Giro Stage 19 Preview

It’s back to the Alps for a day of rock and Rolle with the uphill finish a chance for Mikel Landa to continue his remontada.

Tutti frutti: a fast start to a slow day with over 50km covered in the first hour. Then Damiano Cima, Mirco Maestri and Nico Denz went away in what looked like a fruitless move, yes Cima was there to move back into the lead of the “Fuga” prize for the most KMs covered up the road and Denz testing the legs after hard crash in the first week. The breakaway lacked riders and lustre alkke. Only they had a workable lead of three minutes with 30km to go as Dimension Data and Israel Academy led the chase with Bora-Hansgrohe having to join in too. It set up a nail-biter for the final half hour with the fugitives giving it their all and it wasn’t certain if the break would make it. Nico Denz seemed the strongest but he knew it too and this broke the trio’s harmony. Cima just held off Pascal Ackermann who thumped his bars in theatrical rage but behind Arnaud Démare messed up his sprint which meant Ackermann could celebrate on the podium as he donned the ciclamino jersey again.

The Route: the Passo San Boldo is special, a climb than gradually rises up a valley until it reaches cliffs at the end, as if there’s no way up… and then snakes up with each hairpin bend a tunnel inside the rocks. It’s spectacular and fun today but has a grim history as it was built to supply the front in World War One in 1918 and labelled the “Road of 100 days” as locals were pressed into service to make the road, dynamiting the cliffs, breaking rocks and carrying away the rubble in as short a time as possible with shifts working around the clock. Locals? Given most men were fighting the war, the road was built by women, children, the elderly and any other spare hands like prisoners and even hospital patients who were forced to toil for long hours. It took longer than 100 days but much of the work was done between January and March, a harsh time to work outdoors.

It’s 6km long at 7.5% and the final kilometre through the rock hairpins is a steady 11%, the maximum gradient that horses could pull a cannon uphill. The next climb to Lamon is a steady main road. It’s a fast run to the foot of the final climb and this means Primož Roglič won’t run out of team mates too early.

The Finish: 13km at 5.6% and a familiar road as this is half of the Passo Rolle. After a gentle start the slope rises to 6-7% all the way and on a wide and well-engineered road. It’s not the hardest of climbs but it is late into the third week and gaps can open up.

The Contenders: it’s a summit finish of sorts, the final climb is a long drag up but this is a good day for a breakaway. Often those who show well on one day in the final week of grand tour show again. So Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) gets the nod again, as does Fausto Masnada (Androni-Sidermec) and Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott). Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale) will get less room now, but is still powerful for a finish like this. Astana have several contenders with Pello Bilbao probably their best breakaway option.

Among the GC contenders Movistar tandem Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa look the strongest but which GC team will chase today to keep the breakaway in check?

Chaves, Masnada, De Gendt
Peters, Ciccone, Nieve, Carapaz, Landa, Lopez

Weather: mild and sunny, 23°C for most of the stage

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 in the US.

25 thoughts on “Giro Stage 19 Preview”

  1. Once again, Mr. Inrng impresses us with his in-depth knowledge of the road’s history on the Passo San Boldo. Thank you! I will certainly be thinking of the toils of those who suffered making the road while watching those who suffer riding over it.

  2. This seems like a bit of a waste of a stage today, especially with so many much more impressive climbs not far away. I reckon if you could’ve told the route planners that with two days left Nibali was desperately trying to claw back a couple of minutes they’d have made this stage much longer and harder. Anyway, anything can happen I suppose. Another breakaway to win today, I’ll pluck one out of thin air and say Gasparotto!

    • It’s not about the stage it’s about how it’s ridden. So many times the race organisers’ “epic” stages turn out to be a complete snooze fest or have no real GC impact, while innocuous or tame looking profiles can radically shape up the race. If Nibali or whoever else wants to throw down on the final climb they certainly can.

      • I think it’s half n half. Obviously the riders need to race but they also need the terrain to do it. A stage so easy that all domestiques at Movistar and most at Jumbo-Visma will still be there for the final climb, and then a final climb on an easily graded wide road doesn’t give much scope for even the most adventurous minded.

        • Agree with Richard S – a stage that makes it likely that most of the domestiques from the strongest team are still remaining on the final (not that hard) climb doesn’t lend itself to excitement (at best, a hard pace might shed a few riders who are on a bad day). The best races (mountainous or otherwise e.g. Roubaix, Strade Bianchi) are usually the ones where the main contenders need to slug out the final 50 km or so without much assistance.

      • +1 The Shark (and the others) have only today and tomorrow to shake things up. If this route was on Stage 4 they could JRA all day, but it’s number 19 out of 21. Vai Nibali!

    • It would have been nice, perhaps, if one of the intermediate sprints was on the other side or halfway up of the Passo San Boldo?
      It looks too steep for Demare to do a Sagan and get in the breakaway?

      • The supposedly excellent course designer Mauro Vegni has made a race where all the intermediate sprints are well into the stage and never in the first 20 or 30 kilometres when the points jersey teams could have an interest in either keeping the race together or splitting it temporarily.

    • I see what you mean, but the riders know the route and if the final four days were packed with climbing, like last weekend, then last weekend’s racing would be far from as aggressive. Thus, the situation going into today’s stage would with all probability be different.

      I for one wouldn’t substitute the spectacle of stage 12 through 16 for anything.

  3. Interesting information in the Cycling Podcast yesterday that the Giro was supposed to start originally in Matera in southern Italy however the plan had to be abandoned very late due to a corruption scandal and then Bologna stepped in. The route had to be changed significantly because of that. That would partly explain the bad course design this year. Today’s stage is yet another one of badly designed routes. It would be okay in week one but putting this climb at the end of stage 19? Being in the Dolomites region and choosing Passo Rolle (and not even the whole of it) as a mountain top finish, while the same climb will be ridden tomorrow in opposite direction is just unbelievably bad.

    • The early stages were a result of the course change, yes. Today’s stage was planned though and hasn’t been changed; tomorrow’s stage has been changed though, it was going to have a downhill finish on Monte Avena but they’ve got rid of the risky descent to use the main road and then a way up.

    • Maybe RCS offers a bulk discount and San Martino di Castrozza opted for a stage finish + a pass by. There’s many other larger ski areas in the neighborhood…you need to get yourself known some way!:)

  4. Lovely history and context – thank you, once again. I’ll also be pulling for Chavez to nab a stage – it’s hard not to cheer for such an upbeat character, and who doesn’t love a come back story.

    Yesterday didn’t play out at all as I expected. Well, Bora did what I expected (make sure Demare doesn’t get more than 1 point advantage in the intermediate sprint, then go for the win), but what was Demare and FDJ doing? It looked like a total mental breakdown in the heat of the moment.

    • This morning’s L’Equipe has the team management pulling out their hair, they told the riders not to work but they did and so the staff finish the Giro a bit like last year when they thought they’d end with a result (Pinot on the podium, Démare with the jersey) only it’s gone.

  5. Fantastic content and insight as always, Inrng. One request, would it be possible to have a ‘sticky’ link to the full route preview at the top /bottom of the post or in the sites sidebar so that one can quickly flick back and look at the upcoming stages? (I often find this useful after considering the day’s stage and who might do what)

  6. It is interesting that the Passo San Boldo was actually built by the Austrians on occupied Italian territory. Apparently, in addition to local labor they also used Russian prisoners of war. The Stelvio was also built by the Austrians 90 years earlier, but both the Alto Adige and Lombardia were Austrian at the time.

    • The podcast Hardcore History (by Dan Carlin) had an amazing series on WWI which hit on the road construction and the fighting on the Italian front, if you are interested. The podcast arc is called ‘Blueprint for Armageddon’.

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