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Giro Stage 19 Preview

A quick breather in between the mountain stages? No, today’s stage is 258km and under rain, it’ll be hard for all. There’s a probable sprint but not a certain one.

Wilco, but not KO: a tappone, the GC contest came alive, perhaps as expected and certainly as hoped for and the Stelvio didn’t disappoint. Sunweb led for much of the stage but on the Stelvio Ineos came to the fore with Rohan Dennis proving a precious help for Tao Geoghegan Hart as his pace blew riders off the back. Pozzovivo was the first to crack. João Almeida had a wobble, then he went for good. Soon after Nibali and Fuglsang were dropped too as they climbed higher, seemingly going from autumn to the winter snowscape in minutes. It left Dennis towing Geoghegan Hart, Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman, only Kelderman started to yo-yo and then he too was gone. But he didn’t panic, he paced himself and only lost 40 seconds by the top of the climb and maintained this gap on the descent. It was after the descent of the Stelvio, on the flatter section of road across to the final climb, that Dennis was invaluable, towing his new team leader while behind Kelderman was all by himself and losing time. Kelderman continued to pace himself while Hindley sat tight, loyally not taking a turn and then outsprinting Geoghegan Hart for the stage win while Kelderman came in 2m18s down to collect the maglia rosa. Almedia held on to finish seventh on the day and slipped to fifth overall.

Should Hindley have sat up to help shepherd Kelderman? Even Kelderman was wondering. We’ll know for sure on Sunday but as of today the point is not to use hindsight but to review the tactics in the moment. Go back to yesterday afternoon, having the Australian up front was to have an option on the outcome of the race for Sunweb, imagine the risk of calling him back only for Kelderman to have missed an energy gel and fade? Sunweb would have lost twice over. It sets up a fascinating contest for the weekend, Kelderman, Hindley and TGH are within 15 seconds overall. It could be advantage Kelderman now because Saturday’s stage has been altered and made easier but if Ineos and TGH can drop him once they’ll want to try and do it again, and if Hindley can follow then it brings suspense to Sunday’s time trial like we got on the Planche des Belles Filles in September.

The Route: 253km? That’s what the profile says but a damaged bridge means a small detour and it’s 258km. It’s south-west out of the Alps and around Milan to Asti, a home of sparkling wine. This is a long day any time but in the third week of the Giro, in late October and raining so it’ll feel that bit longer. There are few secrets to the course but after the sprint in Masio the road heads into the hills briefly, climbing through the vineyards and hazelnut groves but it’s a gentle slope, the difficulty comes in the hairpins and bends. Then it’s a big wide road into Asti.

The Finish: flat and a left hand bend and then a right hand bend before the 500m finishing straight.

The Contenders: an obvious route for the sprinters but there are 13 teams without a stage win and and it’s their last chance to win a stage as both Saturday’s mountain stage and Sunday’s TT surely belong to the stars and specialists. There not many sprinters left either, meaning few teams willing to chase the breakaway which further makes it worthwhile going up the road, more so as even the teams with sprinters will be wary of doing the work if they’re going to get smoked by Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ). Cofidis might prefer to fire a rider up the road so they don’t have to chase for Elia Viviani. Even Groupama don’t have to win in a sprint today because if a move stays away and doesn’t contain Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) then Démare’s points jersey conquest takes a leap forward when in a straight sprint there’s still the arithmetical possibility of Sagan closing the 37 point gap, but we’re talking if Sagan wins and Démare crashes out. So in short Démare is the obvious pick but isn’t a three chainring certainty as the breakaway has a decent chance.

Arnaud Démare
Sagan, Viviani, Hodeg, Armée, Brändle, Bjerg,

Weather: cloudy with rain throughout the day, a top temperature of 16°C.

TV: yes, the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST. You can switch over for La Vuelta and a near certain sprint finish one hour later but watch out for the wind which could both speed up and spice up the stage.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:22 am

    What a great stage yesterday! The GC contest on this Giro had been underwhelming until then, but this was a pleasure to watch.

    I still think Sunweb did a major mistake yesterday, and not just with the benefit of hindsight. They had the option of going for either Hindley or Kelderman and they chose neither. I think they might rue their indecision on the stage to Sestriere tomorrow, it’s not as hard of course, but Ineos proved yesterday that they had a really strong team in the final week, and after all those deliberations, now they know exactly what to do.

    Kelderman has a history of finishing 3-week races a bit jaded, he could lose a bit of time on Saturday, and I don’t see him putting a big gap on Geoghegan-Hart on the final TT. As for Hindley, he can’t really expect to take any more time now, and I don’t think he’s as strong a TT-er. Not that a podium place is a bad result for him of course, but I think Geoghegan-Hart has a real chance to win the overall.

    All the comments about the lack of sportsmanship from Hindley (for not riding with him yesterday) seem strange, of course he wasn’t going to ride, he had everything to lose if he did, no matter what happened behind. And Geoghegan-Hart owes him one for the Piancavallo stage, so even he shouldn’t feel too bad.

    • Somers Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:01 am

      I wonder how much of the tactics are because Kelderman is leaving next year – Jai made it pretty clear that he was just following what he was told to do, so cant be accused of bad sportsmanship.

    • Eskerrik Asko Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:35 am

      You should drop the hyphen, it’s not one of those double-barreled upper class English names, is it?

      I didn’t find it at all certain that Hindley could’ve dropped Geoghegan Hart – and I wouldn’t assume that he would be able to do it on Saturday. A pink jersey to wear on the last two days would of course have been quite nice, but still a poor consolation if and when the Ineos rider takes it back in the ITT (as is to be expected).

      It is indeed a not totally unlikely scenario that Kelderman fades or maybe even explodes (with a whimper rather than a bang, if that is possible), but IMHO it is more likely that he won’t lose more than he can win back on Sunday. But apparently the Sunweb DS wasn’t quite sure – or like the proverbial Imperial Russian general he didn’t want to make a decision because it could be a wrong one (but I don’t think he concentrated on making sure there was a scapegoat to blame for a possible defeat, like the general did).

      For us spectators it was, of course, the best possible result: now we can look forward to three more days of exciting racing. (Well, maybe not today if the GC teams aim to just stay safe and wait for tomorro…)

      • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:30 am

        Apologies for the hyphen, I didn’t mean to portray him as posh, I’m just a non-native English speaker who’s shaky on proper British punctuation rules.

        I’m confused as to why people assume that Geoghegan Hart (no hyphen) would have taken more time on Kelderman if Hindley had attacked him on the last climb. But I guess we’ll never know, so I’ll just sit and enjoy the rest of the race, since it suddenly became more fun. I was a bit blasé about Saturday’s stage, i’m now really looking forward to it.

        • Gareth Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:21 am

          I think they should have allowed Hindley one big attack. If he can drop TGH then great you can ride on. If not that’s it you go back to sitting on.if he gets back to you you sit on.

          Playing virtual DS thats what o was shouting at Sunweb to do, though I don’t know of he had the legs obviously.

          • oldDAVE Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:47 am

            Still think no one made errors yesterday – cycling is often simpler than it looks and what you see is what you get, the idea that Jai or Tao had game changing attacks left is likely rubbish and is just us wanting more when in reality we’ve had one of the decades great stages!

            As per chat on yesterday’s comments, I also don’t think Sunweb’s tactics were poor, they were in a difficult situation and their decisions made sense – especially as they were in the heat of the moment.

            Think we’re slipping into armchair fantasy and should just enjoy what we had.

    • KevinR Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:13 am

      Totally agree that Sunweb’s indecision could cost them the Maglia Rosa – they did neither one thing nor the other. While Kelderman hasn’t collapsed, he looks like a fading force and Hindley himself said yesterday his ITT isn’t good right now. TGH has to take his GT opportunity – he’s unlikely to get another at Ineos.

    • Digahole Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:32 am

      And what was up with TGH relentlessly asking Hindley to ride? I mean sure, ask a couple of times, put the pressure on, but the fact that he just never shut up about it was a little strange. A sign of weakness, stress?

      • ChrismanSpurs (@ChrismanSpurs) Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:49 pm

        Inexperience.

  • Cedrik Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:31 am

    Lots of questioning about Sunweb’s tactics, but seems to me they got it quite right. Wilco couldn’t stick, but could hang, and got the jersey while Jai got the stage win. Not bad. And on a once-in-a-lifetime ride by Rohan to deliver TGH to the podium. A few commenters have mentioned Rohan for GC now that he had one amazing day. Are you smoking too much of California’s finest? He’s a champion rider, certainly, but doesn’t have the mental fortitude for Grand Tour podiums. To be fair, not many do.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing so many new faces coming to the fore in this Giro. Back when, I predicted Nibs wouldn’t even be on the podium. I’ve sort of enjoyed his racing, but it’s time for him to retire, along with plenty of other riders. Paging Froomey? I’ll predict no major race podiums in 2021 for the Tarantula. I love rooting for underdogs, but there comes a time . . . Paging Cav? All good things come to an end.

    Curious which company makes the Sunweb jackets. I’d like to know so I avoid that company. Even though I can just stop and zip up, many bike jersey/jacket zippers suck.

    • Tovarishch Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:44 am

      21st October Team Sunweb tweeted:

      You never know what the weather will be like in the mountains at the #Giro but we’re prepared for any situation with our @CraftSportswear rain jackets made with Arnitel® from @DSM @DSM_Materials.

      • Leon Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:57 am

        If I’m not mistaken, Hindley was trying to put on a Giro-provided Castelli jacket (because he’s the white jersey leader.)

    • KevinR Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:20 am

      Cedric, what’s this paging you mention? As for Sunweb, the snapshot of the day looked rosy, the Maglia Rosa chances much less so after their decision not to help ensure the rider with the biggest lead over TGH and the best ITT (in normal times) kept as big a lead as possible.

    • dft Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:12 am

      How innovative is it to do away with zips in a bike race? Spend millions on a wind tunnel then crash out because your zipper gets stuck.

    • ChrismanSpurs (@ChrismanSpurs) Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:50 pm

      A jacket is a jacket. Can’t believe ppl are blaming the manufacturer for Hindley’s inability to grasp the concept of sleeves

      • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:01 pm

        A gabba-style jacket is thicker, flaps about less and is easier to put on even without wind because it supports itself more due to its thickness.

  • Digahole Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:50 am

    How good is it to see Ineos actually use their talent to race and win stages? IF they manage to win this, it’ll have to be their most successful GT ever with (likely) six stage wins on the way to pink. And not to mention people actually cheering for them because they’re making the race rather than shutting it down. I know, weakened field etc etc, but I can still dream that they’ll see this as a potential racing template for the future instead of trying to regain the spot of no.1 train.

    Still, I’m not turning my coat just yet. Garn Sunweb!

    • JaimeRoberto Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:11 am

      It’s like when Michael Jordan took a year off to play baseball. In a way the Bulls were more exciting to watch because someone else was always stepping up.

  • Blau Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:09 am

    Count me with those questioning the questioning of Sunweb’s tactics. Sure, debating what you would have done as an armchair DS is part of the fun of following cycling, or any sport, but they made a tough call based on limited information. No one anywhere foresaw Dennis putting in the climbing performance of his life and there was no way to know in the moment how much time the Ineos duo would put into Kelderman on the Stelvio once they’d dropped him. If Hindley drops back and Wilco totally cracks, you’ve handed the Giro to TGH. This way even if Wilco had totally cracked they still would’ve been in with a chance to do something on Saturday and get Hindley enough of a cushion to survive the TT – probably a tough ask given the revised course and Tao’s seeming strength, but better than certain defeat. We’ll never know how much Hindley could’ve helped Wilco (or what might’ve been without the crazy jacket issues – another thing I assume no one saw coming though it feels like someone should have), or whether he could’ve dropped TGH on the final climb if he’d been given the green light, tho my guess there is probably not for any significant gap.

    I see people – tho maybe not here – already writing off Wilco, which seems quite premature to me. It’s not like he looked terrible. He was better up the Stelvio than everyone besides TGH, Jai and an out of his mind Dennis, then he just got smacked by a TT specialist dropping the hammer. Admittedly he faded toward the end of the final climb but you wonder how much of that was due to being alone in the wind so long, the cold etc. Plus the greatly reduced difficulty of Saturday’s stage. Depends how he recovers I guess – we shall see.

    Also agree people giving Jai stick for not working is craziness. It’s not like he was sandbagging, he had the most legitimate of reasons to sit on the wheel til the very end and then come around to take more bonus seconds if possible. Tao clearly wasn’t bothered by it.

    Really enjoying the race overall. Sure, it’s one of the weakest GT fields but even tho it’s guys who are normally lieutenants and a past-it Nibali (Fuglsang being more of a never was in GT terms), but the combination of chance, relative parity, and typical Giro craziness has produced a highly entertaining race. And always nice to see a new winner, whoever it winds up being.

    • Norton Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:29 am

      Yes, decisions are based on limited information but not on no information. Ut seems to me the Sunweb car had two solid pieces of information: that Wilco rode very well up and down the Stelvio, and Wilco”s own words asking for Hindley to wait after the top. If you don’t trust your main GC guy to make these kinds of calls, something is obviously wrong, and a clear sign you’re not fully committed to his GC bid.

      On that note, the ideal behind leaving riders behind because they’re leaving next year has always puzzled me. Does the sponsor really care if the body carrying their logo to the podium will wear another jersey when the TV audience turn on the TV again in…six months?

      To me, it is all evidence of cycling’s quasi-professionalism and tendency to let intrigue and personal conflict overrule rational decision making. Which makes it all the more interesting to watch, I guess.

      • Norton Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:31 am

        Sorry for the typos, forgot to switch language settings. Ut should be It and ideal should be idea.

      • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:56 am

        It’s only speculation of course, that Sunweb changed tactics because Kelderman is leaving. But even though the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian press heavily focuses on the teams (read: on Team Sky), in the rest of the cycling world the publicity comes with the rider, not with the team. In 10-15 years, most will remember that Kelderman won the Giro (or not), but probably not that Sunweb won it.

        If the rider switches teams, the popularity and fame goes with him. You benefit, but only at the time, very little in the future. You’ll still be able to use the pictures and recorded footage for advertisement, but even that’s awkward – you’d be celebrating someone who chose to leave the team and go elsewhere.

        • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:34 am

          There’s also the ranking points, a rider who stays keeps the points in the team. Some team managers like the points and rankings a lot more than spectators.

          • Nick Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:28 am

            Doesn’t the team ranking start again at zero each season?

            So Sunweb have Kelderman’s 2020 points for their 2020 ranking, and Bora have his 2021 points for their 2021 ranking.

          • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:30 am

            Yes, you’re right. But it’s been a factor in the past for all sorts of tactics, supporting one rider and not another, even benching riders etc

        • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:55 pm

          In this instance, Kelderman did not choose to leave the team. Sunweb chose to not renew his contract while talks were ongoing and he says he found that out via the media.

      • JT Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:21 am

        I think you could argue either way for Sunweb’s tactics. We will only know if they made the right call on Sunday.
        For me they made the right call, Hindley slowed the group. You could have had TGH and Dennis working together in the flat and them TGH going full gas on the whole climb and gaining an extra 4 bonus seconds. As it was it seemed that TGH was not giving his all in the climb until the end because he was scared Hindley would counter.

      • pedaldancer Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:07 am

        is that a fact that “Wilco was asking for HIndley to wait after the top?”

      • Blau Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:09 am

        I just saw Wilco’s comments about asking for Hindley to wait, which I hadn’t before. I agree it makes the call murkier but I don’t think it makes telling Hindley to push with the Ineos duo definitively the wrong call. The same reasoning still applies. Sending Hindley back is a one-way trip and you don’t know what TGH has left for the final climb. And maybe they don’t have complete trust in Wilco – I have nothing against him, I’ve always liked him and I’m rooting for him now, but it’s not like putting your trust in peak Contador/Froome/etc. There was no “right call”, it was a gamble no matter what Sunweb did – I just think it’s ridiculous when I see peoples say they definitely screwed up, like we know for a fact telling Hindley to drop back would’ve worked out better.

        And yeah it’s very hard to see a team throwing away a GT cos a guy’s leaving. Messing around with departing riders’ race schedules we see every year, but once you’re in the race if you have a chance to win you’re riding to win. I do agree about the intrigue and personal conflict but that’s all sports, it’s just heightened in cycling because of the team sport/individual winner dynamic.

        • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:58 pm

          People are now actually defending the public throwing of a team leader under the bus! That always works long-term in sports, right?

    • KevinR Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:28 am

      They had plenty of info to make the decision. Kelderman didn’t collapse on the Stelvio, he just slowly leaked time. There was a long time on the climb to make a call and again at the top as the descent started. Some shielding on that cold descent would have helped. On the flat he looked frozen and in a bad way on the bike, just when the TT specialist Dennis really tore it up – that was where the gap really rose fast. If they’d saved even 30 seconds, Sunweb would be breathing much easier.

      • Andrew Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:02 am

        I’m not sure Hindley would have offered much shelter on a 70kph descent, or helped on the valley road: he’s not at Dennis’s level.
        I wonder whether Kelderman’s clothing trouble could end up costing him the Giro. He struggled to get his jacket on and ended up in arm warmers only. He must have been frozen and looked terrible entering the village.
        The “marginal gains” of Team Ineos are much mocked, but making sure you can get your jacket on and off whilst climbing is basic and they had it nailed yesterday. Watching Hindley showed me what I must look like when I’m trying to take off my gilet on the move!

        • Tim Higgins Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:39 am

          I also wonder what the time lost/time potentially gained would have been by just stopping at the top of the Stevio and zipping up the already “put on” jacket rather than freezing on the descent??

        • gastrogeorge Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:02 pm

          Re marginal gains, it was notable that the Ineos pair got their jackets 2 or 3 hairpins earlier, where there wasn’t as much wind to hamper them. Small details …

          • Bern Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:40 pm

            Yup.

  • Richard Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:12 am

    I’d love to hear from the (knowledgeable) armchair DS’s here of tactics for each of Ineos and Sunweb for Saturday. What to do? I have an inkling Hindley is the strongest climber, Wilco is likely the strongest TTer but TGH could be the best overall. Hmm.

    On the Sunweb jacket saga, in curious why many race capes don’t also just have velcro seams as backups for
    just these situations. Some early Endura ones used to I think.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:23 am

      You could have velcro but risks sticking in your pocket making it a mess to unfold, and if you don’t line up the seams wind will get in and blow it apart meaning you’re back to the start. The zipper is ok but it’s something to practice just to get the feel of it – it sounds easy but with cold fingers, a hairpin approaching at 60km/h it’s not so obvious – so much like a rider can place a bottle back in the cage without ever looking, getting fluent in aligning the pieces helps. Or just stop, it probably feels wrong given the speeds, it feels like others will be far away but you’d lose what, 5 seconds? Then gain it back from not having a flapping jacket slowing you down.

      • DJW Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:48 am

        The problem seemed to be much more getting the second arm in the sleeve than closing the fastening. Hindley almost went of the road trying to put his rain jacket on.

      • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 12:25 pm

        I had two thoughts when I was watching:
        Either stop at the start of the descent – you’ll lose minimal time and it’ll be easy to get re-started and catch the others.
        Or put the jacket on backwards and don’t zip it up – that way your front is protected.
        This sort of thing is all part of race craft.

        • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 12:52 pm

          +1 although as I’ve said elsewhere INEOS really didn’t exploit this problem.
          And, for my two pence I think that Sunweb had to ensure that Hindley marked TGH. When Kelderman started leaking you have no idea when it will stop. He’d shown he was weak on stage 15. Stay with TGH and you win the stage and get pink (regardless of Kelderman’s time).

        • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:46 pm

          Or just stuff it up the front like newspaper

      • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:44 pm

        Eg TdF 1998, Stage 15, Pantani attacked over the Galibier, then took time to stop on the descent to put jacket on, still winning stage (this video, around 4:55: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJJlMp0HqTU).

    • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:53 am

      The saga of Hindleys jacket was the tensest bit of the stage, I couldn’t watch. Kelderman struggled too and it seemed to me that the Sunweb riders had rain capes which caught the wind making them a bit of a handful whereas the riders in thicker, heavy material gabba type jackets seemed to have no issue as they didn’t fly away in the wind as much.

  • pax Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:44 am

    Inrng – thanks for the great commentary.

    Impressive ride by Ineos.

    I would also point out that Kelderman showed some immense mental fortitude. Getting dropped on the Stelvio, having his teammate not help him, the tailored fit – jacket fiasco, which likely caused him to be cold, riding alone across the flat, then having Bilbao and Fulsang, come by him working together – and still only loosing 2:16 over something like 40km. He deserves the pink jersey.

    It also seems to be that the cold weather conditions of the fall affect riders in different ways.

  • cp Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:53 am

    Has Dennis shown in the past the capacity to ride mountains like this? I thought he was a TT specialist and a kook, though I don’t know much about him. If Ineos wins this thing he should be given the trophy.

    As for the jacket thing with Kelderman–magnetic closures, please?

    • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:58 am

      He rode really well on a very mountainous Tour de Suisse a couple years ago, when he was at Bahrein and chasing Bernal, but I don’t remember him ever putting that kind of display at the end of a 3-week race.

      • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:11 am

        Yes, the Tour de Suisse in 2019, he was up there with Bernal – a rival at the time – on the Gotthard and the Furka passes which are both Alpine giants.

  • GrannyRing Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:56 am

    Great stage – the stelvio looks a wonderful road.

    Dennis didn’t go in the break on thos stage btw. Ineos were well represented by Ganna and Swift. I was expecting the former to do the work when it came back together but Dennis dropped most of the field! Nice to see tactics forming on the fly and a pretty open race.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:17 am

      Fixed that for Dennis, for some reason saw him chasing De Gendt’s attack at the foot of the Stelvio but he was back in the small peloton.

  • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:02 am

    I thought it was Ganna and Swift in the break, and Dennis was riding with TGH the whole way? Or did I miss an earlier break?
    I wonder if Démare has the legs from yesterday to sprint today? But to be fair Sagan’s ridden the same course. Perhaps the main difference will be that Démare has a hold lead out train, whereas Sagan’s is split between himself and Majka. No cicclomino jersey for him I suppose.

    • Frood Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:54 am

      I think sagan’s only chance for the ciclamino is to win from the breakaway. Even then, if demare scores a tiny handful of points he will keep the jersey.

      • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:15 am

        Without a crash or some other unexpected racing mishap, I don’t see how Sagan will be allowed up the road today.

        Groupama-FDJ might be tempted to let a break (without Sagan) go up the road to mop up the points, but they screwed it up last year and I don’t think they’d try it again this year. Plus, Demare kept saying all race long that he was going for stage wins first and foremost, and that the maglia ciclamino was just a cherry on the cake. I imagine he’ll want to take this opportunity unless he’s really out of legs.

  • jc Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:03 am

    Odd though it might seem I suspect the carry on with jackets could have a long term effect here maybe even decide the outcome of the race. There was serious wind chill on the descent and both Jai Hindley and Wilko Kelderman had media duties before heading back to the hotel for showers, massages etc. TGH jumped in a car and went straight back to the hotel. The miserable weather in prospect today is hardly likely to help either. No idea about the sport science here but this must impact on recovery especially with a final day TT.

    For all the speculation about tactics not sure there really was any other options. If JH dropped back he could have “probably” helped pull WK along who would have then come in with a lead of around 1 minute, which would have put him in a strong position. However this was a risk both yesterday and in the coming days, Sunweb could have ended with nothing. As it is they are very much in the mix, arguably in the stronger position. Lots of why didnt TGH “go sooner” etc comments but there are still three days to go, no point in gaining a few seconds yesterday at the serious risk of loosing minutes on Saturday.

    I suspect we will see a bike tour today with a decent sized break allowed to go a long way up the road. Only rider who might not cooperate is Peter Sagan.

    • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:30 am

      Well the one immediate tactical issue is that TGH sits behind both Kelderman and Hindley. This means that on the mountain stage Hindley only has to sit on his wheel to ensure he’s ahead on GC regardless of what Kelderman does. Then in the time trial if they are both still above TGH they have the advantage of knowing his time.
      You might argue about TGH taking time over Kelderman and not Hindley on the mountain stage which might see him leap frog Kelderman into second, but it is surely a better position to be in where Hindley has to attack TGH to over take him, because TGH is more likely to take time against Kelderman in the final mountain stage, and beat Hindley in the TT. I think what we have now is how the podium will finish bar any late showing by Bilbao to really upset matters.

  • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:33 am

    A good stage yesterday, if the UCI could formulate a rule stating every Grand Tour has to go over the Stelvio at least once that would be great.
    I think that Sunweb got it bob on. I think too often cycling teams blindly put all their eggs in one basket. If Kelderman had really gone pop and they called Hindley back they’d have blown both their chances. I think it has to be considered too that not only is Kelderman leaving but he’s not exactly a top leader either. I.e. if he had a big weight of results behind him and he was undisputed leader of the team with a two year contact extension on the table then maybe the team would’ve had Hindley wait.
    For some reason this stage has brought Sacha Modolo to my mind. He used to be a sort of sprint Ullisi, good for a stage or two at the Giro and not a lot else. Whatever happened to him?!

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:35 am

      He had some intestinal illness while at EF and is at Alpecin-Fenix now but yes, he’s 33 and not as prolific as the Lampre days.

    • KevinR Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:39 am

      But it was clear Kelderman hadn’t gone pop and was just slowly leaking time – it happened over a long period of the climb. I think I’d prefer the chance of one rider with a lead of a minute (& a ITT to come in which he’s better than his rivals – normally admittedly) than a lead of seconds over a team-mate who isn’t good at ITT (in his own words yesterday) and a competitor at a hugely strong team that knows how to win GTs who is the best all round of the three.

      • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:53 am

        It’s always clear someone hasn’t gone pop, until they go pop. At the bottom of the last climb he looked to be pedalling squares, shipped 30 odd seconds in a mile or two and had Bilbao and Fuglsang catching him hand over fist but then seemed to regather himself. It’s a swings and roundabouts one probably.

  • Paul Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:53 am

    I think Sunweb made the correct choice, they have two riders in contention and cards to play. If Tao is better then I don’t think you can say that decision hurt them.

  • DJW Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:56 am

    I have never quite bought in to the oft-suggested idea that, with specific training, Dennis could be a GC candidate. Looking at those he dropped on the Stelvio yesterday maybe I was wrong, though trying to secure a protected GC place at Ineos would not be easy.

    And the Giro would not be the Giro without a doping positive on an Italian PCT team. Now we have it.

    • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 12:45 pm

      The question is how come these doping positives so often come from mediocre riders on small teams?
      Are they doping out of desperation, while the top guys are squeaky clean?
      Or do the top guys (as throughout sporting history) have ways of eluding being caught by the tests?
      I don’t know the answer to that question, but the guy who is in ~130th place being caught doesn’t make me think that all is well and that the system is working.
      Meanwhile, you mention Ineos and their two TT riders who are tonking up mountains. Joining a long list of riders who join that team and suddenly become very good riders in the mountains.

      • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:33 pm

        Careful, Dennis hasn’t suddenly become very good in the mountains. He’s won summit finishes with BMC, matched Bernal on high altitude passes at Bahrain etc. He’s got one of the top-10 engines in the peloton, no surprise he was good yesterday here.

        • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:58 pm

          I thought he was developing into a significant GC rider not too many seasons back, then it seemed to stall a bit.

          • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:59 pm

            That was the plan with BMC and his coach but crashes and injuries slowed this. Plus his switch to Ineos means they don’t need another GC leader and he’s been free to target the Tokyo Olympics and contribute elsewhere etc.

      • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:19 pm

        I’ve often noted how anybody who signs for Skyneos become suddenly either much improved at time trials or much improved as a climber. Then you’ve got the mysterious cases of disappearing ability from anyone who leaves Quick Step. To add to this now you have Jumbo-Visma and their performances over the last 24 months, and Sunweb who since the start of the Tour de France have turned themselves into a winning machine. And the guy who is 130th at the Giro on an underfunded Italian team is the only one doing anything. There’s only so much benefit an innovative training schedule, a fancy skinsuit and strong team spirit can give your cardiovascular system.

        • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:34 pm

          This.
          I mentioned Ineos because the original comment did, but it’s not about single riders or teams. There are so many examples, as you mention, Richard S.
          I don’t know what’s going on – that’s always my stance – but I’m not convinced all is well just because big riders/teams aren’t failing tests while mediocre riders are occasionally caught.

      • Johnny Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:50 pm

        My view is they’re all still at it, at much reduced levels from the 90s for sure, but still got their fingers in the pot.
        Only reason these lesser lights get popped is because they’re not as good at it, less money to get the right people behind them, take bigger risks, don’t know all the tricks etc.

  • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:59 am

    Flying well under the radar in this blog, the comments, the commentary on the stage and seemingly in the race itself is Pello Bilbao. After riding the Tour he’s only a minute off the lead here and with team mates climbing well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bahrain try some move tomorrow similar to what they tried with Landa at the Tour. It’ll probably have the same result but might shake things up a bit. Plus he’s a decent time trialist.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:01 am

      He’s doing great and in his own words “not so fresh” after having done the Tour de France. He’s in that zone just beyond the podium but if any of the trio makes a mistake he’s celebrating in Milan.

    • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:30 pm

      Bilbao must desperately wish he hadn’t done the Tdf, supporting a guy who was never going to win.
      There must be so many grand tour riders looking at this Giro and wishing they’d entered. Thankfully for the spectacle they didn’t.
      Pogacar could possibly have taken a Giro-Tour double.

  • piwakawaka Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:21 am

    If Hindley had waited for Kelderman, Dennis and TGH would have smashed them in the resulting 2 up TT, and TGH would have taken Pink.

  • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:31 am

    I’d like to see the riders get together to stand up for their rights – e.g. safety – more often, but how is a 250km flat stage too long?
    It’s perfectly ride-able, and GTs had many stages of this length for years.

  • AndyW Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:46 am

    Really curious about how the final TT plays out. It’s framed as a simple win (amongst the GC contenders) for Kelderman, yet Hindley was quicker on stage 1, while Hart was only 30 sec back to Kelderman on the longer stage 14 TT (while Hindley lost more time). Kelderman doesn’t seem to be the safe GC TT bet like Dumoulin or Thomas.

    • Spofferoonie Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:42 am

      TGH (apparently) took it easy on stage 1 because he was keeping his powder dry to support Thomas. By stage 14 he was (sort of) riding a GC race (or at least seeing what he could do) so that’s the one to look at when comparing TT results.
      I’d say Kelderman’s probably the best TTer (but who knows how he’ll be by Sunday), followed by TGH (who’s no more than OK but will have plenty of advice from Ganna and Dennis I imagine), and Hindley a long way behind.

  • plurien Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:17 am

    +1 from me for Hindley doing all the right things in sitting on and denying TGH the opportunity to fly into pink. Kelderman ground out a great result in the face of everything and will get better protection now, even if that comes too late.
    Bilbao did a great ride and is Mr Consistent of this GT without team support.
    Almeida remains the best neopro we’ve seen in GTs this year, and that’s among a strong field.
    Today’s stage is all about the grinta and tomorrow’s will be molto peniativa, so whatever happens from now let’s hope the race can keep going as the covid infection spreads again in Lombardy.
    Well done RCS and Thank You INRNG

    • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:12 pm

      This is not a strong field. If nothing else, Bilbao’s position here after riding the Tour de France tells you that.

      • ssmrgrim Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:02 pm

        Right. It is a weak field. But you can only beat who is there. Also, Thomas, Yates and Kruijswijk were the three most accomplished non-Nibali men in this field. Add them in (you have to get to the finish) and this looks merely below average and not all-time weak.

  • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:29 am

    If TGH drops Kelderman on any climb, Hindley has to attack TGH and try to put time into him. Hindley will lose time to TGH in the ITT.
    If JH stays with WK, they could both lose.
    If I was JH I’d attack no matter what (TGH is going to anyway), leaving the team to help WK. That way the team has two chances of winning.

  • DJW Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:33 am

    What a mess. Lopping 100km off the stage at the last minute. Sure >250km the day after the Stelvio stage is tough, but toughness and imagining riders doing deeds the man in the street (or Sunday rider) could not even dream about is a large part of the sport’s heritage and appeal. Maybe RCS made a mistake with >250, but a 150km flat stage hardly sets the pulse beating. A criterium in the streets of Bologna would be only slightly worse.

    • jc Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:48 am

      Agree this is a rather predictable mess but given the current situation it is a sensible decision, a lot of riders are clearly struggling and more important the race gets to Milan. What might have been a tough challenge in the spring sunshine is a health risk in the autumnal rains.

      • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 12:26 pm

        Cold rain in May is the same as cold rain in October. The 2013 Giro was ran off in 3 weeks of weather worse than this. The winner of a GT should be the rider best able to cope with these sorts of things. If you can ride two mountainous stages, then a 250km stage in crap weather and then another mountain stage probably in crap weather then you deserve to beat the guy who cant. Part of the tactics yesterday by Ineos might have been to put Kelderman in the red knowing he has a long stage to do the day after, and that’s been taken away now.

        • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:43 pm

          Exactly. You shouldn’t change route mid-race unless it can’t be helped. The tactics matter, and a GC rider should be able to ride all terrain.
          It’s also unfair on the places missed out on the route.
          It’s not good for the sport for riders to refuse to ride long stages and/or in bad weather.

    • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:56 am

      The difference will be huge for us armchair cyclists: watching the last 5km of a 150km stage instead of a 250km stage.

      I think this is the first time that I hear riders literally refusing to ride, just because they didn’t like the parcours of the tour they signed up to race. Good to see people fighting the good fight…

      • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 12:58 pm

        I was a bit surprised by this. I think the complaints and discontent always seem to happen after particularly tough days. After they had the rainy day De Gendt was complaining about COVID, after a tough and cold Stelvio test they’re complaining about the route.
        I’m not saying that they do not have real concerns, but I think the riders mood is amplified by tough conditions, and you can understand that. Lopping off 100km on a flat stage is not the end of the world.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:11 pm

      It’s a bit of a mess in the moment but will probably be forgotten this time next week. 250km in the third week was always asking a lot and things were compounded by long transfers last night and this morning, riders were leaving the hotels in the dark this morning which probably made them even more tired and weary.

      A thought for the villages along the way, it’s easy to just see the race on TV going through these places but having the Giro is often a big deal to locals, perhaps even the event of the year. There are balloons, flower decorations, lectures in the town theatre, a photo exhibition in the market square, kids do school projects about the race and so on… only the party is cancelled for them. But in the round if we’ve got 21 stages and only missed 125km of flat roads then given everything that’s happened in Lombardia this year things aren’t so bad.

      • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:16 pm

        Apparently it was AG2R and Lotto who kicked off last night. AG2r I can let off, the Giro being of secondary importance to them and they’ve hardly been involved in the race at all. Lotto though, they’re supposed to be Fladrien hard men and they’re complaining about riding 250km in the rain. It wont do.

        • CA Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:15 pm

          Ridiculous comment – Lotto lead the conversation because their rider is the head of the riders’ union…. Riding 258km in the cold rain after the stelvio is ridiculous, it is identical to doing the Ronde immediately after the Stelvio!

          Plus, because everyone (including the riders in the autobus) had to ride extremely hard yesterday and the days preceeding it, they would ride today at piano tempo. Which is 8-9 hours in the cold rain. Completely unnecessary and cruel, plus will be a crashfest and may get a lot of riders sick because they aren’t riding hard enough to stay warm.

          • Tim Higgins Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:34 pm

            This is a three week grand tour and long days after hard days in the mountains isn’t new to the riders or this sport. The course was shown last year and before the start of the Giro, this stage could have been discussed if it needed to be changed. To complain on the very eve or morning of the stage is, as others have said, bad for the future of the sport…..

          • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:14 pm

            Tim – meh, riders have no input or opportunity for input into the stage.

            I’d rather an exciting 150km versus 9hours at a pace I can keep up with for 258km

          • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:57 pm

            Tongue in cheek

    • CA Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:11 pm

      Haha… c’mon, even racing 150k after 19 stages (including yesterday’s brutal mountains) is tough! Plus, with 150km rather than 250, the race is 3.5/4 hours and will be raced really hard by the sprint teams, so arguably it’ll be much more exciting and fast.

      The racers aren’t complaining because they are being lazy, they are just complaining because the organisers are asking them to do the Ronde van Vlandrien immediately after the Stelvio stage! C’mon, that’s ridiculous. Plus, the Ronde stage is in the rain!

      If the racers were forced to do 258km today (even in good weather), it would have been at piano tempo (ie. 30kph, which is 9 hours!!!!)… and in the cold rain doing 258km at piano would make them all sick because they wouldn’t stay warm, and would have been really hard to concentrate because they’re not riding hard enough to stay warm.

      • Tim Higgins Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:36 pm

        So as professional riders, races should only occur in 22 degree sunshine with a slight tailwind??

        • CA Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:12 pm

          Tomorrow’s stage will be much better when the riders don’t race the Ronde immediately on the day before it..

          What was yesterday? 22degrees ripping down the Stelvio? Freezing temps at 100kph down a mountain.

          • Tim Higgins Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:09 pm

            Will it though? I’m sure there were teams that had tactics for tomorrow reliant on the heavy legs after the long day today.
            Yes, yesterday was freezing temps down the Stelvio at 100kph and some riders fared better in those conditions than others…..
            The point being, they are after all, professional riders; riders paid by sponsors to ride their bikes in the prevailing conditions of the day….

          • Vitus Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:26 pm

            And I was convinced my whole that the Ronde was about cobbles and hellingen, not just length.
            Thanks for teaching us that from now on every 250k flat race is “a Ronde”

  • JEB Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:47 am

    I have two comments/ arm-chair DS tips
    1) Inios – what about if they had let Jai pull on the front for a km or so after Sunweb had used up all their other booster engines to drop the other GC favourites. Then Dennis could have taken up the reins with a ‘your not going fast enough’ blow to Jai’s self-confidence.

    2) Sunweb – Jai should have put in a little dig 4/5km from the summit to drop Dennis and make Teo chase, then it would have been mano a mano to the end and Kelderman would probably have got back on.

    • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:59 pm

      Very interesting points.
      1) Yes, Ineos could have let Hindley ride in the wind for a bit to weaken him.
      2) If you mean 4/5km from the summit of the Stelvio – which I assume you do – I think this would have been a brilliant idea. With Dennis dropped, TGH would have had to do all the pulling on the flat section between the penultimate and last climbs himself. That way, Kelderman would have lost less time, plus TGH would have been more tired for the final climb, and perhaps Hindley could even have attacked.

      • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:24 pm

        Brilliant idea? Why does TGH pull at all in this scenario and not sit on Hindley while waiting for Dennis? The onus is then on Hindley to ride all the way to keep Dennis behind, leaving himself open to an attack by TGH on the final climb and losing it all for Sunweb. Genius.

        • J Evans Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:39 pm

          The scenario:
          JH attacks 5km from top of Stelvio.
          RD is dropped.
          TGH follows JH.
          Once RD is far enough behind that he won’t catch up before the final climb, JH stops pulling.
          JH and TGH descend together.
          JH does no work at all from this point on, saying he’s waiting for WK.
          Thus TGH has to go on the front on the flat between the two final climbs, thus tiring himself.
          If TGH does not do all the work himself, WK catches up.
          And whether TGH pulls or not, he won’t gain as much time, nor be as fresh, without RD.
          Then you have WK losing less time, and even perhaps JH attacking TGH and gaining time (less likely).

          • KevinR Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:55 pm

            I think the problem is that Dennis was tearing it up on the Stelvio and an attack may not have been feasible. If it was, then it’s likely it wouldn’t have been sustainable. Hindley would probably have gone way too far into the red

          • sam w Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:23 pm

            and dennis just falls off the face of the earth, not to be seen until after the stage? i think he might have been able to catch back on during the descent or the long flat because he’s an hour record setter and TT world champion.

            then besides that, whose to say TGH doesn’t just sit up and wait for dennis anyway? that puts hindly back on the front trying to outride dennis, who would have caught, then TGH rides with dennis to drop hindley.

  • Stuie Friday, 23 October 2020, 11:48 am

    I think Kelderman will win the overall, but only because of stage 20 reroute. It’s so deflating when you compare the the 2 stage profiles. But the race organisers have done well in a short time time frame.

    Would love to see Tao win it, seems like a really nice guy.

    • ssmrgrim Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:06 pm

      I had heard that the Finestre was considered but deemed not able to be prepared I wonder if this stage shouldn’t have been changed to the Finestre awhile ago. Relying on other countries during the pandemic seemed like a bad idea before the race.

  • BC Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:06 pm

    So. The riders don’t fancy a 200 km plus ride in the rain and have taken to team buses for half of their day. What a shame for the sport. Bike races are decided by many factors, one of which is the weather. These guys are paid to ride their bikes, not team buses. I won’t be watching anymore of this farce.

    • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:49 pm

      Missing you already…

      • BC Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:13 pm

        No problem RQS.
        You need to understand how many teams, sponsors, team sponsors, TV, supporters and fans react to a decision taken by two CPA representatives without any warning on the morning of the stage. This is NOT the way to treat any professional race or those listed above, let alone the Giro. They deserve more respect. The route has been known for weeks. The organisation is threatening legal consequences once the race reaches Milan. Maybe an indication of how angry and badly let down they feel. The organiser is correct.

        • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:38 pm

          Punishing yourself, the race organiser and the broadcaster doesn’t seem right though.
          To be fair, I didn’t watch the race.

        • Mellow Velo Saturday, 24 October 2020, 3:05 pm

          So what ( or whom) is Vegni going to sue?

          Do the teams or riders sign a contract with the race organisers that they will race under any circumstances, unless the race is abandoned , or they have a doctors certificate saying they are unfit? Presumably not, or MS would be in the dock for going home unilaterally.

          Hansen has made it very clear that he spoke as an individual, and the union rep. , not as a representative of Lotto. So the riders must be the object of the potential legal action. They are paid by their teams ( whom I think are the recipients of any appearance money as well), not by the race organisers; good luck picking the bones out of this one – though the lawyers will be delighted.

          By the way , the crowds going through the towns were very scarce in that weather. Some of the places decked out with pink balloons were virtually deserted : so the weather was too much for the spectators….

  • Zmonde Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:29 pm

    What about Masnada not helping Almada. What was that all about? Sackable offence?

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:33 pm

      A brief mix-up, then Masnada came back to help. Not sure he’d lose his job over that?

      • Zmonde Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:01 pm

        But then he didn’t pull – anchoring off the back of Almeida’s group to the line and was seen remonstrating with Almeida. Just seemed like something was up – he was annoyed at being called back to help when he wanted to defend his own GC position?

        • Bern Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:25 pm

          If the ‘remonstrance’ you noted is the one I saw, I think it was directed toward the camera motorbike, not any other cyclist…

    • Frank Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:05 pm

      Almeida to Almada is a good 300 km as the crow flies.

      • Zmonde Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:57 pm

        I’m going to blame speelchock. Yes, it was the spillchecker.

  • Ferdi Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:47 pm

    Bilbao’s long-range endurance, improving as the race went deeper into agony, is what impressed me most. You see it’s this kind of rider who is a casualty of contemporary non-agonistic “short, fast and furious” (and more comfortable and rehearsable) races.

  • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 1:48 pm

    There was a tweet from Masnada apologising for leaving Almeida. I don’t think he needed to do that. It probably admits far more culpability than he was warranted. He came back and did the right thing. In fact I think he was hanging on for parts of the Stelvio in any respect, but think he did what he could on the final ascent.

  • plurien Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:15 pm

    Well done again to RCS for responding to the riders’ demands not to be spending long hours on a 250km stage after a long couple of days (it’s not just riding, it’s transfer – start village – race – finish & media duties – ride back to the bus – transfer – new hotel – meal – bed: Repeat).
    As INRNG points out there are a lot of investments along the route that’s not now being used. The pressure placed on the organisers is massive, and that’s before all this COVID thing. RAI is now filling massively on its scheduled coverage – Il Giro Anteprima – and the race is just rolling out as RAI2 picks up with coverage.
    And for anyone who thinks 150km stage is going to be any easier than a 250km stage, we can only wonder what sport you think you’re watching. With so much at stake, the teams which were riding hard yesterday are going to come out and play once more for your entertainment, but this time it will be so much more of an intense effort for all the riders of each team with GC aspirations, whilst others will want to score sprint points and the stage win. I’m predicting some surprise losers.

    • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:42 pm

      We can see clearly now the consequences of endless power plays between teams/Velon, race organizers and the UCI – nobody dares make a call, nobody knows when to give in to justified demands and when to stand your ground.

      What exactly is the issue here?
      A useless 250km stage in week 3? not ideal for sure, but you’d think someone would have checked the profile before yesterday night, and complained about it before this morning.
      Long transfers between (good standing) hotels and the startline? a few months ago people were talking about doing all possible sacrifices to get racing again, otherwise sponsors would withdraw and many wouldn’t even get paid. Did they forget that, or simply didn’t understand that some adjustments would need to be made?
      Riders are tired after a tough Giro enters day 19, at the end of a concentrated racing season, and people don’t like riding in the rain? stop the presses.

      I doubt it will change much to the race, but that sequence didn’t show a good image of the sport, not great for TV coverage, not great for potential race organizers/sponsors, and ultimately bad for the teams as well. The best we can hope for, is that this mess doesn’t have too many consequences.

      It’s time to lance the boil, once and for all. Here’s my solution:
      1. Find a big hexagonal fighting ring. Inside, we’ll have the head of the UCI, Velon, RCS Sport, ASO, Flanders Classics, the CPA, the AIGCP, a few team managers (my picks would include J.Vaughters, R.Plugge, P.Lefevere, V.Lavenu and G.Savio for a touch of class) and a few head editors of cycling tabloids.

      2. Capture and cage a huge grizzly bear.

      3. Sic the bear on that lot, and it’s a bare-handed fight to the death. Whoever is the last one standing gets to rule the Seven Kingdoms. If it’s the bear, appoint him head of UCI and get the Arctic Race of Norway on the WorldTour calendar (from memory, the prize is 50kg of smoked salmon).

      • plurien Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:00 pm

        You could drop the bear and get that DS Bruno ??? they ‘interviewed’ on RAI commentary. Gianni Bugno could not get him to shut up about how the riders should have no say, only the organiser and the team managers.
        And now we’re seeing what the whole stage could have been like as the gruppo gives up any pretence of a chase on the breakaway. Reckon Madiot put up a nice reward for each rider willing to go up the road and deny any sprint points to Sagan.

        • Lukyluk Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:10 pm

          Bruno Reverberi.
          I had envisioned something a bit more hairy, but he’ll do.

      • Morten Reippuert Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:04 pm

        I want to be on Hilnaut’s team, regardless of his stance.

      • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:08 pm

        That is exactly why I was so harsh a few days ago in my comment about the riders, the giro and covid. Because nothing in cycling is about the actual thing they are talking about. Everything has a subtext and is about power. And certain teams/team owners and riders (vaughters, velon, certain, very vocal riders,etc.) have made it a war and use the other riders as their soldiers in this war.

        It all is totally toxic and it could be so different. The different parties could work together. Because they need each other. Without races no riders, without riders no races. But that is not what that certain segment, that fuels this war, wants, no matter what they say. And the sad thing is: This whole thing has absolutely nothing to do with cycling or races. It is all about ideology, egos and emotions.

        And the riders sit inbetween and like sheep let others tell them, that they have it so bad, that they are victims and taken advantage of. Bullshit. Those, that play with the riders emotions and psyche without thinking of the consequences are taking advantage of them. Nobody else. Racing is supposed to be hard and difficult. It is about overcoming nature, overcoming yourself, overcoming adversity. It is not supposed to be easy. That is part of the sport. And because it is a hard sport, outside of the few hours in the saddle during a race, riders have to do nothing else than train. They all have wives or parents, who take care of everything else at home, while the teams take care of the rest. Maybe this is part of the problem.

        But the biggest problem is the toxic atmosphere, where now nobody trusts anybody, where everybody thinks the others are only out to take advantage of them. And this is all the doing of that block of teams, who abuse the riders emotionally (and they can do it so easily, because the riders are dependent on them) and wind them up to do their bidding.

        Because of all this, the riders have lost a whole lot of perspective. They only can see race organisers as evil people, because that is what gets whispered in their ears and they simply donˋt for example see what all goes into organising a race – from closing roads (think about it, how crazy that is: for a race whole streets get closed down, how crazy is it, that races even manage do to that in 2020!), to finding hotels, host towns, medics, sponsors, tv, radio and so on.

        I always go from feeling pity for the riders to being angry at them. And back again. Pity: Because they let themselves get so used. As if a career or a sport would be worth that. Because they are under a lot of pressure, they get squeezed from all sides. Anger: When someone lets themselves get used so easily, lets others poison themselves and the atmosphere so easily, it is difficult to feel for them.

        Cycling and cyclists never had such a good, stable time (apart from corona, but that is not cycling-specific). Riders never earned that much, even the smaller ones, they never had such a stable, guaranteed income, there were never so much races on tv, fans in the big motherlands of cycling still come out in millions every year to cheer them on, even when teams fold (which is totally normal, that is the normal way of companies, some manage to stay, some go and others come), there are always others coming in or going up a tier, never was there done so much for the health of riders, for anti doping, the riders get the best of the best of treatment and stuff, they get looked after and still paid, when they are injured, they are mostly protected against abuse and harassment, that once was rife in cycling and because cycling is not so much a hierarchy anymore and there are so many races, more riders than ever in a team can get a chance in a race, if they really want that.

        Of course things can still improve. And they will improve, if the parties finally give up their war and work together. I so wish the riders would wake up to the fact, that they have to look after themselves. Stop being so hysterical. Grow up. Most teams look after themselves and only after the riders, if their interests are aligned. This is totally fine, that is their job – but some always tell the riders, that it is not the case, that they are the only ones looking out for them. Maybe the riders have lost the idea (or never had it), how it is to look after yourself, to stand up for yourself, how to be independent and not to get influenced, because the culture in cycling is: You sacrifice yourself for the team and you do nothing, that is not oked by the team. And that is ok on the road. But it has to stop after the race. And it does not right now.

        All this makes cycling toxic now for some years and all are really lucky, that it did not implode already. This is owned to the fact, that cycling has 3 relatively stable big race organisers, because in a different scneario this war would have already imploded the whole sport.

        • plurien Saturday, 24 October 2020, 12:11 am

          Not sure this merits a response; but if you read what’s going on in NW Europe now you’ll see this has everything to do with COVID and the lockdowns that are coming on. – You can’t even drive from Belgium to Netherlands now unless you’re in transport. The curfews have begun and the hospitals are full. Remember earlier in this Giro when the riders were reporting unsafe conditions in the hotels, that Jumbo Visma withdrew… Let’s say these riders are supported by enlightened sponsors. You say that you’re torn between the riders being good or bad, but they are the currency in which the sponsors, media and event owners all trade, the way procycling works mean they have no choice. It’s their livelihood, their health, their careers on the line with each parcours and its street furniture perils to help sell… what? Icing on the cake of this hypocrisy today was former UCI and British Cycling president troll-tweeting about the UCI bad weather protocol when, really the organisations over which he presided have hardly been shown to work proactively for the interests of athletes and the equipment they need.
          You can’t have bike racing without the athletes. Mauro Vegni knows this and reluctantly had to take the medicine today. It’s telling that it came on a day when the riders knew that shortening the stage would make little or no difference to the excitement of today’s racing, so they didn’t deprive you of a big day in the mountains, they merely shortened the amount of time you had to get on with something else until the last 10k.
          I hope your paperwork is all in order now and your kitchen is clean.
          On with the Giro, and it’s been fantastic.
          As to all those who say it’s a weak field, well what about Nibali? Was he on your list of favourites? Where is he now?

    • Ferdi Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:23 pm

      Anything that makes a race less miserable is certainly not well done, and riders who do not look forward to another day of misery should wonder what other sport they should have chosen.

  • George Vest Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:36 pm

    My armchair-DS two-pennorth,

    When I was watching the stage, I thought that Sunweb’s (and Ineos’) tactics were correct, in that there was no point in sending Hindley back to help Kelderman. However, now with the benefit of hindsight I note that Kelderman shipped a significant 40 or so seconds in the last few km of the final climb; he seemed to have recovered a bit in the first half of the climb and was holding the gap steady around 1:40, but then all of a sudden it was 2:20 at the top.

    This suggests to me that Kelderman is really weakening, will struggle again on Saturday and may not be great in the final TT. On this basis, since he looked at least as strong as TGH, why not ask Hindley to try and attack or two, rather than just sit in the wheels, as he’s a much weaker TT-er than TGH.

    • George Vest Friday, 23 October 2020, 2:59 pm

      Meant to add my current forecast for the winner: 50% Kelderman, 45% TGH, 5% Hindley

  • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 3:40 pm

    Looking at the climbs up Sestriere they don’t look selective at all. None of them appear to have anything over 6%. I can’t see that really thinning out the peloton massively. I know we’re talking about climbs of 39km and 2x 11km.
    INEOS are going to have to burn every match of every rider they have to narrow the main group down as presumably they’ll have to start that on the first climb.

    • KevinR Friday, 23 October 2020, 4:00 pm

      Agree with that RQS. The organisers could at least have found some steeper stuff as a replacement even if the altitude gain was smaller. It’s big ring power climb territory for them. I’m worried that it’s going to be a bit of a damp squib of a stage.

  • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:39 pm

    Questions for Northern European (and American) folks:
    13° C;
    256 km flat;
    no wind;
    it is raining in the first 80 km, not in the other 176km.

    1) Do you ride in this conditions or you drop the training?
    2) Do you think that the pèloton would have done the same at the Tour?

    • Richard S Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:53 pm

      No is the obvious answer to both.

  • DJW Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:44 pm

    Marc Madiot (manager Groupama-FDJ) : « Ce qui s’est passé, c’est la mise en évidence d’un problème de gouvernance, c’est une crise politique dans notre sport. Quand on s’engage sur un Grand Tour sur trois semaines, on sait que la fatigue, on va la rencontrer. Si on ne veut pas accepter la fatigue dans la troisième semaine, on change de métier. On n’est pas obligé d’être coureur cycliste. À partir du moment où on s’engage à travers un contrat et une licence, on accepte les conditions difficiles de ce métier. On n’est pas au tennis, on ne tend pas la bâche. »

    I agree with Madiot. If one refuses to accept fatigue in a third week of a GT one should change job.

    • DJW Friday, 23 October 2020, 5:46 pm

      and the riders and teams should be less surprised when sponsors are reluctant to sponsor races or teams.

      • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 6:07 pm

        The dream: tomorrow Mauro Vegni will tell the Teams 30 minutes before departure.
        “Well, it’s sunny today, so I thought to add the Finestre before the triple Sestriere. Have fun guys!!”

        • Ecky Thump Friday, 23 October 2020, 7:42 pm

          Trying to catch up with events from today.
          I try to see things from the riders perspective, the last thing that anyone of them needs is to be catching a chill or cold in these COVID-19 times.
          There’s the worry of which symptoms are which but, with immune systems already lowered by the racing, they don’t need illness on top that may leave them more susceptible to catching the damn virus?

          • The Inner Ring Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:03 pm

            That seemed to be the message with Adam Hansen putting this on Twitter earlier today and he was the spokesmen for the riders this morning but he’s since deleted the messages. Cyclists probably know why 7 hours in the rain is worse than riding up and down the Stelvio but for a lot of people in Italy, the main audience, it’s confusing, there’s no clear explanation for what’s happened today from the peloton.

          • Another Kevin Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:12 pm

            It’s a falsehood that getting wet and cold causes sickness or makes one more prone to illnesses like a cold or the flu. This has been demonstrated in multiple medical studies. Fatigue does make you more likely to get sick, but isn’t the very nature of a grand tour race to challenge the human body to a level of fatigue that separates the strong from the ultra-strong?

          • CA Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:18 pm

            Anotherkevin – those studies weren’t performed on athletes after 3 days of mountains…

            Honestly, this entire thing is on Vegni. If he had handled the riders’ concerns with a little patience, grace and intelligence he could have avoided creating a polemic that blew the entire thing out of proportion.

            He has the worst GC rider line-up for the season and characterises the event by not listening to the riders’ concerns… let’s see who lines up next year, probably 18 conti teams with 1 or 2 amateur outfits.

          • Anonymous Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:28 pm

            On paper: Evenepoel, Nibali, Kruijswijk, Thomas, Fulgsang, Vlasov, ML Lopez, Pello Bilbao. Not such bad lineup, isn’t it?

          • CA Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:18 pm

            Anotherkevin – those studies weren’t performed on athletes after 3 days of mountains…

            Honestly, this entire thing is on Vegni. If he had handled the riders’ concerns with a little patience, grace and intelligence he could have avoided creating a polemic that blew the entire thing out of proportion.

            He has the worst GC rider line-up for the season and characterises the event by not listening to the riders’ concerns… let’s see who lines up next year, probably 18 conti teams with 1 or 2 amateur outfits.

          • Another Kevin Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:28 pm

            @CA, as I wrote, fatigue is definitely a risk factor for getting sick. Cold and wet are not. If the goal is to have GT stages that make it unlikely anyone will get sick, then steps need to be taken to prevent fatigue. To put it more bluntly, it’s those mountain stages that are far more likely to cause illness than long flat stages in the rain (where everyone starts out with rain gear and doesn’t have to risk their lives trying to put on a jacket in freezing temperatures while descending at break neck speeds).

          • RQS Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:54 pm

            To Another Kevin:

            Agree in principle. Viruses are not spread by ambient temperature. They are spread by water and water vapour. There’s plenty of that on a rainy day, and it is possible to flick stuff up off the surface of the road (I’m not saying the probability is likely). So it’s not without some risk, albeit small and random.

            That said, I feel more and more unease at the riders decision. I know they don’t take it lightly, but not only does it set a precedent, it possibly has a financial aspect, and affects the course of the overall race.

            Did Bora give up the chase because of the shortened length of the course, or because it was impossible to chase the breakdown? Will tomorrow’s stage be an exciting mountain stage given ‘fresh’ legs?

            As mentioned above, these complaints have always come after a tough day on the bike, but that’s always been a part of the sport. My mind goes back to my own humble endeavours cycling across Britain, starting off in unrelenting sunshine, riding into repeated rainy days, and high winds. There were days when many wanted to quit, but once on their bike people finished what lay ahead. When the going gets tough the tough get going. I know it’s not the third week of a tour, but none of us were professionals. I mean ride it, and ride it slow or fast, but just ride it. It’s not snow and ice, not high winds, or excessive heat. Although 250km, it was pan flat. I’m not sure I get it. It’s like road cycling for a snowflake generation.

          • CA Friday, 23 October 2020, 10:15 pm

            Anotherkevin – riding full gas or at the limit on a mountain pass is much less likely to cause a cold than spinning at piano in a rainstorm on a cold day… medical studies in a lab don’t mimic real life conditions.

            Either way 258km on stage 20 was always a stretch, and during a pandemic when to be honest, most teams should have left the Giro for not providing a safe environment, this is even stupider. Vegni is a hothead and is lucky his race has gone ahead. He doesn’t deserve the race because he didn’t take measures to keep his riders safe. Riders haven’t been able to train properly/consistently this year so a 6-8 hour slog in the cold rain after 3-weeks is just silly at this point – too bad he was a huge baby about this situation.

          • Another Kevin Saturday, 24 October 2020, 9:52 am

            @RQS, your theory that viruses spread more readily in the rain is not supported by medical science. Viral spread is greatest in the dry indoors. The risk of COVID in particular when outside is negligible. And if road spray and splatter material from bike tires is a significant risk to make riders sick, then riders really shouldn’t be riding the cobbled classics. Or mountain stages in the rain.
            @CA – the studies showing exposing humans to low temperatures and very cold moisture are both experimental and observational and are extensive. Various militaries have been particularly interested in this topic. Severe hypothermia is a medical emergency. Mild hypothermia is not, and is not a risk factor for viral illness. In fact, mild hypothermia is an increasingly used medical technique during surgical procedures which appears to improve immune function and surgical recovery.

            My impression is that the riders were tired and stressed and didn’t want a long day on the bike, especially when few of them relished their chances in a long flat stage, and used their immune systems and COVID as an excuse. They were obviously surprised by the length of the transfers and the early starts. They should have emphasized that aspect, instead of this false “rider safety” spin that is essentially bogus.

          • RQS Saturday, 24 October 2020, 12:55 pm

            It’s not theory. It actually happens. Mosaic viruses are spread from plant to plant by rain splatter and watering.
            They talk about millions of viruses being in a tea spoon of sea water too, they can be all over place including rough surfaces. I’m not saying it’s likely, I’m just saying that there is a risk, albeit a lot smaller than the usual method of transmission. There’s no real merit to the argument, but riders would not be wrong in saying that they could catch something from riding in the rain.

          • Another Kevin Saturday, 24 October 2020, 2:16 pm

            I’m sorry to keep going on about this, but some of this discussion is beyond absurd. Mosaic viruses are plant viruses! And yes, viruses are incredibly small and lots of them can fit in a teaspoon if one produced a concentrated viral solution in a lab. So what. Rain water does NOT contain viruses. Human viruses are NOT in fact everywhere. They are destroyed by exposure to sunlight, by drying out in the air, etc. They aren’t like fungal spores that sit around indefinitely waiting to spring back to life. They degrade readily. Simply put, common respiratory pathogens are not sitting on the roads waiting for rain to come and soak them up so bicycle wheels can spray those viruses into riders mouths. That’s not how human viral illnesses are spread. However, there was a situation yesterday that was ideal for the spread of viral illnesses – all the riders hanging out together under a tent without masks on discussing if they would ride the full stage. THAT is how human viruses are spread – human beings in close proximity talking and touching things.

            Bluntly put, from a former research scientist and physician, catching a respiratory infection from riding in the rain would be a one-in-a-million event. And that’s not even what some of the riders claimed. They claimed that the cool wet weather was a threat to their immune systems. It is not. Yes, the cumulative fatigue of a grand tour is a threat to the immune system. But that’s not an excuse to strike at the last moment on a stage that has been on the schedule for a year, especially since the induction of fatigue is a defining characteristic of a grand tour.

    • Ferdi Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:30 pm

      Madiot is completely right and I don’t know how his team could support the refusal to ride. He should have told them to take the start and win the Giro. If they didn’t obey him, they should all get the immediate sack.

  • Another Kevin Friday, 23 October 2020, 8:24 pm

    For once I agreed with Wiggins in his commentary – today’s situation was a shambles. It was nice to see Černy and CCC get a win, but I stopped watching the stage soon after the televised portion began. It felt like watching a recovery ride, and had the same amount of drama.

  • MD Friday, 23 October 2020, 9:13 pm

    CA irrelevant from a medical perspective. Another Kevin has it right. You might be more likely to get a cold or the flu, but that’s more to immune system effects and or social changes related to weather, ie people stay indoors and in closer proximity, and possibly air pressure, moisture etc. Not the cold or wet per se.

  • David Saturday, 24 October 2020, 12:02 am

    Is it just me or do others think that TGH is a knob? From sucking wheels for 18 stages, to asking Hindley to pull a turn (several times – a stupid knob) in the last 10-15kms in stage 19 and now trying to pinch a couple of seconds at the end of weather/strike effected stage 20….. what a knob!

    • David Saturday, 24 October 2020, 10:49 am

      It’s just you.

  • J Evans Saturday, 24 October 2020, 10:51 am

    Good points both of you. Could well have worked out as you suggest.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 24 October 2020, 10:52 am

      That was to KevinR and sam w.

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