Giro Stage 14 Preview

Just 131km with four climbs culminating in the vicious Colle San Carlo before a fast descent and then the drag to the finish in Courmayeur.

Stage 13 Review: a big breakaway with two outside GC contenders in Bauke Mollema and Ilnur Zakarin. Mollema had three team mates for company and they helped drive the move and then launch him on the final climb, a move to celebrate because it was risky. At one point the chasing group with the other GC contenders go within 30 seconds of them only to sit up and watch the gap go back beyond two minutes which allowed Mollema, Zakarin and Mikel Nieve to stay away, with Zakarin winning the stage after breaking Nieve on the final ramps. It’s a big win the Stork of Tartarstan and his team too, their first in the World Tour this year.

Behind Mikel Landa launched the first big move and seemed to be floating on the pedals but if he was irresistible, starting the day 21st overall meant he wasn’t a priority to mark. Aided by Amador and Carretero who’d been sent in the early break he ended up taking back over a minute and half on Nibali and Roglič, a lot for one climb. Nibali and Roglič tracked each other but at a pace to drop the rest as only Majka and Carapaz took time and the others fell away, notably Simon Yates and Hugh Carthy; Miguel Angel Lopez’s kryptonite seems to be his bike after a puncture in the San Marino TT, now a jammed chain on the final climb saw him stuck by the road, forced to chase and then crack higher up. It made for a lively day’s racing and sets things up nicely for today…

The Route: 131km where the peloton rides the Aosta valley like a snowboarder in a half-pipe. Saint Vincent will be humming to the sound of rollers as riders warm up. The first climb to Verrayes is a sharp climb on a fast, well-engineered road with some tight bends to line out the peloton and followed by a similar, fast and twisting descent.

The climb to Verrogne is the longest ascent of the day but steadier. There’s a suburban feel as it climbs above the houses in Aosta, the regional capital, but quickly heads into the vineyards and then scrub woodland and then it’s down a similar descent.

The next climb is a twisting road into the hills, 8.2km long and above 8% for most of the time and hard going, the race could just ride up the main valley but instead this adds to the difficulty of the day. The descent is fast and has some tight hairpin bends. The comes the intermediate sprint and once again they avoid the easy valley road to divert into the village of La Salle, it’s more up and down.


The Colle San Carlo is the big climb of the day and if it’s neither famous nor habitual in the Giro it’ll be familiar to plenty in the peloton and convoy because it’s a staple of the U23 Giro delle Valle d’Aosta, a top U23 stage race. You can get a closer look in the Roads to Ride piece. There are steeper climbs, there are longer climbs but few are as steep for as long with 10km at 10%. It’s steep from the start and stays that way, a regular gradient all the way up and easy for an early attacker to get out of sight quickly in the woodland.

The descent is three parts, first the fast and technical drop off the Colle San Carlo, second it levels around La Thuile and then third joins the main road of the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, this final section is fast and features a mix of covered sections, tunnels before reaching the eight hairpins of Saint Didier and the end of the descent.

The Finish: they pick up the main road and it climbs at 6-7% for 3km before easing to a 2-3% drag to the line. With 1km to go they pass under a bridge and turn right onto a slip road that climbs to meet the bridge, a tiny ascent in the scale of things but a strength sapper before the road dips again and then levels out for a flat finish.

The Contenders: Mikel Landa (Movistar) looked irresistible yesterday and simply rode away from his rivals. Still this stage is different, there’s no summit finish and to win the stage he’d have to go clear on the San Carlo and then stay away for the win as if he arrives with others he risks being outsprinted. Team mate Richard Carapaz (pictured) is arguably the stronger pick because if Landa can jump on the climbs, Carapaz has shown he’s a much more explosive rider in a sprint and he did a great ride yesterday.

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) is out for revenge after a mechanical spoiled his chances yesterday. He’s sufficiently down on GC so that he can go for a late move. His chances of a podium spot aren’t over but increasingly a stage win looks like something he needs in order to get something out of the Giro.

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won a bunch sprint of sorts in Romandie so if he comes in with a small group today he’s an obvious candidate, especially as it’s his role to follow moves and sit on the wheels, his job is defence while others have to find ways to take time on him.

Arch-rival Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is no slouch in a sprint either, remember his Vuelta stage win in Andorra?

Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) got tipped yesterday, he was close and should be again today but the flat finish isn’t ideal.

Can a breakaway make it? It’s a tough call, it’d have to have a coalition of star climbers who have lost time on GC, but maybe the likes of Simon Yates, Sam Oomen or Ivan Sosa could just do it.

Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa
M-A Lopez, Primož Roglic, Vincenzo Nibali
Majka, Yates

Weather: sunshine, clouds and a chance of rain, especially atop the climbs. 21°C in the valley.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time. They’ll start the San Carlo around 4.00pm.

45 thoughts on “Giro Stage 14 Preview”

  1. Pozzovivo to get in the break and then Nibali to join him on the descent San Carlo and get a bit of pacing up the last drag? The race is wide open. There are so many riders around Roglic and his team so weak that any one/two/three of them can sneak off and grab time almost unnoticed, or just pull a very noticeable set piece move like Trek yesterday.

    • This just feels like a stage Nibali’s had circled for a while… although maybe that’s rubbish as he’s king of the last week so maybe it’s too early? Plus Roglic is a great descender himself.

      What a stage yesterday was? Best GT stage since Stage19 of the Giro last year?

      I fancy more early attacks from a few people today, despite seeming to only mark Nibali, it felt like Roglic showed a lot of weakness yesterday, possibly his team rather than him, but with this many riders climbing well how can he defend against them all with going everyday on every climb?

      Any way, incredible stuff. Nothing like mountain racing to make me fall in love with cycling again. The one days have nothing on this (aside from PR).

  2. Interesting that Yates seem to have a unique physiology related to training. Lost form real quick that first week hearing from podcasts, not the first time either.

    • Perhaps he’s doing the full reverse of last year’s Giro performance = worthless in the first two weeks only to fly through the third to victory? I wouldn’t wager anything on it, but who really knows? Meanwhile, where’s the guy who went on and on last year about the awful tactics of Movistar? Did he take over the team as their tactics yesterday seemed pretty well executed.

      • Ha – for someone who seems so epically dull Yates sure says a lot of contentious stuff! I’m all for it, better than another bland interview of zilch.

        And admittedly Movistar do have strange tactics sometimes – although all tactics look daft if your leader doesn’t have the legs to pull them off. Loved Landas ride yesterday. Loved Yates’ multiple Attucks last year, I think they can all handle a bit of shade so happy to watch and enjoy when they succeed.

        I’d love Landa to win this.

        In saying that about agressive quotes – Nibali vs Roglic is bugging me, I’ve long thought Nibali’s loves a bit of a mind game and often goes after riders outside of the racing to get in their heads – he’s the Mourinho of cycling and I often feels similarly arrogant and niggly… I realise there are translation issues and we don’t know what’s gets said in the peloton – I just get the feeling he isn’t the nicest person.

        That completely contradicts what I’m saying about Yates in the media though! I’ll go one further – Porte always comes across whiney and a little entitled, he’s seems open to talk anytime, but often possibly should think better of it!

          • I did find it a contrast, he was on the rampage in the Giro but as soon as he crossed the finish line it was it was like asking an auditor how their day with a spreadsheet went, the usual “so far, so good”, “day by day” etc. This doesn’t mean the rider in question is boring, they’re tired having just raced for 5 hours so we can’t expect poetry but often they’ve had media training too and learn to say plain things. But this year he seems a lot more expressive and it’s to be welcomed, even if he’s having to eat some of his words.

          • Very true, but that’s why despite people complaining about him, most cycling fans miss Bradley Wiggins. Say what you like but who would you rather hear from, Wiggo or Zakarain?

            There should be a complete ban on trying to interview any sportsperson within 30 minutes of them finishing their event, especially in the case of a grand tour stage or a classic, where they’ve been at the limit for the past 4-6 hours, you’re never going to get much that’s worth printing.

        • A couple of years ago I met an older woman in a Sicilian cheese shop who, as soon as she noticed my cycling cap, had to pull me aside and explain she was a neighbor of the Nibali family in Messina. She went on to insist that despite his fame and fortune, he was still the “nice, gentle boy” she remembered from his childhood. But at the same time, I don’t think they call him “The Shark” for nothing 🙂

      • I think I criticized Movistar pretty harshly last year. They are doing better. Hope landa can keep this up. Jumbo is looking not strong!

  3. I wonder if there are more mechanicals related to chains, derailleurs? Have the 12 speed and electronic shifting an influence on reliability?

    • Good question, but one I don’t know how would be answered with any certainty. What I see quite often even with the pros is the extreme cross-chaining = big ring with the chain way over on the largest cogs, wrapping up a bunch of chain and pulling hard on the pulley-cage spring. Easy to see, just look at how far forward the bottom pulley is. Then the rider needs a lower gear and BAM! They dump the chain off the big ring under that tension and the next thing (if they’re lucky) their spinning away wildly but going nowhere. If they’re unlucky the chain jams and they have to get off and yank it back up to the chainring. No matter if it’s 10-11-12 speeds, electronic or mechanical I’ve seen this happen plenty of times (Pantani at Oropa back-in-the-day?) with pros and punters alike.

      • Rear derailleurs are more reliable than front derailleurs. Almost aways have been. That’s the main reason why we shift the rear far more often than front.

        Simple as that.

    • With the distance between cogs going down, there is less margin for error on 12 speed than there used to be with 9 or 10. But nothing is indestructible. Nevertheless, I see more punctures and other mechanical issues in racing thanI would personally accept as a rider. I wonder sometimes if the teams take reliability into account enough when considering equipment selection. For a one day race or day victory I can imagine you take risks, but for gc contenders I think I would go for a tiny bit of extra weight and rolling resistance etc in exchange for more certainty. Of course, the sponsor wants to have their latest greatest at display, that matters too.

      • I have electronic shifting (believe it or not!) and can vouch for its virtues as long as you treat it right. Larry’s correct, on the rare occasions it jams it’s cross-chaining and rider error with poor gear changes – easy to do when you’re knackered / stressed.

        • It seems mixed, electronic shifting can work better for these finer tolerances because the motor moves the chain a set distance but there’s the loss of feel at the same time, knowing whether to nudge the gear change or push and hold the shifter for a touch longer to make it happen. There are also other factors like frame and wheel flex which means when you shift gear under load things are moving in odd directions and it can be enough to through the chain, you can imagine the watts being applied by Lopez at the time.

          • There’s also the “Paris-Roubaix” factor, although that isn’t the issue here. Seems Di2 / eTap etc has more problems with batteries / wires coming loose and riders being stuck in one gear. I can see the advantages of electronic shifting on nice roads but on the cobbles I’d stick to mechanical if I had the choice (as I think Cancellara did). Not a good look for manufacturers, even though it’s only a problem on extreme parcours.

            Having said all of that I think there is also the element of “shit happens”. All of this gear is phenomenally reliable and we’re watching a race with 100+ riders covering thousands of KMs. It’d be astonishing if the odd favourite didn’t have the odd mechanical / flat etc. It’s just probability mixed in with the odd bit of user error and occasional equipment failure. That’s life.

          • Had a client a few years back on one of our rental bikes (Campagnolo Veloce 10 compact) who somehow managed to drop his chain a couple of times each day – always going from the 50 to the 34 under pressure. I was more cranky about it than he was in the end – he claimed he had the same problem with the Di2 system on his personal bike at home!
            PS-I climbed on the bike a time or two myself hoping replicate the problem so I could adjust it – no luck—no matter what abuse I put it to, it downshifted just fine each time.

          • Funnily enough I’ve got a winter bike with Veloce on and have dropped the chain on that. It’s when I’ve been cross chaining and dropped to the small ring while still at the top of the cassette. It’s just a bad change as I shouldn’t really be doing that, but I can understand how a pro on the edge makes a mistake on a hard day. It’s easily avoidable though!

  4. I haven’t followed him that much, but his “swagger” is off-putting to me, especially since he hasn’t followed it up. Note I’m not averse at all to a little spice in an interview. “Collapse” and “total collapse” seem to be the common terms used with him, both last year and this. All from a “100% changed man” from last year. The undertraining bs is entertaining, though. As if he, his team and coaches didn’t know what to train for. “Green” Roglic certainly isn’t a shoe-in, with lots of the race left to go, but I’m happy to forget about Yates, unless he’s got a good explanation for his unique physiology. Fun to see some of the other contenders livening things up.

    • It’s funny that this year seems to be quite the opposite in regards to the Yates’ brothers. Last year Simon was flying all year round but this year he was quite underwhelming. Besides a few occasional good days (TT in Paris-Nice and the stage win in Andalusia) he was very inconsistent whereas Adam has been very impressive thus far, displaying the same kick as Simon last year, although having said that last year Adam started well too but faded from the Tour onwards. I think this shows they are still a work in progress. Let’s see how this Giro plays out. The GC is wild open and anything can happen. Unfortunately the forecast for Tuesday on the Gavia doesn’t look good and unfortunately it looks like it won’t be possible to pass it.

      • I wonder if he has known from before the start that things weren’t quite right and hence his bluster, trying to put doubt in his rivals’ minds. Given the way he has performed this year he has been more of a one day racer.

  5. Interesting tactic from Nibali, half wheeling Roglic up the last climb, my coverage only showed a brief shark attack, but he didn’t have enough bite and was back on the (half) wheel over the finish line, not sure, was it all about pressure and trying to mess with Roglic’s head?

    • I found it interesting too and you might wonder what the reasoning behind this tactic was. I think Nibali figured Roglic as his main rival and wants to pounce if he sees that he is vulnerable. Hence his mind games comments after the stage. Yesterday’s stage was tough but Nibali seems to have decided to ride within himself on the final climb, maybe trying to tire out Roglic and bring other riders into contention for the GC, so that Roglic needs to care of them too and not just follow Nibali. It’s quite an interesting tactical battle and without one strong team being able to control things in Sky’s manner we might have a fascinating final week ahead of us. For Nibali the most important stage is Tuesday but if the Gavia gets cancelled he may run out of options to dispose of Roglic.

  6. Landa given the freedom that his GC position allowed I can’t see him being given that much freedom now he is back in contention.

    Yates I think has learnt a valuable lesson which hopefully will set him in good stead for the future I think he toast for this Giro and expect him to retire soon.

    Are we all good with Zakarin now!

    • What? Because of a near decade old ban?

      If he were winning everything I expect there’d be more outcry…

      But I think we can forgive a 19 year old not only in a sport with a history of doping that he may have engaged with differentmy, but also a country with massive internal doping issues. Whether he’s an evil cheat or a misled child we can give him the benefit of the doubt surely?

      Whether he’s still doping, who knows? As we’re seeing with the current cases, it hasn’t been eradicated so I see no reason to hate on Zakarin more and I’m happy to let the testers do their jobs.

      I am surprised the current scandal isn’t a bigger story though, you get the feeling if it were either the TDF and Roglic were in yellow or it were Ineos things might be different (just to clarify Im not accusing Roglic just aware his nationality brings him into the story).

      Any way, of all this Valverde bugs me the most. He should have had the backbone to own up by now.

      • Agreed current scandal is under the radar maybe everybody is hoping it will just go away.

        10 years is the length of forgiveness? Personally I would prefer the ex dopers just to slope away quietly no time for them once convicted but let’s not spoil a nice thread – my bad for bringing it up

      • The funniest thing is that you could apply to Valverde the same concepts you defend for Zakarin (the bags were from his short stunt as a U23 or so in nefarious Kelme team, which, among other things, reportedly forced riders to undergo doping practices).
        With the difference that the former hasn’t be caught anymore in the following 15 years despite being undoubtedly under the lens… I hope that Zakarin won’t, either, he’s a huge talent.
        But that show how doping tales work for fans: just a McGuffin to justify whom you like or don’t.

        • Oh sorry Gabriele – you’ve misunderstood me –

          My issue with Valverde is admitting it and talking openly. I absolutely forgive him for the act as it was/is completely understandable with youth sets up etc what I’ve said above reZakarin, more importantly it doesn’t take anything away from him being a brilliant cyclist.

          The difference with Zakarin – who has also not spoken on the issue – is firstly the age, Valverde was 28/9, Zakarin was 19/20, to me that is a difference as even if Valverde began as a kid, I think the benefit of the doubt wanes around 26 and you need to take more responsibility, which is why the speaking publicly is a big deal for me with Valverde. Also I think it’s fair to say growing up in Russia and through that system is slightly different to Spain (and even if all countries had their own issues/programmes during Valverde’s youth) and one of which we know less of the pressures of life for someone like Zakarin, so again I think there is a benefit of the doubt. Finally, the media awareness/pressure is something Zakarin may justifiably be unaware, ie how much difference his voice might make (were high to get to Valverde’s level) whereas Valverde is not, and knows exactly what a benefit to cycling his admission would be.

          • “what a benefit to cycling his admission would be”… yes, what benefit? I struggle to see much. The few people who, after being caught, admitted without being forced by the weight of law didn’t end up that well and, even more important, rarely brought any benefit to cycling as a whole, to clean cycling or whatever. It’s not about caught cyclists confessing anything, it’s about having in place a serious fight against doping at the institutional level within the sport. And we haven’t. The rest is a (hardly) moral farce.

          • I disagree passionately.
            I think everything Garmin did from ’05 onwards has been a massive benefit to the sport and cheats turned clean who admit their mistake and are accepted back into the fold are often the biggest assets to cleaning up any ill in any field.

            I follow your comments regularly and am quite shocked you’re questioning what benefit someone talking openly about a mistake might be.

            I feel like this era, whilst surely not clean in its entirety, is at least a little better solely because of the efforts of riders like Millar and others.

      • The Manzana saga is another story that’s flying under the radar a bit. They’ve taken responsibility and binned the team voluntarily. No hand-wringing, no special pleading, no bleating about how none of it has got anything to do with them. How do ya like them apples Jonathan Vaughters, Gianni Savio, Roberto Reverberi, Jim Ochowicz, etc. ?

  7. Restaurant tip for today the brasserie d entreves, 5 mis from the finish.
    Best bar is the Caffè des guides in town.
    I’ve spent a lot f time in courmayeur over the years, love it.

  8. A really good stage, rather proving wrong the Eurosport couch experts who suggested that mountain top finishes are boring.

    Although he finished strongly Primoz Roglic’s position seems to be getting more vulnerable by the day. There have been a number of big breaks which have bought others back in to contention. Perhaps anyone within 5 minutes of PR is not out of the race yet. His team cant control things and no one else shows the inclination to, so perfectly possible for more big breaks today and tomorrow. I am not sure how long Vincenzo Nibali can keep up the current tactic of trying to force PR to ride can be kept up. At some point (tomorrow?) Vincenzo will need to make his own move.

    I wonder if Simon Yates picked up an injury in the crash on the Frascati stage? The word hubris also comes to mind.

    Larry I suspect the Movistar critic was me though not last year but the year before when Tom Dumoulin won. However the team rode perfectly yesterday and Mikel Landa may yet prove to be a big factor in this race, how much of a lead would he need before the final TT?

    A weather forecast for the Gavia suggests almost certain (90%) snowfall for Monday night / Tuesday, so not looking good for the stage.

  9. I think Nibali is just going to shadow Roglic at the moment. Unless Landa or one of the others is close to shading him he’s not going to drag Roglic to finish and waste energy. The problem for him is that Bahrain Merida don’t look as strong as Movistar. BM will want to shake down and isolate Roglic, who has no other tactic but to ride in the wheels, but this also looks like it will hand the initiative to Movistar.
    I was surprised to see Mollema (or Mole-eem-ma as Sean Kelly calls him) riding so hard. It was clear he didn’t really stand a chance of winning, and it was touch-and-go that he would even gain time on anyone. It worked, but at what cost? A quiet day from him today I expect.

    • Mollema said afterwards he got into the break almost by accident. He accelerated to close a gap and then they were away. I don’t think he got any more wasted as his competitors, as the break was quite big and he had a very good Ciccone doing a massive job on the last time. By the time he was alone, so was everybody else.

      Roglic had Nibali by the balls. All that bullcr*p about taking responsibility as a leader… It’s a race and it’s decided on the last day. Form is not predictable, so you have to play it smart, conserve energy and only waste matches when it’s in your benefit, not somebody elses. If Roglic felt he was not as strong, he also avoided putting cards on the table by following others, leaving him vulnerable for an attack of the GC rider closest to him.

  10. The Italo house choice today, ‘Antares’, has an obvious cycling connection.
    Aside from this, the track’s deep back beat hints at its darker side; Ares, the mythical god of war for the battles to come, and the heart of the Titan scorpion sent by the earth goddess Gaia to sting the arrogant Orion, who had proclaimed his intention to kill all the earth’s animals.
    And Antares the giant red star also seems an appropriate choice to celebrate Zakarin’s superb win yesterday –

  11. Fyi You just got a mention on Eurosport for your description of today’s stage as “like snowboarders in a halfpipe”. Good to see them taking note of your excellent site 🙂

  12. Ecky, thanks for your house gems, keep them coming!

    Rog will win this, he can climb, he can decend and he can TT if he don’t implode, todays last climb were poker. Icy veins!

  13. Nibali is an opportunist, and he and his team’s tactics thrive at working over his opponents over many days and just waiting for a crack (if there will be one).

    Before other riders became in contention, the chance of him exploiting a weakness was low but now there are many who will want to divorce Roglic and not help him.

    This has been a great race, mostly everyone is riding really well!

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