The sacred and the profane, the Giro brings a bike race to one of the largest religious shrines in the Alps, Oropa and a climb that has been part of the race’s theatre in recent years even if it’s never been decisive.
Stage 13 Wrap: a fourth stage win for Fernando Gaviria. For once Quick Step’s trian wasn’t convincing amid a hectic dash but the Colombian sliced through the field like a hot knife through mozzarella. He’s now comfortably in the maglia ciclamino with 395 points, next-placed Jasper Stuyven has 192 points and the jersey is arithmetically within reach of Stuyven as long as he wins every remaining stage and Gaviria doesn’t place. In real terms as long as Gaviria makes it to Milan the prize is his.
The Route: a start to celebrate Fausto Coppi up in the hills in Castellania, his birthplace and to call it a village would be to exaggerate, it’s a tiny place. The race will be neutralised during the descent to the plains. Then it’s 120km across the pianura to Biella where bridges are the only obstacles to climb, hours spent turning big gears before they reach the foot of the Alps and suddenly have to spin a low gear.
The Finish: a famous climb but it’s never been decisive in the Giro. It starts with a suburban feel with walls separating the road from homes and gardens and it’s steep too with each home sitting higher than the next. As the profile shows the climb has a steep middle section – 8.9% for 3.5km – and it’s here in the village of Favaro that the road is cobbled but with smooth and tightly packed stones, they roll fast. Onwards and the road is even more exaggerated than the profile shows, those 5% sections include some flat parts but that only means the slope is steeper elsewhere. As the reach the sanctuary there are more cobbles where the final metres are uphill at 5%.
The Contenders: a breakaway? Why not, the big GC teams are protecting their leaders so won’t be racing across the plains for the whole stage, they’ll only take up formation later on which gives hope to fugitives looking to establish a lead. It’s hard to pick a winner but Sky’s Diego Rosa is the local, suited to short uphill finish and doesn’t have to worry about team duties any more but whether he has the legs is another matter.
Nairo Quintana is the obvious pick for a summit finish but this is a short climb and so he can’t scare his rivals so much. Thibaut Pinot packs a good punch for the pavé finish but as Vincenzo Nibali remarked the other day his moves are often rather obvious.
Tom Dumoulin‘s a good pick for today, we may still have reservations about how he’ll cope with multiple mountain passes in one day but this one sharp climb should be fine for him, if he can match the others then he’s got a punchy finish.
Adam Yates is climbing fast as we saw on Blockhaus, and that with a broken bike. Now he can emulate his brother Simon who has jumped off the front of the bunch for stage wins in Paris-Nice and Romandie, all while exploiting the buffer his 16th place allows because if he moves, none of the riders worried about the maglia rosa or even a top-10 place need respond.
Michael Woods is an outside pick. While it’s easy to make the summit finish = GC contenders connection, Woods is good on shorter efforts like this.
|Nairo Quintana, Tom Dumoulin
|Pinot, Woods, Yates, Rosa
Weather: a calm day, sunshine and clouds a top temperature of 22°C.
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 cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.