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Giro Stage 2 Preview

A likely sprint stage – but maybe not – and a chance to see the sprinters establish their pecking order.

Primož Rocket: there’s Roglič and the rest, he put 19 seconds into Yates, 23 into Nibali, 28 into Lopez and Dumoulin and the rest. In three weeks’ time in Verona maybe 19 seconds won’t be a lot but for the moment taking 19 seconds in just 8km is a psychological win for Roglič. Inevitably the question is whether he can sustain this but we’re left guessing and he’ll provide the answers in the coming weeks. Among the relative losers were Ilnur Zakarin, 1m20 down and Mikel Landa at 1m07s.

Fernando Gaviria was the best of the big name sprinters at 1m57s and Arnaud Démare at 1m59s which means they and their peers can only aim for stage wins and points now. Indeed Jumbo-Visma have the problem of leadership in that it looks near impossible to engineer a friendly hand-over of the jersey. Finally spare a thought for Hiroki Nishimura who was outside the time limit.

The Route: 205km through the Apeninnes to Tuscany, one of the hotbeds of Italian cycling where names like Lamporecchio and Mastromarco rhyme with pro races and Italy’s strong U23 racing scene alike and this means a course familiar to many in the peloton and convoy alike. As such the two climbs to Montalbano and the San Baronto road shouldn’t be a surprise but they’re the crunch points and will have the sprinters on edge. Montalbano is steeper but San Baronto twists and turns. The twisting roads will line out the peloton and it’s possible some riders who have issues with gravity may be dropped in the finish.

The Finish: a hectic town centre finish with narrow streets and tight corners. Just within 3km to go there’s a pinch point as they take a narrow shopping street and then flick right and for the remaining 2.5km the finish uses bigger, wider roads before a flat finish.

The Contenders: a sprint? That’s the obvious outcome but let’s say the breakaway actually has a chance. First Jumbo-Visma don’t need to lead the peloton out of an old fashioned sense of duty and they won’t want to either, so in the time it takes other teams to pick up the reins a good move might be able to get clear, we’ll see if some world class breakaway specialists are active in the first hour or whether the wildcard teams just send a five riders away on a day return ticket. Second the hilly finish isn’t easy to chase on, the sprinters teams can’t chase at warp speed for fear of putting their fastmen into the red. So the short version is that “grand tour, flat finish = breakaway” may not be so certain but even if it’s still the most probable outcome because if Jumbo-Visma won’t chase, then UAE, Lotto-Soudal, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-Quickstep will at some point.

As for the sprinters Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is an obvious pick based on reputation and home motivation but he’s not having a great season so far with “only” four wins and his lead out train isn’t as good or as long as last year. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) is a great talent but he’s not having a great season either. The same story all over again for Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) even if he took two stage wins in the recent Tour of Turkey.

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) rides his first grand tour and is still a work in progress but capable of big wins. Arnaud Démare can win but he’s not as fast as the names cited already, he’s much better in a hard finish and his Groupama-FDJ team are prone to doing a great lead out until they drop him off 50 metres too soon; but not easy as Démare is good at going long, leave it until 50 metres and a track rider like Viviani or Gaviria will have the torque to pass.

Breakaway picks? Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) lets his team play two cards, he can try for the stage win and his team don’t have to chase. Otherwise after spinning the random wheel three names who fit the bill: Marco Canola (Vini Fantini-Nippo), Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Tanel Kangert (EF Education First) fit the bill.

Caleb Ewan, Elia Viviani, Fernando Gaviria
Pascal Ackermann, Arnaud Démare
Cimolai, Nizzolo, De Gendt, Kangert, Canola

Weather: sunshine and showers, a top temperature of 16°C and cooler earlier on.

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, 12 May 2019, 6:29 am

    To state the obvious it is probably in Jumbo-Visma’s interest to let a big break go and allow some other teams the glory/burden of leading the race for the next week and a bit, so my prediction would be some very motivated and talented riders will jump away, not just the usual Italian scrubs looking to give their sponsors some TV time.

  • Ecky Thump Sunday, 12 May 2019, 7:16 am

    What were the gear set-ups yesterday?
    The television coverage showed some glimpses of pretty large big rings but much smaller inner rings, and there were numerous riders jamming up their electronic gearing, changing down rings on the tight turn into the basilica climb.
    A course of huge contrast – with average speeds of over 70 kmph on the flat but then a fastest effort of over 6’ for the 2.1 km climb.

    • Speckled Jim Sunday, 12 May 2019, 8:17 am

      I assumed the 70km/h readings were a glitch in the timing for the early riders (those guys are good, but not that good), as later on it was in the much more credible 50km/h average zone by the bottoms of the climb.

  • jc Sunday, 12 May 2019, 8:39 am

    I did wonder watching Primoz Roglic sit for hours waiting for the end and then there was the interminable media duties afterwards whether all these little bits of distraction and energy wasting will add up. It could all come down to a matter of seconds in Verona and if so the rider who has something left will be at an advantage. I thought there were two rides of note, Vincenzo Nibali, he clearly still has the desire and form and Tao Geoghan Hart, it will be interesting to see if he can manage to keep this level up for three weeks.

    The weather forecast I have seen suggests heavy rain and gusty winds with perhaps less rain towards the end of the stage. It could be a very miserable day in the saddle through the Appenines which is never a good thing with a nervous peloton. If you have driven the autostrada from Bologna to Florence in poor weather you will know how unpleasant it can be (or at least was before most of the road was put in a tunnel). That might well be of benefit to a breakaway but also an accident leading to splits in the bunch is more likely. It is all very well saying Jumbo Visma dont need to chase but the safest place is on the front, the GC folk will not want to be too far away and that all adds to the stress and risks.

    • J Evnas Sunday, 12 May 2019, 11:02 am

      Good point, the rain could work against a breakaway. Or it could make it more interesting if the peloton decide to ride at a slower pace or are slowed by multiple pile-ups (all too common in early stages of GCs). The flaw is that Italian TV so often loses its signal – look out for that today – when there’s heavy rain. No idea why it happens there more than anywhere else. (Hope this doesn’t enrage Larry T.)

      • Larry T Sunday, 12 May 2019, 12:05 pm

        Enraged? Nah, I just chalk it up to the usual (unless you have some facts to back your claim) ignorant claims about the supposed inferiority of things Italian, unless it’s the food, the wine, the people, the scenery, the culture, etc. You know, the stuff EM Forster covered so well in “Where Angels Fear to Tread”? Some things never change.

        • J Evnas Sunday, 12 May 2019, 12:29 pm

          I know that I’m neither xenophobic nor nationalistic and I hold no truck with any such stereotypical comments, ergo what you say above doesn’t apply to me.
          Sometimes people criticise things and those things happen to be Italian. That doesn’t make the criticism anti-Italian.
          Obviously, I don’t have statistics on how often the TV feed in bike races breaks down by country. I have, however, noticed from watching many years of bike races from different countries that the Italian TV feed does fail in heavy rain much more often than races in France, Belgium, Spain.
          It’s worth bearing in mind that this is a criticism of the media company who provides the pictures and not Italy as a whole.
          The thing about nationalism is that it can cause people to be overly defensive of any aspect of what they consider to be ‘their’ country.

          • Larry T Sunday, 12 May 2019, 12:59 pm

            Sorry, I guess it’s you who became enraged. While I readily admit to being an unabashed Italo-phile, I’ve never known a xenophobe, racist or rabid nationalist to ever admitted being any of those. OTOH, I was thinking more about your claims about weather affecting TV. Could one say the Giro typically has more actual weather than either the Tour or Vuelta? Perhaps even if the TV equipment was identical across the board (which some have claimed is true) the Giro broadcasts might be more affected simply by this rather than any perceived inferiority of the equipment in a country famous for Ferrari, Brembo, Magneti Marelli, Campagnolo, etc?
            Meanwhile, I did just see some RAI TV pictures showing the peloton riding in what looks like a nasty rainstorm soon after the race start. So far, so good – glad it’s not me out there getting soaked 🙂

          • gabriele Sunday, 12 May 2019, 3:31 pm

            Granted that your point is not about national stereotypes (I’d be inclined to think that you aren’t much subject to that), I should add that Italian fans are usually angry about that same issue, and, OTOH, I think it’s the combination of hard weather and orography which causes such an unpleasant situation. However, I’ve seen it happening elsewhere, too, albeit more seldom than in Italy, including at the TdF and the Vuelta, and quite often in Suisse races, too. It’s not as mathematical as mountains + heavy rain = no images, some Giro stages could be broadcast in those same conditions. I think it’s more of a combination of specific and often local factors.

          • Vitus Sunday, 12 May 2019, 3:59 pm

            Sorry, this is utter nonsense. Spanish broadcast is the motherland of lost and freezing moto pictures every 30 seconds, and they manage to do that in perfect weather conditions. Not to mention chaotic directing at finishes.
            Every Vuelta, Itzulia and Volta Catalunya the same annoying story, and every time I wonder why they can’t buy tech and knowhow from the most superior cycling broadcasters in Italy.

          • J Evnas Sunday, 12 May 2019, 9:29 pm

            Larry, it’s fairly clear here who seems to be responding in anger.
            I think you should take a step back and look at the accusations you’re making.
            I criticised – rather mildly – the production of an Italian TV company, based on my observations of many different Italian cycle races (not just the Giro) over the years.
            One might disagree with that – as Vitus has quite strongly (whilst Gabriele seems to partly agree) – and that’s fine. It’s just an opinion on TV pictures.
            I made no inference about Italian technology being inferior – that only happened in your head. I only spoke about one thing: the TV pictures breaking down in the rain.
            I’ve already explained above – and it would be clear to anyone with even an ounce of objectivity – that this is not a criticism of Italy.
            I’m not remotely nationalistic – as anyone whose read my comments on here would know – whereas you seem to be foaming about my supposed slurs against all things Italian. It’s pretty clear who comes across as more nationalistic (incidentally, nationalists are usually proud of being so as they see this as a positive – patriotism).
            This is a discussion about TV picture quality: as I say, I think you should bear that in mind.

            If I, in your situation, had leaped in with insinuations of xenophobia and racism I would be ashamed of myself.

  • Richard S Sunday, 12 May 2019, 9:57 am

    Of note may be relatively big name Italian riders such as Ulissi, Gasparotto and Conti who are all around a minute down and I’m guessing would be very motivated to wear pink. If someone like Ulissi gets in the break with De Gendt that would be two of the sprint teams not chasing and may tip it more towards the breakaway.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:12 am

      Good picks, Ulissi is a local too… which sometimes makes a small difference and Conti should be good for a breakaway on harder stages to come.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:07 am

    A relatively poor result for Dumoulin. Indicating an absence of form? Or coming in not to hot as Roglic and so lasting better in the final week? We’ll see.

    How did Nishimura manage to be outside the time limit (first time since 1985 in a stage 1 TT)? The answers are here:

    • J Evnas Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:08 am

      Me. (It never stores my name.)

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:10 am

      Sounds like he was stressed by it all, as well as not sleeping he said when he started to warm up his heart rate soared and he felt ill. Poor guy must feel rotten today. There’s also selection for the 2020 Olympics, a one in a lifetime chance for him and his scoring just took a big hit off the back of this. He wasn’t going to set the Giro on fire but earned his place on the team after some half decent results earlier this season.

      • AndyW Sunday, 12 May 2019, 8:01 pm

        Does sound like an odd reason – a bad night’s sleep shouldn’t affect performance (that much) for such a short effort, and the TT seemed to be a heads down hard as possible effort that didn’t require much thinking (Roglic’s strategy, apparently). I guess a hugely elevated heart rate due to stress could prevent him from performing – can’t remember that happening before – any other examples?

  • David Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:11 am

    How come Viviani is wearing his Nat. Champ jersey in a TT?

  • Paul Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:32 am

    Could this be the final standings?

  • J Evnas Sunday, 12 May 2019, 10:57 am

    Hopefully we see a breakaway with a genuine chance, as you say. That would really liven up today’s proceedings. And it’s easy to see why some teams might do it – there is a better chance of taking the GC today than there usually is
    Ackermann for the win. He’s got the form.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 12 May 2019, 1:04 pm

    More talk, talk, talk on Eurosport now, must find the non-commentary view before I go mad with studio over-analysis!

  • Rooto Sunday, 12 May 2019, 2:06 pm

    “Day return ticket”! Lovely! Thanks

  • Larry T Sunday, 12 May 2019, 2:59 pm

    Update-breaking news: Those inferior Italian helicopters (don’t know whether they are still the Agusta ‘copters produced under license from the USA’s Bell Helicopters) are unable to fly in today’s weather conditions, but somehow Italy’s RAI TV is still able to broadcast video of all of the groups on the road along with reports from both Marco Saligari and Francesco Pantini on the motos.

    • jc Sunday, 12 May 2019, 7:10 pm

      It was the strong gusty winds that made flying the choppers unsafe. Anyone who is complaining should take a trip in a helicopter at low level in bad weather, it is not for the faint hearted. The pilots on all bike races do a great job

      • Anonymous Sunday, 12 May 2019, 9:35 pm

        Literally no-one was complaining. That only happened in Larry’s head.

        • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 May 2019, 11:30 pm

          Grand tour season and already readers are bickering and it’s the same people as usual. If you can’t stick to talking about the racing but end up repeatedly arguing with readers you’ll get zapped for good.

          • J Evnas Sunday, 12 May 2019, 11:57 pm

            See above. I’ve been perfectly civil and all I said was that Italian TV breaks down a lot.
            I didn’t make insinuations of xenophobia and racism.
            And I only spoke about cycling.
            It’s got nothing to do with ‘grand tour season’ or anything else, it’s one guy making baseless accusations I very much doubt he’d make in person.
            Zap, block, whatever. I’m happy with what I have said and I think anyone objective can see what happened here.
            Would you ignore it if someone spoke to you like that?
            For me, you have to stand up to people – calmly and not insultingly (as I did) – when they wrongly accuse of bigotry. Otherwise how can you respect yourself?

          • Eskerrik Asko Monday, 13 May 2019, 12:25 am

            There used to be a couple of rules to remember. One was: “Never argue with an idiot. You’ve already lost when you reply.” The other was: “Do not worry about wrong accusations. You only come across as a pompous ass.”
            Anyway, this is not about us or about what others may or may not think about us. This is about road cycling, races and riders.
            PS Good call on Pascal Ackermann. And although there is an old rule that says “Form beats class”, one doesn’t have to exclude the other!

          • J Evnas Monday, 13 May 2019, 12:32 am

            Eskerrik Asko – probably good advice.
            My Ackermann prediction: when you’re wrong 98% of the time, you’re right 2% of the time.

  • Baker Lite Monday, 13 May 2019, 9:40 am

    No complaints from me, I remember the days when pro cycling couldn’t even be viewed on your box in the corner! let alone EVERY day!

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