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Giro Stage 15 Preview

A stage of the Giro borrowing from the route of the Tour of Lombardy and when they did this in 2017 it made for a great day’s racing.

First among Ecuadors: a lively start with the first climb tackled at warp speed, then a breakaway which had the likes of Ivan Sosa and Hugh Carthy brielfly looking like they could contest the stage win, as well as Andrey Amador and Ion Izagirre to act as relay points for their respective leaders at Movistar and Astana. But Jumbo-Visma kept a lid on things, a train of cherubic faces from Kuss, Tolhoek and Bouwman that didn’t so much look like the U23 Giro Valle d’Aosta but a junior race… until you saw the speed they were climbing. The Colle San Carlo proved decisive as the breakaway was reeled in thanks to early work by Vincenzo Nibali and his team mate Damiano Caruso who was surprisingly strong but remember he’s finished second overall in the Tour de Suisse and fifth in the Critérium du Dauphiné. After moves from Mikel Landa and Miguel Angel Lopez, Richard Carapaz launched an explosive attack to to solo over the colle with a lead of about thirty seconds and he kept this on the descent despite Nibali going full shark. Once they reached the valley road to climb to the finish in Courmayeur, Carapaz was tucked low on the drops and fighting for every second while the chase group was sitting up and marking each other which meant Carapaz’s lead went up and away, indeed he was chasing every second and only sat up to celebrate after he’d crossed the finish line. Ilnur Zakarin fared worse among the big names, starting third overall and finishing the day 11th overall.

As for Carapaz he’s cycling’s first Ecuardorian, as in he’s the first Ecuadorian to do this, and to do that. He was the first non-Colombian to win the U23 Vuelta a la Juventud and now the first Ecuadorian in the maglia rosa. Primož Roglič is now in an interesting position, on the one hand Carapaz is in the lead but only by seven seconds, a gap that, everything else being equal, the fast Slovenian could overturn in the final time trial and so placing the burden on Movistar who might be more invested in Carapaz given the transfer talk that Mikel Landa is leaving for Bahrain-Merida. But like Landa, Carapaz looks irresistible uphill and neither Roglič nor Nibali can contain the Movistar tandem.

The Route: 232km east. A start in Ivrea, Italy’s computer capital of sorts, and a long starting phase where the first 140km cross the plains of the Po valley, passing fields of corn of polenta and rice paddies for risotto. Then comes the unmarked climb from Asso to Valbrona as they ride into the final loop around the Lombard lakes. There’s a descent down the corniche road to pick up the road beside Lake Como and the familiar Tour of Lombardy route used almost every autumn.

First comes the climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo, a steep ascent in two parts because of the flat portion mid-way. The descent is awkward in places, it’s fast with irregular corners and some off camber moments.

The Colma di Sormano is the main road and not the vicious climb and art installation of the Muro di Sormano.

The Finish: the climb to Civiglio is 4km at an even 10%, a selective climb for any late attacks where the long opening ramp leads to a series of hairpin bends which reward someone still able to stand on the pedals and sprint. Then comes the fast descent and flat finish with the final bend with 300m to go.

The Contenders: there’s a good chance of a breakaway sticking given the length of the stage but this can be self-fulfilling as wave after wave of riders try to go clear and it takes a long time for a move to go clear so they run out of road to build up a lead. Still Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec) and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) are locals and in form; Brambilla’s team mate Giulio Ciccone is an adopted local too although he’d be excused a day off after repeat breakaways. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) is an obvious breakaway pick and Pello Bilbao (Astana), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale), Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos) and Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quickstep) come to mind, Jungels won a similar stage in 2017. Lastly if Masnada gets the picute, Valerio Conti (UAE Emirates) enjoyed a spell in the maglia rosa but normally he’s a pick for this kind of day and so is team mate Diego Ulissi.

Among the GC riders Vincenzo Nibali must know every metre of the finale, he’s won Lombardia of course and lives in nearby Switzerland, Primož Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) can still sprint fast, Richard Carapaz (Movistar) looks even more lively and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) finished second yesterday, perhaps it owned more to pride but he’s found some form again.

Masnada, Conti, Ulissi, Dunbar, Brambilla, Gallopin
Ciccone, Bilbao, Jungels, Carapaz, Roglič, V Nibali

Weather: °C

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm 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.

  • Augie March Sunday, 26 May 2019, 6:59 am

    Really enjoying watching Landa and Carapaz going for it, after years of soporific riding and race-losing conservative tactics from the team it’s great to see Movistar riders lighting a grand tour up. Also a great rally for Yates, still hard to see this Giro not going to either Roglic or Nibali but while the Englishman might be vanilla in interviews he’s fiery on the road.

    • Chris_SK Sunday, 26 May 2019, 7:17 am

      Movistar are benefitting greatly from being the best team in the race. Carapaz and Landa clearly have the legs, but the lack of support in other teams means, when they go, there isn’t the train of domestiques to set a high tempo and bring them back. In the Tour when they have tried this, NAiro has already been spending energy keeping up with the SKY Train, and his attempts to attack and bridge up to team mates didn’t succeed.

      It’s going to be an interesting week!

      • Augie March Sunday, 26 May 2019, 7:46 am

        True about the TDF, but in recent Giros and Vuelta’s Movistar have often been riding defensively most of the time. Jumbo aren’t looking very strong even while Roglic is, however there’s been some solid support for Nibali from Bahrain Merida.

        • John Irvine Sunday, 26 May 2019, 4:42 pm

          I think smaller teams also has an impact. There’s just not the depth of support across the board, and losing a gregario like De Plus to injury has a bigger impact than before.

      • gabriele Sunday, 26 May 2019, 12:34 pm

        Imaginary TdFs here… More about Movistar being conservative on purpose because of actual team hierarchies and/or Nairo not having the legs, 2015 being the best example of the former, 2017 of the latter and 2016 of both.
        The Sky train, in fact, normally works to keep a low pace on most climbs before the final 20′ rocket launch. When they still tried that, at least, given that it’s become more and more about the 5-6 best men in the race climbing together until the sprint to the line.
        Yet some TV pundits try to inject some interest in the race or to justify the boredom of it blabbering of infernal pace and the likes, when the climbing times and power figures say otherwise.

        • Eskerrik Asko Sunday, 26 May 2019, 1:07 pm

          No great disagreement here, but I would like to point out that it isn’t immediately obvious to everyone how the Sky train (or any other team train that wished to do the same) could keep the pace low, i.e. why those who had the legs to climb at a more infernal pace didn’t do so (but instead waited for the Sky captain of that year to launch his 20+ rocket).
          I mean I believe the absence of such stages is the number one reason why what you above call “imaginary TdFs” have been etched into collective memory and even cycling historiography in some corners of the world.

          • gabriele Sunday, 26 May 2019, 1:42 pm

            One reason among others was the leader bullying you when you tried to do otherwise… as we saw on TV once with Astana and Aru, but I guess it may have happened more often. Along with that, the political dimension of the peloton always played a role. Don’t mess with the big guy or the script at the TdF or you’ll pay it dearly enough sooner or later.

            Anyway, the more general reasons are tactical: it’s a bit complicated to explain in detail, but if other teams don’t help, just raising the pace isn’t easy. And if you start raising the pace, other teams won’t help precisely because they’ll hope you burn your team out.
            As for the captains attacking, here you have why it’s important for Sky to have strong gregari even if they don’t necessarily push hard on the climbs: they’ll be able to keep an isolated rival captain under control in case of need. The rival might gain something and even more important prevent the Sky leader from performing at his best in the finale because of the strong pace, but he’ll more or less suicide himself doing so. On top of that, the TdF courses rarely included tight series of climb, which means that between climbs the gregari will be able to bring you back riding fast on the flat.

            However, I believe that good tactics could be put in place to put Sky under pressure and force a higher pace (which was rarely done, albeit it happened from time to time, I can recall a handful of examples), but it’s very far from being easy, especially at less than half of the budget.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 26 May 2019, 1:56 pm

          Tinfoil, verbose, contradictory waffle and confirmation bias.

          • Rooto Sunday, 26 May 2019, 6:14 pm

            …says ‘Anonymous’.

          • David Monday, 27 May 2019, 8:57 pm

            Says someone who claims to be called ‘Rooto’.

  • oldDAVE Sunday, 26 May 2019, 8:16 am

    Thank you for the excellent write up.

    Superb stage, last two days have been the best racing since Giro’18.
    Happy to see Majka doing well also, in fact I’m happy from Carapez, Landa even Zakarin and Mollema yesterday. Be even more interesting if Dumoulin was here.

  • Stuie Sunday, 26 May 2019, 8:29 am

    I still think Roglic has been keeping something in the tank. Carapaz and Landa have to keep attacking, fatigue has to set in eventually. Nibali looks like he’s missing a kick, but I would never count him out.

    • Gregario Sunday, 26 May 2019, 8:53 am

      With the exclusion of the Gavia I predict that Nibali unfortunately lost his main trump in this race. It was a stage tailored for him – very long, very hard and at altitude, quite similar to the one in 2016 (long hard climb over 2000 m followed by another one to the finish) where he turned the race upside down. They added two climbs instead but they are neither long or hard or at altitude so they are nothing more than the climbs from yesterday. They add to the elevation but are not likely to make any difference in the race. It’s a real shame for the race but it’s really symptomatic for the terrible spring weather this year. Nibali will need to make a plan B – he will probably need to try something on the Manghen. Stage 20 is now the queen stage and I expect fireworks there if the race is still as open as currently by then.

      • gabriele Sunday, 26 May 2019, 12:42 pm


        Vegni is a very good course designer (it’s actually a collective work, more than it ever was before): even when the course isn’t about fireworks from start to finish, as this year, it tends to respond to a plan or *a concept*, so to say, and it usually works as planned. We may agree or not with that given idea, but a good deal of excellent racing is normally provided, sooner or later.
        However, his Achilles’ heel is B-courses… and he’s got a story of poor decision regarding bad weather, too.
        The alternative stage is incredibly poor and, as others have showed elsewhere, it’s not that much about technical or burocratic problems, either.
        Let’s hope “riders make the race” -___-

        • Gregario Sunday, 26 May 2019, 3:26 pm

          I agree that the alternative is poor but the question is what else could they have done? People speculated about the double Mortirolo but it would add another 20 km to the initial course. At around 240 km it would be a monster of a stage, were the organisers too scared to do it? It could have been shortened by riding once from Tovo. but is the road clear yet after the winter? An alternative would have been the Monte Padrio from the south but again I don’t know about the state of the road. It’s very narrow and I assume still covered by snow.

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 26 May 2019, 9:01 am

      In the land of cool, it’s coolest customer (so far) is Primoz Roglic.

  • Ecky Thump Sunday, 26 May 2019, 8:49 am

    The mood on the page is Up, the racing is great, and partly inspired by the future goal of lean 80 year olds cycling up mountains, today’s tune reflects this optimism – “I’m Happy” by Ivan Iacobucci :

  • Jorgelito Sunday, 26 May 2019, 9:02 am

    If you all had seen the picture of a young Carapaz – 10 years ago – on a bike withour any tires, only wheels, you would be even more amazed by what he accomplished yesterday.

  • jc Sunday, 26 May 2019, 9:12 am

    The Mutually Assured Destruction pact worked out well then, whilst the two alpha males tried to out stare each other Richard Carapaz rode off into the lead (good pick by Inrng). It is not going to be easy for anyone else to pull him back and the question now is how big a lead does anyone else need over Primoz Roglic before the Verona stage?

    I do wonder if PR will find it easier now he does not have to ride defensively, his team simply is not strong enough for that. Maybe he can pick a moment to attack and let others do the chasing.

    Vincenzo Nibali seems to have made a bit of a miscalculation, Movistar are much more serious opponents with a strong team. It is difficult to see where he can make up nearly a couple of minutes, though there is a lot of racing still to come and much can happen.

    It seems certain that Mikel Landa will attack again especially as much less chance of being pulled back, it is a question of which stage. Not this one, there are a few choices next week (shame about the Gavia) and he does have some history of doing well in the final week.

    Pavel Sviakov is doing very well , will he be able to stay ahead of “Superman” Lopez?

    As to today, maybe a big break going after a long struggle, random choice for the winner but a GC race behind? Perhaps it is a chance to pull back time for both Primoz Roglic and Vincenzo Nibali as they are both very good downhill?

    • hoh Sunday, 26 May 2019, 2:35 pm

      Looking at yesterday’s stage, it hit me how big Sivakov is. He’s almost one head higher than most of the GC group and twice the shoulder width of the likes of Zakarin.

  • Irungo txuletak Sunday, 26 May 2019, 10:24 am

    I was sure that Carapaz had very good legs for the climbs seeing friday’s stage. What amazes me the most is that Movistar are riding smartly. Is there somebody new in the car?

    • jc Sunday, 26 May 2019, 10:48 am

      Indeed the playstation seems to have been thrown away and some “grown ups” are directing operations. They have pretty impressive so far.

      • not yoda Sunday, 26 May 2019, 11:06 am

        On cycling podcast you hear Max Sciandri who moved to Movistar from BMC.


        • Tovarishch Sunday, 26 May 2019, 11:24 am

          He seems to have made a big difference, something he didn’t do at BMC so something else is different.

          • jc Sunday, 26 May 2019, 1:22 pm

            He was just interviewed on Eurosport, he did seem to be fairly impressive (the odd Lancastrian vowel mixed in with various other accents). Thought he made more sense than many of the other DS’s less corporate blah.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 26 May 2019, 2:00 pm

      Good legs make a difference. Bad legs make any tactics look bad.

  • AndyW Sunday, 26 May 2019, 10:58 am

    The optimist in me wonders whether Chaves could have a go today – he’s a recent winner of Lombardy but that was with his 2016 form. Otherwise, Gallopin seems in decent form for a day like today.

  • Richard S Sunday, 26 May 2019, 11:35 am

    I’ll pick Ulissi to win today seen as for the first time in over a week he won’t be on team duties and he appears to be in decent form. Nibali has won Lombardy by attacking the tricky descent off the Civiglio climb (or was it San Fermo?!) so I’d expect him to try and eek out 20-30 seconds there again today.
    On a slightly separate topic I’d prefer it if Lonbardia did this route for the finale (or Ghissalo, Civiglio, San Fermo) as the Muro di Surmano is far too steep and more of a freak show for out and out climbers.

  • JH Sunday, 26 May 2019, 12:07 pm

    Carapaz (and Landa) have had two big days (pity we didn’t get to see Carapaz on stage 13 with the cameras concetrating on Landa who wasn’t that far ahead).

    Roglic can believe that 7 seconds isn’t important with the final ITT to come.

    I suspect will see no change on times between Roglic, Nibali and Movistar today.

    However, there’s business to be settled between Sivakov and Lopez. And Yates still needs to prove something.

    While the parcours may be like Lombardia, the middle-of-a-GC tactics won’t be.

    One for the break today, with a long range attack from Astana and/or MTS which may or may not catch the break.

  • KevinK Sunday, 26 May 2019, 12:15 pm

    Like the rest here, I’m enjoying the way the GC battle is developing so unpredictably. This particular stage is also interesting because the two intermediate sprints are before the climbs, and it’ll be interesting to see if Demare and Ackermann battle for some points.

  • Rooto Sunday, 26 May 2019, 6:22 pm

    French TV claimed that Nibali attacked today at the precise point where Pinot attacked him last October. Can anyone confirm? If so, it’s either coincidence or extreme racing nous.

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 26 May 2019, 7:12 pm

      Don’t forget though that Roglic was just getting back to the group after his impromptu bike swap and, no doubt, Nibali had been informed of that via race radio and so made his move accordingly.

      • Rooto Sunday, 26 May 2019, 7:30 pm

        Good point, though i think there had been a few Kms of flat between the two events. Ah, well…
        Another thing they talked about was the 2cm difference in height between Roglic and his teammate whose bike he borrowed. They reckon this would have contributed to his downhill crash (sorry for all the spoilers, if anyone hasn’t seen the stage yet). Is that feasible?
        Lequipe TV are pretty bad at overblowing all occurrences, that’s why I come here for more expert and cold-blooded analysis.

        • Tovarishch Sunday, 26 May 2019, 7:40 pm

          Adam Blyth made the comment that the replacement bike had deeper rims and that can make a big difference to the feel of the bike on corners. The Breakdown has some really good insights.

        • John Irvine Sunday, 26 May 2019, 8:03 pm

          I wonder if the replacement bike had rim or disk brakes, and if it’s different from Roglic’s bike? I’d suspect it’d be easy to cook a corner if you’re used to the other kind.

          • Ecky Thump Sunday, 26 May 2019, 10:27 pm

            Both rim brakes.

          • Nicktarios Sunday, 26 May 2019, 11:50 pm

            They’re pro’s remember. It shouldn’t be difficult to remember you’re on a team mates bike, and account for any differences from your own. The rim size would make a difference sure, but again these guys ride for a living, it shouldn’t be a big deal. More likely Nibali going full gas on familiar roads and Roglic being over the limit skill/effort wise was the cause.

          • HeleninSomerset Monday, 27 May 2019, 9:47 am

            Nicktarios – did you see The Breakaway on Eurosport? Bradley Wiggins, Brian Smith and Adam Blyth all thought that riding a teammate’s bike was a serious problem for Roglic.

      • Chris_SK Monday, 27 May 2019, 11:01 am

        Roglic had rejoined the group before the climb started, but he burned some matches to do so, when Nibali attacked Roglic was right there on his wheel. Pozzovivo and the Bora guys came to the front, and Nibali attacked from 4th or 5th wheel, with only Carapaz responding.

    • Morten Reippuert Monday, 27 May 2019, 7:43 am

      1st accelration same place as where Nibali attackted in 2017
      2nd acceleration same place as where he dropped Pinot in 2017

      1st acceleration same place as where Pinot attacked in 2018
      2nd acceleration same place as where Pinot dropped Nibali in 2018

      Nibali is just king of the Civiglio descent, 15, 17, 18 and now 19. If they should ever setup a memorial monument for him it should be on this descent.

  • cp Sunday, 26 May 2019, 10:27 pm

    Carapaz rides in a way that makes you want him to win. That was an impressive 3 days of riding. My Slovenian heritage makes me pull for Roglic (hell, the guy is probably my grand nephew, there are so few people of Slovenian descent…), but I have to say when Carapaz disappeared up the road yesterday I was pulling for him.

    To repeat the obvious, Roglic needs a team and a DS with a bigger bladder. Is he bound to Jumbo V for a long time?

  • Gazelle CM Sunday, 26 May 2019, 10:58 pm

    A broken shifter this time. Again electronic seem to be less reliable than the old mechanical systems

    • Ecky Thump Monday, 27 May 2019, 11:31 am

      Apparently JV have their Di2 junction box under the saddle, running longer wires alongside the rear brake in the frame and up through the seat post.
      That seems a touch gratuitous to me?
      Electronic wires on a road bike has to be a point of potential problems and, I’d have thought, the *less* wiring the better?
      A broken shifter (unless it had physically snapped) sounds more like a wiring / power issue to me.

      • Ecky Thump Monday, 27 May 2019, 11:43 am

        Roglic on sprint shifters too?

  • Larry T Monday, 27 May 2019, 7:54 am

    A real fuster cluck at Jumbo. My first clue that something might be amiss was the scene of Roglic patting his jersey pockets seemingly in search of food. Somehow the team leader has nothing to eat? While Roglic was fortunate not to have crashed out of contention ala Steven Kruijswijk (we hope anyway!) there was the earlier dangerously close pass by the organizer’s car. The driver of that car should be replaced! OTOH, Jumbo is fortunate that the jury overlooked the rather sticky bottle.
    I too am beginning to wonder about the reliability of electronic shifting bits – seems there are a lot of bike swaps going on. I understand ’em when it’s a puncture and the team’s running disc brakes as it’s faster than fooling around with wheel swaps, but a lot of bikes seem to be getting replaced despite having air in both of their tires.
    Finally, I wish they’d waited on the Gavia decision as Torriani or Zomengan would have done back in the day. Vegni and Co. seem way more interested in CYA than is good for La Corsa Rosa. An example was his wimpy excuse for not having Stage 15 go over the Muro di Sormanno – some weasel-speak about dropped chains.

  • Gelato4bahamontes Monday, 27 May 2019, 2:42 pm

    Electronic shifting a solution looking for a problem

  • Luis Monday, 27 May 2019, 3:39 pm

    Any reason why Movistar can push stronger, as reported by Sivakov, when Roglic has a mechanics, and Aru should wait Froome when he has a problem on a climb? Or Quintana and Nibali when Tom Dumo had its problem on the Umbrail?
    Any reason why nobody contests Carapaz on this?

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 12:44 am

      Was Rogliz the race leader at this moment? No. And the race was on. Case closed. Even the unwritten rules don’t say you may have to wait for anybody who has GC hopes.