Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Preview

The Zoncolan awaits, this first Alpine summit finish of the Giro.

Giac in the box: 197km of farniente and then a thriller. A late attack by Eduardo Affini almost upset the sprinters but Giacomo Nizzolo jumped like a hobo trying to board a moving train to catch Affini’s slipstream and use this to sprint clear for the win. It’s a reward for patience, so many placings but never a win for Nizzolo and he’s closing in on the points jersey.

The Route: a start in the walled city of Citadella and then across the Veneto region, passing near many factories that make Italian cycling goods like Sidi and Selle Italia and then onto the prosecco vineyards.

After 130km comes Tramonti and the start of the Monte Rest, at first a big road then it narrows and twists up via a series of tight hairpins, a proper Alpine climb and matched by a tricky descent that drops down to the valley, crosses the river and there’s a sneaky bonus climb to tackle, almost 2km at 10% and another tight descent. Then 30km on flatter roads…

The Finish: since Dante is a theme of this year’s Giro, the phrase “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” comes to mind. It’s even a sign at the foot of the Zoncolan, but crucially on the other side of the mountain to today’s course. Today is the Zoncolan summit finish but it’s climbed from the east side and much less infernal than the habitual west side. Today it’s a climb in three parts, first a steady section on a main road for 9km of mainly 8% gradient. It’s hard enough, but regular. Then a kilometre of false flat which leads to a big car park for the ski resort. Here the road flicks left and the hardest part begins. There’s only 3km to go but it’s almost 15 minutes of work. The maximum gradient is 27% on the graphic but that’s if you take the inside on one of the hairpin bends, whip out a theodolite and try to measure the worst bit… but by now riders will be able to choose their line, it’s more like 11-12% for most of the way before an 18% section a few hundred metres before the line.

The Contenders: Egan Bernal (Ineos) is the obvious pick, he’s consistently beaten the others uphill already and his team is able dictate the tempo of the race to his liking. He’s leading the race but part of his defence can be to match others and taking the time bonus helps too. As for his rivals, it’s hard to tip them against him, more to see what they can do. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) is consistent but has tried a few attacks, a sign he’s not passive. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain) is a steady rider, unlikely to attack today. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) won on the Angliru in the Vuelta last year. For Simon Yates (Bike Exchange) this is a big test, he’s lost time here and there, if he can not do that today his stock will rise. Emanuel Buchman (Bora-Hansgrohe) looked so light on the pedals on the road to Montalcino but he can he repeat today? Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is still in great shape and today’s steady ride into the climb won’t test positioning too much. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has been climbing well but can he avoid the boomerang attack that’s his downfall?

The breakaway has a chance. They need to build up a big lead across the plains and start the final climb with plenty of time to spare. But Ineos seem to be the only team trying to control the race and won’t chase hard from the start. We need to look around the climbers who aren’t on duty for GC leaders which means skipping past riders like Matteo Fabbro, Jai Hindley or Ruben Guerreiro although they might still get a go. So George Bennett and Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) and Geoffroy Bouchard (Ag2r La Mondiale) come to mind. Dan Martin (Israel) and Davide Foromolo (UAE Emirates) are “only” seven minutes down on GC and some teams won’t let them take back more five minutes for fear they’ll displace their leaders in the top-10.

Egan Bernal
Ciccone, Buchmann, Vlasov, Yates, Bennett, Carthy, Bouwman

Weather: a cold day on the bike, 15°C lower down and only 3°C at the finish.

TV: the stage starts at 11.40am CEST. The Monte Rest climb starts around 2.45pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

53 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Preview”

  1. Thanks, INRNG, Great coverage as always!

    Just a warning – I’d change your description of Nizzolo as being a ‘hobo’ – in UK English that’s a derogatory term for a homeless person.

    • Read again. This time with a little bit more attention and thought – and a little less itch on your fingertips!
      It happens to the best of us that we sometimes get a sentence or a whole passage *completely* wrong.
      No big deal, but your comment nearly ruined my day 🙂

  2. Can I disagree with Paul. I thought the image of the hobo (and I was thinking Kerouac) boarding the moving train was brilliant. Great simile for Nizzolo’s move. And in context, it’s not in the least bit derogatory.

    • I’m not disagreeing with the imagery being good, and I’m not offended, but some people get offended very easily online and it can spiral out of control. I don’t want that to happen here so I suggested the change.

      • Why should we all pander to the professionally offended?
        There’s plenty of awful stuff in the world to complain about if one actually wants to change society: these people focus instead on carping at people online in order to prove how liberal/progressive they are. Ignore them; they’re worthless.

      • If you’re not offended then so far nobody else is either. We use railway metaphors for sprints with talk of trains and here was Nizzolo losing his leadout when Walscheid had a late mechanical, forcing him to change plans and jump on another wagon.

        Back to today’s stage please, follow up comments rating metaphors or readers arguing about taking offence online, eg “I’m offended you took offence” will get zapped to save bandwidth.

        • No worries – I was only trying to be helpful. It’s easy for things to be taken out of context when content can be read in multiple countries. I know there would be backlash if the word hobo were used on the news in the UK, for instance, but its up to you.

          Please delete all of these comments now you’ve read them!

  3. Magnificent victory by Nizzolo, worth waiting for and the reaction of his fan club screaming ‘grande giacco’ at the finish line was brilliant to see

  4. I fancy Carthy to have a go today. I’ve got a sneaky feeling Yates might do well too. I’ve been wrong in just about everything I’ve predicted though..

  5. Assuming his back is OK (he has been doing back stretching exercises at quiet moments) difficult to see past Egan Bernal, he doesnt have to win but might want to. I saw mention in one place that Gianni Moscon is injured but no confirmation elsewhere, if his is injured no big issue today but he might be a miss tomorrow.

    How Simon Yates and Hugh Carty go will be interesting, they both have past form on similar climbs but today ? If they are going to be in the mix come Milan a good showing today is vital.

    I think the break has a chance. Lots of riders will fancy their chances and we could well see a big break, assuming no GC threat, getting a large gap as the peloton take it easy on the first part. Might be a fair period of stressful racing before the break goes, not something any remaining sprinters or grupetto members will appreciate.

    Despite it being the Whitsun holiday weekend, the weather forecast is poor, wet & cold all weekend. Zoncolan is not high enough for snow but the passes for Monday probably are high enough to get a dusting. Hope it doesnt disrupt the TV coverage.

  6. Simon Yates has been losing time, but has done so in seconds. And he has looked calm doing that.

    I’m looking forward to seeing if it was a strategy for the last week. This last week is brutal, and I can’t help but thinking we will see a more human Bernal before the race is done.

  7. I’m baffled to still hear commentators saying that Yates is ‘riding cannily’ and ‘saving his energy’, having learned from 2018. Does anyone really believe he would have chosen to lose 1’22” to Bernal if he could avoid it? I’d be amazed to see him challenge Bernal in any serious way (which is true of everyone else too).
    And I think Evenepoel will lose a relatively large chunk of time – I think the length of the race is starting to tell on him. If not today, then Monday.

    • Agree, Yates knows he doesn’t have the legs to win, and doing his best by not avoiding the red zone, even if it means hanging off the back- smart, possibly canny, we’ll see…

      As for Bernal, he has the oppostion where he wants them now; fearful they need to go deep to lose him, which could mean shipping time if they miscalculate. Looking forward to the poker game!

      • I think Yates has been holding back – not putting in the big efforts of 2018. But all the while he’s probably been looking at Bernal and thinking ‘I wouldn’t keep up anyway’. So his strategy is as much about hoping Bernal runs out of steam (at least a bit) in that final brutal week. He may be too far behind by then anyway.

    • “The length of the race is starting to tell on him. If not today, then Monday.”

      Agree, this will be a challenging few days for the young man and his team.

    • On such last ks, I don’t see what it will be possible to do for other gc contenders against this Bernal. He will more than likely put more time to all his opponents.
      Curious to see how Evenepoel does in this stage and in the following ones.

        • It was noted on the GCN show that the 10 euro charge was only for people going to the ski lift area. Anyone who wanted to walk or bike up the Zoncolan was apparently free to do so.

        • Not saying this measure is fair, just commenting on the Tifosi.

          You are probably pretty well off if you can take the time off to be on the climb this time of the year. Different story for TDF.

    • Why not, not a household name but a strong climber who came to the Giro with some GC ambitions, to see how high he could ride. He’s reset his ambitions but has a chance. His problem is that so many others do too, his chance of winning today is small but real, but like so many others.

  8. As in the Spring Classics with DQS, it’s almost possible to apply the rhetorical question ‘how long is a piece of string’ to the Ineos team here.
    Whether it stretches far enough, we’ll see today. I’ll be particularly interested to see the extent of Moscon’s ride. Hitherto, he’s approached Rohan Dennis-like levels of versatility, ably assisted and abetted by Ganna at times.
    Since the reduction in team sizes, these all-round riders have got better and better. They’re worth more than two riders actually, and there’s probably an argument to say a current top GT team of 8 is stronger than their 9 man counterparts of not so very long ago?
    Remarkable. The strong have gotten stronger.

  9. Over the 8km stage 1 ITT, Bernal lost 2 secs/km to Vlasov. The final ITT is 30km. I expect Bernal would like at least 90 seconds over Vlasov before then. I suspect Bernal’s strategy is to crack them before he cracks. Can’t see him going into defence mode until he’s built up that margin. I pretty sure that it’s either winning or nothing for him.

    • Is Vlasov a good TTer, or merely TGH (enough to dispatch Hindley on a good day) good?

      Suspects Bernal belongs to the same category on a TT bike. The first 8 km TT may not be that indicative. It’s such a short Urban course that some sprinters can get a very good result. On the other hand, the likes of Bernal maybe holding more back compared to outside chancers. The last all on the line TT will be a very different story.

      That said, Bernal will aim to put over 2 minutes between himself and any half decent TTer to be sure of victory.

      • Extrapolating time losses at the end of a grand tour is often different to the start, Stage 21 will be about recovery and freshness too. But Vlasov is good against the clock, he likes to model himself on Tom Dumoulin as a TT rider who can climb, although not sure this is the perfect comparison as his TT performances aren’t world champion winning, even in the U23 level.

    • ‘I suspect Bernal’s strategy is to crack them before he cracks.’ – I totally agree, and he’s shown so far that he’s eager to gain time early. It’s a wise move: I always think riders should try to gain time while they’re in the ascendancy because you never know how that might change. I think he’ll take more time today, maybe even up to a minute on all other GC contenders.

  10. Chuffed for Nizzolo. But I would have also been happy to see Affini take it. That was an audacious jump, and he almost got away with it.

    • I know what you mean. Glad Nizzolo finally made it but have been watching the sprints of old and it’s surprising just how many times someone “did the kilometre”, as in placed a late attack within the final kilometre and took the win. It’s become much more rare now, probably because of better trains from the sprint trains, and also because the speeds are higher now because in the days of box rims and flapping jerseys someone could attack at 60km/h and ride away, now they’d need to do it at 70km/h and the effort required is that much bigger.

      • I suppose it helps if it’s not a top favorite. Affini was not on anyone’s radar. Had Sagan or Gaviria tried it, they would have been immediately chased down.

        • Gaviria made it a couple of times or so in the past, when – in a sense – he was even more watched than now (top form) and he needed it less. Which probably contributed to the surprise effect those days.

    • Indeed. In the 90ties there were real specialists of these last k attacks: jelle nijdam, guido bontempi,… and they were winning stages in gt every years.
      Seems it is now much more complicated to do this (probably because teams are better organized).

  11. Why would Astana think they could out ride Ineos in this stage?! Its as if they want to lose. Reminds me of Movistar and other teams a couple of years ago in the TDF. Dumb.

    • What made you think Astana rode the way they did because they wanted to or tried to or thought they could outride – whatever that means in this context – Ineos?

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