Giro d’Italia Stage 17 Preview

Rested? Then we’ll start racing again and with a hard stage and two climbs that might not have the altitude of others in the race but they’ve got the attitude.

The Route: 193km and downhill from the start but it’s no freewheel, just the main valley road until Molina, then it’s on a small road and the climb to Sversi, a steep ramp to help any breakaway form. Then a long, gradual drop down to Trento and the Valsugana, passing below Monte Bondone and we’re into the Giro del Trentino – now rebranded as the Tour of the Alps – country. The Passo di San Valentino’s a tough climb, 14km at 7.8% and if it’s not famous this kind of slope for his length makes it harder than many famous climbs. It’s straight down too on twisty and technical descent with only five kilometres of valley road.

The Finish: the Sega di Ala climb’s new to the Giro but was used in the 2013 Giro del Trentino, Vincenzo Nibali won that day on his way to winning overall and Bradley Wiggins threw his bike which rolled across the road… and parked itself beside a concrete wall. Viral videos aside, the lesson to remember from that day is that 19 of the top-20 came in one-by-one and they were spread over four minutes. Yes it was Trentino and a lighter field and nobody had to fight for 12th etc but still, this a hard climb and feels like a staircase, the hairpins are tight.

The Contenders: Egan Bernal (Ineos) is an easy pick because he’s just climbing faster than everyone else and has a team that can set a pace on approach to the two final climbs that will help reel in the breakaways and yes he’s ahead he’s not yet going to be handing goodies to rivals. Giulio Ciccone is (Trek-Segafredo) incisive style is suited to these climbs too.

But Bernal isn’t a stone cold certainty, the breakaway still has a strong chance. Among the breakaway picks George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) might like the warmer weather and he can use team mates like Edoardo Affiini to help tow the move away. Dan Martin (Israel) is climbing well, the same for João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and Davide Formolo and again the trio the same problem of trying to win a stage but in doing this, threatening someone else’s top-10 position.

Egan Bernal, Dan Martin
Brambilla, Bouwman, Cataldo, Mollema, Formolo, Fabbro, Fortunato, Ciccone, Cepeda, Villella

Weather: dry, sunny and 20°C

TV: the stage starts at 12.10pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune from 3.00pm to get the final two climbs.

43 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 17 Preview”

  1. Will the speed inherent in 90k of gradual descent prevent the break getting the 10 minutes or so needed to stay clear on the climbs? I guess if a few big rouleurs make it in to tow the climbers then it’s a possibility.

  2. Minor typo… 2nd sentence, 1st “altitude” intended as “attitude” ?
    Not griping, inrng wordsmithing and knowledge excellent as always —

  3. A technical descent on the penultimate climb, only five kilometres of valley road and a final climb that for the most part is steep enough that drafting isn’t a huge factor all suggests attacks on that final descent. Here’s to Bardet lighting it up.

  4. do the points jersey contenders go for the intermediate sprint? i agree about some contenders pushing that descent. not sure how much it will matter if that makes bernal angry and he storms up the final climb. after missing getting to watch the spectacle of monday’s route – this one looks good to me!

      • I think for Sagan we’re in the realm of the kind of game-theory calculations that GC contenders make (e.g., going for wins means risking taking key competitors with you, to your own detriment). He has his stage win and is now racing not to lose the Cicliamino jersey. Was it Sun Zu who said, “Never risk the necessary for the desirable”? Sagan desires another stage win, but for his Giro campaign to be successful he needs to finish in purple. Here’s what I think this means for today and tomorrow:

        Sagan will race defensively. Gaviria has consistently taken a point or three on him at contested intermediate sprints. Cimolai did too in the last one he went for. After stage 18, I think there is only one other stage where the sprinters might contest the intermediate sprint (stage 20). So Sagan needs to finish stage 18 with at least a 4-5 point lead. Today I expect him to mark Gaviria and Cimolai as they approach the Sversi. If a large breakaway is already gone, nothing will happen. If Cimolai or Gaviria go for for the break, or try to steal a march on the Sversi, Sagan will follow. If the breakaway is small at that point and his competitors falter on the Sversi, Sagan will go for it and slightly pad his lead with some intermediate sprint points.

        And tomorrow, a stage that looks ideal for Bora and Sagan, I think he’ll be ironically happy if a large breakaway gets away. A successful break, without any sprint contenders, guarantees the points jersey for Sagan. Since Gaviria in particular has consistently closed down any of Sagan’s attempts to make breakaways, there’s no chance Sagan will try for the break on his own. And if Gaviria or Cimolai go for the break, Sagan and Bora will either close that down or Sagan will go with them. Assuming a break without these three gets away, Bora won’t chase except in a token manner. Let UAE and ISN wear themselves out keeping the break in check. Hell, Bora may even try to put a rider in the break to increase its chances of succeeding. But if that break doesn’t look like it will take the win, in the final 25-30 km Bora will start to ride hard (repeating part of the strategy of stage 10). It’s unlikely they can shed Gaviria or Cimolai on those final short climbs, but that strategy should tip the balance to Sagan. He doesn’t need to win stage 18, just finish immediately behind the best placed of either Gaviria or Cimolai. Viviani is a non-factor unless he wins stage 18 and Sagan gets no points.

        Much as I would have loved to see Sagan go for the win on stage 15, and to see him go for it in stage 18, I think he’s racing strategically now. And yes, I have thought way too much about this. 😉

  5. How to fix the grand tours –
    7 days for the sprinters
    7 days for the climbers
    7 days for the puncheurs
    each segment to be concluded wih a time trial (it really is the race of truth).Mixing them all in together as happens now really doesn’t work.
    If that idea doesn’t work then an alternative would be for each team to shed a rider every three days (unless they have already lost one through crash etc). The final three stages would have only two from each team.

    • It would be impossible to sell advertising space for all but the last 10 minutes of each stage in ‘Sprint week’.
      A lot of riders won’t want to be categorized as ‘only’ breakaway riders, thereby losing their chance of winning by reducing their stages by 2/3.
      By day 4 of ‘Mountain week’ the riders would be on their knees and you can’t make appointment TV if every day of that week is supposed to be a big day.
      I think the only way to give each group of specialists a rest is to mix it up … like they do currently.

      • Too many days with nothing happening … and not just the sprint days.
        A bunch of riders 1-2 hours behind ride off the front and the rest ride within themselves till the final.
        The day in the gravel was easily the most engrossing as it was a race all the way.

        • I feel like you’re missing the grand spectacle element of cycling here, a grand tour is about so much more than just the daily winner

          • I love the spectacle .. especially when it is mid winter down here and I am watching glorious European scenery.
            I just feel that the actual racing needs spicing up a bit.

          • Lanterne_verte – totally agree – his concept sounds boring, every GT with the exact same format… kill me now. The somewhat unknown of each race/stage is what keeps it interesting.

            It sounds like he doesn’t like cycling… Should probably go watch footie (not boring at all… men standing around passing a ball with 17 shots over 90-minutes… so good… pbbbt). Or, American football, 4 hours with 12 total minutes of actual running… so exciting.

    • What problem are you trying to solve? That just sounds needlessly reductive.

      The excitement in Grand Tours often comes from things happening when you don’t expect. For example crosswinds; late climbs on a hard stage that draw out the GC contenders; narrow roads that make organising a chase more difficult etc.

      The ideal grand tour champion should be strong in all departments of racing – which includes positioning and tactical nous. Bernal has scarcely put a foot wrong in this Giro and would be a worthy winner – more exciting than just reducing all GTs to a series of short steep uphill finishes that merely confirm who has the best W/kg.

      (Can I also put in a bid that mountain stages that finish on a descent are often better than summit finishes …)

      • Agree that Bernal is strong between the ears but not so sure about his sprint or puncheur status.
        For mine the standout on the Ineos team is Ganna. If he keeps pulling in the third week as he has for the first two it will be remarkable.

    • What actually needs fixing? This race has been great. Bernal is dominant, but he’s not actually that far ahead. Besides, he’s clearly the best rider and has shown that on multiple different terrain, so it doesn’t feel wrong or unfair for him to be bossing it.

      I think the balance between sprint stages and harder stages has been just right this year and I love the fact it ends with a TT – I wish the Tour would do the same every so often.

      • I wouldn’t change a thing, although if this was a form of Pro Cycling Manager perhaps you could replay the stage Landa crashed out and keep him and Dombrowski in etc, or instead of having Bernal send him to the Tour to take on the Slovenians. But we can’t and it’s been a good race so far, we’ll have to see how the GC battle goes as that’s not really a contest.

        • They could change the broadcasters to a German company so we could see more of it.
          The tours are at least as much a national festival as they are a sporting event … the French definitely do that aspect best.
          As a pure sporting event they have a lot in common with horse racing.

          • Cause Germany is well known for it’s superior cycling coverage. Best laugh in a whole year of quarantine.
            Have you ever seen the utter crap that is Münsterland Giro, GP Frankfurt or just at the moment the Ladies Thüringen Tour?
            Faso or Rwanda have better coverage, we Germans better should stick to football, the only thing German tv has any clue of.

    • You might as well have three separate races then. Let the economics/marketability determine the survival of each. In any case the point of a three week tour is to endure. It doesn’t find who is the fastest climber, the fastest sprinter or the best at breakaways. The dynamic is the interesting part. But you don’t seem to like that.
      If you like sprints, watch track cycling. If you don’t like slip streaming watch TTs.

      • Thanks for the advice but I think what would suit me is gravel racing which is not on the menu here … he said as he watched Team BikeExchange give Ineos the helping hand that they really need.

    • I’m not sure if you mean for the stages to be numerically equal but mixed in terms of order or as literally segmented as your outline. If the latter then the other point you’re missing here is how to engineer this while moving around the country. Either way, I don’t see how this “fixes” the grand tours. And what needs to be fixed anyway? This years Giro GC has chopped and changed constantly and after yesterday’s stage the result still seems uncertain.

  6. As IR suggests it’s hard to see a winner except Bernal or breakaway rider. The other GC candidates have mostly tried and failed to challenge him: Yates on the Zoncolan only to pay on the succeeding stage, Carthy on Monday, with Carr impressively and effectively creating a select mini-peloton, but unable to take advantage…
    Maybe Bernal and Ineos could let Martinez attack on the final climb. If he gets away alone for the stage, all well and good and a sound move for team cohesion, and, if a few others follow,Bernal can sit on without risk

  7. If a break goes early then the break has a good chance but there might be such a big group trying for the breakaway it ultimately takes to long to form and the breakaway loses it chance at a win.
    With such a small valley at the end a long range attack on the penultimate mountain is possible but ineous is probably to strong for that. See if any GC teams send people into the break (but ineous may be to strong for that to happen also).
    Bike exchange i expect will be sending people into the break for stage wins now that Yates has dropped away a bit.

  8. Coral also have Bardet at 80/1 to win the overall, which he won’t, but as an each-way to place top 2 it’s also potentially interesting.

  9. Yates for a good ride today, weathers warmer, I have a feeling he doesn’t do so well in the really cold weather (is he really from north england?!) – I’d give him 1 chain-ring.

  10. My standard gage of GT race entertainment value goes something like this:
    If it’s a rest day and I do not miss the racing then it must be pretty good – that is, there’s been so much of interest/intrigue/consternation/satisfaction that a day off is all well and good…

  11. Great ride by Martin today – chapeau!

    It seems to me Bernal had a rush of blood to the head today riding to follow Yates and Almeida when perhaps he should have ridden at his own pace and not wasted a couple of domestiques. Cracking ride by Martinez to pace him through the final few kms. I still believe that barring disaster, he’ll win the GC. He did well to limit losses today: Caruso being the main danger.

    Thanks for the continued brilliant write ups/previews Inrng.

  12. What a race! Great job to Martin, and Martinez for keeping his leader calm.

    Didn’t expect to see that happen to Bernal today, but it makes it more interesting over the next few days for sure. What a race this is shaping up to be.

    • Martinez earned himself some serious gratitude today. The pic that is everywhere of him exhorting Bernal to keep going is priceless. Bernal is lucky to have tomorrow’s stage next.

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