Giro Stage 14 Preview

The stage we’ve all been waiting for… unless you’re 75kg plus and still in the Giro. The race goes into the mountains and one of the hardest summit finishes in the sport.

Stage 13 review: a sprint finish and Elia Viviani found winning ways again, he was clearly the fastest in the finishing straight and took his third stage win ahead of Sam Bennett after a hectic sprint where no team could impose themselves leaving the riders bouncing around like pinballs. He made a “calm, calm” gesture as he crossed the line, a nod to the apparent tension on the team bus yesterday and the (social) media pressure on him. Note that Esteban Chaves was dropped on the climb and if some yesterday stepped back to better leap forward today the Colombian was quickly isolated by the slope.

The Route: 186km north into the Carnic Alps. The first climb of Monte di Ragogna might just be a 3rd category climb but it’s like something out of the finish of a Tour of Lombardy, it’s narrow, twisting and steep and will have riders testing out their low gearing for the day. The next climb to Avaglio has a hard middle section too and much more of an Alpine feel as it rolls up into the hills. The Passo Duron is 4.4km at most of it over 10%.

The Finish: they ride through Ovaro and the road is steep enough and then it leaves the town and passes the church with the bell tower built on the other side of the road and soon after the road rears up and barely relents. This is like stacking the Mur de Huy several times over and even with the lowest of gearing it’s hard work (see the Roads to Ride piece for a fuller explanation). It’s not a climb where surprise counts, to accelerate it’s better to wind it up slowly and asphyxiate rivals rather than catch them by surprise with a sudden attack. After the long wooded section comes a series of tunnels which leads riders into the natural amphitheatre and the slope rises to the line.

The Contenders: there’s a good chance the breakaway stays away. Normally the big teams like to set a fierce pace into the final climb of the day in a show of strength but who will do this today? Count Sky out given they’re out of the picture. Mitchelton-Scott don’t need to use up riders and if Astana have tried in previous stages it’s backfired when Miguel Angel Lopez to attacked early, got countered and was dropped but the Colombian still has space for a result. Kenny Elissonde could get the day off team duties given Chris Froome’s troubles, Sky have often gone stage hunting once their GC bid has imploded, he’s won on the Angliru before so why not win here? Vasil Kiryienka too. Ben Hermans could remind us Israel Academy are in the race, Dimension Data’s Natnael Berhane is a good climber and Lotto-Jumbo’s Robert Gesink could try but I think he’s more suited to other mountain stages. Bardiani’s Guilio Ciccone is climbing well and has the space to go clear.

Simon Yates

Among the GC contenders Simon Yates is the easy pick. He’s won two stages but arguably his best move was the jump on Etna, he went when others couldn’t. He hasn’t reconned this stage but team mates know it well and he need only follow until late and clip away for a few seconds lead and the time bonus.

Domenico Pozzovivo, May 2018

Domenico Pozzovivo is in great shape and the climb suits him as it’s a pure test of power to weight. Davide Formolo is also climbing well and looks leaner than ever and Richard Carapaz is the curiosity pick, how will he fare?

This is the anti-Dumoulin stage, the next summit finishes are much more gradual and should suit him more. The same for Thibaut Pinot, he’s climbing very well but the climbs to come next week suit him more.

This is a hard climb and often the action happens in slow motion. Nobody needs to jump away, just to lift the pace and the lighter riders have the advantage of being able to dance through the hairpin bends while bigger riders have to take it steady around the bends.

Simon Yates, Domenico Pozzovivo
Davide Formolo, Guilo Ciccone
Elissonde, Lopez, Pinot, Hermans

Weather: a mild 24°C in the valleys, cooler at altitude and a good chance of a shower or two.

TV: Host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage, Eurosport has the rights for many countries across Europe and Australia and it’s streamed via Fubo and Flowbikes in the US and Dazn in Japan. They reach Ovaro around 4.30 and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm.

59 thoughts on “Giro Stage 14 Preview”

  1. “..clip away for a few seconds.” Huh? I can see “slip away” or “jump away” but clip?
    “Count Sky out given they’re out of the picture” Seems you’ve pretty much written Il Frullatore out of the Giro script these days? While I would love for him and his team to be non-factors from this point on, I’m not so sure we’ve seen the end of them. Have they given up?
    Taking some clients to climb up to Cervinia today, but we’ll be glued to a TV up there after lunch to see what happens.
    Forza Pozzovivo! Forza Aru! W Il Giro!

  2. Chris Froome has been making some positive noises, perhaps we shall see a performance a la Ventoux 2013 , seems unlikely but he and Sky will feel the need to make a statement even if victory seems beyond him now.

    Tom Dumoulin says he has never ridden this particular road, which seems a little odd given how important the stage is to the whole race. Maybe the continuous nature of the climb might suit him better than lots of changes in gradient. I have a suspicion that he will do well on this stage, not win but keep Simon Yates (and Thibaut Pinot) in sight. Though, if the GC contenders come through the tunnels together he might have a chance of getting to the line first.

    Simon Yates has been in great form, the question is can he hold that not only today but until the end of next week. I think he and his team would prefer a situation where they can come from behind, here he knows he needs to push on to take time on TD but if they push too much they could blow the whole thing.

    A win here and a reasonable TT could put Thibaut Pinot in sight of overall victory, he has promised to deliver in the past but not quite managed it. Is today his day?

    Sentiment would say Domenico Pozzovivo, he has been climbing well, possibly as well as he has ever been. Given his poor TT ability he is little threat to the overall perhaps he might be let go at the end if the other main contenders want to save some energy for the coming days?

    Logic would dictate that a break has a good chance (I think it has been won from a break on the last few occasions the Giro has visited) but this year the peloton has been strangely reluctant to let the break get any sort of big lead. I suspect that pattern will continue today, though it would be good to see one of the young Italians from the pro conti teams win.

  3. Interesting to note that finishes on Zoncolan have been split fairly evenly between outright climbers (Simoni x2, Anton) and diesel climbers (Basso, Rogers), which is also a similar split between breakaways and GC men. So it could be Pozzovivo, Pinot, Ciccone, De Marchi….

  4. This will be the last day we get to pretend that Dumoulin might not win the giro so let’s enjoy it while we can. Normal service will return next week.

    • This might be the last day starry-eyed Dumoulin fans can imagine that Dumoulin’s ITT prowess will be a get outta jail free card. Here’s hoping Yates takes a minute plus from him.

      • And this is the point, it is Giro D-Day. After today we’ll know a lot more about the direction this is headed. Is it a coronation for Yates or a crushing disappointment after a promising 2 weeks?

        Obviously not all on the line, 2016 showed nothing is over till it’s over but we’ll certainly have a good idea.

  5. First of all, how do you know so many details in the climbs? It’s amazing thanks for sharing.

    Do we really think Froome is out of the race? If Sky does a Sky-job today, he could end up with the maglia rosa by the end of the day. Easy to get minutes on rivals during just the last 3kms.

    Finally, pumps by blood to see you name my fellow countryman Carapaz. He is strong, in the Route du Sud last year, he really pushed Dillier to his limits in the mountains. I venture to say he’ll be top three today 🙂

    • Just ride up the climbs, I’ve lived/raced/travelled/stayed and a climb like the Zoncolan is hard to forget. I can’t see Froome doing much, even if he found the form he’s had before it’s a hard climb to actually take back much time on.

      I remember Carpaz from the Route du Sud but in the heat of the race, with Dillier climbing so well, it was hard to get the measure of him. Had it been Porte or Bardet rather than Dillier we’d have had a much better idea about his abilities.

      • What actually bodes well for Carapaz is his performance on Angliru at last Vuelta, 11th on stage 20 – his best result in the whole race – with that sort of hellish final climb and complicated previous terrain, too (but he spared some energies the couple of days before). I’d also stress his 4th place on the crazy-steep La Camperona during Vuelta a Castilla y León, although the competition wasn’t top-level. It’s interesting that, Route du Sud aside, two of his best results in his first full year as a pro came on such climbs.
        That said, just as in Yates’ case, and even more so, it’s very hard to foresee anything on the basis of previous performances. Very young riders, the samples are reduced and as athletes they’re constantly developing.

    • Big gaps is rarely seen on this climb, its simply too steep for anyone to accelerate and sustain any acceleration until a few less steep sections from 1500m to 500m from the finish line. In addition since avarage speed will be very low for the GC riders gaps will be proportional low. No one will come even close to averageing 15km/h up the Zoncolan. Doubt anyone will exceed 12km/h. – final 8k. Strava KOM is 11.4 km/h.

      Mike Woods has best time in 2018 at 11.2km/h – assue a training ride 3 weeks ago and he was proberbly non fatiqued. Grupetto rider Iljo Keisse went up at 9.5km/h in the 2014 Giro. Difference is only 7 minuttes.

      A single GC rider distancing the entire top ten by 2-3 minuttes on Zoncolan alone is as unlikly as Viviani or Tuft winning today from an early brakeaway today. Unless a GC rider bonks today or has a sans jour he can not loose more than 2 minuttes.

      Expect the top 10 to arrive within 90 seconds. Previous years Zoncolan has been used in the Giro it has been late in the 3rd week. This time its late in the 2nd week which means the GC should be far less fatiqued = resluting in even smaller gaps than in previous years.

      • I have to disagree. There is no better place for a single rider to distance a group of high quality chasers than on a climb like this where sustained power-to-weight and the ability to recover from efforts over the threshold are the only factors that count.
        Chasers riding in a group don’t have any advantage on that climb so “attacking” them early and then riding on or rather slightly over your FTP makes absolute sense.
        The fact that it hasn’t happened before is probably due to the enormous respect that this monster induces even for the best climbers and that no one brings the proper gearing for it. On the steeper parts of that climb even the top climbers are grinding their 34×32 gear rather than spinning it at something around 90 rpm what they would normally do when climbing at threshold power. That unusual muscular load probably kills them.

        • As I show below, it’s already happened (“most of the times”, I’d dare to say: surely 2/4 and probably we could count in 2007 making it 3/4).
          And they did it with a 34×29 or so (36×29 for Basso 2010, 34×29 for Simoni 2007… but, yes, 34×32 for Contador 2011 – dunno about Anton; Evans, loving low cadence, always opted for a 34×27).

          What’s most interesting about the muscular load, huge indeed, will be… the effects on tomorrow’s stage.

          • Quite so. Antón’s victory was virtually the end of his career. He left the Zoncolan on Saturday in podium position, only to lose many minutes on Sunday on the (hard) way to the Rifugio Gardeccia, be ejected from the top-10, never to return again. I wonder if Antón will want to try something today (he’s in the race, mind you).
            I like the Zoncolan-long Dolomitic raid combo, on consecutive raids. In fact, I think a stage like the 2011 Gardeccia is badly missed in every GV.

          • And, in fact, it was the second-least selective Zoncolan *ever*.

            Even so, it proved more selective in terms of gaps than *any* uphill finish in the last two Tour de France. Or more selective than *any* uphill finish in the last two Vueltas (a couple come close).
            Or than any uphill finish in last Giro, except Blockhaus…

            Even in a hard Giro as 2016, we only had two uphill finishes more selective than this, the two terrible high mountain stages of Risoul and S. Anna.

            If you want to defend that uphill finishes, as such, especially after a less significant stage, aren’t the most selective option, have me in. Quite often, complicated stages with no uphill finish can and do hurt more in terms of gaps.

            But saying that this Zoncolan’s are “minor gaps” means that every uphill gap is “minor” for you in current cycling.
            Hence, it’s not about this specific climb or its peculiar nature.

      • What you say doesn’t make much sense in mathematical terms… if you go slower, you need less speed difference to get a greater gap.
        If you’re going 15 km/h, you need +5km/h to gain a minute over one km. If you’re going 10 km/h, you need only +2km/h on the same distance.

        …and if Woods was going up like that today, he’d probably lose 10 minutes to the winner!

        What happens, indeed, is, as you say, that you must be careful with acceleration and the slipstream doesn’t matter much. Which makes it a bit like an ITT, but per se it’s got no effect on time difference (in fact, ITTs produce some difference…). If anything, in case you get distanced from a group, that group being together won’t imply any advantage on you in terms of slipstream, which means that not losing wheels is less important than on softer climbs.

        We’re probably being influenced by 2014’s disappointment. However, in 2010 and in 2011 we had very big gaps. You speak of 2 minutes… well, in 2010 only *three* riders lost less than 2′, and in 2011 they were just six. If we lived again such a day, it’s simply obvious that part of the previous GC top ten will lose more than 2 minutes. Half of it or so.

        In 2007, we had 8 riders within 2′. Not a huge selection, but a very relevant one. Everybody except five guys lost more than one minute, anyway.
        If we just compare that “riders within 2 mins mark” index, the *least* selective of these three episodes (2007) was at least as selective as famous feats like Ax3 Domains or Ventoux in Froome’s 2013, Contador’s 2009 Verbier or Nibali’s 2014 Hautacam.

        2010 and 2011 were just as selective as the *most impressive climbing performances* in recent years (or slightly more so in 2010’s case): LPSM by Froome 2013, Angliru 2008 or Ancares 2014 by Contador, Quintana on multiple occasions (he forced a brutal selection on Semnoz 2013, Alpe d’Huez both 2013 and 2015, Blockhaus 2017… always less than 3 riders under 1′ and less than 5 under 2′), Nibali’s 2016 Risoul. Note that most times you needed the last week to force selection, but not necessarily so (LPSM, Blockhaus).

        Which doesn’t mean we’ll see big gaps today. But it doesn’t depend on the nature of the climb! History says otherwise.

        PS 1 I don’t especially like Zoncolan because it takes away the whole tactical, strategical and time-picking components. But it’s an interesting “thing” to have in the mix from time to time. Once every 4-5 years or so is fine. Mortirolo, or “serious” Blockhaus itself, are way more interesting and I’d like to have them more often, as other very steep yet still technical climbs.
        PS 2 Most of the above information came to me at the same time through a single Google search result: credit for it to the “barrylyndon” username, apparently in a forum which looks to be related to one of the best Italian resources about cycling, Cicloweb.

        • As usual Gabriele comes up with an even much better reasoned response / explanation than mine 😉 .
          If it doesn’t rain (limiting traction on that ultra steep road through the woods) and Yates still has the same legs he has displayed so far I expect him to really rip it apart today and maybe even set a new KOM on that climb. He’s got not nothing to lose and all to gain with the looming flat ITT on Tuesday. This is his best chance to create the biggest possible time gap to Dumoulin except for any mishaps affecting his competitor. And I reckon Matt White & Co. to be smart enough to tell him exactly that if he even needs their advice to understand it.

  6. Lest we forget! Do you think the Carabinieri will be as tough as the Guardia Civil up on the climb? Haven’t seen them much up to date.

    • Most of those who form the “human chain” are “Alpini” (mountain troopers of the army) or volunteers (a big part of them, people who served their time in the army, when it was mandatory for males, in the same “Alpini” corps – there’s a big associative movement which was built on that).
      Guardia Civil is among the most aggressive, in terms of attitude (and they often block the road to cyclists also too soon, thus reducing greatly the quantity of people who can attend by the roadside).

  7. No reprieve for Froome, only more pain. Sky have usually managed to recover from previous Giro bad luck with a stage win and/or a mountain jersey. That’s also unlikely this time though as not only Froome but their whole squad has looked second hand for all the talk of “high morale”. Froome has an excuse in two crashes, the first of which seems to have set him on a downward spiral, but what do the others have? Henao has been game but unable and the rest largely anonymous. Meanwhile, on another continent, Egan Bernal is destroying the field like Froome used to. Bernal is clearly Sky’s future and Froome now already looks like he might be its past.

    I’ll be cheering Simon Yates today because he is attacking the race and trying to win it. Dumoulin has not yet earned a win and is hanging on in climbs rather than attacking as Pinot has for bonus seconds repeatedly. A win on the basis of an ITT would leave a sour taste when Yates has, to date, been so dominant.

    • The Sky team has not looked up to its usual standard but I always thought the team did not look particularly strong on this occasion. Wout Poels has been short of form, it seemed a strange decision to select him but perhaps other riders have different goals this year. Sergio Henao has been OK. Kenny Elisonde has been anonymous. Vasil Kiryienka has done the job he would be expected to but he cant carry the team. Mikel Nieve has been Sky’s loss and MS’s gain. The other riders cant be expected to do much in the key mountain climbs. I suspect none of these riders will be in France in July.

      The injury Chris Froome sustained before the opening prologue was clearly significant, once a rider gets that sort of injury it is well nigh impossible to recover once the race is on. Perhaps the “issue” has played a part too, causing a loss of focus on the job in hand.

      Whether CF is there or not the team they pick for July will be interesting, I would have thought Geraint Thomas, Michael Kwiakowski, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard would be pretty certain, beyond that Gianni Moscon, Egan Bernal, Tao Geogehan Hart??

    • It was always meant to be thus though, the TT’ers “hanging on”?
      That’s the beauty of the contrast, and no greater test of that than today.

      I can’t wait. I’m 65/35 in favour of Dumoulin finishing inside 1′ of Yates.
      As an arbitrary goal, that sort of gap sounds reasonable given the race’s balance.

      There’s a part of me that fears for Yates today too. It could be seen as so potentially crucial to his ultimate chances as to induce over-ambition and force something that will be paid for later.

  8. Let me add another little detail. The weather factor. If it will actually be raining and/or the road will be soaked, it’s going to be a problem to climb out of the saddle. It’s to be seen how it might affect each rider…

    • Thinking back (trying to anyway), Yates is a guy who is out of the saddle a lot, compared to Pinot or Froome who I picture seated-climbing position. Pozzovivo is another pedal-dancer.

      This could be totally inaccurate.

  9. I think Froome will be on the podium if there is a GC finish to the stage.

    Fingers crossed Dumoulin gets put to the sword today by the climbers.

    If it’s a break win, I hope Androni gets it!

      • Also this quote from CN is hilariously flat: “Last time he went up this climb Froome finished 22 minutes down on the leaders in 2010. Today he can celebrate his stage win. He’s on the rollers right now, after an unbelievable day at the Giro d’Italia.”

  10. What a violent, uninteresting and uninspired race that was. It had nothing what a bike race should have. And -in all honesty, without wanting to be nasty or anything, I mean this really totally honest, because I am still totally shocked, that it was so easy to see: It was shocking to watch froome ride away, when he fired up his kers. If you watched the other riders, the power they excerted, the movement of their muscles and so on, their forward movement looked logical – froome‘s attack not once looked, as if he would bring energy himself on the pedals. They seemed to turn almost too fast for his feet to follow. There was one uncomfortable scene, where it was quite embarrasing to watch. Only later, after the attack, did he resemble again a bike rider. Somehow. And I watch bike races for a couple of decades and saw a lot – but that looked embarrasing.

      • Standing ovation for RonDe ^__^

        An impressing climbing time (6th ever, beat only by the 2007 Golden Giro Boys at the top of their game, Simoni, Piepoli, Di Luca, A. Schleck and… Cunego) but, curiously – and the figures came to me as frankly unexpected, after watching it! – not a hugely selective edition among the few Zoncolan examples: still impacting, more or less along the lines of 2007 itself, I’d say, albeit slightly less selective (5 riders within 1′, 12 riders within 2′).

        I won’t be around much this weekend, so it’s Nibali-or-Quintana-bashing time everybody 😉

        My fingers are tickling to draw and type some race analysis, but sadly not yet!

  11. Well, just goes to show we can all be wrong, not quite the Ventoux 2013 but Chris Froome was clearly the strongest rider on the day, he must now be in with a shout of the podium though channelling Vincenzo Nibali’s 2016 performance seems a bit far fetched.

    Not sure if Simon Yates tried too hard at the end or if CF went again. Great ride from Wout Poels too. Tom Dumoulin did exactly what he needed to do. Simon Yates has already made comments about the TT, wonder if it will play on his mind.

    • He’s 3:10 down on Yates. Nearly all of that will be erased in the TT. The 1:30 or so on Dumoulin might be harder to retake but if he and the Sky train are all suddenly reborn then it can be done. All of a sudden him and Poels, who has been good for nothing for 2 weeks, are looking like they are going to boss the Alps. Unless this climb just particularly suited Froome’s characteristics of course. We’ll soon find out.

        • If he and Sky are back then 3rd really is on the cards. Tom Dumoulin is the best time triallist but Chris Froome on top form is a better climber than either Simon Yates or TD. To win he would have to take 2 mins in the TT and 1 min or so in the mountains from SY and a couple of minutes in the mountains from TD. It is not impossible but not likely.

          • Your better climber didn’t take any time out of Yates today on a climb where the only thing that matters is how well you climb. In fact had Yates not waited so long before he started breathing through his mouth he would most probably have beaten Froome.
            If Yates stays healthy there is no way Froome will take a minute from him on one of the coming MTFs.

  12. In my head I have this image of the gc after the TT.

    1. Dumoulin
    2. Yates +1:35
    3. Froome +2:46

    Froome is gaining form and could take a minute or more out of Yates in the last week if his form is coming down.

    The big question is, if in that scenario Sky can take that time out of Dumoulin.

    Hats off to Froome. To come back like that requires a hard head. As apathic as he seems in interviews, he is determination personified in a race

    • Not here to take advantage of today’s stage… I’ve just been far from the page until tonight. However, let’s just let aside Froome’s most recent woes. Even so, I think that you should have inserted Pinot slightly above Froome or with the same time, taking the Zoncolan GC. Pinot losing more than 2’24” to Dumoulin would be a terrible performance by the French, even slightly worse than last year’s in Montefalco (which was deemed bad enough). Whereas, if only he kept his Milan level, it would be some 2′ to Tom, placing him some 20″ ahead of Froome.

  13. Hypothetical question. Yates eventually loses the Giro to Dumoulin by less than 4 seconds. Froome gets a ban that covers the Giro. Would Yates then be given the Giro win given that if Froome wasn’t riding Yates would have taken 10 bonus seconds instead of bonus 6 seconds on the Zoncolan? What say the rules for this scenario?

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