Giro Stage 9 Preview

A mountain stage into the Apeninnes, this is a hard course with hardening weather conditions.

Easy Dowsett: the breakaway stayed away, the presence of strong riders up might have tipped the balance in deterring some teams from picking up the chase. Israel had two riders in Alex Dowsett and Mathias Brändle, but how to win a hilly finish? Dowsett launched the first move and after a few moves from others, Dowsett went again, this time in a sort of sneak attack, he was seated and arms on the tops of the bars as if he was touring. But like a duck gliding across a lake, down below the legs were putting out the power and he got the gap and went solo for the win. Winning is typically portrayed as joyful but often it’s a more a feeling of relief, of finally completing a job and Dowsett gave an emotional interview, “I don’t have a contract for next year right now, and I’ve got… Chanel and I have a baby on the way in January so I can’t tell you how much I’ve been worrying this year about what I’m going to do next year“. Otherwise the stage news – at least RAI’s post stage coverage – was dominated by Simon Yates’ withdrawal from the race following a positive Covid test, the Briton has left the race but the fear is contagion.

The Route: 208km inland to the Apennine mountains and some familiar places from past editions of the Giro and Tirreno-Adriatico with Guardiagrele on the way to the Passo Lanciano, arguably the hardest climb of the day but it comes early and is mainly 7-8%. The rest of the day’s climbs are often 4-5%, a gradual slog but it all adds up to over 4,000m of vertical gain and in cold conditions today.

The Finish: a 10km climb but a gentle gradient until two kilometres to go when route heads out of Roccaraso and for the ski resort above, here the slope hits 7% and then gets to 12% closer to the line with some snaking hairpins just before the finish. It’s the same ski resort as when Tim Wellens won in 2016 but the finish is slightly different, there’s an extra kilometre stacked on top and it’s steeper.

The Contenders: the breakaway has a good chance and we might have two races for the price of one. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) has probably withdrawn his legs from sale, he’s going much better now. Other names include Larry Warbasse (A2gr La Mondiale), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) and Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos)

Among the GC contenders the uphill finish is short and steep so Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) and João Almedia (Deceuninck-Quickstep) both have a good chance as they’re more punchy than the more obvious, big GC names but it’ll depend how the stage is ridden, if it’s hard all day then look to Jacob Fuglsang (Astana) and Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) as well.

De Gendt, Castroviejo, Konrad
Visconti, Caicdedo, Almeida, Warbasse, Guerreiro, Conti, Ulissi

Weather: a big change from yesterday, rain clearing and it’ll be cool, 18°C tops in the valleys, less at altitude with just 8°C at the finish.

TV: the finish is forecast for 4.30pm CEST. There’s also the mysterious Gent-Wevelgem today, no route and timing details have been published, and Paris-Tours with an early finish around 2.45pm CEST.

36 thoughts on “Giro Stage 9 Preview”

    • Possibly, especially if that’s your team’s first ever GT stage win. Certainly does no harm in advertising his capability to teams that may still be mulling over the other closing down sale offers.

  1. A great win for Dowsett. One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet (he served me energy drink once!) He’s been plugging away, doing domestique duties endlessly so this was a welcome opportunity.
    Kudos to both he and Brändle for using their advantage. I thought they had blown it when they went off the back, but when they got back on and Dowsett immediately went over the top it felt like the winning move. He maxed his skill set advantage to win. That’s what experience buys you. That’s race craft.

    • Not to take anything away from Dowsett but the way I see it it was more a question of lack of race craft from Puccio, Rosskopf and particularly Holmes.

      • I too am surprised by how it worked out, when I saw Dowsett move away again when he did, I thought his move was doomed, that the riders following him would ride properly until the climb. Dowsett isn’t the kind of rider who will surrender 30s easily if he takes them, and they would know that. But they didn’t ride.

        I’m absolutely delighted in the end, all those riders deserved something of today but seeing his reaction at the finish and learning his contract situation would make him a very popular winner yesterday.

        While I won’t take any of his TT wins away from him, this one felt like the nicest. Hopefully he’ll secure a nice deal somewhere.

      • I’m not saying that the competition was top notch. But he played his cards as well as he could. It was a measured approach, riding away in TT-Mode. Puccio and the others made a calculation on taking it all back on the climb – they cut 60 secs to 20 – but ultimately came up short. But going over top and putting 30 secs and then 60 Into them afforded the opportunity for the win. The point being he and his team mate did everything right at the right time. Luck plays it’s part, but I’ve seen many a team with a numerical advantage in a break falter, and they didn’t. Dowsett and his team mate played it right.
        You can criticise the other riders in the break. Could they have closed Dowsett down earlier? Only they can tell you if they had the legs. They certainly tried to win and failed. And, you can only beat the competition that’s available. I mean Dowsett cycles like Bod, with his feet pointing out, but race craft is about calculating the variables, looking for your opportunities and taking them when they come. That’s what Dowsett did. You can’t say he didn’t.

    • Was a bit surprised to hear he hasn’t got a contract yet. Wanty GG must need a top level time trial rider who can pull in a lot of points and maybe Chris Froome could use him Tony Martin-style at Israel SUN. Perversely, though, his Giro win could make things harder because his value has just gone up a bit. I’ve got my fingers firmly crossed he gets a contract – and a good one too at a good team.

  2. Lanciano is a half legendary climb 😉 Passo Lanciano is the pass on the lower slopes of the road to Blockhaus on Majelletta which is the hardest climb ever included in a grand tour.

    I hope someone decides to blow up the race on the narrow 14% section out of Pretoro – but i doubt it will happen.

  3. Pleased for Dowsett he seems like a nice guy. Hopefully he’ll get a contract for next year. Thinking the break might get away today too and we might get a few little gc gaps on the climb.

    For folk in the UK with Eurosport… how do I watch G-W, are they doing some sort of red button option thing like with football? They’re advertising 3 races but the planner has tennis all day on E1 and the Giro on E2.

    • It might be only online – that’s what I use, so I don’t know about the TV. Online, you can watch races ‘on demand’ – i.e. videos of them afterwards. They definitely have Gent-W online, and might well have Paris-Tours (they usually do, and they also have the cyclocross today).

      I’ve long thought that their incessant mentioning of the ‘GCN race pass/Eurosport online’ must be infuriating, especially as they bring it up after every advert break on the TV. (This is reason alone to go online – no more adverts at crucial moments/almost every downhill.)

      • I only have Sky, arguably only have a TV, to watch cycling on Eurosport. If I can watch it online with more choice and less adverts, and for less money, then I should probably look into that. It’ll probably take me a couple of years to catch up with the trend though.

        • It’s £49 a year online, and very easy to use for a techno-dunce like me (no clue how GCN works).
          And they often do deals for £20 a year (watch out around ‘Black Friday’ and later in winter). Not sure I’ve ever paid full price – got it for £1 one BF.

        • You should def switch if you have Sky only for cycling. GCN have finally added Chromecast to their app so you can now stream to your TV (you need to buy a chromecast dongle if it’s not a smart tv)

          All the cycling live without ads for £40 per year. The app is still a bit buggy but they’ve ironed out the main issues it had on launch.

  4. If I was a GC contender I’d ride to end up in 1st place overall today. Seems highly unlikely that Yates will be an isolated case, and I don’t then see how this race reaches Milan.

    Presumably Sagan has given up on the points jersey? He came in 100th yesterday, on the same time as Matthews.

    • no, Demare AND Sagan mutualy agreed NOT to contest the sprint for 7th as it would look stupid. Mathewes apperantly has no problem looking stupid…

      • Who’ll look stupid if the jersey is won by that number of points?
        And what if Demare loses to Sagan by a point? He’ll know he could have taken it here.
        Sagan’s missing the monuments for this, and for a rider of his stature only having two of those is not that impressive. He might do better at those than he has done in sprints at the two grand tours he’s done this year – and which would you rather win?

    • I wouldn’t be so worried at this stage. They’ll be watching like hawks over the rest day. This’ll be the best opportunity for all teams to take stock – COVID-19, or otherwise.

      The biggest problem is the weather and what RCS has planned if push comes to shove.

  5. It continues to baffle me that when riders see another rider going away, like Dowsett yesterday, they don’t work together to bring them back. I realise that nobody wants to do the work, but they must have seen this happen a hundred times – unless they don’t watch bike racing. This way, you guarantee you lose. The only thing you can do is swiftly agree to work together, and not attack each other. Or you can sit around doing largely nothing while the biggest victory of your career sails off in the distance.
    Very well done to Dowsett, though, and his words after the stage remind us that this is a professional living, and a precarious one.

    • A big part of the reason yesterday was Dowsett’s teammate, Brändle…he did a brilliant job of disrupting the chase – every time somebody finished their turn, they’d flick the elbow and Brändle would just sit behind them. Then they’d slow down and still he wouldn’t come through, then when the rider behind Brändle finally came past, Brändle would barge his way into second wheel and do it all over again…it’s amazing how much that slows down and disrupts a chase, and it was a big part of the reason Dowsett won yesterday…

      • (Sorry, me above.)
        Yes, but you don’t have to let Brändle do that. If the others ride together and slip from the front back into line ahead of Brändle, he can’t physically stop them doing that. They did not commit to the chase until it was too late, and they didn’t work together.

        • You kind of do. It’s very hard to stop a rider disrupting a chase when the group is small like that because they can always get onto the back before the rider who’s coming back after doing their turn.

          • Yes exactly, and it’s even harder to stop a rider disrupting when they’re simply bigger than the others. There was one point yesterday where Brändle simply barged Holmes off the wheel and slotted into second wheel…

    • If something happens all the time, why do you choose to continue to be baffled by it? Is not more sensible to try and understand why it happens rather than just shake your head and condemn from a position of ignorance?

      • So if something happens often your philosophy would be to accept that it must be right? You talk about ignorance and yet that displays a lack of critical thinking.

        • It shows an arrogance to think that you, an armchair cyclist, knows better than professionals who have been doing this since they were 15? Maybe – just maybe – you’re missing something that they know and you don’t.

          • Point taken, Reuben. But I’ve been astounded at such refusals (in cycling and other pack sports), throwing away a likely podium shot for failing to collaborate, even failing to encourage others (as simple as “let’s go!”). Plus “pros” are sometimes only kids, they’re not all seasoned.

  6. Dowsett comes across well on his you tube channel and the win is good news. His lack of contract goes back to each rider having their role – and if his is TT then he just hasn’t been good enough at TT over the past few years. It is telling that ISN don’t want him even though he’s got them a huge win.
    I feel that elder statesman and TT player-coach at 2nd tier team might be good for him.

    Also – cyclists – have a plan B. There isn’t enough space on Eurosport for you all.

  7. Cycling news talked as if Nibali and others lost time today. Admittedly Kelderman and Fuglsang took time out of their rivals, but many of the top ten took something on Almeida. Surely that is a positive, even if it is relative…. basically Almeida lost time to most.
    Enjoyed Warbasse’s outburst. He’s right and he’s wrong. Guerreiro has every right to sit there, but it’s not something which wins you friends. Calling him out is fair enough, but that’s racing. You roll the dice however you play it.

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