Giro Stage 19 Preview

“Royal hunting”, that’s what today’s start town of Venaria Reale is a called and fitting for the Queen Stage of the Giro, especially given the hunt is on to see if Simon Yates can be cracked again. Today’s stage just a lot better thanks to yesterday and this morning’s Gazzetta announces “È apertissimo“, it’s wide open.

Stage 18 review: finally the breakaway made it only it was full of non-climbers as they reached the foot of the Alps and the climb to Pratonevoso. Ruben Plaza had a few goes to show us the Israel Academy team hadn’t vanished from the race and soon it was down to a duo of Max Schachmann and Matteo Cattaneo but with Ruben Plaza and Pfingsten dangling behind, often just out of the lead duo’s slipstream but not out of contention for much of the climb with Plaza making it a trio in the final kilometre before Schachmann jumped away for the win. While the trio were watching each other it was never a tactical finish, the German was simply the best.

Behind Carapaz and Lopez traded blows for the white jersey, Lopez looked to be struggling early on the climb but was this a bluff? Carapaz attacked and got easily countered by Lopez who ended up taking 35 seconds. After a few flurries from the others Tom Dumoulin put in a big attack and then Chris Froome countered and Domenico Pozzovivo sprung in return which forced Dumoulin to respond. Simon Yates didn’t follow. He couldn’t. The maglia rosa ended up losing 28 seconds and seeing his lead on GC halved. An energy gel short or the start of fatigue or a health problem? The answer will come out today.

Simon Yates, Pratonevoso

The Route: 184km beginning on the outskirts of Torino, or Turin in English. A brief trip across the plains and then it’s into the Alpine foothills. The Colle del Lys has 5km at 7% three quarters of the way along before easing towards the top. The descent is hard work, it twists and turns a lot on a narrow road and is often steep. Then follows 30km up the Val di Susa.

The Colle delle Finestre (“Windows Pass”) is a giant of a climb. It’s largely a level ascent but as the profile shows has a steep moment or two early on as it leaves the valley floor via the village of Meana and a short tunnel. Having ridden the climb memories include parked cars in Meana with blocks of wood under the wheels to hold them on the slope. Then it gets linear, this climb is as regular as a Swiss train with the most even of gradients. It was built this way, military grade in both senses of the term so horses could pull cannons up the climb to the Finestre fort. Today it means a steady climb. The final 9.5km are on gravel and if in recent days the authorities have used il grader to ensure a smooth surface it’s still subject to the weather. The descent is back on tarmac and fast.

The road to Sestriere is a gradual climb, lots of 4,5,6% sections but hard going for anyone feeling the effort so far and still climbing beyond 2,000m. A long and gentle descent awaits to Oulx and a reciprocal ride up the valley floor to Bardonnechia on the French border and then the lower slopes of the Jafferau await.


The Finish: new for TV viewers but not the Giro, the climb of the Jafferau was used in 2013 but low cloud meant no TV pictures. It bites from the start, it’s 7.2km at 9% on standard roads to cluster of ski lifts above Bardonnechia. It’s 9% average but hits 14% and consistently reaches 10%. There’s no respite all the way to the finish, indeed in a recon ride ahead of the last Giro visit it was unpaved in parts and slopes all the way to the finish line.

  • Queen stage? a term applied to the biggest and most important stage of a race. It’s from the French, étape reine which is literally “queen stage”. The noun étape is feminine so has the matching feminine adjective or adjectival ending, reine meaning queen rather than roi or king. Normally in English it would be “King Stage” but the more literal translation seems to have been copied across. There’s no obvious royal connection, just something to suggest importance, size and perhaps the power to shape the GC or even crown the winner.

The Contenders: the breakaway has another good chance of sticking and the climbers will need to hitch a ride. Again Jan Polanc and Darwin Atapuma (UAE-Emirates), Joe Dombrowski and Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) or Robert Gesink (Lotto-Jumbo) and let’s add Alex Geniez (Ag2r La Mondiale), the Colossus of Rodez, and Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), the Rock, as they’re not GC threats but are powerful climbers. Also Guilio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) has been wearing the mountains jersey but it belongs to Yates and if he can crest the Finestre while Yates hangs back he can take the jersey for real and he has a chance at the finish too.

Among the GC contenders this ought to be a climb for Simon Yates but after yesterday the doubts are creeping in. Are we going to see a Paris-Nice repeat where he loses his grip on the race right at the end or was Pratonevoso his jours sans? Miguel Angel Lopez was good on the climb yesterday and seems to be coming around in the third week, much like he did in the Vuelta last year. Otherwise Domenico Pozzovivo and Chris Froome look like picks for today, for both the stage win would be nice but their main aim will be to test Yates with Dumoulin close too. If they can crack Yates early so be it but given the seconds involved they need only leave it ’til late, especially the defending Dutchman. Indeed as much as the Finestre is the highest point of the race with the Cima Coppi prize it’s mid-stage and with some big long roads to the Bardonnechia and the final climb so the action should happen late.

M-A Lopez, Giulio Ciccone
Chris Froome, Domenico Pozzovivo
Yates, Geniez, Atapuma, Woods, Formolo

Weather: 24°C at most but with the chance of rain showers along the way and much cooler at altitude

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. They start the Finestre at 2.15pm CEST finish is forecast for 5.15pm.


199 thoughts on “Giro Stage 19 Preview”

  1. Yates looked full of doubt in the post stage interview, Ive got a feeling he’s cooked (but hope he is not), the patriot in me is hoping George Bennett will find his legs and get back in the top 10.

    • Do you think he was?
      I saw an albeit very brief post-race interview with Juan Antonio Flecha on tv, and I thought Yates showed a quiet steely reserve?
      I sensed a real determination about today but, of course, if the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak…

      • I agree. I thought he was ‘relaxed’ and focused. Of course you can play a poker face, but in his responses he did not sound worried or overly concerned.
        Froome has equally been as sangfroid when capitulating time.

      • Got to say, I was afraid he was. I have been worried ever since he was so emotional about the stage 15 win… I just thought that was an indication of having gone above & beyond what your body was physically capable of at that moment through the power of your will alone … and those occasions are brilliant for finish lines, but are particularly difficult to recover from. (I know the sensation myself from my mediocre-level endurance racing, so what on earth it is like at Giro leader level, I can’t imagine). That seemed to me the first crack. I was hopeful but still worried after his TT… and then yesterday it just seemed clear from body on the bike and face in the interviews that he’d cracked already… and today was going to be painful. Very sad to see… BUT it happened to Dumoulin in his first GT winning position … and he came back stronger to win, so hopefully this will be the final (horribly painful) step for Yates to then move up from to GT winner next season. He rides with such panache & verve, and comes across as such a good guy that I really, really hope so. I would have loved him to win this time, BUT I remain optimistic that his time will come multiple times again!

  2. To the one gel short calculation, quite right that Yates didn’t want things to come out the way they did last year. (And goodness knows what the road must’ve looked like after the artillery horses went through there.) Cheers inrng, this blog really is the shyte.

    • “goodness knows what the road must’ve looked like after the artillery horses went through ”

      Dumoulin pun opportunity wasted.

  3. The Giro delivers the drama!
    Aside from the question of whether yesterday was a bad day or a premature form peak for Yates, it’s going to be really interesting watching the Sky vs Mitchelton battle today. MS have looked so strong for the first two weeks, but does Sky now have the physical and mental advantage?
    For mine, it looked like Jack Haig dropped of the back at the bottom of the Pratonevoso yesterday to rest up for today’s stage, but you feel that it’s going to be really hard for Yates today if he’s not on it.
    And really interesting to see Sky in a position where they need to attack and take a lot of time. What their tactics will be. Hard tempo on the Finestre, attack over the top of the Sestriere and TTT along the valley?
    Interesting to hear on the cycling podcast this morn that Dave B is a fan of the valley attack.
    Hope Yates is back to his best and we see a great team battle go down.

  4. So my prediction is based on the theory that Froome & Sky are going for the win rather than the podium:

    Sky will put riders in the breakaway. Then Froome will attack hard on the Finestre, probably near the top, and look to gap Yates, Dumoulin, & Pozzovivo on the descent – Froome will then link up with the Sky riders from the breakaway and push on until the end, hoping to take minutes from his deficit.

    I think Yates will still be good. Yesterday’s climb suited Dumoulin (not super-steep and regular), and so I think the balance will be back in Yates’ favour today. But I think Froome and Sky are teh biggest danger now…

    I am loving this Giro!! Cannot wait to see what happens!! 🙂

    • quoting inrng in a comment under the Stage 17 Preview:

      “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.”

      • So is it “great minds think alike” or “fools never differ”… 🙂 Very happy to be on the same wavelength as the author of my favourite blog…!!

    • This is exactly what Froome SHOULD do. Its probably the only way he could even imagine winning the race. But it remains to be seen if he even has the capability a) tactically and b) physically. There’s also the fact that a podium, even for a 5 times grand tour winner, is not to be sniffed at, especially when its in the one grand tour you have no podiums at.

  5. With so much hard work put in it so far, it would be a shame for Yates to lose it now. Hope he finds the mental strength and confidence to keep it together for a day or two more–he certainly has the physical talents to win it for sure. Go Simon, go!

  6. We’ll know soon enough if Yates will crack.
    Profile shows gradual uphill from the start. There will be a furious pace for the breakaway to form. Once (if) Yates drifts back or shows weakness, his rivals will try to eject him by upping the pace even more. Do a Chavez. Yates will be very nervous I think…

  7. As a dutchman I hope for the same outcome as yesterday. Tom gaining time on Yates and not losing (too much) time on Froome and/or Pozzovivo.
    Unfortunately I expect a scenario where Sky and maybe Astana will make war from the start, both Dumoulin and Yates will crack and Froome will come very close to the pink yersey.

  8. A group of us rode up the Finestre yesterday. The gravel section is more mud that gravel, it was very heavy going and our wheels were sinking into the ground. I guess because the snow has only just melted and the ground is still sodden. They had a roller going up and down to try and make the best of it.

    My guess is the race will be in bits going up there.

  9. Shouldn’t loose sight of yet another great day for Quick Step, they are having a wonderful season. Fernando Gaviria for the Green jersey at the Tour?

    With all the analysis and comments flying around it is very difficult to know whether yesterday was a one off for Simon Yates or something more serious. One suggestion is that he instinctively reacted to Tom Dumoulin’s attack, put himself in the red and then could not respond. It was notable that Chris Froome did not immediately respond to TD’s attack but slowly came back then launched his own attack. So race tactics rather than anything deeper? On the other hand someting perhaps suggesting deeper problems was that Jack Haig was dropped very early on the climb. Was it deliberate to save energy, if so it was odd for your best gregario to bail out just before the decisive climb of the day. As has been mentioned SY did not look quite right in all the post race media stuff, perhaps the strain of being in the lead for so long is beginning to show? Have MS put too much effort over the race into chasing down breaks?

    It is clear that Sky and Sunweb will put riders in the break. MS are the only team which will try to stop them, though it seems unlikely they will succeed in doing so, they cant afford for Simon Yates to get isolated on the Finestre, so are not able to put too much effort in chasing down the break. Given how far from the end of the stage it is, it seems unlikely the decisive action will come on the Finestre more softening up and then try to leave an isolated SY chasing on his own on the descents / flatter bits (Richie Porte in the Dauphine last year?).

    Didnt think I would be suggesting this a few days ago but if I had to pick a result today I would go for Chris Froome to win the stage and Tom Dumoulin back in pink.

      • ?

        Bit confused on this one… when was the last time a pure sprinter even came vaguely close to beating a none disqualified Sagan? Have the rules changed this year? Gaviria could win 4 stages and still lose Green to Sagan. Plus Cav hasn’t looked vaguely close to any sort of form this year, especially form good enough to go for green, I think a stage win will be a huge achievement for him this year.

    • Matt White confirmed Jack Haig had been rested for today’s stage so expect more MTS riders around Yates on the climbs. Also even if Sky and Sunweb do put riders in the break that will also be a problem for FDJ and Bahrain as Froome is the biggest threat to their riders’ podium finishes which means they might have to do some real work today.

      • “claimed” might be a more neutral word than “confirmed”, as I suspect White would be reluctant at this stage in the race to admit that Haig had simply run out of gas.

        • The proof of the pudding will be in the climbing today, but it would make sense to rest who has arguably been the strongest domestique over the course of this Giro, and at least on paper yesterday’s stage probably looked non-threatening so they figured they could get by without Haig (and Nieve did what he could to try and limit Yates’ losses).

  10. I honestly believe Dumoulin and Yates will struggle today. When Froome went yesterday big Tom was really grimacing. Froome won’t win this race, but he will have a big impact on who wins it.

      • Will be harder to do that on these climbs coming up. Froome can put in repeated attacks, as can Pozzovivo. It should be a crazy day. I’m not rooting for anyone to WI or get dropped, just want a spectacular race.

        • I think almost the opposite. I think they sense weakness in Yates and Sky will grind the Col de Finestre all the way, burning up everyone’s matches. If Yates is weak, he may break. Even if he isn’t, the steady pace ought to suit Dumoulin and then the final climb will break Yates. Froome is looking for a podium, I doubt more than that.

          • I doubt Froome cares about a podium. And if he wants to win, he has to go on Finestre, we will have to wait and see. The pace will be unreal.

          • Froome’s a racer. I think he wants to make his mark on the race (and the outcome). But I think his main motivation – possibly more than a podium – is to take the props for being an aggressive bike racer & shed the ‘ride by numbers’ tag.

            What a race & what a blog!

  11. I feel bad for Yates because he’s dominated the race and I think he’s going to crack. Neither Yates or Michelton-Scott are experienced in handling the pressure they’ll be under now. Indeed the teams only experience is of Chaves crumbling under the weight of pressure from Nibali/Astana a couple of years ago. I would expect Sky and Astana to ratchet up the pressure from the outset and get riders in the break. Astana have Pello Bilbao handily placed at only 5 odd minutes down. If he’s in the break then MS have the option of chasing, tiring and leaving Yates exposed to Lopez or allowing him to ride off. Sky can also place multiple riders in the break and try a relay, Sunweb could have a go with Oomen. I think Pozzovivo is handily placed, and I wouldn’t write Froome or Lopez out of it yet. It’s certainly got interesting.

    • I fear too that Yates will crack too but hope he won’t. So surprising as he held the first Dumoulin attack in typical Yates style. I can’t help but feel that yesterday – with one long steady climb – was much better terrain than today and tomorrow to hide weakness and distress. Pozzo, Froome and Lopez will be encouraged now and Dumoulin too. A classic Giro and a great two days to come. They all must be tired with surprises to come, but where?

  12. As to Queen Stage, the Italians call it the TAPPONE and there’s little doubt this is it. The photo attached to my post shows yours truly on Colle Finestre many years ago on a recon trip. It’s truly epic, especially when thousands go up there on bikes or on foot to see the Giro. If I wasn’t obliged to take some clients to Cervinia tomorrow I’d be up there myself!
    Forza Pozzovivo!

    • For a day that is the self-titled royal stage, this morning has the feel of revolution or a brewing coup d’etat hanging in the air?

  13. Yates’ struggles yesterday were so completely unexpected, it was hard to believe it as it unfolded in real-time. He’s been so commanding, and he seemed to counter Dumoulin’s first move with ease. Great for the race though!

    Today will be very, very tense and it feels certain that Sky will throw everything at Yates. Wouldn’t even put it beyond Froome to win this Giro in a similar vein to Nibali two years ago.

    Have to say I’m mystified by how poor most teams in this Giro have been at getting their preferred riders in the breakaway. Trek, UAE, EF, AG2R, Dimension Data, Lotto Jumbo, Katusha (and I could add a few others) again failed to put someone capable of actually winning in the group. It’s such a contrast to QuickStep, who realised the right break had formed and had Morkov bring Schachmann to the front for another stage win. If they can do it, why can no one else?

  14. Fargo-Esque carnage today.Saw the Gruber pictures the other day and thought then Oh My! I only ever thought Yatesey was top 5, so a podium finish would’ve been a terrific result. Perhaps a season to early, for the overall? Pozzovivo’s battle with Froome will be interesting. All hail the little guy. The Queen has the power

  15. Think Ciccione is a very good pick for the Cima Coppi, especially as Bardiani missed the break yesterday, but the rest is a wonderful mystery!

  16. I’m interested to know what people think of the fact that Yates could have won stage 6 and gained another 5 bonus seconds, plus I reckon another 2/3 seconds by going full gas to the line. I know it’s the romance of the sport that the spoils of victory are shared, but those seconds look like they might really matter. I can’t imagine formula 1 drivers on the same team being allowed a gesture like that.

    I find myself really conflicted. On the one hand Yates gesture is what makes the sport for me, on the other I wouldn’t want to see him lose because of it.

    • I can’t see those few seconds being crucial. If Yates is OK and yesterday was just a blip then he won’t be needing them but if he cracks he’s going to lose minutes rather than a handful of seconds.

    • Hamilton gave back a place to his teammate last season (after being allowed past to try and overtake the driver in front and failing), so it definitely does happen there.

      Regardless, I agree with you that the tactical interplay and game theory that goes with cycling makes it endlessly fascinating as a sport – there’s an argument that ‘fixing’ races is unfair on punters, but surely anyone looking to bet on cycling would be aware that they needed to take that into account? Always back riders each way for a stage!

  17. Sets things up fantastically, especially with Froome willing to go all in because a podium means nothing to him so will be a big factor in the outcome.

    Interesting comments from Yates post stage about whether his attacks in the first two weeks are catching up with him and him replying it was always his only chance to win. It’s clear he went deep in the time trial and as INRNG pointed out the real answers will come today.

  18. This is really cycling at its best…

    I’ve always been a GT fan over the classics – there’s nothing like this sort finale – even if it doesn’t come to the boil, the excitement is enough!

    Can anyone really call today?
    Will Yates crack? Will Froome help win it for Dumoulin? Will Yates hold on? Will Froome go crazy and come up short, reeled in by Yates and Dumo? Or will Pozzovivo find his moment in the sun?

    How far is too far to go out?
    Will we see some unusual attacks on the flat?
    Will it be won on the descent?

    Too much to ask – can’t remember the last time a Grand Tour finished with predictions so difficult to have any confidence in.

    One question: is the gravel section different to 2015 – I remember it then suiting Hesjedal and the bigger riders – would that mean it’s a good moment for Froome and Dumoulin to isolate Yates and work him over on the descents? Or is it really too far from the finish?

    • Agree! Today is deliciously unpredictable.

      Those muddy pics from the Finestre though… I imagine this turns a fairly steady climb into something more akin to a variable gradient as riders pass softer and harder patches in the road…. Or will the drag act more like a headwind and nullify attacks?

      Anyway, glad it’s them going up it and not me today… looks tough!

      • I think it’ll have the same effect of other bad surfaces and work to the benefit of riders who can put down the power sitting down, and by slowing the riders down, reducing the effect of drafting somewhat. Although maybe in this case lighter riders will benefit if they don’t sink in as much? Headwinds nullify attacks because they drastically increase the benefit of drafting.

        I’m really looking forward to today – the other teams will smell blood now and you get the feeling that anything could happen. Before the race, I was worried that the last climb was too hard and would discourage long range attacks, but the race is so delicately poised that it only needs a sniff of one team trying something and the whole thing could blow apart.

        God I love the Giro.

    • “I’ve always been a GT fan over the classics – there’s nothing like this sort finale”

      But this is an incredibly rare situation for the end of a GT, which is why we’re enjoying it so much. Far more often, over the last 20 years or so anyway, GTs are won by defensive, attritional racing, the winner being the one who finishes in the first group every day, and doesn’t crack.

      If Yates cracks and fails, it’s going to deter other exciting racers from trying this particular strategy and will confirm that the USPS/Sky-train approach is really the best model.

  19. There seem to be lots of people thinking a podium means nothing to Froome. Why are you all so sure? Froome, as people have scathingly said for 7 years, is not Contador, a man who only ever came first or nowhere. Froome has podiums to his name where he didn’t win too. I don’t think for a second that a podium is as valueless to him as some do, especially not in a race in which he has no previous result worthy of the name. If he could bag 3rd that would be like a win in the race he’s had anyway. If he can be greedy and grab even more so much the better. The question for me is how much ambition (and ability to fulfill it) does he actually have in this race? If he attacks on the Finestre we will know. If he waits until the end its probably not that big a deal for him.

    • I agree. Froome has been remarkably consistent at the highest level for years having finished on the podium of at least one Grand Tour every year since his breakthrough at the 2011 Vuelta. Even not winning the Giro would at least given him the GT podium grand slam which would be another feather in his cap.

    • I agree that a podium finish would not be valueless to either Chris Froome or Tom Dumoulin. However both maybe more inclined to gamble than say Domenico Pozzovivo for whom a podium would likely to be one of the highlight of his career. If the choice comes of “do I roll the dice and go for a win or sit tight and take 3rd” I suspect the first would be chosen on this occasion.

    • Sure he’d defend a podium, but not until the win is out of reach… as things are, all still to play for.

      Looking forward to seeing hungry, racing Froome rather than defending Froome. Think he really enjoys it but has so often not been the right tactic for his dominant position in races

    • I do think almost everything that’s said about Froome in passing conversation is completely wrong anyway and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right on this one!

      Froome is the Nigel Mansell of cycling – bland on the outside, a lion on the inside!

      He’s called boring – I’ve seen him explode races with wild attacks many times.
      He’s called conservative – again, he seems primed to attack whenever he gets a sniff?
      He’s called a moaner – seems to me he regular holds his hands up to ‘not having the legs’ when he loses.

      The only thing I dislike about him is he should have gone with the Tarantula nickname rather than the random Rhino on his bike – The Tarantula makes sense and is a nickname worthy of a four time winner to go with The Badger, The Professor, The Gentleman…

      I think we get on all the riders backs to regularly and ignore what’s happening in front of us.
      Froome’s clear weaknesses are crashing and the rain… then possibly (although not categorically proven) multiple rapid climbs. (I always think he seems more affected by crashes than he lets on).

      Anyway – I have massive respect for anyone who’s in the cycling racket – even Aru coming up short on Zoncolan, he still climbed it within the top20 on the day and ludicrously fast for any normal human!

    • Froome is the kind of guy who picks targets. Zoncolan was the stage he wanted this year and he managed to get it. But his overall form and position in the race has been knocked by crashes which certainly hampered him in the first ten days and also by his need not to be too good too early since Tour No. 5 is, I’m sure, still his main season target. Regardless of what he might want from the race I personally harbour doubts he has the ability and tactical “madman” mentality to achieve it. It would certainly be his greatest feat in the saddle if he won this race.

      • The ability is in question, absolutely.

        The mentality tho, I disagree – we’ve never seen him have to go from far out, because he’s always ensured through methodical preparation, planning, and execution that he was never in this kind of desperate situation. Sky’s whole thing is to contingency plan as much as possible to avoid these situation. But he’s definitely been willing to do somewhat crazy stuff – w/Sagan in the crosswinds, the solo downhill attack. I’m telling you, crazy Froome is sitting there waiting to unleash.

      • Btw, how hilarious would it be if the last couple years of his career just turned into full-on kamikaze Contador pt. II? Not that it’ll happen but I would enjoy it so much, not to mention watching the legions of panache fans who’ve always hated him (or at best, moved on to a grudging respect) have to deal with it.

        • I agree with you entirely that Froome has often been wildly miscast (he’s not simply a “look at the powermeter” racer at all) and that his method of winning races has been to strangle them from the front. But this is my point: ways to win are habit-forming. An interesting similarity between Froome and Contador is that neither had any one day pedigree as racers at all (compare Vincenzo Nibali who certainly does). Yet, despite this similarity, their approach to winning stages races has been quite different. Contador could no more win a race like Froome than Froome could like Contador. All this means it will be against type for Froome to do what he needs to do… which only makes it less likely.

    • There’s a large distance between “a podium means nothing” and riding solely to defend a podium – a spectrum with Contador at one end and (a better version of) Zubeldia at the other. I’m sure Froome would prefer a podium to no podium, it’s the balance of the risk/reward calculation that none of us know. I suspect without have any way of confirming it that if he’s physically able he’d absolutely throw caution to the wind – as I said below he has that wild-eyed ultracompetitiveness (something he does share with Contador) beneath the calm veneer.

      I’ll split the difference and say Sky will ride with podium in mind but if he senses any opening at all for the overall, if he physically can he’ll absolutely go for it.

  20. “Ruben Plaza had a few goes to show us the Israel Academy team hadn’t vanished from the race”

    I think that’s a bit harsh. Almost every day Ben Hermans has been flogging himself to get into the break. Mostly people just don’t see that watching the last 20k.

    • Fair point but so have other teams and they’ve got someone into the breakaway, if Hermans hasn’t been so visible what about his other team mates? They’ve had a discreet Giro although starting and taking part was their big goal and they did well over the first weekend.

  21. I can’t see Tom D beating even a weakened Yates on his own in this terrain… he will need Froome et al to mess things up a bit for him. If Froome gets 90+secs today then the last stage could be epic, but if Froome is out of reach of the podium by the end of today I suspect the final day could have less excitement than hoped. (Pozzo will be more conservative than Froome etc.)

  22. Like everyone else, very much enjoying going into the 19th stage of a GT having absolutely no idea who’ll win, with all manner of disparate wild predictions flying all over the place.

    Who knows if he has the legs, but if he does I’d love to see Froome launch a full-on Contadorian death or glory assault (who wouldn’t love that?). Maybe the immediate goal is a podium but close under the affable beige riding to power exterior lurks the wild-eyed ultra-competitive madman who took off after Sagan + Bodnar in the crosswinds, took off running up the side of Ventoux, etc.

    Wouldn’t count Yates out as quick as some seem to be doing – he’s a tough dude, even if his form is actually starting to desert him – big if – can’t imagine him not scrapping it out til the bitter end. As much as I’m rooting for Doom, really hope it doesn’t come to down to the handful of seconds Yates lost gifting that stage to Chaves, that would be very unfortunate.

    Bring on the chaos!

  23. One journalist tweeted he saw a few riders from different teams in discussions yesterday, intimating Froome is going to do a 2017 Tour de Dauphine.

  24. Why is the official Giro site saying that that tomorrow (Saturdays) stage is the Queen?

    “This queen stage across the Alps features a remarkable 4,000 m rise and drop, tucked away in the last 90 km, where the riders will tackle 3 climbs amounting to nearly 20 km each.”

    • Yep, could ship minutes here. He must’ve really turned himself inside out in the TT and about finished himself off!

  25. I think rumours of his demise are a little early. But he’ll be on the ropes taking puncheurs left, right and centre.

    Dumoulin, Froome and Pozzivivo will all test him for sure. It’ll be interesting to see if Sky launch their pacers up the road. If Froome is not feeling it they could manage a second stage win.

    It all looked grand yesterday. Less than a km to go and chasing down the attacks, when the ‘old roper dope hit in it was a real surprise that the only rider not to launch was Yates. Dumoulin having distanced Froome would’ve been the choice pick to be out of Os when the Kenyan countered.

    A lot seems to be expected of Froome today, and I don’t know whether I think his engine is firing on all cyclinders. He’s looking very much a diesel, and today sounds like you need petrol. burn fuel for clean air in the rarified arena.

    When you wear pink at the end of a three week race you deserve it, and I hope Yates is still in Pink come Sunday. But these next two days will be the hardest.

  26. If Chris Froome pulls this off the only comparable ride I can remember would be Andy Schleck on the Galibier, though I am sure there will be those who could point out other rides further back.

      • Also… hadn’t Landis lost a bunch of time the day before? And Froome has won a fair amount previously, he’s not exactly coming from nowhere?

        Let’s not ruin everyone’s enjoyment with doping posts. He’ll be busted one day if that’s the case. Happy to enjoy what we’re witnessing for now.

        • Well said… and the relative time splits today make for a much more credible “insane, crazy, mad über-break” than Morzine….

          …(though watching at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed FL’s ride, only to be saddened by the test result obviously – still holding off the whole chasing peloton by 7mins or whatever did strike me as perhaps a little too miraculous, when I thought about it. Today’s ride doesn’t have the same feel as that one – it is much more AC in 2012).

          • The difference with AC 2012 is that he ended up struggling after working that much, and he wasn’t alone all the time, either. Same in Formigal (which is true for Quintana, too, despite them being a little covered by the rest of the break before the finale).

          • (tried to post this before but it disappeared)

            The difference is that Contador ended up struggling in the finale, and he didn’t had to work alone all the time, either (also check Formigal and its finale, both for Quintana and Alberto).

    • My thoughts exactly. To the commenters below – I will not rain too much on your parade but Froome WAS busted. Other posts on this excellent blog have explained very well why he was allowed to start this Giro rather than sit out the process of finding out whether or not there is a good explanation for his AAF. For me, Froome starting already made the Giro less enjoyable. His relative absence from the GC (podium positions) was a pleasant surprise and got me more and more excited. That is, until today.

      • To be clear – My thoughts exactly refers to MG’s observation – Floyd Landis was on my mind this afternoon. And commenters below actually includes DAVEs comment – I thought mine would end up higher in the chain.

        • Froome is a polariser it seems.

          I think you need to take your hat off, and in whatever way, acknowledge that he’s gone from having no hope to wearing Pink in the course of this race.

          He’s not given up, and he’s plotted his course. I don’t think many saw this turn around happening in quite this way. Though many posters above called on him to do just this.

      • Note Froome has four Tours.

        On the Landis comparisons, he took off with about 130km to go on the Col des Saisies and covered four big mountain passes (Aravis, Colombière, Joux Plane) and held off a chase by entire teams who were presumably as loaded as him. Today Froome went with 80km to go and held off Reichenbach and Dumoulin but it was the way he came back from being out of contention on GC into the race that has been the big surprise.

        I usually plot the GC standings for riders for the “Moment the Race was Won” pieces and Froome’s path will be an upward curve rather than the usual approach of seeing his rivals fall away in the TTs.

        • You forget that most of the time, for unknown reasons, in Landis’ stage the peloton simply renounced to chase, going uphill at Sunday’s warriors pace and then widening up all over the road’s width. Speeds were nonsense (low), too. One of cycling’s myteries. It didn’t look that Dumoulin wasn’t meaning to chase, frankly.

  27. Mauro Vegni must be pinching himself every night as he goes to bed; this really has been a dream race from his perspective. No incidents in Israel; three great stages in Sicily, including “getting it right” on Etna; the specter of a Maglia Rosa attacking any time he can, ahead of the critical time trial; the race entering the third week finely balanced; the MR cracks on the mono-climb stage 18; and now the race blown wide open on stage 19, with the multiple climbs giving ample opportunities to those inclined to take them. There is even an Italian in the mix for the podium – indeed, Pozzo has just joined a (more or less) Italian team, after serving for several years as a super-ish domestique for a French team. The only spoiler is the disappointment of Aru’s form.

    As I write this, Froome is on the rampage, 53 km from the finish and out front by nearly two minutes. While there is a long way to the finish still, I cannot help but be impressed by his fighting spirit; whether or not he wins today’s stage – or the race overall – he has demonstrated that he is indeed a true champion. I’ve been won over.

  28. Froome and Contador have been very different riders in their style in the past, but I challenge anyone to watch this sole Froome raid as he blows this race wide open and not admit it’s Alberto-esque.

    • The way he didn’t lose time essentially on any section defying several laws of physics made me think more about another guy… Contador’s long range attacks implied the extra effort compared to competitors surfacing and showing up in some phase of those actions. Even in the most blatant case. And he rarely was alone all the way long. Same for Pantani. Yet, this is not unprecedented…

      • Physics? Biology no…? He didn’t travel to another dimension!
        *(I get what you’re saying and to whom you refer just to clarify)

      • I’m not sure what “laws of physics” are in play here gabriele? Can one man simply not be head and shoulders above the rest on the day? It was essentially Froome vs Dumoulin for much of the final 80kms and clearly Dumoulin is a) not at his best and b) more tired than Froome. Pinot was soft pedaling waiting for the final and Reichenbach was only making token efforts and fell away at the end. No “physics” is needed to explain that.

        • 35 of the 81km were downhill. Of the 46km uphill and flat, the weirdest bit was Froome gaining around a minute in the drag to the foot of Sestriere, then only losing 30 seconds on the climb of Jafferau.

          • It seemed to me that time was being lost when Reichenbach was on the front, when Dumoulin took a turn he pegged it back a shade but not much.

          • And most of what you label downhill was actually a < 3% false flat where you have to push hard and slipstream helps a lot (mainly down Sestriere).
            It wasn't Reichenbach vs. Froome. It was three athletes taking turns, albeit in different proportion, and the consequences of watt saving for Dumolin should have been more apparent. You might think he had a bad day, if it wasn't for the good way you saw him climbing compared to all the rest.
            I'd have understood if a similar result (well, maybe a little less difference) had been the product of a more normal evolution of the time difference. It didn't look so, not to me.

          • I feel like you’re doing your own excellent analysis a disservice with this (and comments above and below) innuendo – too much water (?!), laws of physics, not enough or too much time gained on specific sections etc etc. It was mainly Froome versus a tired Dumoulin, while the riders with Dumoulin were often riding against each other, not against Froome. Dumoulin himself acknowledges the error of waiting for “old lady” Reichenbach, yet still ended up only losing 3 mins over 80 km that were better suited to Froome. The over-analysis of every section seems horribly error-prone: looking back, how did big Tom climb so well on the steep Zoncolon? Why did Pinot crack on the TT and then recover so well for today? Why did Yates do so well on the TT? Why can any one rider hold off an imperfect chase in any race? These things can all happen legitimately. As Inrng mentions, the big surprise is simply Froome dragging himself into form. Otherwise, things aligned perfectly for Sky today – cracking all domestiques early, along with Yates and Pozzovivo, and Lopez being told not to pull by his DS.

            (Saying all that, the effective asterix next to Froome’s name does naturally invite speculation and it’s disappointing that it hasn’t yet been resolved)

          • I tend to agree with this; there were so many unknown variables at play in yesterdays stage that analysis of time gaps at different parts of the race isn’t sufficient. Sky went for the moon shot and got it, hats off to them. My armchair view any way.

            Question is, how much it took out of Froome? I watched the post-race interview where he said he was riding within himself with tomorrows stage in mind. I guess Dumolin would have been following a similar strategy rather than go all-out?

          • You have to feel for Tom D too. That was some effort considering he was left with nobody who wanted to work with him. He dragged them to the finish…and every time, 500m to go aside, they attacked him, he always managed to get back on. Also a super human effort…Chapeau Tom.

    • You’ll need to wait for my eyebrow to get back down ^__^

      As I wrote before today, I knew that the guy can be mutant and was actually afraid that things could go this path. Well, whatever. I hope he at least brings some more spectators in.

    • And I thought that all the epic rides were history. Shame that L’Equipe comments should all suggest doping and, worse, that Equipe TV commentators encourage that.

    • I’ll give a big (and sincere) +1 here to RonDe

      Huge balls in the stage, absolutely so, but also in his more general defy.

      Then, I guess I’ll stick to a policy of not uttering opinions – or producing analysis – which wouldn’t be good for the sport. As DAVE says above, the best thing to do is allowing who can enjoy this… to do so.

      • (Although I do think any doubts are utterly understandable – it’s hard to believe this one – whatever though, best stage I’ve ever seen)

    • Yep, the “mow ’em down in the crono and defend in the mountains” guy certainly flipped the script today. But it’s hard not to see Giro 2011’s fiasco looming in the rear-view mirror.
      La Corsa Rosa deserves better..and the final insult will be the millions they paid for this fellow to show up to make a travesty of their race. 🙁

        • The way I am processing it in my mind is to view it as a 80km time trial starting a 3rd of the way up the Finestre. In such a scenario would Froome winning by 3 minutes be so strange. Ullrich, Indurain and Anquetil have won time trials by more… anyway. Plus I think Dumoulin made a mistake waiting for Reichenbach on the descent of the Finestre. He’s clearly a terrible descender and by the time he was back on they were pretty much back in the valley and Froome was 1:50 down the road with most of the damage done. Plus after that none of his compainions were anything other than an annoying distraction.

          • Agree. If TD had been by himself after Froome I think the gap would have been less. Reichenbach was awful going down and didn’t look so good on the flat.

          • But at least part of the energies Tom didn’t spend while sucking wheels or while waiting for Reichenbach should have come back at a certain point against Froome, although it was not the most effective course of action. At least a *little* part of that. That’s the strange part. Maybe tomorrow?
            (Tom’s face didn’t really look like that on the last climb, but who knows…).

        • We don’t need to believe in anything. It’s fine to just enjoy in the knowledge it may disappear no?
          Been that way in cycling for years no?
          We all know the history, and know the delay on his case is a nightmare.
          What can we do? They still race, he still did what he just did?
          Let’s just enjoy and see what the future brings…

          It will be so interesting to dissect that stage – Gabriele’s comment above on Froome not losing time at almost any stage went through my head. I was thinking (if we ignore suspicions for a second) it played out perfectly for Froome with Dumoulin forced to work straight away and the others not contributing – with Pozzovivo dropped and the only person who’d have likely worked with Dumo.

          It then became (almost) and 80km race between Froome and Dumo with the gap noticeably stabilising around 2.55-3.05 when they begun working together better with Reichenbach and Pinot taking proper turns. It seemed for quite a while I’d thought (as the gap kept growing) that Dumo was struggling more than people realised, as I’d have thought a top level Dumo would have cut in more on the flat, even if the rider around weren’t helping, or of the calibre needed in TT mode at that moment. You get the feeling Froome got very lucky with Yates being dropped, then Pozzo losing the wheels, forcing Dumo into the position where he was already on the ropes at the top of Finestre.

          Any other scenario you feel Dumoulin would be in pink – luck and perfect execution from Sky.

          I’m not sure Dumoulin made any mistake? Should he have let Froome go earlier and kept a larger group together to help with the chase? Hard to say? I definitely didn’t see him waiting for Reichenbach, Reichenbach got on on his own. Possibly if Dumoulin was feeling good he should have gone after Froome earlier solo but it’s impossible to say?

        • Can you help me with it with something RonDe, I don’t know if i am being really stupid? You are a massive Froome fan, we’ve covered that before, but when youve commented on his victories in this Giro you’ve used Armstrong’s most famous quote. That reads to me like you sarcastically believe Froome to be a doper along the same lines as Armstrong? Am I missing something?

        • 2011 is the year. I don’t remember anyone in 2016 racing the Giro after being found with almost twice the allowed amount of a substance in his pee. Perhaps you can clue me in?
          2018 might be some sort of miracle… if Froome somehow gets away with no sanctions after his Vuelta urine test. But even then, it’s hard not to look at Giro 2018 (assuming Froome hangs on to win) without reservations. I still have a bit of hope that tomorrow the sporting gods might screw with Mr. Froome one last time to make sure he doesn’t win. But I will concede that he can no longer be categorized as “defend in the mountains and mow ’em down in the crono” after today.

        • Lance said precisely that when he was standing on the top of the podium after 7 TDFs..

          Pinot was soft pedalling during the chase? His face seemed rather strained to me.

        • RonDe: except for one glaring problem. Nibali didn’t make up that much time on several motivated opponents like ET(CF) did today. He pushed SK hard enough to make an error, leaving EC within striking distance. He took this time back over two days. Chaves developed some bronchitis following stage 19 and had to chase on stage 20 with others not contributing. Nibali also had teammates up the road to assist on both stages. There is nothing in common between the stages. BTW an expert in nitric oxide physiology tells me they should test CF for N-acetylcysteine, cittruline and high levels of nitrates.

          • Just for some reference see the literature on critical power, w’, beet root juice, citrulline and NAC by AM Jones of the UK. Very interesting stuff.

      • My understanding is that legally his wins here should stand. But it depends if the men in suits try to suck up to social media, bypass the rules and give the mob what they want.

        I always thought the dislike of Sky was that their budget meant they could strangle a race… then they ride like this and people still whine like toddlers.

        • I wouldn’t go that far. It’s more like the rule wasn’t clear or was usually interpreted in such a way that would allow Froome to keep his Giro result even if he got indicted.

          Under social media pressure, UCI/WADA may decide to deviant away from conventional interpretation and strip Froome’s Giro result. It would be inconsistent, but not against the rule.

          Should Froome be indicated and Whatever the decision then regarding his Giro result is, if this decision them set a clear precedence and got applied consistently there on, the rule book ends up better off.

          • The starting point for an athlete in Froome’s situation is that “all other competitive results of the Athlete obtained from the date a positive Sample was collected (whether In-Competition or Out-of-Competition), or other anti-doping rule violation occurred, through the commencement of any Provisional Suspension
            or Ineligibility period, shall, *unless fairness requires
            otherwise*, be Disqualified”.

            The question of what “fairness requires” is always very fact-specific, so whatever the decision in Froome’s case it’s not likely to set a clear precedent for other cases unless the facts are similar.

            I believe Ulissi was able to keep his results because he showed he’d been negligent.

          • I’d agree with that and add there’s precedent to suggest Froome could keep the result in the Giro even if he loses the Vuelta (he could be cleared too etc). But it’s conditional, we’re guessing and this is part of the problem, there’s a vacuum and it gets filled by speculation.

  29. It seems that the key to the giro is to injure yourself early on so that you’re forced to rest yourself more than you otherwise would.
    Anyway, he could lose all his gains tomorrow, but I really hope not. Chapeau sir.

  30. Last night, reading over the finish line quotes from yesterday and reflecting I thought Froome would win the Giro. Yates’ comments at the finish (and in the preceding days even) made clear he did not think he would sustain his performance to the end. I had dreams of Nibali’s reversal.

    Dumoulin has the fight of his life tomorrow; he’s still looking pretty good but not only could he win, he could also lose his place depending on how it goes.

    And just look at the time splits on the GC now. Yates is still top 20 after losing over 38m which should tell you something. The gaps are STAGGERING.

    Interesting stage for sure! Tomorrow will be great.

    • Second thought: tomorrow could also be very dull as everyone protects position. If Dumoulin does not think he has the legs, it will be dull in terms of GC. The gaps are so big. Among Pinot, Lopez and Carapaz there could be some fighting but they haven’t shown such guts so far, and they are so far behind not a huge risk to Froome or Dumoulin’s positions.

      I surely hope Dumoulin feels good tomorrow and Sky doesn’t suffocate the stage (not saying this in a negative way about Sky – it’s a good tactic if they have the team strength). 40 seconds is a bridge too far I think, but you never know. 80km solo attacks must take a lot out of you.

      • A bit harsh on Pinot. He worked hard with his teammate today and even tried to ship the passengers, even if it didn’t help his, or Doumoulin’s, cause in the end.

        • Indeed. In hindsight, fannying around with Pino, Carapaz, Lopez and Reichenbach did him no favours (especially on the descents). If Froome’s legs are toast tomorrow, so are TD’s.

    • Re Yates quotes yesterday, one went something like “whatever happens, having held the pink jersey for nnn days is a success” – in retrospect that sounds like he knew.

  31. 80kms chases must take a lot out of you too. Dumoulin rides to a high level but he’s a plodder with no jump. He looks tired.

  32. Whatever your views on Sky/Froome I think we can all agree that Eurosport is gonna be insufferable overthe weekend…unless…

  33. I am praying this result stands! Imagine if Froome holds all three GTs and then has to give back two of them. What a disaster in waiting.

    I will say this again, it is completely unreasonable that Froome’s case is not resolved yet.

  34. Now, seriously.

    Froome has some very interesting elements in his favour.

    – He’s been preparing for this for months. I’m not on Strava but friends are, and often posted me about the peculiar training regime Froome has been having since South Africa. Dr. Ferrari also commented about the topic on a couple of occasions. I myself while looking for climbing times in Tenerife stumbled upon some of his training rides and those, too, pointed towards something like this.
    – His form has been clearly growing throw the three weeks.
    – His watts were already there, I wrote that a couple of days ago or so, before my last (shorter) inrng interruption.
    – In the past, he’s been extremely strong on climbs like Gran Sasso or Osimo’s finale. Many may remember him fighting against a strong Dumoulin on such finales at the Vuelta. OTOH, Zoncolan looked much of a longer effort, especially when you consider how he kept Yates at bay. I think that it was written, once more, in this same blog that he looked like he shifted towards longer, steadier efforts. Those could already be symptoms of a mutation.
    – Generally speaking, it’s not that Froome is weak on stages with multiple climbs. He tends, or tended, to be “weaker”, sure – but the real question is and always was that he suffers when big efforts come unpredictably – which obviously can barely happen, if at all, in a monoclimb stage; he looks like he didn’t change under that respect, not even in this Giro. But today stage was programmed to the very last detail, metre by metre.
    – Hot and dry weather, very good for Froome.
    – Pozzovivo and Yates cracked pretty much by themselves.

    Of course, I feel that, on a personal level, to me – on this specific stage – that’s still not enough. Although that’s a lot, and it must be acknowledged.

    His level and Dumoulin’s looked extremely similar, especially on a mixed terrain including both climbing and flat stretches. Dumoulin’s form looked good, too, and he clearly also shifted his riding style (less radically than Froome) to suit this Giro’s course. So, it’s very strange that Dumoulin ends up losing all that time despite the watt saving which can be granted by the slipstream during that huge deal of time. Sure, they waited a bit too much for Reichenbach, but that means being more rested, too. I don’t mean that waiting is going to be effective. It isn’t. But sometime you should notice that the chasers take back significant time, although at the end of the day they lose more than they’ve gained. As Nick pointed out above, some specific sections were extremely suspicious, notably the last one before Bardonecchia on the highway and with a headwind (plus, the last climb – which is the element making the equation definitely all wrong). And part of what Nick discounted as “descent” is actually a less than 3% false flat where you need to push hard anyway, namely 2/11 kms down Finestre (really not that relevant) and above all 12/21 kms down Sestriere, roughly half of that with a headwind and the other half with a crosswind. The Sestriere climb itself was surprising: well over 20 km/h, slipstream matters quite much, and Reichenbach’s turns weren’t as hindering as on flat terrain. But the chasers lost some 40″ there. Note that Pinot wasn’t that bad today, this was more of his terrain and Sestriere, for example, is a good climb for him, too.
    In short, the difference was mainly going up (too fast) and too seldom going down (not enough), irrespective of the actual final difference in minutes.

    Besides that, I didn’t like much the constant watering (bad memories coming back to haunt me), or the quantity of people handing all that refill (totally understandable on Finestre, less so afterwards, when it was quite obvious that team cars weren’t going to have any trouble to provide supplies – Martinello was quite surprised, too, especially when Froome was actually taking the bottles from those guys instead of the car, when, according to him, it was much more logical, at that point, to use the car for Froome and leave the roadside supplies for the rest of the team – you never know). Not that I’m imagining something specific. It just looked very peculiar and strange. The feat was, too, no doubt. And yet.

    Points like “he won so much” don’t matter much for me, for obvious reasons, and also because it depends a lot, if not mainly, on *how* you win. It’s already a bit strange when you become a bit stronger in something where you were weak, completely changing your racing style and power parameters to make a strong point of one of your weak points, well… that raises questions (and eyebrows). But Froome did it before, it must be admitted. That’s what I mean when I say “mutant”, not a generic insult, more like appreciating one of his skills, probably the main one, even if it’s more about the off season that what you can see with your own eyes. And even the “he needn’t it before” point is feeble – he wanted hard several Vueltas, and never tried this sort of things, even if it meant ultimately losing them with no serious hope of a victory otherwise.

    However, it was a great show. I’d just have preferred they made it more realistic. Blame my stains of socialism and its absurd aesthetics! ^__^
    (Truth is that I don’t exactly love realistic aesthetics in art, but I don’t have left it behind, yet, in sports)

    I hope this post doesn’t damage too much the sport 😛

    • I generally respect your analysis, unlike, say, Larry’s entertainingly wild rants. But this makes me wonder if you shouldn’t take the tinfoil off your bike helmet, or at least poke a few ventilation holes in it. Three and a half minutes over eighty km, nearly half of that taken on the descent, and by a five time GT winner hardly seems inconceivable. If Froome takes another three tomorrow, I’ll concede your point. But the possibility that Froome is a more talented rider than his opponents is just as likely. I mean, Dumoulin apart, the current Wiggins, who is he beating? A twenty five year old Yates, a knackered Aru, the uphill only Pinot, the talented but still erratic Angel Lopez.

      As far as I’m concerned, Carlton Kirby is a greater threat to cycling’s minimal credibility than a proven champion winning a stage. And now, I would just like to say, in the almost words of the late great David Duffield. it’s curtains for Carapaz. Even if it isn’t.

      • Speaking of ventilation holes, you might want to delve deeper into that little secret of cycling which is following wheels. Or not. Not want it, I mean.

      • Similar thoughts have crossed my mind Steve. Bike racing is man against the terrain, weather and opponents. Gabriele’s well informed and researched, sometimes persuasive, almost clinical points count for little when the road, weather and form come into play.

        I don’t have a word for the babbling fool that is CK, other than he was an endless blot on a today’s proceedings.

        Larry’s continual anti Anglo Saxon rants add little, but are amusing for their predictability.

        • +1 BC, on all points.

          That’s why the races actually take place …. if we could plug the numerous parameters of segment distances, gradients, wind speed and direction, riders’ recent and past wattages etc etc, into an algorithm and then just read the output result, then we wouldn’t need to hold a race in real life. But real life differs at times from this precision analysis, no matter how accurate the model. And the persuasion element is often simply a betrayal of bias.

          True enough, it is hard to know what to say about Carlton Kirby. I’m amazed he is still in the role of cycling commentator. If only he had a little respect and less presumption, it would go some way to me passing over his impressive incompetence in the specifics of his job topic, cycling.

          And Larry’s enthusiasm and defence of all things Italian is mostly benign … the strong anti-side though (yes, often anti- Anglo Saxon) for me has little place in life. I have enjoyed rides by Nibali, Froome, Quintana, Contador and many others, must there always be negativity aimed at each from the same old camps?

          Unfortunately it’s a measure of how the comments have changed here over the years that when I do feel moved to comment now, it may be more about the commenters, than about the cycling and the extra-curricular snippets of puns, language and much else which delight us here from time to time. My apologies and thanks to all the many great contributors.

        • Not stats, just cycling. A strong rider with any weaker one giving shifts is more effective than any single rider, if they’re all going quite hard (and the last climb apparently proved that). Let alone if you have two weaker ones available. The difference in total power must be huge in favour of the lone rider, not compatible with what we’ve seen in the race (nor in any race, probably). Black swan, I guess. We already saw two of three of them fly through unscathed in recent years… (and, no, Nibali 2016 isn’t one of them – that at least looked credible).

          • Agree that Nibali ’16 isn’t comparable. He got progressively better, not dropping time in the last 8-9 days and in the last 2 proper stages made the most of circumstances, legs, *team*, and stages that suited him (multi climbs at altitude)

    • I actually thought you’d have a bit more than this Gabriele? You’ve made quite a good argument for it being plausible and not such a great one for it being implausible? I’m not sure people by the roadside handing stuff out vs a car is the most suspicious thing today! Anyway – I started the let’s enjoy chat above so I’ll continue it.

      What a stage.

      • That’s because earlier on I had decided to post only my most favourable POV towards what happened. It’s deliberately unbalanced. Then, I happened not to be complying with that initial intention in shorter comments and so, but I’ll try harder to stick to that proposition, as I did with the longer comment above. It’s just the right thing, to try and take the most positive stand one feels he can assume. I’m really trying to do my best, and apparently I made it, for a while.

    • Re: watering. I don’t think I understand what you are implying. What are the bad memories you are hinting at? I’m struggling to infer anything sinister. Let’s say others HAD followed his attack and there was a group, then surely it is a competitive advantage to have more “spotters” on the course to keep you hydrated on a hot day because the car wouldn’t always be accessible? Are optimal hydration and cooling strategies really a check mark against a rider’s authenticity these days?

    • Brailsford’s interview made a point of mentioning their feeding strategy, and deliberate decision to have people all along the road at specific intervals that they’d calculated based on the calorie requirements of Froome’s efforts through the stage. Couldn’t work out if he was telling the truth or trolling the other DSs.

  35. In a post stage interview, Big Tom himself was regretting waiting for Richenbach, comparing the latter’s descending to “an old lady” (rather too colourful in front of journalists I’d say, especially in this day and age. Though infinitely more fun than your standard PR talk), and thought he might be better off chasing alone. I suppose that maybe true but hinder-sight is always sweet.

    All in all, Froome went “all in” on Finestre and bluffed Big Tom into “folding his hand”. We wouldn’t know what could have happened should Tom decided to chase alone, he might get countered when he caught Froome or Froome may decide to work with him to distance the rest. But if Tom lose because anything today, it foremost was because he wasn’t as “dare” as Froome and worried too much about others behind himself and Froome.

    • The poker analogy is a good one. The bluff was such a big one, being 80km out, that it didn’t even occur to me that Tom might be better off chasing alone. I had assumed the ONLY option was to wait and chase as a group, and to give Froome just enough rope to hang himself.

    • They lost only 1’ out of 3’ on the descent. Not insignificant, but would be somewhat paid back with slipstreaming.
      Don’t think FDJ will be helping him again tomorrow after those comments!

    • Seb Reichenbach had every reason to descend carefully. He was all alone in the middle of nowhere, in Italy. Moscon could have been lurking behind any bush……

  36. I guess RonDe doesn’t like figures. But it wasn’t me. Ammattipyöräily got all the time difference between Froome and Tom km by km.

    And, no, Froome didn’t gain *that* much only because Reichenbach is a slow descender.
    Yes, he got a lot on Finestre’s *climb* (did that effort came for free?) and in the subsequent descent. 42″ + 47″ = 1’29”. Good.
    That was precisely what the rivals considered reasonable to manage.
    But then Froome got a good deal of his advantage precisely where turns on the front should pay dividends.
    + 1’16” on the easy Sestriere climb (av. 3.8%), with speeds well above 20km/h and up to 30 km/h, and a still effective Reichenbach. He was gaining some average 5.4″/km, nearly as much as on the Finestre, even if the terrain on the latter was more favourable (no slipstream) and despite the chasers now had had a calmer descent.
    The chasers substantially *never* close in. There’s only a couple of km when they look like they gain a couple of seconds (!) but they subsequently lose the very same time.

    Froome doesn’t gain nor lose *anything at all* in the steep and twisting part of the Sestriere’s descent.
    But when it becomes a 2-3% downhill false flat, that is, where slipstream should matter to push or save watts, he’s gaining again, albeit slightly (some 15″ in 12-13 kms).
    But, hey guys, here we are on a highway with a headwind… what’s not to like? +28″ in some 16 kms, once more, pretty much gaining seconds 90% of time or so.

    This means totalling an unthinkable number of watts over your opponents, which obviously are saving energies every time they’re following wheels. That’s why a Dillier is still so useful for a Sagan, you know.

    Then on the final climb you’re fresh as pretty much anyone else. Yeah.
    Let’s focus on the positive side. Epic day. Enthusiasts fans.

    • What I think your argument underestimates is that climbing one of the most difficult climbs used in cycling (19kms,9.1%, 1700 alt gain) at full gas will have huge effects later in the stage. The pace they were going up this particularly difficult climb was as if it were a summit finish. That will surely magnify differences in ability for the rest of the stage.

    • “There’s only a couple of km when they look like they gain a couple of seconds (!) but they subsequently lose the very same time.”

      Is it possible that part of that is down to fact that we don’t see every second of the group? We’re lucky to have seen 20% of what happened with Dumoulin and his break partners. If you watch it again you’ll notice a few occasions where there seems to be ‘discussions’ going on. Dumoulin looking around, Pinot berating the South American youngsters, Reichenbach seemly waiting for confirmation to keep working etc etc etc.

      Does this not make it difficult for you and some of the Twitter based ‘experts’ to really be able to be so adamant in your ‘facts’ when you’ve seen, as a percentage, so little of anyones race?

    • Gabriele and everyone else has the right to be suspicious… both cycling and the recent subitamol case don’t help…
      For sure was epic, but mostly for the distance…
      some other aspects to consider:
      – Froome destroyed the field in the uphil and, most likely because it was a gravel road, so power/weight is less relevant (no wander Pozzovivo also was distenced) it favors power
      – by doing so, he isolated TD
      – TD is good, but still has a lot to prove to be up there… besides his win at the Giro, in his previous atempts he always strugle in the mountains
      – lack of coordination was clear back in TD group
      – despite the distance, there are recent similar time gaps: Formigal, Quintana on that famous day on the Giro, even in the classics we can see some gaps once the race is blown away
      Again, right now is hard not to be suspicious (although I prefer just to enjoy the race), but I don’t think the 2min over TD and Pinot he got after the downhill such an evidence

  37. I’m really enjoying Inring’s great analysis and summaries, and the very high quality of comments here. There is one line of comment regarding Froome’s ride yesterday that seems a little disingenuous, or at least off base – the idea that what Froome did, when you get right down to it, wasn’t that remarkable (gaining a little over 2 s. per kilometer). That seems to fly in the face of comments by Froome and Brailsford, and many other veterans of the sport, that yesterday’s performance was “monstrous” and epic and historic and perhaps the greatest ride ever by a Sky rider (which includes all Froome’s rides, and a lot of other very talented riders). I haven’t been following the sport closely for that long, but this was a jaw-dropping performance as far as I can tell.

    Anyway, looking forward to today’s stage.

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