Giro Stage 21 Preview

All roads lead to Rome and the Giro concludes with a downtown criterium this evening.

Mikel Nieve

Stage 20 review: a slow burner of a stage, understandable given the previous day. A big break went clear and from this Mikel Nieve took the stage win, much like previous years with Team Sky he was freed from domestique duties and took a stage win. It was impressive but because it Mitchelton-Scott’s fifth stage win it felt like a continuation rather than a triumph. Behind the big news was Thibaut Pinot being dropped on the Col de Saint Pantaléon for no obvious reason, he was to suffer the same fate as Simon Yates the previous day and went from a likely podium finish to ending up in hospital for dehydration. On the final climb to Cervinia Tom Dumoulin tried a few attacks but Chris Froome responded ably each time.

The Route: 115km and laps around Rome, the Italian capital and global tourist village. It’s got big boulevards but also large flagstones and urban pavé but there’s nothing too technical, the city may famously have seven hills but none are scaled here.

The Contenders: who would bet against Elia Viviani? Actually depending on the price Sam Bennett was perhaps the fastest in Iseo this week but was out of position. Either way a sprint finish is likely and Sacha Modolo is the third pick.

Elia Viviani
Sam Bennett
Modolo, van Poppel, Bonifazio

Weather: warm and sunny, a top temperature of 29°C

TV: Host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage, Eurosport has the rights for many countries across Europe and Australia and it’s streamed via Fubo in the US and Dazn in Japan. The finish is forecast for 6.45pm.

109 thoughts on “Giro Stage 21 Preview”

  1. Thanks to INRNG et al (Larry, RonDe, gabriele, DAVE, jc, Augie, Barborossa, among many others ) for the insightful commentary and lively discussions during the past 3 weeks, and more generally. Really enjoy the consistent level of mutual respect, even when things get heated. It’s rare in this day and online age.

  2. Now Pinot drops out.

    Holy Smokes. Completely blows away any recent Grand Tour.

    Formolo made it up to top 10 through all of that; good for Him.

    Overall I wish Froome would not have made the podium to help keep this from becoming a mess later, however, the way Froome raced without the Skybot implications was phenomenal; good for Him.

    After all that, after all those favorites cracked (shattered), Dumoulin’s 2nd place finish only 46 seconds back is commendable; good for Him.

    I read a number of commenters who explained Froome’s potential tactic of not peaking till the 3rd week and while I understood, I wasn’t on board when He was getting humiliated; good for those who made the predictions.

    Good course.

    INRNG, thanks for being here. Your website here is part of the enjoyment I get out of road racing. Thank You.

  3. A brutal Giro. Was hoping for a different result. Another part of the charade that is pro cycling died on those steep slopes. Pity they don’t make GTs two weeks as they exact a terrible toll on some riders. I think it would benefit the health of the riders too. The other option which I don’t really favour is for doctors to administer stuff that will aid their recovery. It’s madness otherwise. Anyway since the debacle that was ’98, I treat it mainly as soap opera. And the scenery is always the winner for me. 🙂

    • I understand your position Larry and, to be honest, I’ve barely said a word about the accusations about Froome on these pages but, having read the sanctimonious article you posted from a website called “Cycling Tips” that, I confess, I’ve never read before, I’m going to post a single reply. Its not addressed at you Larry but your post is where I start from.

      People may not like Froome. They may think he is guilty of any number of crimes. But the idea that he, not officially guilty or sanctioned of any crime by anyone as yet, should not even have the gall to pin on a number and should, voluntarily and whilst protesting his innocence, sit on his behind for months and not race is profoundly wrong. And it would be profoundly wrong whoever it is. They say Froome is ruining his sport, being “disrespectful,” whatever that means. I say “whatever that means” because I honestly don’t get it. To be frank, I put it down to the Internet Age where anyone who can pick up a keyboard with WIFI can spout off their opinion as if it speaks for millions or carries any logical weight. Should people who have not been declared guilty be put in jail immediately any accusation is made? Few would think so. Should accusation equal demonstration of guilt? Few, again, would think so. I say this regardless of if he is guilty, by the way, The point is guilty men are punished and not merely accused ones. The first is justice the second is prejudice. Much of the Internet furore is little short of mob rule by the uninformed which benefits no one. That is truly disrespectful to the sport.

      I’ve watched every televised minute of this Giro. I saw few people on the side of the road expressing their obvious displeasure at Froome. Yes, we had a few cheeky lads dressed as doctors or Ventolin inhalers. It is taken as banter. Fair enough. Opinions should not be banned. Of course, we cannot know how many offered up an oath to Froome as he rode past them, often labouring, but, in the end, flying. Perhaps many did. But I also saw lots of people who seemingly didn’t care at all. I saw many who seemed to be genuinely encouraging him, especially as he rode alone on stage 19. In my mind THEY are the cycling fans and not those who become bitter, twisted husks pouring out their displeasure or worse. Again, you can think whatever you like about Froome or whoever else but, when the race is on, its a race and I say you let them race.

      Perhaps the thing that gets me most here is the hypocrisy. Where were the self-righteous and self-styled guardians of the sport when the people in the spotlight were called Pantani or Virenque or Armstrong or Rasmussen or Valverde or Contador or Ricco or di Luca or Vinokourov or…. should I go on? Many people in many countries berate “dopers” until the guy in the spotlight happens to be “their guy”. “Their guy” gets a free pass, his crimes are invisible, his past ignored. This is simple hypocrisy, a foul double standard. Were there articles berating any of these I’ve named for pulling on a number? Did these riders, all from the Internet Age, receive articles from bloggers suggesting that their pulling on bib shorts was “disrespectful”? Were people writing 1,000 words to say how these riders made them sad to see racing? More is going on here than one leaked AAF with Froome, itself hardly the biggest crime in cycling but one that has received Internet comment out of all relation to its seriousness. People, as I say, are allowed their opinions but ability to express yourself is not the same as valuable and knowledgeable comment.

      Froome will be judged guilty or innocent in due course. He will receive a punishment or legal absolution in due course. But the world will still turn. People will still have bike races. If cycling can carry on despite a Texan cheating on a scale incomparable to Froome’s suggested crime in a sport where there are team bosses accused of pay offs to win races in their riding careers and where, even in this race, home riders have received in race penalties for cheating on time trials then I simply fail to see how an asthma inhaler “disrespects the sport” in a way more grievous than that. Innocent until proven guilty must be the legal standard always and not least when it is abuse of something legal rather than the use of something illegal that is at issue (note the difference). I’m not try to persuade anyone that any rider here is clean. Some simply choose to see what they want anyway. My argument is simply for consistency and lack of hypocrisy. And now I’ve said my piece.

      • Flax is an ex LA lover who had an ‘epiphany’ when his boss, Stapleton, had a book to sell quite late in the whole affair. He’s a classic case of what I’ve always felt is a certain type of cycling fan. Nearly always Nth American. Always an LA fan. Unable to admit they were duped, not because of LA but because of their own blindness. Unable to get through all the stages of grief, anyone that they can pillory, the similar to LA the better, they will.

        Froome fits the bill to a T. From a strong and rich team, English speaking and multi GT winning, it doesn’t get any better for the likes of Flax. I don’t think there’s anything anyone can say to change their mind Ron. It’s up to them.

        • Flax tried to appear open by suggesting that he is open to possibility of Froome actually being innocent and maybe the leak is doing him injustice.

          He then tried to go on to argue that Froome should recuse himself from the Giro for the good of the sport. Is it fair to ask Froome to stay away? There are good arguments on both side for this. However, if Froome is innocent, this is a big sacrifice asked of him to resolve a situation that is not caused by his fault.

          By the time Flax went on to his emotionally charged rant about how “impossible” Froome’s long range attack is without even willing to engage in discussion about the nuisances of the stage, you realise where he is coming from.

          If he truly believes we should presume innocence until proven guilty and is willing give Froome the opportunity to prove his case, why did he go on to proclaim what Froome did this Giro is an insult to cycling before the case can even be presented?

          All that told me is that he’s not open to other possibilities apart from his own interpretation at all, and he doesn’t give a dam about justice, due process and other’s prospectives. All he cares about is why the world didn’t run as he wished and he almost admit as much at the end of the essay. Doing so whilst proclaim that he believes “innocent until proven guilty” and what not is the largest hypocrisy for me.

          Flax had probably made his judgement long before Froome’s supposed crime is even committed. He maybe proven right yet. But it is how he reached that conclusion that matters here.

      • Well articulated RonDe.
        Inrng, thanks for a great Giro forum and all that bring an informed opinion to it. best grand tour racing since back in the day!

      • “Should people who have not been declared guilty be put in jail immediately any accusation is made?”

        well the obvious answer is no, but i think it is more complicated. like when there are strong evidences for somebody did murder for example, it is generally accepted to put him in custody, while technically he may not proven to be guilty until a judge has spoken.

        For my personal opinion, failing an established wada drug test is far more than just an accusation. And tbh., i would favour a provisional suspension in this case, no matter what type of substance it was. This would still give the person under suspicion the right do prove his innocence, but prevent him doing further damage to the sport.

      • Would have to agree with RonDe about the CT article. It did mention innocent until proven guilty and then went on with a smattering of innuendo. A contradictory trash piece that waited for the “feeding frenzy” when it could easily have been released on Stage 1 and well below CT standards.

        • CT standards have slipped a lot since Neal Rogers became editor. He knows far more about clickbait than he does about cycling.

      • First, let’s ditch the legal standard claptrap as this is sport, not civil law, human rights, etc. As I’ve written before, if you don’t want to play by the rules you can paint houses for a living. Second “Their guy” gets a free pass, his crimes are invisible, his past ignored. This is simple hypocrisy, a foul double standard. Were there articles berating any of these I’ve named for pulling on a number? ” pretty much sums up your view. Your guy is clean and the FACT that he peed a lot more than the allowed amount of a PED into the cup seems to not matter. I think the guy rode a great race and in many ways might deserve this victory – but that requires one to ignore that he really should be serving a sanction now and not be allowed to race.
        I thought Flax’ op-ed said it all better than I could which is the reason I provided the link. Don’t agree? That’s OK with me, we rarely agree on anything. Now we wait to see if ASO will let their race devolve into a travesty with Froome at the start line. I think the chances are less than 50% at this point, but sometimes I DO believe in miracles.

        • Take up your “legal standard claptrap” with CAS, Larry and see how far you get. It won’t be anywhere near as far as your mouth runs.

        • “if you don’t want to play by the rules you can paint houses for a living.”
          “he really should be serving a sanction now and not be allowed to race.”

          Well the rules say he can race, so it seems like it’s you and Flax who should be off painting houses.

      • +1 RonDe…
        the hypocrisy and two standards is impressive…
        Everyone has the right to choose their preferred riders, defend them, but this is beyond that…
        – Imagine if 3 Sky riders would test positive for EPO and steroids? – Astana had 3 in the recent years and no one accused Nibali of racing in a dooping team (not to mention the old cases and the fact that Vino is their sports director)
        – Imagine if Froome was caught on camera holding a car? (Does it ring a bell?)
        Let me be clear.. I have nothing against Nibali, or Pantani or any other… I enjoy cycling and I wait for the days like the stage 19 or Gilbert long run at Flandres, Cancelara attacks and Contador ambushes (Fuente De, Formigal and even more recently at Paris-Nice).
        Seems some fans are in a catch 22 cycle. if nothing happens, is boring; If something happens (and was not done by my favorite rider) is doping.
        Of course we need to be suspicious, but it cant get to the point where we cant enjoy the reason why cycling is so good…
        Anyway… INRNG, congrats for the blog… by far the best around (although I miss the time when you used to write more frequently!) and also congrats for the comments… seems this year the comments section was way more balance, respectful of different opinions and fact base than in previous years.

    • This is a truly awful essay.

      I mean seriously… this is cycling not Syria…

      Daniel Friebe mentioned it mockingly on the cycling podcast last night.

      I think its easy to have sympathy with all sides on this topic – those to Froome for having it leaked, and possibly dealing with this whilst being innocent, and those who feel for the good of the sport it would be better were he not to cycle and those who’ve made up their minds following years of scandal.

      Any debate which has so many understandable positions cannot be treated as childishly as this essay. Especially when there’s far more serious issues in the world at play whilst he’s making his mirnig coffee.

      It’s like a teenager writing an impassioned diary entry after their first breakup.

      • It’s emotional rubbish and far below the standard of Cycling Tips who have published more quality stuff in the past. But of course the editors must be delighted at all the clicks they’re getting because nothing drives traffic faster than outrage, so that’s probably why they gave this semi-literate clown space to sob into his keyboard for a 20 minutes because his feelings were hurt by a guy he saw on TV riding his bike.

        • Exactly, revenue generating garbage, same as as CN which i’ve long since deserted. Keep up the great work INRG whoever you are..

  4. I suppose the biggest compliment you can pay to Froome and Dumoulin is that in an attempt to beat them (or just keep up with them in Pinots case) Yates and Pinot have ridden themselves to smitherines. Potential GC riders blowing up on the first climb of a race and ending up nowhere is fairly common but can anyone else remember when a top gc man occupying a podium position has blown up so completely with just a day or two to go? And while we bemoan the dull GC riders who never make an attack until they can see the finish line, if at all, this is the reason why they ride that way. If you ride every stage like a one day classic you’re going to struggle to reach the end. Back in the day when you had a blood bag waiting by your bed every night it may have been possible, but not now it seems.

    It’s been a very enjoyable topsy turvy Giro. I suppose the only shame is that such an unpredictable race has ended with the most predictable of winners. Usually after such a hard Giro I’d say that none of the riders involved at the sharp end will be able to win the Tour. But Froome probably will. Doing 3 GTs back to back nearly ruined Quintana but the common logic that applies to everyone else doesn’t seem to matter to Froome. I suppose the race I’m looking forward to now is the Vuelta!

    • Basso Giro 2005 stage 13 blew up lost about an hour while in Pink.

      not hospitalised and ‘he did a Frome’ wiping the floor with the peloton on stages 17 and 18.

      Came back in 2006 and was ‘extra terrastrial’ throug out the race.
      (Simoni’s accusation after the final climb up to Aprica)

    • “I suppose the only shame is that such an unpredictable race has ended with the most predictable of winners.”

      I believe the appropriate aphorism, Richard, is that “the cream always rises to the top.” Or, “its not how you start, its how you finish.” You mention Quintana but he raced to 3rd, 1st and 2nd in his first 3 of 4 grand tours. He then raced to 12th in the 4th which Froome himself may yet do as well. Of course, he may not but only one guy in history has won 4 grand tours in a row, Eddy Merckx in 1972-73, in what was the most prolific stage of the most prolific career in the sport, one that far outstrips anything Froome will ever do or could ever dream of. Merckx worse leaders jerseys in grand tours over 200 times. Froome, today, will collect his 82nd.

      All I can really say to a comparison of Froome with the greatest (and a man himself not above doping suspicions= is thank god for Eddy that there was no social media or Internet back then. He would have been slaughtered.

      • Indeed it does Ron. And I suppose in Grand Tours inevitably so. You might get a fluke winner on the day, or over a week, but not 3. Hence why they tend to get dominated so much by the leading rider of the day I suppose. And I think that’s the basis of a lot of the negativity towards Froome. Once you can predict who is going to win a sporting event quite confidently before it happens then it’s boring (not a comment on his riding style or tactics but on the predictability of his success) to everyone except the fan of the sportsman who is doing the dominating. Whether that’s Froome, Armstrong, Indurain, Schumacher, Sampras, Woods or whoever. People start to look forward to their downfall and celebrate when it arrives. Froome led them up the garden path in this Giro!

        • Which is why all fans, bar those terminally cynical or those parasitic upon the cynicism, should, just for once, tip their hat to him. This was no boring win. Even his fans (such as yours truly) didn’t think he would get this one and the odds were totally against him for two thirds of the race.

          Yet he found ANOTHER way to win anyway. Chapeau.

          • You’ve missed my point. People are bored of him winning regardless of how he achieves it. But I think all but the most ardent, one eyed Sky haters have acknowledged that his performance on stage 19 was spectacular. Italians compared him to Coppi. Praise comes no higher.

  5. Con tutto il rispetto to Larry above – even when I (frequently) disagree with you I always respect your knowledge and good nature – I thought that cyclingtips article was the epitomy of all that is sad + ridiculous in cycling fandom. Not at all in terms of whether or not Froome is guilty, but in this sense of betrayal and heartbreak. Athletes aren’t heroes. They’re just people who happen to be very good at sports. Most are good people, some aren’t, just like the world at large. Sometimes athletes cheat, sometimes they lie. Sometimes they crack under pressure. Sometimes they do terrible things, like use racial slurs or commit domestic violence. These human flaws make the heroic feats athletes sometimes perform all the more impressive.

    It’s hardly unique to cycling, but it does seem to uniquely intrinsic to cycling fandom. I really don’t know what it is – the quasi-religious element of suffering, the way cyclists are imbued with their country’s national spirit, some other combination of factors – but you don’t see baseball fans, for example, obsessing over every performance and comparing everything to the peak HGH era. The cottage of industry of cycling skepticism, the endless parsing of minutiae, I understand it, but it mostly makes me sad for people having placed this value in sports in the first place. It’s just sports.

    If you have children, their role models shouldn’t be athletes unless they have some reason beyond sports. Jackie Robinson. Gino Bartali helping Jews escape from the Nazis during WWII – that is a hero! Forget his cycling accomplishments, those are actions worthy of emulating. Riding a Grand Tour is definitely a triumph of human will and those who accomplish it deserve limitless respect, but it’s not heroism. It’s true that only love can break your heart (and that is a great song, both the original + Saint Etienne’s version) but sports are not worthy of that kind of love.

    As always, people may disagree and that’s fine, just wanted to say my piece. Another thanks to inrng and various commenting regulars with far more cycling knowledge than I’ll ever have for enriching the race. On (eventually) to the Tour.

    • What an excellent, sensible post.

      You are absolutely right that too much (IMHO) adulation is given to sports people, and maybe to other types of ‘celebrities ‘. Then when we think they have fallen short of some ludicrously high expectation, the reaction is also out of all proportion to rational estimation.

      I suppose the reason that I do admire Froome is that his calm, his apparent humility and his courtesy seem to offer a model of behaviour outside his sport.

      • Yes, I’ve always liked him off the bike as well. He comes across as a kind of dorky dad type, super boring and affable, and I find it a kind of hilarious contrast to his laser-focused, ruthless assassin vibe on the bike. As with most things, I’d guess neither is fully true and he falls somewhere in the middle.
        I do think some of his critics see the humility as part of a calculated cover for doping etc, which, who knows. It’s one of those things where you can take limited data and fold into whatever narrative you want.

        For the little it’s worth, I’d definitely rather hang out with him than with Nibali, in an alternate universe where that was happening.

          • Oh, I don’t have a particular issue with Nibali. Obviously he’s a hell of a racer and I respect his versatility in an age of specialization, and his ability to maximize his talent in a way many athletes never do. He has a couple sketchy incidents but I mean, it’s cycling, and whatever, like I said I don’t vest much in the unimpeachability of athletes.

            We’re just talking who would you rather have a beer or espresso with and I’ve never particularly warmed to him.

          • Just wondered. About a month ago I was in my favorite cheese shop in Sicily. The proprietor mentioned to the other clients that we produced cycling tours in Italy. An older lady customer in the shop took me aside and explained that she used to be neighbors with the Nibali’s in Messina and went on and on about little Enzo and his bicycle. She claimed none of his success has gone to his head, that he’s the same “nice boy” he always was. He bankrolls the team in Tuscany that schooled him in the ways of cycling, I think it’s now called Mastromarco/Nibali or something like that – I think they have a shark logo on their kits these days. So perhaps sharing a Birra Messina with the “Shark of the Straits” would be more fun than you think?

    • Doesn’t baseball have its own issues now that the known dopers of the recent past are eligible for the Hall of Fame?

      Also, to echo the comments about the comments. Particularly Gabriele’s and RonDe’s setting out why Froome’s rides were/weren’t suspicious with supporting detail, rather than simply hyperbole.

      I do generally like Cycling Tips, though.

      • Yes, baseball has some lingering controversy over whether to let dopers into the HOF but it’s not remotely close to the constant melodrama of cycling. Also, current players, including some big names, have been intermittently popped for PEDs and of course no one is psyched about it but it never provokes, at least that I’ve seen, the kind of agonized soul-searching that regularly comes up in cycling. If anything people are more worried right now about whether there are too many strikeouts (really, I’m not making that up). It’s not a perfect analogy, anyway, really I just wonder what it is about cycling that promotes aforementioned soul-searching, and such intense and voluminous polemica.

        And, I too generally think cyclingtips is quite good – they make a real effort to cover women’s cycling, and some of the non-racing cycling coverage they have – which makes the decision to publish and lend credibility to that embarrassing (seriously, I am embarrassed for the guy who wrote it) rant much worse. Far more cogent, and effective, criticism of Froome has appeared her in the comments many times.

    • Saint Etienne being mentioned in a cycling blog, ace!!

      Fab race, agree that we give too much adulation to sports stars, fuelled by the media

  6. I’ve learnt a lot about one rider in this Giro. I thought he would win but I over-estimated him. He is boring, a one-speed, high watts, chrono machine who only has one tactic which is to drive hard and do it the same every day. Last year it won him the jersey. This year it was exposed. Perhaps its not his fault but then I think he needs to learn from the guy who beat him. He was a limited rider when he first started getting podiums. But he worked on what he was bad at, added new skills and improved. And it brought him results. Now, fair enough, this rider whose tactics didn’t work this year can still beat most GC guys. To beat him you must be a top time triallist otherwise he’ll mow you down and just power to the GC win. So light climbers will always struggle because what they lose in the ITT they won’t make up on the climbs. But what if an opponent went all out 80kms from home on a suicide mission including three climbs and no one really there to help you? Oops.

    Dumoulin has beat everyone in this race by 4 minutes. Except one man. He lost because of bad decisions on one day when it was all on the line and because of his limited skill set and because, as he said on the TV after the stage yesterday, he “can’t climb well enough.” Specifically, he clearly has no climber’s change of pace, no ability to attack. Its one speed, forever, and thats it. He is, as I read one person amusingly describe him yesterday, “today’s Bradley Wiggins”. That’s why he never attacked the entire race and why, when he had to, on the last hill, it was really nothing to worry about. Remember Tour 2012? That’s Tom.

    I shall take what I have learned about Dumoulin forward from this race. I thought he might be the Froome-beater. Now I see that the Giro champion-in-waiting is a far more versatile rider than he, a better climber and with a better team. It all adds up.

    I won’t be backing Dumoulin for the Tour, not if Froome’s actually in it anyway.

    • I dont think you are being entirely fair here Ron.

      Tom Dumoulin is never going to be able to climb the steep stuff like a small climber, that is just the roll of the genetic dice. He has come up with a way to ride that works for him, on this occasion there was simply one better rider. That rider is (whatever all the other polemica) one of the best in the history of the sport. TD knew what he had to do to win a 3 week race and planned accordingly, I would suggest 8 times out of 10 he would have won. Yes he made a tactical mistake at the top of the Finestre but he was following what seemed to be a sensible option, assemble a group who can work together to bring back the single rider out front. With nearly 80km of racing that appeared obvious but as it turned out the man out front beat them all.

      Like all great champions, many of whom get called “boring”, Chris Froome is obsessive, to the exclusion of practically everything else, about winning. He has dedicated his entire existence to one thing, winning three week bike races. He started off as a top time trialist. He developed the high cadence style of peddling, which allows him to use lower gear ratios counteracting the advantage of smaller climbers with a more explosive style of riding . He forced himself to become an excellent and daring descender. Like other champions he has very sharp elbows, whether for those in his own team (Bradley Wiggins) or his rivals (Alberto Contador, Fabio Aru).

      I suspect Tom Dumoulin is not quite as obsessed as Chris Froome, maybe that’s a good thing?

    • ????

      This is bonkers RonDe.

      What do you want from cycling? The variation is what makes GT’s great.

      The presence of Tom D made this Giro – it forced Yates to go hard in fear of his TT?

      We need that duel between climbers and TT riders for great GTs. It’s always so exciting seeing one rider grind and one rider fly…

      Also – first Tom D will win a lot more during his career. He’s an absolutely superb rider who I wouldn’t be surprised to see win multiple tours. Any rider who can or has the possibility of this deserves more respect.

      Second – I think he’s shown many times to have heart, courage and a combative spirit – beating Quintana up the climb last year was incredible.

      In short – Froome is a freak, doped or not, he’s heard into the upper echelons of great. But we’re lucky to have Dumoulin, his prescience alone is going to make for many brilliant tours in future.

    • I think RonDe is doing a nice job of playing devil’s advocate. Taking a different angle (yes, there’s an element of hagiography around what is written about Dumoulin, with little criticism – he’s always cast in the under-dog-do-no-wrong-role).

      This is a discussion forum, and this is a great way to provoke discussion, and, hopefully, thought.

      But yes, this Giro showed the limitations of Dumoulin, but also allowed a different aspect of Froome to be revealed.

      It’s a bit of a script to have a very good all rounder, who is an exceptional TTer, with a strong non-sprint team, to find themselves dominant in the race leader spot after the TT, then just having to defend. Which leads to the “boring” and “*-bot” accusations.

      In this Giro, the sky team was probably as strong as ever, but the script was completely different (hard to know why; maybe the pre-race crash had more impact than might be obvious). It it allowed a different race. With Dumolin following the script, Yates taking the climber role, and Froome, rather than Yates, in the end, tearing the script up.

      Made for excellent watching although very revealing of how tough it is to simply finish a grand tour.

      • I just feel like we all knew this about Froome… things are being revealed that it was plain to see…

        Great comment below from E_Pi – and ignoring doping accusations for a moment – if you actually listen to those in the know in past years, Eusebio Unzue and others, they revere Froome – ignoring all those armchair commentators demanding Quintana attack more, knowing full well how good Froome really is.

        Possibly more so than Froome did himself… it seems along with adding to his armoury, Froome’s also gained an amazing skill of knowing exactly how much better he (and his team) is than the opposition, managing his performances and riding within himself to eek out wins at 90% leading to this new back-to-back GT winning run. This time he was forced to go up notch by the route and quality of Dumoulin and Yates, and in doing so made plain to those who’ve been blind how good he really is.

        It’s a marvel.

        At times in the past few years he’s been the best climber, and near enough the best TT’er, not far off the best descender, with the best team and to top all that seemingly an unbreakable resolve. Add to that someone who’s clearly clever enough to adapt and ride with his head at crucial moments, then you have pretty much the perfect rider?

        Who knows if it’s too good to be true but right now he’s really heading for the true greats list.

        But I don’t think playing Devil’s Advocate involves slating Tom D, especially with that level of condescension! Of course Tom will learn? He’s not a muppet? Dumoulin’s a phenomenal rider, who’s clearly smart and fully deserving of praise in last years Giro, and this. He’ll likely beat Froome very soon – and he’s also only really fallen here because of a weaker team. Froome had the perfect storm this Friday, any other set of circumstances would have probably changed the outcome: ie if Mitchelton hadn’t chased down the break, if Yates hadn’t folded, if Pozzovivo hadn’t been dropped to the second group, if Dumoulin hadn’t waited for Reichenbach, if Dumoulin had had one team mate…

        We’ve had a perfect Giro, I thought Hejesdal’s was good, then Contador’s last, then Dumoulin’s… but this has topped them all. Just a shame we have the spectre of the failed test hanging over everything, although at E_Pi says – if it wasn’t that it would be something else. For the most quiet of men, Froome seems to elicit an amazing amount of vitriol?

        • Thomas, I don’t think I have slated Dumoulin here and such was not my intention. I’ve pointed out he’s beat everyone by 4 minutes. I’ve said most GC guys would be in his dust. But I’ve also analysed his race (at the start I picked him to win, hardly a criticism) and found him… monotone, lacking in options and with an inferior team. He is good but he needs to be better. He needs to beat climbers, ITTers, all-rounders, descenders, guys with team backup. He needs, in short, to look at the guy who beat him, see his career progressing, his adding of new skills he didn’t have before, and emulate him. If Tom stays just a diesel he may win again. But he will win less than he should.

    • I think Dumoulin has done really well. You’d be the first to say that Froome is the greatest GT rider of his generation, and maybe a bit more. And Dumoulin has only given him 46 seconds. He’s also beaten everyone else comfortable and (along with Froome) almost destroyed Pinot and Yates. He’ll win more GT’s. It might not be exciting but there you go, he can only work with what nature has given him.

      • You say 45 seconds but in reality Dumoulin lost 5 minutes in one week. His possibilities will always be limited by his climbing ability. He has said this himself so I’m not pointing out things he doesn’t know.

        • I think you are wrong.
          Dumoulin may have said that he is not climbing well enough, but primarely he said it compared to Yates. He and only he was definitely better uphill than Tom in this Giro!
          Yes, you heard me. Even your beloved Froome wasn’t better than him. Tom lost 46 seconds + he gained 50 in the TTs over Froome, that makes 1:36. However during Froome’s incredible 80km attack he gained 1:45 on Tom druing descending and on flat terrain, so if we look at the whole three weeks than Tom was marginally better (by mere 9 seconds) on the hills than Froome.

          Do I think that he is a better climber than Chris? Nope, no way. Froome is better, but not by much. Yes, he was superb in the Zoncolan and on the Finestre, but a three weak race is a three weak race and he shipped a lot of time to Tom during other mountain stages, like Sappada or Gran Sasso.

          Yes, Tom has to evolve as a climber, but he is doing exactly that. He is definitely better now than what he was last year and he will continue that. Hopefully Sunweb will learn from this race and next time they send a strong team with Dumoulin. If they do, Froome should be afraid. Tommy D will strike next year.

    • All you say about Dumoulin is nonsense if you’ve ever seen him in anything else. Someone of your description can’t finish fourth in San Sebastian, fifth in Strade Bianche or win the Eneco Tour, or win an Oropa stage for that matter. It’s all nonsense, but well articulated nonsense.

  7. It’s been an exciting, compelling and completely unpredictable race to watch. Probably going to take some beating by the the other two GTs for these ingredients.

    Thanks to INRNG for the daily reviews, top quality, informative and well written as usual, and most of the contributors for polite balanced and insightful contributions.

    It is a little unfortunate, though probably understandable, that the winner has received so much innuendo and criticism, without any proof or justification. Froome was eligible to ride. I suspect this current cynicism of our sport and its GT winners will continue for some time given the recent past.

    For those who criticize, it might be worth giving a little thought to the sportsman, who may well have ridden on ‘bread and water’, and are now the centre of unwanted and unjustified attention. The human cost, after so much personal sacrifice, can be an enormous strain on their daily lives and relationships. They deserve better. Until and if something to the contrary is proven.

    • What I find really frustrating is this limbo we are stuck in.

      We got to see a different Froome who was both more vulnerable but also more aggressive. I don’t think I have ever seen him hurt more than on the Zoncolan. I really liked seeing this version of Froome.

      On the other hand, his performance happened on the backdrop of the Salbutamol case and the increasing loss of confidence in regards to Team Sky and their medical practice. To this day I struggle to understand the astonishing transformation of Chris Froome from a mediocre pro rider to the most dominant GT rider of at least a generation.

      Had there not been the abuse of TUE medicine at Team Sky, mysterious jiffy packages, testosterone patches send in apparent error, not been a Salbutmaol case, and had he had a more linear progression through his career it would all be much more straight forward.

      I simply don’t know what to believe.

      • You never will know what to believe. It is inconceivable every cheat is caught or even detected. Many sit with glory attached to their achievements that was the result of deception. We will never know exactly who they were or when they happened but we must make peace with the fact or spoil our own enjoyment forever.

  8. At the end it was the two obvious riders who lead the way, an outcome none could have predicted this time last week. Chris Froome and Sky were completely written off, not just by a few commentators but by everyone, there was talk of abandoning or looking for stage wins. The win on the Zoncolan started a turn around so remarkable it seems more the stuff of B movie Hollywood scripts than actual sport.

    It was not easy to watch Simon Yates crack on the Finestre, fortunately the images from the front of the race became far more compelling than the struggles of the Pink jersey. I had been dubious about whether Michelson Scott would be able to lead a GT for days on end. Their modus operandi is for aggressive racing, often great to watch when they pick off stage wins but not right for winning over three weeks. I had half a suspicion Simon Yates had gone too deep on his TT and that appears to be true to some extent. The team had both their main contenders fade dramatically , perhaps time for a rethink at MS?

    Thibaut Pinot struggles yesterday were more surprising, perhaps that shows just what level Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin are at, the effort of trying to keep up with them too much even for seasoned competitors.

    I hope the crit around the Colosseum and Forum does not become the standard ending. I understand about wanting to finish in Rome but it feels too much of a copy of the sprinters world championships up the Champs Elysee. The time trial finish in front of the Milan Duomo provided an exciting and somewhat different ending.

    • I’m not sure it’s quite fair to blame the team for Yates cracking. He had to go hard in the opening couple of weeks in order to bank time on Dumoulin before the time trial, which he did. If you are aiming for the GC you have to risk this happening, otherwise you’d ride conservatively for a top 1o. I think any DS would have given the same advice to a diminutive climber facing a big time trial guy like Dumoulin who can also pace himself up climbs. Yes Pozzovivo rode a better race if you look at the final result as the only thing that matters, but for all the other stuff in cycling, winning hearts and minds, creating exciting racing, pleasing the sponsors etc, Yates was clearly the winner in those departments. Plus you’d like to think he’ll learn from what went wrong here and come back next year wiser and stronger, he got within about 48 hours of pulling this off but it wasn’t quite enough.

      • Surely it truer to say that Yates got within 1 hour 15 minutes of winning, his current deficit to 1st place? I can’t help but think Michelton Scott got their tactics backwards. Let TD take his ITT lead. His vulnerability is at the end of races not the beginning.

        • Well Lopez will end the Giro at 4’57 behind Froome but I don’t think anyone would ever say he got to within 4’57 of winning. And you could also say that perhaps Quintana last year put too much stock in Dumoulin repeating what happened in the 2015 Vuelta and figured he’d crack, whereas the Dutchman’s impromptu nature break and chase back on showed both physical strength and strength of character deep into the race. So I don’t think counting on your rivals to fall over in the third week is a bulletproof tactic, hence why Yates and the team probably figured it would be best to go into the final brutal mountain stages with a GC cushion, a tactic that, as I stated, almost worked.

          • Dumoulin had a “get out of jail free” card last year, a last day ITT and no comparable ITT opponent (as Froome is). We forget, I think, that he only won by 31 seconds last year.

        • In a dream Yates holds back in the TT, then goes with Froome on The Finestre and tandems to a truly historic Britgasm finish, putting Dumoulin away and putting Froome to work as his domestique! That would be beautiful for him.

  9. I’ve seen enough of the reaction that Froome has provoked over the last 6 years to know that if there wasn’t the AAF, we’ve all had found something else to be outraged at the guy for instead. So for this reason I don’t just say “chapeau Dumoulin”, I say “chapeau Froome, Dumoulin and everyone else”.

    As hypotheticals: If Froome is cleared totally (not enough details are known to know how likely this is), then the leak of the AAF will have done more damage to cycling than it has done good. OTH, it may have unpeeled the 1st layer of something more nefarious going on at Sky. Time will tell.

    It doesn’t help that some of the boys of the EPO era have never actually gone away, they’ve merely transplanted themselves onto twitter, from where they cast aspersions disguised as humour to sow confusion about the seriousness of their own infractions.

    I’m beginning to weary of the sport more because of the pervasive and persistent mood of cynicism, less so because of any doping violations. I loved the sheer boldness of Froome’s remarkable attack, yet the world tells me that I am wrong to do so. It’s all too confusing and the confusion means that I am going to stop following the sport.

    Finally, can I just say that pundits who treat all infractions as Armstrong-esque might want to take a small step back occasionally and think about the wider implications of the context in which they present things… if we pretend that every infraction is the apocalypse, then how would we report the apocalypse itself exactly?

    • I know what you mean about the persistent mood of cynicism that surrounds cycling. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a minority of 1 for just shrugging my shoulders and going “I don’t care if he’s doping, that’s still a hell of a ride through agony I can’t even begin to imagine.”

      Using anything to get an advantage, including banned substances are part and parcel of any sport, amateur or professional. Such is the nature of competitive sport. And yet it’s only cycling where we seem to spend every waking moment actually worried about it. I also watch & follow MMA, and the contrast in attitudes between that sport/circus sideshow and cycling on the topic of doping is bewildering. In MMA, where people are actually causing physical harm to their opponents, the attitude is “anti-doping controls are putting fighters on the shelf in their peak, doping means we get more exciting fighters who can recover & fight more often”. Meanwhile in bike racing where the only person the doper hurts is their self it is this dark shadow that hangs over anybody who dares to peak their head out over the parapet and have the audacity to excel.

      It just grinds you down. I’m sure if I was an athlete I’d resent dopers, but as a fan I just do not give a hoot. Athletes are aware of the risk, they are grown adults and if they want to take those risks to make what I’m watching more exciting and feature more Herculean feats of strength, I’d rather they do it in an environment where it is legal and can be more safely monitored.

      • I know what you mean and agree.

        Although this is just sport? You see players round a ref, or listen to 606, or the money in F1, the head injuries in Rugby… every sport has their own internal debate, argument, failing… just the way it goes.

        For me, there will never be anything as good as the moment a Grand Tour hits a climb and you see riders on the rivet, hanging on, falling away, spinning for dear life or in Froome’s case waltzing to victory…!

        The Giro has done nothing but reaffirm my love for this sport.

        • I hope the ASO read this then Dave if they are contemplating suggesting a race with Froome in it would bring the sport “into disrepute”. Because that would be undemonstrated hogwash of the highest order.

      • Just to add to these posts, I’m someone who took up for cycling for health reasons (basically I’ve broken my ankles too many times to do anything other than cycle or swim!) and tried to get into watching cycling as a sport. I enjoy it, but I’ve never been able to immerse myself in the sport as I have other ones precisely because of the vitriol and cynicism of the ‘fanbase’.

        The constant aggressive attacks on riders based merely on innuendo is a huge put off for people who are making their way into watching the sport. It’s even worse when you find out that the same people who are accusing riders of doping list as their cycling heroes known dopers and engaged in other forms of corruption. Or were themselves those very same people found to have cheated.

        It’s really not healthy for cycling.

        (The above shouldn’t be taken to be saying that we should pretend doping can’t be happening, mind.)

      • No. You are not the only one who thinks this way. If every armchair sports fan adopted the same high and mighty attitude to every other sport that some take to cycling then advertisers and sponsors would soon give up as there would be no-one watching. And where would any sport be then? There are those who take risks in “civvy” life and those who take risks in sport. It happens. It’s life. Get over it.

        As ever, INRNG it wouldn’t be a GT without you. Cheers yet again.

      • “Such is the nature of competitive sport.” seems to imply everyone cheats. If nobody plays by the rules, there is no sport – it’s just entertainment like pro wrestling. If you like that , no problem, but I don’t. Rules (inefficiencies, as in you can’t ride a motorcycle in the Giro) define SPORT, otherwise it’s just televised bulls–t.

        • Well in my estimation Larry you can’t get away from doping. You should read ‘run, jump, swim, cheat’. The author does not say that cheating is widespread, and proabably because he wants to stay in a regular paid job, but reading between the lines it’s impossible to catch and police any sport. Catching dopers is the equivalent of winning the lottery due to inefficiencies in anti-doping (take for instance Jamaica’s refusal to do out of competition testing in an Olympic year – guess where all the U.K. sprinters hang out for their winter training?)
          My level of scepticism goes beyond what we can possibly know because typically we are the last to know. That said, the skill and dedication to win is still required, but medical science has far too much of a say in all sports. Pandora’s box is open and we can’t close it. The ability to exactly replicate human hormones means that it’s almost impossible to detect manufactured ones. Recent tests have been evolved which have managed to detect synthetic compounds, but whether the tests are actually undertaken with any regularity is anyone’s guess. Piss tests are rarely worth the time because metabolites are soon processed, as there is such a small window of opportunity to catch clever cheats. In fact the outrage and surprise of sportsmen to being caught is genuine because they know their glow time. Interestingly, if you watch 9.78 the insinuation over Ben Johnson’s positive is that Lewis mate tampered with his sample and that he knew he was ‘clean’. Numerous other cases abound – even Hamilton’s positive was likely to his doctor confusing his blood with another patient’s, not because he messed up his doping schedule.

          • I suppose the ultimate evidence of this is that everyone just keeps getting faster and stronger. This can be explained a way a little in cycling by advancements in bikes etc, and interestingly they are usually currently slower than the super-EPO generation of the mid 90s. But it seems like every time somebody jumps into a swimming pool they break a world record. Athletics is similar. Coaching/nutrition/technique can only gain you so much surely. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of Olympic sports are in a similar position now as cycling was in prior to the Tour in ’98. PED abuse will be rampant and widely known about. Including by the authorities who probably don’t know whether to act or try and brush it under the carpet so their empire doesn’t fall apart.

          • Don’t agree that athletics and swimming are in the same places.

            Swimming isn’t that natural an activity for humans, and we’re still very inefficient at turning muscle power into motion through water. So it’s not surprising that changes in stroke technique – e.g., that funny out-in-out arm thing they do in freestyle – do lead to improvements.

            Running, on the other hand, is something we’ve evolved to do, and major improvements in technique seem unlikely (although do happen in some more technical events – e.g., Fosbury flop in high jump). As it happens, a lot of athletics world records date back to the 80s (esp for women) and 90s, and are effectively untouchable now, given the improvements in doping controls. That’s not to say things are perfect now, far from it, but the number of women’s records that predate random testing is striking.

    • Spot on E_Pi. I wrote in reply to Ron De my ‘theory’ as to why I think the ‘Armstrongesque’ reactions occur. It’s also the age of exaggeration if the interactions I have with kids is anything to go by.

      It would seem some people think they can only be heard when shouting. Thank goodness Inrng proves that it’s not a requirement at all.

  10. It’s been a truly compelling Giro. It’s like the reprehensible decision to take the race to the lion’s den in Jerusalem made it boil. The consistent length of the comments here today shows the depth of the whole experience as we try to assimilate all that has gone on.

    The racing has been SO hard everyday. Big respect to the riders for their efforts.

    Many many memorable moments; Yates largesse in gifting Chaves the win, Yates attacking brio in the maglia rosa, Carapaz, Mohoric and Schachman showing such class and youthful potential, Vivianni’s technical ability. The agonies of Yates and Pinot. Aru.
    Dumoulin’s grit and consistency is in itself a standout! And (conspiracy aside) Froome has won in the grandest style; Zoncollan and the Long One is an amazing achievement.

    And the Sky conspiracy itself has reached a new peak. Perhaps the pressure will increase until this puss ball bursts soon. I hope so.

    Big thanks to our host and community. Respect.

    Love Love il Giro x

  11. This has been a fantastic GT and, possibly more than any other I’ve watched, hasbrought home the role of tactics and strategy in a three-week bike race. I won’t repeat many of the excellent points above, but I would be interested to know what people think of Yates tactics in the TT. Did he go too deep to keep the jersey? Would he have been better losing maybe another 1 or 2 mintes, losing responsibility to defend the jersey and being in better shape to perform over the three penultimate stages?

    • I don’t think it would have made much difference. He probably did burn too many matches going that hard in the iTT… but the 2 weeks riding aggressively prior to this last block in the Alps is what eventually caught up with him.

  12. Long time listener, first time caller.

    At the end of this Giro I wanted chip in to echo some of the comments above in how much I value both INRNG and the various commenters’ insight. This GT has brought out some ridiculous hyperbole throughout the cycling media and fans. This is the only (and I do mean only) source I’ve found to have informed, balanced and respectful discourse both above and below the line. I genuinely think some of you commenters should band together and do a Velonews-style round table session after each stage.

    Thank you to all, and looking forward to the Tour!

  13. Really got into this years race, I thought I wouldn’t to be honest, so next year I am booking the middle week off work to do some serious viewing. May have a few Euros on SP Yates for the win in 2019.

  14. After thinking I wasn’t going to get hooked on this years Giro, I was plainly wrong. A fantastic race thoroughly enjoyed and fantastic tv coverage. Next year will be booking off work the middle week and following my Euro’s on SP Yates’s back.

  15. Many thanks INRNG.
    Fantastic race.
    I’m not an English speaker and Have a very stupid question: What does mean IMHO ¿?
    Thanks for the answer

  16. The big two questions I have following this Giro:

    1) Was it too difficult? I’ve heard that said around a few places, but it seems to me we’ve had the greatest Grand Tour of the past decade? But if it’s forcing people to dope I will change my opinion.

    2) How outlandish or reasonable were Froome’s numbers yesterday. Unfortunately it’s hard to find trustworthy analysis, but I’d love to get some dissection of his efforts and whether his form came to the boil or others tired.

    • People dope to run 100m, which is over in 10 seconds (although the training takes rather longer). It’s the reward, at least as much as the difficulty, that seems to lead to doping.

    • Would be great if INRNG could give some light on Dave’s #1… many people talking about how Froome leapfrog everyone, but not many mentions around the fact that riders were ejected from the top 5… Yates, Pinot and also Pozzovivo (that was doing a great Giro…)… I dont remember so many rider having such off days…

  17. Last comment – if there are any journalists reading – can you all stop saying Froome is the third rider to hold all Grand Tours at one!!!

    Yes Merkcx in 72/73
    Yes Hinault in 82/83
    Yes Froome in 17/18

    But you’re all seeming to forget Anquetil in 63/63!

    Am I going mad? I don’t get why everywhere I read is making this mistake? It’s making me think there must be others?

    • You could well be right but the comparisons are a bit thin anyway. From what I understand the modern Vuelta is a much harder race and in a different spot in the year to when the riders mentioned won. Even the Giro is harder. Sean Kelly mentioned in commentary that in the past the Giro was raced at a slow pace until the point when the television cameras were turned on, nothing like the mad sprint around Italy we have witnessed over the past few weeks.

      Comparisons across different eras are very difficult, the type of racing, the bikes themselves, the team support, the general levels of fitness, nutritional science and it must be said the various “substances” used by most of the riders until recent times, along with much else, means comparing Chris Froome’s achievement to say Eddie Merkx’s is a bit pointless if inevitable. They are both great riders, no knowing who is better.

      • Of course – but facts are still facts – Anquetil won them all and whether it was easier or more difficult – this isn’t about comparisons it’s about a straight up mistake being reported in every newspaper without correction.

    • Anquetil never won three IN A ROW. Won Vuelta 63, didn’t win Giro 63, won Tour 63, didn’t win Vuelta 64, won Giro 64, won Tour 54.

      Two in the same year, yes, but not three in a row. The Vuelta was just before the Giro in the 60s and not late summer as now.

      • RonDe – I hang my head in shame.

        I was reading that he won Vuelta in 63 and the Giro in 64 and then the Tour in 64.
        As Froome has done now and the others before him…

        I forgot the Vuelta moved as Wikipedia on Anquetil’s page lists it at the bottom of the three tours, whilst on Hinault’s page and Merckx’s it’s listed at the top. I take this defeat as graciously as Tom Dumoulin yesterday.

      • A comment I just wrote disappeared.

        It said – agh – I am shamefaced and incorrect.

        The layout of wikipedia’s records system tricked me as Hinault and Merckx’s both list the Vuelta as the first of the tours (as it was in their time) whereas Anquetil’s strangely lists it as the third (as it is now).

        So it looks as if Anquetil won the Vuelta in 63 and then the Giro and Tour in 64 – ie three in a row.

        I take this defeat as graciously as Dumoulin took his own.

        • To be fair, Anquetil did win 6 out of 10 grand tours in a period from Tour 61 to Tour 64. If Froome wins the Tour he will match 6 wins in a 10 grand tour period. (Indurain and Merckx did that too.)

  18. Thanks for the daily reads INRNG, as ever it added immensely to the race.

    My race highlights were #2, stage 19 attack by CF and #1, that crazy finish through the town in Caltagirone, like a crazy crit at the end.

  19. Inrng thanks for the great job.

    I just wanted to weigh in on the perspective that who would be eligible to race would be different if all the teams were mpcc members. It seems the teams that don’t join have a reason to avoid being held to a standard. But fairness is not what is desired by some of the teams.

    • They’re still held to WADA’s standards. There’s no reason why an independently-set standard is less fair than a standard set by an organisation controlled by some of the competitors.

    • You equate “fairness” with “a standard”. But they aren’t the same thing. And, in any case, there is a standard all teams are held to. Just not the standard you seem to want.

  20. Thank you for the the coverage inrng, I so look forward every day during the racing season to reading your post on every aspect of cycling.
    Once again thank you

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