Giro d’Italia Stage 13 Preview

Not every day can be a day in the Apennines or a dash across the strade bianche. A sprint in Verona awaits.

Veni, vidi, Vendrame: the postman usually delivers but one day the postino in Santa Lucia di Piave didn’t bring a letter, he brought a question to the Vendrame household: “would you like to race?”, he asked the kid on a bike. Vendrame said yes of course and won in his first race aged six and the rest is history. He kept on winning, so much that he turned pro as a teenager. Only with the modest Marchiol team in the Conti ranks, hardly Quickstep, but precocious all the same. From here the career path stops being an escalator and starts to resemble the profile of a mountain stage. Vendrame dropped down to the U23 ranks, joining the Zalf team, a squad with a vintage jersey and a tradition of winning. Hardly a demotion but Vendrame took this as a setback. Then a training crash ruined things and he needed facial surgery and rehab. It’s easy to drop these injuries into sentence and skip on to the next win, jumping over the months of downtime. But let’s dwell for a moment, Vendrame had it hard, he joked he was the Joker from Batman with his distorted face. When he did ride, the skin grafts could not sweat so his face felt like it was overheating. Imagine that for a whole summer. He got back on the bike and after a second season with Zalf the Androni team came knocking. He turned pro alongside Egan Bernal and got to ride the Giro as a second year pro. He also impressed Ag2r La Mondiale – winning the Tro Bro Leon – who were after a house Italian to replace the likes of Matteo Montaguti and Domenico Pozzovivo. He’s now on his fourth Giro and finally lands a big win and there should be more.

It was also a bonus day for Ag2r Citroën as Geoffroy Bouchard was in the big breakaway too and took his points tally in the mountains competition from 51 to 96. After the climbs thinned down the move, the final ascent of the Passo de Carnaio gave us a puncheur with three climbers. Vendrame made it over the with George Bennett, Gianluca Brambilla and Chris Hamilton and he looked the most likely to win. But how? Brambilla – a Zalf alumni too – was probably the most dangerous but when Chris Hamilton drifted off the front Brambilla who’d made so many moves until then didn’t budge and got in a stand-off with George Bennett and the two cancelled each other out. It left Vendrame to finish off Hamilton in an easy sprint.

The Route: 198km and not much to write home about. Yes, it’s flat and featureless but if they’d put a climb in somewhere it’d still be a bunch sprint in Verona.

The Finish: a big boulevard run to the line. Soon after the 3km to go sign there’s a roundabout and the race goes around the right which is longer, as if designed to help stretch out the peloton. Then it’s past the city gates and to the line.

The Contenders: it looks like a route for a Dutchman so why not Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma)? Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) is always close and if his leadout Seba Molano can play postman rather than freestyle street artist then he can deliver Gaviria to the win. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) doesn’t have to win, just place but in surfing the wheels and waiting until late he can pounce. Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) is always close but how to win?

Elia Viviani (Cofidis) is the local but this doesn’t give him any advantage, just a nice story if he can win. He’s from Verona and if the Giro’s visited in recent years, it’s been for a time trial and knows today is a special occasion. He’s also been picked as the flag carrier for the Italian games in Tokyo which is a fine honour and if good luck comes in three’s, then maybe today is the day.

Fernando Gaviria
Elia Viviani, Dylan Groenewegen
Nizzolo, Cimolai, Sagan, Moschetti

Weather: a calm day on the plains, 23°C.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune in earlier at your peril.

20 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 13 Preview”

    • Yes, he looks like he has more kick in his legs than I’ve seen in a while, though he doesn’t seem sure how to use his form, going too early or getting out of position.

      I’m a little skeptical of Groenewegen’s chances. Twelve stages in his legs after no racing in so long and so far not showing himself to be in sync with his leadout weigh against this being an otherwise ideal stage for him. To the extent that he is probably still leery of asserting himself physically within the usual sprint chaos, it should help him that Ewan and Merlier (and their trains) are gone and the final km likely less crowded, but that’s probably also still weighing on him.

      Has anyone else noticed the apparent camaraderie between Sagan, Viviani and Gaviria? I’ve seen them be friendly and respectful of each other before, but it seems like there’s something of a real bond between them, and it’s appeared at times that Sagan is making a point of being encouraging to both of them.

  1. It would be a dream win today for Viviani, a guy we saw win the maglia tricolore awhile back
    I doubt he sees his new Olympic task as a “burden, an evening spent walking a flag on a stick when his real dream is in the Izu velodrome, 150km away.” which comes across as rather cynical Mr. INRNG, even for me as I believe his fellow Italian Olympians vote for those they’d like to honor with flag-bearing at the opening of the Games?

    • It does seem like it would be a great honour and a bit of a boon to cycling for a country like Italy (which brings a vast team of athletes) to select him. Viviani has Olympic pedigree too.

    • It’s a great tribute. I was thinking the track events started right after the ceremony but they don’t so an evening spent walking around waving a big flag shouldn’t harm his medal chances. Other cyclists in the past have said “no” to carrying the flag or even attending the opening ceremony because they were racing soon. I’ll fix the text above.

  2. I can’t believe this kind of profile, in such a short stage, at the Giro. If exceptionally you’re going to have a pan-flat stage, you should make it 260km long. But they’d better avoid pan-flat profiles. They just put most spectators off.

  3. Thanks for the background on Vendrame, as always adding depth to the race.

    Don’t think I’ve seen a pro with a less aero position than Hamilton, Froome-style elbows but also more upright in the drops than most MAMILs on the hoods.

    • Yes – he looked emotional at the finish and seemed to hint at the struggle/journey required to achieve the win. The background described by Inrng gives some really interesting insight

  4. The first few kms are often the best bit of racing on a day like today, though maybe the break will end up as 3 “no hopers”. Its true the scenery today is hardly the best Italy has to offer, lots of flat big fiels and small towns with industrial estates. Given the start location no puns about the Byzantine nature of the UCI, or opera ones for the finish?

  5. «Look mom, no saddle!» by Gaviria, he was forced to go from far, which set the course of events eventually allowing Nizzolo to grab that well deserved win, he went jumping from wheel to wheel, side to side and lastly to the line as a flat stone launched to bounce again and again on calm waters. Impressive finisseur move by Affini. He came so close – more of this, please!

  6. On stage 12, one of the highlights for me was Monte Morello (I know many won’t like those crowds). Barely any effect on the race (perhaps forcing out those who hadn’t already gone for good), but visually it was great, and it was also quite notable how Ganna strung the bunch out on the «easier» terrain near the top.

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