Giro Stage 8 Preview

A stage along the Italian coast in two halves, the first is gelato-sweet, the second much saltier.

Arnaud Tremare: a nervous stage which saw the peloton split to pieces in the crosswinds early on but things came back together in time for the finish, although the bunch stayed nervous with several crashes, and an average speed over 51km/h. In the sprint Groupama-FDJ proved the strongest while other sprinters were fending for themselves, it was like watching an express train go up alongside someone on a pump trolley and Démare finished the job. He did this by moving to the right but it wasn’t a sudden switch and he left room fro Peter Sagan to overtake on either side but he couldn’t.

The Route: 200km and the first 100km are a spin along the coast. The climb midway marks the change, Monte Sant’Angelo is almost 10km at 6% with with plenty of 7%, it’s selective but a warm-up for what’s to come. From here on the road winds along the coast and it’s constantly rising and falling, twisting and turning.

The Finish: there’s a finishing circuit, there’s only one passage across the finish line but they almost ride two laps and crucially twice up the Via Saragat, a kilometre at 9.3% with a steep 15% section midway but crucially the slope keeps changing like a demented staircase, this means its hard to carry momentum and the sprinters risk paying for it. There’s a more gentle descent back down to the sea and the finish is flat, on the sea front.

The Contenders: another day for Arnaud Démare? The final climbs might be too much, the Via Saragat is awkward and much more so than the ramp in Matera although there’s more time to recover. Still Michael Matthews (Sunweb) is the prime pick today, he might not have a train from his team but the finish suits. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) can strike too. The breakaway has a chance but Groupama-FDJ, Sunweb and Bora-Hansgrohe will all chase. Diego Ulisso and Valerio Conti (UAE Emirates) can try to exploit the final climb to attack on.

Michael Matthews
Peter Sagan, Arnaud Démare
Ballerini, Vendrame, Ulissi, Conti

Weather: a calm day by the sea, 23°C and little wind.

TV: Monte Sant’Angelo starts just before 2.00pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 4.30pm.

33 thoughts on “Giro Stage 8 Preview”

  1. FDJ would do well to put someone in the break if they can. Resign themselves to Demare not making it and do all the can to help the breakaway take the points Sagan and Matthews could hover up.

  2. Is the route so likely to produce a sprint finish that the sprint teams are going to close down a break? Or is it too hilly for a break to stay away? Looks like classics terrain. De Gendt has looked lively, will he try again?

    • If they’re not testing every day then he could have had it for several days before the positive test. Early in the illness it’s possible to have subtle symptoms that keep one from being 100% without feeling outright ill. At this level of racing, even a tiny impairment in lung function would be massive, and COVID is very much a lung infection.

      • Worrying for the future of the race if he has had it since Etna. The Mitchelton bubble will be infected and despite being outside, there’s a lot of face to face chatting between riders in the peloton.

        • The rest of Michelin Scott have apparently tested negative. Watching brief for the next few days, but so far it seems contained. (I would think it must have been transferred, but we’ll see)

        • Compromised, not infected. Meaning that it is perfectly possible that no-one else inside the Mitchelton bubble has caught the virus.
          Besides, despite the rather famous computational study of how aerosol particles can spread, the funny thing is that it isn’t terribly likely that anyone in the peloton who has chatted face to face with Yates or ridden behind him has been infected by the virus.

          Covid-19 is a nasty villain for a number of reasons, one being that we still don’t know exactly how and when it can spread in real-word conditions. But, as a rule, it takes two things – or, at the very least, one of two things – for even a minor outbreak to occur: (1) staying indoors in the same room for an extended period of time (and poor ventilation helps), and (2) forgetting about the simple things like hand hygiene and social distance and in general behaving as if you’d never heard of the new normal.

          (The rest, including measures that may seem a bit draconian, are not pointless, though – it is just that they are necessary on the larger, population level.)

          • I think they’ll be very lucky if no-one else is infected in the Mitchelton bubble. I’d say that both points (1) and (2) are fulfilled within a team: team bus and all the shared facilities there, shared rooms, team meals, spending day after day with each other…

            Saying that, there have been a few apparently isolated cases of riders who’ve had to withdraw from races without infecting the wider race, so we’ll see!

      • Are they not testing daily? And if not, why not?
        Also, there’s a lot of discussion in the scientific press about whether COVID is actually primarily a vascular disease, which is why even for those who are seemingly unaffected or mildly affected there could be significant long-term damage to the cardiovascular system.

    • It may well explain his unexpected and abrupt loss of form, but who really knows in this sport.
      Some have criticised the austere rules in the TdF, but this probably vindicates the TdF a bit. Now we wait to see who he was behind the bike sheds with.

  3. If he has had it for for a few days it would certainly explain the mysterious loss of form. Perhaps more concerning is how he got it in the first place and whether anyone else within the race bubble has it too. A nervous few days ahead for the race.

    • Matt white on the detour podcast (which he is on every night) has indicated that while the teams have mostly been strict the hotel staff and other guests are not so strict in general and i guess that’s a possible source. But likely we will never know where it came from.
      The protocol was this according to Matt White.
      1. Daily health checks (or probably multiple times a day).
      2. With a Symptom identified The rider was put into room isolation until the rapid check was performed by RCS.
      3. Then a more thorough test was conducted as i guess the first test method is fairly rough.
      4.All the teams riders under go daily tests for the next 3 days. I think this is the rapid test.
      We can only hope this was isolated.
      It was probably early signs of the illness that he suddenly lost all form. The stage he got dropped really was not that fast for somebody capable of winning a race a week earlier.

      • When i said all the teams riders i mean all the greenedge riders. Only greenedge is what i think matt white said. I would presume all the teams will be really vigulent on there health checks though as they will all be really nervous.

      • I’m not so sure about all the ‘he had COVID and that explains his performance’. If he has COVID he tests positive. So it’s less likely to affect his performance, because he can be asymptomatic and test positive. That’s the point of the test, because if you wait for symptoms it’s too late. You’re not going to know a rider has because of their uphill performance. Also, riders are more likely to show symptoms quickly because the exercise load compromises the immune system.

        • Without wanting to get into a dull discussion over virus mechanics, you can have the virus for sometime before you test positive or have symptoms (hence all the debate over travel, quarantine and tests). So he might have had the virus for a few days unknowingly despite all the team’s precautions. The discussion is moot now but it is one explanation for his rather odd form since Monday, clearly others possible too.

          • Quite. But if your performance is being impinged you are showing symptoms. Viral load will have some impact on whether the test is accurate, and being asymptomatic is likely if you have a low load. It’s not out of the realms of possibility that it had some effect. But I’d be surprised if it was the reason.

          • There can also be effects that fall short of being a symptom noticeable by the general public – and for that reason publicised by health authorities as the “symptoms” to watch out for – which nevertheless impinge on an elite athlete’s performance.

            Given that Covid often reduces the ability to breathe and take in oxygen, it’s not that unlikely that it could reduce a rider’s oxygen intake enough for him to lose 3 minutes on a climb a couple of days before he notices symptoms.

        • Symptoms refer to subjective evidence of illness. If Yates didn’t notice a fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc., then he was asymptomatic. Asymptomatic people with COVID have frequently been shown to have impaired oxygen saturation (due to the primary viral pneumonia which is a fundamental part of COVID-19) despite not noticing any problems or symptoms. It would be useful to know if Yates got a chest x-ray. There are lots of documented cases of really nasty looking CXRs without overt symptoms.

          • Yates was panting up Aetna with his jersey undone in the rain and wind when everyone else looked cold. I think I tried to post on here that he looked as if he had a fever ( not necessarily Covid, of course) ; anyway, my partner and I are not exactly amazed at the Covid news.

  4. More good sense from Jos van Emden on Eurosport UK about yesterday’s crash caused by a needless barrier marking 45km to go narrowing the road, putting three riders out of the race.

    If you missed his 10 safety points back August they’re well worth a read, especially regarding how race radio actually makes racing less safe.

  5. So far during this Giro I’ve correctly surmised that Granite Thomas was actually seriously injured in his unlikely tumble before it was confirmed, and that Yates (S) was suffering from illness, at that point undiagnosed (and he doesn’t look alone). I don’t want to hex it, but if the athletic spreaders and their retinues even make it to Milan, I will very very surprised. Yours, Mystic Steve

  6. Slight side note – but riders are testing positive for Covid at a pretty alarming rate right now… not sure if the season should continue at this point.

    Plus, doctors have warned about potential long term consequences for lung capacity. It may only have a 1-5% effect, but clearly for an endurance athlete losing 1-5% (or even 0.10%) would kill a career!

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