Giro d’Italia Stage 10 Preview

Another chance for the sprinters, more so since Caleb Ewan has gone home. It’s all on familiar roads to Foligno, the novelty today could be the wind.

Rocks of change: yesterday’s stage might not make the highlights of the year because it didn’t have the reversals of fortune and more, but it had plenty in the form of relentless energy. We had a wild start to the stage with no move able to go clear, wave after wave of riders attacking when a break finally went away and Ineos and Groupama-FDJ got to the front and started on some energy food, UAE hit them in a bid to get Diego Ulissi up front. Gulf rivals Bahrain also had ideas and were firing riders up the road only for Matej Mohorič to plant his front wheel in a corner on a descent and somersault over the bars. This was no cartoon caper, Mohorič is a demon descender and the accident owned more to the bad state of the road and the tension in the race and the Slovenian was carted away in an ambulance after struggling to stand up following the impact. All along Geoffroy Bouchard was up front, sometimes solo, and because of this now leads the mountains competition. He was disconsolate when he and Koen Bouwman were caught in the final metres of the rocky dirt track by the GC contenders with Egan Bernal sprinting past to take the stage win, the race lead and most importantly big morale boost because when he stands on the pedals there’s nothing the others can do about it. Remco Evenepoel looked to be in trouble on the gravel ski slope but this was down to positioning earlier and a touch of wheels and he had a fast finish to limit his losses.

Egan Bernal took a handful of seconds on his main rivals, plus the 10 second time bonus. He leads Remco Evenepoel and Aleksandr Vlasov by 15 and 21 seconds now which is not much, if the final time trial was tomorrow then both the Belgian and the Russian would overhaul him. But there’s still two weeks of racing left including Wednesday’s gravel lottery and the Alps. So it’s advantage Bernal who is taking time on the terrain others might have hoped to take time on him. It’s still possible to gift the maglia rosa to another team in theory but in practice, which counts for a lot more, Ineos are the strongest team and can manage. Put simply if anyone else wants to win the Giro they need to take on Ineos and Bernal and good luck with that.

The Route: a short stage, just 139km. With a climb at the start and a mountain pass later on, today’s stage gives breakaways some hope but not much more, there’s only one mountain point. There’s an air of déjà vu too with the route copying most of 2016’s Stage 7. The Valico della Somma is a big climb on a main traffic artery, the Via Flaminia and the difficulty today could be the wind more than the slope, there’s a crosswind and a team that accelerates could cause trouble but at the risk of burning up riders they need in the finish.

The Finish: the same as 2016 which was the same as 2014. There’s a flat run into town. It’s not got anything wild and takes place on modern, wide roads but there are several bends with pinch-points from street furniture. A wide U-turn at 500m and the roadbook lists a bend and then just a 160m finishing straight but there’s no sharp corner, just a sweeping road.

The Contenders: who to choose in the absence of Caleb Ewan, the go-to pick? Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) both look good but we’ll see if Gaviria is still sore after his crash on Saturday and Merlier’s got a solid train which helps for today’s finish around Foligno. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) is back, but still on his way back to the form of old, meanwhile Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) are in search of a lucky break and that elusive win.

Tim Merlier
Fernando Gaviria, Giacomo Nizzolo
Groenewegen, Viviani, Sagan, Cimolai

Weather: the weather’s warming up, it’ll be sunny and 24°C. Crucially there’s a 3/4 tailwind of 30km/h which could be enough to split things up if it materialises and is sustained.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. As a sprint stage this isn’t required viewing from start to finish but watch out if it’s windy and enjoy because the emptiness of a rest day awaits tomorrow.

44 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 10 Preview”

    • I have the stray thought that Sagan could try to get in the break and, if it’s a reasonably strong one, stay away with them to pick up both intermediate and final sprint points. Strong winds would doom that, but those winds could open up exactly the possibility that you mention. I think something that helps both those possibilities is that Lotto will no longer be chasing, and I’m not sure the remaining sprinter’s teams have a ton of chasing in them at this point. Also, Buchmann is doing OK but not great, and so Sagan may be Bora’s best chance for some glory in this Giro.

    • Bora executed that to perfection. I really thought Gaviria was going to come around Sagan at the line, but coming out of the curve he really didn’t gain much ground at all in the last 2oo meters. That was an impressive sprint at the end.

      It’s a little surprising to me that at this point Bora as 3 WT wins, and Sagan has all of them.

  1. There have been a few dull days but overall I think its been a much more interesting first week of the Giro than usual. Ineos who intimated they would not strangle the Grand Tours, but instead adopt a less predictable style, have reverted to their typical tactics it seems. Not entirely sure why they felt that de Marchi was such a threat to them and they were back at it again yesterday with the new Maglia Rosa

    I am hoping that the Gravel does throw a few curve balls and mix things up, but its on Wednesday this week I thought, not Tuesday?

    • They wanted and achieved the stage win yesterday, it seems harsh to call them out for strangling the race when they are going for their own glory.

    • In both cases, the Maglia Rosa were collateral damages. Ineos probably has no preference either way whether the specific rider got dropped, but they are not going to stop and wait either.

    • In a sense, they *do* have reverted their style sometimes at this Giro, although not the way they do when they lack a proper leader, given that they’ve been often pushing hard before the very last climb, instead of calming things down as they used to do during most difficult stages at the Tour.
      As hoh says, the collateral damages on the days’ pink jersey weren’t their primary objective: they needed a hard race to split the fav’s group on the last climbs, which otherwise would have been too easy. During the first week causing selection, even on way harder final climbs, is usually a complicated task, because everybody is still full of energies.
      Besides, it’s always good to push some potential GC rivals away when they’re still growing their form. You may succeed or not, but you have to try – if the resources are there to do so.

  2. “Mohorič is a demon descender and the accident owned more to the bad state of the road and the tension in the race…”
    I guess those roads (and the tension) were really bad as riders were crashing left and right on the descents…except they weren’t. But at least nobody (yet anyway) has blamed the UCI for not letting Mohoric sit on his top tube 🙂
    Will INEOS now try to control things all the way to Milano? Will Bernal’s bad back play up again? Could he win his second GT with only one stage win between them both? W Il Giro!

    • It is often said that adopted sons of a country are the most ardent and passionate defenders of its glory and reputation and sometimes they see attacks when there isn’t any 🙂
      “The bad state of the road” refers to a particular section or maybe even a particular spot of a particular road. (Although I’m pretty sure that my general impression that races in Spain and France are, as a rule, ridden on roads that are in better condition than in Italy is not entirely wrong.)
      If there is a crack in the road, it’s there even if it doesn’t catch the wheels of a certain minumum number of riders.
      PS I’m eager to dismiss the rider error theory, i.e. the locked rear wheel, because I’ve seen a rider in front of me do just what Mohorič did – albeit at a slower speed but slightly less fortunate – when he rode into a crack hidden by shadows.
      PPS W Il Giro!

      • Yes some of the roads have looked as wild and woolly as the scenery. But these are roads through mountains that will cop the worst the weather can throw at them and by May perhaps there hasn’t been time to repair them. The Tour and Vuelta come later in the year and anyway, the freshly laid appearance of every road in the Tour looks daft.

      • “Although I’m pretty sure that my general impression that races in Spain and France are, as a rule, ridden on roads that are in better condition than in Italy is not entirely wrong.)”
        Might have something to do with the time period. We followed LeTour and Il Giro from the late ’80’s though the late ’90’s. During that period the Italians seemed to repave a whole lot of La Corsa Rosa…some of it just days before the race arrived. One wonders why they didn’t add some pink dye to the asphalt? Alex Zulle wrote somewhere that he thought ALL the roads in Italy were great as a result but then and now that’s even farther from true. Fewer roads get repaved as regularly here in Italy, probably starting with the financial crisis back in 2008. Haven’t been in France much during that period so I can’t say much about those road except the awful chip-and-seal stuff down in the Pyrenees was bad then and is probably bad now?
        My comments about the road and Mohoric were more aimed at how nothing seems to be anyone’s fault anymore (unless it’s the UCI)…it’s like nobody can just f__k up and crash…there’s always gotta be some external factor to blame it seems.

        • “One wonders why they didn’t add some pink dye to the asphalt?”
          When there was a TT through Riccione, just a few miles from the Cattolica finish the other day, they did indeed lay pink asphalt all along the cycle path that formed the first part of the route. That was either 2018 or 2019 – I’m too lazy to check – and I would guess it’s still there.

    • Mohoric never had a problem sitting on his top tube and using caliper brakes. I think this crash is a warning to both Shimano and the UCI, who should rectify their trend regarding braking and descending positions.

      • What would you suggest? IMHO skill going down the hill should be valued though it’s rarely going to make up for getting dropped going up. Great climbers get lauded all the time…great descenders not so much. Of course I type this as someone who is/was pretty bad going up and (was) pretty good going down 🙂

        • I say: let the guy choose his position according to his own sense of safety (with lower centre of gravity), and don’t force him to use disc brakes when rim brakes were largely sufficient.

          • How could the UCI control whether the sponsor forces disky brakes on their riders? I think ditching the super-tuck was a good idea, but for me it was the aesthetics of it more than anything you could nail down as a safety issue.

          • I won’t go into what I think about the bike biz’ involvement in the sport, you’ve all read it before, but as someone who has done my own similar f__k up on a descent a time or two (long before there were any disky brakes) I’m not convinced this can be blamed on the new-fangled brakes as much as I think they’re an answer to a question nobody but the industry ever asked.
            Who got the blame for Evenepoel’s descending f__k up at Lombardia BTW? What about Gilbert’s over-the-wall episode at TdF not too long ago?

          • That brutal block-braking wasn’t usual with rim brakes, unless you did it on purpose. And I feel sorry for the guy’s trademark position. He had obviously mastered it, including where to put his weight, and how to brake in it.

          • Can’t really say much about road disc brakes since I’ve never bothered with them. An answer only to: “What can we introduce that will instantly make every current road bike out there seem obsolete if we do our marketing right?” question, IMHO.
            I rode a Shimano hydraulic disc braked MTB awhile back and thought the brakes a bit grabby, but I can say that about the same company’s rim brakes as well – there have been plenty of racers doing somersaults with those over the years after squeezing their dual-pivot front brake too hard.
            Mohoric has done quite a bit of “demon-descending” with these same brakes I assume, so blaming them instead of “operator error” seems unfair.

  3. Past editions suggest that winning on a mountain in the Apennines might bring pink for a while but generally is not a predictor of overall victory (think Simon Yates but there are plenty more examples). However Sky / Ineos have never been in this position at the Giro and seem to be at their happiest when leading. They know that they need to keep on taking time on their main rivals (though Egan Bernal is not a bad TT rider), stages like today (if the wind blows) & Wednesday could provide opportunities for Pippo Ganna to push on to cause stress behind. Not sure we shall see “mountain train” tactics, maybe that doesnt work with the Giro but also, especially with the loss of Pavel Sivakov, not sure they have the team for it.

    Today is very open, if a reasonably strong break goes who chases? If the wind blows we could see both Ineos and DQS trying to force echelons but I doubt they will want to expend effort chasing the break. Maybe the sprinters will need to wait for Verona for another chance.

    • So much for Sean Kelly’s (very interesting) theory about Ineos “gifting” the leader’s jersey to Evenepoel.
      I guess that the race has a definite narrative now anyway, albeit a familiar one.
      Ineos must be *very* confident in Bernal’s form, otherwise they wouldn’t do this so early.
      I can understand it one respect – today is a nothing stage (unless the wind blows) and Wednesday is the gravel, on which they’d have wanted to ride at the front in any case, so they may as well have the legitimacy for doing so? Perhaps better to have the security of a few seconds banked in case of something untoward happening on Wednesday.
      It’ll be interesting to see how Ineos play the Martinez card. If he goes up the road, do Quick Step follow?
      Personally I’d call their bluff, to throw Martinez out front is to potentially cast off Bernal and, at this point of the race at least, I don’t think Ineos will do that.
      But very interesting poker hand. Who blinks first?

      • Martínez is a legitimate contender, and like Quickstep Ineos does has a mentality of “as long as team wins, doesn’t matter which rider”.

        It’s not like Bernal’s not solid either. So if Quickstep call the bluff, Ineos has two very good options: either let Martinez ride to the finish and put another danger man on GC; or they can have Bernal go himself and link up with Martinez waiting ahead.

    • Generally speaking, there used to be two conflicting “schools of thought” at the Giro.

      Normally, the third week is heavy loaded, and if you start strong you seriously risk to come up short. Which suggested that you should build up the form during the race itself.

      OTOH, the first half can be very tricky, so if you’re short on form and any cocktail of factors ignites hard racing, you could find yourself already too far back – that’s why you’d better start strong.

      The latter implies stamping your authorithy on the race with a solid team, delivering psychological blows to the rest and, when the contenders were more keen to try their luck on the Ardennes, too, stretching that previous peak of form (whereas you rarely see anyone grabbing anything relevant with his peak form after the Giro). Of course, the risk of blowing up has always been there.

      Cunego, Di Luca, Basso (especially 2006), Menchov, Contador (especially 2011), Dumoulin started strong and brought form through the three weeks (Dumoulin less than the rest, but decently enough). They all won one of the first uphill stages – or pretty much the equivalent to winning in Contador’s case.
      Contador 2015, Quintana 2014, Nibali 2013, Savoldelli 2005 hadn’t a proper full early climb to show up, but they were clearly in great form and eventually got the final win.
      OTOH, in recent years Roglic, Kelderman or Simon Yates got the worst from early form.
      And let’s say that Tao, Froome, Nibali 2016, Hesjedal 2012 clearly grew into form as the race went by after a less-than-shiny beginning (Carapaz 2019 was already in great shape during the first week, although Roglic looked untouchable).

      All in all, I’d say that at the Giro there are very few solid predictors of anything. It’s the nature of the race. We even had the same rider winning (o losing) it in different years through both the “two” different approaches sketched above (in a simplist way, of course).

        • Martinez is very much a contender, but it was his placement in a potential breakaway that contributed in a large way to the mad start to the race yesterday.
          If Ineos try that again, it’ll probably result in the same reaction from the peloton.
          I was impressed with Quick Step, I must say.
          They called the bluff, sat back and let the others chase the move/s down.
          It feels like it’s in Ineos / Brailsford nature to have a more methodical approach, shall we say, and risking Bernal’s lead at this point seems a step too far for them.
          At this point anyway, yes they’d definitely do it later on in the race but not after just one week.
          That was my point anyway.

          • I was more thinking about deployment of Martinez on final climbs. At that point, not many teams have the resources to chase and Quickstep duly shut him down when he went on stage 6.

            With yesterday, when Martinez went into early break, it was quite right for quickstep to call the bluff.

  4. It really was a madcap start to yesterday’s stage. Mohoric’s crash aside it was very entertaining. I found it very odd that UAE chased so hard, after Ineos and FDJ had effectively thrown in the towel, even though they had a man up the road.

    I think I’ll go with Merlier for today.

  5. Head says Merlier, however…
    Nizzolo may have won the maglia ciclamino twice, but he has never won a Giro stage. Must come one day, and he’s been close this year.

    • Yes, but all that effort for ten seconds. They now have the pink jersey too which might have been a blessing for Groupama-FDJ, but which seems more of a weight for Ineos at this stage of the race.

    • I agree. I can’t remember Bernal having that kind of punch in the past.
      I wonder if this is something he’s worked on after seeing the success of the of Roglic and Pogacar strategies.

    • Maybe Yates has decided to do the exact opposite of the year he got blown away by Froome. If he keeps leaking a bit of time here and there when the road goes up, he’ll have even more time to make up than Froome did though.

    • I agree. He’s been anonymous (underwhelming at best). But these are strange times. He’s still less than a minute down, so he’s not badly placed. Just that he’s not likely to escape attention with the minimal time gap, and you’d expect him to at least be finishing at the sharp end.

      Adam Blythe pointed out that Evanepoel and QuickStep wasted valuable watts trying to force eschons in the wind on the gravel day. They seemed to think that this might have been the reason why he dropped time.

      Good to see Sagan return. But the current Sagan is a poor facsimile of the old Sagan. I wonder how he can reinvent himself. While he has one day racing credentials, he certainly isn’t Philippe Gilbert. As someone else pointed out, he’s still winning, but being the best sprinter when the best sprinters aren’t there is stepping into Giacomo Nizzolo’s shoes.

  6. Isn’t it crazy that yesterday was Bernal’s first grand tour stage win!?

    The relief of pressure for him was palpable in his interview after the stage yesterday and, along with his form and team, it’s another factor that’s making it harder to hold onto my glass-half-full take on this race. That said, Bernal’s form and back have to hold out for two more weeks yet.

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