Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Preview

The final mountain stage and everything to play for. Yesterday saw Tom Dumoulin crack on the final climb, lose time and surrender the race lead. Today has more climbing and could see more changes.

Stage 19 Wrap: Mikel Landa took the stage win, going solo on the final climb but taking his time, letting Luis Leon Sanchez and Rudy Molard go clear, then Rui Costa and only later overhauling them on his way to a solo win to put a triumphant seal on his mountains jersey. He was lucky too because he’d missed the early break but a split in the field saw the pace go wild and the breakaway was caught. The split caught Tom Dumoulin napping for a while there was a panic as his rivals raced up the road but it all regrouped.

But did Dumoulin pay for this chase on Monte Cavallo? He was dropped on the final climb, pacing himself for much of the way to limit his losses to 20-30 seconds while ahead Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali let their team mates work, notably Franco Pellizotti for Nibali, a local who knew every metre of the road. As the slopes levelled out Thibaut Pinot took off and the others couldn’t or wouldn’t chase. Nibali and Quintana tried moves but eventually Ilnur Zakarin and Domenico Pozzovivo jumped away and this increase in the pace distanced Dumoulin further who lost over a minute and conceded the maglia rosa to Nairo Quintana.

The Route: a 190km mountain stage. The small climb of Ca’del Poggio is a a regular in the race of late, and has been the Italian national championships so its steep slopes should be familiar to many but it’s short and on to Feltre via more familiar roads, this time part of the Valdobbiadene “Prosecco” time trial stage from the 2015 Giro.

After 98.5km they climb Monte Grappa. There are many ways up and this isn’t the hardest but it’s still a big effort, 24.2km at 5.2% average but plenty of 7-8% sections along the way, especially during the first third. It’s a hard climb, the gradient changes a lot, an irregular road. There’s aa fast descent through shaded woodland, in two parts with a small flatter landing in between. Then comes 14km up the Brenta valley.

Foza salita

The climb to Foza is the final climb of the Giro and a scenic one. It’s not steep but climbs via 20 hairpins at a regular gradient of 6-7%, a fast climb that rolls well. At the top it’s 14.8km to the finish across the plateau, down and then up, nothing for the climbs but awkward roads for anyone dropped on the climb who is tired and forced to chase.

The Finish: it’s downhill into Asiago, Italy’s jam and honey capital. There are three ninety-degree bends in town but on wide roads culminating in a right hander onto the final 250m with a slight uphill gradient to the line.

The Contenders: another day with two races, one for the stage and one for the overall? Why not but Movistar, FDJ and Bahrein-Merida are likely to accelerate towards Monte Grappa and Valstagna so any more that goes clear early won’t have it easy. Still, let’s think of Tejay van Garderen, Omar Fraile or Laurens de Plus.

Mikel Landa might prefer to wait, no need to go in the break when he can try his chances against the GC contenders but if the climb to Foza suits him the finish doesn’t.

Among the main GC candidates things get complicated, the stage win seems almost incidental given the possibility of the podium or even the overall win. Tom Dumoulin can find the finish suits him but can he cope with Monte Grappa and the climb to Foza? If the legs are still heavy and he’s dropped on the road to Foza he risks floundering alone like a beached fish while his rivals press on. Nairo Quintana loves Monte Grappa, or rather he ought to because in 2014 he put aside the polemics to storm to the stage win in a mountain time trial here but surely he’ll look to exploit the final climb to Foza. Meanwhile Vincenzo Nibali might try a move on the descent of Grappa. Thibaut Pinot has been jumping away of late, he’s the momentum pick and brings assurances in case of a sprint but this is a crucial day for him, a well-timed attack could theoretically doom Dumoulin and distance the others. The fascinating thing here is that the top six overall all have their claim to the stage win and time with Ilnur Zakarin and Domenic Pozzovivo also in the mix. The fear is they all cancel each other out rather than trade attacks but we’ll see, Nibali and Quintana especially need not worry about a podium finish, for them second place would be first loser and we’ll see if this motivates them, especially Nibali.

Thibaut Pinot, Mikel Landa
Dumoulin, Nibali, Quintana, Zakarin, TvG, Fraile

Weather: sunny and a few clouds and a top temperature of 26°C in in the plains and valleys.

TV: the climb of Monte Grappa should start around 2.30pm CET, Foza at 4.15pm CET and 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. L’ seems to have an non geo-restricted site with French audio.

159 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Preview”

  1. Should be an interesting day with Quintana 30 seconds ahead of Dumoulin in GC and Yates 30 seconds ahead of Jungels in the White Jersey with both respective leaders expected to lose time in the TT tomorrow.

    • I look forward to Orica trying to do something on Monte Grappa, it should suit Yates. In fact if I thought he were not so knackered I’d have him for a stage win.

      • They’re all quite much knackered and Yates isn’t more than others, as yesterday’s stage seemed to confirm. Today might be all about recover – and tactics (shake with luck…).

  2. Question is was Dumoulin tired from the earlier attack or is it a sign of fatigue that will also affect him today? I suspect the latter, as he didn’t have to do the chasing himself yesterday.
    On the other hand, Quintana and Nibali seem unable to do much in the way of attacking – their domestiques looked stronger yesterday. Is Pinot the dark horse?
    I suspect that today’s stage will look very like yesterday’s (and many others) – a slog up a mountain with no rider looking particularly good (except Landa – what might have been?) and the favourites hoping that Dumoulin cracks, whilst not being able to do much about it if/when he does other than follow their team mates.

    • I know it’s academic, but if you deduct the 27 minutes Landa lost on Blockhaus from his standing after yesterday he’d currently be sitting 8th in this Giro. Obviously there’s other factors, being able to get up the road unchallenged, not having to bother with the TT etc, but as you said, what might have been….

      • Hard to compare unless they are riding against each other. Is that what Inrng meant by “try his luck against the GC contenders,” that we might get a chance to see what he can do head to head?

    • Landa lost more than a minute to Pinot & bunch yesterday on the Piancavallo. Ofc he didn’t have to push, but let’s note he was much slower. We don’t know what could he do should he not lost that time on Blockhaus. But he rides great and it’s a pity he lost his podium chances that day that’s for sure.

      • Through Mihai “faustocoppi60″, I have him just some 30” slower than the best men, which would be a huge performance considering he was in a break, where you’re bound to take at least a couple of turns, beside riding a way faster pace than the bunch until the climb; although he had Henao’s help, he made most of the climb by himself, which is especially meaningful for the last 4 kms (but not limited to that). In fact, he was rather impressive.

        • Wonder if he can manage to advance two more places to at least match Thomas’ best placing on a GC.

          Sarcastic jokes aside, he seems to really like life at Sky. Wondering whether it’s the money or he he really likes the whole approach of the team.

          Assuming 2-3 years left in Froome’s legs at the Tour, Sky can do Landa & Thomas as co-leader @ Giro (given their cumulative bad lucks, a co-leader @ Giro sounds rather like a good idea. Hopefully have both of them wiped out in one go won’t become a yearly occurance); Thomas to assist Froome @ Tour; and have Landa to assist Froome @ Vaulta. Only problem is where that leaves Wout Poels.

          But then situations can sort itself out. Either Landa or Thomas can get ill/injured ahead of Giro. Or Thomas may unsuitable for GT GC and finally decide to focus on Classics. And/or he may leave the team whilst doing so (assuming Quick Step still exist, can he find a place there? Dimension Data sounds like a better place for him though).

  3. Another exciciting stage and all still to play for. Is it right to say Quintanna needs at least 90 seconds for what he might lose in TT?

    Were there any post race comments on the rumour Quintanna attacked while Dumoulin took a nature break as Movistar had left Rojas with him to radio in for the ‘right’ time to attack?

    Also any action on trek rider Alafaci throwing water bottle at Movistar’s Sutherland?

      • “Mini” social media fuss which was apparently generated by Spekenbrink’s (Sunweb’s general manager) “misinterpreted” words to Eurosport. I didn’t listen to that directly, but even some readers here wrote that they did on Eurosport in Dutch, for example.
        Did he ever apologise? Or Eurosport?
        This isn’t good for the image of the teams, the riders, or the race, creates further tensions (the bottle episode, albeit maybe unrelated) and no matter how many times you retract or debunk that, it’s always surfacing, as we can see here (or as we can see with the Stelviogate and other stuff).

        • This is not quite true. The rumour originated with some Italian media folk and was picked up by UK Eurosport (I guess other versions too). They said it was a rumour which needed to be confirmed. Brian Smith then spoke to some of his DS mates in various team cars all of whom said it was not true. Eurosport then got Spekenbrink to comment and his comment was somewhat ambiguous, hence the story getting more traction. However fairly soon afterwards they also got a Sunweb DS to comment who said there was no basis to the story whatsoever. It is the sort of thing that goes in in such a nervous fractious atmosphere amplified by the echo chamber called “social media”

          • I don’t speak Dutch, but I’d be happy to know what the inrng’s reader who commented here listened on Dutch Eurosport.
            As I reported yesterday, another team car by Sunweb denied it, soon, indeed.
            Sort of a timeline through different languages can be inferred by comments on yesterday’s inrng post.
            Anyway, as I wrote yesterday, again, it’s the typical thing you get something solid about just after some time, not in the heat of the moment.


            In this (dutch) interview he mentions bad legs and riding far at the back. But after a minute or so, he mentions nature break as well (by incident?). My idea is that it was a combi of nature break, staying behind and rivals starting to push at the front. I assume that sunweb doesn’t want get a new discussion with rivals, and put it on rookie mistake as the (only) reason for missing the split.

          • Well actually Sunweb were pushing at the front of the pack while Dumoulin was chatting with a BMC rider at the back. Rookie mistake would be if other team was working at the front. The other teams started working once they realized that Sunweb isolated their own leader. But there is no way they would admit the utter incompetence of their team as a whole.

          • Dumoulin has really benefited from the number of GC contenders. While his team hasn’t been fulfilling the role that the pink jersey’s team traditionally does (i,e., leading the peleton and shutting down attacks) Dumoulin has been able to ride the wheels of the other GC contenders and generally watch them and their teams do the work. Granted he has to be strong to be in this position, I think he would struggle if he tried to ride this way against a strong Sky team or Astana team (from recent years, not so much this year).

          • Thanks for this. It makes sense and goes to what was said yesterday by a very smart anonymous contributor 😊that the truth is normally somewhere in between.

          • Full video coverage is available. No nature break at all. It was Sunweb who created the split pulling in the first hundreds of metres of the descent, precisely when Dumoulin was far back because he was chatting with TJ; Movistar just took advantage of the Sunweb’s disaster becoming instantly aware of the gap which had opened, thus going on the front and pulling hard from then on.
            If Spekenbrink really referred to any nature break to explain the situation, he should apologise. Maybe he didn’t it on purpose, maybe his riders told him so, but he should know he’s regarded as a reliable on source when his team is concerned and should take care with what he says to media, especially if he doesn’t actually know but, all the same, hints at “(non) facts” which would have heavy implications.

          • So he should if that’s the case. No need to make stuff up. Enough going on without a DS causing more issues. So they had a camera on Dumoulin the whole time then so you could tell he never even had a natural on the move? Surprising.

          • @ Anon 5:23 pm
            Heli cam on him and motos ahead when the attack happened. Don’t forget he was in pink and a camera is pretty much always on the leader. Don’t get confused between live production and all available recorded videos. You can see one thing at a time on the live video, but they’ve got some five or six camera feeds. Do you think that Tom was pissing in the middle of the bunch while talking with Van Garderen? Very credible.
            No need to make stuff up two years ago, either, but they did.
            *If* Spekenbrink said that, he deserves some serious blame.

          • I think you misunderstood Gabriele. What seems to have been intimated on the interview was he had a natural break, came back to the peloton. Hung around the back and then the attack happened. It’s what I though yesterday but you seem to be saying he definitely never took a break? Or is just that he wasn’t on a break when the attack/split occurred?

          • So Mollema and his team, Lotto & Kruiswijk, Yates & Orica, they all had a pee break or why were they in a big chasing peloton instead upfront like Movi, B-M, Kat and FDJ? Keen to hear the theory on how that should have happened. Though, not really, I call it BS anyway.

          • Ah ok!, that may have been the *misunderstanding* spawn by Spekenbrink words, then.

            What I meant is that Tom wasn’t definitely having any pee break when the attack happened, nor immediately before (as it was suggested, and as I myself tended to believe awaiting further info); and that, if he had had one some time before, he wasn’t worrying *at all* about coming back to the front.
            He wasn’t even in the process of coming back, he was spending time chatting.
            Which means that the pee break actually has no relation at all with the (Sunweb prompted) split, as Dumoulin himself admitted.
            Thus, I guess that Spekenbrink’s narration of the sequence of events might have casually included the pee break without meaning to suggest *any* relation between the two facts, besides the temporal one: sadly, my Dutch isn’t good enough (euphemism) to allow me to understand it directly from the audio (hence, my *if*s above).
            Let’s shut down this debate, without the reply working properly it’s just a mess and I don’t think there’s anything relevant more to be said.

          • In RAI television show “Processo alla Tappa” yesterday there was a clip that showed exactly what Gabriele described. Case closed!

          • Bobbie Traksel (the ex-rider) is co-commentator on Belgian/Dutch Eurosport, he said during stage he got confirmation from Spekenbrink that they attacked during a nature break.

    • As others have said, no nature break, Dumoulin said he had bad legs and made a “rookie mistake” getting caught out at the back.

      Sutherland fined and taken a time penalty. Seems reasonable, I don’t remember Nibali getting DQ’ed for throwing a bottle at Froome as he assumed Froome had been responsible for a crash.

  4. The third stage or redemption in a row. Rolland, van Garderen and now Landa all coming of a couple of lean years with a much needed big win.

    • I don’t buy the “redemption” narrative. The fact is that Rolland and Tejay are riders who are not capable of much more than the odd win and are OVERburdened by excessive expectations with which they have shown themselves to be not always entirely comfortable. Landa, who so far in his career has been held back by the ambitions of others and the orders of his teams (which means Astana and not just Sky), has suffered sickness and misfortune too but there is more time for him to break out of this. Of these three it is Landa who may yet have more to give. The other two should be happy with a win here or there.

      • Rolland seems indeed happy to do so now. Not sure about TVJ. And this attitude can either be his making (if he did pick it up) or undoing ( as he spends a few more years chasing GC in vain).

  5. Its been great to watch Landa day after day persistent in his pursuit of his stage win.surely he would have been top 10 material and another one to watch for the cotenders?

    The top 5 are nicely poised. They are going to have to start worrying about each other rather than collborating to clobber the pink jersey. Quintana must worry that if he pulls Nibali to the finish he is pulling him to overall victory given his TT superiority

  6. What a thrilling conclusion this giro i coming down too! I think that Dumolin may be beginning to feel the effect of being deep into a final week of heavy climbing and that this will take a toll on his final time trial like when Cadel couldn’t overcome Sastre a few years ago in the tour. He is my sentimental pick but he couldn’t afford to loose 2min to his nature break as well as 2-3min combined on the climbing stages.

    I think that Pinot will now be a really big threat especially if Nibali and Quintana cancel each other out again tomorrow and he is able to take another 20 sec he will be within striking distance despite his poor 1st TT.

  7. The perils of being a pundit. Inrng does commendably well in not getting carried away. Brain Smith was telling us two days ago how NQ was certain to romp around the Dolomites and into pink, yesterday how TD was going to wear pink all the way to the finish :).

    At the beginning I thought one of Geraint Thomas, Thibaut Pinot or Tom Dumoulin would push NQ into second and that still seems to be a reasonable position (though clearly one is hors combat and another teetering on the edge). I think neither Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana have the legs to ride away. VN has the better TT but not sure how much strength he has left. Can TD recover from his jour sans, if he can the race is very much still his to win but he cant afford to loose anymore time. However I have a sneaky suspicion that Thibaut Pinot will come good.

    If he takes a few seconds today (I think a break will go, the GC teams all look out for the count, none have the strength left to pull back breakaways so bonus seconds wont be an issue) it might well come down to a TT shoot out between him, Vincenzo Nibali and Tom Dumoulin. I know TP did not have the best time trial last week but I think he might well be the fittest at the end of the race, not sure Tom Dumoulin can deliver another knock out TT.

    • Mentioning Geraint Thomas gives me, and perhaps others, a huge case of the “what ifs”. I think that Pinot is a good marker for where he might have been and these two, Pinot and Thomas, have seemed well matched in week long races for a year or two now (thinking of Tour de Suisse and Tour of the Alps particularly). Of course, we’ll never know. Damn that parked police motorbike.

      • Cancellara won TDS, with Tony Martin comming in second, Jens Voigt won Tour of Germany multiple times, Sagan won in California, Tireno has been won by Cancellara and Avermaet won Tireno. Neither did/will ever finish within top 5 of a GT – same with Gerrain Thomas. 2x 15 – at the best he can hope to fight for 8-12 in TDF – The Giro is the GT far suits him (and his team) the least.

        • We don’t know with Thomas because he’s never been in the mix during the final week of a grand tour, this Giro would have been a big test. Perhaps he’ll be allowed to ride for himself in the Tour alongside Chris Froome and we’ll see?

        • Did you even see those Suisse and Tirreno routes? Or Sagan and Voigt’s competition?

          Thomas has beaten Contador at Paris-Nice with actual real mountains. That’s a sign of top five capability at least.

          • Yes, “top five at least”, but in one week stage races.
            Still a mystery in GTs.
            Rui Costa beat the likes of Pinot, Mollema, Dumoulin, F. Schleck, Valverde on several serious courses in Suisse, where Spilak very recently bested Thomas, Dumoulin and Pinot all at the same time.
            Pa-Ni? Henao, Rebellin, Luis León Sánchez… many riders can compete with GT riders in a shorter stage race. The third week is a different affair, though.

  8. Stage 20 and the top 6 are within 90 seconds of each other.

    (And of course the white jersey is in the balance too.)

    Regardless of Defegate, it’s been – and still is – such an exciting GT. The route designers have put together a beautifully poised course. I’m delighted the final day will be a race and not a procession.

    Today I hope for a punch-drunk slug fest up to Foza and no man-marking.

    VV il Giro

  9. Its a very interesting conclusion to the “regular” stages today and the one thing none of the top riders will want – except Dumoulin! – is that they all finish together. The first thing everyone else will want is for Dumoulin to drop. If he doesn’t then he wins in the ITT tomorrow. But Quintana can’t feel secure against Nibali as things stand either. Going on the first ITT 43 seconds is on the outside of possibility regarding by how much Nibali could beat Quintana tomorrow (I figure Nibali could expect 30-45 seconds). Certainly that gap is not big enough for the Colombian to feel safe yet. For me, Pinot, Zakarin and Pozzo need to the win the stage and win big if they are to have any chance tomorrow – and to win solo. They are outsiders at this point. But what of Nibali himself? Well, he would love another 20 seconds back on Quintana but probably wants another minute on Dumoulin much as Quintana does. In short, none of these guys wants to finish together. If they have it in them they all want to cross the line in Asiago without the rest of the contenders. But the one thing they all want, and Dumoulin doesn’t, is to drop the Dutchman for 1 minute or more. So, in many respects, its all up to TD because if he stays close it won’t matter where the rest are relative to each other.

    The problem is I think Dumoulin is at the end of his tether. The race could very well be one day too long for him yet again. So who wins in Milan? I don’t have a Scooby but it should be much clearer in a few hours!

    • I’m not convinced by the argument that Nibali will take time off Quintana on the ITT. The latter has beaten the former a number of times in the past. I think it will all depend on who has the most remaining strength and not just in the legs.

      • If you’re right it only suggests all the more that none of these guys wants to finish as a group today. Nibali’s attack point will be the descent from Monte Grappa, something he did in 2010 and won the stage.

    • A 30 seconds gain for Quintana and Nibali on todays stage can be sufficent to survive the ITT.

      Realistic gaps for the final ITT:

      Dolumlin: 0 secs
      Nibali: 30-60 secs
      Pinot: 45-75 secs
      Quintana: 60-90 secs

      I really don’t see Pinot (or those behind him) take the overall, it would require a win solo today with a significant advantage to everyone. – I expect Nibali or Quintana to cross the line before both Domulin and Pinot today. Quintana because he is the most gifted climber and Nibali because he is the only one in the top 6 willing to loose everything.

      For the final victory i still think its between Nibali and Domulin, the later may be able to contain the 3 others today. Nibali only needs to gap Domulin today. Quintana needs to gap both Domulin and Nibali today.

  10. The fact that Sunweb are not burdened with riding at the front anymore; will that help them better protect Tommy D?
    Will Lawrence ten Dam be able to hang tough until the final climb?

    If Dumoulin gets dropped and isolated, and has to ride that plateau on his own, that’s game over.
    I’ve got a bad feeling in my bowels about Dumoulin’s chances today 🙁

    • Where Nibali is concerned the others should worry about the Monte Grappa descent. Nibali has won from there before and did so descending from the Stelvio the other day. He would love to attack the last climb alone. It would be the best grand tour victory of his career if he had a clear win today, one which he could defend tomorrow.

    • I’ve thought throughout that Sunweb have been a bit tactically naive by riding on the front when they didn’t really need to, just because “that’s what the leader’s team does”. When Poland was 10+ minutes up the road they had no real reason to contain the gap – let those worried about their 7th place work (which eventually they did, but not before they’d put in a lengthy stint). And yesterday, after it all came back together, they went up and rode on the front – OK they weren’t exactly driving the pace, but they still put themselves in the wind.

      Yes, it is ‘normal’ for the leader’s team to be in the front, but it’s also normal for the leader to have a strong team that they can put to work to sap the energies of others. When your team is clearly weaker, why not sit back and save your energies for assisting the leader when he really needs it?

  11. I don’t have stats to back it up, but is is reasonable to expect a repeat of the first ITT on Sunday? Everyone has an extra 2 weeks riding in their legs which (I think) tends to reduce the differences.
    As such Saturday vs Sunday becomes an interesting balance, I’d hope the GC guys attempt to split the race up on the final climb, I’d like to see TP win the stage alone with Yates and DP behind to mop up the bonus seconds, then it’s all to play for tomorrow.

    Also, anyone else think NQ is focused on peaking for France and underestimated the challenge of the first part of his double?

    • No, it won’t be a repeat.
      See the Vuelta TT as a truer comparison.
      The time difference between Quintana and Dumoulin there was down to just over 2″ / km.
      That was with a more technical run through town, twists and turns etc.
      Maybe a minute difference would be a safer bet, with a minimal margin either side?

    • A time trial at the end of the race is often as much a test of freshness as of TT speed, the likes of Quintana and Nibali should have reduced losses per KM to Dumoulin who is bound to feel the efforts of the mountains in his legs.

      • And Zakarin and Pinot look by far the freshest of the GC contenders, so there’s a good chance they put in a comparatively much stronger TT performance, making the final outcome even more uncertain.

    • Tiredness will affect the time gaps and makes predictions much harder. But then there is also the fact the jersey is directly on the line at the end. All contenders would want 1 minute plus on Dumoulin to feel safe. I suspect Quintana would like over 45 seconds on everybody else.

  12. Hi, could someone indicate how much time nibali and pinot need over dumoulin prior to the TT? Presumably we need a top 4 of Q, nib, pin, dum in that order at the end of today, given their respective TT pace?

    • My view would be that both Nibali and Pinot would want at least one minute advantage. Tiredness is a factor though making calculations harder than with the first ITT.

  13. I get that it’s a bit frustrating that the top contenders can’t seem to deliver, but a boring race? Not a day has gone by without drama!
    We currently have the top 4 within 1 minute and all with a fair chance to win it all!
    All places on the podium is gonna be up for grabs until the very last meter of the Giro I suspect!
    I find it to be one of the most exciting grand tours in several years!!

    You are of course entitled to your opinion 🙂

    I’ll just ask: what kind of expectations did you have since you are bored? And what would make it exiting for you?

    • I agree. Those with the “boring race” mentality are either inspired by the drug years or computer games. A close race with seconds between multiple riders is boring? Such people will never be pleased. And don’t ask them to say what a good race is because I suspect if we got what they said then that would be boring too.

      • My beloved Corsa Rosa’s been a bit of a snoozer this time round (especially if you forget about the non-issues that have outraged so many) but it’s come-to-life somewhat at the end. As many (including yours truly) have written, with 4 guys all within a minute of the Maglia Rosa and two days left to race, especially when their abilities are so different, we finally have a RACE to watch, especially today.
        I’ll go for a bike ride then plop onto the couch for the entire afternoon….may the best man win.

      • As I suspect you know too well, this is race has been dull when compared to the very last decade, and especially the last four years, which we’ve got no special reason to see as more “inspired by drugs” than the current season. A race is good or not depending on the action which actually happens, not on the time gaps – which can be a factor to foster expectation or action himself, but if it comes to nothing or a little day after day, that’s not great *racing*.
        It’s even too easy to name recent Giri as “not boring” races which should please most who look for an “exciting” race. A GT is 21 stages long, let’s say that ITTs always deliver, but I’d like to see significant GC action along a decent percentage of the “in linea” stages, too, be it with little effect on GC itself, but action, all the same. And during the last 30-40 kms if possible, let’s say an entertaining final hour or so.
        Blockhaus delivered some of that, Oropa and Dolomites so and so (too little in both, only in a short finale in Oropa, only a bit, and far from the finish, in the Dolomites, plus that mini drama in the last, what?, 3 kms?). Yesterday and Bormio might considered more or less fine, despite the limited number of attacks.
        You can’t compare it with some dull Tours or fast food Vueltas, it’s still much better (the favourites’ group is generally *much more reduced* before the final action take place) – it’s a Giro, anyway! – but it’s not as great as the last years, both in top quality (top men attacking from very far) and sheer quantity of compelling racing.
        Today makes a difference, for me, in terms of global judgement: yet, it can’t and won’t take away the burden of the very poor first two weeks and the repetitive nature of the mountain stages design (several monoclimbs / several times less than 30% of climbing in last 50-80 kms / few to none climbs with “Giro style” long over 10% gradients / lots of final climbs with flattish or flatter, even very significant in terms of length, final sections).

        • No matter who wins now it’s been rather dull, but maybe that’s what you get with a route kind of defanged to attract a guy like Froome? “Froome-lite” shows up and (barring disaster) wins via the boring “Mow ’em down in the chrono, defend in the mountains” playbook.

  14. I agree with J Evans – 2.5 weeks of less than enthralling racing, including some real yawn inducing stages, but now we’re enjoying a real thriller.
    If only TD had a couple of real climbing domestiques….

    • That would be receipe for a boring race. If it’s not for the bug in TD’s stomach, he’d probably still be in Pink today. This Giro would be remembered as the one that got enliven (saved) by dump.

  15. Not a fan of having a ITT on the final day, not a fan of TT’s in general to be honest, but as an organiser you WOULD want 90sec covering the top 5 with two days to go. It may have been 90sec covering the top 8 riders had certain events not taken place. Perhaps it is me but this has felt quite a long race! I am always full of excitement and anticipation during the first few days and love the stages where the “big hitters” don’t feature. This being from the armchair point of view. The better way and without question would be to travel and follow the race at the roadside each day. Sadly I don’t have the luxury of that but my perception of the “race” would I feel be quite different.

  16. Wow, what a thriller this race is.

    Given the standings right now, It looks like Dumoulin takes the Giro with the possibility of Pinot and Zakarin on the podium. I can’t see either of Nibali or Quintana pulling of a super TT tomorrow based on the last few days.

    But the great thing is that in todays stage anyone in the top 6 could feasibly take the lead. Pozzovivo and Pinot look like they’re finishing this race really strong.

    What a race.

    • Pozzovivo, Zakarin and Pinot has gain time the past few days because the other 3 has let them. I dont see any of them enter the podium unless Domulinl cracks completly today (which i also dont see).

      • If Zakarin and Pinot can take one minute each on Quintana and Nibali, they’re on the podium. It’s not an unplausible scenario, but we’ll soon see 🙂

  17. Nice gastropick by inrng: a jams and honey brand from Asiago (one of my favourites, and luckily available abroad, too!) was once sponsor of the Italian cycling National Team.

    As RonDe said, sweet memories for Nibali on this descent, he got a lot of time over impressive descenders in 2010 (30″ over Vino, 1′ over Evans – I read somehere, but didn’t check). Perhaps his beloved “karma” (…) means he’ll now fail here? 0__0
    It was the very same road, if I’m not wrong, but it was wet; on the contrary, the climbing side isn’t the one Quintana fondly remembers, this is the easiest available. As so many times in this Giro.
    Once again, the course designer took a good deal of risks: creative racing, compelling tactics, long range attacks… or half an hour of (minimal) GC action at most?

  18. People complaining about lack of attacks should have a look at Pinot’s data on Strava. He rode the final climb of 14 km with an average gradient of 8% with an average speed of 21,4 kmh and a VAM of 1711. This at the end of demanding stage and at the end of the Giro. There is simply no chance for anyone to attack there and gain more than a few second on the rest of the rivals.
    The races nowadays are more of a case of attrition. People who cannot keep up are spat at the back, but noone can attack from such a pace without going into the red and blowing up completely.
    The level at the top is very very close and the days when people attacked and gained minutes on the final climb are behind us.

    • “The races nowadays”? What’s nowadays? Just 2017? Have you actually watched the 2016-2015-2014-2013-2011-2010… Giri before this? (not to speak of many one-week stage races, but you might say that it’s easier, there – even if you speak of “races” not GTs).

      • I speak of Grand Tours and yes I have watched all of them. I am talking about the last few years and about races when ALL contenders are in form, not handicapped by crashes, injuries, sickness etc. Last year’s TdF was similar to thsis year’s Giro. Nobody ever got away on a climb, not even Froome. Most of the climbs the group stayed together until the last 1 or 2 km. Only there you can expect somobody to attack with the hope to gain a few seconds. All attacks from long range were brought back after few hundred meters.
        It’s just not possible to attack at the bottom of the climb in the manner of Armstrong or Pantani and go solo, when there are around 10 riders at a similar level. Even Contador, who is the only rider with the panache needed to try it, cannot launch this kind of actions. You need several factors to come together in order to make an attack stick (surprise factor, bad weather, wind, downhill attack etc.). But sadly it’s very rare.

        • Who was handicapped by anything in, say, 2013 or 2014 Giro? Or how wasn’t Quintana handicapped in TdF 2016 (if we believe in what was being said about him)? And what about Contador in that same Tour?
          Someone will always have some sort of trouble in a GT, it’s a statistical thing, and it doesn’t mean much more often than not.

          There’s a midpoint between attacking – or pulling alone – from the bottom of a climb (something Quintana did in several occasions both in GTs and other stage races) and not attacking at all or waiting for the last 10′.
          You can still attack *several times*, not “just once”, to start with, and maybe 5-6 kms from the top, for example, or on a previous climb, not the last one. We’ve seen something of that this Giro – few sparks – but, as I said, too little, too rare.

          Last Tour was more or less the worst Tour of the decade (right there with 2008, 2010 or 2012; that is, I’ll acknowledge that – unlike the Giro – the Tour can often be dull) – anyway, it’s not what you’d use as a representative model.

          I’ve not much love for the Vuelta courses, but it offered fine racing with some very deep attacks (albeit few in number when compared to the Giro) in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012…

          If you watched all those GTs, I don’t really know how could you write something like:
          “The races nowadays are more of a case of attrition. People who cannot keep up are spat at the back, but noone can attack from such a pace without going into the red and blowing up completely.”

    • The days when people gain “minutes” on the final climb are relatively rare anyway. But the days when people climb appreciably faster than the rest should not be. Nibali, Quintana, Contador and Froome have all done in within the last few years in grand tours to name but a few.

  19. In theory Quintana and Nibali should be falling over themselves to bury Dumoulin if he has another bad day but I don’t think they can. I think all 3 are open to an ambush from Pinot and Zakarin who look to me like the strongest riders in the race, Landa aside. It’s certainly interestingly poised.
    Considering this is the 100th Giro I’m a little dissapointed with the amount of wide easily graded ‘Tour style’ climbs in this final week. I think this stage as the last in the mountains needs a Colle de Finestre or Zoncolan for some theatrical wow factor.

    • Agreed. “Wrong way” up Mortirolo and Stelvio and a lack of that “theatrical wow factor” you describe. I was under the impression this route was defanged a bit in a similar way 2009’s route was designed to lure BigTex. RCS had desires of getting Froome to join Nibali and Quintana so they came up with this “Giro-lite” + two chrono stages perfect for “Il Frullatore”? A cracking race today and a nail-biting chrono tomorrow might just make up for it………..just?

    • +1
      Not just theatrical views implied, but also some technical plus factoring in. The “easiest” Grappa was disappointing, too. It’s hard to attack if you know that the limited gradient and the flattening hilltop are going to prevent you from getting a serious gap, and then you’ll have to face 70 kms to the line with a whole group behind. Even if you don’t count the descent, you’d need to overcome nearly 30 flat kms, like tomorrow’s ITT! Without a direct alliance between two captains at least, which wasn’t really in place until now, attacking here is useless. It’s no Mortirolo, no Agnello, no Finestre, no realistic springboard in other words.

  20. A good stage yesterday, but Hatch’s commentary reached new levels of abysmal. Completely failing to pick up on the split until well after those of us watching were aware of it. Speculating wildly and excitedly about the ‘natural break theory’; then after it was contradicted, pretending that he’d done no such thing and issuing high-minded warnings about the speculation of ‘others’. Telling us that “we’re being told that the Dumoulin group is over a minute back” when the pictures were clearly showing the two groups on the same stretch of road with no more than 15 seconds between them. Similarly, banging on about how he’d lost 30 seconds on the climb when you could see that he was hovering just behind the group (it continually astonishes me that seasoned commentators can’t get through those heads that the time gaps, when accurate, are relative to the first rider to pass the point they’re at – in this case the exploding Sanchez – who are usually going much slower than the GC group at the end of a stage).

    He really needs to stop fixating on the on-screen graphics and Twitter, and try watching the actual race.

      • Well I’d agree there’s a pattern. The frustrating thing is that Hatch never used to be this bad – certainly not in comparison to the dreaded CK. But it’s like someone at Eurosport has told him “You know, you really need to be a bit more Kirby. Stop paying so much attention to the actual racing. Throw a few gabbled shouts and ‘Woooaahhh!!’s in every so often for no particular reason. Continuously cut across your co-commentators to tell us about some meaningless detail that’s belatedly caught your eye. That’s what the viewers want.” We really don’t.

        Still, at least he hadn’t taken to laughing indulgently at his own ‘jokes’ yet – small mercies…

    • Some of these guys need to be reminded that they are TELEVISION commentators. It’s NOT radio! Would the world of TV come to an end if they shut up for a couple of seconds? I can still remember ol’ David Duffield, going into one of his, “Well, my wife and I enjoyed this great bottle of wine in this town back when……..” memories while serious attacks are going up the road as he blathers on.
      Italy’s Adriano DeZan was a bit like that in his later years as well. I don’t mind the chatter as long as it has something to do with the race and it’s accurate, but too often the main TV guy (who is rarely a cycling expert) acts like he gets paid by the word.

      • RAI began (getting the idea from some fans…) to leave one minute here and there, when crowds are around, without the studio audio, just the live road sound, announcing: “let’s listen to the voice of the road / the mountain”. It’s a fine effect, it can be quite emotional. ES is also offering a “no commentary” service, with sound effects only, isn’t it? The interesting thing with RAI is that they integrate it into the normal broadcast.

      • Karsten Migels and Jean-Claude Leclercq commentating in such chatter style on German ES. Sometimes they are a bit behind actual actions on the road, cause they just want to finish a story, but who cares, I can see what’s going on . But Leclercq’s cycling knowledge and his huge basket of historic stories are most times much more interesting than the nervous radio guys on ES GB.

        • I think the more you personally know about pro cycling the harder it feels to bear hearing those guys comment who most of the time seem to think that they have to keep it interesting for the general public. As if anyone without a strong interest in pro cycling watched Eurosport’s Giro coverage. Although I know one of those two personally I always mute them or choose the channel in the ES Player that has no commentary and no commercial breaks.

        • Leclercq who is an expro actually talks the most, migels is also an ex-cyclist (less successful than leclercq) its like watching two friends chatting. I stopped watching the english commentary a while ago, migels / leclercq are just way better

  21. A real cliff hanger. All about who loses the least over the next 2 days. Hard to call a winner.

    This really has been a team game though. If Quintana was in Sunweb, and Dumoulin in Movistar, it would have all been done and dusted by now.

  22. Close without being that interesting thus far IMO, hopefully Quintana will actually put his nose in the wind today.

    If not, no biggy as I’m happy just watching the scenery today, such a brilliant area to ride in and two stunning climbs on the way to the beautiful plain of Asiago.

  23. Good last 2 stages scenario for any Giro spectator. -Nail biter…

    Pink do or die for mainliners. For them, They certainly have felt the sting of regret from past mistakes in similar situations. For that, I think Nibali is the rider who will make another descent performance.

    “Cliff hanger” indeed, JH

  24. “There were rumours in the French press this morning that the Velon teams of Trek and Orica would try to help Dumoulin win the Giro.”

    That would be awful if it came to pass, but I doubt it.

    • It seemed to me once or twice Lotto Jumbo riders were pulling BigTom along, at one point despite the fact they had a rider up in the break? There was a famous caper where some Belgian riders towed Discovery’s Savoldelli to Sestriere in pursuit of Simoni for an inexplicable reason. I think someone made a film about it, “28 Seconds” or something like that?
      I have an Italian friend who claims he witnessed the handover of payment for this the next day from the team manager – the same fellow now serving the lifetime ban from the sport for his conduct during the BigTex daze.
      Nothing new here – it seems Movistar and Bahrain aren’t exactly beating the crap out of each other vs some cooperation in trying to ditch BigTom, are they?

  25. White jersey question for the experts. How important is that for most teams? What if the scenario was a team with a rider placed like Yates with another white jersey competitor very close. If the Yates rider in this example had a teammate not in podium contention, but placed higher than he, say around 5th to 8th, would the team sacrifice the higher placed rider for the jersey?

      • Sure, I loved Savoldelli 2005, too, but the comparison you make is laughable. A barely significant few seconds long action versus a long, intense, race deciding support. But, as I said, it’s something I don’t dislike in cycling. It’s within the range of required skills, negotiating help…

        • It would only be a thing if neither Jungels nor Mollema or Kruiswijk (until today) raced for nothing else than giving TD a helping hand. They all had to defend their GC or jersey places.

          • Jungels today didn’t really race to maximise his gain or defend his position. But, don’t get me wrong, I consider it perfectly fine!

          • So he should let Yates go and gain more time in the white jersey competition? But I know, your view is the only one that’s right.

    • Yep, and Pinot helped Nibali a lot today, that is racing. Dumoulin did a great job and had great legs today. But sure, if he wins that’s because of Jungels, not himself? 😉 Give the man some credit, he deserves that and more.

      • Dumoulin will be a deserving winner, no doubts of any kind. But Pinot had a serious interest in pulling, what about Jungels?
        The stage win is the only thing which comes to my mind (creative effort on my part).
        Even if it was so, it really didn’t make sense to pull so hard on the Foza climb, then – and, later, why going on pulling when it was impossibile to catch the front group?
        His interest, if anything (although he really doesn’t need it), was to keep his powders dry to be ready to defend himself from any attack by Yates on the climb, then, if he felt really great, in order to launch some finisseur attack on Yates himself; or, generally speaking, to avoid a bad day tomorrow. Mollema and Yates were there with him and possibly more motivated to work, Formolo was already back in GC and not a threat, not even if Bob fell during the ITT, for tomorrow.
        While Yates could be a threat if any mechanical or crash makes Jungels lose time.
        Let’s not be silly, what happened was clear – and totally normal. No need to find excuses, it’s cycling.

        • And what happened in your opinion? Jungels helped Dumoulin because he likes him better than Quintana and Nibali? That sounds even more silly. He could’ve hoped for the stage win or maybe the dropping of Yates on the climb, you never know. Even fighting for a better contract in the future? Everyone likes the guys with a big heart and great endurance!

          • Yeeeeeeah ^__^… “a big heart”…
            I already told you why his behaviour was counterproductive both for the stage win and against Yates.
            I think that it happened what already happened infinite times in cycling. And Quintana, Nibali, Froome, whoever, would have done the same as Tom did, in the same circumstances (and maybe it was just the team cars, no riders involvement…).

        • Yeah, agree with you Gab, but I’m not clear why Yates took a few pulls as well?

          Although he may just have done it, in anticipation of payment sometime in the future. As in the book of cycling ethics. I help the group today, ( even though it does not benefit me) You help me when applicable in the future!

      • “when it was impossibile to catch the front group?” They had like only 10-15 seconds at some points in the last 12km. Not what I would call non-catchable.
        But I’ sure you have detailed statistics to proof me wrong. Not interested 😉 I beleive what I saw on display.

        • They had hope to catch them until 4-5 km to go – you can notice that something stops flowing in the chase at that moment, more or less. Then…
          Specific example: Jungels’ turn with 3K to go, 20 secs advantage for the front…? Hummm. Time to stop and think about tomorrow (makes sense) or, if you’re on fire, attacking Yates as a finisseur (more sense than pulling as a moto).
          Jungels was pulling until the very end, even when the others had already arrived ^__^ He even won a couple of secs for his mates with his final surge.
          Details, not something which can change the final result of the Giro, I think – *that* was set before (although you never know what may happen if you don’t find anymore help in such a finale, Tom looked really spent in the last rush).

          • In the last few hundred meters Jungels clearly tried to separate himself from Yates, so that pull had nothing to do with Dumoulin.

    • Hugely ironic that almost the destiny of the (virtual) winner was decided on a 15 km plateau.
      Dumoilin can thank his lucky stars there.
      How Yates and Jungels conspired to work together, I’ll never know.
      And Mollema could easily have sat on more.
      Talk of the Odd Couple. That was the Odd Quintet.

  26. Dumoulin has defended himself… with sterling support from Luxembourg. He’s one decent time trial away from his first grand tour.

    • I never cared before, and I noticed only now thanks to Tom’s gloves that he’s Etxeondo… another sign of a great destiny ahead? 🙂
      Great Jungels on the previous climb, too. And he’s a 1992 rider (like Yates), two years younger than Tom even if it seems he’s been around for ages!
      Dumoulin just said that he’ll be “forever grateful” to Mollema, Jungels and Yates for the big hand they lent him.

  27. Mr. Inrng, do you know why they play “It’s a sin” by Pet Shop Boys during the Giro podium ceremonies after each stage? I couldn’t find an answer why they do, I thought you could know, maybe?

  28. This really could not be more interestingly poised.

    Seems to me it is between Thibaut Pinot & Tom Dumoulin. In normal circumstances TD would be off in the distance but clearly fatigue will play a role. Thibaut Pinot looks the freshest but not convinced his TT ability has improved that much especially on this sort of course. Maybe adrenaline & the Tifosi can power Vincenzo Nibali to victory though he seems to be pretty much spent as does Nairo Quintana.

    Bob Jungels could well be favourite for the white jersey.

    Can there be a final twist to one of the most fascinating GTs of recent times?

    • Thibot dos not stand a chnace of winning it now. He may hav e enogh to pass Quintana, but not Nibali will remain ahead

    • As it stands its not impossible Quintana doesn’t even make the podium. Or Nibali. We assume that Dumoulin wins and beats Quintana by more than 53 seconds. And we assume that he has taken the necessary 10 and 14 seconds to beat Pinot and Nibali in doing that. Then it depends if VN and TP can beat Quintana by 39 and 43 seconds respectively. I suspect that one of the previous grand tour winners is going to miss the podium completely because I think Pinot and Dumoulin will be in.

  29. @ gabriele: Perhaps Landa would’ve been in the running for the maglia rosa shouldn’t there have been the motorbike incident but today he lost over 4 minutes to Quintana and co. I know he can do better if he have to, obviously he rested after he was dropped but he mentioned a second stage win before the stage so he wanted to win. I guess he is strong, but not as strong as Quintana, Nibali, Pinot and Dumoulin.

    • @kiszol
      I didn’t mean to imply that Landa was going to win the Giro or whatever, just correct the data and the perspective on that performance you named.
      The guy has been on the front all the day, even if with some gregario around, in the three hardest stage of the race (2nd, 2nd, 1st). He sure hoped for a further stage win or whatever, but the performance of the high GC guys aren’t simply comparable, for millions of reasons.
      Again, this doesn’t prove anything more than we already knew about Landa’s GC options (which were partially proven a couple of years ago), but for the same reason you can’t really jump to any conclusion from his Giro, not even that he was weaker than the rest.
      Just a different race, with some huge performances from Landa (and Dumoulin and many others).

      • Yep, and thanks for the correction, I didn’t check the actual numbers just remembered the difference of Landa and the GC group at the bottom of the hill and at the top. But it wasn’t very precise. And you are right, the past few stages must have been very tiring for Landa who was at the front a lot those days and fought hard. In my opinion he could have been around Pinot’s level in the mountains but with his limited TT skills I estimate him a 5th-8th finishing position should the incident not happened.

  30. I think Jungels won the Giro for Domulin today (twice), although i expect the margin will be within 30 seconds to 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

    • Yes, Jungels won it not Dumoulin because he lead the group he was in, not just travelled on Tom’s wheels. 😉 There are a million nuances that together decides who wins the Giro and only one was Jungel’s help today still a lot of you will keep parroting about this for a long time.

  31. Last school day atmosphere at the Giro…
    ADS: “Cassani, can Quintana keep the Rosa?” – Cassani: “Yes, sure, in case Dumoulin has four or five flats”.
    Rai interviewer: “Vincenzo, do you think that the Maglia Rosa is still possible?” – Nibali: “Uhmmm… yeah… for whom? (jiggles)”.

    • I have found it quite gratifying to see Pinot ‘click’ at this race. Good for him. In the early days of the race, Joe Dombrowski predicted Thibaut Pinot to win it all. Looked like a crazy prediction at the time, but he’s got a shot. (Joe also complimented Pinot for having the best name at the race; I agree.)

  32. Technical question for figures nerds: Larry T, RonDe, turn your eyes away!

    I was watching the Velon data about today’s stage (yes, I’m guilty, I shouldn’t… 😛 ).
    They more or less make sense at first sight except for Dumoulin climbing the same 40′ section of Grappa at the same speed as Nibali but producing much less watts than expected, hardly more than Nibali himself, like +1.6% (which doesn’t make any sense given that the Dutch is way heavier).
    Did I lose anything, like Nibali pulling on the front or the likes?
    Just to compare that with something from the same stage, later Dumoulin is needing +24% watts than Nibali to go 0.6 km/h slower (losing 10″ in 2500 mts). Speeds are similar, in the 23-25 km/h range.

    If during those 40′ on the Grappa they were in similar conditions, not pulling on the front, it’s just crazy: I’m expecting Velon to admit some sort of mistake. It wouldn’t be the first time: their data already didn’t look very accurate when I looked at it previously, but this is the first time they’re just absurd. I considered the possibility of a different error, like a typo: “422, not 322”, but that wouldn’t make sense either, because in that case the value would be exaggerately high.

    • I’m not interested in most of the power meter wonkery (or satisfied to get it secondhand), but one source I’m looking at has Dumoulin weighing only 6% more than Nibali, so 24% more watts would seem like a lot. Could it be a simple calibration issue, or are Velon thought to have that sorted?

      • I mean calibration as a partial explanation. Surely their weights are within 10%? No charge for answering a question with questions.

      • @Foley
        You’re absolutely right, I don’t know where I took that “+24%” but it was nonsense (I typed the speed or some other crap!). It should be +6.6% which is more or less coherent, also considering that Tom was indeed going slower than Nibali, with that power figures. Yet, I still can’t understand that mere 1.6% difference on Grappa, relevant climbing, same (not high, that is, not too “aero”) speed, quite different rider weight, and… very similar power.

    • Obviously, the logical explanation must be a typo with the *second* digit, 352 or 362 must have been the right value. Otherwise it doesn’t make any sense, as such.
      The comparison with the other set of data was a curiosity I added: that doesn’t look great, either, but we may speak about it. Velon’s data don’t seem good quality, normally, but are at least plausible.
      The Grappa Dumoulin figures are totally nonsense, even more so if you take into account that it’s a 40′ period.
      I myself could produce similar W/kg to Dumoulin, if we consider that those numbers are right, but I can assure you that I’d never be able to climb the Grappa at 25 km/h. Not even by far.

      I don’t have Twitter :-O …otherwise, I’d twitt Velon on the subject. It must be a typo, but the sooner they take that away, the better.

      (PS Dumoulin at this Giro, according to him, should be at 70-71 kg, Nibali at 64 kg).

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