Giro d’Italia Stage 9 Preview

A good day for the breakaway and also a hard stage for the GC contenders although today’s stage isn’t severe, the really selective part is the gravel slope right at the end.

Angel Face: the move didn’t go on the climb at the start but on the way down the other side which helped explain a breakaway packed with heavyweight time trial powerhouses. It also had Fernando Gaviria – but he’d crash and struggled – plus a couple of lighter stage hunters too and the trick to winning was to match the big rouleurs on the flat and let gravity dispatch them on the climb at the end. After Nikias Arndt started the attacks with 20km to go riders were trading attacks with Victor Campenaerts the most active. The Belgian launched and relaunched and in a final move was joined by Bardiani bantamweight Giovanni Carboni for the final climb and he cracked Campenaerts on the slope. Behind another lighter rider in Lafay floated across, attacked Carboni, and went solo to win with nobody else in the picture. This Franco-Italian production by the cherubic Alain Delon lookalike brought a rare win for his team, or at least rare until the long weekend in France where Cofidis have won more in the last three days than all of last year combined.

The Route: a relatively short stage, only 158km but packed with 3,500m of vertical gain which is a lot but not wild, let’s not overhype today as a gigantic stage of the race. It’s a solid day in the Apennines but you can face fiercer flanks, think the Blockhause, Carpegna or Monte Nerone.

The stage starts… with riders warming up on their rollers as the course is uphill from the start with the uncategorised Colle della Croce, a big ring kind of climb at 4-5%. So is the next climb of the Passo Godi and also the next to the empty spot labelled Fonte Ciarlotto by the race, it’s not steep either. The same again for the Forca Caruso, another big ring climb. So is the climb from Celano to the ski town of Ovindoli, at least until higher up in the village where the road turns onto a smaller road and it gets steeper for a short while. Then it’s across the top of the mountains to Rocca di Cambio with a small climb into town. None of these are the most selective climbs of the region but they’ll all add up, a cumulative fatigue from the ascents and sketchy descents.

The Finish: a visit to Rocca di Cambio and then the climb up to Campo Felice ski station, the Giro’s been here before and it’s a 5% climb before heading into the tunnel and out to the usual finish line. Only this time it’s literally onto the ski slopes with a finish on a ski piste that’s a gravel track in summer, it’s 1.6km long at 8-9% but steeper in places and because it’s a rocky path this makes things even harder.

The Contenders: another good day for the breakaway and the climbers and strongmen who tried yesterday can give it another go today, yesterday’s picks can almost be copy-pasted. So Alberto Bettiol, Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-Nippo) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) come to mind. Alessandro De Marchi (Israel) is back to attacks, plus Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) isn’t working for Ewan any more. Movistar’s Dario Cataldo and Davide Villella feature again. A stage winner already Gino Mäder (Bahrain) is riding well and that’s the problem, he’s only four minutes down on GC and nobody will want to let him get much of a lead. Valerio Conti’s been tipped here but he’s been ill before the race and short of form, he promises to attack but it’s too soon today.

Can the GC guys win? Sure and we can expect Ineos to pick up the pace late but so far there’s no other team trying to out-muscle them, we’re not going to see Astana or Deceuninck-Quickstep out to get them so the speed won’t be as high. So it’s advantage to the breakaways, we could just have two races for the price of one with Bernal and company trading attacks, but late into the stage, on the gravel. The best four in San Giacomo should come to the fore again, Egan Bernal looks consistently good, Dan Martin (Israel) in great form and punchy in any finish, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quickstep) almost looks to be holding back and Guilio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is the local but as lively as he’s looking, how to win? He’s riding high on GC and he and his team won’t want a boomerang attack where he launches, gets reeled in by Ineos and dropped. Instead he could hang tight and win a sprint. Lastly Simon Yates (Bike Exchange) ought to be a contender here but just matching Bernal and Evenepoel is the test today.

Bauke Mollema, Alberto Bettiol
Guerreiro, Bernal, TDG, Villella, De Marchi, Cataldo, Mäder, Champoussin

Weather: similar conditions to the previous day, cool weather and the chance of rain in land, 17°C in the valleys, single digits at altitude.

TV: the stage starts at 12.35pm CEST, tune in to watch the scrap to get in the breakaway. The climb from Celano starts around 3.45pm and finish is forecast for 4.55pm CEST, earlier than usual.

49 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 9 Preview”

      • BUCI I think you mean, as in holes and less-than-pristine pavement? Certainly turned out to be sketchy for Mohoric though from the video it looked more like he overcooked it into the turn, locked up the rear wheel while still holding the brakes on and the weight transfer launched him OTB as we used to say in motocross. Glad that he decided not to instantly jump back on another bike and continue.

        • I could be dead wrong, but to me it looked much more like some sort of technical failure. We’ll see if we get further information later, but, as you recently commented way too well, if it was technical, we might as well be left in the dark, or offered some “pothole theory”, more *convenient* than convincing.

          • The corner was too fast for rear wheel to slide. In my opinion the rear tire blew, resulting in a series of unfortunate events.
            Would have been an even better stage with Mohorič pacing Caruso and Mader.

          • Whatever the correct spelling it was sadly prescient. Seeing the replay after some comments elsewhere it appeared as if he hit a hole / crack / buche at just the wrong moment which caused a very nasty crash (on first viewing I too thought he locked the back wheel). Fortunately he appears to be OK.

          • Bahrain DS Franco Pellizotti described the crash pretty much as I did above on the post-race RAI TV show, though he used a MOTOGP reference rather than a motocross one.

          • My take, for what it’s worth, is that his back wheel slides and then he comes out of the slide (and catches) just the front wheel is aimed the curb stones. This is high enough that when the front wheel hits it that the bike instantly stops and the forces Mohoric and the rest of the bike up and over.
            It’s this that cause the front forks to break, but this only becomes apparent when the bike lands.
            I thinks it’s right to point out ‘chaussée déformé as many of these mountain roads are chip and tar clad. Rider error? I think that comes down to a definition. Racing always puts you on the edge and it’s not fair to say ride suitable to the conditions.

  1. An insightful preview as usual. It’s going to be interesting to see which crème surfaces to the top.

    There were also a couple of typos in the first paragraph.

  2. Thank you Mr. Inrng. Will be an exciting day. And for those interested: let’s not forget the MTB world cup in Nove Mesto, where MVDP and Pidcock are headlining the race.

  3. I wonder if this stage will end up not being all that decisive. Memories of previous Apennine “mountain” stages such as Simon Yates on Gran Sasso or Nairo Quintana on Blockhaus might not be all that relevant here (neither of those went on the win the Giro). Egan Bernal / Ineos might want to make a statement but I doubt they will expend too much energy to do so. I suspect there will be a GC shakeup but more of some of the fringe contenders going backwards rather than the main ones making a big step forward. It could be a tough task for Attila Valter to stay in pink.

    • When I think if blockhaus, I think if Dumoulin soaring up it and losing only a handful of seconds to quintana. It really cemented his credentials that year. It’s nice to hear he’s getting back on his bike and into racing again.

    • I agree about this stage not looking like very decisive. This weekend is a bit underwhelming, whereas the promising stages were actually the 4th and 6th. However, if it wasn’t for Mohoric’ horror crash, we’d have been treated to a whole different battle, given that all the load was in the first part of the stage and several riders (plus a team, Bahrain) read it correctly enough. At little use.

      Instead, what you say about Blockhaus it’s frankly nonsense. Dumoulin was superhuman, indeed, but such a monster climb, albeit in a very easy stage, was obviously selective: only five riders could hold in at less then *two minutes* behind Quintana. A dozen of riders aside, the rest was three minutes back or more. The difference was quite much comparable to the well-known and rarely seen again Sky attack on La Pierre St. Martin, in the case of Quintana without the effect of the heat and of, well, team Sky, both in terms of teamwork and of previous preparation. The iconic Mount Ventoux 2013 stage, again a peculiar performance by Froome, was on the whole slightly less selective than that Blockhaus, despite being at the end of a 242 long stage (again, a flattish one) and after two full weeks.

      Today’s stage has nothing in common with that (or those), it’s more or less the opposite concept, in a sense more similar to the classic final stage of Pa-Ni. Not long, front loaded, several climbs but easy ones, little rest.

  4. Yesterdays also saw Ewan’s withdrawal with a predictable sore knee. While not being the first to suffer such a convenient injury, it feels yet again like a lack of respect for what is a great race in its own right. Maybe I would find it easier to accept if the riders and thier teams did not feel the need to invent a spurious injury as laughable justification. Would he quit the TdF at the same stage with the same “injury”?

      • Ala Greipel, though Ewan was making it pretty clear he wasn’t trying to win this jersey but to win sprint stages in all three GT’s for 2021. Super Mario used to take a lot of crap for climbing off when the big mountains came. IMHO it just moves a pretender for the final ciclamino out of Sagan’s way 🙂

    • Apparently he had a fall in the hotel before the stage, I think if was planning to go he’d have at least waited a bit longer as tomorrow is fine and his train’s starting to work. But Lotto-Soudal have been here before, in 2016 Greipel was leading the points competition and flew home the evening after winning a stage. He was honest about preparing for the Tour which was refreshing but at the same time could be read as impolite.

    • It is often very convenient with these “injuries”. But as impolite as it may seem, they cannot leave the race without agreed permission from both jury and organiser. So the organiser is part of this deal and can hardly be allowed any animosity towards Ewan – or any other rider dropping out prematurely.

      • Is that correct? genuine question here.

        It was my understanding that you needed permission to join another race, if the start of that race was before the end of the one you abandoned. But presumably Ewan isn’t planning on competing anywhere, merely training.

        • I’m pretty sure that’s not correct – all that’s needed to withdraw from a race is to not sign on in the morning or jump into the car during a stage. I can’t imagine Rohan Dennis applied for any dispensation to leave before disappearing at the tour a few years ago !

        • Good catch, Lukyluk. My bad. It is, of course, only if the rider asks for authorisation to start elsewhere that an agrrement shall be reached, not if he/she simply leaves the race in question. I am sorry about this confusion.

      • So does the organizer need to see an attest? And if, from some some independent doctor or just the team’s own one? Doubt that there is more needed than team doctor telling a story about “stomach problems”.

    • The TdF, too, has a tradition of receiving this same treatment from sprinters (Cipollini, Petacchi and others), although the French were quite much more resentful about that (denying further invitations, when they had the power to do so, and the likes).

      I’m quite sure RCS knew in advance about Ewan’s intentions and had no issue with that. For RCS a Sagan’s ciclamino jersey (or some Italian guy, if anything) is a way better deal than Ewan eventually getting that, but at the same time having Ewan in those two or three sprints is added value. Win-win situation for everybody.

    • Lack of respect? Why? Can we end this nonsense….another outdated cycling tradition. It’s utter garbage.
      If someone wants to leave a race, it’s their choice. …..if they’re injured, then what’s the problem.

      • Yeah. Agree of you. Only, it’s not a tradition. The tradition is some sprinters leaving before the end, if anything, ah ah ah!

  5. Sean Kelly brought up an interesting tactical possibility yesterday – Ineos attack Valter knowing that Evenepoel will follow, thus setting him up for the pink jersey. Then Deceuninck and young Remco would have all the ensuing stress of protecting the jersey for the next week. Bernal waits in the shadows until the final stages then boom. Thoughts on this?

    • I can see Sean’s point but not sure how practical it is, real cycling is not the same as playing Cycling Manager. I am sure Ineos will be conserving energy, they have so much experience in winning GTs that they know how important it is. DQS might be the best ranked team but they have little experience of leading GTs (Julian Alaphilippe is all I can think of) and none of winning them, that could count in the end. So yes all well and good as an idea but I doubt very much if Egan Bernal will deliberately let Remco Evenepoel take any time whatever the supposed long term benefit

    • The Pogacar/Evenepoel generation don’t seem to think too deeply about things (whether that’s low IQ or simply the arrogance of youth I won’t speculate on), so I suspect Evenepoel won’t let a pink jersey bother him in the slightest.

      • Seems not!
        I keep thinking Evenepoel isn’t Bernal’s genuine competitor cause surely he can’t hold on for three weeks post injury and never having ridden a GT? But maybe not…
        If not, surely Bernal has this wrapt up?

  6. Weather looks atrocious around Llanilis today. I’m wondering if Christophe Laporte can back up his win during the week and give Cofidis victories two days running, at Tro Bro Leon.
    Excuse the digression. But I’d rather be roadside in Brittany today than at the Giro stage.
    I’m wondering if Egan Bernal fancies making good use of Ganna and Moscon today and seeing where the chips fall, regardless of how it shapes the rest of next couple of weeks. Just to see who’s been coping well in this opening week

  7. Hats off, inrng, for linking Gli Spietati, a top quality movie critic website 😉
    All made by volunteering enthusiasts – note the absolute absence of ads.
    (maybe this is spam, too…)

  8. I wish I spoke Italian well enough to read the site. I love the Italian translation of “Le samourai” as Angel Face–I hadn’t known that. Melville is a favourite.

    As for today and the other baby face: would Evenepoel have lost less time, do you think, had he not been so poorly positioned as Ineos put the hammer down?

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