The big stage of the Giro. 212km and 5,400m of vertical gain, hard on the best of days but the weather today looks grim, it’ll be very cold and wet. Today’s preview is provisional on the planned course going ahead…
11:00am Update: the course has been revised
Victor: an early crash and sixth overall Emanuel Buchmann was out, along with Natnael Berhane and Jos van Emden and the race was halted. Once it resumed a break went almost on the first go. Qhubeka-Assos had three riders, Alpecin-Fenix, Movistar and Lotto-Soudal two and on the last time up the Cernovo climb, Victor Campanaerts attacked and Oscar Riesebeek went with him, as did Movistar’s Alfredo Torres, a track specialist and a threat in the sprint… but he blew up on the next climb to leave two.
This wasn’t a case study in how to win, instead it was entertaining. Rather than “licking your opponent’s plate clean before starting on yours”, Campenaerts and Riesebeek offered viewers a feast, trading blows like two punch-drunk boxers on the climbs, descents and flats in between, and all with only a handful of seconds on their chasers. Even the sprint was tense, Riesebeek launched early and pulled ahead but only seemed to have one speed, Campenaerts accelerated past and took a win.
212km and 5,400m of vertical gain, a lot of the stage above 1,000 on a cold day. Is it worth explaining more? The profile says a thousand words. Assuming Plan B isn’t activated – it’s normal to expect bad weather in the high Alps in May, so RCS will have a lower route planned – some notes… the first climb can allow the breakaway to go clear, it’s 11.6km at a steady 7.5%. Then comes a trio of famous climbs, palimpsests on which the Giro’s history is written. The Fedaia is steep towards the top, lots of 10-12% as it approaches the 2,000m level and a cold, wet descent awaits. The Pordoi is the Cima Coppi, the high point of the race but a more steady climb without any surprises but the altitude matters, first for the “rare” oxygen, second for the temperature. Next come two little climbs, unmarked but they sap strength.
The route has been revised, it’s now 153km and the Passo Giau. Why? Because of the weather, conditions are bad. To paraphrase race director Mauro Vegni speaking to Italian TV, the conditions in the morning are ok for the race to go ahead as planned but if they were to worsen in the course of the stage it would be much harder to stop and revise, so better to get ahead of events and ensure a full stage of racing.
The Passo Giau is a steady ascent but it’s practically 10km at 10%, a hard climb.
The Finish: 17.5km from the Passo Giau down to the finish in Cortina and a mix of long fast stretches and hairpins before arriving in town. There’s a sharp turn to the left with 300m to go and a finish on urban cobbles.
The Contenders: the breakaway has a good chance again, Ineos aren’t out to mow down every move. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) went the in break yesterday but could go for the third day in a row, the mountains jersey is up for grabs today, the winner of all three passes today stands to gain 130 points and Mollema is third in this competition right now. Dan Martin (Israel) and Davide Formolo (UAE Emirates) aren’t easy picks either as they’re both less than 10 minutes down on GC, it’s not that Egan Bernal will be worried but they threaten others in the top-10.
George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) is the ideal pick, a top climber but down on GC but as we saw on the Zoncolan and before in Bagno di Romagna, his GC bid has gone to a stage bid and this is hard going. Team mate Koen Bouwman has a shot too.
Geoffroy Bouchard (Ag2r Citroën) has two finish lines today, the Pordoi its Cima Coppi prize in order to bank beaucoup points and if he’s there then the stage can come too.
Matteo Fabbro and Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) are left fending for themselves now Buchmann’s gone home.
Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) is 14 minutes down and only by taking ten of them back can he trouble the top-10. He can ace the descents, can he get in the break and then outclimb the others? Not easy with his team reporting traumatic injuries from yesterday’s stage. He says he’ll race on to the end but harder to see winning now.
If this was a summit finish, Egan Bernal (Ineos) would be a safe pick but the sprint in town isn’t so easy but he wants the time bonuses and a stage win in the maglia rosa. There’s no need to go on a raid but if he can attack on the Giau and take 30 seconds at the top then he can force the others to chase too.
|Egan Bernal, Davide Formolo, Dan Martin|
|Bilbao, Bouwman, Bennett, Bauke, Bouchard, Badillati|
Weather: grim, 1°C at the passes with rain and snow showers. It shouldn’t be cold enough for ice, but enough to freeze riders.
TV: the stage starts at 11.00am, tune in to see who makes the break. The Fedaia starts around 2.30pm and finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.