Giro Stage 17 Preview

A breakaway or a bunch sprint? That’s up to the peloton, the flat finish suits a sprint this is the last chance for many in the Giro to win a stage before the mountains return.

Rohan Dennis

Stage 16 review: a stage win for Rohan Dennis and Simon Yates remains comfortably in pink, as expected. What wasn’t predicted was Thibaut Pinot’s implosion, slower than some of his own team mates and visibly out of it, not just the legs but the head: corners with hands on the brakes that Dumoulin took in the tri bars and taking the final bends around Rovereto like a tourist looking for his hotel. Chris Froome is now looking to leapfrog Domenico Pozzovivo for the third place although there are three mountain stages to come and that’s not been his terrain. Simon Yates will wake up today hoping for an easy day before deciding which stages he wants to win in the coming days before Rome. Surprise of the day was Fabio Aru, just two seconds slower than Dumoulin just 48 hours after it looked he wanted to abandon but he soon copped a 20 second penalty for drafting a police moto and two of his UAE-Emirates got sterner two minute penalties earning the team an embarrassing double-page spread in this morning’s Gazzetta Dello Sport. Aru’s ride still meant he beat several specialists. He’s done this before, for example during a discreet and disappointing 2016 Tour de France he popped up to finish third in the Sallanches time trial although that was surprisingly hilly, yesterday was flat.

The Route: uphill from start and with a twist… the opening climb is a tunnel that rises 600m in the space of 10km. It’s a proper climb and the tunnel matters, it’s hard to get visual clues about the road ahead, the gradient and it even sounds different so it’s disorientating. Not that the peloton will be muddled, it’s just unusual.

The profile of the day’s climb to Lodrino has been smoothed a bit. Some hairpins mark the start of the climb proper in Casto but after it’s a gradual ascent at 5% on a large road, the kind where a team can keep the breakaway in check. The uncategorised climb on the profile next is better known as the Passo dei Tre Termini with some 7-8% sections before a tricky descent with hairpins, gutters and walls down to Lake Iseo. Then the race heads to Iseo and a 23km finishing circuit that’s undulating and the trickiest parts are the urban sections, this isn’t the Amstel Gold Race but it is a more densely populated area.

The Finish: a tricky roundabout with 400m to go that’s made into a chicane for the day but otherwise fast and flat.

Franciacorta stage? The Giro likes to celebrate wine with a dedicated stage each year, an easy task given wine is grown all over Italy from many varieties of grapes. The race roadbook, the Garibaldi, lists the local wines at the start and finish. Franciacorta is a sparkling white wine made mostly Chardonnay grapes.

The Contenders: bunch sprint or breakaway? The opening climb and the flatter but hard section after is the obvious launchpad for a move and it’ll depend on the bunch’s mood. For a share of riders in the peloton today is their last chance to win a stage, the following mountain stages are too hilly and Rome’s criterium stage is pledged to the sprinters so hopefully we get a scrap among to get in the move… should as in conditional and it’s possible the usual move of wildcard invitees ride away on a day release again. Normally come the third week you tend to see the same faces in the breakaway again and again but so far it’s been hard for the breakaways to go clear so we’ve not got obvious picks, a lot of the field don’t have a win between them in the World Tour, let alone from a breakaway. The baroudeurs for today are more out of pedigree so include L-L Sanchez (Astana) who’s good for the breakaway but won’t like the flat finishing circuit so much; Jürgen Roelandts (BMC Racing) is the opposite and his team mate Alessandro de Marchi should try too. Katusha should try something today, their owner Igor Makarov has a lakeside villa and the team used to have its HQ just up the road. Otherwise Matej Mohorič, Valerio Conti and Carlos Betancur are the picks.

As for the sprint finish Elia Viviani is the fastest but as ever you could send the bunch into the same finishing straight a thousand times and the result would not always be the same, if a team leads here or a rider drifts over there then riders find a window of opportunity or a door slamming in their face. Sam Bennett should be close and Sacha Modolo is the third pick, still in the hunt for a stage but hopefully EF Education First-Drapac can spare their climbers from chasing as the next three days suit them.

Matej Mohorič, Carlos Betancur, Roelandts, Viviani
L-L Sanchez, de Marchi, Bennett, Modolo, Conti

Weather: a top temperature of 23°C if the sun comes out, otherwise cloudy with the chance of rain and even a thunderstorm.

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. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm. Check online to see what is happeing, if there’s a breakaway battle tune in for the action, if it’s three wildcard riders up the road with two minutes then tune in for the finish.

90 thoughts on “Giro Stage 17 Preview”

  1. Delighted to see Yates still solidly in the pink. There’s the suggestion that Prato Nevoso suits Dumoulin, but can he really ride away from Yates?

    • It was interesting watching Yates’s interview on Eurosport, he both said he would be defensively riding, but that attacking riding suits.
      I think, as Inrng suggests, he will look to put more time into his rivals before the end of the race, and why not?!

      • Yes, better to keep attacking and take time in case you need it at a later date.
        Yates has been the epitome of that – and a wonderful contrast to most GT riders in the recent past – whenever there’s been a chance, he’s taken it. Brilliant to see brave riding and long may it continue: it’s always likely to be Yates’ best chance of winning GTs against superior TT-ers (not that he’s bad, as we saw). It’s largely been Yates who has made the race interesting.

    • It suits him in that it’s a long and steady climb, ideal to pace his way up but not for him to jump away, he’s not climbing as fast as Yates, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Lopez seems to be on the way up. The idea before the race was he could defend a lead here. I think we’ll see a lot of defensive riding now, Yates doesn’t need to do any more, Pozzovivo has to watch Froome, Pinot will want to sit tight and try and bag a stage etc. Froome is the wildcard, like Nibali in 2016 he doesn’t need a podium finish like the others and can take risks, maybe even go on a raid. Watch to see if Sky start sending David de la Cruz and Wout Poels up the road on the Finestre as relay riders. Unlike Nibali though Froome hasn’t made a career out of daring raids although he’s not needed to.

      • Something I don’t understand about cycling: is a podium position valuable or not?

        I agree that Froome will go suicidal though… he tried that in the Dauphine last year and will consider it a way to build form for the summer*.

  2. What is it with the Italians and the need to cheat?! Nibali with his sticky bottle and now Aru with the police offering up a convenient wheel. I know it’s their race. Just imagine the reputation of cycling if the French still did the same thing in the TDF.

        • And that video with him cursing God… in Italian… at the Vuelta (!) was incredible.

          (blasphemy is not something I especially appreciate as such, but it’s pretty much common and sort of a folkloric thing in Italy, which is why I like the video – precisely because you see Froome channeling his inner-Italian!)

          He speaks frankly well, due to his Barloworld years with Corti, I suppose.

          However the most comical thing in RQS post is that, as inrng pointed out, a good handful of riders from different countries and teams were caught at it…!
          Not to speak about the Belgian one-day races, which sit at the absolute top of cycling reputation, and which are often affected, sometimes in a blatant way, by this sort of attitudes (by the Belgian).
          And it’s not like the French at the TdF haven’t ever received that little moto help to accomplish one of their ritual July 14 epic breaks. But I’d dare to say that it wasn’t exactly what tarnished the most the race image…
          No need to go on, Gareth has a good comment on the topic below. I was just lured in by RonDe’s post 😉

      • Well I guess I need to clarify my comments then. I don’t think there’s a team out there which isn’t trying to step over the line, which ever nation it is. And, I’m fully aware of all the tricks that have been pulled whether it’s Salbutamol, battery motors, la pot belge, or riding on dynamite.
        Cycling fans have had a history of getting involved in the races, kidney punches included, but in the recent era these activities have been less. But what I find peculiar about the Italian situation is the willingness of their top riders to get assistance in a most blatant way from their road team. Larry has picked out Froome, who in 2010 was a little known Kenyan rider of little importance to the Giro and somewhat to Sky, yet to have pulled off his Vuelta second.
        There’s a vast difference to the meaning of a race where a sticky bottle is provided to a straggling rouleur and a GC contender. Though Aru is obviously not in a good place in this race his reputation is surely high profile enough that his actions would not go unnoticed. I find this mentality and Nibali’s puzzling, one can only assume that a mixture of added pressure to perform in their home country, and possible frustration at the ‘early’ season form gives rise to this behaviour. But you don’t see Pinot or Bardet behaving similarly. Though

        • though I admit the Spanish have ganged up on their opposition.
          I see to remember that one rider in the Giro benefitted greatly from a heli down draft in a TT some years ago.

        • RQS, sorry to say this, but you’re becoming laughable. Bardet? Did you really need to name Bardet? Ah ah ah ah ah…
          Who’ll be next, Démare? Oh gosh, this made my day.

          However, let me inform you – as a side note – that most behaviour involving the team car are decided and often nearly forced by the DSs on board (who, by the way, were not Italian, in Nibali’s case at the Vuelta… not that I think that nationality is relevant, anyway).

    • Whats is it with Britts and the need to cheat? Simon Yates with his doping conviction for PEDs and now Chris Froomes pending doping conviction. I know they dont havae any races themselves. Just imagine the reputation of cycling if convicted dopers got lenient sentences because UCI president was British in order to enter TDF without disrupting their season planning.

    • Steady on, I saw Simon Yates behind an armada of motorbikes too but it wasn’t his fault and he didn’t get a penalty. But Mads Pedersen, Remi Cavagna and Ben Hermans did. Keep the trolling down, I’m going to be away from the internet today and don’t want to check-in to delete silly comments.

    • Ah, the reductive nature of online debate.

      What is it about the combination of men and the internet that turns people into monsters?

      Part of the reason I became a fan of cycling was that the machismo and the nastier side of soccer was just tiresome and annoying. Little did I know that the level of fanboying and nationalism is just as virulent?

      This is a professional sport and in a professional sport people are going to find ways to game the system. Rugby players lie deliberately offside or slow the ball down illegally. Soccer players will use a hand if they can get away with it.

      The combination of imperfect humans, money and power and the desire to put on a spectacle is always going to result in people trying to cheat.

      What a community and an administration needs to decide is where is the line? It’s not about nationality or rationality but can we all not accept there’s a hierarchy of cheating?

      That blood doping, EPO, rampant steroid abuse backed by institutional enablers and involving alienation and abuse of those who don’t participate (hi, Lance) lies at the top of the tree?

      That Froome’s and (to a much lesser extent) Yates’s cases may be grievous but they are in no way comparable to EPO-era?

      That sticky bottles and drafting are part of the fabric of cycling but the line is set at ‘don’t blatantly take the piss’ level and the peleton to some extent self-polices with a coherent and competent race authority acting as arbiter?

      This seeking of equivocation and ‘whataboutery’ is just tiresome.

      Cycling and cheating have always gone hand in hand. Whether it’s a cork on a wire attached to a car in the early 20th century, cognac and pills in the 60s or EPO in the 90s. There has never been an era of professional sport where there hasn’t been a strong incentive to cheat.

      We either accept that and make small conscious changes to systems and processes to create strong administration and incentives not to cheat or we walk away from the sport, don’t we?

      It seems trivial and a petty waste of time to spout venom on the internet instead.

    • There is a long history of this kind of behavior. That’s one of the reasons that many Stranieri did not go to the Giro in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m sure it was the ghost of Torriani that helped Nibali win his most recent Giro. Remember, it not cheating it’s to “fare il furbo”, roughly, be a wise guy. I love Italy, as I lived and raced there for 16 years. But this is what you get.

      • You mean that Giro which was *won by foreign riders* 50% of the times in the 90s and 60% of the times in the 80s? (Roughly half of the podia, too).
        11-12 stages each year won by “stranieri” in the 80s, still averaging 9 in the 90s, despite the technological advantage in blood doping (you can see how that lasts 2-3 seasons at most, then all the world in on board) *and* serial top quality Italian stage winners.

        Yes, there’s a long story of this specific sort of behaviours (abuse of slipstreams), some especially famous in Saronni’s case (!). And, besides that, there’s a reason Moser was called the Sheriff. And they took away mountains (!) to have him win. But it wasn’t much of a “national” thing (Baronchelli was as Italian but was damaged by Moser’s fans). Sometimes, many would prefer a foreign rider to win over some Italian *rival*.

        The latter is perhaps why, as I said, lots of “stranieri” – and all the greatest ones – were doing the Giro all the same.

        Then you had the Cipollini era, deciding when you could ride really hard (when TV was on, not before) and who could be in the break. But this – as sad as it is – has little to do with participation. For sure, it made the quality of racing lower.

        But the main reason because of which the quality of the Giro fell, few foreign riders came there and it became a national thing was called LA and Tourcentrism. It happened mostly from 1999 to 2005, curious indeed!, with a further couple of transition years and a steady growth from then on.

        They were the 2000s, anyway ^__^

        • Both the Giro and the Vuelta were almost national tours around the Armstrong era. But both countries also had a lot of capable riders who highly valued their home tour and probably saw the futility of facing down Armstrong. Now both are far more international and also both have far less home riders capable of winning.

  3. Even Tony Martin in the hot seat was shaking his head when Aru went over the line. From zero to hero in 48 hrs. I want what he had.

    • Aru’s resurrection does seem very odd even with the drafting it was incredible performance considering 48 hrs before was telling the TV crew where to go as he was struggling surrounded by his team who were shepherding him to the finish.

      Does a rest day help that much?

      • The only plausible explanation in my book is that he spent way longer drafting than the 20 seconds he was eventually docked. It just beggars belief that someone who’s never managed to get closer than 1.30 mins on a flat ITT, and who was basically crawling on Sunday, is suddenly able to do a top 10 on this route.

        Why do it though? What’s the point? It makes no sense to me whatsoever to draw unnecessary (and negative) attention to yourself in a meaningless time trial.

        • There is one other plausible explanation, which is that he was deliberately crawling to save himself for the last week the other day. Which is something similar to Froome being all over the place generally but producing the goods on Zoncolan.

          • Or perhaps his jour sans was down to internal strife in the team that has now been resolved, clearing the air can be that transformative, especially if the individual is prone to fragility as Aru seems to be.

          • And these blood bags last only 24 hours, or we did he finish over 6 minutes down yesterday? Your conspiracy nonsense lasts like only 24s…

  4. That tunnel at the start looks like perfect ambush territory; if anybody significant isn’t paying attention (Mr Froome) we could see some GC action. With it being a fairly short stage hopefully we’ll see all the action.

    • I think Froome is the most likely candidate for any surprise moves in the rest of this Giro. Pozzo and Pinot want a podium, Froome presumably doesn’t care. Dumoulin may also try something.
      That’s why I think Yates should be looking to put more time into his rivals whenever he can – don’t stop attacking now: build up that time gap if you can.
      I strongly expect Sky to try something in the coming days.

  5. Any chance Bora may try and drop Viviani on the two climbs the way Sunweb did to Kittle in the Tour last year in order to get Mathews into Green?

  6. Brilliant ride by Yates. He left it all on the road. It was really interesting to see his style. The constant shuffle on the seat was very Cobtador-esq.

    Plus it nice to see a GT being won in the mountains again. For the last few years its all beem about smashing the TT. With no flair or mountain attacks.

    • Yes, I, for one, am disgusted that the likes of Mr Nibali and Mr Froome and Mr Contador and Mr Quintana have never managed a single mountain attack or stage win between them. I’m so glad Simon Yates is now here to save us from his boring predecessors.

  7. I think it’s fair to say now that those couple of TTs Pinot did a couple of years ago that weren’t dreadful were the anomaly. I think they were in Tirreno and Romandie and presumably involved hilly courses when most of the field were out of shape or not trying, and possibly in one he was drafted by a passing train or something. His time yesterday was Bardet/Rodriguez awful. He was beaten by Viviani who looked so relaxed when he finished the commentators noted he had clearly taken it easy. When none TTers with no GC ambitions like Aru and Ulissi were punching out competitive times I was thinking the wind must have changed to a raging tailwind. Alas UAE just misread it as a TTT.
    For these kinds of stages it might be worth including a chainring prediction of which team will pointlessly chase the breakaway for 3 hours and then not win. My bet today is Lotto NL might try and bring it back for Battaglin if he’s not in the break. I think him and the fairly interchangeable Ulissi/Conti are decent picks for today.

    • Like the idea of teams on the front for no reward

      3 chainrings for Trek and EF today
      2 for Lotto/ Bahrain
      1 for Quickstep and Bora (they might win!)

      Is that how we play this game 🙂

    • Last year I spent some time here debunking the Pinot TTer myth… but legends are hard to die. You just needed to actually look at those ITTs where he performed well, course characteristics, competition and so on.
      It was pretty clear that they were part of a programme to improve his level and make him more confident about the exercise, but they were far from being the proof of a higher level he might have actually achieved.
      We can also notice that all the team raised their TT performance for a while (in fact, lots of credits were being given to the bikes, too).
      Of course, he got a little better, then.
      Of course, he’s not super-lightweight, which means he’s got potential, on paper (a bit like Ivan Basso, who was even heavier, but except a notoriously short period of time, never got his TTing actually on track).
      Of course, yesterday was a *very* negative performance even for his standard.
      Of course, he could and should perform somewhere between what Pozzovivo did yesterday and Yates (or Formolo, or Pello Bilbao).
      But any better than that is fantasy, unless he finds a perfect day.

        • It paid off to make of him a notable XC skier, actually!

          It’s the typical workout which is great for fondo but won’t pay any dividends in TTs, the other way around if anything.

          (truth is that nobody thinks it had any effect on his TT yesterday, obviously ^__^)

  8. Well, it is clear that Dumoulin is just not on absolute top firm right now. That is a pity since it means that as long as Yates keeps the super legs he has had until now, the gc battle is over. But there are some hard stages to come, and Dumoulin is not the kind of guy to defend a second place if he sees a long shot at winning. But the way it stands now I don’t think he will be able to shake off Yates no matter what he tries.

      • Don’t underestimate the lack of TT kms this year compared to last year.
        Last year’s Giro had an extra 25 km of time trailing.
        For the sake of simplicity, let’s add the time differences from yesterday to the GC.

        Dumoulin would be just a few seconds ahead of Yates, who has had an absolutely dominant performance in this Giro so far.
        But he would also be 5 minutes ahead of Pozzovivo, 7 minutes ahead of Pinot and 3 minutes ahead of Froome.

        • This Giro wasn’t a proper Giro, on paper, but last year’s was really, *really* a far cry from usual courses.

          And it must also be acknowledged that this edition was made harder by some unpredictable factors which turned relatively soft stages into hell on wheels (Chaves falling back in Umbria, Astana pulling crazy speeds towards Gran Sasso hoping for some Superman miracle, Lotto Fix All breaking the peloton into pieces, with GC men behind!, towards Imola, even before the climbing actually started ……or Dumoulin asking Oomen to put in a killer climb on the third to last GPM on the Sappada day, after the EF *strategic show* in the first part of that same stage).

          Last edition had exceptionally good weather, a very mild course (a laughable second week), and some of the best stages of the first week were turned into tourism by a certain lack of aggressive riding (Tortolì, Etna, Terme Luigiane, Peschici).

          And the third week had very little climbing in the final kms of the “mountain” stages. From this last POV, this year was totally different – I’d even say we suffer from a lack of more creative finales. If a stage with a decent altitude gain ends with a *climb* (long effort), Dumoulin will tend to lose seconds here and there. And if it’s the same guy who collects a lot of the available bonus seconds, well, that doesn’t help either.

          As you say, I don’t think Dumoulin has stepped down. He may even have stepped up. It’s just a different scenario. But it’s not over, yet, either.

          PS And the weather conditions made last year’s main ITT absolutely perfect for him to gain a lot of time, whereas, on the contrary, this year the wind greatly helped the defenders. Without wind in Montefalco, probably both Quintana and Nibali would have ended last Giro above Tom in GC (although with such a short margin – 10″ or 20″ – that we can imagine that the race would have played out differently).

          • Out of interest, and if you have time, what do you consider a ‘proper Giro’? You’ve probably been over it before but I cant remember.

          • Well, to make a long story short…
            ah ah ah ah, J Evans did it great.

            I’d perhaps add more high mountain (altitude), which, however, wasn’t as present in a good edition like 2015 whereas it was more or less satisfactory last year.

            And more variety for mountain stages, too. Last year was all about not ending a “tappone” with a big climb (the two exceptions… were monoclimbs! And Oropa wasn’t a “mountain stage”), this year you don’t really have a good hard-climb-and-descent finale or hard climb then final soft one combination (Sappada, indeed, but it was medium mountain for me).

            2015, without being too difficult, was really a masterclass under this POV. And 2016 was very interesting, too, even if the two final mountain stages were a little copy and paste.

    • Can we start saying Dumoulin has a bit of a third week problem? Last year he got in serious trouble and of course he collapsed when he was in the lead in the Vuelta.

      • Not far-fetched at all, but maybe we should wait for the remaining 80% of the third week. It’s unfavourable terrain so he’s not expected to dominate, but the way he perform can back your statement – which is surely plausible – to very different proportions.

        • I wouldn’t draw that conclusion just yet.

          In the 2015 Vuelta, he wasn’t expected to go that far in the GC and so he had no team mates around him on the penultimate climb.
          Recall that he was dropped on the climb and lost a little time but nearly connected with the group again in the descent until two team mates from Aru dropped into the group from the front and made it into a team time trial. He has a weakness uphill and they exploited it perfectly.

          In the last week of the Giro 2017, he lost time twice. Once with the poop-incident (for which he has been treated since) and once on another mountain stage where he lost a minute.
          Recall that he hardly lost time in the long climb after his nature-induced stop and managing to keep your losses under a minute after being dropped also doesn’t sound like an implosion.

          He can climb very well for a guy his size, but he usually won’t be the best in the pack so you can expect him to lose time there. And it’s not like he’s doing poorly in the mountains so far either. He’s losing time against Yates, but everyone is. He’s hardly lost time uphill against Pinot, Pozzovivo or Froome

          • Dumoulin never imploded, except in that Vuelta stage, perhaps, but – until now – he usually looked consistently weaker in the third week.

            On the Umbrail he lost around a minute in terms of climbing time, on an ascent were slipstream didn’t matter much (well below 20km/h)… and that figure includes the fact that the selected group actually *waited* for him *on the climb* – so that delay is included in their time – whereas his poop stop, which happened before the climb start, is not included.

            The importance of the few seconds he lost on Foza, as well as those of the Vuelta, both on easy climbs favourable to his qualities, depends on the fact that he *knew* perfectly that losing the wheels – be it for a dozen of seconds – was going to mean risking the GC. He was unlucky at the Vuelta, and he was lucky at the Giro with his fellow Benelux friends; but the point is that he was not *pacing* himself: he did whatever possible to hold wheels and was dropped all the same. Which can obvisouly generate complicated tactical situations…
            By the way, he was dropped in the Dolomites stage, too, even if not by Quintana and Nibali, who were watching themselves as much as he was watching them.
            I don’t see that as similar to his Blockhaus performance…

            In the 2015 Vuelta, too, he was losing time to Aru on *every* uphill finish from stage 15 on, some 30″-40″ each time, whereas in the first or second week (Andorra monstre stage apart) he was usually losing less than 10″, or even gaining time on several occasions!

            I think that this year the Giro was so obviously focussed on the the third week, ITT included, that he might have tried to shift his peak, but his third week weakness has been a constant in his two previous high GC experiences.

  9. Thank you INRNG. Not just for the blog; this line made my day:
    “…taking the final bends around Rovereto like a tourist looking for his hotel…”


    • Pinot never was that good in TTing, although – no doubt – yesterday he had an especially bad day. Checking past placement without questioning what the race was like created that misconception, for example when people even assumed he was on Nibali’s TTing level in 2017.
      And, as a fan of Pinot, I hope he keeps away from the recent Aru approach (no reference to illegal practices intended). Well, that’s why he started to like better the Giro over the Tour, after all.

    • I think it was Freddy martens at the 1977 vuelta where he won 13/19 of stages the overall and the points classification. Don’t think anyone has bested that.

    • Do you mean stage wins *as well as* the overall, or stage wins *prior to* going into the lead on GC?

      If the former, then Freddy Maertens won 13 stages and the overall in the 19778 Vuelta. With an honourable mention to Alfredo Binda who won 12 (out of 15!) in the 1927 Giro. Merckx has the equivalent record for the Tour, with 8 in both 1970 and 1974.

  10. What a day for a tailwind. Such a shame for Dumoulin and the race from now on.

    Or perhaps we will see something wild in terms of tactics..

  11. Now that Yates is comfortable on GC I can see him sitting in all the way to the last metres on the coming mountain stages. Then jumping for the win, can see him getting another stage won unless the breakaway stays away of course.

  12. Pinot just doesn’t seem to have the head for this game. Loved the ‘tourist’ line.
    Aru’s time just amuses me and I find it very hard to believe that the 20 second penalty was not lenient: OK, people can have good and bad days, but that’s a hell of a comeback after the previous stage.

  13. Lots of talk about Aru’s form reversal following a rest day . It leads me to ask a simple question .What could a rider take on a rest day to facilitate a major uplift in form and not be detected ?

    • I suppose he could’ve taken a restorative and peaceful walk along the banks of the River Adige. I doubt that would show up in his piss.

      • He had no sudden uplift during that Giro.
        He got gradually better during the last week but you had a further easy stage after the rest day, and a middle mountain one where Contador attacked and dropped him, who looked far from brilliant. Astana then managed to shepherd a laughable process to Cervinia (Contador had nothing against that, since he had blown himself inside out the day before), then launching Aru into his typical last kms attack – nobody seemed much interested in tracking him down. The last stage win was a nearly shameful gift by Landa who was sacrificed by the team for the national rider. Really a pity, but nothing actually incredible, especially if you think how, after the Mortirolo “crisis”, Aru kept a decent distance from the head of the race chasing all alone on the false flats while the rest were shifting turns (coming in 7th, not 70th!).
        That whole situation had nothing in common with this year.

        Anyway, generally speaking, it seems quite obvious that there’s a psychological component in Aru’s situation, given that before cracking he was top-ten or whereabouts, that is, underperforming but not in the need of climbing down his bike.

        His TT looked absurd, I believe that they sanctioned him 20″ because of what they had recorded on video, but perhaps there was more than that.
        Yet, if we assume that he might have trained TTs for his Giro bid, which would also explain a certain loss in climbing performance, and we consider the tailwind, it’s not impossible at all to see him TTing slightly better than Formolo or Bilbao (who went more or less as Yates). All in all, he had *two* rest days, while the others were ripping themselves apart in Sappada. Some 40″ better than those guys still looks a lot to me, but 1’10” or so to Dennis isn’t crazy, if you take into account all the factors.

  14. Maybe today is Tony Martin’s day? He had a good result yesterday, I bet we’ll see him on the attack and because it’s the last chance for so many, he might even get some support this time…

  15. Haha, I knew I wouldn’t escape a gabriele-ing for that careless remark.

    Let me step it out further. Aru’s form in 2015 was truly terrible in the early season races, before he disappeared for the 5 weeks leading up to the Giro – during which it was reported he was so sick he couldn’t train (and conveniently lost 6kg) – then he turned up to the Giro looking switched on and snappy, racing more or less toe-to-toe with Contador for the first half of the Giro before fading.

    That raised my eyebrows even more than his return to form at the back end of the race.

    • I can’t even imagine how harsh is your opinion on Dumoulin…
      Barely coming close to a top ten during the whole season, frankly looking worse than *that* Aru (who, after all, had got a 6th place at Catalunya racing against Porte, Valverde, Contador…).
      Then, just two one day races in *8 weeks*. And now he’s up there.
      That’s his recent modus operandi, but at least the year before he looked more decent while climbing… although poorer TTing.

      Note that he’s not always prepared the season like that, before becoming a winning figure he tended to race way more short stage races in the first part of the year.

      No need to say that I don’t like at all this approach, but it’s a training trend which has been more or less successful through the years.
      The TdF is later in the season so it’s hard to compare, but how many riders do actually disappear for *more than two months* before it, racing *only* the week-long Dauphiné? Maybe never having looked actually on form in the early Spring short stage races, nor having had a serious go at the big Classics?

      I prefer a rider who’s more often chasing different objectives, but I can understand that one can also have a more focussed season – I’d accept it from time to time, or in order to try some special combination (to stretch your aims well into the Autumn, for example) or whatever.
      Of course, Aru is an extreme case and I think he’s paying the consequences of a distorted training regime and approach to racing.
      But that’s got little to do with being more or less doped than the average competitor. Among other things, because he’s been sticking year after year to this way of shaping his season and the results have been far from steady.

    • I’m with you on that performance. It’s often the increased turns of speed and hoping about on a bike like a Mexican jumping bean when previously the rider looked as jaded as the other racers….especially after rest days.

  16. It’s getting really tiring that it seems 50% of comments on any given stage is about who is doping with what. It’s ruining the cycling spectator experience for me.

    If you are riding good, you are doping; if you ride bad, you are doping; if you are so-so, you are still probably doping because you should be riding better.

    Oh and everyone is also a cheater, because everything else in life is exactly as it is in videogames and perfect with no mistakes or exploits of a situation, right? We are all perfect, unlike these dastardly bike racers!

    This used to be a place focused on analysis, not speculation. Please go to CN if all you want to do is accuse people of doping and rehash ‘cheating’ scandals.

  17. In your post, it said “Surprise of the day was Fabio Aru, just two seconds slower than Dumoulin …”

    Before 20 sec penalty, Aru was two seconds slower than Froome (at 35s after Dennis).

  18. I wonder if Aru saw Nibali’s Giro doctor on the rest day?
    I also wonder if a certain Welsh Sky household and possibly a Froome one is rather unhappy at the thought of Bernal going to the Tour (according to reports)?

  19. It was great to see the first part of that stage… hectic / manic racing, as break was forming / reforming etc.

    As a skip, so often (say at the tour), by the time the coverage has started, the break has formed, and it is just the procession to the line. Was great / fun to watch.

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