The Moment The Giro D’Italia Was Won

The winning moment? It’s hard to distil three weeks of racing into one instance, the story of so many roads, places characters into one snapshot but Tom Dumoulin’s stage win at Oropa stands out. He didn’t just control his rivals, he beat them on their terrain and took a prestigious stage win while wearing the maglia rosa.

The first stage went to Lukas Pöstlberger, a surprise win for Bora-Hansgrohe and the rest of usin an first week marked by youth with stage wins for Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan, both eligible for the U23 Worlds. All against the azure backdrop of Sardinia, Sicily and southern Italy where the race never seemed far from a beach. Ewan and Orica-Scott seemed to lose some sprints through mistakes but these were chaotic contests, so many teams came to the Giro with ambitions for the overall classification and it showed, teams dashing for the three kilometre banner to protect their leader rather than taking a sprinter to the final metres. Along the way André Greipel got his stage to prolong his record of winning a stage in every grand tour he’s started since 2008 and Fernando Gaviria took an impressive win after his Quick Step team shredded the bunch in the crosswinds, as if Cagliari was Koksijde for the day.

In a sport where riders occupy specialist niches to thrive Gaviria seems exceptional. Even as a sprinter his repertoire is varied with the ability to go long or short but he can do more, he’s good on punchy climbs and probably has the talent to pick off short prologues as well as Milan-Sanremo. He won four stage wins and the maglia ciclamino points competition by making it to Milan and if he keeps this up then we’ve finally got a challenger for Peter Sagan and the points competition in the Tour de France, although that’s for 2018 and beyond.

Mont Etna was supposed to be the first summit finish, the fear was that it could be too much too soon, just like 2011 when Alberto Contador took the race lead and was never challenged for the remaining two weeks. But the wind got up and we saw the riders grouped in echelon formation at 1,700 metres above Wevelgem.  Nothing happened, right? Actually with hindsight we saw Nibali try an attack, Dumoulin and Pinot had a go and Zakarin was able to take time. Tiny moves but those who moved on Etna would be active in the Alps.

Blockhaus was going to be a crucial climb. Quintana won the day after a series of attacks on this hard ascent but the stage had turned to “block-chaos” after a police motorbike parked on the side of the road, the lead group thundered around a corner, Wilco Kelderman couldn’t avoid it and crashed, setting off a wave that brought down others including Geraint Thomas, Mikel Landa and Adam Yates. This was a sour moment, we could regret a dog running into the peloton or some other freak accident but a police moto? It’s because they normally do such a great job that this was bad. There was a nervous feel with countless roadside tributes to Michele Scarponi reminding us how a ride, let alone a race, contains an element of fatal risk.

Thomas would leave the race leaving Landa to stage hunt and take the mountains jersey, nice prizes but probably crumbs for Team Sky’s management. Adam Yates dusted himself off and rode a steady race and if he lost the white jersey on the last day in Milan he probably learned a lot. And if Bob Jungels won the white jersey at Yates’s expense, he hardly took it by accident thanks to a stage win and often, but not always, matching his rivals in the mountains. He’s hot property in the market now.

The second week allowed the race to progress around Italy, the 100th edition had to cover as much of the country as possible. A noble idea but easier said than pedalled. An impressive stage win for Omar Fraile in Bagno di Romagna as the peloton was racking up more and more 200km stages and the accompanying fatigue, with added long transfers and grumbles about the hotels, even bed bugs according one account (jump in at 16 mins).

Oropa marked the start of the Alps and the race sped into the foot of the climb and quickly the lead group was reduced to a few riders, Bauke Mollema among those ejected. Nairo Quintana attacked but crucially he couldn’t get away. Tom Dumoulin was the chaperone who never let Quintana out of sight. As much as the Colombian tried, Dumoulin just kept a level pace, a theme for the rest of the race. It must have been psychologically disturbing for Quintana to look back down the shady road and see the bright pink jersey just seconds behind. This was Dumoulin stomping on the climbers’ terrain and he didn’t just match the likes of Quintana, Nibali and Pinot, he beat them for the stage win and took the time bonus too.

Could Dumoulin cope with high altitude and repeated climbs? Asking this meant an implicit admission that Dumoulin could cope fine with some climbs already and by extension Quintana et al needed to take more time across fewer stages.

Come the Stelvio and Dumoulin’s legs were ok but his guts were not and he had to make that infamous emergency nature break on the Umbrailpass. It was an undignified moment to drop bibshorts live on TV but if it had to be done, so be it. There is an unwritten rule that nobody attacks the race leader when they stop for a break and often this is how a breakaway goes clear because after a certain while the right move has gone and the race leader signifies this with the act of urination, it sounds like some tribal ritual but that’s often how it works and this moment typically this marks the end of the first phase of the stage when the day’s breakaway has gone and a chasing team can prepare to settle into a holding tempo. Only there’s no obligation to wait, unwritten or not, especially not on the final climb of the Queen Stage. Nor even much precedent. In the 1957 edition Charly Gaul was the defending champion and leading the race on Stage 18 with a slender margin. Gaul stopped to pee, his rivals attacked and it cost him the race: Gastone Nencini won.

Back to 2017 and Dumoulin did well. Perhaps he could have prepared better for the stop by adjusting his top and shorts before coming to a halt but maybe the urge was so sudden? After lightening the load he didn’t panic and rode fast over the Umbrailpass to limit his losses and keep the maglia rosa. Ahead Vincenzo Nibali took the first Italian stage win of the race, a long awaited ingredient of the “Giro 100” and the Italian was constantly part of the action during the last week, attacking and provoking moves in that familiar style, arms bent and hands high on the brakehoods, like a waiter carrying an invisible tray. He certainly served up action and crucially gave the domestic media plenty to talk about.

The next two days brought stage wins for Pierre Rolland and Tejay van Garderen, both riders tipped as the next big thing in countries, markets even, that yearn for this. Rolland said he tried to go for GC in other races but having to sit tight and play percentages wasn’t for him, besides there’s no guarantee all the hard work isn’t ruined by a crash. Van Garderen enjoyed his freedom too and is still a puzzle, we’ve seen him finish fifth in the Tour de France even by making mistakes such as forgetting to eat and drink enough during a mountain stage and on a good day he’s almost matched Chris Froome in the mountains during the Dauphiné so we can see where the hope and the hype spring from but up to him and his entourage to find a setting that suits.

The stage to Ortisei saw a late attack from Thibaut Pinot and Domenico Pozzovivo, the pair were proving strong in the third week, the same for Ilnur Zakarin. Behind Nibali, Quintana and Dumoulin marked each other and it led to a few angry words at the finish. Dumoulin told RAI TV that “if they only focus on me it would be nice if they lost their podium spot in Milan”. Beef? Bresaola more like, this was dry and thinly sliced rather than the sizzling, meaty differences that the Italian media adore.

By now time was running out for Nairo Quintana and with hindsight we know why: he admitted to having a “fever” during the race in the press conference after Stage 21. He kept trying to attack but couldn’t go clear, the same for Vincenzo Nibali and the others. It was like watching a set of identical 125cc scooters race uphill, there was no obvious difference most of the time. The one wobble was on Monte Cavallo were Dumoulin was dropped and lost 1m19s to Pinot and surrendered the maglia rosa to Quintana but with this kind of deficit and the Monza time trial ahead the jersey was merely on loan.

The final mountain stage saw more battling but Dumoulin only lost a few seconds on the scenic climb to Foza and the composite team time trial over the Asiago plateau where Pinot, Nibali, Quintana, Zakarin and Pozzovivo just held off Dumoulin with help from Bob Jungels, Adam Yates and Bauke Mollema.

So it came to the final time trial and Dumoulin needed to make up 53 seconds on Quintana. In the end he took 1m24s, a good performance by both riders and an inevitable outcome. Pinot slipped off the podium, his aim in the Giro was a stage win and the podium so he was close and the final GC of five riders within two minutes of Dumoulin was an outcome few would have imagined at the start in Sardinia.

Movistar won the team prize and it showed, they had the strength in numbers again and again to put Sunweb on the rack. But Sunweb did their best without Wilco Kelderman and it’s worth remembering that this is a small team on a tight budget. It’s one that has developed a conveyor belt of talent but can’t retain its stars but perhaps that is its mission, its niche. There are no guarantees but there’s no much of a whiff of sulphur around the team, no ex-Ferrari clients on the roster, no TUE arbitrage and team manager Iwan Spekenbrink was an early supporter of the MPCC. Similarly the team has friends in the media, it was voted last year as the best squad for media relations by the press room. To add it all Dumoulin isn’t just a strong rider, he comes across well and will prove marketable so the team is likely to find more funding, especially if the Dutchman inks the contract being proposed to him.

If Oropa was impressive the chart above allows us to see pictorially where Tom Dumoulin took time on his rivals and the two time trial stages show the greatest changes. As you can see all riders are on the same time as Dumoulin during the opening stages except for the red line of Zakarin who lost a handful of seconds after being caught out in the finish of Stage 2. Stage 9 is Blockhaus and Quintana take time but look at how small the inflection is compared to Pinot and Dumoulin. The following stage, the Montefalco time trial, sees everyone lose minutes to Dumoulin, this was an impressive win for the Dutchman with Geraint Thomas the only rider within a minute. We expected as much given the way Dumoulin put a minute into everyone in the Tour de France last July too. Out came the spreadsheets and old envelopes to work out how much time Quintana needed to recover in the coming mountain stages, not just to reclaim the maglia rosa but to build up a buffer for the final time trial. He could never take enough and Dumoulin had the Trofeo Senza Fine waiting for him in Milan.

The Verdict
A slow start, Etna wasn’t significant but that’s no bad thing as it kept the overall classification tight to prolong the suspense. A lot of the early stages were boring to watch in their entirety but if you sit down to watch hours of a nailed-on sprint stage then don’t be surprised, even if we might have hoped for more from the smaller wildcard teams who often missed the move. There was plenty of action though, the stages to Peschici won by Gorka Izagirre and Bergamo for Bob Jungels were intense and great entertainment.

Dumoulin dominant but this wasn’t a metronomic performance, at times he seemed to be on the slide while the advantage swung, Quintana was great on the Blockhaus, Pinot recovered for the final mountain stages. But the exchange rate between the mountains and time trials was expensive, the climbers could only gain seconds while Dumoulin took minutes back against the clock. Sunweb were valiant but Dumoulin was often isolated which made the contest more lively compared to the black train of Sky every July; or Astana in previous editions of the Giro and Vuelta. His stage win to Oropa was convincing and authoritative. That emergency dump was unfortunate but with hindsight if his bowels hadn’t moved then nor would have the GC: he’d have probably matched Nibali and Quintana over the Umbrailpass, preserved his 2m41s on GC, thus rendering the final mountain stages at best sideshow about the lower steps of the podium and the final time trial would have been a victory parade rather than a nail-biter.

What next? It can be frustrating that as soon as one event is over the circus moves on leaving little time to savour the past three weeks. Dumoulin is 26 years old and now a Tour de France contender, presumably 2018. Quintana won’t race again between now and the Tour de France, he’s now stood on the podium of the last three grand tours including one win but held to a high standard by some as if a mere a podium place is loss rather than a satisfaction. That would have been the case for Pinot who has tasted the Giro will surely want to return but this will prove tricky to balance as the leader of a French team, even if the Giro’s TV ratings soared in France.

Talking of France The Tour de France looms large but the Critérium du Dauphiné starts next Sunday, the hors d’oeuvre to the July and a stellar startlist with Froome, Aru, Chaves, Simon Yates, Bardet, Porte, Oomen, Barguil, Contador, Talansky, Meintjes and more via Alpe d’Huez and the novel Plateau de Solaison. Summer is here.

144 thoughts on “The Moment The Giro D’Italia Was Won”

    • Yes, very many thanks Inner Ring.
      It was almost like Christmas morning every day, waking up to find a present awaiting online.

      In fact we were privileged to follow the race and see everything unfold before our eyes too.
      Criticisms, gripes and moans maybe.
      But to see the riders unmasked at the end yesterday, was to see three weeks’ worth of suffering etched in their features; be it the gnarled toughened face of Adam Hansen, the smiling indefatigability of Nairo Quintana, to the tanned choir boy delicateness of Bob Jungels that belies one hard m-f.
      In the city of Milano, salute to all the Renaissance Men!

  1. I think what this Giro shows as, to be fair, other grand tours have, is that Quintana is not as much of an all-rounder as he needs to be. He is a climber trying to be an all-rounder. Its been enough twice in his grand tour career but not been enough on several other occasions. More complete all-rounders, Froome especially and now Dumoulin, can beat him if the race is not skewed too much into a mountain test with some flat and TT thrown in as an after-thought. Courses will always be contentious – Gabriele especially has had much to say on this on this blog – but if a grand tour is to be an all-round test then Quintana is going to keep struggling to find the absolute top step because others can beat him elsewhere and then do enough to retain their advantage. There’s not much Quintana can do about this because he is restricted by his size. Going forward, its hard to see him beating Froome at the Tour and maybe Movistar should consider Valverde as their main strike weapon there.

    As to Dumoulin, he will no doubt improve and on ITT heavy routes will continue to be a danger. A Dumoulin-Froome head to head in France now seems inevitable either this year or next and that will be interesting. But on routes with less ITT he will continue to be vulnerable. He doesn’t climb as well as Froome, Nibali or Contador, let alone Quintana, but the route needs to be lacking his ITT get out of jail free cards to make him really pay for that.

    I have given my thoughts about Nibali a few times now on this blog and the result yesterday hasn’t changed them. I continue to believe he doesn’t beat the top grand tour riders of his day. Quintana would certainly fall into the top two of that category (the other is Froome) and, as I expected, Nibali didn’t beat him. But, yes, fair play to the Italian, it was close. In a grand tour where climbing didn’t do much to distinguish the favourites one from another, a descent into Bormio was perfect for The Shark. Nibali did well and gave his all but I continue to believe that he will struggle to beat the very best in grand tours.

    • @ RonDe
      “Nibali didn’t beat him [Quintana]. But, yes, fair play to the Italian, it was close. … ”
      Indeed, just 9 seconds after 3 weeks. Slightly longer final TT, and Nibali probably in 2nd place.

  2. “the climbers could only gain seconds while Dumoulin took minutes back against the clock”

    I’m not gonna be too smart, since I believe Quintana and Nibali were just simply not good enough to make a difference in the mountains. However I still think they could have tried better. That wheel sitting on stage to St.Ulrich was a ludicrous move by both Quintana and Nibali. If you wish to win and you know that you s*** in TT, you need to try. And I mean TRY, not only test the situation several times. You see Dumoulin is struggling to keep pace…what do you do? Attack! No matter how far from the finish line you are. What’s there to lose? A second place instead of third? Maybe a podium spot? Well every move comes with a risk. The question is whether you’re happy with a podium spot and sacrificing a victory or not. Here I missed especially Quintana’s wish, desire to win, as we’ve seen before, for example in last year’s TdF. But once again, I don’t know how Quintana and Nibali felt.

    With respect to TT kms. This Giro had in total a bit less than 70 km of TT. Which is a lot nowadays but wasn’t unusual for example especially for TdF in the past. However, if we look at it from another perspective. Top 3 were at the end within one minute and the race was fully opened until the end. That’s what we all want right?

    Happy for Tom and happy that Quintana got yet another lesson. While Nibali anyway still needs to prove himself winning a GT in a very competitive environment.

    • Hopefully this will begin to reverse the post-2012 anti-TT panic that most race designers seemed to catch. As has been discussed here many times, the usual thing is that climbers have to attack in the mountains in order to have a lead to defend against the clock.

      • I loved the TT mix in the Giro and would love it to be repeated…in the Giro. Unfortunately Froome is just too good a TT’r and climber that any Tour (and he wont ever go to the Giro – not only because of sky but with his respiratory problems he’s not a good cold weather rider) with long TT kms will be reduced to boredom.

    • The mountains weren’t good enough for the climbers.

      In fact, Quintana attacked 55 km away from the line in Ortisei, and figures say that he went fast as hell (like when he attacked on Oropa or at the end of Foza). I doubt anyone could do much more, what do you expect in a mountainous stage, 7+ W/kg?

      In the Dolomites he could have – maybe – obtained more if the team strategy had been well executed (that was a mess), but i’m not that sure, either. He needed a perfect team plan, which isn’t easy at all to put in place.
      In the Stelvio day, it was him who didn’t dare, but note that anyway that would have implied asking him to go 85+ kms from the line, only 16 of those 85 favourable to him while the rest helped the chasers. A thing is to be daring, a different one is being crazy and hoping that the stars will align. Which is good to watch, but not often a winning strategy, especially if you consider that you’re anyway some final 30″ away from your rival, not minutes.

      • Any idea how much Dumoulin weighs now? As he was 71kg last season, his Velon-reported power numbers very likely put him in the 7+ W/kg bracket up Oropa; haven’t looked into it on other climbs as it wasn’t tweeted.
        I must say, it would be far more interesting of the live data was W/kg rather than W, equally % max HR not just bpm. Very hard to draw any conclusions otherwise.

      • “In fact, Quintana attacked 55 km away from the line in Ortisei, and figures say that he went fast as hell”

        Well, certainly not fast enough if he at the end in St.Ulrich finished behind Pinot, Pozzovivo, Hirt, Zakarin, Kruijswijk, Mollema, together with Dumoulin and Nibali and not much in front of Yates and Reichenbach. That’s my point and that what counts. Why was he not fast enough is essentially irrelevant. Mainly because he wasn’t able to drop the rest of top10 contenders when he forced that apparently super fast attack and because he then stopped with his attack and went behind Tom’s wheel. The conclusion is….not daring enough, not strong enough. The combination of both resulted in the end result.

        • That’s *my* point, don’t try to steal it. A course unsuited for mountain attacks, as you say. Dropping the rest uphill is useless if you’ve got less than 8 kms of serious climbing out of 50+ before the line.

          That Quintana is a climber and not a TTer or a “passista” is a fact already beyond any doubt, just as that the strongest man on this course won and deserved to win.

          • Gabriele’s ego is incredible. Now we’re talking about stealing statements. Wow.

            Anyway, talking about Stelvio stage. If Quintana would have something between his legs, he would and could attack very early on already. He had 3 riders in the breakaway. What for? No, he waited for the Umbrail and poo moment to test the legs of others a couple if times. Again, not gaining any time besides Tom’s time spent on his natural break.

          • It was irony, slo_cyclist. I’ll add more smileys next times 😉
            Let’s read it in slo_motion: taking your above observation and showing that it supports what I’m defending, that is, as a climber, even if you attack on such a course, and you attack hard (as figures show), you’re reeled back in and in the easy finales you might even end up forced in a defensive position.
            But no need to debate further, I think that quotes like “not gaining any time besides Tom’s time spent on his natural break” qualify your attitude.

        • Don’t forget he said he was suffering with a “fever” too. Also that point where Dumoulin, Nibali and Quintana were marking each other came when the hard part of the climb had stopped, neither Nibali or Quintana could really hope to do much on this gentler slope given the way Dumoulin was riding. It was only on the steep slopes like Blockhaus or Monte Cavallo that Dumoulin could be distanced.

          • Wait, what? Dumoulin got distanced by himself a couple of times, without anyone else even attacking. Asiago and piancavalo stages for example. that’s the moment when as an opponent you need to accelerate, or at least try. not look at each other and discuss who wants to work. At that time you need to show fireworks, bam! Jungels, Mollema and other guys in second half of top 10 would get dropped instantly in case quintana would (be able to or have courage to) show why he came to this giro for. Hopefully not for a stage win, even though it seems exactly like that.

          • You say all of this as if you’re​ playing a computer game rather than considering this is real life where the impossible isn’t possible at the push of a button. You have no consideration of form, of fatigue, of strategy, of psychological or physiological fraillities. Your only consideration seems to be your entertainment.

          • I’m guessing you’re refering to md’s comment so… I’m pretty sure he takes all these things in consideration when analysing performance and results, but that doesn’t say much about the viewing experience.
            The discussion that was going on was about entertainment, how thrilling the race was. That’s a question that md criteria can answer properly.

          • @Slo_cyclist
            Quintana looks like he came for a stage win and eventually comes second in GC with some 30″ of total delay (on an unfavourable course)?

            “Wow” (cit.)

            Again, I’m understanding why I’m considered “a fan”, if this is the correlative position mine is tested against.

          • I’m wondering what would’ve happened if Tom had had to drag himself up the Zoncolan or even Lavaredo. Perhaps, in moden cycling, the 7% slopes where climbers used to be able to drop the rouleurs simply don’t work anymore. Perhaps TT kilometers can only be balanced nowadays with very steep climbs.

          • I think you have a point. Dumoulin type riders can nowadays only be dropped in very steep slopes; the 7% slopes do not do it anymore.

          • Likewise Ferdi, the steep slopes can help the pure climbers but ultimately they remain a test of W/kg over a set duration of time, riders have learned how to approach these efforts differently. What may help the climbers over the rouleurs is variety in the slope, going from 7% to 12% to 8% to 15% during a climb because this prompts pace changes, accelerations etc.

          • @inrng
            Re: the question of gradients. You’re right, generally speaking, and I’d call for more variety, nor just “more steep slopes”, but two further factors should be considered.

            Firstly, not a mathematical law, but up to a certain point lighter riders tend to be able to produce better W/kg (same in this Giro, in terms of W/kg Quintana was always better than Dumoulin, including Oropa).
            Secondly, the faster you go on any gradient, the more and more radically the aero (hence, slipstream) element comes into play: a prolonged over 10% avg. gradient keeps avg. speed at 18km/h, meaning that wheelsucking is less relevant (I’m not against wheelsucking, it makes the tactical component more interesting, but when designing the course you must take into account that such a component can “help” to “neutralise” the difference on the climbs, reducing the selection). Even more important, pushing against air resistance is a matter of pure power; that is, the higher the speed, the more crucial becomes the “pure power” component within the total effort, not just W/kg, thus rewarding heavier riders, or reducing their deficit. This second effect becomes significant with higher speeds.

            (It’s not about technology, training or the likes, the effect has been already in place throughout the 90s and in previous decades, too).

          • Quite so, @inrng But then, it’s a bit hard sentimentally, if the Stelvio or the Tourmalet can no longer condition the race the way they did in the 1960’s or 70’s. It leads me to my usual rant against carbon wheels, pedals, shoes and frames, and against pace-assisting electronic devices. And Gabriele is right about the effect of speed, which is why is I defend anything that reduces speeds, much-increased distances to begin with.

          • I think you have to take into account team strength these days too. The top riders very very rarely don’t have a team mate in front of them to pace them up climbs. So its not very often that it is a straight w/kg fight between them. Look at this Giro, for most of the climbs Quintana had Amador and Anacona in front of him (at least) and Nibali had Pelizotti. Come July Froome will have Henao, Poels, Nieve, Landa and Thomas. Its pretty hard to drop someone when they have team mates to close the gap for them. That’s where you need the steep slopes, the lesser pacing effect means team mates can help you less and any crack can become a big time loss rather than the 15 second you lost in the last K sprint to the line.

          • I’m guessing that Nibali was counting on a different approach to the Monte Grappa stage. That descent is highly technical and he has shown that he can take a minute out of other excellent descenders there. TD is not an excellent descender, he could have been put under signifiacnt pressure and others really can’t help too much here. The stage was too fast for a planned attack where he sends two riders up the road, Nibali attacks with 3-4 k to go on the climb, descends like his usual self with his first gregario to meet him at the beginning of the flat. He is then towed to part way up the next climb where his second gregario assists the climb and the relatively flat final portion. This is simalar to the fianl two stages of last year’s Giro where Scarponi (RIP) and Kangert were critical. Based on this potential scenario Nibali actually takes enough time, with or without a bonification, which he could then defend in the ITT. Speculation of course but not atypical based on prior “Nibaliesque” attacks.

  3. Great Giro the 3 weeks seems to have flown by, good daily coverage on here. Has cycling revealed, dare I say it, the “new” Big Mig for the GT’s.

    • It might have revealed who wins multiple TDFs after Froome. It will always be harder for him to win the Giro (with less ITT) or the Vuelta and so I expect him to sharpen his Tour focus from here on in.

    • In searchs on the web I found Big Mig was 1,88m and 80kg on GTs. Meanwhile TD 1,85m and 69-71kg (depending from the source), Froome 1,86m 69kg. On the mountains weight matters a lot.

      Excluding debates about doping era or doping insinuations, Big Mig was a nature’s freak, so much weight for dragging on uphills!

  4. Great summary. Can’t wait to see if the other stage races will match the Giro.

    Any chance of Dumoulin going to the Vuelta?

  5. Loved that for the first time a rider game from off the provisional podium to win the race on the final stage, always nice to see a bit of history being made. I was going to say that rather than being Wiggins-esque as some of the more breathless commentary has it, Dumoulin rode more like Cadel Evans in the 2011 Tour de France where he was supported by a relatively weak team compared to his rivals but was unperturbed by setbacks on the road to hang with the mountain goats and finish a storming second in the final time trial to take back the leader’s jersey.

    Glad to hear the ratings were up in France, how were they in Italy after the home nation’s worst ever Giro performance?

    Looking forward to Dumoulin taking on le Tour next year, would be interesting to see someone beat Froome at his own game, as the Brit (while arguably the best climber in the world on his day) has had the time trials to himself in GC terms of late.

    • Its an interesting equation that one. Froome couldn’t rely on the time trials for help against Tom but then again Tom couldn’t depend on huge (2.53!) time gaps against Froome. In the comments of the previous blog Gabriele has said that he thought an adequately prepared Froome would have won this Giro by a couple of minutes and the problem for Dumoulin against Froome is that Froome could time trial just below his level but still hang with the top climbers. And that’s how you beat Dumoulin. Dumoulin, I think, needs help in the form of three or four climbing domestiques because for all the work of Geschke and Ten Dam (and the missing Kelderman) that is a weakness others (i.e. Froome) can exploit.

      • All very true I’d wager, but Dumoulin can still improve his climbing I reckon – he’s already a level above what he was in the 2015 Vuelta where he was most assertive on the shorter climbs, whereas he handled the long alpine drags in this Giro with aplomb. Plus he’s four years younger than Froome (part of that incredible 1990 year – along with Bardet, Sagan, Aru, Pinot, Matthews, Quintana, Kwaitkowski, Dennis etc), so has time on his side. His performance could also help Sunweb secure some extra sponsorship Euros for the future too.

        • Despite his inconsistencies, I think Porte could have given Dumoulin a run for his money in this one. We’ll see where he is in July, but he was looking fairly frisky early season.

          • Agreed. Porte’s looked on the money this year, he clearly has the strength and endurance to be a GC contender, just needs a bit more luck. Hopefully we can get a great contest come July.

    • Ratings weren’t simply “up” in France, even if it’s correct literally speaking.
      The Giro practically… hadn’t been shown in France in recent years (minimal exposure with the absurd BeIN pay broadcast)!
      OTOH, this year in Spain, they lost an estimated 80% viewers going from public TV to the Eurosport pay-TV exclusive deal (but the Basque resisted, and I’m very grateful to them for their legal streaming).
      I’d be curious about the Netherlands.

      This year in Italy was good, as a whole it was like previous years, which were very satisfactory (to sum up these recent years, let’s say averaging about 2M and a 18% share each stage, with peaks at 3-4M and 25-30% share).

      Looked in deeper detail, it was a lost occasion, IMHO. It started *huge* in the first weekend, +500K and +3% share when compared with previous editions. The #100 breakthrough effect among mass viewers, well prepared by a generalist campaign.
      Things went slowly down and down during the first week (stages 1-9), already disappointing in racing terms. It was eventually going to be worse (!) than the previous editions – the first stages jump start notwithstanding! – until the Blockhaus brought things on par.

      The second week was tragic. The ITT, as always, was a complete disaster, by far the least watched stage and -40% spectators than the average. But that’s normal, and I pray that they don’t take away ITTs, it’s just how you design and place them (the 2015 one was a success in viewing terms, too, as the Milano one this year!). But the worst thing, against previous editions, was the rest of the week, especially the weekend. Oropa was very good, but most people just watched the final hour (unusual for the Giro). The week’s average was 300K a day down than previous editions.

      Finally, the last week was pretty good and made things even again. The peaks weren’t really there, the most watched stage was the Saturday one (weekend helps) and made 3.3M, 27% share.
      No great results, but steady good ones. The mass public hasn’t really come back (the mass public is that 1-2 M people who only watch the decisive’s stage last hour) but the solid fanbase has expanded from 2M to 2.5M (persons who watch full live for 3-4 hours on a working day, even asking a free day on their job to do so… real stories).
      The very good news was the final ITT. Great, especially being an ITT, nearly 3M and 23% share. Impressive, and hugely better than the usual parade which is often disappointing (1.8 M and 15% share for Contador). Personally, I don’t dislike the final parade, to reward the sprinters who made it and so, but since the Giro hasn’t ever had the Champs Elysees tradition, an ITT might be a good option.

      Comparing with 2015 (to make it more balanced, having a foreign winner), it was completely the same, but with a great start, a mediocre first week, a horrible second week and a steadier third week. All in all, very good figures, as cycling tends to achieve in Italy, often dominating the day on that channel and among the overall best programmes – although one might have hoped for more given the #100 hype, but sadly the racing wasn’t on par with what we’ve seen before.

      (sorry if I’m repeating myself, I already wrote this but since Augie is asking, I’ll make it easier instead of looking through 100+ comments elsewhere)

  6. If you are Quintana and/or Movistar, are you having a mini-crisis today? While the Giro’s course was well-balanced, the climbing definitely favored the mountain goats like Quintana. Yes, Dumoulin is fantastic against the clock, but he’s not a climber (yet?). Further, Dumoulin was backed by a relatively weak team that lost its top lieutenant in the first week of the race. If Quintana and his team can’t capitalize on that, how in the world will they beat Froome and Sky in July?

    I don’t mean to take anything away from Dumoulin’s win, by the way. I’m glad to see a fresh face on the top step, and I’m anxious to see what he can do in the coming years.

    • Dumoulin isn’t a climber? Shut yer mouth and try to hang on up some hill. The fact that there are a few that climbs better does not make him NOT a climber. If you can win in Oropa, you can climb. If you can walk away with the Senza Fine after 21 stage, you can climb. There are other disciplines he’s even better at, but surely, he is a climber too.

      • You’re assuming I’m criticizing Dumoulin. I’m not. His climbing seems to be consistently improving, but he is not a climber like Quintana or other “mountain goats.”

  7. What remains with me, is that Dumoulin would have won without his Umbrail incident by such a comfortable margin that he would have won this Giro with a TT less. So, he could have won a Giro where there were only 40 km of TTs. Which is encouraging for the future.

    • The Tour this year has only 37kms of time trialling and 3 MTFs (one of which is the short and sweet Planches des Belles Filles). TD would have a good chance.

      • In this form, yeah. That’s my takeaway from this Giro. Dumoulin didn’t need 70 km of TT to win the GC.
        That being said, Froome is probably the only cyclist in the world against whom Dumoulin’s advantages are neutralised. A nearly as good TTer and a better climber.

    • Even though I don’t like “would have, should have” discussions, for example, we never know what would have happened should Froome, Chavez, Contador attend this Giro, should Landa and Thomas not have crashed, etc. But still, a very very relevant point! Shouldn’t he need to poo there and lose 2 minutes, ceteris paribus, he would have won by a very comfortable margin and this Giro would have been less interesting. However, maybe in that case Quintana, Nibali and others would have shown beter combativity and maybe again turn the things around? Too many IFs.

    • And Quintana without fever… coulda, woulda, shoulda. Tom probably ate too many gel and, anyway, his body asked him an “extra performance”, not the usual and common pissing thing at the beginning of a stage. It’s like Di Luca’s cramps which prevented him winning the Giro in 2005 and many other similar episodes.
      What matters is that Tom proved himself a serious GT competitor, mastering high level rivals, recovery, cold mind, the set of skills is totally there. This Giro probably said more about his chances at the Tour than… at any classical Giro (also cf. the Ten Dam anecdote). But that’s not significant, anyway.

    • The dymanics of the race would have chnaged entirely if Domulin had finished with Quintana on the Umbrail stage. Even on the Umbrail stage i’d imageine that either Quintana and Dumolin or Ninali and Domulin would have equaled themselves out – which would have created a distance between Nibali and Domulin.

      This Giro was so close that you can’t take out a single incient and predict an outcome – like in the recent editions of TDF or the Giro.

  8. “Quintana held to a high standard by some as if a mere a podium place is loss rather than a satisfaction”

    Absolutely! Some people should calm down a bit about Quintana. He is trying to do his best with what he has, trying to use his main advantage in the mountains. Sometimes you win, someyimes you lose, that’s life.

    It’s just stupid to see a part of picture in the corner, when you should consider it as a whole. He is vulnerable at some terrain and needs a course that properly suits him, otherwise it’s hard for him to win a GT. But he already has almost as much podiums as Contador and Froome, though he is younger. So half empty or half full? It depends.

  9. Many thanks for three weeks of great insightful blogging!
    Personally I am very happy with the outcome of the race – hope to see Tom go on to win more impressive trophies – and nice to see the winner take two stages, both a TT and a mountain finish. Note that the only other rider to win more than once this Giro was Gaviria.

  10. I’ve seen in various places and comments around the internet a lot of hype around TommyD’s move from 4th to 1st on the final day. Indeed a nice piece of history to stash away, but far from the best or most dramatic final day twists. And i will also count various Stage 20’s in races where the final day has been a procession stage.
    Certainly i will always rate the Lemond-Fignon 8″ Finale way above yesterday, and the lesser known by incredible ’47 Tour Finale from Robic.

    Such a thought sums up my view of this Giro – anticlimactic. Every day seemed to end with a tought of, “So tomorrow they’ll make the attack”. But the attack’s never came. Testers, yes. Those small accelerations where you see who’s feeling good. The big move never seemed to come. The time gaps in the mountains where only small and the biggest problems TommyD faced were of either his or his teams own doing.

    A good race with a close finish. But i’d rather have a 2011 Tour any day over this grinding affair.

    • Not the best but still good though? Don’t be too harsh and wash away our happiness following a few slightly duller TDF’s… we’re all waiting for the next 2011.

      • Worst of the last five years, but not of the last decade, even if it probably sits among the worst three.

        That’s to say that the Giro is usually great, anyway, not that this one was that horrible. At the end of the day, it was still better than most TdFs of our century.

        • Hmmm.

          I think I preferred it to all of the last 5? At least in the battle for the overall.

          > Last year was good, but the crash defined it, whereas this year got over the Blockhaus crash and had more protagonists?

          > 2015 was also good, but again less protagonists and Landa being kept on a leash gave you the feeling as with 2016 that the best man in the race didn’t win.

          > This year was surely better than 2014? Higher level and matched the controversy of their Stelvio day with defecategate and Blockhaus? I remember that being a procession from Stage 16 onwards – this year was still flying high right to the close?

          > And surely it’s better than 2013? That was a procession from basically stage 8 – Nibali won by 4mins +….

          I actually enjoyed the GC battle more this year than any, although if Contador fans enjoyed ’15 more that’s fair enough, it was good, and Nibali fans last year more again totally fine – but I definitely do not think this year was unequivocally the worst of the last 5?

          You’re great Gabriele, and I know you love facts, but occasionally you write opinions as though they were facts and I think even you as a Nibali/Quintana fan must concede that in terms of GC at least this year for some might match the last two? I’m not sure your working method allows space for personality – I like TD, and the more I began to like him during this race the more I enjoyed the race, that’s obviously an unquantifiable thing from person to person but when you say so categorically that it’s in the bottom three of the last ten years you sound as if it can be worked out by some equation.

          I’m sure I’m going to get stomped on for the sprints being duller than previously and the breakaway days being likewise less interesting… I’m just going to put a final thing out there… were the breakaway days less interesting because we were all so engrossed in the GC that they ended up slightly getting in the way rather than being any worse than previously?

        • Hmmm.

          I think I preferred it to all of the last 5? At least in the battle for the overall.

          > Last year was good, but the crash defined it, whereas this year managed to get over what could have been a defining crash – Blockhaus crash and had more protagonists?

          > 2015 was also good, but again less protagonists and Landa being kept on a leash gave you the feeling as with 2016 that the best man in the race didn’t win.

          > This year was surely better than 2014? Higher level and matched the controversy of their Stelvio day with defecategate and Blockhaus? I remember that being a procession from Stage 16 onwards – this year was still flying high right to the close?

          > And surely it’s better than 2013? That was a procession from basically stage 8 – Nibali won by 4mins +….

          I actually enjoyed the GC battle more this year than any, although if Contador fans enjoyed ’15 more that’s fair enough, it was good, and Nibali fans last year more again totally fine – but I definitely do not think this year was unequivocally the worst of the last 5?

          You’re great Gabriele, and I know you love facts, but occasionally you write opinions as though they were facts and I think even you as a Nibali/Quintana fan must concede that in terms of GC at least this year for some might match the last two? I’m not sure your working method allows space for personality – I like TD, and the more I began to like him during this race the more I enjoyed the race, that’s obviously an unquantifiable thing from person to person but when you say so categorically that it’s in the bottom three of the last ten years you sound as if it can be worked out by some equation.

          I’m sure I’m going to get stomped on for the sprints being duller than previously and the breakaway days being likewise less interesting… I’m just going to put a final thing out there… were the breakaway days less interesting because we were all so engrossed in the GC that they ended up slightly getting in the way rather than being any worse than previously?

          • In short (you won’t believe it, I hope I’ll be more concise than you!).

            The GC action was less in duration, frequence and less meaningful, too (2014 wasn’t hugely far above, indeed – yet, it was above). My criterion is about “cycling action”, not if the classification is tight or if the winners are likeable.
            As such, this is a rather solid measuring tool: obviously, it’s totally personal to choose it as the main criterion over others.

            A harder factor to define, which I nevertheless *do* consider, is that this year the technical quality was high, but it was in recent past years, too. 2012 was worse, despite at least one huge, memorable stage, precisely because I consider that the quality of GC was a bit lower. Same for 2007.

            (the rest was worse than the other years, but I wasn’t thinking about that).

      • @DEREK – Read my last scentence, i will quote for you: “A good race…” So yes, not the best but still good. And if that kind of comment can wash away your own opinion of the race, perhaps it wasn’t as great/good as you thought?

        • I think you’re straight up wrong on that front – there was loads of GC action this year compared to ’14 & ’13? I think whether you prefer ’15, ’16, ’17 is dependent on taste and support as again I don’t think the GC action differs a dramatically as you suggest.

  11. If ASO are smart I suspect they will design a TT heavy course for 2018. I think a Froome v Dumoulin TDF is a mouthwatering prospect for fans. Ok it may not favour Pinot or Bardet but unless they very lucky I can’t see them beating Froome et al and ASO know this. Lately GTs have generally been light on TT miles cos they’ve lacked excitement with the main contenders being mostly climbers. Froome and Dumoulin locking horns would be great.

    • This is a no brainer – I think it may already be close to finalised, but they may have also seen this coming anyway, especially with Porte’s ascent to the top rank – Quintana may well have missed his moment with a few climber friendly TDF’s…. the Pinot/Bardet questions are the biggies you’re right…

      It’s just a shame Dumoulin may be racing to his best just as Froome is passing his best.

    • A lot of the 2018 course is designed already but there’s room to change something here or there. But long TTs don’t bring guarantees of an open race, they can cement the GC too.

      Look how Chris Froome built up an invincible advantage in the Ardèche TT, in fact it was my “winning moment” from last year and I used a similar chart to show how Froome distanced all his rivals with this

  12. As always Inrng provides insightful analysis

    I saw this photo and thought it summed up TDs Giro perfectly

    One man, one bike taking on everything the course, his own doubts, multiple opponents and fate could conspire to conjure up, overcoming them all to emerge victorious. The possible emergence of a dominant figure in cycling for the next few years. I thought it was best Grand Tours of recent years, harping back to the mythical past with dark hints of conspiracy, incidents aplenty, close competition, visiting many of the best known sites of Italian cycling mixed with all the hoopla of contemporary media (social media very much adding to the, at times, febrile atmosphere).

    As to the rest.

    Nairo Quintana couldn’t quite drop a somewhat unexpected rival. I wonder if he has been concentrating on his time trialling and has lost a little bit of climbing explosivity – for a non specialist his TT results were actually pretty reasonable. How much will this have affected an attempt on the TdF in five weeks time we shall have to see, his competitors there will have much stronger teams (one competitor might even be in his own team). Coming so close here must have hurt mentally and physically.

    Vincenzo Nibali gave his all, won a magnificent victory on the Stelvio stage but on this occasion it just wasn’t enough.

    Thibaut Pinot flattered to deceive, he does seem to suffer more than most with breathing issues which cant help. Will he submit himself to 3 weeks of torture racing around his native country?

    Bob Jungels rode excellently. His mate Tom Dumoulin has shown it is possible to overcome weaknesses in the mountains. A potential future winner of the Maglia Rosa.

    Simon Yates survived the encounter with the motorbike. He rode very steadily, always there or thereabouts, much in the same fashion as last year’s TdF. I do think he has to improve his time trialling if he is to challenge for victory in a GT.

    One other honourable mention, Jan Hirt. Yes he was allowed to ride away on a couple of occasions but by the end he and his team mates were with the front group or not far behind. A great achievement from a wildcard team.

    • Adam Yates, not Simon but point taken. Bob Jungles rode very strongly (and is it too soon to call him the potential “next Tom Dumloulin” given their similar physical traits and riding styles?) but sans that crash before the Blockhaus it’s hard to argue that Yates wouldn’t have ended the Giro in white. And I can’t see much evidence that Quintana clearly has been working on his time trialling as he was slower than Yates by 14 seconds in the first TT on terrain that should have suited him (although to be fair he did outperform the Brit yesterday in Milan).

      • I keep getting them confused, they look so similar :(. I think Simon might be a more attacking rider Adam somewhat steadier.

        NQ did OK in the first time trial around the same time as Steven Kruijswijk, Adam Yates, Rui Costa etc and not that much slower than Vincenzo Nibali. What made it seem so poor was the brilliant form of Tom Dumoulin and also Geraint Thomas and Bob Jungels, the rest of the field peddling along in the distance. He clearly put everything into the ride yesterday, though it was clear he does not have the technique or physique to match the best time triallers.

        • A couple of years ago it was easier when Adam had a beard and Simon was clean shaven….doesn’t help they seem to have the same personality off the bike as well.

          Agreed on NQ. While he’s shown that he’s consistently below Froome in the mountains, this year’s Tour de France route is tailor made for Quintana with its insultingly few TT kilometres, so his attempt at the double seems a bit odd as if ever there was a year to bet everything on the tour this is it.

          • “While he’s shown that he’s consistently below Froome in the mountains”.
            That’s why I look like I’m oversupporting Quintana, I guess, ah ah ah!

            Details aside, this Tour has very few serious mountain stages, too, many of them far from good for Quintana. It’s a bit like that Pa-Ni we were speaking about – luckily Beta he’s serious, this year 😛

            As a general point, not specifically about you Augie, the difference many don’t get between ITTs and “climbing” is that the advantage you get from ITTs can’t be countered or reduced by rivals or race circumstances in any possible way, while strategies, alliances, teamwork all have a great impact on the climbing part, at least when the speed are over 17-18 km/h and the difference between athletes aren’t huge. Which means that ITTs are much more “mathematical” then climbs, with the possible exception – in itself unfavourable to climbers – of “monoclimb” stages.
            40 kms of flat ITTs can give you a pretty much sure advantage if you’re a TTer, while the same isn’t ever true for climbers in most mountain stages, bar the most savage ones (but this isn’t the case of next Tour’s).

          • Not sure the TdF route does favour NQ. There are fewer set piece mountain stages more “novelty” and lumpy ones. Perhaps “classics” style ambush territory which might suit his team mate Alejandro Valverde better.

          • Well last year’s Vuelta showed how Sky are vulnerable to such “ambushes” (even though Movistar is definitely not the team to exploit that, look more to squads like Orica or riders like the ever-reliable Contador). Sky are beatable and the low TT kms help, Froome’s opponents just need a bit of imagination and to seize the opportunity.

          • It looks like we’ll be relying on Contador there again. I cannot but believe his presence here might have forced a different outcome – not necessarily in his favour – as the Formigal stage of the Vuelta did. Movistar’s innate conservatism, their unwillingness to risk a loss and their desire to also win the team contest, I believe, hampers their star rider in attaining the top step. Movistar are the world’s strongest team. They simply should not lose races like this.

          • @RonDe
            (except “the world’s strongest team”, which is open to debate, and you might have some good points on that – impressive given their budget, which was more or less comparable to Sunweb)

            A pity Contador doesn’t become younger each year…

            (just as Nibali, who, feel assured, won’t “beat the best” anymore: three TdF winners was the best he could do; they won’t become four nor ten; since he’s not getting stronger with the passing seasons. And if the current “strongest guys” should get weaker, they probably wouldn’t be “the best” anymore themselves, either).

            … but I’m confident that a new wave of brave riders might be on the rise, if they don’t get “their wings clipped” – (c) inrng. A series of coincidences or preferences kept several of them away from the Giro, but they might enrich the TdF.

  13. Never too soon to speculate on the transfer market.

    What does this mean for the career of Barguil, who looked so promising with two Vuelta stages? AG2R and FDJ already have leaders, does he move to Direct of Fortuneo?

    Does Landa go back to Astana? Aru has unlucky they’ve seemed to be lacking leadership and wins considering their budget.

    Does Jungels stay with Quickstep, should he aim for one week races in 2018, rack up WT points and make a Grand Tour run properly in 2018.

    What climbing domestiques are on the market and what is their premium given the number of teams that want to bolster their lineups?

    • Sunweb’s a good learning space for Barguli for now – bearing in mind Dumoulin has yet to even sign a contract – but even if he does, he’s in a GC focused team, Dumoulin can’t ride every GT so he will get his chances and the team will be on a high with many domestiques sensing this their moment to make their name. Unless he’s a chance to lead a bigger team there’s no reason to leave. The team may even be better funded next year to make staying a no brainer – plus he’ll have the chance to repeat Dumoulin’s success and continue learning with maybe the Giro & Vuelta next year.

      Hard call for Landa. I have a hunch he is the best climber in cycling right now. Does he think he can challenge for GC? It’s must be infuriating that he could be a Giro winner by now and leading a team at the TDF had he raced his own race in the 2015 Giro. Feels like bad luck/circumstance has held up his career. If money is what matters and Astana come calling then maybe it’s silly to dismiss… although it’s not like he’s being treated badly by Sky, it would just be nice to see him light up the Tour rather than continuing to plug away at the Giro and Vuelta. Either way though he deserves to be leading. Interesting to see how Aru does the rest of this year and then their little Colombian – is it Angel?

      Jungels should move. Two white jerseys, but no scope for real team back up, when he is a rider who will need it, and really he’s playing second fiddle to other ambitions when he is better than that. Where is the question? Sky, no, Astana probably not, BMC, possibly not but not a terrible option, Movistar, no, Sunweb, no, french teams no… Trek? If Contador retires? Maybe depends if they or BMC come for Dumoulin… What about Bahrain… could be a decent option and ride where Nibali doesn’t? What about Cannondale…

      Climbing domestiques – oh good question… Sunweb, BMC, Orica surely want to bolster… you can imagine riders being pinched from Cannondale, Trek, Lotto Jumbo all with this in mind.

      All interesting questions.

  14. A good Giro in terms of a tense GC race, though Dumoulin always gave the impression that he had it under control. His method is entertaining because he has a weak team and has to fight away in the mountains largely on his own, and also because he appears to have weaknesses I.e his climbing and his bowels at high altitude! Wiggins was a similar rider but the strength of his team made his method boring. Froome, and Armstrong before him, combines no obvious weakness with by far the strongest team making his victories both inevitable and boring. Looking forward to France how is anybody going to beat the strongest TTer of all the GC men who will also likely be at least jointly the strongest climber with a team containing Thomas, Landa, Henao, Nieve, Poels (maybe) and Kwiatkowski who are all good enough to be leaders themselves (with the possible exception of Nieve)?!
    Also, a question for Gabriele, has there ever been a Giro so many of the top Italian riders skipped? I put a list of the Italian riders who weren’t there on a previous post, and forgot to put Fabio Feline on it. Surely Italy’s stage count would have been more than 1 if their top riders had been there. Previously there top Italian riders all did the Giro as they would mostly have been on Italian sponsored teams who would have insisted on it. Maybe this is another by product of the lack of Italian teams, meaning they are told to prioritise elsewhere.

    • You’re asking for a difficult stat to be really calculated, no satisfactory method to define who “the top Italian riders are” (CQ and so are very limited), especially when we extend that concept to stage hunters. From an intuitive POV, I’d say that you’re totally spot on – about the motives, too.

      • I suppose it’s not something that can be measured statistically but just an impression. My impression would be that stage hunters like Bettini or Bartoli would usually be at the Giro, and the likes of Simoni, Garzelli and Savoldelli limited their efforts at the Tour to a bit of stage hunting, even Pantani would prioritise the Giro and usually lost buckets of time in the first week of the Tour. Petacchi was always at the Giro but more sporadic at the Tour and we all know Cipo would do the first week of the Tour and then slip off to the beach but finished a few Giros. Before that Saronni, Moser, Visentini et al hardly bothered with the Tour at all.

  15. Loved this Giro, my biggest complaint was a complete lack of little teams’ and little riders’ victories; no Giulio Ciccone this year.
    Can anyone tell me how they’d define the much-used phrase this year “Power climb”? Apparently Tom D’s success in many climbs was due to this. It’s not just this though, Jungels beating Yates by a good margin shows his ability to keep up on the climbs to an extent that’d surprise most Yates fans, and never mind Quintana, Pinot, Nibali, no mountain goat got much of a gap in any climb this year, and TD was rarely alone when chasing (Compare, say, Quintana and Pinot on Huez against Froome in 2015). Is it the type of climbs?

    • Good question, and I was pondering about this too; how modern riders on modern bikes have almost rendered some of the climbs of yester-year into geriatric impotence.
      Where does the threshold between climb and “power-climb” stand now?
      And how significant is the power meter?

    • I suppose in terms of a Grand Tour power climbs are those that are evenly graded at about 5-7% with a nice surface and wide hairpins. The stereotypical ski station access road that you can get a coach up without blowing its engine. Riders like Dumoulin, Jungels, Wiggins and Indurain can effectively get in a TT rythem and pace themselves up at an even 400 watts. Opposed to the likes of the Mortirolo or Zoncolan with long sustained stretches at over 10-15% where their weight would be too much, or climbs where the gradient constantly changes and you can’t sit at a TT type constant effort.

        • Easier top part, in the last couple of kms just a few hundred metres were steeper, the rest is flat or 6% at most. That’s where Tom made a positive difference (which doesn’t mean that he hadn’t been impressive losing just 4 secs over six mins against Pantani’s time between -4 and -2).
          But we already knew he’s as strong as the best climbers when the effort is short enough and he gets there fresh.

      • I’d agree with that definition, a climb that rolls well and where the riders go so fast uphill that drafting has a significant effect. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks, eg the Dauphiné with the Mont du Chat and the Plateau de Solaison, where 10-12% slopes are the norm, and the Chat has a rough road surface too. As said here before the Giro had more “Tour climbs” with steady roads and ski stations and the Tour has more “Giro climbs” like the Planche des Belles Filles, Peyragudes, the Jura stage etc

        • Thanks all, that seems reasonable. Not that much altitude either in the Giro – the Queen stage sure, but the follow up in the Dolomites dropped to low altitude well before it ended. I like a little altitude selection – like when Valverde, who was otherwise climbing superbly, lost 3 mins last year at altitude. Oh well! I hope next year has more Mortirolos, more Ciccones and even simply more Vivianis (that must have really hurt).

  16. Much thanks to Mr Inrng for the excellent coverage and many very memorable quotes and quibs that really make this Giro enjoyable.

    Speaking of coverage, looks like the TV production totally messed up the time gap yesterday. They had this count down which supposed mean that Quintana need to hit the line before it go zero to win. By my count, he hit the line 6-7 seconds (no more than 10) after it went zero. Yet Quintana’s final gap to TD was 31 seconds.

    I wonder how they get the time gap. Live GPS or extrapolation from fixed time checks? Either way the inaccuracy made the experience a dis-service to viewers (amongst which a infuriated TD who almost got a heartattack as a result).

    At the end of the day, without rider weight & known threshold power/heart rate value of keybriders, the data are quite pointless as power alone gives no indication of how fast a rider is actually climbing and without threshold you have no idea if a rider is riding good tempo or struggling. However, teams will see such data as their top secret and I can’t see them given them up willingly.

    • Its been said in other comments sections that the whole data thing (at least as so far presented) is a nonsense. Is meaningless to those who know anything about it (because its not giving threshold or w/kg figures) and pointless to people who don’t.

      • Yes. The only data which offered material for a debate, weren’t ever discussed at all! Those in the know didn’t explain, those who don’t know didn’t notice anything strange, those lost midway like me just got confused.

      • Agreed, but data and time gaps are different things. Data could be promising but needs more explanation and better storytelling, RAI’s production budget is obviously spent on helicopters, motos and logistics rather than analytics.

        But the time gaps were problematic, I found myself using the stopwatch function on my phone for manual timings although you have to be careful as RAI seem to have a different delay for moto shots and heli shots so you can only compare the same point of view and hard to get the same reference point.

        • I am sorry if I am repeating the sentiment about W/kg & Threshold power in regard to data releasing.

          What I found fascinating however, is the conflict between teams needing to protect their trade secret (not releasing W/kg & threshold power as that would give competitor advantage) and the need to release such trade secret in order to build an interesting narrative on TV.

          I wonder how this conflict would play out. At the end of the day, TV rating is what give teams sponsorship value. Maybe one can argue that the added narrative by releasing such trade secrets would not attract more mass media audiences. And hardcore fans who can benefit from such narrative would have been watching anyway with/without them. Thus it does not add more value and teams would get to keep their secrets.

          On the other hand, I still wonder if teams would relent to some extent eventually. For example, instead of releasing the threshold or W/kg of team leader, they release threshold or W/kg for a main mountain lieutenant as a compromise?

          Or maybe they can use data release on a different context to make TV interesting. For example, average wattage during a sprint? Surly that would make sprint stages a little bit more intriguing.

          On the other hand, the RAI blundering on time gap is really puzzling. Some part of me was wondering if they intentional misrepresent the time gap in order to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Though this is too much of a conspiracy theory and I have to conclude that their mess up was somehow an honest mistake.

          • I don’t really understand the protection of power data on the longer climbs. It doesn’t really matter if you do or don’t show it, you’re either climbing with the best or you’re not. Teams can easily deduce their opponents W/Kg relative to what they know their riders were doing. Add in 1-2% differences in accuracy/calibration, rider weight fluctuations etc. and you realise they are just a guide to the level of effort because time is the only metric by which a rider is measured. Does anyone argue against?

          • @Charles

            Certainly some of the non-sharing is a defence against doping comments. It’s always some of the ‘evidence’ of doping when riders do certain W/Kg, so if my rider was doing that figure or higher i’d certainly not share the data and avoid the issue.
            I’d also want to avoid giving a psycological advantage to another team. If i know someone is doing X i can work harder to do X+1. Simplistic, but it’s a factor. Rather than guessing if a rider is at a limit i can see from their data what that limit is, and i know i can beat it.

          • W/kg does not give u a lot tecticalwise. It may tell u how much one is getting from drafting.

            Threahold coupled with live power tells u when exactly ur opppnent is on the rope and that would be perfect time to put hammer down.

            Granted such tactics are pointedless against master pacer such as CF & TD as they don’t respond to ur pace.

          • @Hammerling
            I just don’t think it works like that in a race. If a rider is at their limit then you’ll be at, or close, to your limit. At this level this fluctuations in PM accuracy, differing weights of riders and, most importantly, how you feel at the time are why a race can’t race on data alone.

            The doping question is different. But again, if the numbers are “mutant” then surely that will be reflected in the performance too and the tongues start wagging regardless.

            At the end of the day I’m grateful to the riders you provide powerdata and I’d encourage more to do so.

    • The TV time gaps were deplorable all race but especially in the final week. The commentators on L’Equipe gave up on them completely and used others, either their own or ones from Radio Corsa.

    • The uncertainty about the time gaps contributed to possibly my favourite moment of the whole race.

      Dumoulin’s DS had told him his was a winning TT but then he saw his advantage was just 3″. He sat at the finish line watching Quintana’s effort, the clock counting down, with an anxious expression and no idea how far his opponent had still to ride. Then Quintana went under the flamme rouge with the countdown at only about 1:00 and Dumoulin, knowing the race was his, burst into a smile almost too big for his face. Coupled with Jos van Emden’s almost speechless delight at the stage win, it was a glorious couple of minutes for cycling on TV.

  17. After dominating the 1st TT, Oropa exposed Tom’s rivals. For sure.

    *****Then, after a CRAPPY day, & STILL winning the race, there was no question in My mind; it was Tom’s.

    Of course it was a nail biter in the end… but still…

    Tour de France, Tom?

  18. Is it far fetched to say The moment the race was won was actually in the Tirreno – Adriatico? Tom losing the TT there was definitely a wake-up call for Tom to keep working on his TT to stay sharp. And the TT’s where his biggest time wins this Giro.

    • He was a long way down in that TT but with hindsight perhaps it showed he’d been working on his climbing, the Tirreno final stage TT is always on the same route and it’s pan flat and short, a prologue course if you like. Dumoulin was 6th on Monte Terminillo, behind Quintana but ahead of Pinot, Landa etc

  19. Inrng great job again.

    Gabriele – you reference a Ten Dam anecdote – what did you mean?

    I think Quintana/Nibali are not getting enough credit for their performances, a podium is darn. Of course, they both set themselves up focusing on first.

    In Nibali’s case there were serious doubts if he would be in the top 5, after barely beating Jamie Roson at the Tour of Crotia.

    • I read somewhere that months ago Ten Dam called Tom right after having seen the Giro course and told him that he had to race it no matter what.

  20. Dumolin won on TTs. He wasn’t the strongest player in the mountains, but he was the no 1 on the TT. Especially the first TT when he was fresh…yep, he knocked them out. Nairo was 2:53 on the first TT, then only 1,5mins on the second? Yes, this is a +30 secs that could have been avoided on Montefalco TT.

    • Quintana lost 2,85″/km in the last ITT. The same level of performance by both would have meant 1′ less in Montefalco.
      Quintana pushed on the limits in the last ITT, you can see him taking huge risks, which Tom didn’t in the last third following his team car’s advice (just as Quintana vs. Froome in the last Vuelta).
      Montefalco had strong winds, which greatly hinders a lighter rider performance. But that’s like having a rainy day if you don’t like rain and the likes. It’s your problem.
      IMHO, in “standard”, abstract conditions, Quintana might have lost 2′ in the first ITT and 1’30” in the second. Though, such conditions simply don’t exist.

      • In standard abstract conditions (your words, not sure why Abstract is in there) the pink jersey doesn’t pull over and take a dump at base of a decisive climb.

        FACT: 2017 Gir0 winner is Tom Dumolin, he deserves this and was the strongest rider. Zero question.

        • “In standard abstract conditions (your words, not sure why Abstract is in there) the pink jersey doesn’t pull over and take a dump at base of a decisive climb.”

          Epic, I’ll save this one 😀

        • Have you ever read me writing otherwise? And I write a lot. I think that I insisted on the same point you defend here at least a couple of (separate) times.

          Check your “2017 Giro winner is Tom Dumolin, he deserves this and was the strongest rider. Zero question” against…
          “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”.
          “That Quintana is a climber and not a TTer or a ‘passista’ is a fact already beyond any doubt, just as that the strongest man on this course won and deserved to win”.

          Also note that the post you’re blindly commenting is in fact supporting what you try to say.

          The commenter above was writing that Quintana had lost very little time for km in the last ITT (something which was plain wrong), suggesting that had him performed like that in the first IIT, he’d have matched Dumoulin in GC: I corrected the wrong value, adapted the esteem, but then I clearly explained while even so it could *not* be applied to the first ITT. Which, OTOH, presented a result strongly affected by weather conditions – which are totally part of the race.
          Is it really that complicated?
          But you only see what your eyes want to see 😉

          “Abstract” (as in “away from concrete reality”) is there precisely to say that such calculations can be useful as a theoretical benchmark, to know what you might expect if factors change, to understand what is an upper limit and a lower one… but, in a race, “such conditions simply don’t exist” (quoting my post above).

          Hence, whatever uncommon condition Quintana might face, “it’s his problem” (quoting my post above). That’s cycling. An open air, real time, endurance sport.

          And in a race, if you’ve got exceptional physical issues which require you to stop, “it’s your problem” (maybe you even caused that or managed it badly).

          Fandom in cycling doesn’t work as in football or other identity-obsessed sport, assume it. Direct misintepretations of posts is silly – and forces me to write even more. Yes, this is a menace 😉

  21. Thank you INRNG for the ever-excellent coverage.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the race. For all the questions of “Why didn’t they try harder” I really felt the cumulative tiredness of racing for 3 weeks showed.

    For sure the best guy won, but we should grateful that the time gaps between the top 6 were so tight going into the last stage.

    Of course there are what ifs with the crash, the toilet etc, but that’s part of racing over 3 weeks.

    Anyway, thank you INRNG. 👊

  22. Vintage season so far. Mostly I enjoy the Grand Tours but this Giro has to me at least, been the best so far. To have the whole thing come down to the last stage, which is usually just a procession, was amazing. And the spring classics were brilliant. Roll on the Dauphiné

  23. I am 68 now and ride my bike pretty much most days throughout the year. I have been riding since I was six, and just love the way cycling makes me feel. However, I don’t want to go all American and start analysing all that. Rather, where I am going with this is, it’s only in, as SK would say, The Last Number of Years, that, thanks to Eurosport, we have been able to watch much Pro cycling on TV. Well the more I watch, the more I am convinced that being a pro cyclist is a mad stupid way to try to make a living, dangerous even, so, from my small voice anyway, a big thank you to all those ‘stupid’ pro cyclists that have brought me so much pleasure and insight.

    • Well said DaveS, much of that echo’s with me, I used to dream of being a pro in my younger years. Now 30 years on I just love riding my bikes, watching the races on tv and actually having the choice of whether to “sit out” some races and do something else all afternoon. Still wish I had the talent of a pro but as a way to make a living, nah not any more.

  24. Thanks once again INRNG for three weeks of effort. I hope you enjoyed producing the informative background and text as much as your readers enjoyed your efforts. Thank you.

    Lots of views in posts about the Giro. I thought is was fine in places, but a long way from vintage. I think we sometimes forget that it is a GT over three weeks, and that not every day can bring edge of seat excitement. It was good to see bike riders looking and reacting like real bike riders, not the automatons of the recent past.

    In my personal view a courageous, pleasant and worthy winner – and on the last day.

  25. The “moment the race was won” was actually when Tom crossed the finish line of the TT in the final stage, and Nairo was unable to maintain his fifty-something seconds lead. The other moments, like the overwhelming win in the first TT, the strong performances on the summit finishes on Oropa and Blockhaus, and even minimizing his losses on the Stelvio, were all “moments when the race was not lost.” In hindsight, things look a lot more certain than they really were at the time they occurred. But this win was a lot closer than everyone makes it sound like. Just one wipe-out or a puncture or two would have resulted in a complete reshuffling of the entire deck for the podium, and perhaps even up to fourth place. Usually only the top two men play out such game of seconds, but here, there were four who could have won it depending on luck with the tires holding out til the end.

    • I think you’ve described every race, with the “moment the race was won” being the finish line itself. It’s the definition of the phrase, crossing the line in first place. But that wouldn’t make a good blog would it? :p
      Moment Gilbert won Flanders? When he crossed the line because up to that moment he could have crashed, despite his sizable lead. For example

      • Yes but isn’t it “the moment the race was won barring a crash or freak accident” ? And in that case you could make a case for this Giro being so close that it went down to the wire.
        But then if it weren’t for Dumoulin’s bowels (which could be considered a freak accident) INRNG is completely right ! Of course, over three weeks it is hard to pin it down to just one moment and you could argue for different moments of the race and all would be, to certain extent, correct !

  26. Big thanks for the peerless coverage and community @inrng

    I really enjoyed this Giro. My assessment criteria is how it effects me emotionalky as a fan. I got;
    4 x moments where I was shouting “go on” in full fan mode.
    1 x “oh no, surely not?” freak moment
    2 x edges of seat watching the race play out
    4 x “this is pretty boring”
    1 x “oh no” disaster
    Throw in some ethics and personality debates and the history and tradition’s of the Giro and I’m satisfied with my experience.

    Akl of which enhanced by this site.

    Thanks everyone.

    • Those are excellent criteria for enjoyment, far better than how close it was in seconds at the end or whatever other objective measure people want to try and come up with, at the end of the day it’s about emotional responses.

      Although personally the freak moments tend to make races less enjoyable, I’d rather see the race unaffected by the truly freakish things like moto crashes and diarrhoea (the Ventoux incident in last year’s TdF was quite entertaining but for me only after it was neutralised)

  27. So Pinot likes cold conditions, but this was a very warm and sunny edition of the Giro. I hope he will try again next year, but should be difficult.

    • It never rained once during the Giro which is a curiosity. Pinot seems not to like the heat but he’s done well in hot conditions before, eg his podium in 2013, winning on Alpe d’Huez when it was 30°C etc and his French TT title last June when it was even hotter.

      • The Giro has had pretty wet weather for the past few years, something that made many of the stages much more difficult. Narrow twisting finals often with roundabouts etc are much easier on a dry sunny day. I suspect some of the “boring” comments for this edition have been down to the weather not the route. Not sure the demolition derby element really adds to the racing though.

  28. Chapeau Inrng for your continuing great grand tour coverage – I look forward to it every morning! This was a very entertaining Giro for me and your daily pieces made it much more so. I also appreciate the comments here – thanks to all for contributing and keeping it positive.

  29. This Giro has had a few similarities to the Wiggins 2012 Tour de France win, however Dumoulin has shown himself to be a stronger climber and is probably this generation’s Indurain-esque talent.

    The route was almost tailor-made for someone like Dumoulin to build up time in the time trial, see how it went in the mountains and then win it in the TT on the final day. Dumoulin monstered it in the climbs though, without the ‘tactical stop’ he’d have won it by a big margin.

  30. before the start I’d have had Thomas as a marginally better climber to Dumoulin and, obviously a weaker TTer… assuming Thomas got the trip (no jour sans…), without the Blockhaus incident, it could have been pretty close considering poopgate…

  31. Thanks for another great coverage, inrng, you rock! Only Adam Hansen can match your quality streak. 🙂
    I’m a big fan of Quintana, but on the other hand I love seeing talents like TD materialize into champions. It looks like very few riders can actually make it happen.

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