade after decade and the live shows.

    “Bartali” is indeed his most famous piece about cycling (“his nose as sad as a climb / his eyes as cheerful as any Italian’s / when outing to the countryside”): it’s the stream of consciousness of a fan sat on a kerbstone on the side of a dusty road, longing for a beer on a hot day, “as sticky as rubber”, while he waits alone the race and Bartali to pass by (his girlfriend got upset because they had to go to the movies but he preferred to wait for the race and told her: “go by yourself, if you want it so much!”). He gets lost in his thoughts while moto after moto go by, separated by “a great silence in between / so deep I couldn’t really describe it”. Eventually, the sun is setting, and, even if it never becomes clear, you suspect that there was no race whatsoever, or maybe it passed by without the fan noticing.

    However, I think that Conte’s masterpiece about cycling is “Diavolo Rosso”, “Red Devil”, the nickname of Giovanni Gerbi from Asti, one of the legendary cyclists of the first two decades of the 20th century (well, after retiring in 1920 at 35 he had his own comeback racing the Giro and the Sanremo some thirteen years later! Horner, Rebellin and Valverde still have a long way to go).

    The song doesn’t actually say much ( …nothing at all) about racing or bicycles, it is mainly about the universe of Piemonte countryside, brides who’re really still children, stubborn men (“those little fair-haired girls / and their oh so little earrings / they’re going to be brides / who will bring forth / men as tall as trees / whom you may notice, / if you ever try to convince them, / to be really made of wood”) the slow passing of time, the clean winter skies, the heavy carts on frozen mud roads, hay and straw and rice fields and frogs and malary and the white blinding daylight in summer, roadside prostitutes, stagecoaches and the vegetal scent of the darkest night, dotted with fireflights. A world with a taste of orange soda, quinine and ratafia: not just a “pure” imaginary of an idealised country world, but quite a realistic (strongly physical and sensorial) representation of a society which could live in a 19th century world well into the 20th – but, ultimately, didn’t really survive WWII.

    • Yesterday’s finish at Reggio Emilia is the current home of Valerio Semplici, who co-wrote the classic Italian House tune “Ride on Time”.
      The title suggests a cycling theme but sadly not.

  7. The more you look at the profile of the whole race the more uninspired it looks.
    Quintana needs to attack on the 2nd hill of three on stage 16 and needs to go long on 18 – straight from the off.

  8. Stages like this are “slow tv” a concept from Scandinavia, relaxing especially on Sporza without commercial breaks 😉

  9. Ewan doesn’t know how to sprint. He chooses the wrong side of Richeze – should have taken the side Gaviria did, thus also keeping Gaviria behind. As it is, there was no gap and Richeze cleverly looks behind and leaves room for Gaviria on his right and not for Ewan to go to his left.
    Up until then, all is fine – and Ewan is going nowhere. Then Richeze hits Ewan.
    Richeze does a lot of clever moves, where he pulls off from his leadout in front of his sprinter’s competitors. Those always seem a tad borderline – clever, not necessarily totally fair; but probably within the rules. This was more of a bodycheck and there was no excuse for it. And it was clearly dangerous as Richeze’s own foot comes off his pedal.

    • It’s quite clearly as gabriele describes. I’d say Richeze’s action is a textbook case of legal and sporting. I see him doing nothing more than protecting the barrier lane and himself from the action on his left. He leans to his left in anticipation of contact, but holds very fair line, then the door slams shut in Ewan’s face. No need for apologies.

  10. I don’t know, I watched that aerial replay numerous times and every time it looks like Ewan body checking him in frustration for having the door shut after choosing the wrong wheel and wrong side to sprint on….

    Regardless, Gaviria showed he is a man among boys with that sprint. He wad out of screen he was so far back with a gap to cover.

    Magnificent display of sprinting endurance at top end, and poor Bennett – really was willing him to victory while watching but when you saw Gaviria 10 riders back surf the wheels and punch it you knew he had no chance.

    Boring stage, brilliant sprint!

    • I’d agree that it’s Ewan body-checking Richeze.

      It’s pretty much clear from the aerial, Richeze (who just had had a shoulder battle with the Bora ahead, I don’t mean he’s a saint or so) keeps his straight line, protecting the right corridor – and he shouldn’t have closed that even if it wasn’t his captain who came up along the barriers top speed.

      I’m with J Evans when he writes that Ewan should have dared to go for the barriers (leaving the option to Richeze to do something irregular); instead he tries to jump on the faltering Selig’s wheel from Richeze’s, another mistake, given that Bennet was out of reach and had Stuyven on his wheel already.
      But Selig (ouch, another good type…) moves right, trying to sweep every rival from that whole side of the road once he’s finished his stint, thus boxing Ewan who then goes into Richeze out of pure frustration.

      This Giro, Gaviria – provisionally, at least – set himself on a different level than Ewan, who’s an aero and superfast-twitch talent, and he’s indeed impressive, too; but Gaviria, wow.
      It’s not just about winning – it’s *how* you win.
      The competition is very far from top (well, it wasn’t for Cav when he started winning at the Giro – and he was one year older than these two guys), but all the same we’ve seen a couple of damn good sprints this year. I can endure some 5-6 boring sprint stages if in half of them I’m rewarded with 2-3 finale like these.

  11. If Ewan did indeed do the barging on Richeze then it might suggest he is less of a lightweight than he has seemed to be so far previously. Up to now my impression of him is that he has been too easy to shut out of the game. Ewan came into this Giro going very fast. He was lightning quick when losing in the first few days and was already knocked off his sprint in Stage 2 when he strayed into the then slower Gaviria who was sensibly building into the Giro.
    In riding into better form during the early stages, Gaviria has shown professionalism of the order of Cavendish. But in any case, it made perfect sense as a GT is unknown territory for the Colombian. The cream rises and Gaviria is blessed. It took the estimable Greipel a dozen years, most in the shadow of Cavendish, to gather a deserved pink jersey; Gaviria got his after a few hours of GT racing.
    So, I don’t think it is provisional. In truth Gaviria is in a different league to Ewan. He was already a double world champion before he started in earnest with Quick Step. Many have said Gaviria has been led out brilliantly by the Quick Step reserve team, but I think his range of ability may mean he is easier to lead out than most. Cavendish, with his experience, may have been more specifically demanding and he never really got the best lead outs from the Quick Step stars, even after Renshaw was drafted in, thus he often achieved his best results with them by abandoning his train. However, the Quick Step reserve team at this Giro, which includes three GT debutants, also comprises some pretty special talent and grizzled professionals- the aforementioned Richeze has been around, and the Ghent 6 Day star Iljo Keisse, especially, is a top-notch road racer. In a variety of sprinting conditions, Quick Step have had a good Giro: Gaviria a memorable one. Just as the hugely talented Geraint Thomas has generated debate about the pull of GT over Classics, Gaviria may illustrate a similar dilemma in future. He is not a Sagan, being faster and more of a downright sprinter presently, but his endurance may mean that his ability to star in classic one-day races may curtail some GT sprint stage hunting down the road. He could yet be Sagan’s arch rival. Gaviria’s win at Paris-Tours was special. For now, what Paris-Roubaix missed is the Giro’s gain. One simply cannot talk about Ewan in this way.

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