Giro d’Italia Stage 12 Preview

The Giro reaches the Alps but this is a day for the breakaway more than the first big showdown among the overall candidates.

Stage 11 Review: the breakaway didn’t need much more than five minutes to form as the race pedalled up the riviera with the bunch content with a cocktail of one part Eolo, Cofidis, Bardiani, Intermarché and two parts Corratec. It looked like it was going to be a long, boring stage with an inevitable sprint conclusion and in many ways it was… until a crash on the descent of the Colla di Boasi took down several GC contenders including Geraint Thomas, Primož Roglič, Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart. The race was over for “TGH” as he was taken away in an ambulance, leaving everyone wondering what could have been given the form he’d shown. The diagnosis later was a fractured hip. On the same descent Oscar Rodriguez overlapped his front wheel by accident with a Trek rider and crashed hard, also out.

In the end we got a good sprint with Mads Pedersen launching from far, as he does. Mark Cavendish seemed to bet on this and hoped to come around but Pascal Ackerman was on the Brit’s wheel and came past him. Jonathan Milan started from further back and was close to passing them all had the finish line been a metre later but Ackermann won the photo finish.

What was supposed to be a benign sprint stage on paper has reshaped the GC with Geoghegan leaving the race and Sivakov losing time, Ineos will now line up behind Thomas which partly makes things simpler for the support riders he can count on, but it also makes him a simpler target for Roglič. All this and the race has yet to reach the Alps…

The Route: 179km with 2,300m of climbing to the Turin suburbs. It’s uphill out of Bra – no jokes about support from the locals – and into the Roero hills, birthplace of the Slow Food movement and among vineyards, passing places like Barolo and Alba that make the route read like a wine menu. However riders will be reaching for carbo drinks and gels and they’ll hardly have time to savour an energy bar as they try to get in the day’s breakaway. Then it’s across the plains and cereal fields towards Rivoli, the stage finish and where the race will cross the finish line with 56km to go and head out for the first encounter with the Alps.

The Colle Braida is a gymnasium for local cyclists as a proper Alpine climb, the first mountain to poke out of the plains. It’s well-engineered and at times cut into the cliffs and here are few hairpin bends. This is a regular road with few ambush points but as the profile shows the final 4km are at a selective 8% which suits the climbers. The descent has more hairpins but no surprises, it’s a regular road down and back to the plains but there’s twist with 13km to go, literally with a small unmarked climb and some hairpins on the way towards the village of Villarbasse, nothing fierce but if there’s still a group left and someone doesn’t fancy a sprint they could try here.

The Finish: the race will pass through Rivoli with 56km to go so the finish gets ridden once in advance which helps as it’s got some corners and clims. However it’s a run through the suburbs rather than via a medieval town and all on regular roads. There’s a dip after the flamme rouge and then curving bend leading into a short climb but this is up a wide and straight road. Then it levels out onto an even wider road.

The Contenders: a good day for the breakaway, the hilly start helps and the big climb is too much for the sprinters… so much so that in between this preview going up and you reading it some might have decided to go home already. Likely picks are Ben Healy (EF Education-Easypost) who is now clearly a marked man but good luck trying to follow on the climbs. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Samuele Battistella (Astana), Carlos Verona (Movistar) and Brandon McNulty (UAE) fit the bill too but if they all arrived together none are great finishers but that’s why they’ll go clear.

A stage for the GC riders? Even if Primoz Roglič did attack, he’d have to hold off Ineos on the flat run back to Rivoli so it’s risky to put it mildly, especially with tomorrow’s big stage coming, he could try but if he takes 10 seconds over the top it’s still hard to commit to the remaining 28km TT. Today’s stage is reminiscent of Stage 12 in 2019 with the Montoso climb where Miguel Angel Lopez and Mikel Landa attacked on the climb and kept going to take some time, it could be that those a bit further back on GC have a go but again they’ll have to have the horsepower for 28km so while Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain) has the climbing form, can he power along the flat?

Ben Healy
McNulty, Verona
Mollema, Vine, Battistella, Van Wilder

Weather: more rain and 13°C, this has to be the wettest Giro since 2013 when the race had an official song blasting out every morning in the start village called Mezza Estate by Cesare Cremoni, “midsummer”… only it rained and it poured.

TV: KM0 is at 12.45 and the approach to the Colle Braida is about 4.00pm with the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

51 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 12 Preview”

  1. Thank you Mr Ring for providing excellent insights into all things cycling. Your writing is brilliant with subtle references and humour. Your knowledge of place, customs and cuisine is such that a tourist with no interest in cycling would enjoy the blog.

  2. I do see another possibility for today and that is the final hill being tough enough for a gap to be made for good climber sprinters to distance enough the pure sprinters so Pederson and Matthews are a chance.
    But a break away is by far the better chance because i don’t think any team has the strength to pull a good break back. Yesterday and the day before show that none of the teams (especially the sprinting ones) seem to have the strength to pull back a break containing stronger riders. Any team with riders going well and no GC rider to dedicate for should be considering the break. The peleton is ripe for beating at the moment. Next week is going to be all over the place on the really hard stages.

  3. “All this and the race has yet to reach the Alps…” Just one more reason Il Giro is my fave! Our box of Giro-themed pasta arrived this morning, we already had the Astoria vino so all we lack is a Novi chocolate bar for the trifecta. W Il Giro!

    • W il Giro indeed, whilst we could not have had any more drama, not sure we have a good race. Don’t think this will come close to those from 2016 to 2018. Could well end up with a total left field rider winning, not saying that’s bad but might simply be last rider out there. The weather doesn’t help but compared with what many locals are dealing with it is of little consequence.

  4. I had no hopes for Jayco at the start of this race but it is starting to look as though they might scrape up some badly needed points.

  5. Thanks for the post – Friday’s stage will basically nullify today’s stage, which is a shame. A few guys have no doubt penciled in today’s stage for a breakaway chance. A hilly start should sort out the peloton and I wonder how Sivakov is after his crash. All the GC guys will be glad to get through today unscathed – wet weather might upset those plans though. (Team attack! by all of QS maybe?)

  6. The YouTube interview of Roglic showed that he had a visible wound cut on the upper left thigh and minor lacerations on the calf. To me it looks like Roglic might be affected by the injury atleast for Friday stage, which could a bit sad given he was climbing slightly better than Geraint Thomas and was expected to gain some time.

  7. Yesterday was another reminder at the lost-time accident rate suffered by professional cyclists which would not be tolerated in any conventional business sector. Even the most dangerous environments (iron and steel, construction…) have lost time rates a fraction of that accepted routinely by pro riders. It’s probably an under-estimate to say that at least 10% (3 of 30) of most WT teams’ riders are unavailable through occupation-caused injury in any season. The answer is far from obvious though some of the causes are: increased speeds, road furniture, more intensity and a more compact peloton compared to, say, the seventies. A problem without a solution?

    • Are there more crashes now than, say, 30 years ago? I’ve no idea. I was watching then, but wasn’t paying much attention to crashes.

      • I don’t really know though my feeling is that in the seventies it was rare for top riders to be absent – or fail to finish a race – because of accident-induced injury. The peloton was certainly less intense and compact. Looking through the Ineos squad, they have already this season suffered six (seven?) lost-time injuries from a roster of thirty. Are they typical or unlucky?

    • “… would not be tolerated in any conventional business sector.” makes me damn glad this is still a SPORT rather than a business, though one might wonder when they read stuff like this?
      Dunno anyone who sits in front of their TV all day watching hedge-fund managers at work.

      • W il Giro indeed, whilst we could not have had any more drama, not sure we have a good race. Don’t think this will come close to those from 2016 to 2018. Could well end up with a total left field rider winning, not saying that’s bad but might simply be last rider out there. The weather doesn’t help but compared with what many locals are dealing with it is of little consequence.

    • I feel that nowadays (say, the last decade or so) several pros look more prone to breaking bones. Which can be related to 3-4 factors at least, that is, what they eat (how many of those calories don’t bring alone anything else but sheer calories?), the different level of charge (peaks of strength), less mass to protect the skeleton and react to crashes, heavier corticosteroid abuse.

        • It is noticeable that many cyclists now also run for exercise, which has a beneficial effect on bone density. Geraint Thomas said the other day he never runs, so it is not all cyclists.

          • Poor bone density is a standard outcome of chronic underfuelling. With the sadly understandable focus on weight in the peloton, it’s very easy to not fuel correctly throughout training. The lack of weight-bearing training (running for example) has also been cited as contributing to poor bone health.

          • Diet, as in fasting and calorie reduction but also avoiding most dairy products and not doing any impact-related activity count for plenty, some pro cyclists can have the skeleton of a much older person and there are several studies looking at this. Running can help, even just hiking in the hills a bit, and there’s no harm for amateurs either.

            It’s interesting how the sport gone from a culture of “only cycling is good for cycling” and when you’re not cycling you should be sitting down and if you are sitting down you should be lying down… to more cross-training, running etc and not just in the off-season now.

      • Weren’t they taking corticosteroids back then as well? Certainly, David Millar, Laurent Fignon and Lance Armstrong have admitted they were taking them, and I’m sure there were many, many others. No idea about dosages, of course.

        • Chris Boardman retired with some degree of osteoporosis.

          Completely unrelated, corticosteroids were widely used then, especially on French teams.

        • And before, of course, with famous athletes publicly regretting it. What’s changed (in some cases) is quantity and frequency. It’s become a systematic practice. No need to say, but let’s say that all the same, that no single episode of fracture can be related to anything of the above, and not even to simple “low bone density” for unspecified reasons: in a bike race you can perfectly break whatever with a healthy skeleton. It’s a general consideration on statistical terms.

  8. I’m even more disappointed that TGH is out than I was about Evenepoel leaving the race (and not just because of his injuries). I think TGH – with Thomas as a foil – was Roglic’s main opponent. Health/injuries aside, I can’t see Thomas beating Roglic. But who knows how Roglic’s injuries from yesterday’s crash will be (or what else will happen). Roglic’s main advantage may be that he’s just had covid and so should be unlikely to catch it again so soon.

    • Totally agree. Gutted.

      Love the Giro but these weeks are going to kill next unfortunately I feel – it’s been a really strange couple of weeks with mostly average racing but lots of incidents that make it seem like it’s more exciting than it has been. Seeing how slow Thomas was to take Roglic’s wheel on the climb the other day means I’m expecting Rog to take this one overall but let’s see, I’d be happy to see either win.

      Tao really looked like the fave till now even if you had to whisper it as he’s the smallest name out of the four faves.

  9. I feel like if Oscar Rodriguez was a bigger rider, we’d all be asking who that Trek rider was who cut across him and took his front wheel from him, and be looking at endless replays.
    I’ve watched a few times, and it’s impossible to fathom how the Trek rider could have done this – they were side-by-side, so he couldn’t have not seen him.

    • I agree. I recall the commentators talked about Rodriguez “taking himself out”, but it looked to me like a terrible move by the Trek rider

      • It might look that way from the helicopter, but the head-on shot from the motorbike shows Rodriguez’s line drifting wider round the bend as he was talking to and looking at the other rider on the front. Wouldn’t have happened if he’d held his line or looked where he was going.

  10. Just gutted for TGH, for my money the odds on fav to win, he just looked so good (this probably is a post evenepoel view, but..). I certainly wanted him to win. It’s always the innocuous looking crashes that seem to cause the most damage- Cav hits the deck at 60+kph and slides on the water, TGH…. The post above about lost time- never thought of it like that, but all that effort and in a fraction of a second…
    As a fan love the unpredictability of the Giro, but boy do the riders take a gamble!

  11. The final week really could be something, no team looks in a position to control the race so the mountain stages could see anything happen including a surprise victor perhaps. Some bold tactics to shake things up could prove very beneficial for someone and I for one am really looking forward to this possibility. Much rather that than watching a mountain train mow everyone down.

  12. Even before you get to the serious injuries the peleton always looks (to me) like gravel rash waiting to happen. Is it not possible to line their shorts with tough fabric around the hip area.
    It just seems to be a one track mind set on aero without any other consideration.

    • Didn’t DSM have a partnership with a clothing company that said they had a new fabric that significantly reduced the risk of road rash? I’ve not heard any more about it.

      • Yes, they have a material in the shorts which is more tear resistant called Dyneema which is made by DSM. But it’s thin, it can help but if it’s thicker then the shorts will be unusual to ride in or hot. Some cycling shoes are made with it now, in thicker form of course.

        Lots of riders are without gloves these days, that’s not much protection but it helps.

        • I wear gloves even on very hot days specifically for the crash protection. Two weeks ago I wiped out suddenly on an unexpected slippery coastal path and hit my head on a rock. Needed 8 sutures. I braced some of the impact with my hands and my gloves were a bit scuffed, but hands were otherwise fine. I’m always surprised when I see pros racing without gloves (Remco hurt his hands in the Vuelta last year yet still tends to be glove free…)

        • After a racing crash where I broke my hip socket I purchased bibs from Armaurto which makes cycling specific gear designed to reduce risk of injury from crashes. It’s thin enough not to be a bother on hot, hilly days and not particularly noticeable. Haven’t had to test it, fortunately, but do like the idea especially when racing hectic crits and circuits.

      • It was with Nalini, they made lycra with Dyneema in it from what I remember, good idea surprised in the marginal gains world in which we live it hasn’t become more widespread.
        How much recovery and power does gravel rash cost over a week of racing compared to the gains from skinsuits and aero socks for everyday racing?

        • I’ve been to Nalini’s factory and seen the spools of “yarn” they make into the fabrics for their garments (along with a lot of other big names who can’t be named) but making the cloth less prone to shredding doesn’t always do much as I noted before. How many of us have crashed and been happy our clothing didn’t get torn up only to pull it off to climb into the shower and discover all kinds of road rash?
          MTB downhillers are dressed up/protected pretty well..but they pedal for a few minutes…downhill. Nobody’s gonna ride around with that stuff on for very long in a road race. “Dress for the crash” will remain the mantra of the moto set while cyclists dress for the ride and hope for the best (helmet an exception of course).

  13. Rainy stages and riders crashing out is awful to see, though the commentators cry of ‘caduta’ was always a thing on these sort of days.
    As recently as Fossombrone and Healy’s great win on stage 8, the Giro was in a region now hugely affected by flooding with many dead and even more homeless.
    At least it wasn’t street furniture or dogs yesterday, but the loss of a former winner is a big blow. This Giro has been lucky not to have a whole bunch of stages cancelled, and let’s keep perspective while we discuss shortened stages and weather protocols – ‘All this and the race has yet to reach the Alps…’ indeed.

    Is Matthews still in the race? Must be hoping for something more before the mountains.

    • The Giro was actually “lucky”, snaking through the very worst of devastating weather. We are just starting to pay the hidden costs of the last decades of so-called growth, and as always benefits and costs are shared in a very different way.

  14. Regarding protective clothing – there’s not much that’s gonna save you from a broken hip that you’re gonna tolerate pedaling a bike all day. I was involved with a clothing company in the 1980’s that had roots in the motocross clothing biz. They fooled around with some shorts with a foam pad in this area, more useful for MTB in reality. I was a sort of tester for ’em and it became clear the more protection they gave the less comfortable/flexible they were and vice-versa. The other issue was the material moving against your skin in a crash – I think anyone who has crashed has first-hand knowledge of losing skin without any visible damage to the shorts? The company got out of the cycling biz soon after and I moved-on into bike retail from wholesale.
    Today’s first 70 kms or so is in our old “backyard” from our bike tour daze in Piedmont. Looking forward to some nice memories though we will be up there ourselves next month for a few weeks….and it’ll probably be raining!

    • “anyone who has crashed has first-hand knowledge of losing skin without any visible damage to the shorts? ” Definitely! I slid out a few years ago: shorts were fine so I thought nothing of it and continued my ride. Then got home to discover massive road rash on my hip… very unexpected! But at least my shorts were ok : )

  15. At this point I like Almeida for the win. Thomas to fade. Remco to suffer from falls that happened and those to come. Caruso and Kamna arent out of it. Even Leknessund has a shot!

  16. On crashing, two observations which are interesting if nothing else. First is racing without helmets and whether that had some sort of impact on risk/reward behaviour? Second, on a renowned pod, talking in particular about TGH, was the stopping power of disc brakes and the increase likelihood of going down hard in this particular situation. Less sure about that one, but interesting to ponder nonetheless

    • Which is why top level groupsets will be getting brake-by-wire with ABS and different modes for different road conditions eventually, Shimano already has the necessary patents.

    • Maybe part of the reason there are so many crashes is the attitude you see in every single professional race of ‘right, there’s a climb/descent/narrow bit/bad road surface/anything else you can think of up ahead… lets all spread across the full width of the road and absolutely blast towards it at top speed separated by millimetres and with absolutely no margin for error.’ All with the aim of ‘protecting’ their team leader by placing them in a much more dangerous situation. There is absolutely no common sense involved. Fair enough in the front group of a one day classic. But when they are all just patting along in the peloton not even trying to catch the breakaway and just trying to reach the next day can they not call a ceasefire?!

      • Maybe because a DS is yelling at ’em to do just that via an earpiece? Nah, that can’t be it, just like too many guns in the USA has nothing to do with the daily mass shootings….it’s gotta be something….anything….else.

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