Giro Stage 17 Preview

A giant day in the Alps but will the preceding climbs be enough to soften up the race in time for moves on the final slope to the ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio?

Stage 16 Review: a big breakaway and first Ruben Guerreiro and Giovanni Visconti provided the attacks as they chased the mountain points. Astana’s Manuele Boaro was the first to attack for the stage win. He was joined by Bahrain’s beefy Jan Tratnik and it looked too early for a duo to stay away, a prelude to later contests, only for Tratnik to go solo for over an hour. On the final time up Monte Ragogna Ben O’Connor just made it across to Tratnik at the summit of the climb. The Australian was doing a lot of work in the final, yes Tratnik had team mate Enrico Battaglin policing the chase behind but there was room for both to play games. O’Connor paid for his generosity when Tratnik punched clear on the steepest part of the final kilometre. There was no battle behind among the GC contenders until João Almeida launched with a kilometre to go, his move only gained two seconds but was still a strong display. Was it a psychological gain or a swansong? Answer today…

The Route: 203km and well over 5,000m of vertical gain. There’s 40km across to the first climb, the Forcella Valbona, 22km at 6.6% and a long, steady climb and the kind where the pass at the top doesn’t mark the start of the descent, there’s a series of other passes to ride past before the descent.

Next up is Monte Bondone, a giant of a climb and on a narrow road. Crucially the second half is the hardest part, it’s 20km at 6.8% but with plenty of 9-10% sections in the second half making it hard going as it winds its way up. The Durone, or sometimes Duron, is the easiest climb of the day, 10km at 6-7% most of the way and all on a big wide road.

The Finish: a long climb but a very regular one and on a wide road designed to take coachloads of skiers to the ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio, it’s a steady 6.5% for most of the way up before easing to the line.

The Contenders: a good day for the breakaway and which climber or strongman to pick? It’s not obvious once you scan the field and exclude those likely to be retained for the GC ambitions of their leaders. Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal). Movistar have no ambitions for the GC but who can win from the breakaway, several but it’s not easy to pick one? Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida) missed out the other day thanks to a broken front wheel.

Among the GC contenders, today’s stage finish isn’t so selective so João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has a good chance of holding on if he can cope with the earlier climbs, or rather if the other teams don’t try and put him to the sword. They might prefer to wait for tomorrow’s Stelvio stage and if so and the GC contenders come in for the finish he’s a contender to win the sprint. Otherwise Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) is the pick to repeat his Piancavallo stage win.

Thomas de Gendt, Tao Geoghegan Hart
Almeida, Villella, Padun, Kangert, O’Connor, Vanhoucke, J Hansen

Weather: sunshine and clouds, 16°C

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST. Then switch to La Vuelta just in time for the start of the long climb of San Miguel, almost 10km at 8% and then a descent to the finish.

38 thoughts on “Giro Stage 17 Preview”

  1. It was Boaro, not Feline who was joined by Tratnik.
    According to Tom Owens thread of panini Tour de France stickers, Fabio Felline is literally just Manuele Boaro with a mild hangover – so an honest mistake.

  2. Surely there gets a point where ‘the gc men’ have to put Almeida to bed and not just keep saying tomorrow will do. There’s still a TT to do so a lesson the minutes rather than seconds will be needed. If they’re still having doubts as to what’s required maybe someone can give them Joaquin Rodriguez or Primoz Roglic’s phone numbers. That’s assuming they can get rid of him of course. Do we think there is any chance Quick-Step will pre empt the other teams and send Masnada off up the road?

    • I know what you mean but it takes a big effort to do it today when tomorrow it’ll be a lot smaller, eg wait for the section above 2,000m on the Stelvio tomorrow and go and see if Almedia cannot follow, then add more time on the final climb. If doesn’t work tomorrow there’s always Saturday’s stage to Sestriere as well but that’s risky. The problem today is teams have to go big on the Bondone, a long way out and all the fatigue that brings for the rest of the stage and the rest of the week.

    • Completely agree, Richard S. Conservative riding backfires quite often, and yet it seems to be GC dogma. I say if you have an advantage somewhere, take time. You never know what’ll happen.
      And you can add A. Schleck in 2011 to your list (‘No, I don’t like to attack in the Pyrenees, I’ll wait till the Alps’), and all of Froome’s competitors from the 2018 Giro (‘Shall we attack the best GT rider in the world early in the race while he’s looking weak and already losing time, or wait and see if he comes good later in the race?’).
      It’s harder for you if you attack, but it’s harder for your opponents too as they have to follow.

    • Armchair racing – it’s so easy to type that the GC men should just “put Almeida to bed”, but in reality much harder to do so. They’re possibly already pushing, you have no idea how hard they are going, regardless what they say. They all have to save efforts for the hardest stages too. For example, today was tough, but not as tough as tomorrow, so if they go all-out today and gain some seconds on Almeida, they might be toast tomorrow and could lose minutes.

  3. Not sure we shall see any “attacks” today though not impossible. Sunweb may well try to stretch things on the final climb but not sure it is hard enough or if Wilko Kelderman has the legs to make a decisive difference. Tomorrow does seem to be a more likely option for a definitive move.

    The weather forecast for tomorrow over the Stelvio is dry but cloudy. Not sure if the suggestion of a neutralised descent due to the risk the low temperatures pose is a serious one. If so hope it is better organised than it was a few years back when Nairo Quintana won. Saturday also looks OK over the Agnello etc though there could be snow on Friday.

    Meanwhile in Spain it seems the entire field has turned up at the Vuelta to chase stage wins…..

    • Jai Hindley attack up the road on the final climb could work in securing his podium place and possibly causing Almedia to chase – although the risk is that Tao chases him down and Kelderman cant keep up.

      • The missing puzzle here is Ineos’ ambition with TGH.

        He can probably get onto podium by tracking Hindley. He can even get onto 2nd place if they work with Sunweb to crack Almeida. And no one can fault TGH for being happy with that. In both scenarios, they will wait till tmr.

        It will be a different story if they want to get into Pink. Waiting for tmr would not be enough.

  4. typo corner – 1st para ‘slop’?
    last para – “today’s stage finish isn’t so hard to” should be “today’s stage finish isn’t so hard so”

  5. “when Tratnik punched clear on the steepest part of the within the final kilometre”.
    Perhaps missing a climb in there? First para.

    Thanks for keeping us all up to date and a sense of what to watch for.

  6. Well we’ll see if the João Almeida show is over today. I suspect it’ll be another 30-40 secs they put into him. The main contenders need to be shuffling the pack if they want to win and the number of chances are diminishing rapidly. There are only three stages left with which to dispatch him, and they need to ensure that they get 30-40 secs on him before the final time trial.
    I think we’ll see a bit more aggression today in trying to isolate Almeida and then in the final climb. Last rolls of the dice.

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Madonna di Campiglio produce strong attacks – it’s not steep enough these days (if it ever was).
    When Guerreiro had a mechanical and couldn’t contest the cat. 2 climb, why didn’t his team mate, Whelan, challenge Visconti for the points. Hard enough to believe that the rider didn’t think of this, but what do his team have that radio connection for?

  8. It’s probably more a grind ‘em down sort of mountain stage – see who falls out of the back more than the GC contenders attacking to see who can follow. Sunweb and others may exert pressure on Quick Step to isolate Almeida and then see how he does. Maybe before the final climb as it doesn’t seem to be hard enough? I’m still interested in Ineos’ approach and whether they switch their focus from stage hunting to the GC. TGH is never going to have a better chance of a GT win and if the Vuelta’s opening stage is an indicator, Ineos could win in Spain – 2/3 GT wins in a season wouldn’t be bad!

  9. Rob Hatch on Eurosport talking about Saturdays stage being knocked back to just two climbs of Sestriere because of an approaching storm system making the Izoard and Agnello impractical, and even that the Stelvio might not happen tomorrow. So it might be today or never. So that’ll probably be never then.

    • And the thing is, Almeida shows no signs of cracking, so it’s surely better to try to take smaller chunks of time off him each day, even if we have all the stages (Stelvio is apparently happening, but weather forecasts aren’t exactly precise).

      • Can see it coming down to some very fine margins. Even if Kelderman can only take 20 seconds a stage, he’ll need every second possible. He’s gotta be thinking to himself that it would be typical for Almeida to do a Pogacar in the final TT. Or for him to do a Roglic. Basically count on nothing and try and eke out every possible second. Even that 2 seconds for Almeida seemed important. A 10 second swing for Kelderman would seem huge

  10. I was hoping that I would see the innate brilliance in the EF Education’s Giro shirt design, but watching Rubin Guerreiro accumulate mountain points I get the sense he just wants to wear something other that that shirt.
    Perhaps that’s it! It’s an incentive to take the various leaders jerseys. It just doesn’t seem to be working so well right now.

  11. Well that was a damp squib of a stage. The very definition.
    Kudos to O’Connor for the win. You’ve got to be in the break to contest the win, and then race it. But the peloton failed to explode. I think that following Inrng’s assessment (response to Richard S) I couldn’t see in my heart that anyone would really bother Almeida, and so it was. A massive disappointment. Would this have been a better stage if the teams were stronger? I guess it comes back to Inrng’s assessment that the route to Madonna de Campiglia is not selective enough. Almeida and QS are getting a free ride so far. But I think tomorrow will blow the roof off on the Stelvio – lets hope so…
    There’s always the Vuelta, and the endless shots of Chris Froome falling off the back of the peloton on each and every climb.

  12. Briançon Mayor prohibits the race due to Covid extreme situation, implementing a national law. The Pyrénées are very affected by Covid too – any ordonnance about the Tourmalet?

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