Giro d’Italia Stage 16 Preview

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.

The Route: 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.

146 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 16 Preview”

  1. »Geoffroy Bouchard (Ag2r Citroën) has two finish lines today, the Giau its Cima Coppi prize«
    »Geoffroy Bouchard (Ag2r Citroën) has two finish lines today, the *Pordoi* its Cima Coppi prize«

    It’ll be interesting to see if a team will put a hard pace on Fedaia (unfortunately not by the Serrai di Sottoguda after the storm in 2018), or if we at best can hope for Astana to keep the pressure on both up and down Pordoi.

  2. Bardet and Yates can be ace descenders in both the wet and the dry. Is the final descent capable of being exploited, but Bernal is decent too. Evenepoel,Vlasov and Carthy are more cautious (wiser?) and could lose time, even if they hold on to the summit. Hoping for dry weather and no course modifications, though a damp descent would be spectacular.

  3. Can’t see Bennett performing given the forecast. He’s been open in interviews about how much he struggles with the cold (didn’t he wear 2 rain jackets a couple of days ago) – and he referenced 6C as being tough, which is positively mild compared to what they’re facing today.

  4. Is the number of withdrawals higher than normal? Some riders leaving is to be expected in any GT but there seems a lot this time.

    If the weather is as bad as forecast ( a quick look at the weather radar suggests it will be ) I wonder if there is any thought of neutralising one or more of the descents, if so the race organisation would need to be somewhat more together than with the Stelvio / Nairo Quintana polemica a few years back.

    I cant see this being won by the GC group, Ineos are going to be happy to let a break go and then keep an eye on the competition. In dry conditions someone might have tried to gain time on the descent into Cortina, but the risks in the wet with cold hands and mind seem too high. In any case Egan Bernal is a pretty good descender himself so any time clawed back might be minimal.

    If there is to be a route change I guess simply dropping the Fedaia & Pordoi plus neutralising the descent of the Giau might be an option. The weather looks much better later in the week, so the stages then should run as planned.

    • It is going to be all about the GC rivals and when they think an attack will stick. The unpredictable nature of the course with wet descents is going to mean a fractious race if INEOS can’t hold it together. We may see sparks fly despite wet conditions!

  5. Are there any climbers low on GC who are renowned for thriving in poor conditions? I reckon a breakaway will make it, given the potential for caution in the GC group in the poor weather. Otherwise, I can only dream that the poor weather and the multiple big climbs will motivate a team to try to break Ineos, but I can’t see anyone being strong enough to do this (if it wasn’t for his crash, a tandem of Nibali and Ciccone with some support from Mollema could have been interesting).

  6. If it’s safe to go over the last mountain why is it not safe to go over the first two?
    I’ll be interested to see if this has been done because of snow/ice on the road, or if it’s just because the riders don’t fancy the cold, and the Extreme Weather Protocol allows them to pick and choose these days.

    • I agree. What is there in the 6 metres of extra altitude on Pordoi that isn’t there on Giau? I’m not happy that they’ve taken away the element of distance and repetitive climbing. This is my Pordoi’s Complaint…

      • Beautiful.
        And, as you say, the difference between this stage as it originally was and the other stages was the element of distance and repetitive climbing.

    • There will be some riders who wanted to ride this stage as they think they have a chance of taking time. But they will always be outnumbered by the majority who have no desire to ride a tough day in cold weather. The EWP will always be used by this majority to have an easier day.
      Those who may benefit from a long day, or from cold weather, have been cheated.
      Reports say the weather up on the mountains is rainy, but the roads are clear.

      • Absolutely so. The journos at RAI said that they were afraid that there could be a protest by the riders midway through, which would have been harder to manage.

    • Given the weather forecast (it is due to get worse during the day) there must be some doubt that the race will finish in Cortina, it could well be neutralised at the top of the Giau, probably no point in finishing there as no way to get all the team buses up there.

      The weather is very cold and wet, the risks both of an accident and to the riders’ health from doing the long descents are considerable. I know that in times gone by they might have raced but then the riders didnt wear helmets or had many of the other safety improvements we have had since then. Bike racing is a dangerous enough sport without unnecessarily adding to it. It is unlikely that any of the viewers whether in the warm & dry of their homes or on the roadside would see much in any case There is also the safety of the various staff needed to support the race, flying choppers in the mountains in this weather is really not a good idea unless absolutely necessary.

      This is also not going to be a deciding factor in the race, there are 3 big mountain days to come all with summit finishes. The stage on Saturday is not far off what would have been raced today.

      • Cold weather is part of racing. So are descents in the wet.
        It was always fine to do these types of stages in the past.
        Saturday’s stage is nothing like this (original) stage: it’s 47km shorter and has no mountain at the start – they climb for less than 90km.

        • Whilst I accept they’re an important part of racing, I dislike watching the descents at the best of times, having seen a friend suffer life-changing injuries (and very nearly die) in a high-speed crash. After incidents like Mohoric’s the other day, we really don’t need to tilt the odds by asking the riders to take on three downhills in treacherous conditions.

          • If there’ s no ice, it’s not extreme danger with basic skills. We actually don’t see much more crashin’ among the pros on wet descent when compared to dry ones, especially if it’s been raining for hours and the road is more or less clean.

        • Exactly. The peculiarity of this stage is that you could build up a very serious – and potentially useful – team strategy, which will be more difficult in the remaining stages. Of course, it’s still possible, buy here an all-in would have been a promising bet.

    • removing the two other climbs also means the stage gets shorter/quicker (obviously) – i.e the final climb may avoid some later developing bad/worse weather….

  7. Vegni’s organisation’s weakest point is their relationship with weather, and above all their absolute lack of a decent plan B. It’s baffling the sort of letdown course they come up with, *every* *single* time. And it’s not like they don’t know in advance they may really need it.

    • In this interview just now, he seemed to be describing this as a pre-emptive strike to stop the riders from neutralising the Fedaia and Pordoi.

      • If I understood the Italian semi-competently (big ‘if’) then he shortened the course before the start because he wasn’t sure the conditions wouldn’t deteriorate after the start, but that it was perfectly passable at the time of the decision. That’s the thin end of a dangerous wedge, as the same could be said of many mountain stages.

      • I’m afraid the result will be just the same. With so much flat riding after the first climb, it should be easy to control the stage.
        Let ’em ride slowly on Fedaia and Pordoi if they fancy so… Maybe somebody decides to move early just to warm up.

      • But the riders union rep Salvato were saying they, as in his riders, wanted to ride the stage. It’s too soon to tell, one of those days that might take a longer time to find out what’s happened.

          • That’s an interesting point. I can confirm what inrng wrote when we debated the subject some stages ago: for whatever reason, they renounced to the airplane they used in the (also very recent) past and which is paramount to grant some coverage in a stage like this. What surprises me is, indeed, that in the past we got images under heavier conditions, at the Giro too.

          • Now RAI is saying that “neither the two helicopters *or the airplane* have been allowed to take off by the airport authorities” hence “the few images are being granted by cell phone technology”. Well, I don’t know what to say.

          • Although apparently the non-availability of pictures is partly because of the change of course: they didn’t have the necessary permits to fly over the whole of the new route.

          • Don’t know if that was meant to be a joke but I think you called it correctly. It certainly seemed that the excuses about having to use 4G to transmit the pictures were a red herring; I’m sure there would have been excellent cell phone coverage in Cortina d’Ampezzo but they just used the fixed cameras.

        • As I wrote above, the commenters are insisting on worries about the riders stopping midway through, which doesn’t even look doable to me… Dunno, I also feel that we don’t know exactly what happened here.

  8. The modified course is total nonsense. The Crosetta was needed to force a strong break, including potential support riders to make it possible for a leader to attack on the Fedaia. The stage as it is looks Vueltish again.

    The Fedaia and Pordoi descents are also relatively short and not that difficult (wide, not too steep) – was it about *real* ice? They’d pass there at 3-4 p.m., that is, after 9-10 hours always above zero. The curious thing is that, according to what the weather expert (some army official) is now telling on TV, the only pass where snow and ice are possible, even during the afternoon, is… the Giau, because a mass of colder air is coming down again after 16:00.

    However, I can’t see why they didn’t consider the Duran (1600 m.) + Forcella Staulanza (1770 m.) option before the Giau as a more decent plan B. Same start and finish, still a quite much shorter stage than the planned one (170 total kms) but a very interesting course. Besides, under cold rain and, in this case, with no ice risk at all, I’d prefer by far to climb, descend, climb and descend again for some total 40 kms, although reaching an altitude of 1700 m., rather than riding on 30 kms of flat roads (600-1200 m.).

    • From everything that’s been said, this does appear to be an extremely odd decision if it’s just expected to be rainy and cold. You probably wouldn’t want every mountain day to be 212 km with 5,200 m ascent in the rain, but the distance, altitude and repeat climbs potentially benefit different riders to the revised route, which is a lot more “normal”. Today could still be a classic, and the old course could have been an anti-climax, but it seems critical to have a variety of challenges through a GT, including wet weather descending and clothing strategies (some riders can seem woefully underdressed in awful weather, but then perhaps dislike the weight penalty?).

    • I am not scandalised by the decision to change route. It was taken collectively and decisively which is important. This wasn’t unilaterally for the benefit of the organisers that is for sure. So I think we have to accept that there were concerns by all that the rain would affect the racing/riders. Dropping down three descents

    • Looks like I need a dialling wand – fat fingers

      “I am not scandalised by the decision to change route. It was taken collectively and decisively which is important. This wasn’t unilaterally for the benefit of the organisers that is for sure. So I think we have to accept that there were concerns by all that the rain would affect the racing/riders. Dropping down three descents in near freezing conditions, though not atypical of the Giro, is pretty tough going. Through in all-day rain and it’s a recipe for something outside of racing having an effect – whether that be hypothermia or crashes, or whatever.
      People have complained about the shambles of the broadcasting too. But this is also a secondary reason for a shortened stage. I am not saying that the lack of television pictures is OK, but that long spells of rain in the mountains is extremely problematic for broadcasting. A longer stage with longer periods without pictures is not a win for anyone either.
      Possibly the reason for the Passo Giau is whether there would be another mountain before the end of the race which is higher than anything already raced (Zoncolon?!) If not, then the Cima Coppi would have already been won. I don’t know if that’s true, but could certainly be in the fore thought of organisers when determining the abbreviated route.
      Disappointing I know, but the old adage of “all’s well that ends well” applies here. We got racing, we got breaks, we got GC splits and we got a stand out victory performance from the maglia Rosa.

      • The problem with collective decisions is that they are sometimes made by a loud, strong or influential minority. (I’m not saying that a secret ballot would have given a different result..)
        Anyway, there were grim weather conditions in France too: Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes was also shortened and a climb/descent was dropped.

  9. It’s a shame that the Grand Tour with the most interesting stages is the one that is most often impacted by adverse weather

    • Nope, none of them is complicated, but the Giau’s is the worst of the three. Anyway, I frankly can’t see that as a real problem on these roads and under these conditions. What’s very hard is the sheer fact of riding six hours under cold rain, no doubt – but is that an actual health hazard with modern materials? I can’t say. Surely, if their main complaint is about these descents, it’s just that they aren’t telling the truth.

  10. I’m glad the stage is shortened because of the weather. What other sport do people suffer for 5 hours in such bad conditions?

  11. Go guys, a 20-men break, Movistar and Trek with three each working hard, I now hope for a full trolling Almeida’s pink jersey at the end of the stage – imagine Remco forced to work for him through the rest of the Alps (Dan Martin would also be fine, sure – good luck for the descent). And Tratnik for the stage win as a compensation for the Zoncolan 😀

    PS Humm, they split the break, not sure it was the best idea. 50 kms very favourable for the chasers to keep the break at some 5′ with relative ease. Even if nobody helps INEOS, it shouldn’t be enough to isolate Bernal.

  12. What a shame we didn’t get to see more of the stage!

    Does anyone know if the camera tech they use records the video to disk/SD card/… as well as broadcasting it? Will we get proper highlights of the stage once the cameras are home, dry and plugged into a computer?

    Obviously that’s nothing like being able to watch it live, but it’d be better than nothing..!

    • Shame is the word. A worldwide shame.

      I’ve always defended that providing TV covering for the Giro on Italian mountains in May isn’t an easy task, but I myself and most fans found ourselves remembering (out of boredom, I guess) stage after stage which were raced and properly broadcast in worst conditions ten or even twenty years ago (and more) – at the Giro, let alone Romandie or Itzulia.

      It’s now safe to say that weather on the Dolomites wasn’t exceptional, today – and no forecast had suggested anything worse.

      Now Vegni is blaming “some” riders again, albeit admitting that “race cars” (i.e. teams) *all* wanted the original stage – which look even more shameful to me (him blaming the riders, I mean).

      In fact, I suspect that J Evans was spot on.

      This time someone at RCS & RAI should really resign, out of sheer responsibility to all the third parties involved (towns, sponsors, broadcasters). I won’t be satisfied with anything less than Countess Bonacossa rising and shouting: “Off with their heads!”.

      • Should never have cut the stage short so we could have watched 5 hours of the fans at the finish line instead of 3. Travesty.

  13. It was wet and cold for sure. So what? Well, yet another race manipulated by the unknown disciples of the poorly instituted WWP. Weather conditions, like the parcour were always part of an event.
    Why are the meddlers trying to destroy the heroism and bravery that was always part and parcel of our sport?

    • Unfortunately, with advance in picture quality, more data needs to be sent through which means higher frequency signals. Though can be easily interfered, doesn’t have as much range and doesn’t penetrate obstacles well.

  14. I wonder how much recent events affected Vegni’s decision.

    “Twenty-One Runners Die During 100-Kilometer Ultramarathon in China when a large storm hit early afternoon Saturday, suddenly engulfing the race course in rain, hail, extreme wind, and temperatures at the freezing point in terrain that’s both mountainous and exposed”

    and closer to home

    “Cable Car Plunges in Italy, Killing at Least 14 People.”

    As someone who has lead groups year-round in mountainous terrain, sometimes you just want to dial back the unknown risks acknowledging that people are more important that the event. It’s just a bike race. I applaud Vegni’s decision.

    • Was that Chinese Ultramarathon run in 1 degree temperatures and a bit of rain? Were the competitors surrounded by cars they could climb into in case of extreme weather?

  15. Gabrielle, above, commented that it was broadcast that the helicopters weren’t allowed to fly, and neither was the plane. He didn’t comment, feeling the point was clear, but I – with a dodgy memory – need clarification. Wasn’t it reported in recent days that RAI aren’t using a plane, but relying on helicopters? I would be very surprised if a relay plane (much higher up than the camera choppers) wasn’t allowed up in thick cloud, if one existed.

    • Yeah, there was conflicting information on this subject. I know positively that in the past they used to rely on a plane, besides the helicopters, but fresher info regarding this specific edition apparently pointed out that it wasn’t so anymore. But, again, this morning the RAI journalists shared news about “the airplane not being allowed to take off”, as I wrote above. I can’t say if it was badly reported out of past customs,or if it was a plain lie by someone trying to justify their shortcoming, or whatever. Perhaps they planned to hire a relay plane only for the Alps on the worse days, but it became impossible to use it. Who knows. The whole story looks dubious, anyway.

      • Im guessing that the planes and helicopters that fly, in support of pictures, use the same callsigns each day. If someone can pull up the submitted flight-plans, they may be able to see who has been flying, and what happened on the day eg. delayed flight, cancelled etc.

    • The only “positive” side of this whole story is that now more fans should be able to empathise with the woes which women cycling and their public usually went through [sure… wishful thinking alert!].

  16. Judging by the highlight put up by official Giro YouTube channel, those footages exist. Whether they get distributed is another matter.

  17. Gonna suffer through the with ad Eurosport highlight to see if they have new footages. A bit ironic hearing Wiggins babbling Yates suffers through cold better than Bernal (break away segment recorded pre-race?).

    • On 2nd thought, the likely hood of new footage is pretty low. It would be over 20km of racing with no corresponding comment. Eurosport/GCN were not going to bother to re-commentate these footages even if they got their hands on them.

      On the other hand, official Giro seems to have an English language commentate (by Ned Boulting & David Miller). They have daily highlight on YouTube with this broadcast. Anyway to see the full one?

      • Some new footage on Eurosport highlight show. But very limited. Most notably Bernal passing the top of the Passo Giau. All new footages were in the official Giro stage highlight video on YouTube.

      • Small correction, it’s Ned Boulting and Matt Stephens working for the Giro providing the international feed.
        Ned and David are updating thier ‘Never Strays Far’ podcast daily, with Ned recounting the previous days events to David Millar who is at home in Spain. I’m enjoying more than their normal output.

        • Thanks. Just listened to yesterday’s episode where they talked about Sunday’s stage and crash. David’s account of what it was like in that kind of situation is exhilarating.

          What’s happening with Ned’s dream diary? Is David qualified to interpret it? Or was the whole point about showing it to a close friend and they gave you their first thought?

          Either way, great stuff. Thanks for introducing it.

  18. Salvato and CPA plus White from Bike Exchange positioning explicitly in favour of the new course. White’s arguments are quite similar to Garzelli’s as a commenter: “luckily this new course allowed smaller time differences, which means we still have a race…”
    I guess that Bardet or Ciccone, and probably Caruso or Carthy, too, see things differently enough. Which would be quite a logical and legitimate difference in opinions – wasn’t it that the Giro had until this very morning an *official course* and, up to now, no solid reason why it should be changed actually came to light.

    • I very much doubt we’ll get the full story of why this happened, but it once again shows – no matter who did what and why – that you can’t have teams and riders deciding on whether or not a stage should be ridden. Because they are all biased.

      • I.e. the race organisers need to be backed by the UCI to run the race as they see fit. The Extreme Weather Protocol seems to prevent that. And now it seems RCS are (over-)reacting to what the riders (and thus, really, teams) want to do (or some of them, at least).

        (But, first, sort the TV out so at least we can see whatever happens.)

    • As we saw last year – and as Vegni clearly still remembers – you can’t force riders to race, so some form of compromise or agreement between organisers and teams/riders in this sort of situation is inevitable, at least assuming you want to avoid the peloton riding piano over three-quarters of the course.

      Thinking back to the Tour and the shortened stage there, what made it so frustrating was that the riders started out on one course and then found out that they what they thought was the penultimate climb was actually the final climb – in some cases after they’d actually started that climb if I remember correctly (which I may well not). It’s this shifting of the finish line that invalidates the result – a literal moving of the goal posts.

      In this instance, irrespective of conspiracy theories and ‘what ifs’ (I’m really not convinced that Bardet, Carthy et al were about to crush an otherwise rampant Bernal) the organisers got an agreement before the start that meant that we not only got a race but that everybody knew where it started, where it finished and what was required. Yes, it changed the nature of the stage but, as the saying goes “the first casualty in battle is always the plan”. RCS can design whatever route they choose. They can’t design the weather. A bit of contingency planning might be a good idea, but in reality I don’t know how practical it is to make ‘possible’ agreements with those impacted by alternative routes. What Vegni did was give us a race and for that I applaud what I think was a brave decision. Easy to second guess from the comfort of your armchair – I for one would not fancy being responsible for the injuries or worse that could have resulted from the longer course and the worst predicted weather conditions. A couple of years ago I got caught in rain and hail descending the Peyresorde. With wind chill and surface conditions, just getting down was a serious challenge. Racing when it’s that cold and wet I don’t even want to think about!

      It’s not often that I agree with Matt White, but we do still have a race: Bernal isn’t (quite) out of sight and the top five looks like a complete lottery. What’s not to like?

      • You echo my thoughts very well. A death count does not make a good Giro. We have, after all, commemorated the tenth anniversary of Wouter Weylandts untimely demise.

        • Name the rider who died because of the weather. Ever.
          This was never a problem until they came up with the EWP. Riders’ health never suffered, and they didn’t regularly refuse to ride.

          • Hello Anonymous. Nice to see you on here again.
            Death’s in cycling are rare and happen in different ways. It wouldn’t be good for the Giro if a death was caused in any way, whether the cause was metrological or otherwise. The point is more that RCS are right to take a risk averse attitude in what is a poignant year – the news headlines and media coverage if, heaven forbid, a fatal accident did happen, would be damning for them and the sport. “Have no lessons been learned?” Etc. I agree that the perception perhaps doesn’t meet the reality. Riders generally descend cautiously under bad conditions. But equally there are always those willing to take a risk. If you want an example of rider casualties caused by bad weather you take your pick:
            2014 Chris Froome
            2017 Valverde
            2020 Miguel Ángel López, John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert, Caleb Ewan, Rafael Valls, Julian Alaphilippe, George Bennett and many other riders crashed in the wet stage in Nice.
            I mean that’s just a brief list of riders hurt in wet conditions. The real one is much bigger. How big do you need? And, how many dead riders do you need?

          • RQS, Anonymous was (unintentionally) me. Riders crash in all conditions. Do they crash more in the wet? Not noticeably.
            We could all make a very big list of riders who have crashed in fine weather – it would include the entire peloton, probably.
            Everything else you’ve written is in your imagination – e.g. the hyperbole of ‘And, how many dead riders do you need?’
            Yesterday was no more dangerous than countless other days.

          • I think my hyperbole is perfectly suitable for someone that doesn’t see increased risk from descending in the rain.
            I would say that riders definitely do crash more in the rain from their own errors. They are also more prone to sickness as a result of being out in poor conditions and lower body temperatures too.

            Riders do ride to the conditions, so will take less risks to combat the increased risks. But under race conditions the balance between safety and pushing the limit in rain becomes a much finer razor edge. Could they have raced and survived? We won’t ever know. But we had a good spectacle that was run safely and ensured that all competitors had a chance to both race and continue the next day. I just find this disappointment that a longer, more arduous and potentially dangerous event was run like baying for the gladiators blood. Easy to do when it’s not you sodden to the core and shaking to the bone with cold, having ridden over sixty hours in the saddle for the last 14 days. I’m sure we’ll have other epic days to come. But why the dissatisfaction at a perfectly good days racing?!

          • It doesn’t matter how good the day’s racing was. The original course – which was perfectly safe in the conditions (no matter how much you Helen Lovejoy it – no-one is ‘baying for blood’ – most riders were in shorts and one coat) – might have produced a different result, both due to fatigue and/or tactics. The weather forecasts never suggested anything different.
            They race in these conditions all the time, and always have.

            The race route should be decided by the organiser, not the riders.
            If the riders decide (and it’s usually only the vocal minority – those with power in the peloton), then the riders can pick and choose depending on what suits their capabilities.

            I don’t know why you have personally decided it was dangerous to ride (neither the riders nor the organisers have said so, after the fact), nor why you’ve decided to ignore all evidence, nor why you’ve decided that it makes no difference if the stage was shortened when clearly a longer stage with more climbs could produce a different result.

      • Absolutely, far too much armchair whinging in the comments.

        The safety of those who work around the race must be considered too. There are hundreds of people who work to make the race happen. There were good reasons why the plane & choppers couldnt fly – it was too dangerous , low visibility & mountains = no flying. Yes it is a bit annoying not to have live images but it is hardly a big issue in the scheme of things. The conditions were also a big challenge for the motos & all the race cars. We have already seen accidents on dry days in perfect visibility, the risk is much higher on slippery mountain roads with all the stress of racing. The motos often struggle on the descents to keep clear of the riders. We have also seen a race marshal hit by riders again on a day of perfect visibility. Given both the weather forecast and the reports from the top of the passes it was an entirely reasonable & sensible decision.

        • You keep mentioning all these incidents that happened in good weather, and then you say ‘imagine what it would be like in bad weather’ – but that is all your imagination.
          Many of us here have been watching cycling for decades, so we’ve all seen how dangerous it is for riders to ride on the wet on many occasions. And what we’ve seen is that with very few exceptions when the roads are oily, etc. it’s fine. They ride in the wet all the time. They ride in the cold all the time. (There was no snow or ice on the roads – they’d been salted and it was only 1 degree at the very top.) Those whinging are those who are imagining these terrible dangers that only exist in their heads. They all rode down the final descent yesterday, they all rode in the rain for hours, and they were all fine.

          When was riders’ health impacted by weather in the past? In a sport full of danger, this is one of the least dangerous aspects. The weather causes discomfort and fatigue – and that’s what some riders/teams want to avoid.

          The EWP is so easily abused, and has been previously (see GVA winning Tirenno because of a stage cancellation due to a dodgy weather forecast – but his team and others used the EWP). It will always be abused by teams whose riders are disadvantaged by that particular stage. The organisers should have the decision, and if the riders don’t want to race, they can pull out – it’s a choice. Once faced with that, we’d see how many teams actually would pull out – almost none, as we all know.

          As for the TV pictures, they have been consistently affected by the rain in this race, so the ‘planes/helicopters couldn’t fly’ excuse doesn’t wash.

          • On your point about icing the roads, my experience is that’s a prescription for punctures. Happened to me many times here in DC – the salt shards are very sharp and just the right size for slicing into thin tires. I had to change out all my tires 2 winters ago…
            Might vary batch to batch of crushed salt, but still…

          • I’ve no idea how salt affects tires, but the last descent was fine so I can’t see how the others would have been problematic.
            The roads were fine is the basic point – I don’t know how/why they were fine.

          • No idea how it is done in Italy, but I would hazard a guess that using solid rock salt is less common in Europe than it perhaps is in North America. Chances are they spread a liquid salt solution, a kind of salt brine.

      • In the 2019 Tour the leaders were already descending the penultimate climb (the Iseran?) before they found out that it had actually been the finish line.

  19. No matter what–shortened stage controversy, etc.–Bernal is a beast of a rider. I would love to see him and Pogacar and Roglic go head to head in a grand tour. The guy seems like a pretty decent human being–I’ll never forget him giving his brother a kiss on the head or a hug on the Champs-Élysées as the first thing he did after winning the Tour. He clearly wants to say to the critics who thought he was overrated–or that he hadn’t won a stage in his Tour win–“Yeah, right”. I know he’s on the team that everyone wants to hate–and who doesn’t want to detest a team funded by fracking and SUVs–but what an athlete.

    I just wish we’d been able to see him crushing everyone in the rain and snow.

    • LOL.
      At least, on RAI we had Cassani and Rizzato on the motorcycles reporting something from time to time, with all that crackling and popping which made it so Coppi and Bartali.

  20. Why can’t the riders wear GPS units that transmit their positions on the road? At least this way we’d be able to follow the race if the picture fails. As it was, yesterday was an embarrassing shambles of an event. Course changed, no pictures, no updates.

        • GPS does but how does it get the information back to the data server? Traffic monitoring relies on GPS for speed and density but uses the phone network to collect and distribute the information.

          • People race ultras with a GPS transmitters and that position / speed data is updated in real time on a map. I’ve done it myself over Giau in poor weather and was tracked without any issue

  21. Whatever the views of bloggers, about cancelling yesterdays parcour because ‘some’, mostly unknown people, demanded change. Change needs to come from the top. Undoubtedly the real groups to suffer are (a) The reputation of pro bike riders and (b) The standing and reputation of the Giro itself. The sum of yesterday’s events was a total shambles. The only saving grace was that the right man probably won.

    Everybody knew well beforehand that racing above 2000m in May could be cold and wet. No TV, and reduced route purely on the grounds of rain and low temperatures. What was pushed as the ‘Queen Stage’ was reduced to a pantomime, with a few notable exceptions – and the riders still got wet and cold!

    Hinault and his generation must be wondering what has happened to the sport they knew. The UCI and organizers need to get a grip on this unsatisfactory situation. The present protocol is clearly a failure, with too many vested interests having a finger in the pie. Responsibility for decisions over parcour needs to be put back where it belongs. With the event Organizer. If the riders and their team don’t like the Organizers decisions, they are free to leave.

  22. A joke decision. It was wet and cold, so what? If the Giau descent was possible, the same was with Pordoi and Fedaia, which are even more moderate in gradients and less technical. As Gabriele noted not even having a decent Plan B with Duran and Staulanza is beyond amateur hour. The lack of video footage just completed the misery for the Giro and RCS.

  23. To all the “safety guys”… it’s not like this would have been the first race going through mountains with grim weather, rain and cold (a few degrees *above* zero, on the very top of the climbs). I don’t have exact figures, but I guess that if any huge difference when compared to dry roads was there to be remembered, well, we’d probably be aware of it. At least after some decades watching cycling races.

    I’m totally in favour of a shift in mentality which takes into account riders and staff safety more than in past years, but, frankly, yesterday wasn’t pretty much the case. That’s it. Not even one single terrible forecast, not a single dangerous descent.
    Collective decision? Was it so, it wouldn’t have been a problem to make it clear. But versions were changing way faster than the weather. Just in Bike Exchange, Copeland said that they told Vegni they wanted to ride the full course, then White said what we read. The CPA did even better, with two opposite positions by the same Salvati before and after the race.
    Vegni himself stated clearly that this wasn’t about the teams, which, as such, were mainly in favour of racing. But he said that some riders weren’t, and he felt the necessity to defend them as “workers” who might be forced to obey their bosses.

    Essentially, the only two authentic problems were apparently:
    1) Non-existent TV coverage would have been harder to accept in a six-hours stage.
    2) A few influential riders were threatening that they’d ride slow-mo until the very last climb.

    *NOTHING* else. That’s what we might have a debate about.

    Re:1, I think that it’s a shame that existing options aren’t being taken advantage of. Have you watched las Romandie? They cut stages here and there, but the last hard stage with its mammoth climb, in conditions far worse than yesterday’s, was perfectly live on TV. With a different production, tougher stages were broadcast, as far back as 1993, and then with growing effectiveness to more recent years. As hoh says above, new tech is more fragile? Did we need to cut costs and we’ve got cheaper means? Whatever, but, hey, take it into account and put on a backup plan. In TV terms, you could even record it and broadcast it on the rest day. We all knew since months ago that this could happen for calendary reasons and so.

    Re:2, I say, let’em ride slowly. It wouldn’t be the first time, it won’t be the last. Slow riding under cold rain? You’re welcome. I’m pretty much sure that you’d have found a fairly good number of riders who’d have made the race – crumiri, if you want? I don’t think so. This is a sporting competition and, as I said, those unspecified, anonymous protesters (some? A few? A dozen? Many? A mob?) weren’t about safety, which I’d fully support: also note that, was it so, somebody would have said it loud from scratch. But nobody did – because it would have been cheeky enough to defend such an argument when things still had to be decided.
    Protests were about a certain number of riders not having interest in riding a hard stage with no option to win or gaining anything from the effort. But the point is that *this* is the nature of stage racing, and if you give rein to this sort of perspective, you’d rather shut up GTs for good.

    • 100+ Gabriele. This was NOT about safety. It is about a small unrepresentative group who didn’t want to get wet and cold.
      If the UCI sits on their hands over current mess that is the EWP, then GTs are finished. Riders who don’t want to compete can simply go home and let those who want to continue race.
      What a shame the Giro has once again been reduced to controversy, for no other reason than an inability to provide pictures – not just on this stage, plus rain and cold.

  24. The funniest thing is that we were writing just a few days ago about the huge improvement in technical clothes, which are probably the field were the most significant improvements were to be seen in cycling.
    They faced foul weather through the 90s (I won’t go back to epic years) with less performing materials – I suppose the EPO helped for that, too.

    And then all the disc brakes fuss, ah ah ah ah!

    Come on, disc brakes everybody!, they’re more expensive to buy and take care of, heavy, noisy and quite much unnecesary (won’t enter in the “dangerous” debate), but, hey, indeed they’re way better on wet roads and when you’ve got freezed fingers – I won’t deny that – only, we won’t ride anymore under those conditions! And I’m speaking of the pros ^__^

  25. For all the talk of ‘htfu’ and ‘the good old days of hard racing’, I have a feeling that some/most of those retired professional cyclists must be thinking “I hope in our time we could have done the same instead of suffering like dogs, racing in horrible conditions and risking braking bones, exhaustion or getting sick, just so that armchair enthusiasts could say they enjoy an hardcore sport…”

    • Armchair enthusiasts? Yet thousands of enthusiasts, tens of thousands, probably millions through the whole race, go out on those roads to cheer the riders. And that’s part of the show which actual armchair fans enjoy so much.

      Some of them even travel, take (unpaid) days off work, climb the pass with their bikes and wait, normally hours, for the race to pass. Sometimes there’s rain, or snow, and low temperatures are the norm. Most of them don’t wear a Gabba. And lots of them were already out on the Fedaia or the Pordoi when, less than a hour before the start, when the decision was taken not to face such a “tiring” stage. A huge number of volunteers is needed to make a stage possible, working for months, and often enduring grim conditions on mountain roads, too; and while it makes perfect sense to modify or even cancel the stage if necessary, out of mere respect it’s quite much a shame to boycott it only because it’s hard.

      If a retired pro had the attitude you describe, I suspect he’d never become a pro in the first place.
      Of course, people change through the years and even change the way they remember their past selves, yet feel assured that a person with the physical and psychological skills needed to be a pro cyclist could often find a lot of different options to make a living – in a different sport, if anything. At least in the last 50 years or so.
      Which means that pros are ready to face what being a pro cyclist means, including rain and cold and risks which, you might be surprised to know, they have to endure more often in training than during races.
      And, a final point: yeah, I guess that most riders would have voted to race 2019 Worlds on a different, milder day. Only Mads Pedersen was going to enjoy. Was it fair if he hadn’t that option to win it? And, of course, there are countless example. Surely Wiggo didn’t like the rain at the 2013 Giro – and so many would agree with him! So what? It’s simply a part of the sport. Outdoor. Day after day.

      • Yes, I’m one of those armchair enthusiast (guilty!) and amateur rider caught up in rain and cold many a times too.. and people do like to watch the tough races live and volunteer and all that. But riders are not gladiators, they are high-performance athletes (with very low body fat!) pushing the limits of what is humanely possible.
        From a distance of 1000s of km away and with limited information of what was discussed and overall conditions, I can’t really judge if it was a good decision or not. However, the riders are the ones actually riding (suffering) the course, so they should know better than anyone else (that’s my main point) the conditions that are acceptable for them regardless of any consideration old and new. If they decided to speak up, got a small win and got a course shortening, I can’t really complain about it. We still got a race – maybe even more exciting by just following the spotty time differences distances and km to go and zooming in on the profile.

  26. It’s also pretty much shocking that the last hour of racing *averaged* 2.2 million viewers on Italian television. Not a big figure for the Queen Stage, but quite impressive if you think that they already knew the stage had been cut and that it was soon apparent that we weren’t going to see pretty much anything of the race; yet, they stayed there to watch 3D graphics and people smiling in Cortina. Which I won’t blame, given that I was watching, too… 😉

  27. There’s a lot of talk of ‘armchair enthusiasts’ here, but don’t many of the people commenting here (not me, I am an armchair enthusiast) ride? And don’t they ride in inclement conditions and thus have direct experience? And that’s their choice – to ride or not – as it is for professional riders: they don’t have to do that job.

    • I’m sure every single person who comments here rides.

      Yesterday was great, I don’t have any complaints aside from TV.
      If the race was shortened because of conditions (as it was) or because extra 2hrs of no TV coverage was being avoided I don’t mind – either way is fine.

      The riders suffer enough, I don’t care whether they suffer for an extra two hours or not, entertaining racing is all that matters to me. I genuinely don’t mind whether the race is long or short, hard or easy if we get some kind of excitement.

      In terms of TV, yeah, was lame. I can bare it once a year tbh, but would have been nice to have some kind of coverage, hope they sort in future. I’m not that up in arms though, we only missed Bernal cycling up a hill and the time gaps told the story so didn’t actually feel like we missed much.

      • Of course we didn’t miss much, because on such a course nothing more was possible. Unlike the original course. Funny that you say that “it was great”. To me, a great race is one I’d love to watch, not one I can as well substitute with the result sheet.

    • I’m not sure that two mentions (discounting a few direct replies quoting the phrase back) really qualifies as “a lot of talk about armchair experts”.

  28. The whining on here is way more unbearable than the absence of coverage or the shortened stage.
    Rain attenuation on signals and icing on aerofoils are both major factors in the operational aspects of coverage. Risk of serious injury from high speed chutes brought about by degraded cognition and decision making are a real risk to today’s peloton where riders in the third week of a GT have already lost any reserves. This might be ok if the bunch all stays together and can take service from a following car, but you dont want that, do you?
    Mauro Vegni, the riders’ union, RAI, UCI… not one of them wants to curtail a key stage of a GT because it has a major detrimental impact on their assets; be it the race, the riders, the broadcasting rights sales, the sponsors and advertising revenues.
    No, the race was not made tame, as you possibly could see in the eyes of every rider coming to the finish. They had survived an ordeal.
    Sometimes you have to accept all our comforts and convenient devices count for little in the face of nature and the endeavours of those brave enough to go out there every day, no matter the weather, to do the racing we all love to watch.
    Would you have set out to ride in the foothills on a day like that? Would you think of going over 2000m at all? Are you remembering coverage from years ago, when that was all recorded and broadcast in a half hour highlights package, and conflated this with a few famous archive shots and then thinking you watched it live? Earlier coverage was not in any way equal to our usual daily treat of three, four, five hour live broadcasts with two or more helicopters, three or four motos and HD. Just the investment made by organisers in buying this resource means they are absolutely the last to cancel its deployment.

    • Well said. I couldn’t agree more. Like most others here I do ride and I rarely venture out in the rain. It was obvious from the state of the riders as they got to the finish yesterday that they had had to dig deep… two more climbs ridden steadily would not have made for a better spectacle and would have objectively put rider health at risk.

    • That was full irony mode on, no? 😀
      I especially loved “survived the ordeal” LOL.

      PS And, yes, I rode my bike well over 2000m on the Gavia or the Sampeyre on snowy days… precisely to watch the race pass by.
      *But*, no, I can’t remember the sort of coverage you speak about, I wasn’t watching in the 80s. Or 70s. Or 60s. Whatever you meant. I can remember a rainy Domolites stage to Corvara in 1993 that we could actually see live, Chiappucci won and Indurain was back in pink. Available on Youtube.

      • I have ridden mountain passes in all conditions except falling snow. In most cases, as an amateur cyclist you have no choice once you have scaled a climb you need to descend it regardless of the weather. You have little choice. Descending on wet roads is really no fun, and descending from high altitudes is no fun because of how cold you can get. But, it is so much worse if it is long, wet and cold. One descent is bearable, but multiple descents is pushing it. I know riders have faced this before, and come through it. This isn’t the abbreviated 2019 tour stage which was rubbish, it was a good plan B. I find the machismo element of insisting that the riders should’ve done the longer stage stupid. We had a good race despite the weather. We don’t need blood on our hands.

        • Gabriele. No irony. I once had to break off from my ride in Bourg d’Oisans to mount a convoy of cars to rescue a load of 1st cat riders who’d nearly completed the Marmotte route and got caught on the Galibier in 2degC rain. They’d managed to descend to the Lauteret and had been moved on from the cafe to the toilet block by the time I got there. From the Lauteret, the road is nothing but they just couldnt go on any more. It was 36degC in the valley. You just never know about weather until you’re in it.
          That aside, there are rightly strict rules on when helicopters can fly, and conditions where icing is likely is a complete no- no. Add altitude, inability to auto- rotate for failsafe landing, and you’ve got no pics.
          Get over it.

          • Also, these riders were being followed by a long line of cars. And they had loads of gear in those cars, which the riders were not wearing most of. Bernal was so cold he was able to take off his jacket at the end (he was only wearing one, and shorts) while pedalling.

          • This is precisely what I’d call “whining”. And a good deal of excuses. If not ironic, your piece above is just funny. You clearly don’t know those roads. “Ordeal” or “endeavour” or “the face of nature” are totally… out of context.
            Whatever. You guys are buying a bunch of cheap lies by the marketing & communication department. But I guess that it’s fine if it makes the race look better. Il fine giustifica i mezzi, and if the ends is making the Giro look a little better, than I’ll justify it.

        • RQS:

          “We don’t need blood on our hands.”
          “A death count does not make a good Giro.”
          “And, how many dead riders do you need?”

          It was raining.

          • Your entirely spurious and massive exaggerations aside, it sets a precedent. Riders who don’t fancy a certain stage – particularly GC contenders – can have a stage removed by complaining about the weather. That is clearly a bad idea in sporting terms.

            Who knows what would have happened if the full stage had been ridden? Probably, Bernal would have taken more time, but nobody knows – maybe another rider would have fared better.

            And the overall effect of this is that longer stages are being removed. A grand tour should challenge every aspect of riding, including long stages and including riding in the rain.

            There was no safety issue yesterday no matter how often you claim that people could have died. They ride in this sort of weather all the time – some riders just didn’t fancy the discomfort. Look at the pictures we can now see: the riders look fine, the roads look fine, the weather is fine.

  29. it’s nice to see you back and commenting more frequently Gabriele.
    I’m surprised you’re this angry about it yesterday but hopefully there are people like you in power who will make sure it doesn’t happen more frequently. Either way, nice to read your comments and enjoying the Giro.

    My take away from the Giro so far is all positive:

    Having been worried Bernal wouldn’t be able to compete with Pogacar I now have more hope for the next few years. Even if it takes sting out of final week here, I hope we’re repaid in excitement when they face off in years to come.

    Having been irked by Remco’s slight arrogance sprinting for a second and talking himself up after the first week, I’m happy he’s not blown the peloton away after 9months out, I would have struggled to believe that kind of performance and think for older fans waiting to see if a rider can compete over three weeks before getting too excited still stands. I do think Remco is amazing, and over performed in the first week so deserves accolades, but am happy there’s been a chastener, we still need to see if he’s a Grand Tour rider.

    Other than that, sad about Landa, but fully expected him to have issues unfortunately, sad Hugh and Simon aren’t up to their top level’s, but that’s just life, both seem to be riders where everything needs to go right for them to win a/further Grand Tours. Aside from that, looking forward to Bardet coming back. Interested by Vlasov, Foss and Almeida (who I still think shouldn’t have waited on Zonc, he’s lost 4/5 mins helping Remco and might have had a top5 finish if not).

    That’s all.

  30. Putting the ‘htfu/small group of riders/teams not wanting to ride’ debate aside:
    In the aspect of safety the organisers need to ensure a certain ambulance availability. Now I don’t know the ins and outs of this re. numbers required; availability; whether availability requirements increase in bad weather; surplus available; requirements of the region the race is riding through that the race can’t take a certain amount away from their day job; but a longer stage with harsher conditions = more spread out groups, with an increased chance of ambulance requirement, maybe the preventative factor of 1 ambulance reduces, leading to an increased score on the risk matrix, tipping it from ‘tolerable risk’ to ‘unacceptable risk’

    I do feel sorry for the hard weather riders though. In my sport (Fell Running – off track running in the UK mountains, looking after and navigating yourself) I am not overly blessed with natural running ability/talent but have managed to chalk up a few impressive (to me) results in inclement conditions, playing to my strengths and against those of my competition. I would have lived for conditions like yesterday. Then again the worst I can fall into is a nice soft bog at ~10mph, not armco at 50mph.

    • before I got into blowing my own horn and talking about Fell Running, I meant to mention: a basic ctrl f search of all the comments thusfar shows no comment so far on ‘ambulance’ or ‘medic’, and I thought it was worth this being mentioned

Comments are closed.