Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Preview

A sprint stage with a 2,000m mountain in the way… weather and rider vote permitting.

Un Crans en dessous: the stage was shortened to 75km. The Grand Saint Bernard pass was skipped, the UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol (EWP) was applied but the weather awaiting the riders was wet and cold at the start: grim but arguably nothing extreme. Some riders were more worried about the Croix de Coeur climb, others fed up and worn down by accumulated effects of the bad weather endured so far, and plenty felt both when they voted online on the eve of the stage to skip the Croix de Coeur climb. The compromise reached the next morning was to miss the first long climb of the day, the Grand Saint Bernard, not what the riders voted for but agreeable to riders and race organisers alike, although it still meant tackling the Croix de Coeur descent in the rain. The Giro’s visit to Switzerland was in part built, and probably part-financed, on the premise of showing off the “new” Croix de Coeur climb so skipping this was too much for organisers RCS. In the instant this was a communications fiasco without a clear explanation of what was happening, talk of adverse weather didn’t match reports on the ground. But it’s a more fundamental issue regarding the Extreme Weather Protocol’s use and the mood of the peloton. If the EWP is evoked but the underlying cause is a rider strike we ought to say so.

As soon as the race started there was no more time for polemiche as the new start was at the foot of the Croix de Coeur and there were attacks from the start. Thibaut Pinot went in one move with others including Hugh Carthy but Ineos couldn’t let the man who puts lanky in Lancastrian go, then another went clear with Pinot it it again and he was a driving force, crossing the Croix de Coeur climb first. The breakaway kept its advantage on the Rhone valley floor and Pinot attacked again as soon as the final climb to Crans Montana started and only Derek Gee, Einer Rubio and Jefferson Cepeda could follow. Gee would soon crack as Pinot launched a flurry of attacks, uncharacteristic for a rider whose style is often to soak up the moves early on a climb before going on the attack later.

Pinot kept attacking – seven times – with Cepeda jumping onto his back wheel, then Rubio slowly bridging his way across. Was Rubio in trouble? He never seemed to panic and with hindsight this tactic paid off as while Cepeda started to attack Pinot towards the top of the climb, the two ended up marking each other out. Rubio was always within in range and then had the energy to take the uphill sprint.

Behind Hugh Carthy attacked the GC group as did Damiano Caruso but Caruso and later Eddie Dunbar but the latter two were swept up, a headwind on the final climb dampened things and Carthy only took six seconds. The sole change to the top-10 was Pinot climbing into 10th place, and the Frenchman also takes a lead in the mountains competition. Ineos led the pace but Jumbo-Visma had numbers on the final climb, worth noting.

The Route: 196km from Switzerland and back to Italy, via the Simplon pass (if you’ve spotted 194km on the profile there’s a small detour later in Italy because of a landslide). It’s along the Rhone valley and into the German speaking part with a small climb when the road turns away from the valley floor and then past Visp and its big DSM factory before Brig and the start of the mighty Simplon pass, il Sempione in Italian.

There’s a rail tunnel under the pass that takes drive-on trucks and cars and so a Plan B option. But big vehicles can and do take go over the pass and on an ordinary day it’s one of those climbs that aren’t the best for cycling as it’s busy with cars, light trucks and motorbikes. Presumably the motorists complain about the cyclists. Anyway it’s a well-engineered giant of a pass, a wide road that lasts for 20km. 14%? Maybe on the inside of a hairpin bend but the feel is how steady this climb is, hard but no surprises. The descent is the same but with fewer views as it dives into a smaller, narrower valley but there’s 120km from Iselle to the finish.

Then comes a long ride down to Verbania and Lake Maggiore, these Filippo Ganna’s training roads (and Elisa Longo Borghini’s among others too). Look closely at the profile and you can see some lumps at the end but there’s nothing tough, a few undulations and on busier roads past industrial estates and the Alpine wilderness already a distant memory.

The Finish: a right turn onto the finishing straight, then under the flamme rouge and a drag of 2-3% uphill all the way to the line.

The Contenders: the Simplon – if ridden – is a launchpad for the day’s breakaway but there’s a long time to bring the break back. Only Trek-Segafredo won’t chase as Mads Pedersen has gone home so who will? Several teams still have an interest in setting up the sprint.

The uphill run to the line – and the vertical gain of today’s stage is good for Michael Matthews (Jayco-Al Ula) so there’s an extra team to chase and they even have an incentive to make the Simplon harder.

Pascal Ackermann (UAE) can manage a climb or two. Both Mark Cavendish (Astana) and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain) will find the finishing straight harder but it’s 2-3% and not 5-6%.

Breakaway picks could be Alberto Bettiol (EF), Simon Clarke (Israel), Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché).

Michael Matthews
Cort, Ackermann, Milan, Cavendish, Gaviria

Weather: more rain and cold. It might rain at the start but it’ll be 16°C but the top of the Simplon will see rain and 4°C… worse conditions than above Aosta yesterday. Once back down off the pass it’ll be warmer again at 16°C but still raining.

TV: KM0 is at 12.05 and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

116 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Preview”

  1. Lots of comments on this subject but most seem to miss out on mentioning one thing. Reading between multiple lines, part of the issue seems to be the timing. Maybe the main issue. RCS don’t want to be having debates the day of the stage, which in some sense is understandable, but then the riders/teams are trying to make decisions the night before based on weather information that in this case changed.

    Surely any EWP decisions have to be made as late as possible including during the stage. This though requires a more stringent criteria so everyone knows where they stand and if the worse happens, a plan to either change the route (nearly impossible most of the time for multiple reasons) or a way to transport the riders from where they stop to where they can restart.

    The compromise was as much about voting the night before rather than the next morning as it was about what the change in the route would be.

    • There can be a meeting under the EWP on the eve or the morning, but in this case there seems to have been no meeting as set out but the terms of the EWP, where the UCI commissaires, the race doctor too, team representatives and others all gather to discuss. It seems more down more bargaining between the riders/CPA and the organisers. So this wasn’t really an EWP decision, was it?

      • According to Adam Hansen, it was EWP decision.

        ‘To provide clarity from the riders’ perspective, the weather conditions experienced during this year’s Giro have been among the most intense. In response, the riders held a vote last night to invoke the extreme weather protocol. According to the regulations, which outline freezing rain as point 1 and extreme temperatures as point 4 during certain parts of today’s route, the riders agreed to vote. If the majority surpassed 80%, the remaining riders would follow and respect the majority decision, which implementing the extreme weather protocol and executing point 3: “change of route.”‘

      • Agree.

        From what I’ve been told today, the process was ‘forced’. I think this is part Hansen realising that it will only work if you can get an agreement with the riders that the ‘majority rules’ and ‘we need to stick together’ and part Vengi saying I’m the boss.

        The process will only work if there’s trust. The riders need to believe that the UCI/Organisers will make decisions in the riders best interest. The UCI/RCA need to know that the riders/teams won’t hold them to ransom.

        So the EWP seems to be have used as a bargaining chip. My point was the majority of the commentary has chosen sides and not noticed this and also that there’ll never be a long term viable solution until both sides can trust each other.

        • Interesting, if only…

          – Vegni saying “I am the boss”, seriously? Check his track record in, dunno, Giro 2021, Giro 2020… and further back. Perhaps you’re confusing him with Zomegnan, who was kicked out for resisting, albeit ultimately yielding, in the Crostis polemica against Riis and Contador then supported by the UCI.

          – mixing up UCI and organisers doesn’t make the picture clearer, we all know the degree of conflict they reached, but then considering that teams/riders are in this process “together” is precisely what would make Hansen’s a yellow union.

          – something which riders are someway more interested in than teams’ is precisely riders safety, health etc., and using the EWF protocol as a “bargaining chip” (I couldn’t agree more) actually devalues the above themes, in this case *exclusively* for the sake of some teams. In the broader broader picture (including subtle factors as public support or credibility), athletes have lost much more than what they achieved, yesterday.

          • The “Vengi, I am the boss” was just illustrative. Whether organisers or UCI, being completely dictated to won’t work in the long run. Vengi is smart enough to know this hence him saying, ok, we’ll listen but tell us tonight. A smart negotiating move. Either the weather is crap and he looks like he’s understanding or it changes and the CPA look like idiots. Win/win.

            I still think you’re missing the issue. Trust. The organisers can’t work on a whim and the riders (majority) can’t see any positive change the way things stand.

            The simplest way I see it is that riders need to see that the their well-being is at the forefront and the organisers need to know they can’t be held to ransom. So the protocols need to be as well defined as they can be for that to occur. At the moment that seems to be a pipe dream still.

    • This is what Hansen tried to defend, in a later post (why didn’t he speak about this question since the very start of the debate?). But weather forecast didn’t look so dire the night before, either. And who started the whole action course by the CPA, before the voting was organised, I mean? Did some riders email Hansen? Some “teams”? From what Salvato said, in fact some teams came up with “special information”. It doesn’t look a mere problem of timing, and the fact that something along these lines had happened in that infamous Tirreno makes it all look even worse. There were several Plan B, so they could actually play it out as in the snowy Sanremo, the course easily allowed that. Start pedalling, then you climb the bus if needed. But it’s evident that this wasn’t about EWF, timing of decisions, health, safety or whatever.

      • Exactly.

        It’s about the future of how either the organisers can control or the riders can dissent. This is a line in the sand moment (I think with no proof other than intuition) and both sides are using the weather protocol to push their agendas. As I said, if everyone is focussed on safety, decisions would be made ‘on the fly’ but they’re not. Hansen is looking for unity. Vengi (for example understandably) is looking for control.

        You don’t need to take a side on the debate because unless there’s a process that works for everybody, chaos will remain.

        An example would be Gabriel, that would the riders trust if a descent had ice all over the road, the UCI/Organisers would neutralise/restart the stage if it racing was on and on the other side, would the majority of riders expect that the minority didn’t stick together and attack the descent? The answer to both is no and there lies the problem. Most riders know that they won’t be looked after and organisers know that there’ll always be riders that will be willing to take risks that the majority wouldn’t.

        So we end up in the situation we are in. A lack of trust and an inability to have a process that all sides can accept.

        • This would be an interesting interpretation, but, as I said above, it’s not consistent with the track record of the last seasons; besides, I think that there aren’t two sides, but four or five at least, and in this specific situation teams and riders had partially conflicting interests, with the former actually taking more advantage than the latter through this course of events.

          • Try not to focus on the conflicting reasons of the riders (very dependent on particular situations) but just as much on the organisers.

            Of course it looks as you say because the riders are easily divided based on whatever the current conditions are. Might be worth considering how those in control use a lack of unanimity in the ‘opposition’ for their own gain…?

        • This is why an independent body should decide if it’s safe to ride (and base that on the actual weather as it happens, not forecasts). The riders are biased – and, let’s face reality, will only be doing what the teams tell them to do – and so are the race organisers.

  2. Yes typical Giro chaos but given what had gone before and the weather forecast it did not seem an unreasonable decision in the end and probably made little difference to the result. There is never going to be a “right” way to do something like this but given the serious issues in many parts of Italy this is really a very minor thing. The bike race goes on, hopefully most of the remaining riders get to Rome. W il Giro!

    Surprised that the organisers have not planned “bigger” stages for the weekend, todays looks as if it might be a snooze fest especially with the exhausted peloton, tomorrow has potential but will anyone have the energy to race it.

    • Tomorrow’s stage isn’t a big one but it could be lively to watch, especially if the GC riders save energy today and know there’s the rest day on Monday although the tactical cards being played seem as about not moving for now, as if Roglič doesn’t want to take 10 seconds right now otherwise it’d put him in pink, for now he’s got Thomas right where he wants him, just two seconds ahead and having to do all the daily duties of the race leader, perhaps even the rest of the team waiting for him at the finish to complete this as well sometimes too.

  3. If it’s wet at the finish that right hand turn at a roundabout with ca 1200m to go could be tricky, as is that right and left turns just before 3 km to go – which will be in GC teams minds.
    A 100 km flat finish should mean a sprint.

  4. Expect pinot to go in the break just to the top of the first mountain.
    In quite the turnaround Pinot led his group down the sketchy decent and then actually put them under pressure and threatened to ride away from them on the decent. Considering how average he was early in his career its pretty remarkable.

    • When Pinot’s in good form he’s better at everything, he can be great in the TTs too. We’ve seen him take time on Nibali downhill on his way to winning Lombardia in the past. It’s likely he goes for the climb today but could be tired as well, he might prefer a raid tomorrow, we’ll see how the stage is ridden.

  5. Is anyone else noticing the JV is having CONSTANT mechanical issues this year? There has not been a single day where I haven’t seen some poor JV rider standing on the side of the road looking slightly exasperated or outright angry.

  6. Most riders race as amateurs before getting a pro contract…Pinot seems to be doing this the other way around – absolutely baffling “tactics” from him yesterday!

  7. There’s been quite a few complaints about the shortened stage yesterday, but I have total respect for the riders’ union and any decisions made for rider safety. Bike racers suffer for a living and for our entertainment. If the riders go on strike, I respect they must have good reasons for doing so. They’re human beings, not robots.

    • ‘Hi, why are you on strike?’,
      ‘I’m a nurse. I’m sick of being underpaid, working in underfunded hospitals and seeing patients neglected and even die. Why are you on strike?’
      ‘I’m a cyclist and I’m sick of getting wet and having to put damp shoes on every morning.’

        • You’re the guy putting both thumbs down back in the panem et circensis days, when those whiny slaves didn’t put a good show in the Colloseum for your likes. let them eat cake!

          • There should be a limit before comparing situations which involved several (or many) deaths and those like riding yesterday which as a statistic norm… just don’t. Especially, not on roads closed to common traffic.

            It’s sickening when riders – or (some poor) journos – try to explain the menace of a “strike” showing the context within which hundreds of miles away people actually died or lost their homes and jobs. It’s sickening that when every given week four or five cyclists are killed on Italian roads, the discourse about safety is focussed on too thick a glove for small buttons (by the way, the industry definetely failed the sport, things as they look). Two top pros were killed in Italy while training in the last 5 or 6 years, uncountable suffered serious injuries, some of them for life. A 19 years old neopro was killed in Spain last February, in March a 18 years old in Italy was left on the ground, albeit with no life-threatening injuries, by a classic hit-and-run while she was training.
            And, of course, it’s sickening that slavery and homicide is compared to racing under common Spring weather.

            As I said, using safety as a “cheap money” or a “bargain chip” (copyright Larrick) soon leads to an inflationary spiral which makes it all a joke, good at best for personal internet feuds or social media shouting lacking any actual content.

      • Riders are going down sketchy descents in the wet, it’s not really about damp shoes.

        But that’s part of the problem from yesterday, citing the rain on the Grand Saint Bernard as the reason for shortening the race makes people think it was down to this when the underlying issue seems to be wariness of the Croix de Coeur descent in the rain.

        • I was obviously being a bit tongue in cheek there. It’s also obvious that the riders/whoever was advising them have messed this up. If it was safety concerns over a descent say so. Don’t abuse the weather protocol to try and get out of something, and then end up doing it any way. And also, if you think its an unsafe descent don’t ride down it full gas i.e. Pinot and that double barrelled French brother at AG2R who went down it like a nutter. To be fair they might not have been in the 90%.

        • It’s clearly about trying to pressure RCS to not have long mountainous stages in the Giro. Otherwise, why would the rides/teams complain about the Croix de Coeur descent being dangerous and then happily accept a shortened stage with that descent in it? Any decent journalist would ask this question of the riders. But the media (well, the English-speaking media) are going along with the ‘it was a safety issue’ nonsense because their livelihoods depend on good relations with riders and teams.
          ASO races already don’t have long stages in the mountains (see this year’s preposterous TdF route), which is why the riders/teams only pull this in the Giro.
          We hear a constant dripfeed of ‘long stages are dull, nobody attacks, they’re too hard’, etc. Again, the media playing the game.

          • It’s obviously an offensive by riders to force a change of paradigm of “the hardest sport” employing whatever subterfuge they can find, in order to simply reduce or avoid hardship and fatigue, thinking (wrongly) that this in their best interest. I wonder what rider, in internal talks between riders, has the guts and clear mind to suggest “you know, guys, pro cycling should actually get harder, not less”.

      • Great to hear you’re in support of the nurses’ strike Richard. These lads love racing their bikes, they’re not asking for a shorter stage without good reason. It’s been widely reported that many riders were unable to brake properly or shift gears a couple of stages ago with the low temperatures, putting themselves at risk of injury and completely impeding their ability to race properly. It’s not a two-hour weekend spin with some damp shoes they’re worried about.

        • The great majority of riders were able to brake properly or shift gears a couple of stages ago with the low temperatures. Those who could not presumably made bad equipment choices or are less hardy (there may be other reasons). This is all part of racing a grand tour. It’s not just about having the best legs – although many teams and riders wish that to be the case, hence them asking for a shorter stage without good reason.

        • Something which is plain false is that “they’re not asking for a shorter stage without good reason”.
          That’s precisely what they were asking.
          Whatever happened days ago doesn’t mean they now can’t brake anymore at some 14°C, or 8°C even. On mainly dry roads. The best scenario is that they’ve been manipulated through false information. I myself saw old images (like, decades ago) of a super snowy Gran San Bernardo circulating on the internet on the eve of Friday’s stage. All that, yet, including false weather forecast, could be easily debunked. I’m not expecting a rider is in the mood to do that, of course, but team directors or even CPA representants should to properly advise riders. Unless…

          That’s also why we should look further into the use of “the riders” as a subject in this case.

          • @ gabriele : it seems that you believe in a kind of constructed scheme behind all of this… But who and why ? I don’t say you’re wrong, I just genuinely can’t say who has something to gain in all this mess. As often when people think it’s a conspiracy, I would tend to believe it’s a lot of bad decisions focudes on short-terms targets, added to some external factors (this week of rain, riders getting fed up, Hansen wanting to show that it’s a brand new CPA with someone ready to fight for them (his rhetoric is kind of funny : “I don’t speak in my name but I’m the voice of the riders, but if you want to moan, moan at me and not at the riders, I’m the responsible…”)
            As for “why always in the Giro ?”, I forgot to mention the other day that it’s the only race where you can have bad weather 10 days in a row : Romandie or Iztulia are far shorter, and riders have less problems to abandon these races.

          • Cascarinho: the big teams gain: shorter stages, less riding in bad weather, more control for them (which they are obsessed with), makes it more about ‘just the legs’, which is beneficial for them because they have the money to employ the best riders. Simple.

            Also, I’ve seen terrible heat at the Vuelta – run by ASO – but don’t remember any rider action refusing to race.

          • And in this race, particularly, the two teams with the two biggest favourites have a definite reason to get rid of any kind of risk that they can as both of these riders have a long history of crashing more often than most.

          • Thanks for the answer, I didn’t think about this. Did Ineos and Jumbo take control of the CPA ?
            As for the heat in Spain, I think it bothers less riders – if I take me as an example of lazy sunday rider, I have no problem riding in the heat if I have enough water, but it’s been a long time I haven’t ride in the rain, and I don’t like cold at all.

          • Aaaah weather – i was born in Africa but now live in New Zealand. One would expect me to enjoy riding in the hear but I would much rather ride in the cold and wet and skip the heat completely. The wind however is another story completely….

          • Did Ineos and Jumbo take control of the CPA?
            We’ve no idea.

            In the Vuelta, it was over 40 degrees for days. I’ve no idea what that’s like.

    • I’d agree but if they’re voting not to do a risky descent on safety grounds… but then do the risky descent is it a safety decision? If it is a safety decision then they should say so, rather than citing bad weather on another part of the course.

      Also if the race evokes the safety rules but didn’t assemble all the parties to those rules it’s undermining the safety/weather rules for the next time.

      • The commentators were saying the jury thought was all dry in Switzerland, over the other side of the bypassed first climb.
        This proved not to be the case later on, but it could have led many to think the descent of Croix de Coeur and the final climb to Crans Montana would be dry.

  8. There was an interesting interview with Matt White before the stage yesterday where he confirmed that there are two options for short notice stage alterations – cancelled altogether or shortened portion of the same route. You can’t rearrange the route via different roads to miss a hill out at short notice, for obvious reasons to do with policing road closures etc. So by the sounds of it the riders were voting to do something (doing the first climb but not the one in the middle of the stage) that was never going to be allowed as it’s impossible to organise at short notice. So who was responsible for that? Hansen? Not a great start to his tenure if it was.
    Its fair enough in a way if the riders are pissed off with getting soaked every day and seeing everyone go home ill. But its a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things and they’ll be back sitting in a high altitude hotel soon enough.

  9. People keep saying things like: ‘safety is paramount’.
    There was no safety issue. The weather was fine. It’s absurd to keep parroting this when we’ve all seen races in rain and low temperatures. Unpleasant is not unsafe.

    People keep saying things like: ‘Well, it’s the Giro’.
    It’s got nothing to do with the Giro. It’s the riders and teams who caused this issue. And have done so before. It does, however, tend to happen at the Giro because the riders and teams don’t have the courage to take on ASO. Insanely hot at the Vuelta? No protest.

    People keep saying things like: ‘Short stages are more exciting’ and ‘The GC contenders will be too afraid of blowing up to attack on long stages’.
    Well, yesterday is yet more proof of this being nonsense. A variety of stages is always what you want. Long stages test stamina and also often have more tactical nuance (unlike a very short stage yesterday, where the only tactical question was why Pinot was going for a 14th attack on Cepeda, thus – and we all saw it coming a mile off – he was too knackered for the sprint at the end).

  10. An independent body needs to decide on safety issues – the riders are inevitably biased and will clearly do what the teams tell them to do – and those decisions regarding weather should be taken on the day itself, not by weather forecasts. We’ve now seen so many races where riders have cancelled or shortened a stage for no reason at all.

    If you have no hope of any kind of good result yesterday, are you going to vote for a shorter stage?

    If you’re a poor bike handler, with a history of crashing, will you vote not to ride in those conditions?

    If your team has told you to vote for a shorter stage, will you?

  11. The Extreme Weather Protocol is done. It hasn’t stood the test of time. This peloton doesn’t understand its sport if it takes it like a normal job where normal labour logic applies. This sport is a competition about overcoming adversity. The winner is the one that copes longer and further. This peloton will be shamed by tiffosi and fans who will express their despise in more ways than expected.

    • I’ll close the comments soon if we get inane things like this as people are just getting annoyed rather than thinking things through. Riders can accept some risks but don’t want added ones: we all know this.

      It’s the added part that’s worth exploring, what is the mood of the peloton, what do the rules say, what is the procedure, is it going to happen again before Rome, will it happen more often in other races too as the CPA becomes more influential after some sleepy years? etc etc

      And if some people want to talk about the racing yesterday or today, even better.

      • Nail on head Inrng. Adam is understandably working for the riders to have more say, others, also understandably, are protecting the status quo.

        The answer will be in more concise processes. I really think it’s up to the UCI/Organisers to make this happen. It’s not for the riders to fix that.

    • Very valid and inevitable point, 150 Watts. The riders’ purported assessment of “safety” and its credibility is a major issue here. Fans continue to deplore the safety consequences of tight-and-fast-peloton cycling, without the CPA or any blogger denouncing it. Which of course only indicates that their concern is not safety, but to shape the sport in a certain way, probably corresponding to a certain kind of rider (typically a sprint-train member who climbs the mountains in the gruppetto). The fact that we sometimes hear of (that kind of) cycling coolly (not regretfully) referred to as a “contact sport” (contact sport at potentially lethal speeds, that is) is very telling.

  12. Surely, if a break rides hard up that hill they’ll take enough of a gap on the fast men that there’s no way they can come back? Except maybe Matthews.

    • It’s a long time to chase. A sprinter might lose 10 minutes on the climb but with a fast descent and then several teams working on the wide roads to the finish, there’s time to bring it back. But there’s suspense because of this big climb and if enough riders go – but not too many – then it could be close or the breakaway gets to contest the stage.

      Astana lose a useful rider in Battistella, as he’s sick so one rider less to chase.

      • I guess it largely depends on the composition of the break. There’s a chance a large group goes on the climb with riders from many teams, leaving too few teams left to chase. Pedersen and Groves have gone, so that’s 2 fewer teams who will be working for a sprint.

    • I’m betting on the break. A big enough break goes, powers up the hill and they could work together and stay away. I’m primarily saying this as I’m hoping for an interesting stage rather than actually believing that this will happen.

  13. Yesterday’s debacle has really annoyed me. The riders didn’t want to ride the full stage and then the GC teams couldn’t be bothered to race each other on the shortened stage.

    Feels like JV and Ineos are planning to just cycle round Italy together for the next week and let it all be decided on the TT.

    Maybe I’m in a pessimistic mood.

    • With six other teams represented in the top ten and within 3m13s as well as four mountain stages to come, three with summit finishes, I’m still optimistic they will upset and attack any JV/Ineos snooze fest. Hopefully by way of one or two proper attacks rather than Pinot’s repeated and futile little digs. For that matter I think Roglic will want to shake things up before the final time trial. 2020 TdF will be a very long memory for him…

      • I think Roglic will seek to do this by attacking with 1-2km to go on a few of the mountain stages. That’s his modus operandi. So, I too am pessimistic when it comes to the prospect of attacking racing. I think no-one else in this race thinks they have a chance of winning, and they’re not going to attack and risk losing their top ten place. Caruso might, I suppose, because he already has a podium in the Giro, but Almeida is going to do his usual clinging-on thing, but for the rest a decent top ten will be their aim – and, to be fair, none of them look to have the ability to do anything else anyway. The biggest cause for optimism would be that Roglic takes a decent amount of time on Thomas fairly early in the remainder of the race and so Thomas has to attack to regain time. Or vice versa.

  14. An unbelievably dull Giro made even worse by the miserable weather. Stages like today are just awful. What on earth were they thinking while designing this stage. I was proven right looking at the course before the race that nothing would happen in the first 14 stages but even then I didn’t think that the race would be so bad.

    • Of course a couple of things actually happened and we had a handful of decent stages (including ITTs) both for GC and the stage victory. Along with some huge disappointments. I totally agree with you that the weak point of the first part of the Giro was an excess of way too similar stages (including today). Which makes even worse what happened yesterday on a stage that was well designed… on paper.

      All that being said, if the success metric for the Giro was simply gross quantity of related internet interactions, after Remco plus covid and yesterday’s polemica, this race would score greaaaat. Just joking.

  15. Among the things which make me quite sick about yesterday is the “Union” rethorics. Collective action is not just about voting on a ready-made proposal. Having some issues, say safety, as a priority means acting constantly and steadily on that matter, highlighting it when and where it’s really paramount, not spending it as a low-value money out of proper context, which devalues it and wears out the authority or credibility of the “Union” itself. The decision processes must be transparent and consistent. You put up a voting, fine. But how did you get the idea in the first place? Hansen wasn’t even there. Somebody emailed or messaged or called him? Who? How? In Italy or Spain laws are voted, or you can have a referendum and the likes, but the whole process has formalised conditions before you even get to voting. In Unions it works with a pyramid structure of sort, both bottom-up and top-down. It’s not enough to get a “Union” label to properly work as such. Lots of talk about the riders, the riders, the riders, then from what Salvato said on TV it looks like the first call came from some teams. From the CN report on the subject, it looks like that the vote was organised *in teams*. But “teams” doesn’t equal “riders”, even if you make only the riders vote. Or whatever they exactly did (we still don’t know). This is dangerously close to what’s known as a yellow union, especially in its Italian sense (not necessarily focussed on the interests of the company, maybe just exploiting the collective weight of workers to defend third-party interests). There’s a lot of voting in countries we wouldn’t call democracies. And our “democracies” are being worn out precisely weakening the nature of underlying processes while maintaining an appearance of sort. So appropriate in a case like yesterday’s stage… it’s not just about the final climb, it’s so much about how you get there. Racing is not pedalling around, collective action is not being called to vote without really being part of a deeper and broader process.

    Ps I’d love, really love, that whomever is worried about cycling safety would be present and active at the Giro in order to lobby and stand for general road safety. As somebody pointed out, and it was far from OT, it’s the actual main risk for pro cyclists and cycling people in general. By far. And can’t be countered just going slower, as the peloton did yesterday and on countless other occasions. Italy is a symbolic place in that sense because it’s got the worst figures in Western Europe, and the Giro would be the best limelight. A similar action at the Vuelta some years ago (promoted by the widow of a cyclist killed on his way to work) achieved the cancellation of a new law which had granted no consequences in court in any case for whomever killed a cyclist on the road. Little steps which can do more to keep cycling people alive and healthy, including pro riders, than yesterday’s farce.

      • So, very much not each rider having a vote.
        And how do we think teams come to a decision on how their CPA representative will vote?
        Do we think that they take a vote from the riders on this, or do the team bosses decide?

        • Do you live in a democracy where you vote for a representative by any chance…?

          This isn’t a simple thing. For years the riders were controlled. Emphasis on controlled. Now they have a process which allows riders to vote for a rep. If teams get in the way of this, that’s the teams that need to answer to it, not the riders. 19 out of 22 groups of riders reps were in agreement. Whether the question they were answering was a good or bad one is irrelevant. The vast majority agreed and more importantly, before that, they agreed they’d stick together. No surprise some didn’t. Find any group in any part of society where there aren’t some stupid/selfish people.

          So we need to keep apart the effect it might have on the racing and the fact that finally the riders might have a voice that focusses on their well-being.

          • Only, it looks like it doesn’t focus on their well-being. Of course I get the idea of a strategic move, but even so when you work that way it tends to backfire big time. Time will tell. I agree with you that riders need to be a voice in cycling, but I’m not sure that channelling that through teams or being channelled through teams is the smartest thing to do. Teams are probably the first line counterpart for the riders, not the best ally at all.
            Re: what you commented above, when I say 4-5 or more sides I don’t mean different positions among riders (which is an issue to tackle – i.e., diversity within a subject – yet not an insuperable one when building up any political subject, indeed), I mean all but different subjects, as in “teams” different from “riders” different from “organisers” different from “UCI” different from “media” etc.

          • So the riders who want to race are selfish/stupid… That’s a strange way to defend the riders, and the people who don’t agree with the majority… You understand that whith such logic (“Whether the question they were answering was a good or bad one is irrelevant”, they just had to stick with the majority and don’t show their possible disagreement), you can justify a lot of things, even politically, that are rather frightening… It all depends on who choose the question then, no matter how preposterous it can be…
            Madiot took a strong stance against what happened too, unsurprinsingly.

          • “..finally the riders might have a voice that focusses on their well-being.” is a nice sentiment but is that really the case here? Seem more like their “competitive advantage” or “sway over the organizers” rather than well-being since the weather was nothing to fear yesterday. IMHO it’s a typical power struggle, pushed by some who seem to have to justify their position by stirring things up in public vs working behind-the-scenes to actually improve things. The more of this s–t I read about the more I start to wish for a Torriani or Zomegnan to tell ’em to “va’ fa” – either race or go home!

          • BTW Larrick, I live in the UK, and being allowed to vote once every few years, which then allows the ruling party to do whatever they want is not a democracy. It’s just what we’ve been told democracy means.
            Also, not one of those ruling parties has actually won a majority of votes since WWII.
            So… No, I don’t live in a democracy.

        • To make the point clearer, and to reply to Larrick above re: democracies, in any system, to have representatives you have to work very hard to build a suitable setting for choosing them and holding them responsible and so on. A problem which is rather a pain in the ahem back for current Western democracies, by the way.
          As for unions specifically, normally there’s a robust set of conditions concerning contract and career of union representatives in order not to have them “captured” by the company (team) they work in.

          • Fully agree Gabriele but we also shouldn’t assume that Hansen is a pawn of the teams or that the representatives are either.

            The riders ‘union’ has been a mess for years. If this starting point is that the vast majority are willing to speak as one, irrelevant of their own feelings if they’re in the minority, that is obviously a good thing.

            So I go back to the point of the process. As J Evans alluded to, an independent body that takes everything into consideration and one that all sides can trust seems to be the only sensible answer in the long term.

      • So, Hansen definitely shouldn’t say something like “90% of the riders”. A representative system doesn’t justify that. Nobody (except Trump himself, maybe) would ever speak of the 2016 election in terms of “a good half of the USA population voted for Trump”.

        With such a “team voting system”, it would be interesting to know, having so few riders involved for each representative, how does that work in case of a draw, which should have happened, I think, with more than half of the teams on an even number of riders.

        All in all, as I pointed out elsewhere, the situation we eventually could know about would allow a vast range of possibilities as long as the actual “percentage of favourable riders” is concerned: as high as 90%, at the very top, or as low as 47%, even, with both extremes highly unlikely to have happened, and the most probable distribution at some 60% or so.

        The way Hansen outlined the situation with “over 90% of the riders in favour” was very misleading, nearly surely false from a factual POV, and IMHO very far from the intention “to provide clarity”.

        • I’d be careful saying 90% is misleading Gabriele because we don’t know what transpired. It’s entirely possible Hansen polled the reps to how their teammates voted. With so many teams down on riders the 3 teams that voted no along with a rider here or there on the teams that voted yes, could easily be 10% or even less for that matter. I mean the Steppers could have voted 2-1 for a No for example.

          If he did poll them, adding up the votes and “doing the calculations” (with Sean obviously), isn’t rocket science.

          • Larrick, you’re being so optimist here that I must raise an eyebrow. Bahrain and Astana were two sure naysayers to the proposals and they were on full 8 riders, which means *at the very least* 4-5 “no” for each of them (depending on the rule about draws). FDJ was another probable candidate for a “no”, listening to Madiot (although he’s the TM…), and they were on 7, so, even in the scenario of bare minimum for the teams who said “no”, you now need each and every rider from the rest to say “yes”. 100%. Not even one in any other team saying “no”. If it was so, that would prove my point more than anything else: the teams decided, not the riders. Otherwise, the probabilities were for a 60%-40% distribution and Hansen was ahem playing with figures. But we don’t even need to look into details. We have abundant samples of election through representatives to understand how this distributions work. Check USA presidential election, for example.

          • One not seen reporting on who the naysayers were. Is this fact or assumption? I’d have assumed they were 3 of the invitees to be honest.

          • RAI had plenty interviews and commentaries on the subject, although obviously no official confirmation, besides Madiot, who anyway didn’t explicitly speak for his riders.
            Invited teams are now hoping they can make it to Rome, so any shorter and easier stage is good news…

  16. I’ll try to explain my comments on Mr. G. It’s NOT that I wish the guy broken bones or serious injuries, I wouldn’t wish that even on BigTex. I apologize for implying anything like that. But based on his actions and comments over the past few days I do wish it was he who’d crashed out instead of TGH, but in a karmic kind of way where he’d just be out of the race rather than seriously injured.
    I think someone else made a comment like “the wrong guy crashed out” after TGH’s unfortunate exit from La Corsa Rosa, but with less vitriol than I displayed that was OK? I apologize for not being more specific in my criticism of G, I don’t wish serious injury on him or anyone else.

    • What actions? What has he done to upset you? He seems to get on with everyone in the Peloton (look who appears on his podcast). Perhaps it’s you at fault.

      • Perhaps (like BigMig” in the past” some of what he says doesn’t get published everywhere) you don’t read much negative about him in Anglo-Saxon media vs…Italian? His snarky comment about riders in the 80’s and 90’s was one of those…as if doping somehow had something to do with enduring challenging weather conditions? This from the “marginal gains” team who has pushed the limits (if I’m being gracious) of the rules to win LeTour (and other GT’s) many, many times? If I’m not mistaken wasn’t G one of those going-nowhere guys on Barloworld…until the wizards at Sky picked him up? Like that other guy? It doesn’t matter to me whether everyone else in the peloton likes or gets along with him…I suspect that’s not the case, but why does that matter?

  17. Adam Hansen, president of the CPA, just said on GCN, that ‘Stage 10 was a disaster’.
    So, for him rain and cold – and the best stage of the Giro by miles, thus far – is a disaster.
    ‘We had 20 guys go home within a 24 hour period with sickness,’ he says. Most of them went home with covid, a virus that almost always takes longer than 24 hours to show up in one’s system. Ergo, those covid positives were almost certainly not caused by Stage 10. Moreover, covid is not caused by weather – the cause is the lack of covid protocols at the beginning of this race. Hence, why this race has had more covid positives than any other Giro.
    Of course, nobody on the TV picked him up on that obvious fallacy.

    • Hansen was also critical of the riders who attacked from the start on Stage 10.
      He also said that he gets the weather forecasts from the riders, they use an app. that shows exactly how the weather will be (ignoring how this turned out to be wrong, as weather forecasts so often are), and that this app is much better than what the race organisers use.
      This begs the question, where are the riders getting this app. information from? The teams? Which teams? Who is actually leading this process?
      He says the forecast for yesterday was for -2 degrees and rain at the top of the climb. Maybe the weather’s different in Italy, but in Scotland when it’s -2 degrees, the rain is snow. So, is that temperature he’s giving a temperature that includes wind chill? I.e. not how we normally measure temperatures.
      ‘We don’t want all the top riders going home because of getting ill because of the extreme temperatures throughout the first 10 days of the race’.
      So, it’s the ‘top riders’ they’re concerned about… would be interesting to know, specifically, which riders.
      Also, the temperatures were not ‘extreme’. And the riders are more prone to illness because of their physiology, their diets and also, probably at least for some, other substances they ingest. Let’s deal with those issues rather than blaming the weather.

    • Is this Hansen guy the same one behind this fiasco?
      Yesterday’s tantrums seem way too similar IMHO. And to those who might toss out the “You don’t know, you were never a pro cyclist” trope I’ll note that Garzelli and Cassani certainly were and were also very critical of this threatened strike and resulting black-eye on the sport, despite working for ITALIAN RAI TV which might be understood to be a bit favorable to the Giro rather than critical. There’s plenty of other Italian criticism online as well…and now the Maglia Rosa group riders are trying to make up for this by riding at an almost walking-pace this morning? Almost makes me wish Vegni had issued a Torriani-like ultimatum yesterday – “Ride the race, or go home! Make up your mind, the start’s at 11 AM in Borgofranco d’Ivrea!” W Il Giro!

  18. After yesterday’s fiasco of a stage I have decided to vote with my feet/eyes and stop following what has become no more than a soap opera.
    I wonder how many others are of a similar mind.

  19. The problem with rider voting is that 95% of them were not involved in the GC racing, and 70% of them were not interested in the stage either.

    I can undertand they are fed up with bad weather, I’m too.

    • Yeah, this is a notable point, too. Riders can and should act as workers, but they’re also competitors in a sport.
      Unless they take hold of it all like in tennis, their action should rather be focussed on conditions, e.g., having a better defined protocol, or a specific and single weather model as a reference, or more flexible B-plans etc.
      If their action must go through altering the competition, the majority principle will always be weak. We should also note that even general societies long moved on from a mere “majority principle” as it’s been acknowledged that minorities and local interests should be supported, too, even when they’re not already leveraging on other powers, of course (which is already way too common).
      As game theories have shown, some collective interests go beyond the sum of individual wills and hard to pursue if each one goes their way.

  20. By the way, to answer to some points made by Larrick above, one of the characteristics of the whole management and approach by Vegni (I’d say qualities, but it went a little out of hand) always was “taking care” of the riders. To start with, his course direction is really a teamwork, more than before, with a good presence of former riders, even if he’s the visible face more often than not (and he looks like he’s paying quite high a personal price for that).
    The first and foremost point of his newly appointed team was hugely reducing transfers whenever it was possible, even negotiating hard in later years with the new Giro property (which obviously has a say); as well, he tried to reduce the supposed or actual excess in Zomegnan’s route drawing style.
    He always listened to “the riders”, as we could see in past seasons, a bit too much probably, and not being aware (or was he?) that it was about vested team interests more often than not.
    Even stage 10 this year was well talked and negotiated in advance with the riders, which makes the following attitude by “the riders” a little less acceptable, too. Speaking of trust.
    I’m surprised that former riders who raced under previous managements don’t notice or pretend they don’t notice the huge difference, not to speak of comparing Vegni’s races with ASO (under this single POV, I mean)…

  21. Another important detail: the negotiation went apparently well, as a political process. Organisers were happy enough, so were most teams and apparently a lot of riders, too.

    Media and the public weren’t. Probably some riders weren’t, either, but who cares about minorities.

    Is this fine? Maybe (seriously).

    Yet, to me, as I wrote in another comment, one of the images of the day was the riders on the bus recording with their own phones different videos of the totally unsophisticated bicycle riders who were actually pedalling on the same roads the stage should have been raced on, while the peloton passed by on their coaches…

    Cycling must be very careful not to go down the slope of being a very popularly practised sport without the same widespread interest for its pro version anymore.
    A line you often listen to while cycling around is “uff, I don’t follow at all pro cycling, *real cycling* is what I do, not those guys” (they tend to ignore there are now “gals”, too).
    In part, it was due to similar previous arm wrestlings in the past which were being carried out precisely by “indirect means”, as using EWF now, instead of other tools.
    But I’m a pessimist, of course, whereas we need some optimism of the will, and I can’t but hope Larrick is very right, although “reason” in this case says otherwise.

    • Quite. The moment when many MAMILs are able and willing to ride a road that the peloton prefers not to, is the turning point. The moment when pro cyclists lose their self-respect is also when they lose the respect of their followers. Hanson and his like-
      minded mob will regret yesterday in so many ways and for so many years…

      • Good point, Ferdi. When the fans ride the course that was supposedly too much for the Pro riders, there’s something wrong.
        And another good point from Ferdi…”a competition about overcoming adversity.” Well put.
        Vegni cites the “General mood of the peloton” as a reason to shorten the stage??? That’s BS. They weren’t in the mood.
        I don’t buy that any of this is about safety. If the descent is sloppy, wet, or too scary, slow down.
        Those who don’t are taking their own chances. If you don’t like it, don’t follow them.
        We make decisions about safety every time we ride. Do I go into this turn at 40 Kph or 35?
        As for clothing and getting more layers on or off, if you can’t do it while riding, don’t do it. Stop and get your jacket, gloves on. Otherwise Suffer Accordingly. Pantani won the Tour because Ullrich didn’t put a coat on. I think the stage was to Les Deux Alpes.
        As for the shorter stages in general, we forget the affects of accumulated fatigue. Maybe that was the whole thing yesterday. That’s what the riders don’t want.
        Long stages can go either way. If a favorite blows up, it’s dramatic. And don’t forget the action out the back. Even though no one is charging off the front.
        All the above is about overcoming adversity.

      • Riding a road is not racing a road. That’s like having a run around Murrayfield without being tackled or walking onto the MCG and not facing a fast bowler.

        • Indeed. Riding open roads is probably less safe, especially in terms of risking your life. By the way, given that pros also need to train on open roads, and often suffer the consequences, it would be great to see proportional efforts by the CPA.

          • If you go to a big-time race and watch anything but the final sprint (and maybe even that?) in-person it’s instantly clear the skills are vastly different, but dealing with the elements is more or less the same for all of us, though most of us don’t have all the mega-money clothing or a warm car behind with a quiver of spare bikes, warm drinks, food and more mega-money (and dry) clothing…and we’re not getting paid to suffer through any of it.

    • The -65 to -50 km to the line part was handbook racing, a true show, then great air takes of the islands near Stresa until – 45 ^___^

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