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Giro Stage 16 Preview

No Passo Gavia because of the snow, but there’s an uphill start, the Mortirolo and over 5,000m of vertical gain and it all makes for a livelier stage.

The Route: 194km north into the Alps. The race could take the main valley road but instead heads into the hills for the Passo della Presolana and this should make for a lively start to the stage as it’s an obvious launchpad for a breakaway, it’s followed by a quick descent that for the most part has good visibility and then straight onto the Croce di Salven, a climb in two parts with a level section in between where the first section is steepest. The descent a main road.

The climb to Cevo is similar to the last, a steep start and then a flat landing before climbing up again only this time the descent is wilder as they drop down to the valley road. Here it’s a steady climb to Aprica and then a descent in two parts, the first on the main road and then it’s onto a side road, a short cut to the valley.

The Mortirolo is one of the hardest climbs in Europe. There are different ways up but this is the classic Giro route. Ironically the Mortirolo was only added to the Giro because of snow, back in 1988 the Gavia was covered in snow and a local ski coach suggested the race use the Mortirolo instead. They rode the Gavia much to the agony of those in the race but the race came in 1990. Despite being a relatively new climb it’s become a reference, a point of comparison. It’s hard for two reasons, first because it’s 11.9km at 10.9% but also because of the irregularity, unlike Saturday’s Colle San Carlo, here the slope keeps changing making it hard to get into a rhythm, it confounds those who try to ride to numbers. The descent is on the easier side to climb but still difficult to descend in a race situation, it’s wooded and full of blind bends.

The Finish: a drag up the valley road and then a finish in town on a flat road.

The Contenders: the breakaways have been having a good time of it and today should suit them again. The GC teams will want to place riders in the breakaway because once over the top of the Mortirolo there’s 27km to the finish on a valley road that drags, not the place for a lone climber to be dangling in the wind alone, but if they make an attack on the Mortirolo and then pick up a team mate then their chance of staying away from their rivals increases.

Astana could set a hard pace all day but they’re more likely to try and get riders in the move. The dilemma for Jumbo-Visma is whether to do this in order to try and provide Primož Roglič with help up the road or do they try to stay with him until the early slopes of the Mortirolo?

Richard Carapaz (Movistar) is the safe pick, he’s quick in a sprint and a win here would see him assume a psychological grip on the race.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is having a good Giro and while he might wait for others to crack, he can come in with a group today and take the sprint.

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) signature move is an attack on a climb and then going solo to the win. Easier said than done but he’s pulled it off before and now has a little room for maneuver as if he jumps he’s not an immediate threat. He’s also handy in a sprint from a group.

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) needs a result, he’s been losing time to rivals and suffering setbacks and a win today and the time bonus would be handy but it’s getting increasingly hard to see.

Who can win from the breakaway? Go through the startlist and pick those who aren’t on GC duty either for themselves or a team mate, who can cope with the Mortirolo and then win from and sprint and… there are not many names left. Tanel Kangert (EF Education First), Chris Hamilton (Team Sunweb), Fausto Masnada and Matteo Cattaneo (Androni-Sidermec) come to mind but these are not regular winners. Giulio Ciccone could be on duty for Trek-Segafredo team mate Bauke Mollema but gets the nod again.

Simon Yates, Richard Carapaz
Nibali, Roglič, Lopez, Ciccone, Masnada, Kangert

Weather: grey, wet and a top temperature of 13°C, colder at the climbs.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time. They start the Mortirolo around 3.50pm.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • escarabajo Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 6:18 am

    agree this is perhaps a more exciting / less predictable stage now without the Gavia.

    Riders like Nibali, Lopez, Yates know they have to go on the offensive. Their opportunities are running out. Wonder who will suffer after the rest day..

  • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 6:49 am

    Good morning all, an early start with a little Riviera Traxx 🙂 –

    I fear for Roglic today, mainly because his team is so depleted and lacking the strength to support.
    I don’t see that they have a viable option to send anyone in the break?
    It will certainly be interesting to see which GC teams go ahead and who sets the de facto pace in the peloton.
    I think that Landa could be a huge danger today and that Nibali may well be on Movistar watch, perhaps set his team to mirror the Spaniards’ moves?

  • bonzojess Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 7:22 am

    Always a good read thank you – spotted a couple of typos
    In description of Mortirolo ‘difficult to descent’ should be descend
    In contenders ‘to try and prove Primož Roglič’ should be provide
    Thanks again for a brilliant blog

  • Augie March Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 7:23 am

    Prediction, break to contest the stage win, GC group to come to the final uphill drag together and Yates jumps away for another 10 seconds while Nibali and Roglic mark each other.

  • Tricky Dicky Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 7:31 am

    I’m interested in tactics for today. I think it’s a bit of a shame about the final “drag” but the stage the other day shows how a determined sole rider or a duo can hold off (or even increase the gap on) a group that refuses to cooperate after a long, twisty descent. Carapaz seemed to be the slowest of the leading four on the descent off the Surmano – will Nibali push it again on the descent off the Mortirolo?

    I notice our host hasn’t mentioned Landa. Surely he has a role to play today – will he strike out ahead or play the [reluctant?] loyal servant to Carapez? Yates surely needs an ally or two if he’s going to try and “go long”: Carthy, perhaps? And/or, as I say, Landa? If he is better, perhaps Yates will try to hook up with a breakaway companion or two so let’s see if Chaves or L Hamilton are in the break.

    I read that Ben O’Connor intends to go for a stage win this week now he’s completely out of the GC – if any team needs a lucky break, it’s TDD. However, today might be a bit tough for him.

    After a very slow start, this is turning into a very good Giro.

    • AK Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 7:52 am

      I think different about the final drag. It keeps some tactics in the game. If the finish was at the top of the Mortirolo it would be a ‘wait for the final 3k’ kind of stage. Like this, there will be attempts at longer range attacks and link-ups with helpers sent to the front.

    • IanP Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 12:32 pm

      The long drag from the bottom of the descent to the finish is one of the most soul destroying 2% climbs / roads i’ve ever done. If your not on your game it could really do so damage to the weak.

  • Motormouth Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 7:37 am

    With a strong tier 1 team like Movistar on leadership duties now, compared to UAE, does this mean the break has more of a chance or less of one?

    Will they fire Landa up the road to let Carapaz take a ride, or would Carapaz be afraid to lose to his teammate? I’m never terribly impressed by Landa’s stamina so we’ll see if he fizzles out but that could be a thing.

    I get the feeling Movistar doesn’t think Carapaz has it sealed up yet so may continue to seek time aggressively which means no break has a chance.

    Super interested to see! For me this stage is all about Movistar (and who got rest day wrong aka ‘pulling a porte’).

    • Chris_SK Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 8:16 am

      Landa can do the 1-2 tandem… but seems to struggle as domestique – on civiglio he was somewhere in between the attacking carapaz/nibali and Roglic, enabling the latter to have a target to ride up to by the top. Not good team duties there!

      However he can play a role like Yates today, and still rescue his podium given the chance to ride for himself.

  • KevinR Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 8:18 am

    +1 for it’s all about Movistar and who got the rest day wrong. But also about whether Roglic really has what it takes – because his team doesn’t. Nibali’s hoping he doesn’t!

  • Larry T Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 8:23 am

    Wonder if we’ll see any photo/video from the Gavia today? Dunno why Vegni and Co are so timid – two times I can remember being at stages when snow slides changed things – once when San Pellegrino was closed due to snow slides and the Fedaia was subbed in, much to the riders ire.
    The other was the Colle Agnello when snow buried a car some friends of ours were in, causing the stage to be shortened. Nobody was killed or severely injured in either situation, likewise in the famous 1988 Gavia stage. Modern cycling likes to benefit from epic events like these from the past but they seem very much afraid to suffer in any new ones. Sadly, the CYA mentality seems to rule the day now 🙁
    The Mortirolo descent could prove interesting – will Nibali try to force Roglic to chase and risk another get-off, especially if it’s wet? Someone could (and has in the past) literally “hit the wall” there if they’re not skilled or careful. W Il Giro!

    • Mattgc Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 8:46 am
      • Anonymous Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 3:14 pm

        Timid. Nobody would die so what’s the problem? Larry always knows best.

    • Goonie Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 9:00 am

      1988? Aren’t you going to regale us with your observations of Charly Gaul on the Monte Bondone in 1956? 😉

      Seriously, though, while those stories from the past are epic, the photos I’ve seen show metres of snow surrounding the dug-out road. Even if riders and spectators are not at undue risk (a big if) it would be a bit of a logistical nightmare if the entire Giro peloton ended up stuck near the top of the Gavia because the snow drift collapsed.

    • jc Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 9:03 am

      It is difficult to know without being on the ground, the Gavia webcam is not working either. However there has been a lot of late snow with more today. The webcams from the Stelvio show that the road is still closed there with a lot of snow around. A number of other passes are still closed also. I tend to agree that sometimes stages are changed with too little reason but in this case it does seem justified. Given the large amounts of snow and fluctuating temperatures the risk of avalanches is very real. It is not just the safety of the riders but also all the various cars and bikes in the convoy and spectators. Given the amount of effort there has been to clear the road this will not have been a decision taken lightly.

      • Larry T Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 12:05 pm

        Many of these passes are closed for the season until June 1 unless they’re opened early for the Giro. They’ll be plowing like mad to get ’em open and I’d bet they’d have been doing it 24/7 until the race came or was rerouted. As to snow slides blocking the road, I’ve been on the Stelvio in July and had the same thing happen, so how worried does one have to be?
        As to “nightmares” the stage up the San Pellegrino was simply rerouted over the Fedaia (with the announcement coming after the stage had started) while the Agnello “nightmare” merely ended up with the stage finish being set up about halfway up the climb, again after the stage had started and a press/sponsor car was buried for a short period.
        I never said it was a decision taken lightly, it was a decision taken by people who lack the imagination and passion of people like Torriani and Zomegan…and La Corsa Rosa suffers for it.

        • jc Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 1:04 pm

          I guess you think the riders could have done it like these guys https://vimeo.com/319200353 the relevant section starts around 10:25 🙂

          • Duncan Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 3:37 pm

            jc – What a great adventure, thanks for posting this.

            Knowing what a struggle it is just to carry a 50Kg bike over rough terrain to a camping spot, I am incredibly impressed by what these two managed. Something to aspire to!

      • ronytominger Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 12:32 pm

        if there is a real risk of avalanches you have to close the road, its handled like this everywhere in the alps (at least the places i know). and its probably also not possible to blow up all these possible avalanches beforehand. theres not enough rescue personnel for an entire peloton + caravan

        • Andrew Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 5:49 pm

          Perhaps they might have switched to fat bikes for the Gavia?

  • Paul Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 8:33 am

    It’s all about who will come out of the rest day with the best legs! Primoz has been losing time steadily over the last few stages can he stop the rot? Will we see another Froome like epic? I hope so

  • Joe K. Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 8:47 am

    Without the Passo Gavia, what happens to the Cima Coppi for 2019? And is this stage no longer the Queen Stage? Difficult to predict a winner here, . . . so it’s a good race so far! ^.^

    • Davesta Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:49 am

      Without the Gavia, the highest point of the race has already occurred – the finish at Ceresole Reale / Colle del Nivolet.
      So as I understand, the revised/virtual Cima Coppi (along with corresponding points & prizes) will now take place on Stage 20 on the Passo Manghen

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 11:39 am

        That’s correct, they can’t award the points for the Cima Coppi retrospectively so it’s the Passo Manghen, it’s official.

  • Richard S Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 8:55 am

    I fancy Yates to launch a long one today and maybe join up with Chaves up the road. Likewise I wouldn’t be surprised if Bahrain put Caruso/Pozzovivo in the break for Nibali or if Landa goes long from the bottom of the Mortirolo while Carapaz sits with Roglic to test his nerve. Could/should be a cracker.

    • SK Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:25 am

      Unlikely for Movistar to send Landa up the road – first of all, lot of GC teams wont allow that to happen – he is 5th.
      Yes, B-M should definitely try to send both Caruso/ Pozzo up ahead at different points in the race for a relay for Nibbles. Even try for early breaks with Antonio (what the hell is he doing in the race, anyway).
      I think Nibali will try to team up with Yates/ MAL to split things up on Mortirolo. Landa will likely be on team duty today – or tracking early attacks.

      • Richard S Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:34 am

        The only thing with Landa is if he attacks on the Mortirolo anybody allowing him to do it will likely be irrelevant as on the evidence of this race probably only Carapaz, his own team mate, and Yates, who is even further down, will be able to follow him on such a difficult climb. Also, will he be able to resist the urge? Sure his team mate is in the lead but he’s leaving anyway and time is marching on if he’s going to win a GT. I think he’ll use the excuse of anyone remotely near Carapaz going up the road, such as Yates, as an excuse to go himself. I could be wrong.

        • SK Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:38 am

          Would be exciting day of racing today – anyhow it plays. The truth is – tactics will only go for so long on a climb as brutal as Mortirolo – it will ultimately be everyone for themselves. And hopefully will clearly show us who is in the best condition.

  • noel Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 9:18 am

    Yayes, Lopez and Landa to get up the road and work together while Carapaz, Roglic and Nibali look at each other, and the GC collapses into a 6-way tear up…. well, that would be nice anyway

  • jc Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 9:21 am

    Interesting that this comes directly after the rest day, such stages often throw up unusual results. The weather will be thoroughly miserable, something likely to have an effect on the outcome.

    Not sure this is a day for Mikel Landa to try his luck, perhaps I am wrong but not sure his is at his best with very steep.

    I have a feeling that Vincenzo Nibali will manage to drop Primoz Roglic but not so sure he will be able to do the same with Richard Carapaz. Vincenzo does have form with winning rides in poor weather though.

    • Bern Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 9:02 pm

      Good call…

  • oldDAVE Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:01 am

    Sorry if this has already been noted – but Movistar giving Tolhoek a bike during the Jumbo-Visma debacle… very kind. Impressed by this.

    • jc Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:21 am

      I didnt think that was allowed? I seem to remember Richie Porte getting penalised a few years back for something similar

      • Mattgc Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 11:11 am

        Porte was penalised on GC for taking a wheel from Simon Clarke (I think)
        I doubt Tolhoek would care too much if that happened to him.

        • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 11:54 am

          Yes, it’s against the rules but chances are no officials were around to spot it and if the UCI did apply a time penalty and a fine probably nobody would notice either.

          • David Wednesday, 29 May 2019, 10:17 am

            Maybe no officials around, but you’d think the DS announcing to the media that it happened would be reasonably good evidence.

      • SamA Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 12:31 pm

        Definitely not allowed and there should have been some penalty applied – not sure if that actually happened!

  • Bob Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:30 am

    If it’s wet, positioning on the Mortirolo descent will be crucial. Very hard to pass. It’s not easy to go fast down there in the dry, but when it’s wet and at the end of a stage, will suit the brave and skilled.

  • HT Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 11:39 am

    Apparently the Gavio is well and truly blocked today https://mobile.twitter.com/TheRaceRadio/status/1132844951618801664/photo/1

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 11:43 am

      They could plough the road as you can almost see the tarmac from the photos but there are still two problems, first is snowing at the top so it’s hard to keep open, and second because of the wet snow there’s an avalanche risk too. Ironically the Giro has been moved back a week in order to try and have better weather for the final week but there are no guarantees and some meteorologists or at least headline writers in Italy are calling it the “worst spring in 50 years” because of lack of sunshine, high rain etc

      • Larry T Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 2:18 pm

        The spring in Italy (both in Napoli and now up in Piedmont) has been grim so far. Now that we have some clients arriving later this week my fingers are crossed and I’m touching both wood and steel hoping for sunny skies 🙂

  • oldDAVE Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 5:59 pm

    Have to say – am I the only one surprised Roglic is coming up this short?

    He looked so solid all year, climbing with the best and beating them, he seemed to be following the Sky playbook of winning the smaller races and coming in ready to lay waste. Maybe the descent crash has affected him today? (I always think even small crashes affect riders more than they admit) Or his team really has been a weakness the other have exploited too easily and has worn him out. Or is there something specific to the Giro and the gradients of the later climbs really affecting those who start in form? Probably all of them.

    I just didn’t see Roglic as another Kruijswijk… he felt so much more solid in Dumoulin, Froome mould. Sure he still will be in his career but this implosion was not what I expected.

    I guess it’s also another show of how impressive Dumoulin and Froome really are… (although I know Dumoulin is yet to match Froome, he just has hung in at crucial times so often that his mental strength feels on a similar level). I think when we look back at Froome’s career that assault he survived from Movistar the day after Ax-3-domaines 2013 will actually be possibly the day that defined his career.

    Bit like when people realised Cavendish could win from a bunch as easily as a train and was the all round sprint king not the lead-out-train-robot.

    Feel for Landa in all this… he’s playing second fiddle again… so many GT victories passing him by through bad luck, bad TT’ing or just not being the favoured son in a team…

    • Vitus Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 6:42 pm

      I’m not surprised. he just don’t have a team for a 3 week race, plain and simple. It’s enough for winning a 1 week race , but not in a GT against the likes of team tactic and work how it was demonstrated today by Movistar, Astana and Merida. The all had their men up on the road for the important parts.
      Having at least 1 lieutenant staying with you for most parts of a GT is crucial.

    • noel Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 6:54 pm

      actually it’s quite reassuring if he can’t hold form from the UAE tour in Feb to now…

      • KevinK Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:47 pm

        I agree, it appears he came in at peak form. A couple of weeks ago I was already hearing some of the experts suggest he was peaking way too soon and that this was a bad approach to trying to win a GT (winning three week-long stage races, AND winning or finishing on the podium in the majority of the individual stages). My impression is that Roglic has a staggering hunger to win, and he hasn’t had to learn to moderate and time his efforts.

        • RQS Wednesday, 29 May 2019, 3:50 am

          I think the problem for Roglic is that he’s a TT specialist. He has to maximise his advantage in the stages that favour him and unfortunately this has landed him as putting himself at the lead of a three week virtual leaderboard regardless of his desire to win, or even to shed the maglia rosa. I don’t think it’s as simple as saying his desire to win has put his head above the parapet. He’s done everything he can to minimise his burden, but perhaps he should have ridden harder when Carapaz was making hay on the way to taking the jersey.
          I now think Roglic may make an unlikely ally with Nibali to fight Movistar. Although Carapaz is doing well he just doesn’t seem to have the sort of presence to take the pink jersey all the way.

          • cp Wednesday, 29 May 2019, 5:34 am

            That’d a bet that would be fun to make at this point. I sort of have that sense as well, but have you seen Carapaz show any weakness since the day before he took the jersey? He was as strong as Nibali today and stronger the two days he took time. And he’s got a team…

            As for Roglic, I think his problems in this Giro have been and will continue to be multiple: peaked too early? no team? idiotic DS/team leadership? bad tactics focussing on Nibali? “misunderestimated” (to quote GW Bush…) Carapaz? on a bad day today? took jersey too early?
            All of those make sense to me…

  • PaulG Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 6:32 pm

    I think Landa is the Fernando Alonso of Cycling……

  • Vegar Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:00 pm

    Roglic “fading” in the third week seems normal given his peak-to-peak season so far and lack of teammates during the giro. If he recovers and ends up losing the race with less than half a minute, however, the eventual winner owe plenty to the two camera motos taking turns pacing the Nibali group for a good while there in the final. Not worthy of a race of such significance.

    • KevinK Tuesday, 28 May 2019, 10:39 pm

      It was startling to see the race director’s car literally driving the camera moto away with some very aggressive (borderline dangerous?) driving. You know it’s bad when that happens!

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