Giro Stage 20 Preview

The final mountain stage and a Dolomite roller coaster culminating in the finish on Monte Avena

Stage 19 Review: a big breakaway which was thinned down on the final climb, a lot of the participants didn’t have a chance on the slopes. Esteban Chaves kept attacking but the road wasn’t steep enough and each time the others got back to him, until they didn’t and he was finally away for a solo stage win. Andrea Vendrame came in second to remind us that cycling is a mechanical sport too, his dropped chain might have cost him the stage although if he’d kept it together perhaps Chaves could still have attacked again? Behind Miguel Angel Lopez jumped clear to take back 43 seconds on his rivals, a useful move and above all a sign that he’s climbing well so he should be a factor today.

The Route: 194km and the profile of a saw blade. The first climb is to the Cima Campo is a narrow climb for the breakaway to get clear on with 6-7% slopes and then a quick descent to drop into the Passo Manghen as it climbs above 2,000m.

The Manghen is a long pass, 19km at 7.6% and the hardest part is saved for the top with 10% and lots of hairpins. The descent is similar, steep at first and with more hairpins.

The Passo Rolle is a long and steady climb, all on a big road that’s well engineered and the descent is the same, they go down the same road that they climbed up for yesterday’s finish.

The Croce d’Aune is an irregular climb with changing gradients and steep top section, the ideal springboard for late attacks, especially as the descent is tricky and there’s no time to chase.

The Finish: there’s a brief descent via some hairpins and then it’s uphill for the final 7km, the gradient is 7-9% on the narrow, wooded road of the Col Melon until the final 150m which are flat.

The Contenders: Richard Carapaz (Movistar) has two stage wins but not one in the maglia rosa so he might like to have a go here. What will team mate Mikel Landa do? It’s hard to see him going rogue on the Manghen but if he wants to finish on the podium – and his team would like this too – he needs to take back 47 seconds on Primož Roglič and then more to build a buffer ahead of tomorrow’s TT and this sort of margin can’t be built on the final climb, he’d have to go at the foot of the Croce d’Aune… and leave Carapaz while Roglič and Nibali start to panic. It’s as likely we see Landa playing the team mate.

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) jumped yesterday and nobody could follow. This steeper finish is a touch less his thing but he’s rediscovered his climbing legs. He might try a long range move, Astana have the team to send riders ahead in the breakaway and since he was third last year, securing the white jersey this time around isn’t a big deal, he might prefer to go big before going home.

What can Vincenzo Nibali do? He’s second on GC but could be overhauled by Roglič in tomorrow’s TT and can’t afford to lose more than a minute to Landa. Sit tight and hope Landa isn’t too lively until late? Or go big as well on the stage with a giant attack, perhaps using the descents? Easier said than done but he might well try because it’ll make the tifosi like him even more.

The breakaways have had plenty of chances so far but today’s it’s 50/50, they can go away but could find Astana and Bahrain-Merida setting the pace behind. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has won a stage, secured the mountains jersey and could take the Cima Coppi prize atop the Passo Manghen. Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First) is having a good Giro although the long climbs early in the stage suit him more than the final, the same for team mate Hugh Carthy. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) can pick off stages like this but has been quiet of late after Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) got the better of him earlier.

Miguel Angel Lopez, Mikel Landa
Giulio Ciccone, Richard Carapaz
Nibali, Carthy, Dombrowski, Nieve, Zakarin

Weather: warm and sunny in the valleys with 26°C, cloudy and cool with the chance of rain in the mountains.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST / Euro time. The Passo Manghen starts around 1.00pm CEST and the final climbing around Monte Avena is around 4.15pm CEST.

It’s on RAI in Italy, Eurosport across most of Europe and Australia, L’Equipe TV in France and Flobikes and in the US.

39 thoughts on “Giro Stage 20 Preview”

  1. This is one hell of a stage with some many possible scenarios. Will someone go for it on Passo Manghen? It is the hardest climb but so far from the finish and then there is the long and steady Passo Rolle looming. An attack on Manghen seems a suicidal mission. I predict a rather hard pace there from Bahrain and Astana to get rid of as many helpers from Movistar as possible. People speak about Nibali doing a Froome but it’s so easy to say. I’m sure if Contador was still racing he would have attacked on Manghen and blown the race completely apart, but Nibali will be more calculating and won’t jeopardize his podium spot just to make a gung-ho move 140 km from the finish. He has to evaluate how strong Carapaz is and the tactics will be decided on the road. If someone is on a bad day he can easily lose more than a minute on the double ascent at the end.

    • Movistar will be hard to drop. As you say the Manghen is a long way from the finish and the Rolle is not a hard climb, it suits a chasing team like Movistar but we’ll see early on today if Bahrain send riders up the road to act as pace setters for Nibali.

      • Well, as expected Nibali took a calculated approach. He couldn’t match the vicious attack on Passo Manghen and there was no point to overexert himself. Nibali thrives on his endurance and his strength is the ability to perform to his highest capacity even after 200 km, where others do fade away. He wasn’t up to it on Manghen but was more than a match on the final climb. His problem is that Carapaz didn’t fade. It could have been maybe a different story if Manghen and Rolle were in a different order, but I doubt it would have made much difference. The moment the race was won (or lost) happened on the run in to Courmayeur and Nibali will regret the 1’30 presented to Carapaz on Stage 14 probably for the rest of his life.

        • Indeed. And no one will ever overlook Carapaz again. I still find this victory to be kind of amazing if only because it happened right under the favourites’ noses.

  2. My hope is Astana and Bahrain can work together early on – Lopez gets on podium and Nibali makes up time on Carapaz

    it’s a long shot for sure. Movistar looks strong.

  3. I suppose the ideal scenario would be for Nibali to take back just enough time on Carapaz, and put a little bit more into Roglic while a Roglic also takes a chunk out of Carapaz, to set up effectively a handicap race for the final TT! I suppose we’d want Nibali to cut his gap to Carapaz to about thirty seconds with Roglic another 30 or 40 back. We can always dream. In reality I think it’ll be hard to put a lot of time into the Movistar boys.
    I haven’t predicted a single stage correctly so I’ll put the mockers on Nieve today. Going off form you’d fancy him, Chaves, Ciccone and Masnada to be up the road today.

  4. Hopefully I am wrong but I think today is going to be pretty uneventful. I dont see Vincenzo Nibali doing a long range effort a la Chris Froome or Alberto Contador although he is probably inclined to gamble simply because he doesnt seem to have any great interest in defending second or third place. I could see, though its unlikely, Primoz Roglic managing to get away if there were a lot of aggressive racing and Movistar were distracted by Vincenzo Nibali. In all probability Vincenzo will wait until one of the later climbs to try to get away but I think Richard Carapaz is too strong to let him get much of a lead. Vincenzo needs to take around 1:20 back which seems too big an ask. I can suspect the GC group will roll through the finish all together.

    • I fear no real upset will happen too. Hopefully, we are wrong indeed!

      As things stand, the top 3 has a shot at winning this Giro in the last TT. I don’t think Movistar will risk blowing up Carapaz by setting up an early Landa attack to get him on the podium. He might be let off the leash with 2km to go. Lopez will probably make a run for it again but risks getting beat up by the smarter guys in the TT. I see him take 5th place only to lose it to Mollema again in the TT. They’ll probably make things hard to make anyone on the brink crack, but I doubt the favorites will attack each other before the last climb. There’s big risk in losing the podium by doing that. I don’t buy that Nibali does not care about anything but 1st place.

        • The only way this stage ‘works’ is a long range effort from Lopez or if Landa goes rouge. Movistar are too strong and won’t let Nibbles to get too far away.

          Everyone talks about doing a ‘Froome’ but it was almost unprecedented and needed a number of variables for it to work- those variables aren’t in place today.

          My pick would by Nieve and lots of GC attacks on one another with Movistar able to control the important ones

          • Completely agree that Chris Froome’s effort last year was a one off, a combination of circumstances unlikely to be repeated very often if ever. There has been the occasional long range “raid” eg Andy Schleck on the Galibier, I hope he will prove me wrong but I dont see Vincenzo Nibali as that sort of rider. I dont think he has the strength left to do it but it might be more Primoz Roglic’s thing.

          • There are always the variables….It is having the vision to see them and then act on them…
            As Butch Cassidy said…”I’ve got 20:20 vision while the rest of the world wears bifocals…”
            Froome & Co had 20:20 vision that day…..

          • @jc
            TdF 2015, Giro 2010, Giro 2011 (and, to an extent, Giro 2016) anyone? If you please, you might also add Lombardia 2011, Liège 2012… to name only some of them.
            Solo long-range attacks, often albeit not always successful, are pretty much Nibali’s trademark – he’s naturally very good at long steady high-level multiple efforts, rather than at final-ramp bursts.
            It’s Finestre which is a flashing anomaly within Froome’s profile, unless you consider that Froome’s profile is precisely doing what he please with his own body (he could be a living feminist slogan).

          • “Everyone talks about doing a ‘Froome’” Do they?
            Long range attacks are as old as cycling. Mr.JiffyBag was not the first and will be not the last doing such a move.

  5. Best case is Astana en Bahrein both send strong guys up the road. The rest of the team puts up a pace on the lower end of Manghen to shred as many Jumbos and Movistars as possible. Lopez and Nibali attack 6k under the top, go over the lop with a minute lead and catch their team mates at the bottom of Rolle. Team mates lead them over Rolle and descent until the bottom of final climbs. Then it’s every man for himself

  6. I have this strange feeling that a pact with the devil might be made. Nibali is a keen strategist and I reckon he might work with Roglic to try to distance Carapaz in order that they both gain on their Movistar rivals (1st and 2nd being better than 2nd and 3rd), with the TT being a decider.
    Not sure how this is really going to happen as Roglic has very little to offer Nibali by way of team mates, and is unlikely to be of much use in a climb (Roglic doesn’t seem capable of putting in the accelerations to blow Carapaz off his wheel).
    There are certainly cards to play and Nibali will do his utmost to lay them.
    This is Ineos’ last time to get something from the race, but fire power doesn’t appear to be there to get a result compared to the fine choices Mr Inrng has made.

    • Not sure that would work for Nibali. Unless he can find a way dislodge Roglic later without risking being caught by Carapaz. If he came to the line with Roglic, he will stay 2nd after tomorrow. All he achieved would be to become a kingmaker, swapping Roglic for Carapaz on the top step of the podium.

      Though that is enough to endear him more to the tifosi, and which makes the effort worthwhile for him.

      A more likely Kingmaker is Lopez. Wouldn’t rule out him getting away with the Moviestar due.

      • With less than 10 added secs (something he can get with a single final uphill move, once they’ve tried what they can while facing Movistar) before the ITT Nibali should be fine against Roglic, for whatever GC place they’ll be riding. That is, he wouldn’t have it in the bag, far from, but 30″ looks like a very reasonable difference looking at the two previous ITTs. And you could expect that sort of difference to grow thinner tomorrow (pointy end of the third week, right after mountain stage, descent now included). If everything turns right for Nibali even 22″ might be enough. That said, it’s not pure maths. Daily legs will count more than expected or *reasonable* figures.

        • Agree with Gabriele here, Nibali’s TT losses to Roglic so far have been around 2” / km so about 30” may be enough.
          RQS’ point is interesting too, and that’s one of the beauties of cycling that yesterday’s enemy can quite easily become today’s friend.
          Movistar are the strongest team and it could well be that for Carapaz to be removed from the top step will require an alliance made on the road.

          Having said that, I can see how Nibali may get the jump on the group but I’m struggling to see how Roglic makes it but Carapaz can’t.
          Roglic needs to finish ahead or very near Nibali but take 80 / 90 seconds out of Carapaz at the same time. That’s a head scratcher.

    • I suspect Ineos are now completely dedicated to keeping Pavel Sivakov in the top 10. It is not quite the same as defending the yellow / pink / red jersey but I suppose it is very difficult to change mindsets. Pavel Sivakov has done very well, he seems to to be somewhat one paced on the climbs but for someone of his age and experience he is in a very good position. There is plenty of time to develop his racing style and the experience of leading a team at a GT will prove a very useful asset going forward.

  7. With all the trophies on the shelfs already, I don’t see what Nibali has to loose here. Whether he is 5th or 2nd in this Giro will not matter much to his value. So in my view, he should at least try to repeat Froome’s feat of last year.
    I do not think he can pull it off though, he hasn’t been able to shake off Carapaz on any climb yet. And descending? Even on the Lombardia descent he didn’t gain more than 5 seconds or so.
    Lopez may get a little bit more space, though Trek will work for Mollema so it is far from certain for him too.
    I really wonder if Movistar go all in for a 1 2. Carapaz has a buffer and he only has to keep the wheels of Nibali and Roglic, how much support does he need for that? If course Landa will have to shake off Nibali if he attacks because he can’t tow any competition along.

    There are many interesting scenarios. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to a defensive strategy with last climb attacks only. A lot will depend also on what happens in the first hour. If Bahrain and Astana get some strong guys into the break we will be in for fireworks.

  8. I saw that profile and wondered if Mitchelton could try something. A long shot clearly, but Yates was ok yesterday, climbing with the GC group, and he descends well at times. Get Nieve and Hamilton up the road then try something with Chavez?

    They’ve got a stage now. Probably futile, but what is there to lose?

  9. My feeling is that nibali has the guts to win this but not the legs. He is lacking in explosiveness compared to previous years, even on the mortirolo he was looking more diesel than petrol. If he launches an audacious attack early on then perhaps his rivals will look at each other but carapaz and Landa look too strong to me. Roglic I think was bluffing a bit in the finale yesterday. I do believe that at this point in his career nibali would be just as happy with 10th place as with 2nd, we shall see.

    • Cantona wasn’t involved in a road accident with his protagonist, he was merely verbally abused. I also think Cantona’s response was grossly disproportionate. Lopez, was knocked off his bike, and suffered injury, his slaps were not a karate kick to the chest. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but I think some context is required.

      • Totally agree. His response has to be judged in context – and as unsightly as it was I imagine many, with adrenaline and heart rate pumping, would have done the same. There’s also something about Cantona breaking the fourth wall – by leaving the field of play, whereas this idiot fan was of course on the pitch

        • Precisely. Like the football player who trips (assaults?) a pitch invader. They aren’t arrested or fined, and are usually applauded.

  10. It is absurd to me to be penalized for a fan assisting you, but also not be recompensed for a fan disrupting your ride. Neither are in your control – was Roglic to take a breath and kindly explain to the fan he appreciates it but it is not allowed?

    And I wish Lopez would have beaten the idiot ‘fan’ bloody and then been towed back by his team car and given an ice cream for his troubles. I’m so sick of every race being disrupted like this (porte in the TdF by a bike, Phinney, Nibali, Froome and so on). every big race gc is now ruined in some way by a stupid so called ‘fan’ or support staff.

    It almost seems intentional at this point – like the guy who laid a bike in front of the breakaway a few stages ago. Is it sabotage??

    • It’s not absurd. All he had to do was to show some reaction to the pushers and make clear he do not agree. You can’t prevent idiots doing such things, but you have to react and then you wont be penalized

      • Again it’s very easy to sit on your couch and hand wave the ease with which he could take his focus off riding his bike while climbing a mountain at a pace beyond most people’s ability to do on a flat road for even 15 seconds. You have no idea how deep in the pain cave he was at that moment.

Comments are closed.