Giro Stage 18 Preview

A long run across landscapes famous for their food before the climb to the ski station of Pratonevoso.

Stage 17 review: a fast start and another hard stage with several breakaway attempts and the peloton splitting. But it ended in a bunch sprint and fourth stage win for Elia Viviani who let Danny van Poppel launch his sprint. Viviani waited for the right time to start his sprint so he could pass the Dutchman on his left hand side. Viviani’s a sprinter but different to the stereotype fastmen with their egos. You might remember him sobbing after losing out Gent-Wevelgem to Peter Sagan when other sprinters might have ducked the media or blamed a rival for blocking them. Not Viviani who is a much more sensitive character and lets his legs do the talking.

The Route: a gourmet stage past the flat plains of the Po river and many fields of rice then onto Asti in wine and truffle country with the climb through the Barolo vineyards to Novello. Why the food tales? Because there’s not much else to report and a reminder to eat plenty during an otherwise featureless stage until the final climb looms above Cuneo.

The Finish: a long steady climb to a ski station. If you get a picture in your mind of this climb then delete it because it’s an unusual ascent. Yes it’s long and steady but the road is not that big, the kind you’d drive up in car up but it’d be awkward with a team bus at times but other moments easy and the road suddenly opens up into a highway only to shrink back again including a passage with chapel sitting in the middle of the road. Here the gradient softens and the road continues up before eventually emerging at a giant car park surrounded by high rise condominiums for skiers. Still it’s a linear ascent of 13km where the gradient changes little and it rides fast, sitting on the wheels pays. Last used in the Giro in 2000, the Tour de France came here 2008 and as a guide to the slope Denis Menchov crashed on a hairpin bend going uphill that day.

The Contenders: several climbers sit low on GC and they’ll look to get in the breakaway and hope they can pick off the non-climbers who made the move. With only nine teams having had a stage win so far plenty of squads will hope they get a rider up the road. Think of the likes of Jan Polanc and Darwin Atapuma (UAE-Emirates), Joe Dombrowski and Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) or Robert Gesink (Lotto-Jumbo). But it’s a lottery among these kind of riders to make it clear and if not they have more chances coming up.

It’s not been a Giro for the breakaways and there’s a good chance the GC contenders fight for the stage win. This climb is exactly the sort of place for Chris Froome and possibly Thibaut Pinot to put Domenico Pozzovivo because of they can drop the Bahrain-Merida rider and then go into TT mode on this level ascent he’ll struggle to pull them back but Froome’s not been consistent on the climbs and Pinot’s state is unknown. Tom Dumoulin has a chance too, which means Simon Yates has a better one too and then there’s space for Miguel Angel Lopez to put Richard Carapaz under pressure too and go for the stage win without threatening the others.

M-A Lopez, Simon Yates
Dumoulin, Froome, Pinot, Bennett, Bilbao

Weather: improving, mainly sunny and 25°C on the plains

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 in the US and Dazn in Japan. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm.

61 thoughts on “Giro Stage 18 Preview”

  1. Do you think Rohan Dennis can do something? Seems like as good a stage as any to test his metamorphosis into a climber. Not that he is a favorite, but worth a mention?

  2. “pass the Dutchman on his left hand side”…I think Danny may have to ask his father Jean-Paul what just happened there. Jean Paul was a great sprinter back in the ’80s.

  3. La Corsa Rosa passes by just down the hill from our Piedmont Cycling Resort today. My plan is to see it race over the first little bump at Vignale Monferrato after lunch, then ride back to the resort to see the finale on TV. Will Yates go into full-defense mode now? Not hard to understand but it would be a shame. I hope Pozzovivo tries to move up on GC the next few days rather than be content with 3rd. FORZA!

      • The lanky giant and the small stocky guy, both pedalling in the most absurd way. What’s this, a David Lynch movie? I want a photo of them side by side! (both on the podium?)

      • Wow, I should have written full-collapse mode! 1/2 of his advantage wiped out in a few minutes. But it makes the next two stages that much more interesting. I was happy to see Pozzovivo not letting Froome get away. Froome’s a racer, as much as I dislike his look on the bike and other things, I can’t see the guy not giving La Corsa Rosa his all until Rome. Pozzovivo should do the same, he’s not gonna have many more opportunities to lead a team at the Giro. I hope he tries to win the whole canolo or goes down in flames trying. Forza Domenico!

        • Larry, I agree that would really enliven the race if Pozzovivo went on the offensive, but I think that is really unlikely. Besides the pragmatism of protecting his best ever GT position, I am not sure how he rolls over both Yates and Dumoulin. You and Gabrielle can offer more insight on Pozzovivo’s past but I do not recall the bravery and cunning of a Nibali style raid. Again, I hope I am wrong and he’s as much an instigator as Froome and Dumoulin over the next two stages.

  4. Yates will take time on GC again today. Probably jump clear in the last KM. Pantano, Brambilla, Ulissi, Villela all need to do something. Trek have been pathetic this Giro.

        • Brambilla has attempted a couple of doomed breakaway moves late in stages, including yesterday. Plus Mullen and Pedersen did ok in the TT. Other than those I couldn’t tell you who was in their team! They’ve come in with Brambilla as leader and he hasn’t had anywhere near the form to justify it. They’ve missed having Nizzolo go for the sprints.

      • The thing with wildcard teams is, that you notice them in nearly every breakaway. Which is the opposite of all day hiding in the peloton Trek riders, with some rare exceptions.

        • you’d have thought the Segafredo connection would make them want to at least show the jersey a bit more prominently in the Giro…. but I suppose Trek would have been happy enough with Toms Skujins victory dance in the ToC….

        • In fairness to ICA, Boivin was oh so close to the KOM jersey in the first couple of stages. Would have made their participation a full success.

  5. What are the odds that today will be the first time Luis Leon Sanchez doesn’t get in the break and it manages to stay away?!

  6. Will we see a classic SKY-train today? Won’t matter i guess, Yeats Will do a Björne R, drop the pace, look ät the others, attack and leave them in the dust.

    • It just shows you though, when the train lacks its finisher it’s no use at all.
      But perhaps it’d be rather quaint to see it in action once again?

  7. This one-hill-at-the-finish type stage would normally be meat and drink to Froome and the Sky train. More than the Zoncolan, it will tell us if he really is riding into this race or it’s all a bluff.

  8. This should be meat and drink to Tom Dumoulin, the good old monoclimb. Yet I get the feeling no one really believes he could drop Yates and that Pozzo and Pinot, maybe even Lopez, Carapaz and Froome, would be hanging on his coattails too. What has really exposed Tom in this Giro, and not just him, is that Yates (and Froome but only on the Zoncolan) has got a change of pace on climbs that he just hasn’t got. They call it being a diesel. But who wants a diesel when you can have petrol or even electric?

    If its a GC finish Yates wins again, maybe in a battle with Froome if its a good day as opposed to another shaky one.

    • How is that an exposure for Doom? He never has and never will be able to respond to sharp changes of pace. That shouldn’t be a surprise. And when has anyone ever expected Doom to drop climbers on climbs?

      Plus, it’s not like anyone else has been able to respond to Yates’ accelerations either.

      I think Doom has been very good. No one besides Yates has taken real time off him on climbs. His time trial could have been a little better but without this leap in ability by Yates, he’d be in comfortable position to repeat as Giro winner. Doom just hasn’t been otherworldly, while Yates has taken his previous top 10 GC level climbing to a new level virtually no one saw coming – his potential was known, and he had a very good Paris-Nice, but I doubt many people saw this Giro performance coming – and combined it with his previously established solid puncheur ability. Say chapeau to him and live to fight another day.

      • ‘virtually no one saw coming’.


        The ex-cricketer Michael Atherton had the nickname from university of ‘FEC’ which stood for ‘future England Captain’ (although some wags in his Lancashire dressing room said instead it referred to his Cambridge education as ‘F****** Educated C***) and similar is true of Yates whn it comes to wearing a grand tour leader’s jersey.

        Both of the twins have been spoken of since they signed for what was Orica GreenEdge as ‘future tour winners’.

        He won a stage of the Tour de L’Avenir at 19 (ahead of Bardet, Chaves, Rohan Dennis, Barguil, some chaps called Dumoulin and Quintana).

        World Points Champion on the track in 2013.

        Double Tour de L’Avenir stage winner that year as well as a stage of the Tour of Britan (beating Quintana and Wiggins, putting a minute in to Dan Martin)>

        It’s difficult to think of a career trajectory more certain to culminate in leading a grand tour.

        “A solid puncheur” ability? Come off it.

        • Isn’t it true to say that both of you are correct? Gareth – the lists of results etc. are accurate, and accurate to state that the Yates’s have been talked of as GT contenders, but isn’t also accurate to say that virtually no-one saw this performance coming this year? There are no insinuations there, but Yates has taken a greater step forward than expected I think.

          Going back to any previews did anyone have Yates as a contender for overall? I imagine most would have had him as an outside for the podium however. So, what Barbarossa states is also accurate I believe.

          • Yates was in the VeloNews, Cycling News, INRNG and cycling magazine contenders lists, so yes, virtually every English language publication I’ve seen had him as a contender for overall.

          • Hi – not checked any of the others you mentioned, but this is from the inrng preview. “if all goes well a podium finisher” is slightly different to “contender for overall”. We’re splitting hairs slightly, but I do think it’s fair to say that Yates is doing much better than expected (whilst also agreeing that his history points to being a GT contender at some point in his career).

            “Mitchelton-Scott bring a second leader in Simon Yates who’s a more steady option, more conservative: less likely to soar on a summit finish but with a faster sprint from a group even if he’ll lose time in the time trials too he’s had a more reassuring path to the Giro this year, losing out in Paris-Nice and fourth overall in the Volta a Catalunya. If all goes well either is a plausible podium finisher but it’s the combination of the two that’s interesting, it raises their chances of a stage win plus the inevitable office politics as the media try to establish the pecking order”

        • Did you read literally the very next words, “his potential was known”? Of course both Yates have long been tipped as potential GT contenders/winners, but plenty of high potential GT guys never really pan out, or plateau at that not quite good enough top 10/maybe podium level, considerably more than do make the jump to that next level of serious contention.

          Please, show me where you or anyone else predicted Yates as a -favorite- for the overall, not his general potential, but this level of performance, in this Giro. Inrng had him at 2 chainrings, below Doom, Froome, Pinot, MAL + Chaves (!), and said of the MTS duo “if all goes well either is a plausible podium finisher”. There isn’t a single comment from you or anyone else saying no way, Yates should be a favorite to win. I haven’t read them all but I’d be happy to wager no English language or any other preview had him down as a favorite to win.

          Is it a massive, Froome 2011 Vuelta style out of nowhere surprise? No. But it’s still a surprise, and if you say you saw it coming, well, I find that hard to believe. Otoh, Yates’ explosiveness (“puncheur ability”) was well established. All I was suggesting was that he’d combined that previously established explosiveness, and GC recovery ability, with a significantly higher level of climbing, + TT, strength.

          If you think I was implying – as plenty of people are right now – doping, I wasn’t. Natural development is a personally reasonable explanation for Yates. It’s too bad your boy is getting doping comments from some quarters, but it’s inevitable given that the previous ban (whatever one thinks of it) and that people will always question surprises in cycling at this point, even minor ones.

          Perhaps you should come off it.

        • Also for the record, if the GC ended today Yates’ winning margin would correspond largely – I’m not going to look it up to check exactly – to the bonus seconds he’s picked up. Which are a product of what? His explosiveness, i.e. his solid puncheur ability (and, tbf, a relentless attacking mentality, for which he’s deservedly gotten much praise). That’s praise, not criticism, before you take it the wrong way again. Everyone should ride to his strengths.

          Whatever happens in the next couple stages, he’s now established himself as a potential winner, rather than “plausible podium finisher” in every GT he enters going forward.

    • ‘But who wants a diesel when you can have petrol or even electric?’

      Ask Pozzovivo. When a climber like him has no chance vs TD you just shake your head.

  9. Is this Dumoulin’s last chance to take some time given the profile of the final climb? Apart from hoping of Yates falls apart as he will be as he himself has readily admitted will be sitting on wheels and riding defensively.

    Given the final effort Dumoulin could treat it as a TT but will he be strong enough to pull away and stop Yates just sitting on his wheel then pipping him for a time bonus (unless a break gets away)?

  10. That’s a lot of teams without a stage-win there. Outside chance for José Gonçalves? Only once outside the top-40 on a stage in the race and probably the stand-out under-the-radar ride (accepting the contradiction in terms) of this Giro.

  11. OK, my prediction, if a breakaway isn’t allowed to go is:

    If Yates is feeling it he won’t hesitate to go. Dumoulin isn’t on top form this Giro. Froome isn’t either, but he can’t help himself be competitive. I think he also finds himself in a position where he can still affect his final position.

    • Dumoulin is in top form or so. According to his DS, at least. Who, frankly, might have any reason to say the opposite, if he wanted to lie. Or to say nothing at all on the subject. But…

      However, he defends that Tom’s condition has now reached a higher level than at the same point last year, and that he’s in better shape. And that looks plausible.

      Froome’s performances on the Zoncolan and in the last ITT (he lost way less time than usual to Dumoulin, for example) suggest that his watts are there; the problem, until now, was channelling (top verb in recent inrng’s word cloud) them, or whatever else. Here comes the sun (so they say), and a straightforward stage tailor-made for him. We’ll see. Unpredictable.

      • Looks like Yates wasn’t feeling it. The door has swung wide open now, and the chasers will sent blood. Dumoulin and Froome can still have a bad day too, but I doubt all three at once.

        I hope for Yates sake that this was a blip as the next two days are going to agonising for him. Will he rest easy tonight? I don’t think so.

  12. “as a guide to the slope Denis Menchov crashed on a hairpin bend going uphill that day.”

    IIRC Menchov once crashed on a flat straight road in an individual TT so this is hardly any guide to the complexity of the course.

  13. This really has been a race of surprises. Was Simon Yates conserving energy or is he beginning to fade, if so the vultures are waiting. Chris Froome and Sky will attack tomorrow and Saturday which can only help Tom Dumoulin. A fascinating denouement awaits.

  14. I know there is often a lot of debate Nd disagreements around here but hopefully we can all agree that cycling is such a great sport. And we are very fortunate to have a great race right now with a very unpredictable outcome !

  15. Perhaps a Freudian slip from Matt White, Simon Yates’ DS, “He’s a tough nut and he’s gonna go down fighting.”. Often easy to read too much into all the post race comments but not sure I would want my DS to suggest he is “going down”. Also thought the fact that Jack Haig was dropped early on the climb might have been important, he could simply have been saving energy but he has been the key domestique for Simon Yates, Wout Poels is back on his A game at the moment when it matters and perhaps MS are showing signs of wear and tear. It is still Simon Yates’ race to loose but it is easy to ship lots of time on the next two stages.

  16. Today’s finale was, and tomorrow promises to be, yet more proof that having to go to work for a living is a terrible thing.

    Want early predictions about tomorrow? Is the Colle Della Finestre too early? Or is it selective enough, given the run up to Sestriere immediately after?

    • If I was Sunweb, Bahrain or SKY, i’d make the pace very hard before the gravel on Finestre, if Yates gets isolated, he is really going to struggle.

  17. Dumoulin now best priced 11/10 with Yates 5/4. For me Pozzo at 16/1 is best value given the flakey form of almost everyone and the parcours of the next 2 days.

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