Giro Stage 20 Preview

It’s back to the Alps and a circuit race around Sestriere. With the overall classification so tight can today create any gaps or will it come down to tomorrow’s time trial?

Morbegno mutiny: a chaotic start when a last minute protest saw the riders refuse to race the start of the stage. After rolling out of Morbegno, riders got on their team buses and cars and drove to an agreed start point halfway along the route. “Agreed” as in race organiser Mauro Vegni had no choice and he was visibly furious as scrambled for a revised start point and how to get the race there in time. Now missing 120km of a 250km flat stage doesn’t change the sport much and most of it wasn’t going to be on TV either so millions in their armchairs and sofas hardly noticed. But it was meaningful in a political sense: here were riders who refused to race. The problem was there was no communication, the race’s social media account said “the weather situation” but there was plenty more this with stories about the rider union, team politics and the balance of power in the sport, a subject to explored over the winter. Yesterday the headline explanation seems to be that riders didn’t want to compromise their immune systems – already weakened by the best part of a grand tour – any further with even more hours in the rain, a point shared in English by Adam Hansen on Twitter in a message he subsequently deleted during the day, and then reformulated again in the evening. It’s not the stuff of science journals but you can see the argument, a day spent soaking in the rain is grim. But this hasn’t been explained to the public, millions in Italy don’t follow Hansen on social media, and they may wonder why damp weather across the plains is worse than the icy Stelvio or Sestriere. Now maybe you’ve had a wet day on the bike were the cold seems to get into your bones compared to an Alpine descent which is frosty but in superficial way, and the general public probably might not and no rider grabbed a microphone to explain, nor to say sorry to the locals along the first 125km who’d missed out. There was nobody before the stage rolled out, nor when the rolling stopped, nor at the restart. Nor on RAI’s post stage Processo alla Tappa show, literally the “trial of the stage”m which turned into a bit of a show trial without a rider to defend the decision. You can argue either way whether it was right or wrong decision to skip half the stage but everyone ought to agree it was badly communicated by those who took it.

Still we got a race. A breakaway formed and Bora-Hansgrohe tried to chase but, like Groupama-FDJ on the road to Tortoreto during Stage 10, one team alone couldn’t bring the move back. They got to within 40 seconds but gave up and the 14 rider group rode away for the day. After a few moves, Victor Campenaerts put in a very long attack, a sustained burst of watts, that took others clear and minutes later the group’s other TT specialist Josef Cerny surged clear. The big Czech rider probably only had one chance but he seized it, creating a gap and then using his power (6th and 5th in the time trials so far in the Giro) to stay away and collect the stage win. With CCC going, possibly folding into Circus-Wanty, his time trial results ought to have put him well and truly in the shop window but this will have done him more good. Away from jobs, sports politics and more this was just a good win, a breakaway, then a lone rider putting in a big attack and holding a slender gap all the way to Asti.

The Route: 190km and after leaving the plains beyond Pinerolo, it’s a ride up the Val Chisone to Sestriere, 55km uphill but all on a big road and only just reaching 6% before the top, it’s a drag more than an ascent. Then it’s out the other side of the ski resort and down the hill, all on a big main road, to Cesana where the race turns onto the old road and heads back for Sestriere. Now it’s the old road but no back road nor farm track, this is a wide and well-engineered climb. It’s 12km climb but gentle until the final 6km which average 7.5%. Then it’s back through Sestriere, down on the main road and once more up the climb to the finish.

The Finish: uphill and into Sestriere, the riders will pass through here once before so there are no surprises.

The Contenders: a breakaway will need strong riders working hard from the start to build up a lead but they’ve got a decent chance, the two climbs in Sestriere are about a 15 minute effort so if the break does in them in, say, 17 minutes they don’t need a huge lead, maybe 7-8 minutes could do for the time they reach Sestriere. So Ilnur Zakarin (CCC), Ben O’Connor (NTT), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r La Mondiale) come to mind as active breakaway riders from this third week who can climb.

The big contest today is not for the stage win but for the overall, although both can go together given the 10-6-4 second time bonuses, it’s that close. Ineos have the strongest team and might have to get to work early, to use up the likes of Puccio, Ganna and Swift in order to burn up Sunweb’s helpers (and doom the breakaway), then they’ll look to set a pace to drop Kelderman again and if Tao Geoghegan Hart can win the sprint for the stage win then he’s in the maglia rosa. Easier said than done, today’s climb is much more Kelderman-friendly because both regular and not so steep but we’ll see about the Dutchman’s form and energy levels. Meanwhile Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) just has to mark TGH and then look to win the sprint. Can others get a look in? Pello Bilbao is strong in a diesel way but now a candidate to be marked and there ought not to be many lulls, if the likes of Jacob Fuglsang or João Almedia feel like sneaking away it’d require both Ineos and Sunweb to cancel each other out.

Jai Hindley, Tao Geoghegan Hart
Ben O’Connor, Ilnur Zakarin
Bouchard, De Gendt

Weather: sunshine and clouds on the plains, 16°C but up in Sestriere it’ll be cloudy and a frosty 4°C max.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST.

121 thoughts on “Giro Stage 20 Preview”

  1. “Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) just has to mark TGH and then look to win the sprint” – for the stage yes, but if Kelderman gets dropped again and Hindley takes over as Sunweb GC leader then suddenly the onus is on him to drop TGH who is expected to be stronger in the TT. Could be some interesting tactical plays depending on how things play out

    • I’m not sure it is so clear cut that TGH will definitely beat Hindley in the closing time trial. Thus far it is 1-1: Hindley beat TGH by 49s on stage 1; Geoghegan-Hart beat Hindley by 1’15” on the longer stage 14. The last TT is probably closer to the first in duration and parcours – an 18 or 19 minute flat out effort.

      Ultimately time trials in the last week of a grand tour generally come down to who is recovering best every day. But I certainly don’t see TGH as a shoe-in to take time out of Hindley there. I suspect that none of the top three will feel very comfortable without at least a 30s lead going into it. I certainly wouldn’t want to base a strategy on going in behind and relying on the TT to make up ten or fifteen seconds.

      • Week 3 ITTs are difficult to predict for sure but in the opening time trial TGH wasn’t pushing hard because he was meant to be Thomas’ main climbing domestique. I think the 2nd ITT is a better rough guide of their abilities but it doesn’t mean the third one will follow suit. I’m not sure how Ineos are going to crack Kelderman again today on a climb that’s just not selective enough. Anyone got any ideas?

      • What makes this thrilling for me is that I have no idea what a “true” ITT performance from TGH or Hindley or Kelderman actually looks like. I would expect they usually ride ITT as a recovery ride.

    • I agree. Hindley just taking the stage ahead of TGH will probably be of no good for Sunweb’s GC hopes if Kelderman has been dropped: Hindley almost certainly needs some time on TGH before the TT.
      Surely Hindley must be hoping that Kelderman is dropped so that he has a chance to attack.
      I’ve no idea who is the better climber between Hindley and TGH, but I’d like to see all the riders trying to win.
      It’s not the steepest route – and much more favourable to Kelderman than the original – but if you ride it hard enough it becomes more difficult. Ineos should be battering up the first climb from the get-go.

    • Yeah, sucks that we didn’t get the original parcours, but I don’t know. The lesser gradients are right in Ganna and Dennis’ wheelhouse, Ineos have to attack early and Kelderman is hardly looking solid. If he drops on the second climb, then we have the Sunweb internal politics to keep it entertaining

      • I said in yesterday’s thread that I feared today could fall flat so I agree with TGH above as I can’t see how Kelderman is going to be dropped today or at least how he is going to drop enough time to rule him out of winning the GC ITT battle and the Maglia Rosa. Any ideas?!

  2. I have already had my say. This is (was) an endurance event. The riders know that and the course months ago. It was damp and even wet but these are professional riders paid to ride for their sponsors and compete. Not bring the sport and all associated with it into disrepute by deciding just before the days start that they preferred air conditioned buses. The outcome was a rightly indignant organiser, who had gone through hell and high water to put the race on. The reputation of the event and sport dragged down and an endurance event reduced to a farce. Will it effect the outcome. Nobody knows, but Sunweb must be laughing up their sleeves. People can defend the indefensible decision as long as they like but there will be long term consequences. A ‘shoemaker’ pontificating on science does not go down well.

    I did not watch yesterday and will not watch today – that’s if they agree to start😉.

    • the riders aren’t machines nor are they slaves. they exercised their professional judgment to determine the day’s requirements were unsafe for their well being—they don’t simply do what their told or else.

      sometimes critical decisions are messy and last minute.

  3. Fantasy cycling playbook for this stage:

    – Ganna with a 20 min, 500 watt effort the first time over the top of Sestriere then as a motor through to the steeper slopes of the second time up
    – Dennis to repeat (but maybe at 480 watts 😉
    – Then with Keldernan already a minute and a half back, it’s a Hindley / Tao dog fight on for the final

    The extra benefit of this fantasy scenario is that the TT is wide open for some downside surprises.

    I doubt it’s going to be that good, but Ineos have had such a ridiculously successful race, do they really have much to lose?

  4. Good point above about both Ganna’s and Dennis’ possible assistance today.
    That ride from Rohan Dennis on Thursday, whilst attracting some scepticism, was one I felt he always believed he had in him and it was great to see that potential unlocked in dramatic fashion.

    Two further points on the super-TT’ers like both the aforementioned –
    * a top notch young TT’er must surely be one of the hottest properties on the rider market. Whereas in the past it was perhaps an end in itself to have a good TT’er, it’s become a means to a potentially far greater end. A versatile rider and maybe one who can be transformed to highly effective stage & one-day racer and winner.
    * like the rugged, all-terrain vehicle that will bear the Ineos Grenadier name, so Team Ineos are constructing a Tour team of frightening versatility and strength. Whereas past Tour teams comprised a split between rouleurs and climbers, Ineos can fill half their team with riders who can do both. Very handy to have when GT team numbers have gone down and may do so further in the future. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Mnsr Lappartient.

    • I don’t think it’s anything new, especially not at Skyneos. Their 2012 team had Wiggins, Froome, Porte and Rogers who could do both and Boasan-Hagen wasn’t bad then either.

  5. Regarding yesterday the riders might have had a point, but they went about expressing it in the wrong way. Mainly in that they left it far too late. Mixed messages have come out regarding whether they were motivated by the distance or the weather. I think they displayed a certain amount of arrogance in thinking that they could just say ‘no, we don’t want to now’. There’s also disrespect towards the organisers. I’d imagine it’s not easy to put on a nationwide 3 week bike race with a route that is largely linked together. There’ll be a lot of negotiation with towns, police and council. Riders complaining about 2 hours on a bus to a start town followed by a long stage are maybe overlooking the fact that there was no other way to link it together. Fans talking about human rights and slavery are being hilariously over dramatic. Some fans talking about the sport being brought into disrepute are maybe also being over dramatic but I think that stems from a desire to defend the traditional side of cycling. It’s a hard sport and always has been. Any look at past Giro’s will show that multiple 200km+ mountain stages in bad weather in the 3rd week is nothing new. As Sean Kelly would say ‘that’s bike racing’. I think some fans, including myself, feel defensive about the creeping ‘vueltaization’ of Grand Tours with ever shorter stages and compact routes. Add in the slightly sad rerouting of today’s stage and it feels like this Giro is fizzling out a little just as it was getting good!
    Anyway, god knows what will happen today.

  6. What chance of an early ‘cat amongst the pigeons’ attack from Nibali today? I feel it’ll be a GC stalemate if it’s just left to a Sunweb and Ineos head to head

  7. A woeful showing yesterday, at least before they actually started racing.

    Nobody blames the riders for feeling grumpy and tired after a tough Giro that came at the end of a messed-up season. But this? This is the moment to take a stand? After race organizers worked overtime to make the race happen, in spite of calendar reshuffles, Covid protocols that change every other day, hotels that are closing when every team needs their own floor, border closures that force a reroute at the last minute?

    On a rainy day with all the projections of the vehicles on the road, they could get sick. That’s definitely true. That’s the case on every grand tour, no? Fatigue is part of what makes the difference at the end, no?

    I usually like the bloke (I live in Australia, and he’s present of TV pretty often) but Hansen’s comments on social media sounded ridiculous. Reading the posts, you’d think he’s just created the new Solidarnosc. Of all the issues we’ve had exposed in the last few years – rider physical safety, numerous payment troubles, abuse by coaches and management, endemic *racism*, even reports of sexual abuse in women’s teams – now is the time when the CPA starts threatening strikes? On the morning of? Just to sit 2 hours in the rain, and then 2 hours in the bus, instead of spending 3 hours on the bike?

    And then there’s the method. Really, a vote on Telegram with a handful of riders? Ineos wanted to ride. Bora wanted to ride. I heard Demare and Kelderman saying that the stage should have taken place. Nibali was… diplomatic, but basically expressed the same sentiment. I won’t even bring up the small team managers because of obvious conflict of interest (although B. Reverberi on RAI and C. Guimard on a replay of L’Equipe TV made me laugh out loud yesterday). So who exactly wanted this fiasco to happen? The 12 users of the CPA Telegram chatroom?

    Madiot yesterday repeated his suggestion of having a completely independent body (not the organisers, not the teams/riders) take a look at the parcours and decide. It’s been his big thing for a while, and few neutrals would disagree with it I think, but it sounds a bit naive. Right now, everyone is trying to pull the blanket their way, and it’s pathetic.

    I only hope this flies under the radar, and is quickly forgotten, because if I’m a TV executive, for that slot next year, I’ll choose tennis.

    • Quite so. And lots of riders looking for employers, lots of teams looking for sponsors… The stages were defined months ago, the riders knew that and agreed to participate, the weather was not exceptional. The ordeal and the suffering are part of cycling’s tradition and attraction. The annulation yesterday deprived the tougher more enduring riders of an advantage and maybe saved the more fragile. Would Kelly have cried off?

    • I think this is the point. It’s not so much ‘should they have done it’ as ‘how were they allowed to do it’. Sets a dangerous precedent. Regardless of whether the satge was too hard, should a minority of riders be able to just down tools and get a stage changed. Probably not.

    • Nice post Lukyluk . Genuinely seems like the somewhat inhospitable rains were the primary factor in the rider standoff but the greatest loss is that the resilience aspect of the event was manipulated in a very convenient style . Doesn’t sit well with the principle of Sporting Integrity .

  8. I’m expecting Kelderman to lose the Maglia Rosa today. I believe he dug very deep on thursday, he looked totally spent on the podium, struggling to open the champagne and raise his arms in celebration. At the end of a GT a relatively benign stage like todays can still be selective, everyone is tired. Hindley and Geogaghan Hart certainly look stronger than Kelderman. I think its telling that Ineos were willing to race the full 258km yesterday whereas Sunweb were not, or at least did not object to the shortening. Hopefully the order of the top 3 will change but the gaps will still be small ahead of tomorrow when the order might change. I’d like to see TGH win this, i like his character for what its worth. Also interested to see what Bilbao can do, he could surprise everyone today and tomorrow, spanish tt champion, after all a flat tt at the end of a gt is like a hilly tt with fresh legs.

    • Lanterne – I too am interested in how Bibao goes today and tomorrow. There’s a chance he could take a podium spot (most probably from Kelderman if the Stelvio stage is a good indicator) and the slimmest of slim chances that he ends up in pink if TGH and both the Sunweb riders get into difficulties

  9. Indeed, Tony Martin anchoring leadouts for Cav, long range raids in Vuelta and TdF, killing breakaways from the front of the peleton. A TT specialist winning the prologue (Chris Boardman) and wearing yellow briefly would please sponsors immensely. When have TT specialists not been in demand?

  10. I’m sorry for Vegni and all the volunteers who worked hard to put this race together, but from now on this Giro has ceased to exist. I will not spend the scarce time that my job leaves me following some guys who refuse to their own. I’d rather do maximum hours on the bike in the cold rain, with my 10-year old, in order to teach him some values. I hope Vegni finds the way to punish duly all those riders for insulting the spirit of cycling, so violently and cruelly. I think they should all lose their licenses forever, and be forced to pay heavy compensations. And if the UCI won’t allow it, RCS, alongside ASO, shoud break away and do their own races, with cyclists that behave like cyclists, and are willing to endure the maximum hardship. On my part, I’ll boycott all those team brands, starting with Lotto, Soudal and Ridley, because in the end it’s the sponsors who are stupidly paying for this show (or no-show, in this case). Shame on Hansen and all the other riders !

    • Yes, and if Hansen and a few others didn’t want to ride the course they should have withdrawn, been DNS and not deprived the braver souls and the Giro.

    • Hilariously consistent as ever. I imagine the scene chez Ferdi yesterday, as you got your crystal radio set working and made sure the heating was off before you settled down to listen to the commentary in a shirt, vest and tie, only to be disappointed by the lack of moral fibre of today’s young people. Sounds like your son is going to make a lot of money for the psychiatric industry in the future…

      • Cycling as a sport is an anachronism in many ways: the bikes are limited technology-wise. There’s no reason, therefore, for other technologies to be limited, be it radios between team and rider, riders having their data on their computer in front of them, etc. As is consistently the case, whenever someone suggests some new development is not necessarily to the benefit of cycle racing – i.e. making it less interesting/exciting – someone comes along with the evidence-free statement that this person lives in the past, wool jerseys, blah, etc.

        It’s a garbage comment, frankly, and the reason I’m being so frank, Steve, is that while it is always unnecessary and unwarranted to attack someone personally for their opinion, it is despicable to have a go at their children. That insult is beneath contempt.

        • It was Ferdi who mentioned torturing his kid, not me. And as he plays a fogey character with exaggerated comedic opinions in the comments here- though you may not be aware of it, not everyone on the internet is who they appear to be- I think he can take it. If he really thinks like that, then my concern for his offspring is entirely justified and your defence of child abuse is genuinely beyond contempt.

  11. Regarding Vegni (or Vegani if you’re Adam Hansen) saying someone must pay.. obviously this was said in a fit of pique in the heat of the moment but on what level would it be possible? Could the protagonists as he sees them be denied prize money due to some sort of breach of contract? I don’t know if any of that is possible. I’ve been wondering for a while if the RCS could threaten to withdraw their races from the World Tour? They seem to be (rightly) mugged off that they’ve had to share a slot with the classics and the Vuelta whereas the Tour got a more or less free slot without competition. A World Tour shorn of Milano-Sanremo, Tirreno, the Giro and Lombardia would be pretty worthless. Vegni could then wield his axe and not invite Lotto and whoever else he sees as responsible for yesterday whilst inviting more Italian teams who would be grateful just to be there regardless of the weather or stage distance. I’m probably in the world of make believe now.

    • It was a fit of pique, his temper boiling over. He’s done it before and calms down after but it’s not a good look. Still I can see why he was furious yesterday, running a grand tour is a tough job in a normal year, he’s been under huge stress this year with cancelling the Hungarian start, moving to October, revising the route, the new sanitary regulations, teams walking out mid-race then another going over his head to ask the UCI to put a stop to his race. To add to things his boss Urbano Cairo, the Italian media tycoon, was at the race yesterday.

      There are wider issues to all this than the distance and rain yesterday with politics below the surface about how to run the CPA union, some teams want to undermine the UCI and disturb race organisers in their power games, but yesterday events alone won’t come to much, we’ll have fogotten it soon. Yesterday’s prize money is being donated to healthcare in Lombardia but it won’t make much difference, when a rider wins €X in prize money there are fines to net off, deductions, tax etc and so the winner is lucky if they bank 10% of the headline sum, it’s a nice bonus for the winning team in a grand tour but not much more. Lastly Lotto-Soudal have distanced themselves as a team from Hansen’s actions.

  12. As well as all the other reasons I’ve heard/read to disagree with the riders who didn’t want to race yesterday, this sort of behaviour could be used by riders/teams to avoid stages that are not good for their riders. A race shouldn’t be changed at the last minute unless absolutely necessary.

  13. A lot of people eager to carry Vegni’s water in these comments alongside the usual blowhards on social media (hi, Mihai).

    It’s not as if riders don’t know what they’re letting themselves in for racing a Grand Tour, so you know if a race had gotten to a point where those riders are saying “no, this is a bit much”, then maybe you, as an organiser, have stuffed it up. Especially given the long transfers, divots safety, covid protocols, helicopters trying to decapitate riders.

    100km on a flat stage at the end of a GT all these doesn’t make any material difference to how much of an endurance event this is, ok? Ok.

    I understand Vegni’s frustration because i do see his desperation to act as a feudal overlord to riders; he’s not alone in pro cycling to be like that, but he does blunder more than other figures so hey, ratio what you sew.

    Anyway, if you want to be a delicate snowflake and refuse to watch today, your loss. I’ll stick with being happy to support riders not wanting to compromise immune system and risk literally dying of Covid even more than they already have to. And you can be hurt that they’re not willing to increasingly risk their lives for your entertainment on what would have been the most boring stage of the giro.

    • Of that 12 hours were 6 of it on a bus like a travelling 5 star hotel with staff members on hand for whatever demand they might have had? There’s three sides to this story, as with any other. The over dramatised version of those wanting to portray the riders as little more than slaves ordered onto their bikes in bad weather against their will, the version put out by fans offended by soft riders, and the truth.

      • Yesterdays stage wasn’t the best way to highlight the problems with this route. Think of the helicopter downdraft or the racing speeds through neutralised zone from the first week. Both of these events put riders in the hospital from events that had nothing if to do with racing.
        Moreover, several riders have said they’ve had more hours in the saddle than they’ve been able to get fr sleep. Giventhetoughness of Grand Tour especially in Ocotber weather and global nervousness about health right now – I can see why a largely pointlessly long flat stage seems a borderline insulting idea. It Lso breaches UCI rules on length.

        And not many riders stay in 5 star hotels. When I saw the Ronde in 2010 I stayed in the same hotel as the Garmin team. Rooms cost 80euro per night – 2 riders to a room. Perfectly nice friendly v cheap hotel- think Ibis not Ritz.

    • If you don’t want to “compromise your immune system”, don’t enter a 3,500kms [sorry, 3,370kms] grand tour raced in October during a pandemic. Then get the hell out of the sport and do something else. It can never be the case that riders decide what the course is.

  14. I have little care whether the stage was raced or not. I was never going to watch a 258 km snooze where a break goes and the peleton settles in to ride piano piano because the stage is too long to ride hard to chase the break because its the 3rd week not a one day classic.
    The boycott yesterday has been years in the making and it was little to do with yesterdays stage. The organiser was supposedly contacted previously and he did not respond.
    The organiser has consistently over the years put on super long stages with long transfers before and after the race. A number of stages this year have had the riders over 12 hours from leaving hotel to getting back to the hotel while racing super long stages. It was not about one stage even if its just one stage affected.
    These long flat stages are not only boring they are probably easier than the shorter stage they had. They are raced so controlled due to the length they fizzle out. The shorter stage would have been raced much harder and was more exiting to watch. Traditions of super long boring stages are something that can be put aside.
    The race organisation has put together a great programme at short notice. All the more reason to keep the race tighter.

  15. I agree with the general sentiment that the riders were at fault yesterday. Certainly a flat 250km stage at this point in the race looks wrong, but the route, and the logistics involved, have been known for a year; nor was the weather forecast that bad. The time to raise this with the organisers was not the evening before or morning of the race. I also think that a big decision like this would have more weight if it was unanimous – but it wasn’t.

    I heard some riders on The Cyclist Podcast (Knox, Dombrowski and Zabel, I think) explaining things, but the only argument they really had was that they were very tired. Not that compelling for the 3rd week of a GT. It was also interesting to hear Lizzy Banks, who I respect hugely as a rider and person; she didn’t particularly support the riders.

    I hope this blows over soon. Isn’t the general shambolicness somehow part of the strange attraction of pro cycling?

    In terms of today, if I were Sunweb I would be quaking at the prospect of Ganna/Dennis/Castro drilling it at a fearsome pace on the first ascent particularly. My current win forecast: Kelderman 30%, TGH 50%, Hindley 20%. I can see Kelderman being dropped, but Hindley taking maybe 30 seconds out of TGH on the final climb. I also have a sneaking suspicion that someone like Fuglsang, free of any responsibility, will engineer a stage win.

  16. Let’s say Mr Consecutive Adam Hansen knows a bit about riding Grand Tours. Let’s acknowledge Mauro Vegni’s hard work. Let’s allow that people can get overworked and lose sight of detail and the bigger picture. Let’s remember there are teams that already quit this Giro because COVID. From the comfort of our armchairs, let’s be grateful for everyone’s troubles.

    Wild card: Almeida regains pink when everyone in Ineos and Sunweb goes gangbusters. His team will be ready. He’s been great in TTs. Bilbao in second

    • Has Hansen ever even cracked the top-10 of a GV? He’s a real nobody un cycling terms, and it’s appalling that GT multi-winners and multi-World champions allow themselves to be accomplices of this declaration of war.

        • Didn’t mean to insult (although I do feel insulted), but Hansen’s back to back GTs, without contesting the GC, that is, sparing himself most of the days, should impress no one. Geminiani and Lejarreta did it while fighting for the podium (and with 250km + stages a gogo), and that is something that does impress.

      • I think Hansen was having a ‘last hurrah’ as a cyclist. He’s possibly long bemoaned these sorts of stages, and now he thought ‘I’ve nothing to lose so I can have a go about it’.

        • Don’t want to start long debate but 100% with INRNG.

          Firstly the record of consecutive GTs isn’t nothing, and to be honest simply being at a GT is already a huge achievement. Not everyone is created equal, and it’s important we take the time to respect each others achievements no matter whether they might seem smaller than others, we all deserve a voice, and belittling people quickly slips into forgetting their humanity.

          If riders respect Hansen and he’s naturally come forward as the voice of this peloton, so should we.

  17. Sestriere, 1992, Chiapuchi.

    The crowd closes around, he overtakes the moto, he wins then talks about father watching Coppi on the same climb. My favourite GC stage, ever. Hopefully we will have some more magic today.

    PS The riders were right. OK it played against Sagan and in favour of the sprint trains. I suspect RCS will learn, as they should.

  18. You run a business, you take your staff through the extraordinary times of this pandemic affecting the staff and business in an incalculable number of ways, and both sides make mistakes, despite following your agreed action plan. At some point a group of the staff buckle under the pressure and “down tools” temporarily. They communicate their concerns poorly and generally handle it badly. Some customers have been let down. Everyone ..owners _and_ staff… is frustrated, tired and stressed by the whole process. Even though they have been through challenging times before, nothing has been like this.. The owner goes ballistic, docks bonuses, and threatens severe repercussions at the end of that working week.
    Apart from the last sentence I’d be surprised if that scenario hasn’t played out countless times worldwide this year. I know it has in my line of work (healthcare). Customers have every reason to be disappointed. But it seems to me that to take the “downing tools” in isolation and berate/punish the staff alone for that episode is to miss the point/context.

          • +1. Ferdi. Someone who understands what attracts sponsors and spectators to bike racing. Take away the history and romanticism and all you have left is grown men dressed in lycra riding bicycles.

          • From you perspective it might all be about nostalgia, but I guess you’re in a minority.
            Most of the cyclists got to think about a family to provide for (e.g., see Dowsett in post-stage interview), a mortgage to be paid etc; sponsors got products and services to sell; and the majority of spectators just want to see cyclist compete*, with little regard for the history.
            So just because you have a wonkish inclination doesn’t entail that is is shared by others.

            * although, apparently a fair share of the telly audience watch the Tour for the scenery.

    • I look forward to telling my boss next week that I’m tired and the work day is too long and, besides, its raining and I have to walk. I’ll just pop in in the afternoon and do 3 hours, OK boss?

      How do we think that would go?

      Vegni should have insisted and DQ’d anyone not continuing.

    • This IS all about COVID-xiety. We saw it a week ago when Vaughters and De Gendt released it after a tough day in the rain.
      It’s no surprise this comes after the toughest day of the Giro.
      The riders have let themselves down, but I think we all accept that this is not about the 250km stage in our hearts. It’s about them getting back to their loved ones as soon as this race is finished.
      Apparently Dowsett’s pregnant wife had to spend a night in hospital strapped up to antibiotics which had him stressed out all day. Apparently she and the baby are doing well now. But context is always key.

  19. Should Ineos have ridden very hard on the first climb to make it as hard as possible for Kelderman?
    I think so. TGH very probably needs time and WK is the weaker rider in front of him in the mountains. The gradients aren’t steep here so they need to do more sooner.
    I don’t care who wins, but I’d like to see them all have a right go at each other.

  20. Sadly I suspect – and have been saying it for a while – that today’s stage is going to be disappointing. Surely the organisers could have found some ‘safe’ roads with some steeper gradients – I can’t see even a hard tempo cracking Kelderman on a 6% incline.

  21. Quite surprised how much time Kelderman has lost here. If they’d done the full original stages both yesterday and today he might’ve lost a tonne of time.

  22. oh my goddness? this is crazy… same time going into time trial?
    I’m loving.
    My only reservation is the feeling that this isn’t quite the top level and whether either would be competing if 2019/20’s top GC riders were there?
    either way though I’m gonna enjoy tomorrow!

    • But then if I’d been told 6 months ago that Pogacar would win the TdF my immediate reaction would’ve been “oh that must be a relatively inexperienced peloton.” It’s such a weird year.

      • That assessment wouldn’t be too wrong. Despite his win last year, Bernal was inexperienced. JV hadn’t really been a race favourite before and Track hadn’t been there for a long time.

        • Ever since last year’s TdF when people were talking about Bernal dominating cycling for a decade I’ve been pointing out that he beat a n0t-particularly-fit Geraint Thomas (who was also unable to attack him in the final stage) and Steven Kruijswijk. And up until Pinot got injured, Pinot was beating him, taking time on Bernal in virtually every big mountain stage. That’s not a world-beating performance.

      • When was the last time that all three GTs were won by someone who would have been/is eligible for the best young riders jersey? Admittedly the Vuelta isn’t and hasn’t been in a young riders hands yet, but just wondering about the possibility?!
        Is TGH still eligible? Anyway, doesn’t matter. Tomorrow should be quite exciting. By what virtue does Hindley retain pink? Is it that he is the current incumbent and has not been bested? Or some other calculation? TGH has two wins so has more fillips in that sense (assuming they count like away goals/GD).

        • Time trial tenths of seconds…puts Hindley just ahead.

          I heard TGH got flown to Milan by helicopter but Hindley took the team bus (2-3 hours). I do have misgivings about unequal treatment of riders for something so crucial tomorrow. I heard in the Cycling Podcast that head to head in the Tirreno TT over about 10kms there was only 8 seconds in it. This could be a very dramatic!

  23. Hindley should have attacked way sooner and way harder (look at the time they lost on that last climb). He ensured he’ll get second overall, but didn’t try hard enough to win it (riding for his CV?).

    Pretty gutless performance. Harsh, but true. He’ll surely rue this as a missed opportunity later in life. He didn’t attack TGH on the other stage either.

    Fair play to TGH – he rode to his strengths. I might not be a fan of Ineos, but they got it right tactically while Sunweb “Movistar’d” it (2015 TdF where Movistar didn’t take the chance to help Quintana win, instead focusing on Valverde getting 3rd).

    A damp squib end to the Giro. I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t a British or Australian nationalist caring who wins. TGH has been OK, but that’s all.

    • Somewhat harsh I think. When has there been a GT when the first and second race to the line together on the last road stage and end up being seperated by 100ths going into to a final TT. That’s the stuff of fantasy bike race manager. Fair enough that the field isnt as strong as it might have been but you can only compete against riders who are there not might have beens. TGH has not ridden away with the race but he came as a domestique in support of G and was minutes down at the end of the Etna stage, to get himself to a position where he is almost certain to be no lower than second and is probably the favourite is some achievement.

      • My point is that it was barely a race to the line – Hindley didn’t race it. I haven’t criticised TGH because he rode the best way for himself to win. My only point about TGH is that he’s not a hugely impressive winner (I’m assuming he’ll win – I don’t think JH has any chance).

        • As usual, Mr Evans, your comments are pure farce. What race were you watching? Hindley did his best to attack TGH but his best wasn’t good enough. He probably waited until he thought he could sustain his attack rather than go whilst Dennis still had something to give or go too early and blow up himself. Brian Smith in commentary rightly said that both were on their limit and they are clearly pretty much equally matched. As it is, Jai Hindley will have 20 odd minutes tomorrow to win a grand tour. That’s all he can ask for at this stage.

          As for being “impressive winners”, no, these may not be the absolute cream of the sport [in truth, the best two riders in the race left with injury and illness] and they may be beating guys who have never really been good enough anyway [which includes Kelderman] and others, like Nibali, who seem second hand these days, but they have served up a cracking race between them as guys who never thought they would be at this stage with one day to go. We can be thankful for that and praise them for their efforts accordingly.

          • If JH had attacked further out he might have lost some time, or he might have gained some time and given himself a chance to win overall. As it is, he played safe, didn’t race it and will very probably have to settle for 2nd. Better to have tried, maybe cracked a bit and maybe even lost 2nd place overall, but maybe win. Coming second means very little.

          • Winning is everything in professional sport. That’s the point. (It’s not the money.)
            Valverde has six podiums at the Vuelta. Does anyone care?

          • Digahole, would he have got a worse contract if he’d really gone for it? Even if he’d lost 2 minutes he’d still likely end up on the podium.

    • It’s a bit harsh… I think Hindley looked like he was suffering more today than on the Stelvio stage (not such a surprise considering the profile, less suited to uim). When he tried to shake Hart off, he couldn’t, and he wasn’t saving much. All in all, it wasn’t the greatest spectacle I’ve seen on the Giro, but there were a couple nice stages.

      I agree that the tactics employed were more than strange sometimes, and if Hindley loses time tomorrow Sunweb will rue their mistakes. Ineos seemed to go for stage wins until the road ahead cleared up, and we can’t blame them, but Sunweb got it wrong many times over the 3 weeks. Today everyone was on the limit, but who knows what could have happened on the Stelvio stage, or the Piancavallo stage, or if everyone gave their all in the early ITTs…

      As for the lacklustre performances, I don’t know, I feel both of them punched above their weight. Does that make them favorites for next year’s Tour de France? Probably not, but you can only beat the competition you face.

      • Hindley went for the seconds at the sprint with 6km(?) to go and TGH seemed not to be able to follow, although non of know how JH was feeling himself, I was shouting at the TV for JH to continue. Dennis may have brought TGH back but it seemed a missed opportunity by JH to me to fight for the win and extend the lead, even if the attack failed, I believe JH and TGH would still have been 1-2 at the finish…..

    • Top 3 separated by 15 seconds 2 days from the end and top 2 level going into final stage and that’s a damp squib???

      And ‘gutless’ is very strong. How can you make that judgement without knowing exactly how Hindley was feeling? His attacks were weak and barely shook off Dennis, so it’s hardly unreasonable to see if he feels better tomorrow rather than blowing up today and losing 30 seconds. Maybe you disagree, which is fair enough, but I’m not comfortable with ‘gutless’. A bit too Cycling News.

    • Ritchie Porte possibly wouldn’t have started as third best in his own team. No way he’d have survived this parcours. Probably wouldn’t have made the top 10. The young guys have gone out and raced hard, and all credit to them. The Stelvio was ridden at a record pace if I don’t remember well wasn’t it? How does that square with “gutless” Hindley, Almeida or TGH worthy winners, where are Nibali, Fuglsang, Yates, Thomas, Majka, Kelderman? This was the most exciting GT well… since… September at least.

  24. I enjoyed the stage, and it was a rare spectacle to see the GC race so animate, open and close.

    The scenario of the top two equal in time going into the final TT is unprecedented in my less than encyclopaedic knowledge of Grand Tours. This is high athletic drama and I’m really glad to appreciate it.

    Although, if Rohan Dennis is dropping virtually the whole field in the high mountains I do question the level – but this doesn’t take away the pure sport of the racing, or the effort of the protagonists.

      • Dennis was brilliant and he has done it twice now.

        I remember him competing on the mountain in the Tour of California in 2014, but I didn’t expect him to bring this kind of form to the big mountains. He’s been sensational. Not so much floating as forging his way up hill.

        I read above that the Stelvio was ridden in record time on Thursday. If that’s true then he is indeed riding at an exalted level.

        • The side of the Stelvio from Prat that was ridden on Thursday was rarely used in the last decades, only in 2005 on the stage to Livigno and in 1994 on the stage to Aprica the race went up from Prat. In both years the summit of the Stelvio was further from the finish and afterwards there were even longer mountains and more vertical meters with the combination of Passo Foscagno and Pass d’Eira on the way to Livigno and the Mortirolo on the way to Aprica. I think one can conclude that the Stelvio was not so crucial for the results of those stages and it was ridden more tactically. So I don’t think that we should draw too many conclusions about the level of competition from the alleged record on Thursday.
          That doesn’t mean that I want to question the value of the competition, I just think that one shouldn’t interpret too much into climbing times.

  25. I was surprised with TGH going into the final km. Although Hindley gamely led them over that final 1,000m TGH seemed to decide he was going to ride two’s-up for a lot of it, and I have no idea why.
    He dropped back for approaching the sprint, but he seemed to be doing some sort of brinkmanship with Hindley and I was screaming at the TV “why? Just sit on his wheel and sprint at the right time, save your legs!” It was a relief he won, but I felt that confidence was a little misplaced.
    That said when Dennis brought back Hindley twice it did seem like the young Aussie was pretty much played out. TGH can’t have been feeling all that fresh though as he didn’t try to go over the top at any point.

      • That’s a bold move, especially when wearing pink on the final day in a time trial brings some benefit with respect to splits so it just seems like foolish bravado.

      • +1 unnecessary and dangerous, and possibly losing focus on the actual winning. Bullying in fact which is not an attractive character trait.

      • I didn’t see it as too aggressive, just saying “I’m still here”.

        As a collector of all things 1989 Tour de France I came across a copy of the National Geographic magazine with Greg LeMond (maybe from 1990?) in a flea market, and it features a quote from LeMond’s road captain Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle who said something like “even if takes my last breath, I’ll ride up alongside my rival and smile at him”, the point being is to say you’ll still there even if you’re one attack from suffering the same fate as Kelderman.

    • They were both shattered. I don’t get all this having a pop at Tao for not just riding Hindley off his wheel or vice versa. Neither had anything left. Both are at this level for the first time. Give them a break.

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