Giro Stage 20 Preview

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.

Tom Dumoulin, Bardonecchia

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.

134 thoughts on “Giro Stage 20 Preview”

  1. Incredible scenes, triumph and crushing heartbreak; that’s cycling.

    It must be remembered that Yates rode even better than a quick glance at the race stats suggests, as he could have easily won a fourth stage: the one to Etna, but instead gifted it to Chaves while he took pink. And if we accept that old chestnut about Grand Tour riders hitting their peak strength from ages 27-32 then Yates is only still 25, and his growth over the past few seasons has been consistent and impressive.

    Like everyone else I wish they would hurry up and make a ruling about Froome’s Vuelta and whether he did or didn’t inhale to excess so we can get back to talking about the racing and leave the asterisk key alone (and no, this isn’t an opportunity for any doping hot takes and smarmy Armstrong “miracles” or Floyd Landis references, theres’s plenty of other places on the internet for that sort of thing).

    Finally I must say how exciting the last few Giro editions have been. Contador withstanding the relentless attacks of Aru and Landa in 2015, Kruijswijk and then Chaves looking like taking it only to fall to Nibali in 2016, Dumoulin’s amazing final stage leapfrog onto the top of the podium last year and now the rise and fall of Simon Yates and Froome exorcising his 2010 Giro demons. Meanwhile that last truly interesting Tour de France was in 2011, but there’s always hope.

    • +1 I’ll be on the climb to Cervinia today hoping somehow the gods of cycling strike down the Maglia Rosa like they did yesterday. But then a “mow ’em down in the crono” guy wins…
      Perhaps I’ll wake up and find this was all just a very entertaining nightmare? 🙂

      • But then a “mow ’em down in the crono” guy wins…

        LOL you do realize I hope that Dumoulin was stronger in the mountains than any rider except Froome. So should he win it won’t be at all due to his TT skills…

        • Please don’t spoil the froomebashing party with tedious facts 😉 I agree but people love to have their prejudices confirmed.

          Yesterday was fantastic, it has been a Giro of huge ups and downs for any number of riders, both among the GC contenders and elsewhere. It’s a shame that a so-called fan can’t find another place for his vitriol and leave Ingrng for more measured discussion.

          • OK, let my try to explain this in a different way. My dislike of the “mow ’em down” race strategy is not that it’s evil or unfair – it’s just DULL, DULL, DULL. I was there for all of BigMig’s Tour and Giro wins and they were dull, dull, dull. It’s not BigTom (or Indurain’s) fault – their body type seems to lend to this. Today’s Giro stage kind of illustrates it – BigTom tries and tries to diesel his way away from Froome. The attacks are as laughable as they are ineffective. In the past two Giri, I can’t think of a single stage where BigTom’s tactics made the race entertaining or exciting. I am an old-fart now and memory could be failing, but where are BigTom’s exciting exploits vs the guys who have to attack in the mountains because they need time to avoid being mowed down in the crono? I don’think there are any simply because (up ’till now anyway) they’ve not been needed.

      • “where are BigTom’s exciting exploits vs the guys who have to attack in the mountains because they need time to avoid being mowed down in the crono?”

        It seems like you don’t understand so let me explain it to you. If Dumoulin and Froome (the mow them down in the TT guys) weren’t in the race the race wouldn’t be half as exciting as it is. The climbers attacked this much during the race for exactly the reason you wrote there.
        So you may well think that Dumoulin isn’t an exciting rider but he makes the race exciting only with his participation in it. How about that?!

    • From a legal point of view, why don’t they decide whether Froome would loose any result this year should he be found guilty first? That would clear quite a bit of air.

  2. “The sound of breaking glass on the Finestre”

    Leaving the asterisk aside, this was an incredible ride by Froome and a reminder of his will to win. Chapeau.

    I thought the fans were great today too.

    • And to go with that “defenestrated on the Finestre” – beautiful!
      Yes, a great ride and yes, with an asterisk, it certainly livened up and afternoon in the office

  3. Brilliant. Brave. Style. Panache. Guts. Daring. Champion. Fighter. BIG HUGE BALLS.

    I could be describing Merckx, Hinault, Pantani, Contador or Nibali and it would all be true. But I’m describing Chris Froome yesterday in what was one of the greatest Giro stage wins in the era of live TV coverage, the greatest Grand Tour stage win by any British rider of all time by the greatest Grand Tour rider of the 2010s (a thesis I’d happily defend). It doesn’t matter to me whether you like Froome or not or whether you think you know the truth about his AAF or not (PS, you don’t know. None of us commenting on blogs know). Nothing chemical sent Froome off the front up the constant slopes of the Colle Delle Finestre yesterday for 80 gruelling kilometers by himself except the raw determination to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat. Half of his time gap was created on descents which, correct me if I’m wrong, there isn’t yet a drug for but perhaps you will say he had magnetic wheels or a secret motor or an invisible jet pack on his back. Perhaps Obi Wan Brailsford was using The Force or Thanos Froome was riding with an Infinity Gauntlet on? Some say it may all be taken away from him again. I don’t care. I saw it. We all saw it. And some of us will never forget it. Of course, he’s won nothing yet except the right to wear pink for one day, his 80th leader’s jersey in grand tours. So its only half a job done and it could still all turn sour.

    And so to today. Froome can defend. He only really has Dumoulin to worry about. Before the race Dumoulin was the guy I thought would win, a younger, fresher version of Froome and with a better ITT, the one kind of enemy Froome has not yet had to beat. But the Dutchman has shown himself in this race to be simply pure diesel. He only beat Froome by 13 seconds in the main ITT. He lacks a kick on climbs that makes him vulnerable to attack. He’s not really attacked the GC boys at all in the whole race. His only defence is that he will plug away at the same hard pace endlessly. He doesn’t have a team to speak of so today he will need allies. But who? Pinot has his podium (his target) and will race only to keep it. Lopez and Carapaz are interested only in white. And besides, all bar Dumoulin would need a bigger margin of victory than Froome managed yesterday. So, realistically, if Froome sticks to Tom its a done deal. Froome stands a chance to win the mountain jersey too, all things being equal. Few riders can surpass his amassed total of points. Should all go to plan that will make 6 Grand Tour jerseys from his last 3 Grand Tours. (Yellow TDF, Red+Green+White Vuelta, Pink+Blue Giro). Not a bad haul. And, in this race, from further back in GC than Nibali was in 2016.

    So say you don’t like him. Say he’s dull. Say he looks funny on a bike. Say, even, that he’s a cheat if you must. (Though it remains to be ruled on.)

    But don’t say he’s a boring racer. That’s just not true. He’s beat everybody put up against him in the last 5 years in any number of ways. And more than once. He’s punched a dinosaur on Zoncolan. We all have eyes. Forza Froome!

    • You haven’t been watching cycling long enough if you believe this was: Brilliant. Brave. Style. Panache. Guts. Daring. Champion. Fighter. BIG HUGE BALLS.

      It wasn’t.

        • Those of us who have watched long enough know non-cheating panache happens on the slightest of margin. Turning oneself inside out to near death. You do not ride away from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th… best cyclists in the world for 80km. It don’t happen.


          • Just chill Floyd.
            I got caught up in some road rage last night and deserved it less than RonDe but if you come here often you should realise everyone commenting here knows quite a bit about cycling – RonDe is a Froome mega fan, and he’s obviously gone OTT here but he gets the suspicions.

            It’s not about who’s been watching long enough.

            Anyway, each case should be approached individually, my feeling was – Froome cycling away from 2nd, 3rd etc was quite specific yesterday, in the way it became almost man vs man so early yesterday after the sky train was deployed early. Gabrielle highlighted a lot of Froomes training data to add plausibility to what we saw yesterday.

            That’s not to say it’s not surprising and warrants suspicion – but we’re not as lazy here as Sean Ingle over at the Guardian.

            RonDe – you could have a bit more analysis in the essay than just a pure love letter.

            I could read about yesterday’s stage until the cows come home. I wish the inrng article was three times as long.

          • It was great to watch though,right? I mean what ever happened in the Vuelta,he’s riding clean in the Giro so it will stand the test or time as one of the greatest rides ever!

          • I’ve seen so many negative comments on this performance and people saying they won’t watch pro cycling any more or that they cannot believe any more, I wonder why they are still watching and commenting. If the spectacle disappoints so much just stop viewing and pick another source of pleasure to watch.

            Have you studied pro cycling through previous eras? Modern Pro cycling fans seem to have become binary, believers, or not. I cannot understand why the ranks of the former grow ever larger since nobody was under any illusions how the sport operated in the 70s and 80s when I became interested and the evidence or implications had been in circulation for many decades before

            Of course I respect that people can have those opinions and sentiments without applying some rationality first. Examples like Froome’s attack today have always been at the pinnacle of cycling folklore/legend/myth. For those of us with a more pragmatic and longer history of viewing pro cycling, I would suggest a great many happen to believe his effort is perfectly feasible, in the context of a cleaner and more scientific era than has ever existed. Given Sky and Froome’s stated objectives for the year and the design of the parcours what did observers think was going to happen at the top of the gc in the back end of this Giro? If Sky really are doping or have access to physiological enhancements others don’t, why wouldn’t they just steadily grind rivals down by incremental time gains, their usual MO according to oft cited anti-Sky narratives? What sensible team with “something to hide” would pick a “Hollywood” ending to avoid increasing the suspicions of the watchers?

            It just saddens me that anybody who watches pro cycling particularly, and pro sports in general, is naive enough to think that they once did, currently are or ever will get an untainted or uncorrupted version of events. To me it’s either a spectacle and thus entertainment or competition and thus corruptible. Any other version of pro sport only exists in the minds of inveterate optimists.

            If you’re really in it for genuine fairness and you really care about the sport, and want to drive “change” in whatever form you think would be an improvement: don’t watch, read or write anything associated with pro cycling; don’t ride bikes; don’t buy bikes; don’t buy any products linked to cycling team sponsors or their holding companies; don’t buy oil or any petroleum based products or holiday or transit through countries with Sovereign sponsored teams. Tell these businesses and regimes your reasoning. Get all your equally concerned cycling friends to do likewise. Then, and it’s a tiny then, you might cause a little ripple.

            However most of the negative viewpoints seem to be from “fans” who can’t tell whether they want a solution or that they are part of the problem in the first place.

            Froome didn’t turn himself inside out, he took a calculated gamble and made ~ 2.25 s/km gains on the chasers, TT differentials at best, and as RonDe points out mainly by descending faster. Just apply some rational analysis to the data we have access to. Any other rider yesterday could have delivered the same performance and I’d still be smiling at the spectacle. As for 2nd to 6th best riders in the world, honestly?

            A Realist.

          • @DAVE

            I’ve done analysis before and likely will again. Such analysis is what leads to my belief Froome is a better grand tour rider than Nibali or, certainly, post-ban Contador. Nibali’s won 4 grand tours but three didn’t have Froome or Contador on the start line and the one that did they both crashed out of. That’s analysis. Nibali came from 4:43 down in 2016 but only had to beat Chaves and Kruijswijk, neither GT winners. Froome here might come from 4:52 down (and 12th on GC) to (not yet quite!) beat Dumoulin, who beat two grand tour winners last year to become one himself. A better opponent, I submit, than Nibs had to best though they are both mighty feats and all three, Contador, Nibali and Froome, are all-time greats.

          • Unless all cycling history is cheating, then maybe you’re right. But for those of us who have been watching cycling for decades dating back to 70’s what CF did was closer to the historical norm. Speak to an older person who was a alive and followed in the post WWll era, this stuff happened much more frequently. The resasons why we don’t see may have more to do with money, team politics, tactics of the modern era. Making this a chemical discussion is a over and inaccurate simplification. The greats have all done it. Honestly, cycling “fans” like you should really find a new sport.
            In the end, he rode away from Doulomin, who has a impressive, but at 27 a thin GT palmares. A win in the Giro over a pure climber on a final day TT does not yet place him in the cycling greats category. Pinot, well, a nice rider but limited.
            So what we have is a 4x TDF winner ripped apart a field of of yet to be proven talents.
            What was refreshing about yesterday was that a rider actually risked to win, not a protect a nominal “top 10 in GC” .
            So to your point, I think your wrong. This is how GT were disputed for decades,
            Since you’ve made big statements on an international forum, why don’t you list all the greats who never tried a long break or had to ride back a big chase alone, or demonstrated over the top superiority since you seem to be such an expert.

      • Since the early seventies (De Vlaeminck, Ocana, Gimondi…) in my case and, yes, it was remarkable.

        Among all the doubts about Froome one must remember that Dumoulin, Yates, Pozzo, Pinot… have been fighting every day and trying to manage stress. CF has been flying under the radar, getting stronger and using experience. His opponents are fading at the same time as he is peaking.

        I will believe unless evidence indicates I should not.

        • I like Whale Oil Beef Hooked’s comment.

          It does make sense that if he’s doped to the gills why would the choose this Hollywood ending to keep it on the hush? That’s almost more gutsy than the attack itself!

          I also find it bizarre all the ‘how long have you been watching’ and ‘I’ll never watch again’ chat… when were these people watching? 70s, 80s, 90s? And why didn’t they stop watching during those eras as opposed to now! We’ve been watching with the spectre of doping for last three decades!

          Yesterday was definitely eyebrow raising and deserving of scrutiny, but we’re left with a pretty lame sport if every time someone does something impressive they’re castigated. Let’s just let actual evidence, governing bodies and INRNG do the worrying and enjoy the action for our sofas!

    • You’ll think someone hijacked my moniker, but it’s hard for me to argue against any of that.
      When he went with 80 kms to go “Coppi-esque” came to mind.
      But to me he’ll never escape the doping taint – same as Contador.

      • I’m fine with that Larry. Few heroes are perfect. Some are less perfect than others. Its those who seek perfect heroes who can never make peace with the things they like.

        • Hats off @LarryT and @RonDe for that precious moment of balanced duality. Holding opposites is possible, but it’s a new skill for many. How else to appreciate that truly outstanding ride by Chris Froome yesterday while still keeping our sense of perspective on him and his team’s ethics?

    • You have changed you tune somewhat from a week or so ago 🙂 To be fair you are not the only one, myself included. If the rumours are to be believed his team didnt believe either and suggestions were made that he should retire gracefully.

      • People said the same of Johnson’s running style –
        Michael Duane Johnson (born September 13, 1967) is a retired American sprinter. He won four Olympic gold medals and eight World Championships gold medals.[2] He formerly held the world and Olympic records in the 200 m and 400 m as well as the world record in the indoor 400 m . He also once held the world’s best time at 300 m. Johnson is generally considered one of the greatest and most consistent sprinters in the history of track and field.[3][4]

        • Michael Johnson’s upright running style was compared to a prior great – Jesse Owens. I don’t think Froome’s “style” has such a favorable comparison.

        • Not sure what point you’re trying to prove here. Chris Froome looks like a berk on a bike and someone else looked funny running? So?

          • And Aru is so very stylish, continually pedalling with his ears. Virenque was a ‘frog on a matchbox’ , Robert Millar’s head bobbed like crazy, Sean Kelly rode with his saddle slammed forward and knees out, bow legged pozzovivo has been up there this last 3 weeks and Contador lurched to the left all the time when out of the saddle. If it was a style contest surely none of them would ever have won ought, and pascal Lino would have been a super champion. froome’s riding style clearly works well enough to win 4tdfs a vuelta and most probably a giro too tomorrow. I much prefer froome’s style on a bike to aru’s.

          • I’d agree that Aru challenges Froome in the anti-aesthetics. He looks atrocious and I would also think that by swinging about so much he probably wastes energy. It’s all in the eye of the beholder though I suppose. Though Contador was different it never looked ‘wrong’ (to me), and the fairly similar styled Virenque is one of my all time favourites. What this has to do with this years Giro I’ve forgot now, but anyway.

          • Woah woah woah there Richard! You’re swinging daily at Froome in the comments whilst one of your “all-time favourites” is Richard Viremque of which Wikipedia says “He is best remembered as the central figure in a widespread doping scandal in 1998, and his being regularly displayed as a moronic rubber puppet with hypodermics in his head on the satirical television programme, Les Guignols de l’info”?


    • Great comment RonDe. I’m not a big fan of Froome for some reason, but yesterday was pure class. If he could reproduce something like that in some of the monuments, he’ll be another Hinault/Merckx. [I suspect he couldn’t — his real strong point is being less knackered than everyone else…] Froome as world champion next year? [or Yates??]

      A great ride, and a great Giro. I’m glad it’s ending though, I’ve basically stopped doing any work!

    • Right? I mean how does the guy walk? They must be like grapefruit sized. What a ride, such a fun stage to watch. I think the performance was entirely plausible, he’s clearly been riding into form over the last three weeks. That’s the only way to attempt the Giro-Tour double anyway.

  4. Dumoulin without teammates… but the curious thing is, Oomen is top 10, and is a riding a very good Giro. Steady as well, good almost every day. Makes you think whether he is just a helper, he doesn’t seem to take it easy and save himself to help Tom later.

    • Thought about that myself. Why the heck would Sunweb let Oomen ride like crazy in the Pozzovivo group? He should’ve been resting his legs for today.

  5. Love the defenestrated on the finestre. Brilliant stage to watch shame it’s ruined the giro though. I have no strong opinion on froome but he really shouldn’t here

    • I don’t disagree. However, I think for the good of the sport riders who have open cases like this should not be allowed to race. I think it’s the rules that are wrong. So what happens now? Ban is upheld and we see yet another grand tour rewritten or he wins his case and there’s a massive whiff of suspicion that no one wants

      • What right would people have to be “suspicious” if he gets cleared? Its not exactly going on without anyone knowing about it. Such wouldn’t be “suspicion”: it would be blind prejudice, a decision to believe he’s guilty regardless of evidence, facts or process. Let people do their jobs.

        • People will be suspicious whether they have a right to or not. For what it’s worth I don’t have a clue what Froome is or isn’t up to but I don’t believe he’s an old skool doper by any stretch. Is it possible sky are pushing the boundaries with TUEs etc., perhaps but it’s pure speculation. It’s sad for the sport and actually assuming he’s telling the truth really sad for him.

        • Unfortunately it’s the lawyers who will be doing the job. The fact is that he had twice the allowed quantity of a substance that can be potentially misused (meaning not to just treat asthma). The problem is that I don’t see anyone advocating for changing the rules.

          • “not exactly going on without anyone knowing about it.”
            -But only because of an information leak.

            “possible sky are pushing the boundaries with TUEs etc.”
            -Because it looks very much as if they did just that with Wiggins.

  6. I’m totally unconvinced they had to wait for Reichenbach back. How can an already dropped inferior rider be of any use? It was 40 seconds at the top, 1 minute 50 at the bottom. If Dumoulin had descended at speed it could’ve been 30 seconds at the bottom. Froome might then hsve panicked and gone into the red or won the stage by 2 minutes. Both would’ve been fine for Dumoulin regardless of where Lopez or Pinot finished. Easy in hindsight.

  7. What has become apparent is that Sky actually planned all this. It was almost some fantasy MBA problem to be solved, they analysed the situation, identified their opponents’ weaknesses (it is clear the paddock had spotted that Simon Yates’ race was run), developed a plan and implemented that plan to perfection.

    SY was was to be dropped on the lower slopes of the Finestre and Chris Froome was to be launched as soon as the peloton hit the gravel. The nutritionists worked out how much and when CF would need fuel and water and the entire support staff, Dave Brailsford included were dispatched to appropriate points to give it to him. Dave Brailsford talks a lot of rubbish on occasion far too much corporate blah blah but this was a textbook example of “thinking outside the box” and “marginal gains”. Of course it needed a rider with absolute self belief and top form for the plan to work and in Chris Froome they have such a rider. The determination and focus he has is second to none, the time gap was largely a result of his demon descending, a skill he has forced himself to learn. The absolute dedication to hours of solo winter training paid off to perfection. Whatever all the polemica an individual and team performance that stands against any from the past.

    In any other circumstances Tom Dumoulin would be heading for victory. He must have been happy to see Sky blow all his other opponents away. A 40 second lead for CF at the top of the Finestre was no big deal, he could be seen telling his companions to calm down. In retrospect (as he admits) not going full gas on the descent of the Finestre was a mistake. The others in the group were little help (unlike Bob Jungels last year), by the time he realised that, it was too late Chris Froome was away with momentum behind him. CF did fade (comparatively) on the Jafferau but by then it was all too late. Chris Froome had been decisive and grabbed the opportunity whilst Doom had hesitated when it mattered most.

    In some ways it is a bit of a shame yesterday was so good, I was looking forward to a final stage with Chris Froome needing, say, a minute on Tom Dumoulin. Instead of which, accidents and mechanicals not withstanding, we will have the familiar sight of Sky defending a lead on the final mountain stage of a GT. In all probability a bit of a let down after yesterday.

    • According to the Finnish statistician of cycling on Twitter (ammattipyöräily: an account to follow) Froome climbed the Jafferau only one second slower than Dumoulin, evidence, to my mind that each is equally as tired as the other. Check out account also for a km by km analysis of how Froome’s gap developed.

      • That simply backs up what it felt like watching. The chasers clawed back a bit of the lead on the last climb, though TD did not quite have the legs at the end to sprint for the line. I also suspect it is much in line with CF’s comments about riding within himself, by that point he had the lead and needed to conserve energy for the last stage.

        • To me that was the most interesting thing about it. Some are talking about Froome unleashing his “inner madman” but, when you hear Brailsford explain their process, the deployment of all team staff at previously worked out locations, Froome in post-race interviews calm and explaining how he specifically rode within himself so as not to be toasted, its actually not an unleashed inner madman at work at all but just a well executed plan that worked to perfection. Any number of things could have gone wrong and we’d now be talking about a Dutch coronation.

          • Methodical planning isn’t mutually exclusive with inner madman, tho

            Crazy Froome isn’t about going off wild half-cocked, more about having the guts to say fuck it + go for it in the first place, taking a huge risk that as you note could’ve easily turned to disaster, when he/Sky could’ve easily just safely raced for a podium (as you yourself were arguing yesterday).

            And of course Sky would methodically plan a crazy 80+ km razzia, because Sky

            (also I understand your elation but I think you’re better just taking the victory gracefully – you’re not going to convince any skeptics it was clean + vice versa, people will just chop up the data to support their preconceived views. it was a fantastic show, he’s probably gonna hold all 3 GT titles at least for a little while, leave it at that)

          • I take your points Barbarossa but I would like to correct one. I’m not trying to convince anyone that Froome is clean. How could I possibly know he is or isn’t because, and here’s the point, we all here on the Internet know as little about the facts as each other. Froome may well have broken the rules and if he has then I will accept that and he will get the asterisk that he deserves. My only point would be that you can’t like some people with asterisks (Pantani and Contador still seem hugely popular) and not others. I made the case above that Froome is no boring rider and that’s where I’d like to persuade if at all. If he broke the rules then he broke the rules and will be judged accordingly.

          • Oh sure, I agree. I’ve said as much plenty of times.

            One of the main reasons I initially liked Froome was that the Pantani etc lionizing, panache demographic seemed to irrationally dislike him so much, basically just for existing (a big part of it was general Sky hatred, tbf) and he was a stand-in for all these things, the antithesis of some lost glory era when riders were riders and Maurice Garin something something whatever. And he’s always actually been a marginal gains, ride to power etc, dude who’s ALSO a stony-eyed, icewater vein killer. I do think that even many people who dislike have come to respect him as a badass racer over the last couple. All the crazy 2016 Tour moments, working himself into a really good descender, etc. I don’t think very many serious cycling fans would call him boring at this point.

          • I almost choked on my toast when Dave B put that performance down to ‘nutrition’… not casting doubts on the ride at all, but to talk about some next level nutrition plan being the key factor in such an audacious, powerful ride is ridiculous

  8. First – very much enjoyed watching crazy Froome unleashed, felt for Yates (but he’s young, he’ll be back), respected the hell out of Doom’s gutty performance – probably made some suboptimal tactical decisions but clearly turned himself inside out, as evidenced by finally cracking in the last few hundred meters, to stay within striking distance.

    The truth is by this point virtually everyone’s made up their mind up about Froome one way or the other and yesterday isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion. It does seem like it’d be insane to so brazenly replicate one of the most famous cheating episodes in the history of cycling while already under the scrutiny of an adverse finding and potential ban, not to mention Sky’s various other scandals, but then the human capacity for hubris should also never be underestimated. Whether he’s clean (whatever clean means in cycling) or not, I have to imagine Froome knew full well what people would say about a day like this. I strongly suspect he’s past caring what anyone says or thinks, perhaps finally realizing after the salbutamol AAF that’s he never going to win over cycling hearts + minds. Of course none of us will ever actually know barring LA-style revelations, but if I had to guess he probably has some kind of dirt on him – the guy is such a fanatical competitor it’s hard to see him passing up opportunities to gain an edge – but I’m also a strong general non-believer in the true cleanliness of cycling, or any sport, or any athlete. He’ll have an asterisk, it will be deserved to some degree, people will think what they’ll think.

    Still a hell of a show tho.

    • Just wanted to say I haven’t made up my mind!

      I like the guy – but watch every tour knowing it could disappear.
      He seems nice and an Armstrong level lie would surprise me but obviously we may find different.
      I’m on the fence to be honest. All the evidence has yet to fully persuade me – reasons below:

      See many people quoting the select committee, but I felt there was a lot of show boating from certain MPs there, so struggle to completely go with them when they didn’t give any proof on Froome specifically and the headline seemed to be Wiggins focused.

      Wiggins definitely went into the grey area (along with many others I assume) but I find it a bit tough to swallow all of Sky being treated as if they’re Postal – I’m generally of the opinion that the grey is bad but rule breaking is what matters. Gaining a slight advantage whether nutritional/mechanical is what everyone does, I would have thought it’s quite easy when the rules change regularly to not make an error at some point, and having to be labeled a doper for your entire career after seems a little harsh until proof is absolute.

      Thinking how awful it must be to have every achievement you make torn down by everyone around (especially if you really did nothing) means I’m willing to give riders the benefit of the doubt right up until the UCI/WADA tell me different.

      Sean Ingle’s constant noting of Simon Yates ban in Guardian whilst giving no context this Giro has been extremely unfair.

      I also remember that day Froome failed the test, he looked terrible no wonder he took extra medication, he’ll likely be banned and that’s fair enough – but I do buy that it was a mistake/body error more than I did Contador’s bad steak. I also wonder whether he avoid a TUI because of the Wiggins affair.

      So I would say I’m 60/40 in favour of Froome currently. Haven’t made up my mind, but going with it for now as it seems to say someone is definitely cheating with total proof doesn’t seem right.

      • The certain showboating MP, if my memory and wiki can be trusted, was implicated to some extent in the expanse scandal a few years back.

        Not exactly model for integrity.

  9. It is very weird that Tom Dumoulin is not in a position where he can demand that a rider like Wilco Kelderman is to be his lieutenant in the mountains. If he did, he would have the pink jersey now.

    • Movistar are going to try the “put all the top riders in the team” tactic at the Tour. I’d be surprised if that worked either.

      • Well, I was thinking about Kelderman as a domestic, not a equal captain. He rode well at the Vuelta last year, but is probably at the same level as Froome’s team mates..

      • A few people have pointed out that, with two ‘Ardennes’ type stages (albeit in Brittany) including a wall finish, it’s entirely possible that Valverde is in yellow going into the first rest day. Then what happens? I can’t see Quintana, and especially not Landa, being content to being dutiful domestiques, especially as the race goes over 2,000m several times this year, which is the one terrain that Valverde has tended to struggle on in the past. Of course that’s assuming everyone makes it over the cobbles…

    • I think that’s unfair on Sam Oomen, who while young, has been up with the leaders until the attacks have really started. Kelderman hasn’t exactly done much in any GT since the 2014 Giro either.

      There was a reason for Ellisonde to perform his 500m of full gas just as they hit the gravel… all the support riders who had survived De La Cruz’s 350w stomp up the tarmac part were distanced… enabling Froome to initiate his own acceleration, in full knowledge that Tom, Pinot, Pozzovivo would be on their radio to find out what to do…

      As we saw with the waiting for Reichenbach.. even with some domestique to take some turns and co-operate.. it didn’t stop Dumoulin leaking time. Froome had nothing to lose, to the rest of the race it looked a 50/50 last ditch move… initially to gain a podium.. later to gain the Pink Jersey. Why it worked, because the other leaders did not or could not, show the same leadership and determination when it mattered.

  10. In any other Grand Tour in this situation, you’d say Froome will win now. But this isn’t any Grand Tour and it’s far from a normal situation. So I’m expecting yet more twists and turns today.
    I’ve been deliberating for ages about my favourite GT. I had been leaning towards the Giro over the Vuelta but this edition seals it for me. Any views?

    • I don’t believe any grand tour is better than any other (I’m sure the giro marketing department will be along to disagree with me). Each edition of each GT is different and the riders make it as much as the course designers, enjoy them all in their own way for my own personal reasons.

  11. With thanks to Inrng and all the learned observers who have already commented, may I offer my two penn’orth:

    To quote Inrng “neither Pinot nor Dumoulin wanted to start pulling for hours”. Is that lack of hunger for the victory or laziness. Froome probablyy didn’t “want” to pull for hours. But he needed to. Those who have read his ghosted autobiography “The Climb” will have some insight into his mentality.

    Dumoulin made a glaring tactical error in waiting for “ace descender” Reichenbach and he said as much after the race where he was uncomfortably honest about the relative descending speeds of Reichenbach and elderly ladies. (I mean no offense and would be more than happy if I could descend like Reichenbach….).

    Whilst Sky went into the stage with a plan which they managed to execute, I wonder what, if anything, the scenario planning at Sunweb looked like beyond “ok Tom, hang on in there because Yates is cooked”. I feel this underlines the differences between the two teams in terms not only of strength of the riders, but also analysis, planning and preparation.
    This was so much more than a marginal gain.

    • Interesting thoughts. To state the obvious Sky are not only a strong team but one that knows how to ride for GC as they’ve been doing it for years, whereas Sunweb are still very much n00bs at this sort of thing. Dumoulin was the strongest rider last year however Sunweb were far from the strongest team, although in that he was lucky that Bahrain and Movistar had mostly B-listers rather than stars filling out the support ranks.

    • Instead of moaning like an old woman about other teams’ riders maybe Dumoulin could ask some questions about his own team, and himself?

  12. Enjoyed that immensely, knew he had one of those in him one day, wasn’t necessarily expecting it to be quite so epic or to come in this race. The thing I find most impressive about Froome, apart from being ice-cold, is the way he has developed different attributes to make him a more complete racer than he has been given credit for. Never over until it’s over though, and today looks pretty tough so we’ll see if yesterday’s effort was all a bit too much for Froome.

  13. Poor Yates – I did fear that he’d be cooked after the earlier stages, but like he says, he needed that advantage.

    What odds on one final twist today? Perhaps unlikely, but Froome’s form dipped after his effort of the Zoncolan stage, and the final climb seems to suit Dumoulin – he at least has to give it a go given the gap he has over 3rd place.

  14. Classic Inrng, not only as mentioned above:
    ‘the sound of breaking glass on the Finestre’
    ‘defenestrated on the Finestre’
    but also
    ‘the man from Bury witnessing his own sporting burial…’
    Chapeau et merci.

  15. I just wanted to commend both the original article and the subsequent comments down here. Once again Inrng proves to be an oasis of common sense in a world of increasingly entrenched and under-analysed opinions.


  16. Amazing stage. So sad to see Yates crumble after such an impressive 2 1/2 weeks. Well done Chris Froome, very impressive and entertaining cycling. Most exciting bit of cycling I have seen in years.

    I made the mistake of clicking on the comments section of one of the main stream cycling websites. I could not believe what I was reading?! I can’t unread it either, it made me sad, what a shame they call themselves cycling ‘fans’.

  17. My pick for todayis George Bennett – no logic, all heart


    and less Cohonas from LottoNLJumbo haveing removed from their website.

  18. Regardless of anyone’s thoughts of froome it was an exciting stage.
    It was known that froome was going to come into form in the 3rd week what wasn’t expected was how much he was willing to lay on the line in order to take back that much time. The unknown was where Yates was in his form as we have less historical data.
    It wasn’t quite a Landis. The sky team fractured a tired group and then it became pretty much Mano a Mano between Tom and Froome. The rest only seemed to slow Tom down rather than help. TBH I thought Tom rode a fantastic and brave defence and certainly cemented his status as the great rider he is.
    I, for one, don’t think froome is a doper even if teams blur those lines in places. Not too long ago caffeine was a limited substance and riders could fail a drugs test for it.
    Besides, I don’t have a hatred for dopers; it always made for interesting racing.

    • While I understand the idea of coming into form in the third week, or being less fatigued than the other riders, that didn’t seem to be the case for Froome only 5 days before at Sappada where he lost ~50″ to a poorly organized Doumoulin group (1’30 to Yates). And *everyone* had made a big effort the day before.

      The nature and timing of yesterday’s stage might explain the big time gaps between groups of riders, but last Sunday’s results wouldn’t suggest a solo Froome slamming the field!

      • Sorry… haven’t you just made the exact point??

        I’m not saying Froome isn’t doping or anything.

        But cycling into form would mean you’d expect him to lose time last week and do better this week once his form came back?

        Also – loads of debate as to whether others tire more and he’s stayed consistent or whether he’s got quicker…

        • No, I’m making the opposite point. Losing so much time in a short distance a week from the end of the race doesn’t suggest riding into form (unlike, say, Thursday’s stage where he rode with the GC guys when Yates was dropped). I’d accept, perhaps, the argument that the Sappada stage didn’t suit him, but he looked a busted flush just 5 days before his solo exploits.

          • I get it but your point doesn’t make sense….

            You’re questioning the ride into form part of Froome’s win in your first post.
            If that made no sense he would have got worse during the Giro.
            Instead as you state he got better during the Giro… ie HE RODE INTO FORM.

            I get the point in your second post – that the improvement was too dramatic.
            But busted flush is a strong statement, when many of those who dropped him then went onto suffer meaning rather than him getting far better he may have just been riding at a similar level and they all fell away?

            Who knows. I just think it’s far more complicated than what you’re stating.
            You have no idea whether Froome just rides to his body capability each stage and trusted the race would come back to him at the close. It’s also possible that Froome didn’t expect to be that far down on time but had saved himself for the final stages knowing from experience how crucial they’d be.

            I’m just saying there are other explanations for a dramatic upturn in form than leaping to doping when you have no proof.

            Expand you mind man.

          • Replying to DAVE below: we obviously disagree on the exact nature of riding into form, which is fine. We do agree, however, that it is complicated; for me it’s not simply a case of riding into form or being less fatigued, and my reasons for that are in the Sappada stage *coming into the last week*, which is not getting better. I’m open to arguments, but those are too pat in my opinion.

            But, I never once mentioned or insinuated doping. Please read what I write before jumping to conclusions about, and replying to, what you think I’ve said (this isn’t the first time you’ve disagreed with something I haven’t actually said or not read the comment I was replying to)

  19. There is an interesting analysis of where Froome gained time on Dumoulin by @imdoncha on Twitter.
    Finestre Climb +42s
    Finestre Descent +44s
    False Flat +21s
    Sestriere Climb +58s
    Sestriere Descent +15s
    False Flat +24s
    Jafferau Ascent -1s

    So 1 minute 39 on the climbs, 59 secs on the descents and 45 secs on the flats. I guess the last of these is the most surprising, but then the chasers were mainly going at Reichenbach TT pace rather than Dumoulin TT pace.

    • What I saw on the flats was equal work between TD, Pinot and Reich, with the latter holding or losing small increments of time but allowing some rest for the other two. It was only later, on the last climb, that Pinot held back to protect his podium. Sometimes we miss things watching live, but the idea that it was Froome vs Reichenbach after the Finestre descent is just plain wrong.

      • Heard people saying that there was actually quite a lot of arguing about pace setting. Dumoulin’s interview on The Cycling Podcast, ‘I expect nothing’, certainly does not imply a cohesive chase.

      • Don’t think anyone at any point has said it was Froome vs Reichenbach.

        The thoughts were that Reichenbach slowed the group on the descents.
        That Dumoulin shouldn’t have waited for Reichenbach.
        That (similar to Yates attach 18km out) the group wasn’t a huge benefit as they were all clearly tired and at times the cohesion wasn’t that great.

        People have said it was Froome vs Dumoulin – and the point there is that Froome’s attack put him in direct man vs man combat with Dumo on the Finiestre, meaning Dumo was forced to work and possibly tired once they got into TT mode.

        • See post I was relying to just above. Also I noted yesterday that they lost at most 1/3 of the time gap on the descent, some of which would (should?) have been compensated for by small recovery when drafting. And I stand by my point that the cohesion between the three working was fine until the last climb, unlike the previous Sunday. Your last point makes sense though…

  20. It wasn’t really a Landis at all- Landis rode away with 4 climbs to go, gaining 3 minutes on the Col des Saisies. Froome did so at the top of the Finestre with 2 climbs to go gaining 40 seconds.

  21. Incredible stage and what a victory. It was extraordinary which due to the nature of this sport you can’t help but question. Tactically it was such a bold move and I think thing to remember is he gained a lot of the time on the descents as opposed to the climbs. Plus there a bit of messing around in dumoulin group not willing to work that helped. Key will be what he looks like today as effort on Zoncolan impacted him.

    Certainly felt for Yates but he has made this race what it was with his attacks in the first two weeks. He’s achieved so much and will have gained some great experience he just won’t feel like that but he can grow from this due to his age.

  22. As others have said, great balanced comments above. My small additional input would be to say I think TD would indeed have been better going alone in pursuit. There was a period where his and Froomes power was shown on the screen. Froome was dead constant at 350watts. TD’s varies from 300 to 400 as he had to come to the front and speed the group up. In very simple terms they have the same average power but a constant output must be more efficient.

    • This is interesting – where are you getting dead constant 350watts from?

      Just out of interest – (question for INRNG I guess!) – what is a regular wattage output for a rider over a grand tour stage. Possibly a breakaway rider. I’m wondering if what Froome did yesterday if the above is correct was out of the realms of possibility?

      Is Tony Martin’s attack during the Vuelta a few years ago where he just missed out a decent compare?

      Just want to know aside from all the noise whether what Froome did was possibly according to what we know of his physiology or whether there are suspicions on that front!

      Best Wishes, Dave.

    • Froome’s live data being stuck at exactly 350 watts and 89 rpm every time they showed it that stage was almost certainly a bug in the data feed rather than his actual data.

    • Call it PR talk, the guy has already shown annoyance at people over intemperate what he meant. He said quite publicly this morning that he wasn’t indicating that there’s anything fishy in Froome’s win yesterday.

  23. Chris Froome is the first rider to win both general and mountain classifications in the Giro d’Italia since Marco Pantani (1998) and the first to win three grand tours in a row since Bernard Hinault (1982-83).

      • Vuelta was in April until 1995 but there was always a gap between Vuelta and Giro, often just one week, so effectively a clash. The Giro used to start later, on the third weekend in May, Vuelta was last week of april then first two weeks of May, so a very different situation to today. Chris Froome is first rider ever to win all three in a row since date change which means 3 x GT in 47 weeks. I think Hinault and Merckx both won Giro then Tour then Vuelta, ie 3 x GT in 53 weeks. I believe Vuelta was a somewhat easier parcours raced less intensely until 1990s. Merckx (73) and Battaglin (81) somehow both won Vuelta then Giro in same year ie 2 x GT in just 7 weeks. (I hope I’ve got this all right as I’m just writing from memory while quickly looking at PCS and wikipedia, any corrections welcome)

        • Been done by Hinault and Merckx. Both of whom regularly undertook raids of the kind we saw yesterday, including the hardcore descending.

          Both from eras where doping was more prevalent and much less tested for. Should Merckx and Hinault’s rides be asterisked too? Or just every result from the first 100years if cycling history.

  24. Even though it were a bit ‘cat playing with a mouse’ can Froome start with a handicap from now on, ta
    Will Eurosport be disappointed in the lack of crashes for their adverts?

  25. Not sure why Reichenbach and Pinot worked with Doumolin. Better play was force him to chase and attack him after he was more vulnerable. Pinot is on the podium anyway. Why help TD? Doumolin had an air of desperation. To win the race, he needed to take control.

    • FDJ had to use the opportunity to ride away Pozzovivo. With hindsight we know how much Pozzovivo cracked, but they weren’t to know that at the time. Pinot was only 5th in GC at this stage so had everything to ride for, no podium was guaranteed.

  26. Thank you iring for great, and informative coverage, and the least bizarre comments section.

    I’m gearing up for the Tour now! I do hope you are too.

    bTW , speaking as an old woman, I’m glad that us grannies can laugh at Tom now. Be civil, Young man. Rude boys get no prizes.

  27. Just wanted to say – INRNG’s pithy commentary aside, it’s the comments section that has me coming back here again and again. Most are far more insightful and well-written than the toilet paper journalism of other cycling websites.

    • I agree — it’s my first port of call every day. Apart from quotes on the finish line (and dodgy ads), this is the place 🙂

      Thanks Inrng — it’s a great blog and site.

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