Giro d’Italia Stage 21 Preview

No procession, no parade, no criterium finish. Instead the maglia rosa is in play with Tom Dumoulin likely to take the race but nothing is certain and all steps on the podium are to be settled today.

Stage 20 Wrap: a stage win for Thibaut Pinot, confirmation of his strong riding in recent days” reclaiming time on his rivals with attacks to Ortisei and Piancavallo and now Asiago where he banked a helpful 10 second time bonus. Earlier on the climb to Foza there were attacks from Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana but they were initially reeled in. Ilnur Zakarin and Domenico Pozzovivo managed to go clear and get out of site. Quintana and Nibali tried again but could only keep a slender lead with Dumoulin watching from behind. Pinot then bridged across and this boosted the move, the trio began to go clear, despite Bob Jungels helping out Tom Dumoulin behind. The trio caught Zakarin and Pozzovivo but it wasn’t 3 + 2 = 5 as the group didn’t look so organised but they kept away to maintain 15 seconds at the finish. It was a hard effort for them all, a hill climb at speed chased by a 15km team time trial, a lot of work for few gains. Why was Jungels helping Dumoulin? At first the stage win was within reach given Jungels’ finishing power but he kept going, perhaps being friendly, perhaps because of a deal, the kind of thing that happens from time to time but nobody declares in public. Bauke Mollema and Adam Yates joined in too. It made for a thrilling finish but didn’t shake up the overall classification. Instead the efforts could be felt today instead…

The Route: 29.3km and ignore the slope on the profile, this is as flat as a piadina. After a lap of the Monza autodrome they leave the circuit for the first time check. Then it’s the Via Borgazzi to Sesto San Giovanni, a big wide road where hopefully some of the Giro’s joy can touch the drab factories and run-down buildings that line the road to the second timecheck in Sesto and onwards to Milan. It’s all on big long straight roads with nothing technical, just some tramlines to hop over, a few cracks in the road and sunken inspection covers. The final two kilometres see the course turn into the swanky Milanese finish as they pass the Porta Venezia. There’s some pavé but it’s smooth urban stones and then a finish on the paving stones outside the Duomo, Italy’s largest church.

The Contenders: there’s a stage win up for grabs and several specialists will have eased up in recent days to be as fresh as possible. So the likes of Michael Hepburn (Orica-Scott), Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky), Jos van Emden (Lotto-Jumbo), Jan Barta (Bora-Hasgrohe) and Marcin Białobłocki (CCC Sprandi) come to mind although Hepburn has been helping Adam Yates. Kiryienka offers the assurance of experience but the purely flat course isn’t great and he crashed on the Dolomites stage so could still be sore. Van Emden was eighth in the Montefalco time trial so a good pick if he’s fresh while Białobłocki won the TT stage of the Tour of Poland and is a flat course specialist. Bob Jungels is another name suited to a flat course like this but he could have heavy legs after all his efforts to keep Adam Yates in range, only 28 seconds separates them in the white jersey competition.

Can Tom Dumoulin win the stage? Yes, he won the Montefalco time trial by a massive margin but that rolling course suited him perfectly, this flat course a little less. Crucially his efforts in the last few days means he’ll be tired. But I doubt he cares about another stage win, the real contest is whether he can overhaul Thibaut Pinot, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana to take the maglia rosa and the 2017 Giro d’Italia. This is most likely, not a certainty but in a straight test of speed we’d imagine Dumoulin can take over two seconds per kilometre over Nairo Quintana on this flat course so unless Dumoulin feels bad or has a mechanical the pink prize awaits.

The interesting contest is between the others, Domenico Pozzovivo can’t challenge and will worry about Bauke Mollema overhauling him for the sixth place. Ilnur Zakarin and Thibaut Pinot are good in time trials, Pinot had a bad day at Montefalco and said he never felt at ease on his TT bike, perhaps his stage win and recent recovery will help him secure a podium finish but he was wheezing like a mule in post stage interviews yesterday. Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana have a nervous day. Nibali laughed when asked by RAI if he could win the Giro yesterday. Meanwhile the Colombian could conceivably go from race leader to fourth place in the day, this is not a course to suit but last June he pounded a big gear to beat Sylvain Chavanel and win the Route du Sud’s time trial stage.

Jos van Emden, Tom Dumoulin
Bob Jungels, Michael Hepburn
Kiryienka, Białobłocki, Barta

Weather: 30°C. A light breeze will blow from the east but the riders may not feel it on this urban course.

TV: riders go off in reverse GC order with Davide Formolo the first of the top-10 on at 4.29pm CET and then three minutes between each rider until Nairo Quintana leaves at 4.56pm CET. There’s live coverage on home broadcaster RAI in Italy and Eurosport for much of Europe and beyond.

162 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 21 Preview”

  1. Bit left field, but I got a feeling Sveino might pull off surprise win, today. Podium reshuffle with Pinot at the top.

  2. Another possible reason they helped Dumoulin could be a sense of injustice at defegate.
    Maybe unlikely, but maybe they didn’t like what they saw.

  3. The Benelux connection adds to the story for sure– so perfect that Tom was in danger of being out-dragged by skinnier guys on the flattish run-in, having survived the proper hills. Thanks again to Inrng for chaperoning/overseeing the scrum amongst his loyal subjects.

  4. Fantastic race! I’ve been having this strange feeling that Quintana’s bonus seconds from the sprint that Jungels won will matter today.

    • Quintana still picked up an extra 6 seconds in Bergamo, that could still be decisive this Giro is so close. Yesterday it rather looked like he had been taking finishing tips from Landa.

      A fresh Dumoulin should be a shoe in for the TT, but he looked as cooked as a BBQ chicken wing yesterday at the finale. Light winds will play to NQs favour and with so much in play it’s going to be some finish today.

      The last 20km of yesterday’s race had me on the edge of my seat and ‘accurate’ second by second time gaps contributed to that, a great example of where the good use of data enhances the viewers experience

    • A small climbing revelation! A bit like Zakarin when he first appeared. As a revolution I mean, not as a rider type…
      We could have a vote about which wild card team was the one whose performance least justifies its invitation this year. Pippo alone and the bikes justify that of Wilier-Selle Italia. Bardiani-CSF was the most active in breakaways during the early stages when volunteers were otherwise in short supply. That leaves us Gazprom-Rusvelo, inactive and invisible, not to mention the least attractive or visually interesting jerseys!

      • I dont think their jerseys are that bad, better than most actually, but the standard of jersey design is sadly very low these days.

  5. Let us suppose that Dumoulin takes the 53 seconds he needs to beat NQ and, in doing so, gets the relatively paltry 10 and 14 seconds he needs to beat Pinot and Nibali. Then TD wins. So far, so plausible. But what of the Frenchman and the Italian? Can they get the 43 and 39 seconds they need to beat Quintana too? If so, Quintana won’t even make the podium. Oh dear, your Giro-Tour double falls at the first hurdle. But what if Pinot gets his 43 seconds, and we need the good, strong, best of the 3rd week Thibaut to turn up here to make that possible, and Nibali doesn’t get the 39 seconds he needs? Then Nibali would find himself, defending champion and all, off the podium. Somehow, I feel one of them won’t make this final podium just as, once, Tom Dumoulin said out loud. Nibali is most vulnerable here because Dumoulin only needs 14 seconds to beat him. Pinot needs only 4 in one last do or die mission.

    Overall this Giro has been very interesting to me and I use that word and not others very deliberately. The racing has been close which, in the absence of spectacular, should always be good enough. The two multiple grand tour winners have not been head and shoulders better than the rest. Nibali has never pulled away from the rest (long descents don’t count albeit that stage 16 was a predictable win for the Italian) and Quintana managed it only once on Blockhaus and then for only 24 seconds over his nearest rivals. There are good reasons for saying, as Gabriele has in some very informed posts, that both of these riders are not at previous levels. Pinot, however, has been going as well as he ever has and has been the best rider of the third week. He was, lest we forget, also the nearest to Quintana on Blockhaus. He has beaten Nibali on numerous stages and Quintana on some too. And then we come to Dumoulin who, for some, is a clone and Froome and for others a clone of Indurain. He certain uses the formula “dominate the time trials and hang with them in the mountains” to his advantage. But he’s not as good as Froome at climbing and fades too sharply in the third week. Yet he may yet have done enough on this course, speculated by some to have been created to attract Froome rather than those trying to do it Froome’s way, to take the overall. It seems there will be but seconds between the top four in the end. Long live the Giro!

    • Good points all. While the race has been a bit dull overall, I took some comfort in the fact that unlike in the BigMig years (yawn) the other competitors didn’t fight amongst themselves for the lower places, giving Mig an easier task with his “Mow ’em down in the chrono, defend in the mountains.” strategy.
      But instead yesterday we got this “They were pretty much not really fighting anymore for any spots on GC, because they are pretty much fixed on their spots on GC, so it was definitely to help me. I’m very happy about that and very thankful.”
      Reminds me of 2005’s Stage 19 – Savoldelli gets help chasing down Simoni’s 2+ minute lead on the way to Sestriere. Nobody could work out why Davitamon-Lotto’s Ardila and Van Huffel would put so much work in towing Savoldelli in pursuit of Simoni. Like yesterday, the gap was closed enough to preserve his victory, but according to a source I have, an envelope was handed over the following day in payment for their services.
      Both BigTom and Savoldelli had to pedal the bikes of course, but it seems they got a little help from guys on teams who had no real reason to help. Of course things like this happen all the time, but to me Savoldelli’s win was bought-and-paid-for while Dumoulin’s (assuming some karma doesn’t slow him down today and let Nibali win) might be considered merely a gift from some friends.
      Does that even things out for BigTom’s #2 fiasco? Should it? After all, he didn’t hit an Italian police moto – his problems were entirely self-inflicted. This puts a dent in my wish for the best man to win. Understand I’m not blaming Dumoulin, there’s no way he’s gonna say, “No, no, don’t help me! I must do this 100% myself”. But the guys he thanked might wonder the next race they’re in about why Nibali or Quintana won’t be handing out any favors to them or their teams?

      • C’mon Larry, you’re on the verge of a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” hard luck story there… 🙂

        It’s business.
        A simple explanation could be to say, for Yates at least, that Orica got some payback on Movistar for attacking on Blockhaus.
        But all these things seem to go round in circles.

        • Good point, but this was so obvious it reminded of 2005. Neither victory (assuming Quintana and Dumoulin swap places on GC) will go down in my memory as great for the reasons indicated above. While I think the “Mow ’em down in the chrono…” playbook makes for dull racing, it could be interesting to see two guys using the same tactics face off in the future, ie Dumoulin vs Froome though BigTom needs a stronger team to really take the challenge to the next level vs SKY at the sole race that makes or breaks their season.

      • A little help from your friends in this giro hasn’t been that unusual. Dumoulin gets a lot of mentions for yesterday’s stage here but we also saw Nibali’s attack supported by Cataldo in the Dolomites stage.

      • Larry your comments on the help riders receive for unknown reasons is as gorgeously one-eyed as I’ve come to expect. Yes, TD needed help yesterday and, yes, he got it. But he beat Nibali on Blockhaus. He beat him on Oropa. He beat him, unsurprisingly, in one and almost certainly two time trials. Nibali chose not to chase Pinot, who may yet best him, when he could have chosen to on more than one occasion. If the Dutchman beats the Italian its simply because he was better.

        PS Nibali hasn’t exactly worked alone in this Giro either. Who was it trying to coral the troops in the front group yesterday to his own advantage?

        • In your haste to slam me I think you missed my point about the concept of racers working together to distance a threat to their GC positions vs what Dumoulin himself said of those who helped him yesterday? And the contrast to the BigMig era when the infighting of the lower placings work in Mig’s favor? Certainly Dumoulin “beat” Nibali in all the places you named, but the race is decided on overall time + bonus seconds and Dumoulin thanked in public the guys who helped him save enough of those to (likely) win despite the fact it gained them nothing in their own GC positions. Just as it did with Savoldelli in 2005 it puts a dent in or dulls the shine of the trophy just a bit. Not a lot, as arguments can be made on both sides but just as I think Simoni (and he’s a guy I never liked!) was robbed in a way back in 2005, Nibali (assuming he can’t produce a miracle today) could look at it the same way based on Dumoulin’s comments.

          • Well my friend what about a bit of compatrionizm, of course Bauke was helping Tom! Wouldn’t you rather see your compatriot on the top podium when your change to get there is nihil?? Tom showed sportsmanship by waiting for Qintana and I believe Jungles and Yates just showed respect by helping. They favour Tom before Quintana and Nibali!! It will be great if Tom can put the icing on the cake!! I had already a great weekend last week when George Bennett won the Tour of California!! So go Tom Dumoulin!! Gegards from NZ!!

          • RonDe – as much as I’d love for BigTom to do an “Alex Zulle 1998” and somehow lose a minute to a noted chrono man like Pantani, it would be just fine with me for BigTom to mow ’em all down so badly that poopgate, peegate, misplaced motos, dodgy alliances and all the rest of this generally dull Giro be swept away and the final memory be The Best Man Won….and by a decisive margin.

      • Mr Nibali has some strange tactics in his own armoury if you look at his career. And some a lot more unscrupulous than persuading a fellow rider to pull on a climb. People in glass houses….

        • As Thomas mentioned above, that might have riding for the stage? Mollema, Yates and Jungels are all fast guys!

          I think of course Mollema also wants Dumo to win, but I think the possibility of a stage victory played into it…

          • I find it incredible to imagine further reasons after Tom himself said “it was out of sheer friendship, I personally know those guys and we see each other often”.

            The break was impossible to catch with 3 kms to go, but they went on pulling (check Ortisei’s finale).

            Why is that a problem for you is what I can’t understand.

      • Larry T – a source of yours saw an envelope being handed over from one team to another?!? Yeah right.

        Obviously Tom got some help pegging the others back, but Nairo got MAJOR help by an ill-timed bathroom break and when Geraint Thomas got knocked off the race.

        Cycling is all about side deals and making connections on other teams.

        We have a deserving winner, chapeau to Sunweb and please next time, come with a stronger team.

    • “And then we come to Dumoulin who, for some, is a clone and Froome and for others a clone of Indurain. ”

      Only, he is much less protected compared to Froome and Indurain, Team Sunweb is no Team Sky nor Banesto.

  6. This race really has turned into a test of stamina. I know that applies to all GTs but it is not normally so obvious. Having 5 riders with a realistic chance of winning going into the last stage makes for a great race. A case can be made for all of them to get on to the podium, I hope we have a straight shoot out not marred by some sort of incident (eg collapsing wheels).

    I do think having a TT as the final day of racing makes for a more interesting race, more possibility of suspense to the last. It also probably reduces the advantage of the TT specialists as fatigue will play a part.

  7. My predicted top 3 –
    1. Dumoulin
    2. Quintana
    3. Nibali

    (Pinot’s disastrous first TT. We all had him down to go well and, if he had done, he could have been wearing pink later today!).

    • Ok, Pinot’s first TT wasn’t what many were expecting but, in common with his other significant time loss (to Nibali and Quintana at least), it came after a rest day.

      Maybe this means nothing but a combi of no rest day prior and coming off a strong 3rd week, I think (hope!) he’ll go much better today.

      For that reason, I reckon final GC, for what it’s worth…
      1. Dumoulin
      2. Pinot
      3. Quintana

      • Both of Pinot’s (relatively) bad days came after rest days: the first TT and the Stelvio stage. I wonder if this is a physiological thing with him. Or psychological?! I can’t remember if this has happened on the Tour too. Maybe he needs a different strategy, perhaps to avoid the dreaded water retention.

        For what it’s worth, I think Zak could well end up on the podium. He can TT and has seemed feisty the last few days.

        It’s anyone’s guess as to the winner; will TD be Evans vs Schleck or Evans vs Sastre? Can NQ overcome his lack of top form? Will Pinot pay for his last few days efforts? Can VN do enough to hold off the others? Not quite a Monte Carlo situation 😉, but a bit of a dice roll nonetheless.

  8. I really hope Quintana fells off the podium, that would be the best for the promotion of this sport at this moment. We want to see exciting riders clinch the podium spots not boring defensive ones. Anyway, that will probably not happen due to Nibali being 40 seconds behind him.
    1. Dumoulin
    2. Pinot
    3. Nibali

    That’s realistic and would make me very happy. Even though I also wouldn’t mind Nibali off the podium. For similar reasons than Quintana..

    • Dumoulin is actually a rider whos whole stragegy except in ITTs is defensive. But thats ok, its his way to the overall win. He did really good in the mountains compared what was expected of him. Managed to keep the timegaps reasonably low

    • Pretty stunned by this comment. Have you counted Quintana’s attacks? Who has attacked more?
      How many times has Dumoulin attacked? Were we watching the same race?

      • Well, not sure mister/lady whether you’re new to cycling or you just in general don’t know how things go. First of all, Dumoulin attacked when that was necessary. He was in pink, meaning others need to attach should they want to win the race, not himself. That stage to St.Ulrich was the biggest nonsense I’ve ever seen in my rich history of following cycling…and I’m talking about Quintana and Niballi.

        And I think it’s also good that we put things into perspective with what counts as an attack. Quintana’s miserable attacks shouldn’t be called attacks under any objective and reasonable definition of a cycling racing attack. Quintana’s “attacks” remind me so much of Rolland’s attacks. And we know how he attacks…

  9. If Nibali and Pinot were 10 or 15 seconds closer to Quintana this would be almost perfectly set up as a handicap race designed to get them all to finish at the same time. A fantastic finish to any race. The fact is though if Dumoulin hadn’t pulled over for a toilet stop at the absolute worst possible time he’d be winning this comfortably. The route needed one more really hard mountain stage to make it a perfect balance between TT specialist and climber. Hopefully Vegni will have made notes for future events and the ASO will see that just having summit finishes and barely any TTs is the wrong tree to bark up.

      • Someone tell the ASO, the Tour de France is becoming very formulaic. Multiple HC uphill finishes doesn’t automatically make for a more exciting race.

        • In terms of winner maybe. I don’t think the parcours has been the same every year. Froome won it in 2016 differently to how he did in 2015 and 2013 seems to be the consensus. Nibali’s win was on a different course. This year has some notable stages but without MTFs and the TT kms aren’t overdone. I think the ASO react to who wins and try to change the nature of the beast to see who adapts. But if the same guy keeps winning that’s not their fault. They all start on the same time.

          • True enough, but I think RCS has been more imaginative with the Giro routes over the past few years, I’ve thought they’ve offered balanced courses that have helped create entertaining races. I, and I’m sure others, really want Froome to come to Italy, what more does he have to prove at le Tour?

          • There was a piece about the difference in geography that makes these GTs inherently different. Italy is blessed with very diverse geography throughout. France has a very big plain, the mountains mostly to its borders. It has wind swept terrain and cobles, for a change.

          • Yeah that is indeed true. Geography of France is somehow unfortunate in this respect, while Italy and especially Spain are very mountainous countries…

    • Surely rolling TTs and high mountains aren’t the only terrain available to the organisers? If it were up to me, they’d also put in somme other types of stages.: Italy and Spain have miles and miles of gravel roads. France has as well, plus cobbles. Just put a cobble stage, gravel stage, windy stage (OK, you can’t predict wind for sure a year in advance, but each country has windy areas, eg along the sea) or even an downhill TT (with protective kit mandatory) in there now and then. And I reckon those types of stages would really test Froome, Quintana et al. Test to, or beyond, the point of cracking. That would really shake things up… and it has on those few historic occasions the organisers have had the guts to throw in a stage like that. The small risk being that Froome and Quintana won’t show up, but that in itself might make for a more exciting Grand Tour

      • I would absolutely love if someone gave it a try and did not end the experiment after just one edition. Maybe they could start with a one week tour combining all elements. Imagine a one week edition of races like Strade Bianchi. That would be fantastic.

        • You could actually do that in places such as Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, etc. They have thousands of miles of gravel there. And we’d finally get something ‘new’ to watch. I’d watch it!

          • Oh, I suppose you could do it in nearly every European country, too. Would make attracting the best riders much easier I suppose and there will be big amounts of spectators. In Iceland and NZ not so much, I suppose 😉 .

    • The problem for ASO is that Froome is supreme in both the high mountains and flat TTs. They could include a super flat/long TT and Dumoulin might gain a minute or two but that would wipe out any challenge from Quintana, Bardet, Pinot, Contador etc. I agree it’d be nice to see them mix it up though, I suppose a cobbled/gravel stage might put Froome on the back foot. That’d be cool. Imagine if they were brave enough to have half-a-dozen classics stages with others made up of very short TTs and mid-mountain stages to bring GVA, Gilbert and Sagan into the mix. That’d be amazing although it’ll never happen for all sorts of reasons.

      • Yeah, you’re probably right. They won’t have the guts to do that, because there’s a real risk Froome and Quintana (etc) could skip the race. Even so, I personally would still rather watch such a tour, than the TdF.

      • They tried that in an experimental Pa-Ni – one of the best winner ever! (I’m serious – yet, no, I don’t think it would be great in a GT: the classics are so great because it’s “one day” racing).

        • Which year’s Paris-Nice was that Gabriele? You’re probably right that the intensity couldn’t be kept up but I’d like to see more cobbled or Tro-Bro Leon style gravel stages (although I can’t imagine how they’d get the Tour circus around those roads). I always enjoy the Eneco Tour which is in effect a classics stage race, although last year’s was a bit TT heavy.

          • The one which Betancur won, 2014 I think. No cobbles, but classics style stages and no typical “GT style” ones. Hilly, narrow roads.
            And they made a wink to Strade Bianche in 2016.

      • I have faith that Contador would not have ended the same way Nibali and Quintana​ did. Neither would Valverde, at least in 2017 form too. Too bad those to didn’t plan to add the Giro as a second peak in form. I still hope they can re peak just as high for TDF.

        • Mollema might have been neutralized on Saturday, for instance. But don’t worry about Valverde, he’s to be protected at the TdF and will have NQ “for climbing support.”

          • If Valverde can recapture his early season form and does get support from NQ (which I’m not sure will really happen) then he could even be a threat to Froome. There’s a lot of ifs there and he always seems to have one bad day at the Tour. I hope there’s a challenge to Froome though rather than a procession into Paris.

        • PS – my memory of Betancur’s win is a little hazy. Might rewatch that, thanks. I asked as I’ve often wondered what the parcour was like for Kelly’s seven P-N wins so thought you might have been talking about that. As a Vuelta winner and TdF contender at one point, he could obviously climb, but was largely a classics man.

  10. When was the last time every step of the podium won a stage along the way? Dumoulin, Pinot, Nibali, and Quintana have all had their day in this Giro. That strikes me as unusual (and great).

    • It happened last year with Nibali, Chaves and Valverde all winning along the way.

      What’s interesting is how many in the top-10 figured in the race, sometimes riders can sneak into this without being too visible but most, maybe excepting tenth placed Formolo, have been on the attack and on TV a lot.

  11. Beyond big Tom’s alliances there was also visibly a force of personality issue at play. TD was dominating and cajoling the chasers whilst NQ was not even trying with th ase incoherent group of 5 ahead in the final. A crucial absence of a key characteristic of a great champion surely?

  12. For me this has been one of the most exciting grand tours in a long time. Yes, last years TDF had more spectacle but this has shown real bike racing. The tactics, the teamwork (especially the under the table deals) and the closeness has all contributed to such amazing race. Finishing with a ITT is a genius move and I wish all races came down to the wire rather than a procession on the last day. The other thing which I feel is worth mentioning is that we are really starting to see the second tier of grand tour stars really up their game. Jungels, Yates, Dumoulin and then Pinot, Zakarin and Kruiswijk are really starting to show their abilities and it seems we might be slowly moving towards a cleaner version of the sport (Zakarin the exception).

  13. So the end of the 100th Giro is near. What a fantastic jubilee edition!
    Just want to thank you Inrng for your always pro predictions and all of you guys in here for your sincere comments. It has been a pleasure to follow.
    The Giro is always so nice to watch – pure passion and emotion and a lot of unpredictable things happens. Like in real life and opposite to the TdF, where it’s all about business, tactical strategy and ‘robot-riders’. Don’t get me wrong, the riders are very skillfull and topprofessionals, but its all so f…… predictable = following a businessplan = so borrrring!! I know it’s not quite fair to the TdF, but you know what I mean…..

    • If a “business plan” means “Go with your A team and ride to your strengths” then I don’t see what the problem is. What team or individual doesn’t ride to their strengths? What team or individual rides to some mythical idea of what the “right” way to win a race is? Winning is good enough I think you’ll find most winners think.

      • Isn’t the issue that the TdF is so big that teams and riders race conservatively to protect ‘minor’ placings, whereas in the Giro they are willing to go for boom-or-bust?

        • The Tour is many times more popular and well known than any other cycle race. Whole teams apparently rely just on being in it. How do you change that? Doesn’t every sport need and have its marquee event?

  14. What would be the optimal place to watch today’s stage on the ground? Would the start zone be open (being in the auto dome)? Or would a ticket be required.

    Still debating with myself whether it’s worth the hour and half drive down to Monza (not going to brave the Milan traffic). The Ms has strongly expressed her objection & displeasure.

  15. It’s been an entertaining Giro and the most interesting GT for years IMO. Closely matched protagonists, shifting alliances and the strongest guy in the race often isolated without a strong team. Will Sky be bringing out the chequebook for TD and nullifying the TDF into the future?

    • No. It was reported the other day that TD stays at Sunweb until 2021. Which if you ask me is nuts. With a strong team he’d be home and hosed now.

      • Maybe he knows what their medium and long term plans are? Orica seem to have managed to hold onto nascent GC contenders whilst they rebuild the team from being a sprint-train, so possibly Tom sees his personal growth and development in parallel to the team’s? I think it’s great to see riders and teams being comfortable committing to each other for such long periods, and surely it’s a virtuous circle- sponsors are encouraged to invest in the team, the team/rider is more successful, fans get behind them, sponsors invest….

  16. When I read yesterday that TD continues with Sunweb through 2021 I shook my head in disbelief having thought that after this Giro and the performance of his team his manager is already in talks with teams who might provide better support in GTS. Especially since TDs somewhat defensive style in the high mountains makes him vulnerable on stages with multiple long climbs.
    But after the shows of strength of the United Benelux forces yesterday anf the day before I understand that he already has more support in the peloton than even the strongest squad with the exception of maybe Sky can provide.
    Providing there won’t be any major mishaps he won’t be able to win a “normal” TdF against Froome@Sky with this approach. But maybe that’s not what he longs for.

    • You’re talking as if Sunweb can’t change their hires and bring on some climbing domestiques. As Dave pointed out above Orica started as a team of sprinters and stage hunters, but have evolved, and now have riders like Verona and Plaza to support their GC leaders in the mountains. Until 2015 what is now Sunweb was the team of Kittel and Degenkolb, so give them time to re-focus. In the same way Esteban Chaves is top dog at Orica versus third wheel at Movistar, so too can big Tom be the guy on his own team rather than fighting for leadership opportunities at Sky or BMC.

      • And both, Kittel and Degenkolb found reason to leave that team.
        And Dumoulin hasn’t just proved that he’s a GC contender for GTs but at the latest in 2015. Did this really affect the hiring strategy of his team? Maybe, but to what effect? We don’t know how Keldermann would have changed the picture but without him the support TD had by his team was clearly lacking in many instances.

        • They’re not a rich team, they have a big development aspect in bringing on new riders but can’t hold onto the likes of Kittel and Degenkolb when other teams are waiving big contracts around. Keen to see what Sam Oomen does next, maybe as soon as in the Dauphiné.

          • I know. But what does that mean with regards to TD’s continuation with the team. His salaray certainly has to be raised significantly or why should he not go elsewhere to make the most out of his best years as a cyclist in terms of success as well as financial wealth?
            If my budget as a team manager is significantly smaller that that of other teams I would rather have one Kittel and / or one Degenkolb and a crew who can support them properly in mass sprints and the classics than have one expensive GT rider who needs at least two if not three very capable support riders of the same type who also earn a high six figure or even seven figure annual salary.
            In the end it’s of course a question of what your title sponsor wants. Where is his focus with regards to public awareness?

  17. Yeah, sure. Just like Geraint Thomas is about to win this Giro. You ignore the fact that they started the race with Kelderman and the loss of the best gregário reflects badly on the rest of the team as everyone’s needed to work a little harder, adding to fatigue.

  18. As alluded to above, it may be a bit “hammer time”, but how fun would it be to have the top 10 ride off in handicap fashion? Can you imagine? TD trying to mow down Q etc etc. I wonder if we should allow drafting or insist on TT style “no drafting” rules to prevent the best sprinter in the 10 winning. Still, a bit more amusing than pure TT…

    I have no idea how this will end. I hope TD or TP win for their break-through wins.

    • It’s an interesting idea although I can’t see GTs adopting it! For a smaller, newer stage race though, it’d add something unique to the event. It could be even more tactical if drafting/group riding was allowed. If you’re in the top three do you try and chase down the man in front or sit up and wait for those behind you to form a mini-peloton and chase down the leader? I suppose there’s a danger it ends up as the race leader v a team trial trying to catch him every time although that’d depend on stage length and time gaps…

  19. An interesting theory has been tweeted by Adam Hansen: “Heard a rumour that Doumilin intended to lose the pink jersey because his team TT suit is 18 second faster per 10km.”


    • Quite probable I would say. The rider’s body forms the biggest factor in air resistance. So it’s absolutely believable that any improvement to its cw coefficient can make a huge difference. If a certain fabric manages to create micro turbulences which let the passing air glide along those rather than “rub” along the surface of the fabric that would significantly reduce drag.
      If it’s true it poses the question if that’s what we want to decide a GT. But that’s hopefully the theme for another of INRNG’s great articles: Should course and race design adapt to the ever advancing progress in technology and training in order to make races more exciting and less predictable? Or do we have to adapt our expectations?

      • Having your own clothing can help if the sponsor has invested in this and it’s good marketing, having a clothing sponsor in a sport where the aim is to wear another manufacturer’s clothing, eg Santini’s maglia rosa, is a strange situation.

        I don’t know about the Giro but the Tour de France has taken to custom skinsuits for some of the favourites so that they won’t flap

        • Steve Cummings has just commented on suits on Eurosport and seems to be saying it can make a psychological difference to performance if not merely a physically measurable one. In commentary it was also suggested Quintana had wanted to wear his suit rather than the Giro-provided one. Obviously, I’m not sure if the latter point is verified or more TV gossip. It certainly seems to be a live issue where seconds count.

      • Well it may be the case that Dumoulin would gain some aero advantage with his own team suit (suits do matter), however if he were still in pink for the ITT then he only needed to not be slower than any GC competitor by the relevant GC margin, which is a pretty straightforward ask for a TT rider of his calibre when compared with his rivals, none of whom are close in the TT.

        Certainly an easier task than overhauling time deficits to them with his own suit on.

  20. Poor Sean Kelly – trying and failing to explain how a time trial works to Rob Hatch – ‘There’s 2 seconds in it!’ – But Quintana is 12 minutes further back on the road you dimwit. He’s almost gone Kirby.

        • That petition is both sad and hilarious. Its also factually incorrect if the inference is that David Harmon was ditched in favour of Carlton Kirby. My understanding is that Harmon resigned and had some personal issues to deal with. So Kirby wasn’t chosen over him whatever other perceived sins you want to lay at his door. Kirby himself clearly wants to take the light-hearted route as far as commentary goes and some of his jokes and commentary connections are tortured but charity demands we take them in the spirit intended. His “wild boar” gag makes me laugh to this day. And, yes, he gets things wrong and misidentifies things quite a lot but what commentator doesn’t? Phil and Paul barely ever get anything right and Hatch makes plenty of mistakes too. Its a general hazard of the job. Where he makes bad speculations Sean Kelly or Brian Smith almost always disagrees with him so no harm done. I see he’s up to over 41,000 Twitter followers now (a bit more than your 56 ultra-serious petition signees) and will no doubt be Eurosport’s go to man for the Dauphine, Tour and Vuelta as before since it seems he has their total confidence. Bring it on I say.

  21. Apparently, my analysis about the “cronoman Pinot” myth some time ago was right. He’s got better but he’s still clearly behind Nibali, whose poor results of the last couple of years probably depended on a certain neglecting of the discipline because of the nature of his objectives, while Pinot’s serious work on the discipline fostered ideas about him which actually were more about figures than the technical content of those races. At the end of the day, ITTs were Pinot’s undoing…

    And the course, as well as its effects on racing, proved exactly as it was described before the race even started.

    The way strongest rider won, the most in form, the most suited to the course, stepping up seriously a level as a GT contender. Elegant, effective, cold, aggressive, solid. Another gem from the 1990 golden generation.

    Nibali and Quintana, without ever really shining, confirmed that they’re very close between them and above the rest when GC is concerned. Between the two, the course favoured Nibali, but he went past his limits a couple of times more than needed, out of pride or daring attitude.

    Quintana finally confirmed once more that he can be an acceptable TTer, as for skills, when you take into account his weight: I haven’t seen the stage classification, but from the GC it looks like he even got back a handful of seconds from Pinot, Zakarin, Mollema, Yates who are both heavier and more esteemed than him by many commenters (…not to speak of Pozzovivo or Formolo!). Looking at the top GC riders, only true TTers like Jungels or Tom really bested him (both clearly weaker than him in a mountain stage), besides Nibali – but perhaps this should be seen as Nibali’s merit, too, since he’s physically similar to many of the above names.

    Despite the polemics, poolemics (thumbs up diamondjim) and peelemics, nothing irregular really ever happened, neither in terms of official rules nor in terms of fair play or, better said, unwritten rules.

    (pending the Velon data mystery ah ah ah ah ^__^)

    The TV data in Italy were rising in the last week, with a better average along the whole week even if without the top peaks of previous years. An awful second week and the overall lack of serious “rugged”, intermediate, tricky stages hindered what was a wonderful jump start which had got impressive audience figures.
    Perhaps, a lost occasion to step up thanks to the breakthrough effect on general public of the #100 edition.
    The good news is that the solid, constantly interested, selective and motivated fanbase appeared to be growing after some steady years. Curiously, what the organisers and the broadcaster were looking for was something more the other way around.
    The results in France were incredible: the Equipe channel went on beating its own records day after day along the three last mountain stages. It became the most seen TNT HD channel ever in France and could become the best channel audience-wise taking away the generalist ones. The Giro achieved 1.1 M averages and 1.8 M peaks, which is impressive for a specialised channel. Just imagine that cycling was outright renouncing to those spectators in previous years, just as it’s now renouncing to Spain, Netherlands, Australia and many others.
    A serious policy by the sport as a whole when TV exposure in key-countries is concerned looks more necessary than ever (no more “consultants” or Infront or the likes, they’re among the reasons of the current limits of the sport under this respect).

        • …and it is as boring and unclever suggestion now as it was the first time around. If we start thinking about what kind of or whose comments add something to this blog we can begin with admitting that very few of us have ever made a single comment that had any value to anyone else but their its author for whatever dubious pleasure seeing it appear “in print” gave them.
          If we don’t wish to spend too much time reading the comments, we can begin by quitting our own stupid one-liners, pointless me-toos, inane opinionated analyses and snide remarks aimed at riders or other readers!

          • I’ve said it before but I appreciate Gabriele as a commenter on this site.

            I have nothing to add usually so, as you said, keep the one liners in my head 🙂

            This was a not-bad edition of the race. There was some real athleticism and racing on display, the prizefighter slugfest of exhaustion and wooden legs, I could feel it from Nibali and Quintana and the rest of the GC men. Seeing a temporarily resurgent Pinot was great the last few days, and the white jersey competition playing out in tandem, Landa’s day in day out fight for a stage win and jersey. I am a fan of the Dutch in general so was also rooting for Dumoulin (after Nibali).

            ‘What if’ also comes to mind – Aru, Scarponi, Thomas, TvG/Dennis… the illnesses, injuries, failures and untimely passing. I can only imagine the impact from these missing influences (not to mention kruisjwijk).

            and so on.

          • Just in case you believe yourself do be a sparkling wit, a cherished comedian here: what part of “our own” remained incomprehensible to you and requires further elucidation ?
            Just in case you are sincere and serious: I fully intended and fully intend to follow my own advice, to do as I say and to follow what I preach. Even when I know that there are too many others who are too lazy to at least adopt a regular nickname and too spineless to to stand behind it.

          • Don’t worry Motormouth – I think he was commenting on the Anonymous post not yours.

            Gabriele & Larry T get a lot of chat on this site (if you hadn’t already noticed) – every grand tour someone rolls in with a ‘shut up Gabriele’ and five people spring to his defence.

            It’s a complicated one… I kind of think if he were a little less extravagant with his word count the problem would be solved and everyone happy in both camps… don’t think he should be forced off to start his own blog though, it’s nice hearing his points, and not convinced he has the verbal swagger/impressive lack of partizanship of INRNG to keep up a healthy readership – has often repeated facts seem heavily skewed to favour a brilliant little Colombian (who I also support).

            Although, I do also sometimes wonder whether Gabriele is INRNG’s secret bad cop alter ego for the message boards….?

            Larry T just needs to chill, but all good to have varying opinion here, it’s mostly all good natured.

            A few days back someone said we need less ‘if you were a real cycling fan’ and I second that. I’d add also that if some people didn’t assume just because someone is newly posting doesn’t mean they’re not long time readers and ignorant that would also be nice.

            But that’s the only two complaints – great blog, great comments, all good.

            Chapeau INRNG.

          • Well said Modigliani.

            I’d also just add that I feel that sometimes people want to just give an opinion. They’re not necessarily interested into getting into a debate, especially when it is just that, an opinion.

            Thanks for all the effort Inrng. Looking forward to the ‘when the race was won’ piece if you’re not to Giroed out that is. 😊

    • Bravissimo for your comments Gabriele. Now that Nibali has finished behind Quintana am I to take it that, as far as your concerned, this somehow means the Italian is better than the Colombian? 🙂

      • Who Will Win The Giro?


        May 5, 2017

        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.

        • A hope is not a prediction Mr Anonymous. If you go to my prediction post on this site you’ll see I picked 1st and 2nd, something my fantasy team on Velogames also backs up. The quote you excerpt says only that the likes of Zakarin, Kruijswijk, Tejay, Pozzo and even Pinot, the traditional people who get added to the genuine favourites, really aren’t. I’m happy to say that, unsurprisingly, the results prove me right. The top three were who we should always have expected, Nibali, Quintana and Dumoulin.

      • Speaking of personal opinions, Nibali’s *current*, abstract overall value as a GT contender is slightly but clearly below Quintana, with much depending on the kind of course they face and on their relative state of form when final result is concerned.

        Future years, if nature follow its course, should see the gap become even larger.

        Speaking of facts, how much Quintana will grow – and win – will determine if he’ll ever match Nibali in terms of GT global value over their whole career. Everything suggests that he should, but it’s still to be seen and a significant way has to be gone before that extrapolation can become actual truth.
        OTOH, Froome himself, who is surely the best GT rider in 2015-2016, is still quite far from Nibali in terms of overall value as a GT rider. As a TdF rider he’s already well above, but “GTs”, as you may know, are several. Again, if current trends go on, he should overcome Nibali as a “GT rider”, too, but before saying that *it happened* – well, it must happen.

        In this case Quintana and Nibali came way closer than you ever expected, at least if one reads your posts during the whole race. I had more hopes about Quintana than about Nibali, but was very far from your radical predictions about that. Quintana’s shape was probably worse than Nibali, especially in the crucial third week, for whatever reason, and the course was slightly better for Nibali, if he could TT again as he knows (he did), but, all in all, they were very close, and ultimately not that far from the most in form guy, and the most favoured by the course, too.

        • I’m not sure I ever posted my true feeling Gabriele. I tend to post relevant to what I’m replying to. In general, I think Nibali did as well as could be expected. I didn’t think he would beat Quintana and he didn’t. (So my theory about him not beating the best still holds for me.) If anything, Nibali made it closer than I expected so well done to him. The Colombian has underperformed in my view though. He lacked punch in the mountains with only one attack of note and that for less than half a minute of gain. This Giro has, for me, shown him up as a mountain climber trying to be an all rounder. But his kryptonite is someone who can time trial well and climb better than most. In that respect Froome has led the way as his archetypal opponent and it took Contadorian intervention in Spain for Quintana to finally slay the Froome dragon. The fact remains, however, that two multiple grand tour winners failed to win this Giro and they were both beaten by someone who had never won one before. At their best, neither would have lost this race. Its a notable win for Dumoulin and now I see he turns his eyes towards the Tour where I’m sure Froome will be waiting. I just think now, on the Monday after the Giro has finished, what Froome could have made of this. Its all speculation of course and I don’t say he would have won. In truth, I don’t ever think he’ll race the Giro until he thinks his days in yellow are at an end.

          • If think that if Froome had purposely prepared this, all the rest staying equal (rivals’ conditions, racing alliances or lack of thereof, and – also very important – weather), he’d have won quite easily and with a good margin, too, as I would expect on a course which pretty much mimics the TdF, and which was actually more favourable to Froomey than a couple of TdFs. Thus, I also believe that he could have gone for a nice shot to the Tour, even if that would have been anyway quite hard to get.
            My belief that Froome “wouldn’t shine at the Giro” is referred, quite obviously, to an “average Giro” modelled over the last decade’s courses and racing style. In a TdF-style Giro, he can perform as he does in the TdF, if he prepares the same way.

            I pretty much agree with the rest you write here; I believe that Nibali wasn’t maybe in his very very top shape, but not far at all from what his “present (and future) age” top shape is going to be. Quite below is top shape *ever*, but that’s called aging. As a true, extremely balanced, all-rounder he needs to be at his finest… not to be left behind on every terrain by different specialists who defend themselves elsewhere. He started podiuming in GTs one year earlier than Dumoulin and he’s now six years older than him. I think we won’t see stronger performances from him in the future, especially if he doesn’t change his preparation (happy to be contradicted by any possible Indian Summer season…).

            OTOH, in Quintana’s case, I think he wasn’t neither in awful form nor close to his full present, past or future potential, for whatever reason (preparing the double, Italian journos spoke of a fever one day, need for more kms in the legs… whatever). Yet, he tried, unlike what causal watcher might say, and threw in a 2-3 exceptional performances, too – that’s why I say his form shouldn’t be awful.
            It was not enough, but that’s part of the game. Nobody say it was easy – winning an unsuited Giro (pleae note: that’s Quintana’s problem, not the Giro’s), let alone the double.

  22. Mr Inrng, and all others.
    Thanks for the last three weeks, for all knowledge and insights, been a pleasure to read.

    For tomorrow’s commute I’ll wear the Inrng-jersey and socks, and of course only make use of the inner ring.

    Mille grazie!

  23. Firstly, chapeau Tommy D! It could almost he said that he rode the perfect race. Knew what he had to to in the time trials and also the amount of weight that he had to shed to cut it in the mountains – no mean feat against super climber Quintana and master tactician Nibali.

    With hindsight, the only “what if” moment for me was poopgate. FWIW, I think his rivals should have neutralised (as I’ve said before on this site) but I’m glad that TD still had enough in reserve to prove he was the best on this occasion.

    Are we looking at the next generation Froome? I’m not so sure yet, but Dumoulin has shown he does have what it takes to win a grand tour in spades and I really look forward to the next few years racing.

    The next generation is blossoming right now.

    Thanks inrng as ever for all your commentary.

    Forza il Giro

    Forza INRNG

  24. WOw, your predictions were pretty good for today!!

    Thank you for the daily morning read during this Giro, I enjoyed reading them!

  25. Maybe not the best Giro, but certainly not the worst. The final week had plenty of drama and some dead legged aggression, leaving the final outcome to the last day TT. I suspect if the organizers could have fixed the last day for a close finish, they couldn’t have done better.

    I enjoyed the race in a relaxed sort of way, remembering that it was a three week GT, and felt that in the final analysis the best man won. Best man is of course a personal view, but the grimper’s knew what they had to do before the final tt and failed. Leaving a gutsy, likable and friendly rider to do what he does best.

    • “dead legged aggression” is a good point.
      Is there something to be said for spreading the mountain stages out (logistics notwithstanding)?

      Although inrng has said before that putting a big mountain finish too early tends to remove some of the intrigue of knowing who is doing well by creating big early time-gaps, putting them at the end when everyone is tired may reduce the intensity and ability for people to ride aggresively.

      • You could shorten the distance of some stages but the Giro needs to tour Italy. But having many mountain stages in the last week including back-to-back 220km stages is going to drain a lot of riders, we should all try riding the route of the final week ourselves at race pace and see how easy it is to stand up on the pedals after Day 4, I suspect most would be running on fumes and hearing joints creak 😉

    • It’s not only about “dead legs” (which were in place, say, on Piancavallo, because of that second hour of crazy racing, among other things).
      Legs were fine in most other stages, truth is that they were *too fine*: recorded times speak of very fast ascents… in fact, the problem is that it’s complicated for a rider who’s stronger climbing, especially a lighter one, to make any selection if the selected group is riding at 24-25 km/h.
      A lot of 6-7% gradients and, worse than that, a laughable share of climbing kms (about 15 kms at most) over the last 50-80 kms (!) of each and every “mountain stage” (!!!).
      It’s not like flat kms or descents are neutral, they’re favourable to the chasers and to heavier riders.

      Quintana’s attack on Oropa was as fast as Pantani’s, you can’t imagine him going very much faster than that, I’d say, but if Dumoulin is just 4″ slower than Pantani in that segment and the final is about pure power, what else can you do? On Gardena, again, Quintana took a big gap in no time over a group which was tackling the soft ramp of Gardena at a crazy speed… tactics failed, but the problem is that Dumoulin would have come hugely close anyway. Same for Foza: the final 3 km rush towards the Gpm saw Quintana pushing 6.6-6.7 W/kg (while Dumoulin was around 6.0 in the same sector). Faster than that would be even suspicious. Even so, you don’t even gain half a minute, and there are still 15 flat kms to the line.
      They needed to invent something very very special, but very very special things are such because they haven’t got a good chance to happen or succeed.

      • Surely part of the reason for the very fast ascents overall is that Movistar employed the ‘mountain train’ tactic. It works for Chris Froome and TD because they can hold hig power levels for long periods, especially on climbs which are not too steep but for NQ it seems counterproductive since the climbs were not long/steep enough to drop TD early enough in the climb to gain a significant time advantage. Would they not have been better off slowing the pace slightly and allowing NQ to attack from the slightly slower pace and really accelerate away and make TD work solo for longer on each climb.

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