The final stage in mountains and a very long day with some hard climbing awaits. If you plan to watch on TV don’t miss the earlier than usual finish too, info below.
Stage 19 review: royal hunting indeed. There was fast start to the stage and Fabio Aru abandoned on what was supposed to be his stage. Mitchelton-Scott shut down the early breakaway attempts as they led into the Colle delle Finestre, an act of bluff perhaps given hindsight? Team Sky took up formation on the early slopes and in no time the lead group was down to a few riders and Simon Yates, the man from Bury witnessing his own sporting burial because he hadn’t so much cracked as shattered, the sound of breaking glass on the Finestre. Sky didn’t relent though as they reached the gravel section of the climb Kenny Elissonde accelerated to launch Chris Froome solo with 80km to go. We were watching the Finestre and silently Froome was away. Tom Dumoulin, Thibaut Pinot, Séb Reichenbach, Miguel Angel Lopez Richard Carapaz were chasing behind. At first it looked ideal for Dumoulin, Froome alone in the wind using up energy and podium rival Domenico Pozzovivo distanced. For a moment Dumoulin could have been moonwalking with Yates ejected and a three minute cushion Froome… but soon it was apparently that his group was losing ground to Froome. They waited for Reichenbach on the descent, they had to because Carapaz and Lopez would not work and neither Pinot nor Dumoulin wanted to start pulling for hours: Dumoulin was looking tired and Pinot worried about Lopez zipping off later to take time on the GC. A brief thought experiment: what if Dumoulin had a strong lieutenant by his side, able to pull and keep Froome within two minutes? Coulda, woulda, shoulda and all that but a reminder that if Sunweb was stronger the Dutchman would be in pink again.
On the final climb of the Jafferau Froome rode into the maglia rosa. For Froome it was a bold move but an easy calculation, he might as well go down trying and his form seems much more suited to slog across the Alps rather than fighting on a summit finish. For Yates it was the longest day, defenestrated on the Finestre he finished over 38 minutes down and crashed to 18th overall, his collapse in Paris-Nice now looks like a mere slip but he’s just 25 years old and already looking like the pick for the Vuelta later this year, let alone next year’s Giro. Finally the “asterisk” moment and a reminder that Froome’s case is still ongoing, that he risks losing the Vuelta but whatever happens probably not the Giro but because this is uncertain there’s a vacuum easily filled by speculation.
The Route: 214km, a gruelling stage this late into the race. After a detour around Turin they head for the Aosta valley and begin riding up into this notionally part French-speaking corner of Italy.
The Col Tzecore could be a new climb in the Giro there seems to be no record of its use before. It’s a very hard climb, starting steady as the race climbs up a side valley for the first 11km until the village of Challand where the road is flatter than the profile suggests. A tight left bend onto a narrow road and soon after gets double-digit steep and stays this way for several kilometres on a winding road with numerous hairpins before easing in the village of Arbaz to the summit. The descent starts small but drops onto a larger road back down to the valley and there’s just under 10km to Chambave, time to eat and drink.
The Saint Pantaléon is steady climb on a wide road, especially the first half when it climbs through the vineyards out of the valley and it’s been in the Giro before and frequently appears in the Under23 Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta Mont Blanc, a mouthful to say but a good event for promising talent and several riders in the Giro will have raced up before. It’s largely a steady climb followed by a fast descent.
The Finish: a diesel sort of steady climb, notionally the easiest of the day but it starts with almost 200km in the legs and more than three weeks on the road. It was where Ryder Hesjedal rode off the take the race lead in 2012. The road eases off with 2km to go and it’s flat to the line.
The Contenders: who has anything left? This time it’s easier to work out who won’t win. Chris Froome and Team Sky are going to ride a defensive race, after yesterday’s raid they need to lock down the race as much as possible. Tom Dumoulin is doing so well but just lacks that spark to be able to jump away and get into TT mode for a stage win and he’s short on team support but with Froome’s Giro having been so inconsistent he and his team will be watching the maglia rosa closely and there’s nothing to lose. Thibaut Pinot for the stage win perhaps, he has a sprint on him but if he’s got himself back on the podium for now is not a certainty to bank on. While neither Richard Carapaz or Miguel Angel Lopez seem to care as much but they should be close. Domenico Pozzovivo was cracked yesterday but didn’t collapse and could bounce back.
Among the non-GC contenders this is a good day for a breakaway, they will surely be allowed to get away on the plains because Sky needs its riders for later on and can’t commit them to working this early, besides they lost Vasil Kiryienka yesterday. So Alex Geniez, Davide Formolo, Michael Woods come to mind. The leftfield pick is BMC’s Kilian Frankiny who won the U23 Aosta on these roads but it’s a big ask to win a 200km mountain stage late in the third week so no chainring below for him.
|Thibaut Pinot, Richard Carapaz
|Lopez, Geniez, Woods, Formolo, Pozzovivo
Weather: cloudy with a chance of rain showers and thunderstorms, 24°C at most in the valleys, half that higher up.
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 Flobikes in the US and Dazn in Japan. The mountains start around 1.30pm CEST finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST, 45 minutes earlier than usual.