Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Preview

The Giro rides on and yes it has the feel of a test of patience for the GC contenders and fans alike. We’ll see if the mythical passes of the Dolomites can discriminate between three riders who have proved inseparable for the last three weeks. Or will it all come down to the time trial in Verona tomorrow?

Stage 19 Review: the breakaway stayed away and the cherubic mountains leader Koen Bouwman won the stage. Bouwman started his sprint on the right and cut across to the left. This wasn’t obvious foul play: the need to get into the final corner first, more than to chop rivals up but it meant Schmid was out of place, which made Vendrame and Valter lose control on a tight bend that wasn’t part of the road but a lane created in a car park and seemed to catch them out.

Landa, Hindley and Carapaz all made attacks in the finish again but still nothing can separate them. This makes it look like they’re trading soft blows but when they go, all the others are gone.

The Route: 167km and 4,700m of vertical gain. After a spin out of Belluno there’s the uncategorised climb to San Gregorio, a short climb into the vineyards, 3km at 7% and then another small climb to Sospirolo but a more gentle rise and then it’s back down to the valley for some big roads to the foot of the Passo di San Pellegrino.

The San Pellegrino’s a big wide road and a steady gradient to start with and stays a big road to the top but the road gets so much steeper. It still suits the GC riders and their trains of sherpas. The attacks are unlikely to fly here but it softens up the riders.

The Passo Pordoi is this year’s Cima Coppi but Koen Bouwman has an unassailable lead in the mountains jersey competition now so there’s a touch of prestige and some cash for being first to the top. It’s a straightforward climb with few secrets, the slight difficulty comes from the 27 numbered hairpin bends, riders going first into them fare better while those at the back get the whiplash/accordion effect and have to work a bit more. The descent is on a wide road but full of more hairpins.

The Finish: the Marmolada is the highest peak in the Dolomites and towers above the Passo Fedaia. For the Giro there’s the 3-2-1 second intermediate sprint at Malga Ciapela with 9km to go and then it’s all about the final 5.5km where the road pitches up after the ski resort, there are double-digit gradients and no recovery sections, it’s a long straight road up until the hairpins with 2.5km to go.

The Contenders: the breakaway or the GC contenders? Normally you’d say the GC contenders who’ll deploy their teams dictate the pace so they can leave their mark on the race. After all Richard Carapaz is in pink but has yet to win a stage. But so far this is not a Giro of grand raids, it’s because the riders are so close on GC that they not having to gamble. Carapaz will miss Richie Porte who left the race yesterday but has a good chance of winning today while Jai Hindley has been sprinting well, see his Blockhaus win, but his Bora-hansgrohe team aren’t quite as strong in the high mountains.

Mikel Landa still has the ability to win a big mountain stage and is perhaps the interesting element here. His Bahrain team are strong and he’s got a buffer of almost five minutes ahead of Vincenzo Nibali on GC so he and his team can take more risks today.

For the others, Hugh Carthy (EF Education) seems to win on the hardest climbs, Santiago Buitrago is climbing very well but could be on duties for Landa, likewise for Joe Dombrowski for Nibali and Astana.

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) has cut an unusual figure at times, he was even attacking the GC contenders yesterday for little gain when fresher legs could help here but surely if everyone raced like him the GC contest would be wildly interesting.

Richard Carapaz, Jai Hindley
Mikel Landa
Carthy, Martin, Dombrowski, Buitrago, Bouwman, Hirt, Leemreize

Weather: a chance of rain at the start and then once in the mountains it’ll be much colder, just 10°C with the chance of rain and even sleet or snow at altitude. Has Jai Hindley been practising with his rain jacket?

TV: the stage stars at 12:15pm, the Pordoi around 3.30pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

31 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Preview”

  1. Isn’t the Fedaia the climb where Indurain had a puncture in both legs all those years back??

    I remember riding it once and thought the final 5km was like riding up the ski slope out of town rather than on a road, straight and steep.. nothing worse.

    Hoping we get a nice clean fight today, no mechanicals and the best man wins, all 3 look so close could still come down to the TT tomorrow.

  2. I am trying to work out who is better suited to the steep sections. Carapaz is punchy but Hindley is 2kg lighter. Can’t come up with an answer.
    At least Bahrain will keep the pressure on as they are the furtherest behind.

    • Hard to say now, hard to say in the moment as Carapaz grimaces a lot when he’s going well. People might remember him bluffing with Pogačar and Vingegaard on the Col du Portet during last year’s Tour.

      • Landa put up a little mocking moment about that on the hellish ramps of Menador I think, Carapaz looked like he found it funny enough, too, probably even funnier than Landa himself.

        • Landa didn’t exactly have any answers on the Carpegna at Tirreno earlier against the same 2 riders. Finished the way Carapaz on the Portet did too.

          • Uhm, yeeeeah, but how is that related to what was being commented here? (Landa’s antics mocking Carapaz’ grimace, impying in a sense that the latter was faking his difficulties which supposedly prevented him from working on the front)

  3. The breakaway gave us the bizzare moment of the day, with some nearly”off-piste” riding in the sprint. Poor Porte ended his GC days with chunder and not thunder – which will give Ineos a headache today. I sit thousands of km away from the race and even I wrote yesterday that Bora’s train tactics was a non-starter. Bahrain had a better idea with their team massed for the last climb, but Carapaz used the ol’ “attack is the best form of defence” tactic to get rid off the helpers. Today a grinder. a slow-mo race of attrition. Landa should do well but how much he’s prepared to gamble is the question.

  4. Richie Porte’s absence is a blow for Ineos and for him personally too, this would have been his last big GT ride (I assume he is not going to the Tour or Vuelta). Very difficult to tell simply by watching on but perhaps Richard Carapaz is keeping his strength better than Jai Hindley? Mikel Landa’s only chance is a long range attack but not sure it is in his character.

    The assumption seems to be that Richard Carapaz is the best TT rider of the three, inevitable questions about how much lead each needs to be on the top step tomorrow. It does seem to be advantage Richard Carapaz in that he probably doesnt need to do much more than defend, though taking 10 seconds would be helpful.

    Not sure on the chances of sleet. The weather forecast I have seen for Arabba suggests sunshine and 15 degrees with a chance of afternoon showers. Colder stuff further north on the main ridge & glaciers.

  5. It wouldn’t surprise me if all 3 had a go, all 3 failed and they ended up riding in together to set up a TT showdown. By all accounts Carapaz TTs best of the 3 in the final week of a GT. I saw a mention of 8 head to heads with Hindley, which saw Carapaz clock a better time in 7 (no idea of the time difference per km – maybe Mr Ring does). Landa will probably try the most to break free and from furthest away from the finish (least to lose) but I don’t think he’s got the acceleration or sustained power to stay away/build a big enough lead. We’ll soon see!

  6. Surely there has to be some meaningful attacks today. There doesn’t need to be much. Ideally you’d want Hindley to have a 20-30 second lead over Carapaz going into the TT for maximum final day tension.

    • I can’t see them going up that killer section near the top of the final climb nose to tail but I can see them arriving at it in formation.

    • If Carapaz is indeed the stronger TT rider of the three, perhaps he has one eye on tomorrow and will be purely defensive today?
      The other two, particularly Landa, need time and have more incentive to go for it today.

  7. I’m hoping for a big Landa attack that Ineos and Bora let go a bit as they aren’t worried about his TT, then hopefully we can have Landa with say 1minute lead tomorrow, and maybe Hindley 10/15 seconds up on Carapaz. Seams about the right gaps for an exciting final TT.

  8. Yesterday’s stage was the most bizarre I’ve seen. First up, the four who had enough of a lead to mess around; and mess around they surely did. Then Bora’s riding that left them out there, taking their leader’s chance of gaining two lots of bonus seconds – quite apart from the whole question of; Why, Bora??! – and finally the most soft-pedallingest, no-after-you GC-locked-together run in which still served to prove that Ineos should have been left to ride and Hindley could have gained 13 seconds bonus.
    They really are stuck now, aren’t they? Hurrah for Landa and Valverde today. Both can really go for it.

    • Bora rode the mid-section hard to line things out for the climb… so they’d be safe for the descent, it was more a defensive/protective more than anything else. Not the stuff of dreams but they’re three seconds off the pace and don’t want to gamble.

  9. Can anyone explain me UAE tactics yesterday? Almeida out of the Giro and not even 1 rider from them in the breakway? Are they saving for today or just very weak?

    • what has everyone got against UAE?
      It’s hard to win a stage… they had a rider in the top5 until a bit of bad luck and now they’ve also won todays stage? That’s more than most…

    • I think the bigger question involves Bahrain’s tactics. Novak clearly still had strength on the Fedaia — bringing him back to help Landa the way Kamna helped Hindley might have given Landa a few more seconds. Not likely that will prove critical in the TT, but you never know. You do know that without Novak’s help, Landa’s chances are that much smaller.

  10. I can see Landa getting away as the other two argue over who chases him down, hard to see Carapaz and Hindley finishing more that a few seconds apart tho. Maybe Hindley has learnt from being done by TGH last time around and done some secret TT work..

    Keldermen is a disappointment for me… I guess in the way that Poels was previously… looking like they are developing into a contender but just not having that last little bit…(also Carthy)

  11. Did not see that coming this morning…
    Although for the few minutes before Cara cracked you could see he was on the limit… even the a minute and half in three k? Amazing

    • Bahrain was riding defensively all day long because Landa reportedly had horrible feelings and was afraid that if fireworks started early he’d lose contact on one of the first two climbs, thus facing the only scenario which might put his podium vaguely at risk. I suspect that more or less the same had been happening yesterday – otherwise it would really make no sense for him and his team not trying anything on the Kolovrat.

    • Of course, if we look at the Giro as a whole all the GC teams barring Bora didn’t play it much right, while Bora eventually did. Although if it was all a genius poker strategy of sort (which I doubt), it still was a pretty risky one.

  12. Carapaz did not look well all day – looked worried/ill – touch of the “Richie Portes”? Bora worked out finally the “send a man up the road” tactic! Bahrain set up Hindley well too. Chapeau Covi & Hindley.

  13. Although I agree quite much with the general idea that riders who improve through a GT often do not really get better week after week, it’s rather keeping their level against fatigue while others suffer more of a drop, nevertheless “riding into growing form” it’s still something which does happen in pro cycling. I named several examples in the past, now we’ve got a further one, and very notable indeed, in Hindley. The combination of a Hindley overperforming and Carapaz cracking big time while he tried to hold that pace granted Jai the (nearly sure) final success.

Comments are closed.