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|
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.