Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Preview

The mountain stages resume and today there’s a trip to Slovenia. It’s not a savage route – wait for tomorrow – but it should see a good battle for the stage win.

Bondt, Dries De Bondt: it looked like a sprint stage but it wasn’t to be. It didn’t look like GC stage either but yesterday Mikel Landa’s chance of a podium finish looks almost certain while Vincenzo Nibali moved up to fourth overall. This was of course because João Almeida quit the race after of a positive Covid test. He’d been racing in his socially-distant style but the virus can get anyone, anytime and if it’s happened to others in this race too, it’ll happen to others in other races too. It lends this Giro even more the feel of an elimination race, another contender ejected. Domenico Pozzovivo also gained a place but this time because Juan-Pedro Lopez missed a split in the finish and lost time.

A five man break went clear given the hulking Eduardo Affini must be worth two riders, along with Davide Gabburo, Magnus Cort and Dries De Bondt. Groupama-FDJ, Quick-Step and DSM never let them get much more than two minutes, it seemed at one point the bunch was in danger of catching them too early. Peccato! The quartet had kept something in reserve for the finish and kept the bunch at bay, plus several riders were caught out by splits to shrink the peloton and by now of course many are tired. Cort launched early, Gabburo faded and there was a close sprint with De Bondt taking the stage ahead of Affini.

The Route: first a dash through Buja, also known as Buie, Buje and Biua but perhaps more famous as home to Il Rosso di Buja, Alessandro de Marchi, so guess who is going in the breakaway? Listed as a mid-mountain stage, you can make a good argument to delete the mid- prefix.

Kolovrat is the big climb of the day and in Slovenian it means a “spinning wheel” (it’s also the name of a derivative Swastika symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis but let’s park that) but good luck spinning your wheels here as it’s 10km of 10% if you ignore the flat section midway. Off the top the race descends to Italy

The Finish: The final climb is 7km at 5% but note the dip in the middle, the final 4km are a more selective 7-8% in places but the road is irregular, the slope changes a lot with some other micro descents along the way before it flattens out by the finish.

The Contenders: a great day for the breakaway as everything suggests Ineos and Bora-hansgrohe are going to wait for tomorrow’s stage to try anything (and probably late in the last climb). If so, well it’s not great sport to watch but you can understand why they’re playing it this way: if Hindley and Carapaz are inseparable uphill then a successful attack might only gain a few seconds, whereas a failed move could cost much more if countered in fury.

Who to pick for today then? A climber but today’s finish is a little more gentle than many of the other climbs this week, it opens up the cast of contenders further. Alessandro De Marchi (Israel) is a local and climbs well at his best, the question is whether the legs are there, he seemed alright when he had a trial raid to Reggio last week. Now being local doesn’t make him any faster, just that he’s sat out some stages perhaps waiting for this. Domen Novak (Bahrain) the only Slovenian but more of an unlikely winner.

Otherwise all the riders who went in Wednesday’s breakaway make an obvious list. Thymen Arensman (DSM), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Gijs Leemreize and Koen Bouwman (Jumbo Visma) are among the Dutch picks, perhaps even Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) again given his show on Wednesday? Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is just outside the top-10 and could be chased down if he goes in the move but the real question now is whether he can sprint for the win?

Maybe Hugh Carthy (EF Education) can wait for tomorrow as the bigger the climb the better he seems but tomorrow the spoils could go to the GC contenders. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is more punchy.

Arensman, Ciccone
L Hamilton, Leemreize, Carthy, Hirt, Valverde, Vansevenant, MvdP

Weather: warm and sunny, 29°C in the valleys.

TV: the stage starts at 12:10, the Kolovrat climb begins around 3.30pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

Dividing the Alps: the stage today goes into the Julian Alps, and not far away is the Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain. The Julian Alps are subdivision of the Alps, the giant mountain range than spans from France to Slovenia via Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria and Germany. The are smaller ranges like the Dolomites, Bavarian Alps, Bernese Alps and so on which are all subdivisions of the same range. While some areas have long had their names and obvious characteristics, the first attempt to try and label the whole Alps with identifiable subsections came about in 1924-1926 with the Partizione delle Alpi, the “division of the Alps” which despite the fascist imperative of the time managed to offer a pan-Alpine aspect that wasn’t defined by national borders. But it was still seen by some as rather Italian. It’s a fraught process deciding where to draw the dividing lines. There have been other attempts and of late the SOIUSA system has gained ground, itself a system devised in Italy. In short, the Alps are not one uniform geological block but full of different rock types and characteristics and while geologists might debate precise labels and boundaries, visitors can often sense the differences whether the rocks, the climate, the food and more.

46 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Preview”

      • would actually be very interested in who people saw a poor tacticians and vice versa in general.
        I’ve had most of LottoJumbo, Landa, Porte down as average tactically and until recently Mohoric.

        • I’ve not really noted that any GC men are that tactically limited. There tends to be one tactic in GC racing – to be the last man standing on the last big hill of the day. Slight variations being getting your team to set a strong pace, or sitting on the team that set a strong pace. You can either keep up or you can’t. Tactics come to in to play more in one day races where often the very strongest riders, such as Van Aert, Van der Poel and young Sagan and Cancellara, get carried away and do too much work. Notably astute riders I would consider to be Valverde who never under any circumstances intentionally does any riding on the front of any race until the finish line, and Nibali who has a nose for when to time an attack.

          • Too a large extent chess is about not loosing pieces … just one pawn down and you are in a lot of trouble. I think GC racing is a bit the same as it is about not loosing time; which is why time trials often decide it. The tactics revolve around not loosing time.

          • I’d suggest an astute rider is someone who manages to do the bare minimum of work, without disrupting the cooperation within a group. Valverde can sometimes be a bit too clever for his own good, with potential race-winning moves he gets in having a tendency to fall apart.

          • I think we see bad tactics all the time? You’re right GC racing can be a only a race up a hill and cycling tactics aren’t exactly complex but they are dynamic and the pressure of a quick decision in race can led to clear mistakes… plus the same riders have raced one-day races as well as ambush stages/one week races etc so we can see those who regularly make mistakes – whether they have or haven’t got the legs.

            Trentin is often referred to as a smart guy but his tactics have regularly been odd for someone with a powerful sprint (five years ago).
            Mohoric likewise has regularly knackered himself with strange long range attacks.
            GVA has also buried himself a few times when riding his luck like Valverde might have been the better option.
            Porte has been caught out by ambushes three times that I can remember.
            Belgian tactics (possibly caused by Remco’s arrogance) have cost WVA a chance at both the Olympics and last years Worlds – but WVA has also made a few poor decisions himself.

            Conversely Quickstep tactics have won them many races and Van Baarle’s racing has landed him great results and finally a monument when in reality he’s in a mix of about ten riders of equal strength who he has regularly beaten in the last five years.

          • There are loads of riders like Landa, Porte in his time, probably Lopez who aren’t as good on the flat and can get caught out on flat stages in crosswinds etc. But I’m not sure if that is bad tactics. Everyone knows they have to be at the front but there isn’t room for everyone and their team. Its more a matter of strength of man and team.
            WVA has made mistakes in doing too much work in races, and racing too hard in warm up races so that he’s past his best for major targets. In my opinion anyway.

        • If you think you see a lot of bad tactics and you see them all the time then it’s more likely that you don’t understand or haven’t thought sufficiently deeply of why the riders rode like they did and what alternatives were open to them. It might also simply mean that you don’t agree with what they did, usually with the benefit of hindsight.

    • I like the way you say let off the leash for a rider who hasn’t won a stage of any world tour race since 2017… although he did have a 2nd in Tour of Suisse last year, so happy to have egg on my face if proved wrong…

      • On the other hand, Costa was the one rider who foresaw the danger of the way the break was riding and set a furious pace before being told to knock it off by the team and or the peloton.

        • Good point! I hadn’t thought of this till you mentioned it. Costa was roundly derided by the commentators and it turns out he was doing the right thing. Of course, how do you know if he was accidently doing something that turned out to be astute? He’s not a popular guy in the peloton from what I understand, and maybe that caused people to judge him harshly. Was he Cassandra or Chance from ‘Being There’?

        • How was Costa doing the right thing? Pulling the break back at 125km to go was 100% wrong.

          Now, pulling harder at 60km to go would have been smart… But if Costa pulled that gap back by 110km to go the sprinters would have been marking attacks for nearly 3 hours…

  1. I must say I enjoyed yesterday’s stage — it’s rare to see a break make such an organised lifting of pace at just the right time. The sprinters must be pissed off!

    I was also intrigued by the discussion of skinsuits for the final TT on UK Eurosport — apparently, the pink one could lose 30 seconds so if there’s no real gab could Carapaz give up a few seconds to be out of pink for the final TT?

    • I seem to remember when Hindley went into pink on the penultimate stage atop a cold mountain, the Ineos team left the scene by helicopter while Jai had to do the celebrations and interviews etc in the cold then down the mountain in the car. Marginal gains and all that.

    • I would have thought an organised world tour team could provide there own by having the manufacturer print a blank the night before. I thought they did this with the normal jerseys for a race this big. Unless it just has to be the tour clothing sponsors.

      • I believe the special race jerseys must be provided by the clothing sponsor of the race, otherwise why be a race sponsor? Of course, if it’s an easy thing to defeat this by ‘accidently’ breaking a zipper, perhaps we’ll start seeing more of that.

        • If the race were to go down the route of allowing teams to print up their own jerseys/skinsuits, the obligations to the sponsor could be met by the graphic template issued to the teams including the sponsor logo in the correct place.

          It would essentially be the same deal as components on bikes. Highly paid team leader prefers something other than the correct sponsor’s item? No problem, just blank out the logo (for this reason Sharpie is a brand used by even more teams than Shimano) and maybe print a decal of the correct sponsor’s logo to stick over the top.

    • 30 seconds is a lot, it could be in the past this happened but since the maglia rosa is sponsored by Castelli you’d think the leader could get the same skinsuit Ineos had last year / Quick-Step have this year from Castelli.

  2. I’d imagine we’re going to see a lot more of the hills of Slovenia. Maybe even a summit finish next year as we try to tempt Pogacar into a Giro-Tour double. I hope it works!

    • Completely agree.
      He’s simply the best cyclist I have seen in my lifetime.
      As I cannot see a rider beating him without an incident/crash/illness in the coming few years, I’m excited to see how far his talent can go? He may do a Tour/Vuelta double this year already. Imagine if he’s able to do a Giro/Tour double next year?

      Everything he is capable of has seemed far fetched for so long that it’s incredible to say seriously he has the talent to not only win 5 Tours, he can also win all 5 monuments and he might be able to hold all three Grand Tours at once.

      Still needs a lot of luck to do so but I wouldn’t put anything past him.

    • That or a wad of cash. Appearance fees get paid to the team so managers get their cut as well. But hard to see UAE say “no thanks” to the Tour as their sponsor wants the big publicity, the big win. Perhaps a Giro-Tour double could tempt the team but with the Giro trying to move another week later that’s a harder ask.

  3. Concerning classification of alpine subranges (note that Bavarian Alps is a term used for a collection of several Northern Linestone subranges) there is the

    Alpenverein classification of the Eastern Alps, originating from a 1924 system, so the Italian system is probably inspired by that. The AV system is seemingly more detailed than the italian one.

    Eastern Alps are quite “well-aranged” by geology, there are two limestone ranges – northern and southern – and the central massive (granite etc.). Both Dolomites and Julian Alps (named after certain Caius Iulius) are part of the southern limestone ranges, as is Brenta, Dolomiti Friuliani, Lienzer Dolomiten etc. The second highest peak of Julian Alps is actually in Italy – the towering Jof di Montasio. Marmolada (Punta Penia) is the highest peak of the limestone ranges, while Parseierspitze in Lechtaler range is the peak of northern ranges (slightly higher than massives like Dachstein, Hochkonig, Zugspitze, Watzmann etc.).

    Kolovrat is widely-used (Czech, Polish, Serbian…) slavic word for spinning-wheel. The “nazi” symbol originates probably in 1920’s Poland as a neo-pagan symbol of the Sun.

    Let’s hope someone weaves a bold attack over the Kolovrat pass.

    • The swastika actually dates back far far earlier than the 1920s (i.e., centuries earlier!) and has been used in a wide variety of religions and cultures. Take a visit to India (from which the word originates) or China and you will see such symbols frequently, and all from long before the 20th century.

      • Sure, but I didn’t mention that nazi symbol, rather the origins of “kolovrat” as a nazi symbol. 😉

        NSDAP used swastika as a symbol of the “Aryan” race. But while the word “swastika” is from sanskrt, the symbol is much older than Indian civilization itself, paleolithic. It’s not surprising, it’s a basic geometric pattern. And it’s fairly universal.

        But the 8arm round “version” called “kolovrat”, mentioned by inrng, is supposed to be a modern, 1920s creation.

    • Just reading again of the Battle of Caporetto.
      What a disaster.
      A young Lt. Erwin Rommel was present in the German forces too.

      • The whole WW1 was an utter and surely avoidable disaster for all sides and all of them were equally guilty for it, the colonial powers perhaps even the more guilty.

        Alpine front was just absurd, both sides displayed enough hubris to consider dropping avalanches on enemy’s position, the impossibly stupid mining warfare led to utter failure fueled by glyceril trinitrate… there is a rather big part of Col di Lana mountain missing, since it was blown up… and all that in the sublime scenery of Dolomites, including tomorrow’s finish area! (One of the most tragic avalanches occured on northern slopes of Marmolada, where Italians dropped an avalanche on Austrian encampment… and just in December 1916 about 10000 men were killed under dropped avalanches on both sides of the front.) And all that for nothing, the mountain warfare led to little more than a wasted effort and futile killing.

        Standing on Kleiner Lagazuoi, beholding Cinque Torri, where the Italians dug an artilery battery to shell the Austrian positions on the cliffs here, high above Valparola pass… it’s impossible to come to any conclusion other than that such idiotic actions surely can not repeat… but, well… the human never change, do we?

      • Disaster depends on your point of view. If you know the battle as Kobarid or Karfreit then it was a great triumph though the Austrian – Hungarian & German armies did not have the strength by that point in the war to deliver a knock out blow to Italy. There is an interesting museum in Kobarid primarily focusing on this battle but also the previous 11 battles of the Isonzo.

  4. Slight off topic but IMHO he deserves it:

    In October of 2014 Dries De Bondt was in a coma for two weeks!

    Snippet from an older interview of Dries De Bondt:

    “There was swelling in the brain which is very dangerous,” he explains. “My parents were in Nantes with me and they were told there were three options: a full recovery, a life with disability, or a vegetative state. The doctors told my parents that the first option was highly unlikely, that it was more likely they had to say goodbye to their son as they knew him or a definitive goodbye. That was a really hard moment for them.”

    He managed to recover fully and in 2020 he became the Belgian champion, hats off to him!!!

    P.S. I guess many Inner Ring followers already know his story, but please excuse my excitement, I just found out about him yesterday.

    • It’s a nice story. Others in the break have their stories too, Gabburo for example turned pro relatively late and before had been riding part time and working factory jobs including a stint in a poultry factory pulling apart turkeys, how he’s been in two winning breakaways.

  5. Good big guffaw at the sprint trains yesterday – chapeau to the 4 man break. Hindley’s day to dodge a bullet with his flat in the last 3km. Otherwise, faster then hoped for by the GC guys. Talking of which, if Bahrain are happy with 3rd on the podium then it’ll probably be a non-event today. Ineos DS talking of Carapaz wanting more then 3 seconds before Sunday’s TT, so if Ineos send a man up the road, then things are afoot. I guess Ineos have done their homework on how good Hindley is over 2,000m. Bora might well go back to sending men up the road as the train idea was a non-starter.

  6. Oh s**t it’s 2012 all over again.
    The most we can hope for is an epic final mountain stage. Worst Giro in a decade. Oh well, it had to happen sooner or later, poor route design didn’t help, but team attitude didn’t, either.
    TV figures in Italy are the most disappointing ever, beating 2020 (provisional). Some 400 K avg. viewers per day evaporated .

    • Until today, I would be completely in agreement with you. Then I started seeing some spectator filmed footage of the race. I’ve come to the conclusion that the televised coverage of this year’s Giro has been pretty uniformly terrible. The spectator footage shows glimpses of the race that didn’t get televised, and it seemed far more exciting than any of the “official” footage. Logistically I’m not sure what the solution to this is, but I think split screen views (breakaway vs. peloton, for example) and the use of drones might be a start. Relying on motorcycle cameras and aerial helicopter shots seems inherently limiting given all the technology available these days.

      • What was it that was exciting in the spectator filmed footage (and that we didn’t see in the broadcast)? What did we miss?
        (I’m asking because your comment made me curious, not because I somehow doubt it or think that you were merely impressed by some kind of novelty aspecst or something.)

        • A big part of it is the energy of the crowd. Hearing the roar of the crowd as the riders pass is so different from the sterile GCN broadcast. One of the things the broadcast missed was Almeida losing contact with the GC group. A friend of mine was by the side of the road as this was happening and shot some footage of Almeida slipping off the back. GCN spent most of the time focusing on the breakaway, rarely cutting back to the GC leaders, and never showing the rest of the peloton. The only time we saw Almeida in their broadcast was after the damage had already been done. If Almeida were still in the race, that would probably have been a pivotal moment that the broadcast completely missed. Instead we get five straight minutes of the breakaway and never see the important moments as they happen. We also never see any shots of the grupetto. Imagine if Démare was struggling on a climb and at risk of an OTL. There’s real drama in that, but because we never see anything but the GC group and the breakaway (with occasional static helicopter shots interspersed) we only hear about those things after the fact. Ineos losing Richie Porte could decide the outcome of the race, but GCN never showed him losing touch with the peloton or pulling off to the team car. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that there are many, many simultaneous storylines happening in the race, and there seems to be this tedious focus on just one or two of them to the detriment of everything else. Maybe this is because cycling is a very conservative sport at heart and the broadcasters do it this way because “that’s how it’s always been done.” Seeing some alternate footage of the race just really opened my eyes to the fact that it’s the broadcast, not the race, that’s boring.

          • You’re spot on regarding this problem, but… not about the “conservative sport” commonplace. TV production changed precisely this year (because of the rain scandal among several other things) and it’s being done by the very big very pro private company which has been doing the TDF.
            So, yes, in a sense it’s part of the problem, they make it as boring as a TDF 😉 , jokes apart, the Giro and the Tour are two very different beasts and the same approach might not work for both. It doesn’t indeed.
            Crowds are already roaring all over the internet… and on TV (Eurosport Spain journos blaming “Italian production”, ops) about the evident issues, only most don’t understand or just don’t know what happened.
            However, this Giro’s been a fail even TV issues aside. TV can’t – or shouldn’t 😉 – create race events which aren’t simply there.

          • They have the better means of production with the aerial link so we don’t lose the pictures, but it feels like they’re missing a moto and above all the direction is off, they cut from one group to the other at unusual times, this is usually down to the producer/director in the TV truck. This has also happened in the Tour when the long standing director retired in 2019, his replacement since at France TV hasn’t seemed as sharp and now at RAI we seem to have someone similar. It’s not easy to film a race happening all over the side of a mountain and all that but it’s been done so well in the past you notice when it’s not as good now.

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