Giro Stage 16 Preview

The Giro heads into its final week with a tough day featuring a tricky Friulian finishing circuit.

Rest day review: all analysis is provisional on the PCR test results due out this morning as we’ll know if any more big names and even entire teams will leave the race… or if everyone can now aim for Milan. 9.00am Update: one UAE Emirates rider is out. Milan here we come.

Sunday’s stage to Piancavallo was very instructive, the early part of the climb was the steepest and most selective. Sunweb’s Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman rode away with Tao Geoghegan Hart, and the Ineos rider took the stage win. João Almedia was dropped but battled to stay in contention while the rest scattered behind. Hindley was the most impressive, he kept pulling for much of the climb and if Kelderman could have pulled surely he would, as he stood to gain by taking time from all the others. As soon as “TGH” kicked for the finish Kelderman couldn’t respond. So what’s next? More mountains of course this week, weather-permitting but this week will see the Alps warm up a touch, at least the start of the week. Kelderman needs to crack Almeida and build a small cushion to take into the Milan time trial while it’ll be interesting to see what Ineos do, TGH is three minutes down on GC but one way to rise up the standings is contribute to the cracking of Almedia, to make the mountain stages harder.

The Route: a long day, 229km and a circuit finish. There are three climbs on the way to the circuit and all are hard going. The finishing circuit doesn’t look hilly but the profile masks some of the climbs, the one to Susans is a long straight ramp for 800m at 7% and then it’s over to Monte Ragogna is 2.8km at over 10% and irregular, with some tight hairpins. On the last lap it’s 13km to the finish, there’s a fast descent to the plains, a dash across and then uphill into San Daniele for the last time.

The Finish: a tough uphill finish in town but with no surprises as the riders will use the same roads on the circuit. San Daniele sits on a hill and has some gentle roads to get there but today’s rac takes the short cuts and so there’s plenty of climbing and once under the triangolo rosso the slope kicks up, the roadbook says 20% but that’s the upper limit on one side of the road for one metre. Still it’s hard going and there’s a right hand bend onto the 150m finishing straight which is 8% to the line.

The Contenders: a difficult stage to call as it’s open to a lot of riders. Could we see  a a third stage for Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates)? He’s a fast finisher on a circuit that will eject all the other sprinters. But does he go in the breakaway or hang back among the GC contenders and hope they pick up the pace in the finish? If he goes in the break others will try longer range moves to outwit him too. Fabio Felline (Astana) is quick for a finish like today, Davide Villella (Movistar) is good for a hilly circuit from the breakaway too.

Among the GC contenders João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quickstep) might look on the wane in terms of winning overall but he’s got the punch for a day like today and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) does too.

Diego Ulissi, Davide Villella
Feline, Almeida, Konrad

Weather: cold and grey, a top temperature of 14°C with the chance of rain.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST. Enjoy and then flip over for the final hour of the Vuelta a España’s opening stage with the Alto de Eibar summit finish as the opening stage. It’s “only” the main road, the bus route, to the top but it’s still spicy and a tough climb with only a short section across the top. In other words to win the Vuelta you need to start today…

75 thoughts on “Giro Stage 16 Preview”

  1. I like the look of this profile: 230+km, 4000+m of climbing, 3 times over 3km at 10%… there’s going to be GC action today isn’t there?

    If contenders drop on the second time over that climb they could lose plenty of time. One of the stronger teams could attack on that climb and have a motor or two up the road in the break to drop back for the 20km ‘flat’ between climbs Ineos, Quickstep or Sunweb could try something…. or am I dreaming with with the two stages that follow this?

    Ineos have nothing to lose though – Teo to attack on the 2nd time over the climb, Gana or Dennis to drop back from the break and relay him to the final climb.


  2. Excellent insight as ever. Cycling is not my main sport, but I do love the grand tours, and your analyses plus overall and stage prognostications add considerably to the enjoyment. So I’m wondering if you’re previewing the Vuelta this year. I realise you’re only one man trying to earn a living off other pursuits, just hoping you’ll be able to find the time!

      • Maybe you could do a one paragraph addition about the Vuelta each day this week at the bottom of your Giro preview (a bit like above)? And then pick up the Vuelta once the Giro is done? Just a thought.

          • I’m very happy to read whatever comes up on the site each day, and really appreciate the top quality content. So nice to read a page without ad’s popping up everywhere. This is maybe the only site I visit without being bombarded, and it is always the best insight in cycling.

          • I think there are a few gamblers that require you esteemed opinions to meet their fix. There was a similar post to Patrick’s on the RvV.
            Thank you for the thought and reading you do to make this the best cycling blog. I think many of us regular readers appreciate the hard work and effort that go into this. I thought about the process that must take place (not that I had no idea) this weekend as I thought about how I might do a write up for RvV. Looking at start lists, knowing the rider form (and previous results), checking the parcours against previous editions, checking weather conditions, start times and potentially other bits of background news. I’m sure doing it regularly means it can be done efficiently, but I can’t think that it is done quickly, and a wealth of experience/knowledge is required in any case.
            I sort of want to apologise on behalf of those demanding previews on other races as it’s clear they don’t know what their asking, but that’s not my place. I can only thank you for what you do.

          • I read other previews of the Tour of Flanders in the absence of an Inrng preview and they were rubbish by comparison.

            When there’s a stage race or big one day race, reading Inrng’s take is part of the ritual.

            It’s good precisely because so much work goes in to the research. I’d rather have one thorough, well written preview than two which hadn’t been well crafted.

          • In response to RQS above – I agree that there are probably some out there that make a practice of trying to profit from Inrng’s exceptional race predictions. (Usually one might try to profit from one’s own knowledge and intuition, not that gleaned from an anonymous blogger. But I don’t gamble much so what do I know.) If Inrng disliked this practice, and decided to post the race picks only after the day’s racing had started (which I think would make the info too late to use in bets?), I for one wouldn’t blame him (or her). If anyone’s going to profit from Inrng’s knowledge, it should be Inrng before anyone else.

            It really is uncanny just how much this site adds to my enjoyment of the sport.

          • This blog is a long running oasis of many virtues; knowledge, wit, penmanship, non-commercialism, racing insight and an unusual degree of wisdom for a sports page.

            Big respect to inrng and the community drawn here. Thank you.

  3. After TGH’s ride on Sunday, and assuming that he stays with Ineos for 2021, the team will have some delicate juggling of GC and climbing talent to do. Bernal, Carapaz, Thomas, Yates, Martinez, TGH…while surely Sivakov, Pidcock, Sosa, and even Porte will want thier chances too. A tricky task for Brailsford, or will the Ineos salary levels buy loyalty and preparedness to ride for others?

    • It’s mental isn’t it, even with 2 bonifide leaders at each GT not everyone will get a ride. There is some real talent for the future there, I hope they get a chance to shine.

      • The pleasing thing from a British perspective is that the team very much retains its Bangers & Mash British flavour with the new recruits and not just through the military name change.
        And that, Pidcock apart most likely, they could be at the heart of next season’s GT goals, all being well.
        I do think that is important actually, and the new owner and team deserve praise in sticking with that aim.

        • “I do think that is important actually, and the new owner and team deserve praise in sticking with that aim.”

          No. f*** Jim- tax dodging, brexit supporting, SUV building, fracking -Ratcliffe.

      • Yes… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

        TGH has yet to finish a grand tour in the top ten.

        Porte is returning explicitly in a domestique role.

        Sosa is completely unproven beyond one week races as is Martinez as a three week GC contender…

        & give Pidcock a chance!

        I think the better point is that Ineos’ squad is possibly the strongest it’s ever been for next season and yet… they may still not have a rider capable of beating Pogacar.

        But whatever way you go… their teams for all three grand tours will be immense.

        • Pogacar’s win was like a schoolkid winning both the 100m and steeplechase events at the Olympics. It seemed more silly than spectacular, hopefully due to a bizarre year and nothing more. He has a target on his back now.

        • Sure. Pogacar largely kept up with Roglic in the mountains, lost a chunk of time on a flat stage, and then beat him soundly in the ITT. Unheard of.

        • LOL – Ineos/Sky isn’t nearly as strong in 2020/2021 as it has been for any year from 2012-2019. Unfortuntely the team has lost a lot of ground.

          The main leader has significant back issues (Bernal) – perhaps caused by an atrocious Pandemic training routine?

          Carapaz is really solid, but as a top GC contender? I don’t know

          Big G (eraint) will likely never be the same as he was in 2018/2019. A broken pelvis at his age is catastrophic to a GC contender.

          Then the domestiques can be as strong as you want, but if you don’t have the GC favourite you won’t have a chance of winning, but the supporting cast also doesn’t look as rock solid as it has in the past.

          • I’ve read people in the peloton saying that his use of racist language towards Reza was not an isolated incident, and that this has continued. I don’t think it’s cheap to use humour to mention someone’s racism, rather than ‘just forgetting about it’. (His ‘apology’ at the time also lacked any signs of actual contrition).
            There’s a reason Ineos have seemingly all but dropped the rider, but I don’t know maybe he’s injured.

          • Cheap is racially abusing fellow athletes. Mocking racists is a damn good way of making them uncomfortable- look at Trump squirming whenever called out on it. Well done J Evans.

  4. Well there are now 5 riders fighting over third place, all within 33 seconds, so whatever happens to the top two, there is certainly incentive for enough riders and teams to move onto the podium places . we’ll have to see today how much the top two have left and how many of those places are really up for grabs in these next days…as usual for the giro, feels much more open and dynamic than the tour….exciting..

    • You have to wonder about Almeida’s reserves now. I know that our host has him down as a one chainring chance for today, and that he did well to stay in contention yesterday, but it felt like something changed GC-wise, something profound?

      • Yes, it did have something of a ‘Simon Yates on Prato Nevoso’ feel to it, didn’t it!? Going very deep to finish 30secs down and having his lead halved…

    • There all still fighting for 1st place IMO.
      Only reason i say that is that there are 2 riders in front of them without a long history of finishing a GT in awesome form.
      One bad day and any of the riders behind can pass them.
      Almeida in particular looks to me that he may crack if the tour goes over all the climbs.

      • Got to agree with you Brent. I think it’s still wide open. Almeida showed he’s got real guts and grit in Sunday’s stage and he may well do just fine today but surely has to pay on the monster mountain days. A bad day for the other two currently in the podium places would end their hopes and those from fifth to 10th might fancy a death or glory style approach – Nibali and Pozzovivo for example – because 7th or 8th doesn’t add to their palmares (problem with team strength though). As for TGH, this may well represent the best opportunity of his career to win a GT so it’ll be very interesting to see if there’s a change in Ineos’ tactics or whether he’ll be left to try it on his own (a la Pogacar).

  5. The Kelderman/Hibdley scenario is interesting. Hindley definitely looks the stronger climber. I can see a situation where Geoghan-Hart attacks and they send Hindley with him and he ends up in the lead. Or maybe I’m getting carried away. I wouldn’t say anyone looks a convincing favourite still.

    • The catch is that Hindley ain’t that good at ITT. He need to gain time against TGH. Does he have a good sprint at stage end? Can he shadow TGH and then sprint for stage wins? Assuming he gets 4secs each for the 3 MTFs?

      For Sunweb, their better bet maybe to help Kelderman stay in touch. However, his advantage to TGH in the last ITT may only be in the half minutes range at best of times. Tricky for Sunweb.

  6. I wonder how much the efforts on Saturday and Sunday will have taken out of Joao Almeida? Success in a three week tour is as much about managing resources as anything else. His ride on Sunday was impressive for its sheer determination but he seemed to be far more on (over) the limit than Tom Dumoulin was in the same situation a few years back.

    Does Wilko Kelderman have the ability to do more than see if the race falls into his lap.

    TGH’s & Jai Hindley’s rides on Saturday & Sunday were impressive but are they too far back (this is the Giro!) and how do Sunweb manage the two riders?

    Questions to be resolved over the next few days.

    • It was a big effort by Almeida and an impressive one to hold Hindley, Kelderman and Geoghegan Hart at 30 seconds by himself but on terrain that suited him more, the slope was often 4-5%. If you see him up close he’s small but surprisingly muscular, he’ll probably find his limit in the high mountains on the repeat long climbs.

  7. I am curious about Sunweb. Clearly they buy and train young guys well. But how is their GC planning? Piancavallo was impressive, but there are three heavier stages to come. And arguably their best climber of the lot, Sam Oomen, has been nowhere. Saving himself, or just not good enough? If the former, I don’t see Kelderman losing this if we can stay in their wheel. If not… all bets are off when we hit the Stelvio stage.

    • Hmm, it looked as though if TGH has attacked a couple of km before the finish the other day, on the stage he won, that he would have dropped Kelderman. On that form I think Kelderman is far from solid, regardless of who’s wheel he’s following.

      (Is it true that Kelderman has never won a pro race outside of a TT?)

      As far as Oomen, I assume your referring to years past in regards to him being their best climber. Not looking like he’s got it here.

      • Never thought about it before, but yes that looks to be correct (wow!). Keldermand is hardly explosive, which doesn’t help for stage wins, and he’s supremely unlucky. Just a very talented but very steady rider who looked to not have kicked on from huge promise between 2012 and 2015 or so. To my mind if he wins he’s a deserving winner, more Thomas at the 2018 TdF then say Hesjedal at the 2012 Giro or Horner at the 2014 Vuelta, but each their own.

  8. I don’t see anyone touching Kelderman. None of the other riders have suggested this ability. Almeida’s clinging on, but can’t hold Kelderman off much longer; TGH beat Kelderman by 2 seconds on this one stage, and lost a bundle of time to him on the others; and Hindley will be working for Kelderman.

    • I agree that Kelderman is the clear favourite at this point, but he looked the weakest of the three who broke clear on Piancavallo and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this Giro threw up some more twists and turns on the monster stages that remain.

      If Thomas hadn’t hit that bidon, with the form he was showing I suspect that he’d be well in front by now – and quite possibly with TGH in second, as I think that most of the time the latter lost to Kelderman was while he was waiting for Thomas (not sure about this, though)

        • Was that waiting for Thomas he lost that time? Thought they had left TGH up there and he just got dropped on the climb? Twas a crazy stage.

          • Actually, possibly not. CN’s live report from Stage 3 has:

            2.5KM TO GO
            Geoghegan Hart is dropped from the GC group.

            Thomas had been dropped quite a bit before that, but maybe TGH rode with him for a while and then had to make up time. My recollection is that he didn’t, but I could be wrong.

          • TGH made mention of this himself. He wasn’t with Thomas as he dropped off the back, but he had stayed with him in the neutral zone following the crash. They then had to ride hard to catch the peloton up. I don’t know at which point he left Thomas, but he accounted for some time losses to this.

            My take on Sunday was that he could’ve put a lot more time into Almeida as he looked quite at ease in the lead group. But tactically, with two Sunweb riders he would put himself at a disadvantage if one of them (or both) tracked his move. Better to sit tight and keep something back for a final one-on-one. He might have got a bigger time gain, and won, but could’ve lost everything. Tactically he made the conservative call and won – from his perspective he would be unlikely to take pink so it would be big risk, big time gain or small risk, small time gain.
            If his form holds in the high mountains he’ll pass Almeida easily, and it’ll be down to Kelderman to have the legs to fight him off!

          • He said in his post-win interview that he’d waited “five or six minutes” for Thomas after the crash, which sounds unlikely. But regardless, maybe the events of early that day took their toll by the time he got to Etna.

      • George – Kelderman looked to be on the limit on Sunday and he’s known to have a bad day in a GT. If he’d had more, surely he would have attacked towards the top to get the pink jersey. While Almeida looks to be holding on by his fingertips, I totally agree that this Giro ain’t done, not by a long chalk!

        • The thing with TGH is he’s a complete unknown really – I don’t even think he himself knows how strong he is. He arguably surprised himself on Sunday. I think he was happy for Hindley to ride him to the finish for the stage win – now he knows how strong he is maybe he will have greater ambitions. Him/Ineos are certainly in a ‘nothing to lose’ situation which is potentially dangerous. Sunweb have all the pressure on them. Still more than enough road left for TGH to do something. Something big.

        • I guess he’d need a decent lead on Kelderman before the final TT (?) – so to pick up 4 odd minutes is a big ask even with the hills to come…

          • As others have said, to a degree TGH is riding into the unknown challenging for a GT in the third week. But I seem to remember him attacking on several stages towards the end of last year’s Vuelta, so it’s not impossible that he will stay strong. And while Kelderman does have some third week GT form, it’s by no means consistent – particularly with these super-hard climbing days to come. So while I would rather be in Kelderman’s shoes, it’s still all to play for – including in the final TT.

            Mind you, who’s to rule out Almeida finding a second wind – he didn’t show any signs of weakness today – or even Hindley riding everyone off his wheel after Kelderman cracks on the Stelvio, or something?

            Certainly good to have this unpredictability at this stage of a GT, even if is partly because of the relative weakness of the contenders. Contrast the Vuelta, which already looks like a scrap between Roglic and Carapaz; can’t really see any of the others who finished in the top group contending, apart from Mas, perhaps.

    • It depends how things go, he might try to get in the breakaway so he can take points in the intermediate sprint and then see what happens from there on, depends who else is in the group. In his peak years today would be within grasp but now it’s harder.

  9. Dear Mr Ring. Love the blog (As always) and appreciate that you can’t cover both tours but would you consider just putting your “winner Rings” up for each stage of the Vuelta. Our “lockdown at home in front of the tv non commercial fantasy cycling competition“ has depended on this all season. I’ve got £2.50 invested in this not to mention domestic bragging rights. Cheers!

  10. Thanks so much for your fab analysis and guides. If you have any weight in such issues, could you ask Eurosport to ask Brian Smith to answer a question, or provide analysis, pithily and then be quiet? He has a severe case of verbal diarrhoea. Rob Hatch just asked him if, in fact, today’s stage gives Almeida *more* of a chance. Five minutes later, Smith is still blathering on and hasn’t answered the question…

  11. So what are the “politics” of TGH sitting in behind Hindley and never taking a pull on the final climb? (Perhaps I missed him helping out…) Acceptable because Sunweb were trying to distance Almeida? Could they not have collaborated and really done Almeida in?

    • At that point TGH wasn’t even top 10 on GC so he can say he’s just going for the stage win. Plus Sunweb had Hindley to do all the legwork. Kelderman didn’t do any turns so why should TGH

    • If you’re in a break and it’s 2:1 there’s no onus on you to come to the front UNLESS you stand the most to gain for time gaps, and then your own self-interest is to press home your advantage.
      If you come to the front you only invite the others to attack once they’ve rested and you’ve got yourself at FTP. You might chase once or twice, but repeated attacks will eventually have you off the back.
      If Hindley and Kelderman were really bothered by him being there they could’ve employee some tactics to that end. In the end TGH is down on the GC and his presence means that Kelderman has a ‘spare’ domestique in case Hindley faltered.

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