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Giro Stage 1 Preview

Buongiorno a tutti, welcome the daily Giro coverage. Don’t call it a prologue, the race opens with an 8km time trial that should be both special to watch and will tell us plenty about the form of the overall contenders.

The Route: a course in two parts, first across the paved squares and onto the big wide boulevards of Bologna until the first time check at 5.9km.

Then the climb to the San Luca basilica – covered in full detail in a roads to ride piece – begins with a tight bend to rob speed and then it’s steep from the start, has tight bends and some sustained double digit ramps before easing at the top but by the time the riders get to the part where the gradient softens it’s a big ask to accelerate. Think of a Mur de Huy, only longer.

The Contenders

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won the final stage of the Tour de Romandie less than a week ago. Despite the howling wind, despite Victor Campenaerts deploying a 61T chaining, Roglic won and by some margin. Here the course suits him as he’s quick on the flat and and climbs like a rat up a drainpipe.

Ditto for Tom Dumoulin, only his form is less obvious. He’s among the best specialists on the flat part of the course and can climb fast, after all when he won his world title in Bergen, he flew up the Fløyen climb. Sunweb team mate Sam Oomen should go well too.

Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is fast and can cope with a sharp climb. Cast your mind back to 2014 and the fun opening stage of the Dauphiné with the tunnel section but also the sharp climb, the Observance, and he was third behind Froome and Contador and just 21 years old and has improved since then. Like Roglič and Dumoulin if he’s got ambitions for the overall he needs to start by taking time here.

Simon Yates won the Paris-Nice time trial stage to Barbentane. It had a climb but was still a course for powerful riders so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do here. In Paris-Nice he’d sat out of the crosswinds contests and perhaps this kept him fresher plus an early start gave him better weather but all the same he smoked the course. So he could surprise here and one difference is he’s going for a later slot than the other contenders, either Mitchelton-Scott have a different meteorologist* or maybe they’re counting on the wet weather bringing in low pressure, or just relaxed.

What chance for the TT specialists? The likes of Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal), Jos Van Emden (Jumbo-Visma), Tom Bohli (UAE Emirates) and Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott) would have their work cut out on a flat course against likes of Roglič and Dumoulin but the climb today is vicious, 200m of vertical gain in 2km and if the specialists might hope to take 2-3 per kilometre on the flat part, they’ll surely surrender 10-20 seconds per kilometre uphill? Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ) is a TT specialist who has won with an uphill finish but not at this level. Instead the likes of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) could surprise among the pure climbers and his team mate Ion Izaguirre is a good climber and TT rider.

Lastly, no sprinter is going to win today but watch their times because if they can limit the losses then with time bonuses the maglia rosa could be theirs in the coming days. Last year in Israel we saw a managed handover of the race lead from Tom Dumoulin to Rohan Dennis on Stage 2. It’ll be harder to achieve tomorrow but evokes the paradox of the GC contenders who want to take time today but don’t want the race lead for the whole of the first week.

Primož Roglič
Tom Dumoulin, Simon Yates, Bob Jungels
Izagirre, Lopez, Ludvigsson,

Prologue? strictly speaking a prologue is an opening time trial up to 8km in length but it is equally possible to start with a time trial and label it as Stage 1 too. So it’s semantics but with one difference: should a rider crash during a prologue and be unable to complete the course they are permitted to start the race the next day and get the same time on GC as the last rider in the prologue; if the opening TT is labelled as Stage 1 and the rider does not complete the course then they are out of the whole race.

Weather: a max of 22°C but this could drop as there’s a chance of a downpour and thunderstorms in the afternoon.

* Meteorologist: yes, some teams do have consultant meteorologists during grand tours for precise info.

TV: many of the top contenders are going early because of the risk of a downpour so you could tune in early at 5.00pm CEST and then duck out before catching the finish. The last rider is due in for 8.00pm CEST / Euro time. It’s on RAI in Italy, Eurosport across most of Europe and Australia, L’Equipe TV in France and Flobikes and Fubo.tv in the US.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Saturday, 11 May 2019, 6:43 am

    Will anybody opt for a bike switch?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 11 May 2019, 6:54 am

      There’s a dedicated zone for it before the climb but it won’t be like the Bergen worlds, instead the bike has to come off the team car roof which complicates things. Ideally a team will have a light and stiff TT bike with bars that are comfortable/suitable enough for a climbing position both seated and standing. (It’s also a bad marketing look to ditch your TT bike in a TT and commercial pressures count)

    • Anonymous Saturday, 11 May 2019, 7:27 am

      99% of the time the mid tt switch works out about as well as feeding a dog a clif bar and some supplemental fiber on a white carpet.

      • STS Saturday, 11 May 2019, 11:50 am


        First real laugh of the day, thanks!

  • Ecky Thump Saturday, 11 May 2019, 7:02 am

    I’m intrigued to discover whether the famous basilica climb succumbs to the cycling deconsecration of the ‘power climbers’?

    • Kit Saturday, 11 May 2019, 10:54 am


  • jc Saturday, 11 May 2019, 7:55 am

    Easy to read too much into these things but Simon Yates going last is a little odd when everyone else is going first. Weather forecast I have seen suggests gusty winds from 17:oo and showers from 20:00. No idea if the wind will be an issue but rain clearly would be but it might be all over by the time the rain comes down. The interviews with Simon Yates suggest a certain arrogance, which is part of being a winner but it could also suggest over confidence, we shall see in the next few days.

    Primoz Roglic is the obvious pick so much so that it would be a bit of a surprise if he doesnt win. Not sure that is an ideal position to be in given neither he or his team have experience of leading a GT. Also not sure that riding in pink will be ideal tomorrow, the weather forecast is pretty grizzly, might even be crosswind time. Perhaps better not to have race leading duties.

    It will be interesting to see how Tom Dumoulin goes, if he is there or there abouts then we can assume his form is similar to the previous two editions. No doubt if he ends up 20 or 30 seconds down on Primoz Roglic or Simon Yates there will be reams of media comment but not sure the race will be won or lost in a short opening TT. The focus will then switch to next weekend’s TT though elephant traps await around the roads of central Italy.

    PS there is a set of repeated words in the sentence discussing the chances of “others”

    • J Evnas Saturday, 11 May 2019, 9:23 am

      Yates’ choice seems an unnecessary risk. I suppose he might gain some seconds if there’s low pressure, but wet paving could see him lose a whole lot more. With this choice, he’s not going to win the race, but could potentially go some way to losing it.
      He does sound cocky in the interviews I read yesterday, but I’m always wary of text given to me by journalists – a few selective word/sentence deletions and you can change the tone of something and have more of a ‘story’.

      • Tovarishch Saturday, 11 May 2019, 4:30 pm

        Looks like they might have got it right, though. Wind dying down during the evening and first rain forecast for 20:30.

      • Paul Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:31 am

        I don’t think it’s very usefully when any riders make comments like that as there is a truism that you need friends in the peloton on a GT strange to alienate almost everyone! However perhaps there was a bit of paraphrasing going on?

        Still after a telling off from Nibali hopefully it set him straight

    • J Evnas Saturday, 11 May 2019, 9:49 am

      My thinking on ‘race leading duties’: let’s say Roglic takes pink, but doesn’t want to keep it. The answer is not to take on any race leading duties. It’s the norm, but it’s not a rule. I don’t know why more teams don’t do this: if you don’t want to lead the race, simply don’t use your team – needlessly – riding at the front.

      (Interesting snippet about not finishing a prologue not ruling you out of the race. Wonder if it’s ever happened – and particularly on an occasion where it impacted the final result.)

      • DaveRides Saturday, 11 May 2019, 10:38 am

        Soft pedalling on the front in the first flat stage is the easiest way to avoid the problem of ‘race leading duties’ during the race. Either the breakaway survives and takes the lead or the sprint teams go to the front, either way the GC team gets to sit back and relax.

        Not riding on the front doesn’t get the GC leader out of the race leadership duties before and after each day’s racing, which in Italy involves interminable hours of shaking hands with C-list dignitaries eager to show off their masculinity in more publicly acceptable ways than sleeping with the young waitress from the cafe down the road. While the GC leader is getting sprayed with cheap lolly water and having his hands crushed, his rivals get to do a proper cool down and get a head start on recovering for the next day’s racing.

        • Larry T Saturday, 11 May 2019, 4:38 pm

          The f–king race has yet to even start, but already we’re gonna get crap like – “..which in Italy involves interminable hours of shaking hands with C-list dignitaries eager to show off their masculinity in more publicly acceptable ways than sleeping with the young waitress from the cafe down the road. ” which is based on your personal experience or just some cheap stereotypical, xenophobic BS? This blog deserves better!

          • J Evnas Saturday, 11 May 2019, 4:52 pm

            I was so shocked at the cliched nature of the stereotypes that I dropped the haggis I was eating into my whisky, which then spilled onto my kilt, all of which distracted me from selling my daughter her first bible.

      • Velovibes Saturday, 11 May 2019, 12:14 pm

        Dumoulin has done this quite a few times when he was leading in a GT. His team not being very strong he opted to let other teams lead. I think it does make you more vulnerable to unexpected attacks.

  • Paolo Saturday, 11 May 2019, 8:03 am

    Climbing like a rat up a drain pipe had me LOL!

  • DJW Saturday, 11 May 2019, 8:18 am

    I counted six corners of 90° or more. T

    • DJW Saturday, 11 May 2019, 9:16 am

      and I had intended to make the point about Yates taking a risk with rain – for little gain except to avoid three hours in the hot seat!

      • Larry T Saturday, 11 May 2019, 9:53 am

        I wondered about that too. Can the fast-time guy get a quick shower before he has to sit there until his time is beaten? Does he really have to sit there the entire time? Would any of the early starters plan to be the next-fastest guy just to get out of sitting there all afternoon?

      • DaveRides Saturday, 11 May 2019, 10:39 am

        Yates is from Lancashire, so the forecast would translate to ‘reasonably nice summer day’ for him.

        • Ecky Thump Saturday, 11 May 2019, 11:06 am

          Ha, right enough.
          I wonder, if it is wet, Yates may just do the thing on his road bike, perhaps with aero bars, and probably avoid the leadership but stay in touch of GC?

          • Lanterne_Verte Saturday, 11 May 2019, 4:18 pm

            Having worked outside for seven years I have often found that rain forecast for a certain time tomorrow often arrives an hour or two earlier and blows over, rarely arriving later than expected. Maybe that is the nature of atlantic weather systems and not applicable to Italy though. This is of course completely unscientific but I wonder if Yates and/or the team have a similar hunch, we’ll see, if he ends up TTing in a downpour it will make for good drama.

  • Max Saturday, 11 May 2019, 11:01 am

    Kämpa Tobias!!

  • Terence McMahon Saturday, 11 May 2019, 11:06 am

    I think Simon Yates could surprise here and take the first Maglia Rosa, he was 7th in Jerusalem last year and like INRNG said above, won the TT in Paris Nice with the climb at the end. This TT is more suited to his strengths. Just hope he played it right with the start time!

  • escarabajo Saturday, 11 May 2019, 3:04 pm

    61T chainring, jeez…

    Last chance to switch up my velogames team 😱

  • Tomski Saturday, 11 May 2019, 3:45 pm

    Yates greatest advantage in starting last is that he will get to see how effective a bike change will be (assuming the weather doesn’t choose his bike for him).