Giro d’Italia Stage 9 Preview

After several stages where the daily winner was the story now it’s time to return to the high mountains and shake-up the overall classification with the fearsome “Blockhaus” climb. This is a short stage, all the better to encourage action on the climb.

Stage 8 Wrap: the best stage of the race so far with a scenario that kept changing. A big breakaway went clear but only after an hour of 50km/h attack-chase-attack. Gazprom and Willier-Selle Italia missed it and had took up the punishment chase. For once it worked or at least they narrowed the gap and it allowed the race to change shape on the slopes of the Monte Sant’Angello with several riders leapfrogging across the breakaway on the climb including Giovanni Visconti, Gorka Izagirre and Valerio Conti who rode away with original breakaway member Luis Léon Sánchez to form the winning breakaway. Conti looked the strongest but in a sport where “racing is licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on your own” to cite Kuiper the Italian didn’t get his table manners right. He’d fall on the first hairpin bend into Peschici. The crash disturbed the quartet leaving Izagirre to dance uphill for the stage win. All that took you a few seconds to read but the stage provided four hours of action and there will be some sore legs today.

The Route: just 149km which helps to make the finish more energetic and explosive. There’s 85km along the coast with its beaches and ice cream, no such luck for the riders. They turn inland at Pescara for the intermediate sprint in Chieti which sits at the top of a two kilometre climb at 10%. They drop back to the plain and head inland. As you can see from the profile above the road rises well before the official start of the climb in Roccamorice but the approach is soft, 8km from Scafa at around 5% which certainly adds to the fatigue but won’t be decisive.

The Finish: the hardest climb of the Giro? Several riders have said this and it’s not hype. Certainly we can debate what makes this hard and whether others are as tough, up to you to rank altitude, the chance of snow, the quality of the tarmac and other factors beyond the raw stats of this climb: 13.6km at 8.4% and often above 10%, all on a rough rural back road that’s exposed for much of the way and explained in more detail in yesterday’s Roads to Ride piece. This is a long climb so expect selection “via the back door” on the early slopes rather than all out war, only towards the top will things roughen up but even an attack with 3km to go can earn a minute or more. The final metres see the road dip and turn right before reaching a wide and even road that climbs at 8.7% for 200m to the line.

The Contenders: with Mount Etna’s truce will still left wondering who’s climbing well and who is hanging on. There’s no room to hide today, the road is too small, steep and irregular to hide on the wheels. Can a breakaway stay away? It’s possible but the stage winner has to be an excellent climber who hitches a ride on the back of an express train that builds up a lead on the early coastal part. Ilia Koshevoy (Willier-Selle Italia), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) and half of the Cannondale team, notably Joe Dombrowski and Pierre Rolland.

But the GC riders can take back a lot of time on the final climb and will benefit from their teams pacing them in. Nairo Quintana is the obvious pick but on reputation alone as the best climber in the race, now he’s got to prove it. If anything the stage win is necessary but not sufficient for him, he needs to take time on some of his rivals because of the time trials to come.

Thibaut Pinot is the next pick. He’s a diesel sometimes but still a climber so the sheer length of this climb suits him, it’s possible he paces himself and appears dropped only to ride past others, he’s done this before when winning the Queen Stage in the 2015 Tour de Suisse.

Ilnur Zakarin was the only one to take time on Etna. To see this as proof he’s climbing better is a big extrapolation but it’s all we’ve got.

Mikel Landa is made for a climb like this with its irregular slopes. He had a brief go yesterday, presumably because of the law that says a Basque cyclist + slope = attack and here he’ll find the equation even better. Geraint Thomas doesn’t seem so suited to this kind of finish but he was floating during the Tour of the Alps so don’t rule him out.

Adam Yates is a great climber and he can sprint well in case he arrives with others. But a sprint? No, it’ll just be a test of who has what left and the Briton is a good climber for this kind of finish. Vincenzo Nibali is looking better, Etna went well, he even managed an attack even if it was into the slipstream of a TV motorbike so there’s reassurance but this is another test while Bauke Mollema has twice been cited on Italian TV as the weakest of the contenders because he seemed to be suffering on Etna but surely that’s his style? he seems to angle his body sideways and pedal like a crab but it’s effective, last summer only he could follow Chris Froome and Richie Porte on Mont Ventoux.

Nairo Quintana
Thibaut Pinot, Adam Yates, Mikel Landa, Ilnur Zakarin
Mollema, Nibali, Thomas, Rolland, Teklahaimanot, Koshevoy, Ciccone

Weather: sunshine and clouds, a top temperature of 24°C in the plains and little wind.

TV: they should reach Scafa where the road starts to rise at 4.00pm CET and Roccamorice, start of the climb proper at 4.25pm. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm CET. There’s live coverage on home broadcaster RAI in Italy and Eurosport for much of Europe and beyond. Otherwise and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

150 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 9 Preview”

  1. I was interested to read Cataldo is a local and has ridden this often. Although not a pure climber (and he thinks it’s too hard for him), being from Astana – with no obvious GC contender – I wonder if he’ll feel compelled to be in the break or push on early. The way he described this climb (and with @inrng’s excellent description), it’s very hard to see past the purest and lightest of climbers: Quintana or Landa for me. I just hope Yates hangs on. Two of the biggest determinants of the race for me will be Dumoulin and Jungels. If one of them hangs on (or limit their losses adequately) I imagine that’ll be the guy in pink until a long way into the 3rd week.

    • Cataldo is interesting, I kept him out of the list for brevity but a good pick as he’s won summit finishes before like the Vuelta on the Bola del Mundo and the Cima Coppi prize in the Giro.

    • Going to be a good test for him – surprised that 12 names get mentioned ahead of the guy that looked the strongest last year until that crash. Let’s hope his recent crashes haven’t knocked his form.

      Top 5 today Cruiseship, Landa, Quintano, Dombro and TJVG in no particular order!

    • Agree with this.
      I think he’ll go well too, he was right there at the end yesterday, up to the front of the group.
      Softly, softly, catchee monkey.

  2. There is so little evidence to go on a case can be made for a whole number of riders. NQ is the obvious choice though in the past he seems to come into to his best form in the final week, not sure he can afford that here. VN is almost certain to attack but does he really have the strength to sustain it? If (big if) Geraint Thomas can come in close to the front it would put him in an excellent position for the rest of the race, this is the hardest finish the course, better suited to him after today. As noted above a key factor is how well the more TT orientated riders do, if they manage to keep any time gaps reasonable then we could see a Dutchman in pink again before too long.

    I would hope the winning margins are small and a big group remains in contention, giving us interesting racing for the next couple of weeks.

    • I hope for big margins and riders who instead of losing hopes and settling for a defensive top ten (or worse) decide to get a go and grant us compelling racing.

      The Giro normally allows you to do so. Think the whole history of the 2010 Giro after the L’Aquila “fuga bidone” (which, through huge delays, made of Asolo, Zoncolan, and Aprica memorable, impressive stage), Nibali’s attack in the Dolomites stage against a dominating Contador in 2011; De Gendt and the 2012 Stelvio stage; on a (very) lesser scale, Urán on Montasio 2013; Rolland in 2014; Hesjedal and Kruijswijk himself in 2015, plus the Astana guys, with continuous long range attacks stage after stage right when Contador started to have 2’30” over the second-placed GC rider (and 3’30” over the third, then 4′ and so on). Well, no need to speak of 2016 again, I think.

      Maybe it’s ok to have a two or three riders who might be quite near in the provisional podium spots of the GC, but a big group in contention tends to produce a standstill more often than not (the general dynamics in 2012).

      Anyway, no rocket science, here. Whatever the GC situation after the next couple of stages, I hope to see some bold and/or long range move on Wednesday and then again throughout the last week, with a shifting situation but through significant time differences in GC.

      The herd effect like in last Tour, strolling slowly through the mountain stages, tackling at modest pace climb after climb, just to focus on a 10′ final uphill furious sprint which is all about… seconds, well, I wouldn’t welcome that at the Giro.

  3. For me Dumoulin is the one to watch. I think he could take as much as 2.30 from Quintana on Tuesday. (Froome took 2.16 out of Quintana on a slightly shorter ITT in last year’s Vuelta.) So if Tom the GC rider can limit losses here to, say, a minute, and especially if he can hang with the Pinots, Landas, Zakarins and other “GC contenders” who aren’t called Nairo, that will tilt things nicely his way. I’d hate to be Quintana if Dumoulin is within 2 minutes come the last stage. But that will only happen if he can hang tough on days like today.

    • I wonder if Dumoulin TTing has suffered with training for the mountains. He lost out to Thomas on T-A when both were fighting for position and it was a pure TT course.

      • Yes, that’s also an equation to take into account. Dumoulin will always be a TTer who is trying to improve his climbing on the side. But he has to square that circle to make being a GC rider a success. He has to be more like Froome really.

      • That has to be the interest for the GC… Dumoulin and Thomas (shame that Rohan Dennis has departed – I had him down as a ultra longshot for this reason too) to a lesser extent will surely make some time in the TT. I think the largish field of favourites will help with this as well… the longer there is a bunch hanging on the less time they will lose to the pure climbers.

    • I think you’ve gone on the very high side of a possible TT gain there.
      I was thinking up to 3″ / km, tops.
      Although the wind (as ever) could be an influence too.

      • I think you aim low. As said, Froome made 2.16 over Quintana in a 37km TT at almost the end of a race. Dumoulin, who most would agree is a better TTer than Froome, could surely match that after a day’s rest?

        • Don’t forget that Dumoulin was in top TT shape in anticipation of the Worlds.
          I imagine he’s slimmer, lost some power as a result, and of course will have Blockhaus in his legs…

  4. Hopefully continuing my woeful vain of form when it comes to predictions, I’m going to say a procession behind Movistar before Quintana attacks in the final few km, putting 45 seconds into the best of the rest.

    • Quintana could get 1’30” – 2″ ripped out of him on the TT, so he will need *something* out of this.
      It’ll be interesting to see how Sky play it, particularly Landa.
      Also how Movistar may anticipate this, they can be quite inventive, putting a rider or two up the road if the stage allows it.

      • They tend to do that mainly to mark rival teams (like yesterday) or to go for the team GC. Nothing more inventive than that. But I’d be happy to see a change, they’ve been missing chances for more creative racing several times, when they sent gregari up the road and then didn’t even try any bridging up nor used them to create pressure on the bunch.

        • When the opportunity suits, it can be different.
          They were all over the Vuelta last year like a rash.
          I think that their team matches / surpasses Sky here, and they will go for it.
          The Tour, I agree, they’ve been too defensive of late.

          • The only relevant occasion in which they used long range team support for an attack in last year’s Vuelta was determined by the wild split at the beginning at Aramón Formigal, but that wasn’t about sending riders up the road, it was more like “let’s see who’s ready for a jump start”. It happened, they didn’t build it.
            Rubén Fernandez, for instance, was there because he was an in-form good climber who could make the split, but if Movistar could have chosen, maybe they’d have picked somebody else for the rest of the (flattish) stage. Look at what Contador (who planned the move) did with Rovny and Trofimov, hard men, not climbers like, say, Kiserlovski or Jesus Herrada.
            Movistar had 3 men, like Tinkov, but many teams could get a couple of guys in that break: it was seizing an opportuniy, yes, but not forging the race. Moreover, it was essentially Quintana’s call, the DSs were doubting and even considered ordering to sit up in the first kms.

            You can watch the video of the whole stage and you’ll see how that worked. I can’t recall them doing anything else in terms of creative racing. They sent guys up the road in multiclimb stages (lots of them in Aubisque, Rojas, useful for the mixed/flattish terrain in the penultimate stage) but always allowed the break to sail too far away and never even tried a long range move.

  5. I enjoyed the Blockhaus piece yesterday.
    The condition of the road / tarmac is always an interesting factor.
    On the flat, the change from smooth to rough is so stated it’s like going from racing tyres to semi-knobbly CX’s.
    On a steep climb; my only experience is that it breaks up your rhythm, and little things like bounce you just out of your saddle position enough to annoy.
    I’d imagine, then, that the Pinots and Dumoulins of this world may find this tough.
    If I were them, I’d do a Froome – power meter your way up and forget the climbers.
    Seek revenge on Tuesday.

  6. I think pozzovivo deserves a chain ring too. He might never beat the big guys one v one but is the type of rider who could slip away while the others mark each other. The climb should suit him, and I’ve never seen him quite so prominently at the front of the peloton even on flat stages as in this giro, he must be feeling good.

  7. Another day of odd tactics by LL Sanchez?
    I can see why he doesn’t want Rolland in the break, but something has to give? Otherwise you get no decent gap to the GC contenders.
    And this after yesterday’s lone attack, which basically killed the break and must have tired him out more than was necessary.

  8. I know it’s just racing… but that completely ruined the Giro for most Brit fans – surely a big market for the Giro, sponsors etc… of course they’ll be angry like any fan… but these accidents are so regular now,?

    Obviously that’s often repeated but (aside from people losing their lives which absolutely terrible…) three week races affected so early by motorbikes etc and a section of fans enjoyment being destroyed surely has to be sorted someway or another? I have no suggestions which may be the real issue here but it doesn’t seem like anyone is actually doing anything? At least communicate to the fans and riders that they’re trying?

    I cannot believe my whole enjoyment of the Giro has been wrecked in one moment by a motorbike who just needed to pull a little further onto the grass and we would have had the stage everyone wanted.

    I know those who don’t support anyone in particular or long time fans will find that ridiculous, and of course a crash can happen at any moment – but I think most fans are similarly partizan and it’s a fair view to feel like you’ve had a two weeks of racing enjoyment stolen which is so much worse when it’s moto involved.

    I find it very strange there are no clear protocols – why was the race not neutralised? A simple rule of ‘if a crash is caused by a race vehicle the racing follows a set pace (similar to F1 virtual pace car) until those affected are able to get back in’ (even though it’s expected they’ll be dropped due to injury later) – it has its issues obviously but are they really that much worse than what we had? And couldn’t why just try something (ANYTHING) so those watching (and I assume the riders) don’t feel completely neglected by those in command???

    It was a rubbish Giro anyway till today – luckily Pinot and Dumolin have kept it interesting. I believe Thomas would have been up there also, and possibly Yates – if Landa was back to Astana form he may have even been the closest to Quintana.

    We’ll never know. Devastated.


    • Well put, and I agree. I was simmering with resentment watching the rest of the climb.
      A rule book full of finicky little nothings, then can’t sort out big issues like this it seems?
      And the teams / riders do not act together or speak with one voice – the post-race interview on Eurosport with the Movistar DS : “we just carried out our’s unlucky…”.
      That’s OK then?

      No it’s not. It’s happening too often.
      And it’s spoiled the race.

        • If my history is correct, the Brits and Spaniards have been fighting about things since before satellite tv and cell phones came along.

          • Ah ah ah, good point, but business makes good friends. Nelson lost an arm for Tenerife, now there are more British than if he had conquered the island. Movistar have feuds with several teams, but they’re pretty much good friends with Sky. At least on a political and commercial level. I’m not surprised by cool responses by DB. I wouldn’t be surprised, either, if they tried, on a sporting level, to give back a Vuelta 2016 kind of situation to the Movistar guys… perhaps not winning the race, like Contador, but deciding who might win. Would that be Quintana again… or someone else? 😉

    • bad luck for sky and things like that shouldnt happen but also you cannot rule out accidents like that totally even if you take all precautions. cycling is not a harmless sport (as too regular tragic events always remind us). but for my taste there are way too many motorized vehicles around in the field.

      but of course the race doesnt stop if one of 10-15 main contenders crashes. especially not in such a tenseful situation at the start of one of the major climbs of the whole tour.

      • There’s no easy answers, but “accidents like this happen” is no longer an even vaguely acceptable one. There are too many motos driven by people who clearly have not got enough respect for the riders. It’s happening far too often now, that someone on a motorbike fucks up and takes out riders.

        Cycling is obviously a dangerous sport but that’s no excuse for not doing as much as possible to minimise the risk. Obviously it doesn’t impact upon fans enjoyment of a race when leaders are taken out by idiots on motorbikes but that matters a hell of a lot less to me than riders getting injured. We’re lucky that nobody was hurt too seriously today, but we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of Stig Broeckx’s horrible, life changing accident at the Belgium Tour.

        There’s clearly no easy answers, but the UCI have to do something, it’s an all-too-common problem and it’s just simply unacceptable.

        • i agree with you that it shouldnt happen, and it should have consequences, and not enough is happening about the moto situation. but still then you wont get rid of idiots and careless people . i dont want to defend the police?-officer with his bike he did a bad mistake. but the organisers cannot control every possible situation.

          here in my country one of the more prestigious amateur races just got stopped “for ever” because they were successfully sued for a crack in the road. now others think about stopping too.

    • It is clear cycling has a motorcycle problem. Fortunately this time no one appears to be seriously hurt. No idea how to solve it (I have not seen any really sensible suggestions) but it is clear there is a real problem. The two biggest bike races have both had incidents in successive years, if they cant sort it who can?

  9. Another in the long and continuing list of Moto caused accidents. Does no one care about real rider safety anymore or are they more concerned about the weather ?

    After two years it would be something if the UCI could bring itself to make a bold move to address the ever present menace , rather than dancing around the perimeter and essentially doing nothing. What will it take ? I know this was a police Moto, but it was yet one more Moto amongst an enormous number, which at times appeared larger than the peloton. And what were the commissaires doing allowing this number of Moto’s to be floating around on what everybody knew would be a narrow road ?

    The days of photographers taking close up shots has surely had its day, or is the desire for a photograph now more important than riders lives ?

  10. Another “Skyfall” and now we have the Skyrants. While nobody wants to see anyone taken out of the race via a crash-not-their-fault a) the POLICE motorcycle was stopped at the extreme edge of the roadside and from the overhead TV shots seemed to be fully in-view of the racers. It’s not extreme to imagine the guy who seemed to not be looking where he was going (or was he forced over there?) running into a road sign or tree in the same situation b) the guys involved in the crash were not exactly at the head of affairs for GC contenders so they got caught up in the mess.
    Finally, anyone who is no longer interested in the Giro because their national heroes are now out-of-contention doesn’t strike me as much of a cycling fan….perhaps they’ll find the “California Vacation” more pleasing?

    • You’re baiting readers which is a bit rude.

      As for the motorbike, it was on the road. At the side but still on the white line with the bars over it, which seems to be what caught Kelderman. Also it was on the exit of a bend so could not be seen up ahead by many until very late. Above all anyone in the race convoy ought to know that you stop on the right of the road, riders are instinctively aware that vehicles, eg team cars, stop on this side.

      • Be interesting to know why the police rider had stopped there in due course.

        As to neutralising races when vehicles take out riders, the difference between this and F1 is that there are around 10 times as many competitors involved, many of whom won’t affect the result in any way. But you could see a rule where a crash in the lead or leaders’ group caused by a race vehicle resulted in a temporary neutralisation.

      • Rude? My apologies for offending anyone. I ‘ve watched the clip again and again and while the moto was certainly NOT in the best place, the cop was pretty much as far to the left as he could get without running off the pavement and down the embankment. I don’t remember it being close to an exit of any bend, the road looks pretty straight there to me and there seemed to be a clear line-of-sight – 3 other Sunweb riders passed him with no trouble. It really looks to me to be a case of someone not looking where he was going – looking down at a power meter maybe? But just like the motorist who runs over the cyclists while staring at his smart-phone, he’ll keep that to himself.
        Your comments on what side of the road the cop should have been on are merely after-the-fact subjective opinion – what would you have said if they’d run into a cop’s moto (or the back of a stopped car) on the right side of the road?

        • Thomas, Landa, Yates, Kelderman not involved in the GC shake up? What race are you watching? And yes, you were rude, insulting, offensive and as one eyed as the worst Sky fanboy. Generally I don’t waste tine responding, but you seem to have some serious issues that you keep bringing to ths usually civilised forum. Blaming the victims of an accident is the sort of crap I expect from Daily Mail btlers on a cycling story. But not here.

          • Hey Steve – you’re right – but let’s just leave Larry T – INRNG has done a great job of not letting the forum get taken over by trolling, best thing we can do is just ignore. Larry is off his rocker if it’s a real opinion…

            (…hilariously his photo links to, I assume, his Italian cycling holiday company… don’t think he’s going to be getting many bookers from this forum given he consistently comes off as pretty unpleasant!)

      • The way Kelderman got clipped and flipped, he bumped at least several meters into the road.

        Sky was quite far away from the edge of the road, the way Kelderman flies in, there’s no way they can avoid it.

        The only “marginal improvement” they could have done, is to not have their co-leaders ride next to each other. Divide into two trains maybe going a bit too far, but maybe they can have one of them near the front and another at the back of their train.

    • A typically ungracious post Larry. It wasn’t just Sky affected. No less a personage than Eddy Merckx had tipped Adam Yates for today’s stage. His stage and likely race was also ruined.

    • Larry, I want to see Sky lose, I’ll admit that, but that’s the point – I want to see them lose. That didn’t happen yesterday.
      The grass is short, the motorbike could have parked on there (a sign or tree wouldn’t be *on* the road).
      As a fan I’m annoyed because the race has been made significantly worse with fewer of the top contenders in it.

  11. Larry T. The concern is for the safety of riders – all riders. This is just one more accident in a long, long and continuing list of accidents, one fatal . Unless something is done, and soon, there will be more accidents, and yes, probably more deaths. Whilst officials and riders dance around weather protocols, more damage and injury is caused by the presence of large numbers of Moto’s than all other hazards put together. And still little effective is done.

    The complaint is directed at the governing body, the UCI, together with the organizers who give Moto’s race accreditation – even if in this case it was a Police Moto, and the commissaires for allowing this situation to continue unabated.

    That SKY and Orica were the main victims on this occasion is completely beside the point.

      • Don’t worry about Larry T BC – INRNG put him firmly in his place.

        We all know this is about rider safety – and it’s fair enough to have favourite riders, doesn’t make you less of a cycling fan, just makes you human.

        Anyway – INRNG pointing out motos stop of the right and this is the known norm shows up Larry as not much of a cycling fan himself!

        I have not interest in who is more or less of a cycling fan or what type of cycling fan they are – the more the better whether it’s passing phase or life long passion.

        My only real opinion is the governing body should do SOMETHING just to show they care – it’s clearly a problem currently and even if not a total solution, anything that kicks off the process would be nice…

        Personally I do find the quotes on Cyclingnews about non-neutralization a bit strange, with an old Dimension Data DS saying what about Dumoulin, Pinot and Quintana… and you’re thinking, huh? They didn’t hit the deck? Would a brief spell of softer cycling really stop them showing off their class once things got up and running again? Although clearly this rule in the TDF 2016 Ventoux crash wouldn’t work… so a few caveats needed. Just think they should maybe also think of their fans a little also – so many people behind Orica, Sky and Kelderman must have been gutted watching the remainder of the climb today and they were pretty justified being upset.

        It’s a shame Sky have the hate parade – they’ve made mistakes, but as do some many teams, and in a sport with this history it’s so hard to get things right especially if you’re at the top – every team seems to have nice personalities I’d support whatever their history – I guess the knives are really out for Sky and the British press smell blood so everything gets magnified. Such a shame – I find a lot more to dislike in the inflated values of football, the violence of UFC etc etc. I’d love everyone who actually loves cycling to chill on Sky slightly.

    • “…….completely beside the point.” OK for you maybe, but the comment was in reference to how the race had been ruined for the guy since his national heroes were knocked out of contention. To him that seemed to be THE point, no?
      Perhaps because I dislike the SKY team I don’t see this moto incident as a huge issue like the ones where MOVING vehicles have killed or injured riders. It really seems to me to have been a case of a moto stopped in not-the-best spot combined with someone not looking where they were going. The GC contenders who suffered just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Movistar especially had their man up front where it’s (supposedly anyway) safer.

      • It’s analogous to a rider crashing into road furniture improperly secured and not in the road book. It’s still a safety issue, and while less tragic than a rider killed by a moving moto, the danger isn’t diminished by comparison. Whether they ride for Sky or not.

      • As Inner Ring has said, they’re supposed to stop on the right.
        And the bit of grass was big and flat enough to park on, so he didn’t have to be on the road.
        Those are errors by this motorbike rider.
        Sky were in the front 20 riders, so not in the wrong place.
        Maybe it’s hard to see what’s ahead when you’re in a pack of riders and Kelderman wasn’t staring at his powermeter.
        I also dislike Sky (and don’t understand the entire concept of fandom never mind being a fan of that team), but that doesn’t alter my opinions on this – would yours change had it been Nibali?

  12. Unfortunately an individual error by the policeman- presumably difficult to avoid definitively even with more training etc. Bad news and terrible for riders whose careers this will impinge on. What now for Sky, hard to see why Thomas and Landa will both flog themselves for a respectable but minor placing? Saved for the tour or let off the leash?

    • I think and hope that Thomas will do a T-A and go all out to improve his finishing position. If he can stay within 5 minutes of the podium it will prove he has the ability and it will make contract and/or programme negotiations that much easier.

  13. Back on the racing – you’d think Quintana would be least happy to see Dumoulin lurking in the rear view mirror- at least we should have some suspense into the third week

    • +1 Dumolin was the rider of the day in my opinion – he’s going to be a serious force in the coming years – at his age 30secs off Quintana when you’d expect him to take 2mins+ on a flat-ish TT over 40km is pretty spectacular.

    • I have a theory about Dumoulin. At last year’s Tour, over 37.5kms on a bit of a windy day, he beat Quintana in the first ITT by 3.08. Quintana also lost 2.16 to Froome on the ITT at the end of last year’s Vuelta which was 37kms. Now all things being equal Dumoulin has to be looking for over two minutes out of the first ITT here which is 39.8kms. If he can stay within half a minute on other mountain top finishes then surely that will leave it mighty close on the last day for the overall? If I was Quintana I’d want at least 2 minutes over Dumoulin going into that.

      OK, a lot of ifs and buts. But you get the idea. I was disappointed with Quintana today. Was he doing just enough? Was that all he had? I’d be amazed if he thought 24 seconds on the road was enough. This isn’t over.

      • I agree RonDe – don’t think it’s far fetched at all – whether Dumoulin wins here or not, all we really need to know is he can last 3weeks and I’m sold on him going onto become to top GC rider of the next gen all things progressing well.

        Although – bit harsh on Quintana! Hard climb, anyone who goes off on their own and wins needs a round of applause no! Whatever the time gap – also, I’ve thought Pinot has been near the level of Q+F for a while now, and has just had bad luck, so not surprised early in the race he’s stayed in touch, plus as above think Dumoulin is turning into something special so 30secs on him in years to come might not be such a bad result! I find generally it’s quite rare when in the company of the absolute best Quintana destroys his competition, he rarely seems to take huge 2min chunks out of everyone when it matters on a climb so this isn’t a bad result at all.

  14. When are riders going to take some responsibility for their actions?
    The spectacle of a peloton racing recklessly to get to the bottom of a climb, a narrow road or the finish should surely be looked at.
    Crashes are inevitable but there are so many now caused by riders not concentrating on the road ahead.
    The police bike was off the road and it just required the leading riders in that group to signal to those behind of the obstruction coming up.
    No one did probably due to some DS screaming down the radio to get to the front.
    It is so amateurish to see.

    • It was on the side of the road. Chad Haga, of Team Sunweb not Sky, said that it was just after a bend and the riders only had chance to shout before it was too late. Your “lack of concentration” speculation/accusation seems ill advised at best.

      • It’s more ill informed baiting, let’s just ignore. Anyway they’re racing, I think anyone who’s ever watched cycling would be expecting them to be going full gas at that point… it’s kinda the point of the sport…

    • This is factually incorrect. I’m looking at a screen grab now from the helicopter shot and the moto’s wheels are planted firmly on the white line – the body of the bike is about half a metre into the road.

      • Note in that results sheet Quintana on the same time as Froome or Jungels, just 7″ back from Dumoulin, and better than Ion Izagirre or Van Garderen.
        Not a conventional ITT. Besides being quite short, the first intermediate (9 kms) included a 4 kms 6-7% climb where Pinot and Quintana got the best times (also note that Dumoulin was third).
        Froome, Dumoulin, Coppel, Izagirre, Boaro, Geniez, Ludvigsson et al. all clawed back time from Pinot in the descent (not a technical one) and the 3 final flat kms, while Quintana lost a mere second to Pinot himself.
        Not that probing.
        Yet, Pinot has been improving, for sure: he was quite a disaster when he was very young, barely getting top-20 in ITTs unless some relevant climbing was included. Then, in 2015, you could see him beginning to get decent results in flat ITTs, although only if the competition wasn’t top level (Criterium Internationale, Etoile de Besseges). At the same time, top-20 placings, previously pretty much unusual for him, became the norm.
        All the same, calling him “upper bracket of GC TT’s” is a long shot, I’d say. It’s true that last year he won the Criterium ITT but the competition was modest. Besides, he fared pretty well in the País Vasco ITT, but that’s very hilly – in fact, Quintana beat him, as well as Adam Yates or Henao, not exactly the top TT’s you’d think about. The Nationals were impressive for length and the gaps, but that wasn’t flat, either, and the impression was of a not-so-motivated field.
        This year Pinot confirmed good but not monstre performances in Andalusia (top-five, little behind Valverde or Contador) and in Tirreno-Adriatico, where he was in-form: he was 17th in the last ITT but the field was deep with specialists. He got 1.4″/km on Quintana (who was quite much strolling to the line).
        On Tuesday, we could expect some 45″ gained on Quintana, I’d say. A greater gap could be produced by the fact that Pinot looks like he entered the Giro in notable form while Quintana focussed on growing his level through the race – yet more than 80″ would be hugely surprising.

  15. Is it not beyond the wit of tne commissaires to give three minutes back to every rider brought down in an incident caused by an external factor, ie an idiot copper who should be on school crossing duties for the next year? Even Steve Morrow was injured by his own team mate’s celebration.

    • Will never happen – 3mins would be too random and confusing – without a rule already in place and accepted anything they do now would be argued against too furiously, and probably quite justifiably… nothing can be done now… unfortunately they didn’t think to put any sort of rule in place from last TDF for this give some sort of fairness in this eventuality, so we’re just stuck with what we have… personally I see a system of neutralisations for these scenarios when not already of a climb the best option – if the riders also knew exactly what a neutralisation meant and when it happened we’d avoid the situation of when Quintana and the other snuck off the front the Giro’14 which seemed extremely unfair then, and kind of ridiculous.

      It’s funny I’ve often though G was a crash magnate though. Proved once again. Johnny Herbert of cycling.

      • I feared that was the case. But it’s insane that a supposedly major sporting event can be effectively decided a third of the way through by an ancillary worker not even given training so basic as to keep to a specific side of the road when halted. Though I’ve always had a certain affection for the random nature of cyclng, watching Johnny Hoogerland land on barbed wire, or Peter Sagan mown down by moto, or Antoine Demoitie killed after a crash, does not enhance my enjoyment, or the reputation, of the sport.

    • its unfair and unjust to come down like Thomas and the others did

      but Neutraliation? where will you draw the line? its hard to neutralise the race so close to the finish. first how should this work in reality? you would need lots of people stopping the riders closing the already existing (sometimes small) gaps, 2) all the riders could rest for a while, in this case movistars pace-setting would be nullified, the race would be decisively altered 3) when do you neutralize. Would you have neutralized for FORMOLO? according to your rule you should have. he finished high and is Top 10 in the GC after todays stage. but how can you tell?

      The One rule in effect in this case is the 3km crash rule.

      • Agreed & understand points – for now I was just throwing it out knowing there’s issue but suggesting these are the conversations that should be had – surely there is some solution to make it or something else work and a referee/commissar to apply so it’s as fair as possible – (I was also thinking back to what happen in Giro’14 on that decent when Q got away as no one seemed to understand what was going on) – anyway – in quick answers – the race had been altered decisively already, so Movistar slowing for a minute seems the lesser of two evils in the case of a moto affecting the race, and specifically a moto affecting not a normal crash – that’s again the only reason for neutralisation aside from weather and what happened in TDF15 with lack of ambulances – not quite sure what you mean re-Formolo? All I’m saying is a ref uses best judgement to allow those taken out by a moto a chance to get back on… with a caveat that if already on a climb similar to the TDF16 those fallen times adjusted to the group they were climbing with or nearest at the time? Doesn’t seem that unfair.

      • With the transponders the organisers should exactly how long each rider is delayed by the crash. Just remove that time from their finishing time, assuming they have no blame.

        • Racing is not TTing (unless it’s a ITT). Nibali had fared better hadn’t he tried to response to the last couple of Quintana’s attacks. Mollema would have had a worse performance without Dumoulin. If you want to get the pacing of the best, you must make the effort to be on the front. Having different riders making a different TT race all over the course would be crazy.

  16. Great ride by Dumoulin indeed – and as a Dutchman I would very much like to see him go for the top podium spot in Milan. Therefore it is extremely unfortunate that Kelderman had to quit the race because of this completely stupid and unnecessary crash. Some people seem to fail to realize that only that many people in a large peloton at speed can deviate enough to evade such an unexpected obstacle – you clearly see riders avoid it but Kelderman, although also trying to go around the bike, was so boxed in he had nowhere to go and neither did Thomas et al.
    Losing teammates who can be good lieutenants in the mountains (or not having them at all on the selection) have ruined both Dumoulins Vuelta 2015 and Kruiswijks Giro 2016 chances – both were destroyed by being isolated when having to close a gap between climbs and then came apart in the following climb, whilst their competitors (twice Astana, btw) had a lieutenant up the road who paced their leader (Aru, Nibali) so that they could finish the job on the climb. Meanwhile, Quintana is the only leader with two teammates in the top 20 today. Which of course is good news for Movistar (and I won’t begrudge Quintana the win if he keeps riding like today – impressive performance).

    • Dumoulin was just 2 cm from a crash. If he was down, that would really be a shame. Giro would have been good as won for Quintana.

    • Impressing ride by Dumoulin. Huge. However, he was great also during the first uphill finishes at the 2015 Vuelta: none of them was long and steep as yesterday, but there were both long climb, where he resisted with the best, and very steep ones, when he even beat them. Yes, all monoclimb sorts of stage. In the first serious mountain stage he lost nearly two minutes to Aru but he was still very good: he made the top ten and was with Chaves. All the same, he himself acknowledged that he’d lose the Vuelta on that last mountain stage anyway, the lack of teammates made it worse but he said clearly that even if he had got back to the front group he wouldn’t have held the wheels.
      He should get to Bormio in pink without major problems. But that afternoon in Bormio might be the first occasion for a jersey switch… However, the course is on his side even if Kelderman is a big loss, no doubt.

  17. Anyone who’s ridden in their local chain gang will know how edgy it can get going full gas down some country lane. The assumption is somebody calls the usual hazards even though everyone is familiar with the lie of the land. Racing has these assumptions too but the speeds are another notch higher. The riders on point here could just about react but the others behind have no chance. I’m gutted for the effect on GC chances but I would expect those affected to react with class and keep racing. These teams could also pull out en masse and say £#c《 it we’ve had this s#!te. Either way, I’d applaud.

    Thomas and others might yet pull enough time back to leave Quintana facing the “you only won because” inquisition. Thumbs up to Pinot and Dumuolin, we still have plenty of racing.

  18. Maybe ‘GrahamG’ just dosen’t care- but the incident with the motos today is a downright scandal and it’s f…… unacceptable!!
    These “Unfortunately an individual errors” happens EVERY year in the big tours. Are we just supposed to lean back and say ‘hey, that’s what happens…’ ? Where are the responsability by the organizers, UCI and the teammanagers/owners?

    • Thanks Louis – you may not have read all of my post. My point was that it will be very difficult to totally eliminate this type of incident – that was all. I am sure improvements will be found but it’s a chaotic and dynamic environment – the police must do an amazing job keeping the riders safe, but occasionally it can go wrong. Can’t begin to imagine how Thomas must feel right now.

      • I agree Graham G. I think this is a massive shame for the riders involved, but it’s important to distinguish this moto incident is perhaps different from the usual. If for no other reason this type of incident will be unavoidable from time to time. A moto there as part of the race (tv/neutral spares/race officials) should be thoroughly briefed and aware of the do’s/don’t of operating a vehicle on the road at the same time as riders – as such we find incidents with these types of vehicles correctly unacceptable. I’m just not sure a police moto falls into the same category, it would be vry difficult to ensure they are all briefed/familiar with the do’s/don’ts etc. He appeared to be parked as far over as he could get, parking a heavy bike on the soft verge or slope wouldn’t work at all. We also have no idea why he was parked, maybe the bike had problems, or he felt he needed to stop and sort something out. My point is this type of accident, whilst not being fair to the riders, is part of racing and is going to happen from time to time.

  19. Very disappointing for the race as all 4 ((Kelderman, Yates, Thomas & Landa) could well have been in between Quintana and Nibali, so we are unnecessarily robbed of a number of possible narratives. If Thomas really did pop a shoulder I’d be surprised to see him do anything like a TT that he would normally be capable of on Tuesday…

    • G did appear to confirm in his post race interview that he had dislocated a shoulder in the fall which was put back in place by a race doctor before he jumped back on a bike. Assuming this is correct it makes his performance all the more impressive. Whether this would affect his TT is another question though it would seem likely he must have severe bruising around that joint, certainly unlikely to help keep in a decent TT position. Dont forget he rode most of the TdF a couple of years back with a fractured pelvis.

      • My guess would be that it was subluxation rather than dislocation (the head of the humerus rides up onto the lip of the labrum of the shoulder blade). This is what happened to Contador in 2015 and he did quite well, I seem to remember.

  20. Still seething at how the 100th Giro has been so diluted by something that should never have happened. However, looking forward:
    1) Quintana won the stage fair and square – he rode everyone off his wheel and there is no reason to believe that had the crash not happened that Yates, Thomas, Kelderman or Landa would have been able to stop him. He deserves to be in pink.
    2) The policeman on that motorcycle should be thrown off the race and banned from working on any other race until he fully understands that his job is to make the entire road safe for the cyclists and how to do that.
    3) All other motorcyclists on the race, police or otherwise, should spend the rest day listening to the team directors telling them about all the problems they can create and with them hammering out a protocol for the rest of the Giro which should prevent future problems. Anyone who doesn’t take part in the meeting or doesn’t adhere to the protocol to be kicked off the Giro.
    None of this can prevent the rest of the Giro from being diluted by the time lost for so many of the main contenders through a totally avoidable and unnecessary crash, but it might stop another avoidable crash and more dilution.

    • you can talk all day to the motorcyclists thats just a revenge measure that wont stop them making a mistake once in a while. normally humas make some mistaks. the problem is as weve seen there is almost no room for mistakes when a thightly packed peoloton filling the whole road rides at high speed.

      the only thing that would help in this case, drastically reduce the numbers motorbikes in the field. less close up tv-pictures of course, but you cannot have it both ways

      • …and this brings us to the next problem since tv actually makes these guys a living. worse tv – less sponsor expsoure – less money.

        • Fair point @ronytony but these TV motos in this race seem to be getting caught IN the action far too much (I couldn’t believe it when one of the TV motos seemed to be in between the three riders at the front while they were swapping off). Then, how many times did we see the riders (Quintana x3) drafting right behind the moto while on the attack. Perhaps it was slowing him rather than assisting him but, either way, the camera just shouldn’t be there. Aerial shots are fine sometimes.

          Also, in this race in particular, I have have noticed some really close calls where the neutral service car and team cars are caught in the dwindling gap between the breakaway riders and the peloton – they nearly ruined the finish the other day that Dilier won had the peloton charged in any quicker. This surely comes down to the Commissaire?

          Very disappointed to have the last Giro stage – and potentially the race – ruined by a police moto’s inattentiveness. They’re usually pretty good to be fair but parking up there was a brain explosion, unless it was a genuine mechanical. For those above who say “look where you are going, point out the problem etc as we do all the time when ride” there is quite a difference in speed, I suspect, between your chain gang and a pro peloton – 15kmh or so faster and almost touching knuckles with the rider next to you – which just changes the dynamics massively and why courses need to be made as safe as possible.

        • I think you can’t really downsize the number of TV crew, police, but I could certainly live without less race photos. I am not sure how many motos are actually driven/ridden for photo journos but I think that number could be capped. Not a big enhancement but may help.

  21. It’s nice to read the passionate commentaries and I understand the commotion. Yet, this wasn’t a “moto accident”, albeit a moto was involved.
    I’d be obviously happy if it became an *excuse* (it wouldn’t be anything but an excuse), out of the emotional wave it generates in British cycling, in order to have the UCI finally tackling the moto issue and generally course safety (the Spanish accidents!) instead of just expressing regret and doing nothing.
    However, what I’m afraid of is that it may become another occasion to implement tools like the EWP which has been used more often than not (I mean, I’m not counting the occasions in which the race would have been stopped or changed anyway without any EWP, as it already happened before) to grant favours to powerful teams and to protect their investment from the downsides of an open air sport.
    I think that the Jury already has got the power to neutralise a race, if they deem it opportune, and that’s something I wouldn’t foster beyond certain limits. It must be exceptional.
    Today wasn’t that exceptional.
    The police motos are just one more element in the race, as indispensable as the riders. Probably more indispensable than most riders. If one of those guys makes a mistake – as it clearly happened today – it’s the same as any rider making a mistake and sending half of the bunch to the ground.
    It’s not about TV moto cameras, which you may decide to reduce (not the best idea ever: a total of four of them at the Giro, I think: it’s not where you can cut a lot to reduce race vehicles, you know? The cost-benefit relation wouldn’t be great, at least).
    It’s not about photographers, VIP guests or whatever else. Granting the safety of the course – even if this time it became paradoxically the oppposite – is as important as racing on it.
    And this accident wasn’t affected in any possibile way by the abundance of race vehicles or by organisational factors, as long as I know.
    It looks like a human mistake, unrelated to other circunstances, produced by a fundamental element of the race. Rules are already there (stop on the right, stop outside of the road) but the man failed to act accordingly. It’s the kind of events whose number you can reduce but which will always be a part of the not-so-controllable racing environment.
    It’s not at all like the “moto accidents”, which look increasingly common and dangerous.
    It isn’t even comparable to the “last km balloon” accident, because you might do without those balloons.
    It’s not like the Ventoux accident, because the crowds are indeed part of the race, but less so (!) than the police motos. And that was perhaps a general problem of managing the crowds, not a single human mistake.

    In that sense, this wasn’t a *special* race accident. Even more so because, yes, I’d say that the riders had a chance to avoid it. The moto stopped 150 meters beyond the bend Haga speaks about. 150 meters correspond to some 10″. Not a lot of time and space but not a killer situation, either. Watch a clock for 10″. However, this matters the least: the situation which was created *had* to be avoided in itself, it shouldn’t have happened. But it was, unless we receive further information, a personal random mistake.
    Bad luck and, maybe, not the best reaction ever to bad luck by Kelderman (the rest was a cruel lottery).
    All in all, the kind of events which happen in cycling races, always happened and would be pretty much impossible to stop from happening as long as a human element is involved.
    Very different from the other accidents many readers emotionally named here.
    No structural factor produced the policeman’s mistake (again, as long as we know); what was “structural”, was the bunch rush. But that’s up to the teams to be managed – and it wasn’t the direct cause of what happened.
    It’s *really* a pity (for once, I could really root for both Sky’s captains! And Yates belong to a new generation of attacking riders who’re always great to have in the mix) but the involved riders still have the option to prove what they’re worth.
    Unlike other sports, in cycling that matters a lot – there are several objectives you can go for and make an impression. Basso’s 2005 Giro is still remembered way more than other races which he finished in a way better GC position. I’m sure that Geraint Thomas will, unless they make him quit to better prepare the TdF. Yates has still got the white jersey as an official, recognised, GC option.

    Once the shock has gone, one may notice that, yes, in cycling it is pretty common that a rider sees his options hindered by random accidents. Other riders making a mistake, and falling, and the peloton is suddenly down isn’t different from today. Yes, GTs lose some possibly important figures that way. More or less every time. Pantani and the cat. Contador in last year’s Tour, Nibali in 2015. Whatever. For sure, if one focuses only or mainly on *his or her* dearest favourites, perhaps noticing *how often* this happens becomes harder.
    Luckily, as I said before, even if cycling is cruel it can be generous: it offers plenty of glory besides the victory’s. Thomas has already collected part of that just doing the great performance he did today.

    • There’s no way that that was a race incident.
      I’ve read on a couple of sites now “the race was on”.
      What does that even mean, are we watching a game of death ball or something here?
      What on earth has to happen before a race can be neutralised?
      And why have race radios if the officials can’t use them to tell the teams / DS’s to knock it off?

      • In summary the moto should not have been there and the GC chances for at least two teams are damaged. Despite that I don’t think it was reasonable in these circumstances to expect Movistar (or the rest of the peloton) to slow and wait, and the riders who suffered in this case will have gained in others.

        What really shocks is the large, and surely excessive, number of motos often passing groups of riders at speed and far too close. If the race organiser or UCI cannot correct this rapidly, accidents will continue to be caused and riders injured.

    • +1 to everything but “….for once, I could really root for both Sky’s captains! ” I wanted to see the SKY Giro challenge fizzle out like it has in the past.

      • Why?

        And do you ever look at a comment you’ve just typed and thought: “This adds nothing of value to the debate and only serves to push my personal prejudices onto others. I probably should delete it.” If not, perhaps you could consider starting, for the good of everyone.

        I might have the occasional difference of opinion with Gabriele, but at least he always has something to say.

      • I agree with Gabriele, it’s not an incident worthy of neutralisation or even slowing down (none of the rules say you have to be a gentleman).

        What’s annoying is that the selection was forced by an accident rather than tactics or strength.

    • I will probably sound like a gabriele fan boy, but the above is another of his comments that really makes you hate him: a sane, balanced and as objective as one can get view that you, in the end, have to admit that you cannot really argue very convincingly against.
      It was quite unfair, for the riders who suffered (and for me and other spectators wearing an appropriate fan cap). It would’ve been quite unfair for Movistar, Quintana and all the other riders who proved the strongest yesterday (and for the spectators, including me wearing another fan cap) to neutralize the stage,

      I’m no particular fan of Movistar, but I find the demands that they should’ve ceased their attack and slowed down to wait for the fallen GC contenders in the name of sportmanship, fairness or an unwritten rule of the sport rather tall oe even quite preposterous. In fact, I cannot honestly say I could think of any of the current or indeed past teams that would have done so in their place,

      Kelderman – if he was the Sunweb rider who appeared to first make an ever so small move *to the left* (like an inexperienced and clueless chain gang rider to see for himself what it was that was ahead that the commotion was about and everyone ahead was trying to avoid by swinging to the right) was perhaps not only unlucky but also unfortunate enough to make an instinctive reaction that was not the right one in the situation.
      That said, it is indeed on thing to ride in a chain gang, at whatever speed, and quite another to ride in a peloton, however small, filling a narrow road in ints entirety. In the first mentioned, a swing of the left hand accompanied by a shout would no doubt have saved the day for everyone, but all the experience in the world that the pro dirers have isn’t enough in such an instant situation where *something* unexpected projects itself into the road.

      Last but not least: the *other* motorcycle that brought forward the ire of the commentator (whose family comes from Italy) was the one that rode uphill in front of the leaders *on the windy side*, thus aiding them. “And that this should happen in Italy, a country steeped in road cycling, where everyone should know this is not how you do it! You just don’t interfere in the race this way, aiding some and not aiding others” or something to that effect.
      He was more forgiving towards the police motorcycle rider who, after all, made what could be seen as a simple, even if stupid and ignorant, mistake.

    • I pretty much agree with you Gabriele even though some here might regard me as a Sky fan and I often differ in my opinions from you. Geraint Thomas himself has said in post race comments that he doesn’t blame Movistar for riding and, yes, that “the race was on”. There is a tradition in cycling going back many decades that what happens, happens and that, in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, you just race on. I’m broadly in favour of that because otherwise we are open to people crashing into things and falling over to get a neutralisation. The hardship and, frankly, sometimes the unfairness of “what happens, happens” is part of the DNA of cycling and, even where it hits my favourites, I’d want to preserve that as much as possible. Only in the most exceptional of cases (Froome on Ventoux being an example) should juries and and commissaires start dabbling and tinkering with results on the road. That way lies results decided in a committee room or a commissaires car rather than in pedal strokes on the road.

      • I’m just flummoxed that an outside object that was on the course, on the racing line, that should’t have been there, and that brought down 14 x riders (Gabriele’s numbers from below) isn’t an exceptional incident?
        To put into context, how many riders were in that top group by then, say around 70?
        That’d be 20% of the top group brought down by a non-race incident, and it’s not exceptional?

        • To be honest I think its because it was a glancing blow to the side of the peloton. If Movistar plow into something and the peloton’s progress is stopped (a la Ventoux 2016) I think that would have been regarded as exceptional. Perhaps not a lot of sense in that but I can see the reasoning. Compare it to a parked car (something Cav has hit before). The race isn’t stopped or neutralised. “Racing incident” seems a very apt description.

        • I didn’t express myself with clarity, I’m afraid. The “14 riders” aren’t those who fell, they are those who were packed in the top 14″ of GC, meaning that it was too soon to decide if any of them was a legitimate “top” contender.
          I’m not in favour of forced fair play, anyway, but this is clearly different from the Lance musette accident or the Schleck chaingate – which could at least make sense, in a way or the other!
          The top 20 of a GT before at least a couple of serious stages is pretty much random, and more often than not it’s still got a random factor well into the race: you can’t use that to decide who you wait for, especially given that so little a selection had been made until now.
          Not even every “captain” ends up having the expected meaning for the race. You can’t count on that. And you can’t stop for every crash, it’s prone to manipulation, it further disrupts race dynamics, it’s open to a lot of dubious situations.
          However, the Jury neutralised races, even recently, it’s not like it never happens: remember the Tour when Cancellara and half of the pack went down hard? It’s just better that you keep it as an extreme option – and, no, yesterday wasn’t “extreme” at all. I could provide a list of more extreme circumstances, but the key factor are that: the accident was caused by an inherent race element, even if through human mistake; not so many riders were affected (8 of them, perhaps?); no life threatening consequences could be envisaged. And several else, but I think you might have got my point.

  22. Much predictably valuable discussion here on this sad situation with the moto. I’ve not much to add except that if only the UCI would establish a standard for the number of motorized vehicles allowed in a race under given conditions (or if there is one, hold to it, or review it), maybe there would be less motos hovering uselessly around. That might have eliminated this hapless one who apparently needed something to do. There just seems to be too many, and having been a driver in a bunch of races (now that I’m retired from the hunt) I know there’s a certain cache, or prestige, with being in there and it’s ripe (rife?) for abuse.
    Why do you think ringside seats are so expensive?

  23. The UCI has failed to curtail the ongoing motorbike incidents of the last couple of years.
    With that consistent failure (whilst focusing on the weather, which I don’t remember killing anyone), you have to conclude that the person in charge of cycling is not fit for the task.

  24. On Eurosport, the commentator mentioned that Sky’s Salvatore Puccio had been complaining beforehand about the irregular and dangerous driving of that particular motorbike involved in the crash. Perhaps that driver was more at fault for his negligent behavior in this particular instance, and it wasn’t so much about the lack of some protocols or regulations that could have avoided the accident. What’s really needed is that the race organizers should be quick to call out–and immediately remove–any such aberrant moto driver (of car or motorbike) that they are alerted to by a rider, team DS or race official, in real time, during the actual running of the race. This will require a more constant diligence throughout the race, but it should keep everyone on their toes–especially the drivers themselves.

  25. I agree with Gabriele’s points. This was a human error with a bad lottery draw of favorite riders. It really sucks as such.

    If was riders from the wildcard teams we wouldn’t have the out cry.

    I could be wrong but it seems some teams were playing risky positioning games – take a look at the video before the twitter meme/helicopter shot. Perhaps one team was trying to keep the other team from passing.

  26. Thomas won’t be playing the Blame Game card, he will just get on with the rest of the race. Good bloke, too good for that Murdoch scum!

  27. Police motorcycles are in a slightly different category from the other motorcyclists because of their function in the race.
    Photographers/cameramen/neutral service can be controlled and allocated to a) only in front of the race b)only behind the peloton or alongside it on wide roads at the commissionaire’s discretion c) only fixed spots between which they navigate off the race route. Apart from police all other motorcyclists, including VIPs, are non-essentials and should not be within 100 metres of any rider under any circumstances.
    Police, on the other hand, hold traffic at bay at junctions so have to be there ahead of the race and hold position as the race goes by. Unless you have hundreds of police available, they must then go THROUGH the race to get to the next junction they are allocated to block. Yes they can navigate to their next junction off the race route, but unlike photographers, if they are held up by traffic/have to go a very long way round, their absence at the upcoming junction presents a major danger to the race. They generally do a good job, but their presence is such a constant hazard that they cannot make mistakes – or we get results like yesterday.
    Why did he stop on the left? The right verge was much wider.

  28. To those who still find it possible to make excuses for yet another Moto incident. How many times this season have you seen riders at the head of the peloton urgently waving Moto’s away from close proximity with riders. It has become a regular feature of racing.

    There can be no justification for the armada of Moto’s present in races in this technological day and age.

    The UCI needs to grow some, and make a urgent and decisive decisions on this matter. Meetings and discussions with ‘stakeholders’ are simply wasting time, and doing nothing to stop the inevitable if this situation continues.

    This latest incident thankfully has only affected the race dynamics. Next time the consequences may well be much more serious. It’s not a question of if, but when. For once UCI, do what you are charged to do and make a decision in the interests of not only the sport but its participants.

  29. Fair play on Thomas for his way of handling blood thirsty journalists after the stage. The (coverage of the) sport is thriving on these unfortunate events – just look at the commentary section here – and that fact has to be so frustrating for the riders.

  30. A rest day in the Giro. They’ll be a review of yesterday’s stage (and the opening week and a look ahead) up at lunchtime. In the meantime a few of points to note:

    – the police moto was stopped because they’d been called back from the front of the race in order to protect a group of riders behind the front group, often there are many small groups of riders spread all over the mountain and they need a moto in front to open the road, keep the fans back etc.
    – the incident happened just after a bend so there wasn’t much time for the group to see things. For those that saw it on TV note there seems to be a delay between the live moto camera images and the live helicopter images so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where on the exit of the bend the crash came
    – the motorbike was in the road. If you have to stop in the road it’s always done on the right, eg you see riders with punctures stopped on the right, team cars park so the mechanic can jump out on the right etc.
    – people often mentioning motos and death but please note the post mortem into Antoine Demoitié’s death seems inconclusive, from what I’ve read it in the media and not the document itself, the examinations could not determine whether he died from his crash or from the motorbike subsequently hitting him. It should go without saying – but sometimes on the internet you need to say it – that none of this negates the safety and the potential for problems, injuries and even fatalities, just that the motorcycle driver that day may not be as guilty as some imply nor could the governing body or race org have saved Demoitié.
    – should Movistar have sat up? There are good arguments on both sides here and because these are unwritten rules they’re open to debate, interpretation and can never be settled with a firm verdict

    • Just a couple of added points:
      – interesting news about the reason the moto was stopping (we can now exclude mechanicals), but it’s still an individual human mistake. Whoever made the call for the moto to stop, made it correctly: the error lies in the place the policeman decided to stop – he had plenty of options.
      A more general point I’ve already raised in the past is that with fewer grassroot, local, traditional or “second tier” racing, the human resources used to enforce basic safety tend to be less experienced: I don’t know if this is the case, but it should be food for thought. Besides that possibility, which is anyway quite general, I don’t see any structural factor causing the accident, just a serious mistake made by a figure needed for the race within correct race dynamics. Race accident.
      – I can pinpoint *exactly* where the moto stopped and the crash happened. It’s 150 meters after the bend. It’s not that complicated with all the recorded videos and Google Street View. Plenty of reference points around. From here (and even a bit before) the moto was already visible – you can notice the 2 km square roadpost on the right which is placed just beyond the accident site. This is the POV of the moto, looking backward towards the bend:
      – Even if a moto is involved, and even if I agree that motos and other vehicles have been behaving dangerously yesterday and in other stages and in other races, more than what we were used to see, this accident can be related to the situation only as a *pretext*, in order to apply political pressure and tackle that question. You wouldn’t *actually* want less police motos in the race (conversely, the problem reportedly was due to a lack of them, in a sense) and it’s already hard for races to get the ones they presently obtain. It’s totally unrelated to the excess of traffic or the presence of unnecesary vehicles.

  31. we should also be talking a bit about the actual race.

    i was very impressed by dumoulin. he will probably be in pink by tuesday. can he hold on to it?

    how good is Tangert in an ITT? i remember him just as a (strong) mountain helper, how did he fare when he rode as leader?

    btw. yates has still the chance to finish well in the Top 10

  32. I’m not a Sky fan but I am a cycling fan and for that reason I think the race should’ve been neutralised. There will be a lot of what ifs now and that ruins things. I think if that had happened in 1977, maybe even 1987 then the riders at the front would’ve calmed it down. Maybr the commercial imperative of Movistar getting a return on their sponsorship puts pressure on the DS’s and they are less likely to make that call. If that was Nibali and Aru taken down, or Bardet and Pinot in July, the race would’ve have been neutralised absolutely no doubts about it.

    As much as this has put a sour angle on the race the battle between Dumoulin and Quintana looks potentially quite juicy.

    • 14 men in a 14″ time difference, 17 under one minute. Nobody would neutralise because you’re *supposed* to become a top dog in a two or three stages time.
      And if it’s about big figures as such of big teams as such, I say “no”, it would be a further sign of the unfair power distribution within the sport.
      Big GC riders fell and still fall in the first stages of GTs but if the accident isn’t extraordinary in itself (like two thirds of the bunch on the ground or so) the race isn’t neutralised. It didn’t happen in the 70s, I don’t know much about the 80s, but I know that, again, it didn’t happen at all in the 90s or in the 2000s.
      Kruijswijk lost secs on day one because of a crash, I can’t remember any mayhem. And why the bunch didn’t wait for Zakarin when he had to stop? A mechanical could also take a serious contender away, and it’s hard to know if you could have done things better or it was bad luck: it makes even more sense to wait, because the rider won’t be hindered by injuries… No, I’m sorry, this is the way cycling goes and it goes this way because the alternative options would be an absolute mess.

      • Excellent points gabriele. The peloton cannot stop or the race be neutralised every time a “favourite” hits something, even if that thing shouldn’t have been there. But I do have my doubts that all variations of such an occurrence would be treated equally or fairly. What if Movistar and Nibali had been taken out instead yesterday? I find it harder to believe they would have done nothing.

        • Of course it can stop.
          It has nothing to do with personalities, teams or nationalities.
          If a non-race incident influences a race so drastically. that up to 20% of the top group is brought down, of course it can stop.
          I emphasise non-race here.
          Perhaps the only way to bring any objectivity to this scenario, is to rule on a % basis of the leading group?

          • There a much simpler and non-contentious solution: just race on. You say you emphasise “non-race” but I don’t see how you possibly can. Say Kelderman hit a lamppost instead. Or a rock at the side of the road. Is that “non-race” too? In that case you’re asking for neutralisations for crashing. No, I’m afraid it won’t work.

          • Ecky, I’m sorry, I’m afraid I haven’t been clear about the 14-men thing. I answered you above. It’s the top end of the GC, meaning that it’s still tightly packed and you can’t decide by default who matters and who doesn’t.

            About 8 riders climbed down their bikes or hit the deck, I believe; it’s a reasonably low number, even if it’s a real shame for me, too, that among them there were four of my favourite riders (Yates, even if he’s getting a twin bonus because I suspect I’m attributing him some of his brother’s merits, Thomas, although I’d prefer him not to bet on GTs when he could win several Monuments if not even all of them, and Landa, whose talents risks to go lost through mishaps and health issues – due to his mentality, too; and Rosa). Perhaps there were even more riders I like, I didn’t identify them all…
            It’s a sad, “normal”, event. The police moto is like the referee in a football match: bad positioning or bad luck can have the referee blocking a shot or a pass or even a running rider with his body. It’s unfortunate, it can even define the final result, but it’s a “game event”.
            Moreover, cycling is an open air sport. Animals cross the road and you’ll hardly ever be able to prevent that. We’ve seen it happen lots of time.
            The boundaries of what can be considered “in the game” are blurred because of cycling’s nature itself and tend to be inclusive: you pass by a crumbling industrial area and workers may be on strike, blocking the road (remember the Hinault photo?), weather, fans, vegetation, floods, landslide, a sudden need to pee. It’s not track and field: it’s more about the building up of a story, which includes victory and loss, for sure, it’s not just about testing performances. If you prefer, part of the performance is facing the environment and sheer luck. And that’s a fight in which many times you’re just bound to lose and accept it.

            No need to spoil what remains of the race. What’s needed is the spirit to make it “even better”, so to say: an interesting narrative subplot, a story of overcoming and courage, maybe some action by Sky which has got an impact on GC (strong long range moves or whatever). Again, it’s not track and field, it’s not about who crosses the line faster: there’s a lot more to it you can watch and appreciate.

          • Good post Gabriele.
            My background was more rugby and in that sport there’s a total respect for the referee, who was addressed as ‘sir’ on the field.
            So in that spirit, the race went on and I’ll shut up 😉

          • Funnily enough, in rugby, if the ball or ball carrier touches the referee, then the laws require the game to be stopped for a scrum (in cycling terms, neutralised) if either team gained an advantage. However, if neither team gained an advantage, then they play on.

        • @RonDe, regarding your “what if” on Nibali or Movistar.

          Dunno. The Giro has got a proven and consistent track record of *not* stopping the race even when big local favourites hit the deck, although circumstances might have allowed it (weather, dangerous roads, animals on the road – I wouldn’t agree, but they might be good excuses)… hence even “risking” to give an opportunity to “evil” 😛 foreign riders!
          From Pantani in Amalfi to Basso and Nibali in the Strade Bianche stage, or to the Montecassino stage won by Matthews, with Basso, Aru and Pozzovivo losing nearly a minute from Evans (and that could be worth a neutralisation: huge crash, the whole bunch split in groups of 10-20 riders, health issues).
          Also note that, crashes apart, important Italian riders have been kicked out in situations which would have allowed the Jury to overlook the facts (Casagrande, Belli).

          However, the new direction of the race looks indeed more prone to “listening to the riders” (aka obeying to the teams) and, more generally speaking, the top teams seem more able than ever to create pressure on race management and juries all over the cycling world (last year’s Tirreno for RCS. The Ventoux events for ASO – I don’t mean to debate if it was fair or not, but for sure it was *very* unusual, especially when compared to the past).

          Which means that despite what we’ve been seeing in previous years or decades, I couldn’t totally rule out the race “protecting the investment” they probably made on Quintana. I’d be quite disappointed if not even disgusted, but not utterly surprised, due to a shift in attitude I think I’m perceiving. Well, anyway it’s unfair to judge it before it at least happens *once* or even gets close to.

  33. Once again I see too many motorbikes “flying” around the riders. Its like watching an accident waiting to happen. I agree there has to be the use of motorbikes to film, photo, service, police etc. but for goodness sake lets have some consistent and high standards. Any word from Blatter, sorry I meant Cookson lately?

  34. If Contador and Valverde would have been here, where would you think they would have finished the day? With Nibali, with Pinot and Dumoulin or sandwiching Quintana? (Valverde having the superior finish sprint).

    • Very hard to say. Quintana’s performance was high level, but one wonders if on such a climb, so soon in the race, others might have done better. Imagine that it was comparable to his 2015 Alpe d’Huez, but that wasn’t so soon nor in an easy stage. We’re also used to shorter and easier climbs most of the time.

      If you look for comparable climbs and a strong Contador, Quintana did clearly better than Contador (and Froome) on Ancares, in Vuelta 2014: but, well, that wasn’t a monoclimb stage and was after three full weeks of racing! (even if both Contador and Froome looked to be growing into form through the race because of the Tour’s crashes). It was on the same level of Contador in Dauphiné 2014 (Finahut-Emosson climb).

      If you look for comparable situations, Quintana also did better than Contador, Porte and Aru on Abetone in the 2015 Giro: but that was a different kind of climb and they didn’t ride all in.

      If you look for a numeric estimation about Quintana, a reliable one is 6.1-6.2 W/kg (ammattipyoraily) for 40′: it is very good.
      One of the all-time peak performances by Froome, soon in the race, too, was Ax3 Domains in 2013: he was about 6.3-6.4 W/kg, but it lasted some 20′. On LPSM, similar total duration to Blockhaus, Froome produced 6.1 W/kg: but, with LPSM flat sections, triumphing there implied more about total watts than W/kg.

      Valverde, Contador and Froome were way faster on Mont Caro in a 20′ effort (6.4-6.5 W/kg for Valverde, -0.1 for Contador), but Quintana himself had reached that same level in Valencia (and without drafting).

      Truth is that figure don’t help much ^__^
      They just confirm this was a strong performance, especially because of the prolonged effort, yet you could *imagine* better performances… although it’s really hard to find a *real* occasion in which somebody actually went faster.
      Wild guess? Valverde with Pinot, Contador 2014 with Quintana but not getting the best of him, Contador 2011 dropping Quintana in the last km.

      Dumoulin appears even more impressive. He’s the odd one, so to say (no implication), up there, especially if you think how Mollema was climbing during last TdF before the last week. Back to Tom, it all depends on his current real weight…

      • I enjoyed the response. I was just suggesting that the Spaniards be present with earlier spring 2017 form. Both were very good and very close to each other on all the occasions they met. Valverde only won because of his unique (it really was, at least this year) sprint.

        Tom was really good, I bet his power is quite a bit higher/kg he only lost 20s out of a 40m effort. At this rate, losing so little on a big finish climb, he is actually the favourite. But he has the inferior team and can be pushed to his limits. Astana succeeded.

        Indeed, at this rate Pinot might also be in front of Quintana by the end. But he will be tested on downhills. Movistar surely know he’s vulnerable. Nibali will put a spot light on that too.

        It will going to be still pretty interesting. Would have preferred the Sky boys in the game and Yates too but hey, there were a dozen contenders until now. I can count about 3 now. The rest will have to pull something special. Hopefully Contador left a mark on the younger riders.

        • Well, since he arrived behind on a climb, Tom’s W/kg were lower than Quintana… and same goes for Pinot.
          Much depends on their present weight: the higher it actually is, the more impressive should be their absolute wattage, which they’ll be able to unleash on the flattish ITT.
          We must consider that W/kg isn’t a fixed value but can change in different conditions, and might vary in a different way between rider and rider (duration of the effort, number of previous climbs etc.)

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