Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Preview

A taste of autumn with a course borrows, or rather copies the Tour of Lombardy including the lively finish through Bergamo’s citadel.

Stage 14 Wrap: a fast procession across the plains and then a warp speed ascent to Oropa. Movistar showed their strength in numbers on the early slopes and Quintana duly attacked. Only he couldn’t pull away. He never got more than a few seconds’ lead and seemed to sashay on the pedals, rocking the bike more than his usual rigid style. Crucially he kept looking back started looking back and amid the woodland shade he’d have seen the bright pink jersey of Tom Dumoulin leading the chase in person. The Dutchman soon reeled in the Colombian. Meanwhile the pace was too much for many, Thibaut Pinot opted out and paced himself up the climb, overhauling Vincenzo Nibali and Adam Yates who tried to hold on to Dumoulin but cracked. Bauke Mollema was the main loser, he slipped from third overall to sixth. Dumoulin exuded centrifugal force, each spin on the pedals seem to distance his rivals, right up unto the finish where he ejected Ilnur Zakarin and Mikel Landa and left Quintana as a spectator.

So Dumoulin climbing better than Quintana? Yes on a short, intense effort but things should be different in the high mountains, especially as Movistar can turn up the pace and send a rider or two in the early break to serve as a relay rider. But if they can do this, now they need to do this given Dumoulin took more time on a day when Quintana would have liked to have reclaimed time.

The Route: 150km across flat roads but not easy because this is Italy’s most densely populated region and so there are islands, roundabouts and more to contend with. Then the final 50km are copied straight from last year’s Il Lombardia route.

The climb of Miragolo San Salvatore is 8.7km at 7% and was new last autumn. It’s a hard climb as it snakes through Alpine pastures and past dense woodland with an ever-changing gradient. Changing so much that the Giro’s profile says the steepest section of 11% is near the top… yet when it was included for Il Lombardia the RCS profile showed the steepest part, again 11% was lower down. The lesson? It’s got several steep parts.

The climb to Selvino is easier, it lifts the riders away from the mountains one last time before dropping down to the plains via a long descent with one section where there are 12 hairpins in a 1.2km stretch.

Then comes a 15km flat section to Bergamo, all on big roads. For all the climbing so far here’s a long portion that will deter the climbers from solo moves and could allow the race to regroup and for some faster finishers to get back in contention.

The Finish: they arrive in Bergamo and climb to the old walled citadel on top of the hill via narrow cobbled ramps through ancient gates and medieval streets. The profile above doesn’t show the corners nor the cobbles which make the last climb a leg breaker. The descent is much more straight forward, symmetrical, it’s on wider roads with large hairpin bends and the road for the finish levels out in the last kilometre. Unlike Il Lombardia where they’ve turned right with 250m to go this finish is straight.

The Contenders: an Alpine interlude? There’s every chance the breakaway sticks so spin the roulette wheel of fortune and take your pick among the long list of possible winners. Note UAE-Emirates may sound foreign but their service course is in the region so this is their home stage so perhaps Valerio Conti can deliver the much-needed Italian stage win? Otherwise Omar Fraile and Gio Visconti look like likely suspects. Why not Vasil Kiryienka who is hard to bring back if he can get a gap.

Can we get a GC battle? Why not, the Miragolo San Salvatore is a hard climb and chased by the road to Selvino but Il Lombardia has many more climbs before and is a more intensive affair and so for the Giro the flat roads to Bergamo make it hard to sustain and attack.

Giovanni Visconti, Valerio Conti
Fraile, Pinot, Hermans, Kiryienka, Battaglin

Weather: the course may evoke autumn but it’s summertime here. 26°C and sunny in the valleys.

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.

97 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Preview”

  1. Any aliens found in the Oropa Report?
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    Impressive work by Dumoulin.

    Not enjoying having to watch using post-hoc internet streams (but better than nothing). These silly Giro TV deals suck.

    • Can’t get a VPN and watch via Italian TV? Or, if you want English prattling on during the race (or I think the ambient sound option still works?) spend a few $$ on Eurosport. With the VPN they don’t have to know where (I assume in the USA, where “silly TV deals” are king?) your location. Both schemes worked for us in the USA much better than pirate video streams in the period when the Giro was on but before we arrived in Italy

      • Being able to reliably record it for later viewing in my morning (Australia) is the tricky bit though. For me the minimum pay TV cost is over $750 just so I can record and play back the Giro, a cost not required to view other major races available here on free to air.

        Giro has shut out a lot of fans here.

        • And not only there, sadly enough, but pretty much everywhere, except Italy, France and a few other countries.
          However, apparently it might not be totally their fault – there’s a managing company with a long-term contract to negotiate all Giro TV rights. It has been debated here some time ago.
          The mistake could have been trusting such a company and penning that contract… or maybe they’re just agreeing with what is being done with the TV rights – in that case, yes, it’s their fault.
          Hundreds of thousands if not millions of lost spectators.

          • @Chris
            Is ES for free there? The problem with the ES deal is that in the main cycling countries (“main” in the sense of a public of hundreds of thousands or millions being involved) the Giro went from public, and anyway national, and sometime even generalist TV channels to ES.
            In Spain, the Giro was able to reach up to 1 M spectators for stage (as it has been doing in France this year), ES Spain, up to last year, had a 300 K result in tennis as its absolute second-best ever for any kind of broadcasting (I don’t know what the historical numer 1 is).
            Just imagine the potential spectators the Giro would have had on an open channel in the Netherlands (!) this year (or on the Flemish Sporza).
            As Alex says, they shut out a lot of fans who just decide not to go for a pay TV (or can’t since it can be hugely expensive), besides a lot of non-fans who just watched it anyway when it was on TV.

        • Eurosport rebroadcasts (restreams?) their coverage multiple times so you should be able to stream it in a more reasonable time period. VPNs cost little to nothing as does the Eurosport player sub for a month. I would not likely spend $750 us or Australian but I don’t think you have to unless there’s something about the internet in OZ that we don’t know about?

          • ON ES you can watch the videos of the stages anytime (for seven days) if you are a subscriber. for this giro its usually a video of about 3hrs.

            i mostly watch like this in the evening. since at the times the stage is run live (at the most usable time of the day) i am normally doing/ have to do something else.

            but its not 100% reliable (or is it my computer?) yesterday it kept freezing and i had to watch these short steephill videos.

          • If I could record a broadcast and watch it later I would. Streaming is not a particularly enjoyable nor readily accessible or viewer friendly experience. Poor quality, low reliability, often spend as much time fixing technical issues than you do watching the race.

            Can I do it?

            Can my Mum in her 80s that likes to watch the cycling do it?
            No chance.

            It’s inaccessible to vast numbers of people that just want to watch the race on their TV and don’t have the ability to use such unfriendly viewing means.

            There are already free ways to watch post-hoc streamed Giro content on a computer or tablet without a VPN and do so for years to come, so what’s the incentive to pay for an ES player subscription and a VPN service to watch a stream?

            $750 is the minimum contract spend is (for where I am) to gain access to a reliable easy to use HD service with ability to record and playback that includes the Eurosport channel.

  2. Not sure I’d go this far – ‘things should be different in the high mountains’ – think I’d go for ‘might well’ at the most.
    Hopefully, this much mooted battle will come about (can’t say I’m that confident that it will): there aren’t many days with a parcours that actually allows any kind of long distance attacks.
    So many stage parcours in this year’s Giro are similar to yesterday’s affair – there could never have been much more than 10km of racing. What we had was good, but the interesting days are the days when the racing is on for hours, not minutes.
    It’s been a dull Giro and that’s down to the course. One climb at the end of a flat day is always going to produce tedious, simplistic racing.
    I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come: the Giro was the one grand tour that had, up until this year, resisted the reduction of grand tour cycling to 20 minute power bursts at the end of a procession.
    Today should be an interesting race, but probably not for the GC contenders – I think both NQ and TD will be happy to sit tight.
    Even today, though, the parcours is seemingly fairly flat until we reach the last two hills. Make it hillier? Make it longer? Or make it for highlights?

    • So far this giro has had two stages being a long procession toward a final climb (Blockhaus and Oropa). So I really don’t think this giro is characterized by “one climb at the end of the stage”. If you wan’t to critisize the use of the “short stage – one final (steep) climb)” template, then look to the Vuelta instead.

      I think a far bigger issue is so many hard stages packed into the last week. The main contenders all know how important and hard week three is. So I guess that invites tentative riding.

      Making the stages harder and longer doesn’t necessarily make it more exciting.

        • Pretty much an urban legend. I could list a good deal of mountain marathon stages which were indeed very exciting.
          Some short stages that have become fashionable on the last days of a GT (hence giving way less advantage to fondo riders in the GC as a whole…) are spectacular or not depending on race dynamics, and would probably be equally exciting (or boring) even with different lengths.

          On top of that, the hardest stages are regularly those with the best audience results, and that happpens, more often than not, irrespective of actual “excitement” of the stage.
          A short stage *can* be a success in terms spectators *if* the riders tackle it fast & furious. The long mountains stages are pretty much *always* the most watched stages.
          Landscape, the hope factor, whatever.
          I could quote Larry (“why fix it if it ain’t broke”), but even supposing something needs to be fixed, I’d be careful before starting to mix up precisely what’s working better.

      • What I said was that a lot of the stages are designed in a way that means that racing is unlikely to happen before the last few km (including the non-mountainous stages) and that stages with multiple small hills/mountains would be more likely to produce longer bouts of actual racing.

        All the other stuff you talk about, I didn’t say.

  3. Quintana is three minutes behind a natural time trialler who can climb? Haven’t I heard this before? Have I woken up in July in France?

    Can we now admit that Quintana is a climber and that’s it? On the flat, in wind, in the ITT, in mixed terrain, he has weaknesses. He is not the greatest all rounder even in Movistar (step forward Alejandro). This is why Froome beats him every year at the Tour. This is why Tom Dumoulin will beat him now (if he does). Dumoulin doesn’t need to win the third week climbs. He can defend and limit losses. This is exactly how Froome beat Quintana two out of three times in the TDF (the third time was due to Nairo’s other weaknesses). Quintana needs to win three stages by 90 seconds or four by a minute plus or have Dumoulin fold completely to win this now. If this were Froome we would expect him to bring it home from this position. If Dumoulin is ready to assume the mantle of grand tour winner then he needs to now.

    As for today, how about Diego Rosa as a possibility? He’s shown himself good in Lombardy country before and showed himself yesterday but seemed to hope they’d let him disappear when they were in no mood to. Still no Italian win yet.

    PS Nibali will continue his run of not stepping up when he is racing genuine contenders as opposed to Uran and an aging Cadel or Chaves and Kruijswijk.

    • True about Nibali. As great as he is (and he is great), he has never won a GT against a Froome or Contador at their best.

      Quintana has planned his training around doing the Giro/Tour double.

      (interestingly, the plan was to limit losses in the first ITT – and no mentioning of Tom Dumoulin)

      Will he show himself to have more in the tank in week 3 or will his ambitious plan for the double backfire? I am inclined to think the latter.

      • Frome and Contador has never won a tour against Nibali at his best:
        2014 (+7:39 min ahead of number two and a whopping 9:40 ahead of Valverde in 4th)
        2013 (+4 min ahead of number two after whiping the flow with the defending TDF champion who had the Giro as his main objective)

        Nibali woudl have won TDF2014 even if Frome and Contador had stayed upright.

        • +1 morten. The shark was at his sharpest in 2014 right from the beginning. Alberto seemed to be also strong but after the cobbles’ stage his deficit was already to big to bring that Nibali into trouble.

      • Froome *never* won a GT against Contador “at his best” (I’m quoting), not even by far, not even “Contador-at-his-best-relative-to-his-age”, so what?
        Contador beat Froome two times in a GT when they were in equal condition, albeit admittedly both not at their best (that couple of Vueltas).

        Froome’s GT skills (the “new” Froome, I mean, not the Giro one), in terms of rivals, are mainly proven by Quintana and partially by Nibali.
        If this couple of athletes aren’t that good, maybe Froome isn’t the great GT rider people assume him to be…

        At least, Nibali won GTs over several different TdF winners, Evans, Sastre, Wiggins (he didn’t finish but that was no *accident*)…

        (people tend to forget that despite their similar age, Nibali and Froome belong to different periods, Nibali was winning GTs when Froome struggled to get over climbs, now Nibali is clearly *aging* while Froome is still *maturing*).

        • Normally, I think Froome would expect start his decline at least within a year or two. If you look at GT winners by age, you will see a sharp drop from 32 to 33.

          I think there are not as many “old” Tour winners as Giro and Vuelta winners. Of course, Sastre and Wiggins would beg to differ 😉 (I am ignoring Lance Armstrong)

          Maybe being a late bloomer will help him? He certainly seems still to be learning.

          Nibali is the same age as Froome, but was clearly performing at a high level earlier than Froome. Contador is two years older than Froome, and visibly into his decline. But he started making world class results a younger age than both Froome and Nibali.

          Based on age statistics alone, Froome is moving into territory where winning tours is more difficult.

    • I love it how you’ve put ‘that is why Dumoulin will beat him now’ and then ‘(if he does)’, nothing like hedging your bets! There’s still a long way to go in this one, if one of the mountain stages is run in cold rain or something and Dumoulin cracks he could lose 5 minutes+. But I agree with your general sentiment. Quintana is struggling to beat good TTers in an age when there are hardly any TTs. What have we got in this, a 40km and 20km? Not quite a prologue plus a 65km and then a 55km on the second to last day.

      • I always thought humility was a virtue. But some will always criticize you regardless. I think TD will win. But I don’t know he will and anyone can see ways he still loses. Humility it is then.

      • Richard S, it’s 40 + 30 kms of non technical ITTs, which is *way more* than we’ve been treated to by the *Tour de France* in the last decade, with the only exception – even more significant as such – of the 2012 *Olympic year* course.

        It’s true that until 2007 included the Tour used to include at least 100-110 total kms of non technical ITTs but from then on there was a brutal switch, which I am not very favourable to, indeed.

        Quintana would hardly win any of those classic TdFs, unless he stepped up to Pantani’s level, and that might not be enough, either, since Pantani needed a true feat and a favourable (bad) weather to achieve that. The Tour had been a way closer race for decades, limited to narrower set of physical types when compared to the Giro. I don’t think that it was a bad thing, really, but I’m not ASO.

        It’s not by chance that from 2006-2008 on the Giro progressively rose its level and offered better courses (even more balanced, sometimes) and a better show.
        I like ITTs, both technically and as a TV spectator (not too many of them), but most people don’t, they really kill audience.
        And ASO just started to copy the Giro’s features. Less ITTs, making them more technical, a more interesting first week, steeper climbs. Again, 2012 was a notable exception in an otherwise more than evident process. How could you blame them? They’re in a dominant position, to be sure not to be under any menace by the competitors, they track them – following the wheels, in a sense.
        They also adapted the courses to the new superstar (ASO often did that), Contador, who could grant some action on the climbs, too. And Evans, too, was a similar kind of rider. They didn’t just take ITTs away, but they slightly tilted the mix with some more technical courses.
        2012 is once again surprising.
        It must be said, however, that they’ve got a different attitude towards Froome: they aren’t outright making things much harder for him (there’s always some very, very suited stage), but they aren’t helping him, either, and are trying to limit someway his chances. That’s quite new for the Tour, while the Giro always tended to have the balance among the contenders in mind, except in some “dark” decades where they desperately wanted an Italian to win and the race level dropped.

        Anyway, this is currently the TdF. It might change again, but the trend of the last decade is quite steady. OTOH, the Giro is including more ITTs kms than in previous years, and they aren’t always technical ones.

      • I think “that is why Dumoulin will beat him now’ and then ‘(if he does)” could be expressed as:

        Dumolin > Quintana
        Movistar >> Sunweb

    • Quintana can sprint too.

      Weren’t you the one who said that Quintana was inevitably going to win this race at the start? And that all talk of others was meaningless?

  4. Tom Dumoulin has clearly been studying the Chris Froome playbook. Yesterday was impressive. Yes the course might have suited him (though many beforehand were predicting Nairo Quintana would take time) but he raced in his way. He imposed himself on the rest, NQ attacked but was not just hauled back but overtaken. That must have hurt NQ physically and perhaps more importantly mentally. TD recovered his time losses on Blockhaus, when you consider both the length and difficulty of that climb as compared to yesterday that is some achievement against all the “climbers” in the field.

    I agree we must wait for Tuesday when a different sort of test awaits (the pass has been opened today and there is an OK forecast for Tuesday) before drawing too many conclusions but NQ and the rest seem to have a mountain to climb ( 🙂 ) if they are to get on the top step of the podium in Milan.

    I suspect Chris Froome and Richie Porte will be interested observers, the sight of NQ having to put in huge efforts, possibly in a loosing cause, will not be unwelcome in Monaco.

    Today seems made for a breakaway, unlikely to be any interest from the GC or the few remaining sprinters. Perhaps we might see the first Italian win of this Giro? Diego Rosa?

    • Chris Froome’s playbook? Big, powerful guys pared down to minimum weight has been in the playbook forever. One can say this about Merckx to some degree + a huge cast of others, BigMig being the most recent example. The only problem with this playbook is the racing ends up rather boring with the “mow ’em down in the chrono, defend in the mountains” strategy dominating.
      Froome (and now Dumoulin?) are just the latest versions of this. Can’t take anything away from the guys themselves as they can’t turn themselves into tiny climbers, but the way they win GT’s is rarely exciting.

      • The main difference between Dumoulin and Indurain, Froome etc. is that the latter also had the strongest team.

        I think much of the boredom of Froome and Indurain came from how hard their teams were able to control the pace of the race. In fact, I would be rooting a lot more for Froome if he was an underdog on a much weaker team.

      • I must admit that I like the contrast. And the fact that Dumoulin’s team is nothing like as strong as Sky has at the Tour adds more interest.

        I’d agree with yesterday’s thread on the parcours being designed to lure Froome (perhaps there was a deal on the table to do the Giro / Tour double – Giro favours Froome and Tour for Quintana -Quintana signed up but Froome resisted?), but the criticism is a little hollow.
        Look at the article on ‘Who will win the Giro”?, and the Pink Tulip was not tipped for Best in Show rosette!

        We’ve got an intriguing final week, can we ask for anymore?

        It will

        • Frome resisted becuase of the last week with Quintana/Nibali and a parcours you really cant control even with the strongest team.
          In addition i also think that the parcurs and the addition of a unproven Domulin with the potential of GT winner for whom the two first weeks is suited even better than Froome.

          Sky is as always playing safe – better to ride an easy TDF (sponsor ignorance) with the potential of a 4th TDF – than to ride a Giro with less chance of suceeding.

          • This is silly response – so much more involved in the decision making than this from all three mentioned in your reply – you’re letting your sky-hate muscle do too much of the thinking.

      • The problem with Froome is that he is also one of the best climbers so he really does make it boring. With Dumoulin, it is slightly different as he clearly is not as good as Quintana and this could (could being the key word) make for exciting racing if Quintana decides to really go for it.

      • This is hilarious, does anyone ever watch the Tour anymore? “Defend in the mountains”?

        Froome regularly utterly demolished the field in the first climb until they turned that into a climb-descent, and he still freaking won.

        • I’m with you if it’s about remarking that Froome isn’t just a TTer defending himself on the climbs, but, regarding the sentence you quote, I’d also note that *mountains* is plural.

          • Whilst Froome post 2012 had never attacked on a multi mountains stage, he did do some very valiant solo chase after Quintana on some of these “multi mountains” stages in 2015 (plus a very heart moving moment where a Porte set to leave the team waiting for him from the break).

            I would argue that such chase and the uncertainty made the race rather exiting.

          • 2015 TdF was a good edition, IMHO. Not right up there with the Giro in terms of quantity of good racing, but that’s also because we’ve been having some exceptionally good races in Italy – I can remember several Giri being way less exciting than that 2015 Tour. However, the fact is that Froome was “defending in the mountains” – but I really don’t think that Larry was speaking of that Tour, it had pretty much no ITTs at all!!!
            In 2013, OTOH, Froome inflicted to the neo pro Quintana some 4’39” in the chronos and he finally won by 4’20” (there’s a little trick 😉 , here, but truth is that Froome actually had to defend himself on the mountains and with just a little less ITT he would have won with a very reduced margin – or not at all).
            In 2016 Froome “defended himself on the mountains” and mowed them down in the chrono.
            Hence I’d say that Larry is generally right, even if Froome can save himself and win even when there are no chronos (just as many strong GT GC TTers would have done in the past).

  5. Yes Dumoulin does these climbs well, but even a longer, less steep climb he should do fine as long as he finds his rhythm. I don’t see how Quintana wins back enough time now, but that usually means he will.

  6. As the debate above seems to be dominated by the question of whether TD can hold off Quintana on a multiple mountain stage, does anyone know off the top of their head (to save me an hour on procycling stats) how TD has fared previously on multiple mountain stages – apart from the one in the Vuelta where he cracked?

    • Earlier in that same Vuelta, on the queen stage in Andorra with 5 steep climbs, he lost around 1:30 to Aru, who was best of the GC riders ahead of Purito and Majka. Tom limited his losses extremely well despite being dropped in an earlier climb and starting the last climb behind the favorites. He ended up fourth among the GC riders, catching and overtaking several other favorites. One of those was Quintana, who Tom beat by 1:20 on the day.

  7. One big difference (and there are a few) on the Froome v Dumoulin musings is the strength of team. Sky and Sunweb don’t compare at all – add to that several GC contenders with similar characteristics could push the race in a very tough direction for TD

    • Yes, fair point. Froome is usually bulletproof in France with several top rank lieutenants. Dumoulin is (much) less so. The other contenders I don’t worry about so much though. I’m not convinced they are better than TD for one thing. Pinot and Mollema have bad days and it seems to be indifferent Nibali who has turned up this year. I’m confident TD could at least match the likes of these.

      • Nibali’s level is good this year, just people are better. It’s not that we get indifferent Nibali or on point Nibali, it’s that he’s a notch below the very best and wins via great tactics, a weaker field or a little luck – I’m not saying this a criticism, I love Nibali, it’s just how it is, he’s still an elite pro, but has never been a Contador from ’09, or a climber like Quintana, or all rounder like Froome – Wiggins is the best comparison, when all things fall into place Nibali can win.

  8. Apologies for double posting – also posted on yesterday’s thread but I’d like to hear people’s opinions on this:

    Classy victory from Dumoulin. Cool as a cucumber.

    I’m beginning to develop a little theory about Quintana based on observation of his performances over the past couple of seasons:

    His preparation for the big races is largely train at home and then only enter the races he really wants to win (grand tours, classic season curtain openers e.g. Tirreno Adriatico) with the odd exception.

    I’m starting to wonder if his race craft isn’t quite on a par with other riders. When he atracks, he doesn’t quite seem confident in the power of his rivals. He’s also been caught napping a couple of times too.

    He doesn’t seem to be reading his rivals very accurately compared to say Contador. Anyone else notice this?

      • This is the ultimate cycling question!!

        Nibali says Pinot’s attacks are too obvious – but then we’ve seen Nibali launch a thousand ill fated one day race moves…

        People cite Contador’s racing nouse – but then he’s seems to make audacious moves regularly that fail miserably? Did he get lucky with Rodriguez in the Vuelta? He wins significantly less than pre-ban despite the reputation for tactics?

        One week this year Kwiat was a tactical mastermind (San Remo) the next he was a fool (vs Gilbert)…

        Is race craft over rated?

        All the above are not opinions, I think Nibali is a good with race craft and likewise Contador – Quintana and Movistar get a lot of criticism and yet Valverde wins regularly and Quintana has been part of some pretty audacious moves himself…

        I just wonder am always flummoxed by this question, as soon as you start thinking one person has race-craft down you’re made to look silly quite quickly it seems.

        • You are right to point out that our perception of or judgement of a rider’s tactical acumen can depend a lot, if not entirely, on the result – which even might have been partially or almost entirel due to something we didn’t or couldn’t observe.

          Re: Kwiat, I’m inclined to believed that his decisions were equally good. He was more likely to win against Sagan if he waited and more likely to win against Gilbert if he went first. He would be able to catch and go past the slightly less explosive Sagan but could not afford to give Gilbert too much of a headstart. But in the latter case he may have simply misjudged or forgot in the heat of the moment that the finish was a false flat and that the headwind was as strong as it was,

    • I think that is a valid point. According to the Eurosport commentators his decision to head off down the Stelvio when it was supposedly “neutralised” was actually at the prompting of one of his team mates, he was as perplexed by the chaos as most others. There have been lots of examples of him having been caught out by various racing moves (the “Froomigal” stage at the Veulta last year seems to have been a Contador / Valverde operation he simply tagged along) too often to simply be a coincidence.

    • Quintana’s racing crafts are better than most GC contenders, probably inferior only to Nibali and Contador. It’s enough to have a look to his career. He’s won more races (not only GTs) with long range moves than anyone sitting in stage races’ GC – with very few exceptions, essentially the above-mentioned couple of guys. Several one-day racers, too, sit behind him in terms of strategy. And, no, I can grant you that it doesn’t come from the team car – quite the contrary.

      He’s obviously got a physiological weight related limit on the flat/ in the wind, and even so he’s still better than most riders in his weight category, which suggests that the technical skill are there.

      And, as any rider, he’s got his specific characteristics: somebody fares better with explosive efforts, somebody else loses less power when the play gets tough etc. – always suspect of a rider who’s excelling in every power zone without losing in others, unless he’s really the new Merckx.

      (As a sidenote – not that it would matter much, with plenty of other examples – I’d be happy to read the source of ES commentators, because I’ve never heard about that version of Stelviogate. Journos are very creative, I’ve recently listened to fantasy versions about Blockhaus not to speak of Pantani not celebrating on Oropa because he didn’t know he was first on the line… oh please. But I guess that’s how you create cycling legends – or legends in general -, inventing things).

      • Thank you gabriele. It amazes me the amount of scorn and vitriol Quintana inspires in people, and what selective memories it causes in them.
        I genuinely can’t work out what is supposed to be so contemptible about him. It can’t be his results, which for his age rival or best any GT rider but Contador and maybe Nibali. It can’t be his performance in this Giro, because he’s second and has a stage win, hardly embarrassing. We get told he never attacks and is conservative, then when he attacks we’re told he made a mistake and should have sat on a wheel. When he wins a mountain stage he’s a one trick pony, but when he wins the overall he’s hanging on to coat tails and fighting weak opposition.
        Give the guy a break! He’s a fantastic GT rider, and has had far less Anglophone coverage for his successes than eg Thomas has had despite never coming close, so I can’t believe people are sick of him.

        • +1 Full on point. The bias here against riders like Quintana, Nibali, Contador is always amazing to watch. While they always try to write anglo middleclass dudes like Thomas 10 ranks higher than they really are.

          • You have got this wrong. There are as many Quintana, Nibali lovers here as Froome, Thomas and Sky – despite being an English language blog and UK based, I think us Englanders (I realise many here are from further afield) are good at hating the big dogs even if their from our shores, so despite you assuming we’re all Sky Sky Sky, if you read the comments you’ll see Gabriele posting interesting analysis every day, with a very slight Quintana preference, RonDe, Larry T I think generally also on that bandwagon, and then others who maybe aren’t as informed as Gabriele but perfectly welcome here posting for Nibali, Contador and Thomas.

            You’re allowed to support whoever you like – no need for random rants against class, or people’s preference. Calm down and enjoy the comments – stay positive.

        • I don’t see this bias against Quintana. Many (anglophone) US readers consider him an “American” like Lucho Herrera or Raul Alcala (to name a favorite old of mine) when it comes to making a mark on the Euro cycling tradition. What people are down about currently is, to be reductive, the difficulty of designing a GT parcours that properly rewards Quintana’s strengths.

          And I think the idea that NQ might be close to cutting his losses with an eye on July completely misunderstands what he is up to here. This Italian bird is not out of hand, and there is probably only one French one in the bush this year.

        • I should add for clarity that I DO see disproportionate interest in Sky and Orica especially, and US interests to a lesser extent, but that is not at all the same as negative bias against others. I think readers here expect Benelux, Swiss, Basque-Finnish(!?) readers to take a particular interest in the riders from their their respective tribes, and then hopefully comment on here in the language of the anglophones. Fans with an “organic” rooting interest in particular riders/teams add flavor to these pages, and I have been very impressed with how inrng’s readers are largely blind to nationality when it comes to appreciating a good bike rider.

        • The same happened with his main rival Froome.

          The problem with the pair is that they are way above others in terms of personal capability & team strength. That, coupled with the fact that both are too proper and polite to the point of non-personality off bike, makes people “perceive” them as boring.

          On the contrary, Contador’s hit off with Lance & Tinkoff, Nibali’s roller coast performance (as well as his frequent emotional turmoils) make people perceive the two to be more exciting.

          If you really objectively measure agressiveness going uphill, I doubt Contador and Nibali win out against the Froome/Quintana pair.

          • I got your point, but I think that much depends on what media filter to fans. And I’m not speaking of private vs. public, I’m speaking of *public* actions taken by, in this case, Quintana, which didn’t just get to most cycling fan and which show quite clearly that in Quintana’s case “proper and polite” isn’t even near to “non-personality”.

            Quintana is a calm type, but to publicly denounce in a video press conference the misdemeanours of the management of your own national federation – after they just won the elections -, well, that’s not precisely what I’d call “non-personality”.

            Same goes for forcing your team – or convincing them – to support you in the project of a Giro-Tour double (we can pretty much admit, at this point, that this is not a training ride). Picking your tasks is something which few cyclists are able to get allowed to – Nibali, for example, hasn’t been among them (while Contador has).

            I remember a piece about him facing racism in the Avenir peloton which equally suggests something different about Quintana’s attitude (even if maybe that count as “on the bike”?).

            And I’d also add that spending a lot of your private time in a public campaign which won’t pay back so much in terms of image within your country nor within the cycling environment, like the one about gender equality and against “machismo” which Quintana engaged himself in, again, without any team or managing input, that’s pretty much a sign of a strong personality, for me.

          • Wow, that’s an aspect of him not a lot of people know about. He definitely should get more exposure on those as well.

            On the other hand, Larry’s comment about how Indurain come off as totally different person in English and Spanish speaking media due to a bit of creative PR translation come to mind.

          • Not sure if this was answering about my remarks on Quintana, but I think so.

            It all went through mainstream media, even generalist ones, and official public sources. Spanish language ones, many of them – but not exclusively – in Colombia.

            The problem is that most journos, in the English speaking world as well as in Italy, aren’t used to scan that part of the world’s media as they do with others… I guess that the same happens with other areas of the planet (I’m thinking about the *mystery* which was perceived around the Chinese Lampre business, essentially because of lack of proper information in Europe).

            A relevant figure of the current setting coming from a different context should foster a little more attention, in order to grant a better coverage. However, CN reported about Quintana’s gender equality committment, albeit just with a few “curiosity” lines.

      • I think the comment was made (pretty sure it was Rob Hatch) in relation to an Italian rider who I think now rides for either Bahrain-Merida or UAE. I think it was on the stage into Peschici. I guess it cant be too hard to look up the team and extrapolate from there.

        • jc- I said below I thought it was Amador – was it Giovanmi Visconti he referred to, as he’s now Bahrain-Merida but was with Movistar 2012 to 2016 according to his wiki page? It was definitely as the rider concerned was attacking up the road.

      • “I’d be happy to read the source of ES commentators, because I’ve never heard about that version of Stelviogate”

        Rob Hatch said it more or less in passing when talking about Andrey Amador (when he had gone up the road) and how he might be quiet but he was an important Movistar rider. He said that it was Amador that encouraged Quintana to press on during the confusion of the descent – it wasn’t disparaging Quintana for being indecisive or stirring a controversy, more that Quintana values his counsel. Maybe Hatch had heard it “from the horses mouth” as he is multilingual and lives in Spain (or on one of it’s island territories) and according to his linkedin profile writes content for Eurosport’s Spanish website.

        • My memory was that the rider was no longer with Movistar and was Italian so Visconti would make sense but I might be wrong, I was hardly paying attention…..

          • Visconti wasn’t around, he wasn’t even in the race. Excluding Malori (who wasn’t up there and he’s still Movistar, anyway), this would leave us with Capecchi according to your description, but I’ve read several interviews and he never says anything like that – he wasn’t on the front, he had worked befor Amador, I think.
            What everybody says is simply that Quintana had stopped on the climb 2 kms before the Stelvio top in order to dress up properly before getting back to the front of the selected bunch, and then he followed Rolland and Hesjedal. The video footage confirms, *no* gregari around, less so Capecchi.
            Gorka Izagirre, still Movistar (possible confusion with Ion who is now Bahrein?), was filmed 20″ behind on the Gpm and had to get to the break group from back.
            Then (the moto thing had already happened), he told Quintana that the rest was far and that the long descent was worth being taken advantage of.
            Which pretty much confirms what I’ve been writing here some days ago, and many other times before, but I guess that the astute Italian’s (evil) advice is more appealing for most…

        • I could be wrong, I haven’t got the kind of inside contact Hatch might have within Movistar, but surely I never heard that version here in Spain (or in Italy) 😉

          If the reference was to Amador, Andrey himself doesn’t stress that aspect, declaring instead in an interview to one of his country’s newspaper: “the most important thing was to speed up the race until that moment [up the Stelvio], and indeed you could see that the selected group had been reduced to a few units”, which would confirm my idea that the whole ‘polemica’ was about a couple of DSs wanting their teams back in force – which is precisely what Movistar had worked to avoid.
          I think that, if Hatch knows Spanish, maybe it depended on titles like: “Amador impulsa a Quintana a escribir su propia historia rosa” on a Costarica (digital) newspaper, then writing “Amador comandó el ataque del Movistar”. But if you read the article, it’s all about Amador raising the pace among the snow walls, not the subsequent descent.

          If the reference was to Gorka Izagirre, the Basque said that Quintana wanted to stop and maybe even retire “along the Gavia descent” because of the cold; Gorka had to help him feeding and encourage him, but on the Stelvio Izagirre himself crossed the top “well behind Quintana” (images available of Izagirre on the Stelvio some time before the leaders are gone). He was well protected against the cold and went on overcoming rider after rider until he finally reached Quintana, who was already on the front: he reported him the situation commenting that the rest were well behind, hence it was a good idea to take advantage of such a long descent to get a difference. The “Stelviogate” had already happened. Note that Quintana – whom we can see tracking Rolland and Hesjedal on the top with a gel in his mouth, no gregari around him – didn’t take that huge an advantage thanks to the motos, if Izagirre, who had a 20″ (!) delay on the Stelvio could get back to the front group…

          Unless we’re speaking of a different rider, and unless more information is available to Hatch, I’d say that it’s a misunderstanding.

          • All that rather assumes that “Stelviogate” was only about what happened on the descent. But in fact everything was pretty much chaos and confusion during the descent, and what those who criticise what happened might well say is that the other teams were expecting things to be regrouped at the bottom, and it’s the insisting with the attack after that point that they take issue with. From that perspective, and going by your account, it could well be Gorky’s that’s being referred to.

    • He might try but only “for fun” to find out if someone doesn’t have the legs today. And if the opportunity arises he will probably use the tricky descent to create some pressure to go and try if someone crashes. But apart from that I think he will rather throw all his eggs into one basket and go for the stages to Bormio and St. Ulrich. That strategy, if it was a strategy then, has worked out well for him last year. Although he couldn’t follow the attacks in the first two weeks he was clearly the strongest in the last week putting “The Coathanger” under serious pressure on the Agnello which also contributed to him crashing.
      As his team doesn’t seem to be as strong as his Astana squad last year I expect him to try to benefit from the fireworks Movistar will certainly burn in those stages and try to diesel away when everybody is already a little bit tired.

  9. I don’t get why Quintana kept on going yesterday when he was just hanging out a couple of lengths in front. He should’ve just knocked it off when he could see he wasn’t getting anywhere and saved something for the end. I still think there is plenty of time for him and Nibs to work Tommy over in the last week.
    All the talk at the moment is about Quintana doing the Giro/Tour double. What about Tommy D to hold on here and then go to France and play Froome at his own game? Dominate the TT and then sit on the back of Froomes train in the hills. Froome’ tactics are based around beating climbers who are inferior in the TT. Somebody playing his own game might be harder to beat?

    • I totally agree. I think Froome facing TD without the get out of jail free of the ITT, because Tom is better, is actually Froome’s nightmare scenario at the TdF. You can’t beat him on climbing alone as he’s good enough to limit losses and has a strong team.

    • I guess Quintana expected Tom to slow down or even crack any moment, as those who first tried to follow him or, later, Nibali.

      After his attack, he went very hard – and Dumoulin wasn’t just “pacing”, he wasn’t answering to accelerations but he was climbing nearly as fast as Quintana and Pantani along 2.3 kms. It wasn’t the hardest of sections, power mattered and not only power to weight, yet we’re speaking of a lot of watts (and W/kg, too). At 23 km/h the slipstream counts and the rest of the guys were just being towed up by Tom, while they couldn’t hold Quintana’s wheel.
      The previous two kms had been fast, too (ask Mollema or Pinot).

      Quintana duly slowed when the hard part was definitely over. When Dumoulin reached him, it was more because of Nairo slowing down than thanks to Tom’s forcing (checking them against a third reference point).
      The question is if Quintana slowed down that much because he was cooked – his face indeed started to show some suffering – or because he decided to do so as soon as he realised that once only 200 m over 10% were still available, he wouldn’t take anyway enough time on the rest to defend himself on the flatter section.
      I haven’t got a clear answer. Quintana’s finale might suggest that he was on his limit (and the cobbles may have played a part), but OTOH his reaction to Dumoulin’s violent attack on the easy section just when he was caught would lead us to think that he was holding back, in that moment, not that he was full lactate.

      I tend to believe that Quintana did exactly what Richard S suggest, he tried hard for some 6-7 minutes, just to be sure that Dumoulin wasn’t keeping himself so close in pure 5′-effort-mode, then he renounced and tried to keep his powder dry. But the powerful finale totally undid him – Quintana surely cracked in the last 300 m., but he’d never have been able to match a very very long sprint (it would have been long on flat terrain!) at 30 km/h on a 6% cobbled road.
      This last paragrah is purely opinion on my part, anyway, I’d agree that it’s also possible that Quintana just pushed himself too far during those six Pantanian minutes, while Dumoulin saved himself thanks to the 4″ he kept himself behind.

      • Do you have climbing times for Dumoulin, Quintana and (since you mentioned him) Pantani? I would hope neither are anywhere near il pirata, but going on the Velon released data it looks like Dumoulin was between 6.8 – 7.3 W/kg, which if accurate is much more than Quintana apparently pushed up Blockhaus (6.0 – 6.3 W/kg). All of which is rough of course, and Oropa is shorter of course.

        • Go back to the previous inrng’s post ( ), I posted a detailed analysis of climbing times.

          Dumoulin was 23″ short of Pantani’s time, and his is clearly the second best time ever (even besting those who were made on the climb as an uphill ITT).

          I expected him to perform well on this kind of climb, but the actual performance he produced his monstre. Pantani gained most of his advantage when the best men group was being pulled (very fast) by Anacona, then Quintana went as fast as him for 2.3 km after attacking, while Tom was just 4″ slower. In the last short over 10% stretch, where Dumoulin closed on Quintana, Pantani was making as much difference (4″ on Tom) in a ten time shorter distance on that “wall”, then went on gaining slowly second after second until the last 700 m, where the final violent forcing allowed Dumoulin to get 8″ on Pantani (total time in the last 1.6 km: Dumoulin 3″ better than Pantani).

          Incredible performance, even more so because while most riders around were taking advantage of slipstreams (relevant when averaging 23 km/h), Quintana and Dumoulin were on the front themselves, especially Dumoulin, in the last 4 kms.

          • !!!!
            Had assumed he was nowhere near.
            Thank you. I’m not going to draw any conclusions, but that is as surprising as it seemed when watching it.

        • @Kit, please check back that post. I had to correct myself. The total time was indeed 17:37. Luckily, the mistake didn’t affect the part of the climb where the captains were on themselves which is the one I analysed in deeper detail.

    • *(Just to say you’re severely underrating Froome’s climbing capabilities. Froome wins are based on be the all round best grand tour rider of his generation, and he’s done this on route that favour pure climbers beating them on both the climbs and ITT’s. See comment below, but let’s no belittle people’s achievements here. Dumoulin will surely be the one to take Froome’s crown in the coming years, and if he wins and goes onto the career you’d expect from here, I guess we’ll see people likewise do down his tactics/skill/talent at some point. I agree Dumoulin should just roll the dice and got to the TDF if he wins here. Mad not to. Just to say, please see post below, by saying the above reFroome I’m not doing down Quintana, superb rider, looking forward to him also besting Froome at least once sometime)

      • I agree Froome is an excellent climber, probably more or less on a par with Quintana. He has the luxury of also being better at TTs than people who may be able to match or beat him on a climb on a given day, like say maybe Bardet just as a name out of the hat. Dumoulin though would probably beat him in the TT and if Gabriele’s post above is right then he’s also a fantastic climber. It’d certainly be a good battle.

  10. A pattern I’ve seen more than once in internet punditry by now:
    1) Hyping up Quintana as the inevitable winner and that it should be flagrantly obvious to everybody
    > Quintana doesn’t have the GC done and dusted by Week 2
    2) Immediately blast Quintana and his riding skills and call him overrated


    • RonDe May 5, 2017 at 12:35 am
      I hope Quintana batters them out of sight on Etna. Its days like this, before any action has happened, that the keyboard experts tell us with their empty arguments that riders A,B and C can win when the truth is they haven’t got a hope in hell, all things considered. When the pedal strokes are done we find most of this is just empty words.

      • That’s an epic Anonymous post. Wowzers RonDe, you may be eating humble pie now but Quintana may still come good so let’s not jump the gun!

        +1 on the above. I love watching Froome because since he first punched through I find watching him on a climb pure excitement – can completely understand if people dislike but it feels like people are far far too harsh on all these top cyclists when they show they’re human.

        Quintana is a brilliant climber, not electrifying by deserves all the praise, it’s just a shame people expect the world from him and even when climbs are exceptionally fast but he only gains 30secs the knives are out. He’ll win a ludicrous amount during his career, but maybe his weaknesses might just hold him back from absolute greatness – it’s just that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate every pedal stroke while he’s here and quit the moaning.

        Same with Nibali, we all know he’ll never quite be the climber of Quintana or Froome’s calibre, but his versatility and the joy he brings to every race makes me very happy he has a triplet of Grand Tour victories – so what if he can disappoint on occasion.

        I love INRNG because the tone is always measured and respectful of all these guys – I guess once we start talking about who is the best is when it all falls apart. Dumoulin may answer those questions pretty comprehensively in the coming years.

        • Watching Froome climb is the opposite of pure excitement. It just hurts. For anybody who ever learned this sport, his style is so ugly and strange, that the suspicion either the rider or the bike must have a hidden moto isn’t that far.

          • Unnecessary.

            I think you can assume anyone on this forum has a more than a passing interesting/understanding of cycling – and even if they didn’t… ‘For anybody who ever learned this sport’ really isn’t the sort of inclusive spirit anyone who actually loves the sport would feel comfortable putting out there. We get far to much of that in these comments.

            Some people like style, some people like personality, some people like a good fight. There’s no denying Froome vs Cobo or Contador or Quintana at Vuelta’s past were all exciting, so let it be.

            Peace & Love.

  11. As an option for today what about Bahrain get Boaro in the break and then Nibali attacks off the last descent, gets paced to Bergamo on the flat and then takes off up and over the old town to take the win?! Would be nice

  12. My over riding feeling today after watching the Giro race through Lombardia and after that breakneck climb and descent into Bergamo was that anyone still anywhere near contention of a good final placing at this stage (and by that I mean the top ~15 riders all within roughly 10mins of each other as we go into todays ‘rest’ day) must be a hell of an all round rider.

    To see the group split away and ride after Nibali who lit up that finale had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat, just as seeing the Maglia Rosa win on the Oropa Summit did. It was a shame for the breakaway but there is nothing worse (IMHO) than the GC being won simply by the most conservative consistently well placed rider with the strongest team, yesterday was just plain great racing and I am really looking forward to see what this week has in store

    • +1 dull start to this Giro, but brilliant now. Would be better with Yates/Sky still in the frame but still great – Dumoulin has a knack of being damn entertaining in races – sure this will go with stronger team and older legs in the coming years but right now he’s a joy to watch.

  13. +1 I was there through the Indurain hegemony and it was pretty much as you write – “…won simply by the most conservative consistently well placed rider with the strongest team” which is what I fear might happen again. But as some others have pointed out, it could be very interesting to see Dumoulin take on Froome using pretty much the same playbook – something I don’t remember from the past, but maybe some others can come up with examples?

    • +1 this would be fascinating. I love Quintana, hopefully he’ll complete the Grand Tour set – but we’ve had a number of very climber friendly tours recently skewed to help and keep the TDF interesting, yet he’s missed the opportunities – our best bet for a full strength Froome and Sky to be given a run for their money is Dumoulin in the coming years. I for one will be happy to see some more time trials back in the tour. Schedule them on a weekday and keep the climbs for the weekends – hopefully that’ll keep the audience hooked.

  14. The best thing about the Giro so far is seeing a new generation of riders emerge. Jungels, Gaveria and Damoulin. The motorbike crash pretty much killed the race for me but I’d love for an outsider to win and for it not to be a one off.

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