Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Preview

As if it’s not been damp enough, an autumnal feel today with a course borrows, or rather copies the Tour of Lombardy, including the lively finish through Bergamo’s citadel… but there’s a good chance the sun’s out today.

Simplon-Varese Express: a transition stage, they say they don’t exist any more but after the race’s passage to Verbier and Crans Montana the Giro had to return to Italy in a day and so the Simplon pass was awaiting and transit they did. Only via a 2,000m pass in the rain and through the clouds. A maxi-breakaway of 30 riders formed by the start of the Simplon pass and with so many riders clear even the sprinters’ teams had irons in the fire in the front group. They built up a big lead over the pass in the pouring rain and with low single-digit temperatures. Once down on the plains the riders tried to warm up and the attacks started to go. A quartet of Laurenz Rex, Toms Skujiņš, Davide Ballerini and Stefano Oldani looked like they were going to sprint for the stage win but Rex was dropped in the finale and the trio’s lead began to shrink. Caught by the chasers, Alberto Bettiol came surging past but his jump proved to be a leadout for Nico Denz who sprinted for the line and sat up to celebrate as a surging Derek Gee almost pipped him on the line.

Among the others in the breakaway was Bruno Armirail who’d been on the attack with Pinot the previous day and was fifth in the Cesena TT stage and rode into the maglia rosa. Can he keep it? Certainly not to Rome of course but just starting today is a bonus. Armirail started out in mountain biking but found it expensive given the wear and tear on bikes and moved to the road and finished second at the French U23 TT champs aged 19 and still very much an amateur in a technical discipline. He joined the Armée de Terre cycling team, taking on the status of soldier, and has been a stalwart of Groupama-FDJ for several years, to the point of being furious after missing out on selection for the Tour de France last summer.

The Route: 195km, 3600m of vertical gain and a mini Giro di Lombardia with the climbs of Valcava, Selvino, Roncola before a finish in Bergamo, all familiar haunts for the end of season race.

The Valcava is the first climb and quickly lifts riders away from the plains and then gets steeper still towards the top. It’s a regular for locals and the Il Lombardia race alike and one characteristic of today’s course is you can look at the evenly spaced climbs and think that’s it, three regular climbs. But they twist and turn and the descents are irregular and narrow too.

The profile of the Selvino is very level but this doesn’t show the series of hairpin bends, you might remember Fausto Masnada and Tadej Pogačar duelling on this descent from the 2021 Lombardia but today it’s up. At the top there’s an extra climb that’s been added since the route was announced last year, the San Salvatore. Then it’s down into Bergamo and to cross the finish line with a 3-2-1 second time bonus before a loop back into the hills.

The road up to Roncola is the last major climb of the day and a tough one with a steep start after the Ponte Barlino and then a hard 8% slope for the rest of the way.

The Finish: almost the same Lombardia finish via Bergamo alta, the old hilltop part of the town. There’s the run uphill over the cobbles and then the same sweeping descent, only the final part is different with the finish on the main road and straight, there’s not the right turn with 250m to go. But it’s not unusual as it’s the same finish from 2017 won by Bob Jungels.

The Contenders: a good day for the breakaway but who goes up the road, will we see some big names in the mix? We’ll see if Ineos can spare Thymen Arensman or Laurens De Plus for a move today to make Jumbo-Visma react. Primož Roglič in person can always try, although it was on the roads of Lombardia that his 2019 Giro bid came unstuck. If the GC riders do fight for the win Geraint Thomas is a safe pick, a win here would show he’s in great shape. Today’s stage might tempt some of the GC riders to move, they’ll be fresher after yesterday and tomorrow is a rest day and the awkward climbs and tricky descents are good terrain to exploit… but the flat sections in between aren’t so easy, these suit Ineos trying to contain and constrain.

Past Lombardia winner Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) is in form and can take some points for the mountains jersey today but winning in Bergamo is harder. Ben Healy (EF Education-Easypost) ought to be suited to this course but even more than Pinot he’ll be wary of a sprint and he’s been ill of late, team mate Magnus Cort can clean up in a sprint but can he get over the climbs? Italian champion Filippo Zana (Jayco-Al Ula) can make a name for himself if his team can spare him from shepherding Dunbar for the day. Bora-hansgrohe still have GC ambitions but are happy to send riders up the road stage hunting, so Patrick Konrad comes to mind. Otherwise it’s wide open to plenty of riders, Diego Ulissi (UAE) has eight stage wins to his name already but might lack the jump needed for the finish through Bergamo

Pinot, Konrad, Roglič, Arensman
Thomas, Healy, Zana, Cort, Van Wilder, Buitrago, McNulty

Weather: rain clearing and then 23°C and sunny… quite promising but the Giro might not be done with the rain for today, there’s a heightened chance of rain for the higher parts of the course.

TV: KM0 is at 11.55am and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

80 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 15 Preview”

  1. Regular IR readers will understand yesterday’s stage tactics but the unititiated with find it strange that a peloton containing some of the world’s best riders pottered along twenty minutes behind a break of lesser-ranked riders and didn’t appear to care. My partner, who has spent her life in two countries with a traditional cycling culture (Italy and France), failed to appreciate the spectacle.

    • She’s not the only one! Plenty of opprobrium to go round in the Italian websites I look at. “When is the Giro finally going to start?” they keep asking with the answer every day, “Tomorrow.” They’re running out of patience and La Corsa Rosa is running out of time. Will they finally get serious? IMHO they will and my hope is all the polemics that led us here might fade away. Wish I could be in Bergamo today,
      W Il Giro!

      • I don’t think it’ll be today. Ineos are notoriously conservative, and Roglic rarely attacks from far out – I think he’s going to take time in the last 2km of the remaining big mountains stages… so, thrilling.
        Today, therefore, will be another day for the break, but I’ve long since given up hoping for GC action in grand tours, instead focusing on each day. Yesterday was a day to ffwd through to near the end, but today could well provide good racing.

      • What are they complaining about? It’s been a very interesting race and every stage’s battle for the win has been very exciting.

        • Each day’s race has been fine, and the KoM competition is building well, but there’s been no real GC battle yet. Not a huge surprise given how difficult week 3 looks, but I can see why people have been frustrated so far.

    • With no threats the GC riders didn’t have to care and it wasn’t a stage for the age.

      Course design for the Giro is a big question, this year’s edition has had many “big climb followed by long flat runs to the finish”, it’s beginning to feel like ordering the same dish each day but from a different restaurant so the amount of climbing and road type varies.

      Yesterday once the long descent was done and the race had reached Varese there was room for more climbs, a bit more spice to the stage but it stayed largely flat. Although now that’s all over, today and all of next week is very different.

      • The course design has been very peculiar. There are probably thousands of towns and villages in Italy on top of little hills and they haven’t used any of them. Today is the first technical sort of fiddly little finish where someone can steal away and grab a little time that I would usually associate with the Giro.

    • I wonder if Ineos have blundered. Roglic can now go for bonus seconds and get in front of Thomas without taking the pink jersey. Or perhaps Thomas is that confident.

      • Is it worth it? Roglič takes the overall lead by one second but with all the attendant media duties and time spent he’ll be tired and so arguably prone to losing several seconds come the Monte Lussari time trial because of this added fatigue. Hardly exciting tactics if the race is won by making your rival sit in the press room… but those are the incentives.

        Easier said than done but better if he wants pink in Rome to either leave Thomas in pink for now… or go big with an attack next week so if he’s in pink, it’s with a solid lead.

        • Apart from Roglic having a little dig on stage 8, it’s been all sprints and breakaways – no GC action. Then again, the course design to tempt Remco to the Giro (3 tt’s – one at the beginning, one in the middle and and one at the finsh) has backfired as the GC guys are apparently just waiting for the TT’s.

        • I often wonder how much of the many pixels spent discussing “tactics” are actually relevant. For all the planning & plotting, chance and split second random decisions (eg TGH’s crash) play a far bigger role in the outcome of races. Whilst I am sure G is more than happy to not have to answer a bunch of inane questions post race (“taking it day by day” 🙂 ) I doubt anyone set out in the morning with the sole purpose of “giving away the jersey”, you deal with things as best you can as they crop up in the race. As much as we (and the commentators) play up the chess element I suspect it really only plays a very minor part in proceedings.

        • “Roglič takes the overall lead by one second but with all the attendant media duties and time spent he’ll be tired and so arguably prone to losing several seconds come the Monte Lussari time trial because of this added fatigue. ”
          I think you’ve imbibed in too much “marginal gains” SKYNEOS kool-aid with this idea. Defending a jersey with your team is one thing while “media duties” are something else entirely – especially if you sober up a bit and ask why the sponsor puts money into a team in the first place? Getting your logo in front of that media might be kinda/sorta the reason…maybe?

          • Feels like a Giro where nobody wants the pink jersey. Evenepoel gave it away, Ineos didn’t chase yesterday. Will FDJ defend Armirail today?

          • Yeah, you can see how much Groupama-FDJ hates the idea…pink bicycle and all.
            Not too long ago the slogan was “FIGHT FOR PINK!” Despite the obvious exceptions I hope that’s still the case. W Il Giro!

  2. “Nico Denz who sprinted for the line and sat up to celebrate as a surging Derek Gee almost pipped him on the line.” … whereas Denz almost punched him on the line! Not intentionally of course but Gee was close enough that as Dens threw up his arms, Gee instinctively ducked to avoid getting caught by an incoming right cross!

  3. Thanks for the review & preview!
    Pinot & Bais to fight it out for KOM points, which leaves FDJ to take it easy on the front of the peloton. If Ineos & Jumbo were happen to give away the jersey yesterday, then I can not see them wanting to take it back today.

  4. Head says break.
    Cort is not fit, Buitrago has not shown much. UAE has great potential but Vine can’t and Formolo and Ulissi are not good enough. Mcnulty is a their best shot but I imagine they go for someone else instead in true style. Rota wins, despite riding along invisible so far.

  5. Wasn’t aware of Healy’s recent illness. I did see Cort mentioning about himself not feeling well prior yesterday’s stage.

    Ineos DS mentioned they might fire this one up right the start. Hopefully they will do so.

  6. I only watched highlights yesterday but it seemed ineos wouldn’t let pinot in the break yesterday. The same may happen again today. at only 3 odd minutes behind has he let himself get too close to fight for the climbing jersey. At 30 km from top to race finish is it again too far for the GC action to heat up on the final big climb.

  7. Marc Madiot is having a rare treat. Groupama-FDJ conquers the two maillots pink in vélo on the very same day with Bruno Armirail at Il Giro and Romain Gregoire at Quatre Jours de Dunkerque. And contrary to the gregario in Italy, the latter may very well bring it home tonight in his capacity as talent extraordinaire having already won la deuxième étape of the six days race.

  8. Marc Madiot is having a rare treat. Groupama-FDJ conquers the two maillots pink in vélo on the very same day with Bruno Armirail at Il Giro and Romain Gregoire at Quatre Jours de Dunkerque. And contrary to the gregario in Italy, the latter may very well bring it home tonight in his capacity as talent extraordinaire having already won la deuxième étape of the six days race.

  9. All this nonsense around the end-of-stage protocols and the absolute shame on any team ‘giving away’ the jersey. – How different things could have been if RCS offered the maglia rosa a guaranteed helicopter ride off the top of any summit finish. They are up there anyway and only need a vacant seat for 70kg.

    Madiot must be loving the idiocy.

    And; ‘low single digit temperatures’ in yesterday’s rain. I didn’t know the riders wore mittens.

      • Hmm. You do think they know what Ineos does, and how Jim Radcliffe makes his money?
        And as we all know, no helicopters means no stage coverage for TV.
        Greenwashing is cycle-sport’s stock-in-trade so, on another bizarre level of logic, this kind of makes sense.

  10. Beware the Valcava! At old Lombardias, it could decide the race 100 km away from the line. Admittedly, the organisers took care it was 150 km away today!
    Those 3 km near the top are really hard, irregular and with sustained over 15% sections. Of course with current gears a pro can just spin up at 15 km/h without major worries. All the same, creative DSs should take into account that such a section can easily generate a 90″ to two minutes time difference, leaving some gregari so far behind that they’d be spent just to be back in the main group. No need to say I don’t hope in anything like that nowadays…
    Besides, notice that they’ll be climbing an aperitivo of 3 km at 6-7% towards some Gregario, with some steep parts, too, before a small dip, hence bringing the total altitude again over 1.100 m in the first hour-and-some of racing.

  11. Would like a Bob Jungels win today, can remember him winning in the white jersey when they had the Lombardia stage before and he’s been through a lot after that with artery surgery.

  12. This same week, last Tuesday, on May 16 2023, a man was killed on his bicyle by a truck in Bergamo. Less than 2 kms away from the finish line of this stage 15 of the Giro.

    I feel that the media, organisers and cyclists should be aware and take the occasion to raise collective awareness on this painful subject whose impact on the sport is huge.

    I know that part of the local roadside public has been working on this aspect and will be displaying banners in key sectors of the course.

    In nearby Milan three persons have already been killed while riding a bicycle in 2023, the last less than two weeks ago, on May 8.


    • I have no social media, so if anybody here feels like sharing the above, well, thanks. I believe it’s a fight worth fighting, and, as it’s manifest from such awful news, facts are knocking hard at our door.

    • Gabriele – Obviously I wish they’d do more on this too. My take is WTF the titans of the Italian bike industry don’t combine with th titans of the tourism industry (who seem to be spending big money on cycling-related vacation ideas for both Italians and foreigners) to get serious about pushing the right-wing govt. into doing something? All most of ’em care about is money so why not make efforts to bring more in? Less people being run over would save some loot on the national healthcare system too.
      Italy, the land of cycling risks becoming “Italy, the place where you get run over” at the same time as being the place where they just slap Italian names on Chinese-made crap when it comes to their bike industry. They’re letting it all go down the drain with short-term mindsets and a rush for short-term profit. Makes me damn glad I don’t have to make any money from either of these things anymore because these mofo’s aren’t doing s–t, despite their own self-interest that would suggest they should….and they could.

    • @gabriele
      Yesterday I saw a sign on a wall at Bergamo:”Basta morti in bici” and then I read this:

      Let’s hope that Giro continues to promote bike safety for all, as it did after the tragic death of Scarponi.

      P.S. I have lost a friend who was killed by a motorist during a non-competitive cycling event, so I am really very sensitive to this issue!

      • The morning RAI Giro show has a cop come on and talk about what’s OK for motorists and general traffic-safety type stuff so BRAVO to them…but it’s pretty much preaching-to-the-choir IMHO. What’s really needed is a public-awareness program that reaches beyond those who watch La Corsa Rosa on TV combined with an active enforcement program of laws already on-the-books here in Italy. From there the 1.5 meter rule needs to be a law rather than suggestion along with some lower speed-limits in areas with traffic congestion of poor visibility of other road users.
        But let me be clear about “Italy – where you go to get run over”…it’s far, far, far less an issue here than in any of the places in the USA I’ve lived. There it’s almost universally “Roads are for cars! Get back on the sidewalk where you belong!” so everything’s relative. Spain is said to be better than Italy while I never felt the slightest bit of entitlement/welcome to use anything not a bike path in Belgium despite the myth of cycling-friendliness.

        • I’ve found Spain to be more welcoming than Italy, although I have tended to be in more of a holiday area so perhaps the drivers were more relaxed anyway.

          Agree about Belgium, although I did also feel that drivers slowed to pass me comfortably, in a way they don’t always do elsewhere.

        • What worries me is that I saw it going worse, whereas Spain changed its mindset (and casualties) through a dozen years of serious work. Not the perfect place, either, and things look on the verge of going tense from time to time, or going backwards even. You still have the stories like Estela Domínguez punching hard and hurting so much. But, yes, it’s different, while Italy is spiralling down. Population is 47 to 60 (Spain to Italy), cycling practice figures are now grossly similar – yet, average yearly cycling deaths are some 60 to 220, with peaks well above and closer to 300. Poland was also able to seriously change its figures in a five-years time (I can’t say about mindset because I’ve not been living there, neither do I know if later there were any steps back). Why not Italy?
          I feel that partly it’s going closer and closer to the USA mentality you described above. “The road is mine, get out or I’ll kick you out”. Growing frustration both on the road and out of it, the need of some scapegoat. A traffic jam? “Look, a cyclist, I knew there must be one causing all this mess!” (true story, as seen live n times).
          The car industry isn’t so much here anymore, really. (Social)-body memory? Phantom limb capitalistic syndrome?
          There’s the standard safety moment in the morning, as you say, but it’s low audience time. And, as it must stand by the norms, and Italian norms are often awful, it ends up being a bit limited. I was aware of what GeorgeY reported above. Cyclists in Italy, and especially in Bergamo, are still an active part of society.
          Yet, I’d have expected more, much much much more, by organisers and cycling institutions. And the media, of course. They comment on every curious writing they catch from the heli, which insists a lot on most, this went nearly unnoticed. And look, the subject could well fill some good gaps in the commentary of a stage where little happened.

          I’m afraid most people out there, in media and institutiins, a growing number, share the same rotten mentality. After all, cycling practice in Italy has been going slowly but frankly down in recent years, despite a couple of short-lived bubbles. Others might think that the deaths of ordinary cyclists don’t matter for pro sport.

          I’m afraid you nailed it above, Larry. Something got eventually broken in the identitary bind which made Italy and cycling nearly like two sides of the same coin, a whole cultural and daily-life system now switched for, dunno, driving? Eating? Which I also love of course, and it’s not like you can’t have it all, quite the other way around, I’d say.

          (As a sidenote, something similar is happening in the book industry, but in that case, for good or ill, it’s harder to make a body count).

  13. Isn’t physically blocking the road against the rules?
    One of the J-V riders will be lucky not to be disqualified as he nearly pushed an attacking Bardiani rider off the road into cars and spectators.

  14. Am I right in thinking the teams classification is done on the top 3 riders per team? I can’t work out how Bahrain have apparently taken 20 mins on all the other teams in this stage when they only had 1 rider in today’s break.

  15. When Remco left I wasn’t that disappointed, when Tao left I was more gutted as I felt like he had been pulling his attacking instincts and could really go on a charge in the mountains to set the race alight.

    Either way, now it’s hard not to see the last week as a bit of a wash out with these/because of these two having left and however much I like breakaway wins some real GC action would really be nice right now!!

    I’m a bit worried though that the writing’s already on the wall for a less than riveting finale.
    Scenario 1 – Rog outclimbs Thomas and walks away with it.
    Scenario 2 – Stalemate climbs but Rog takes bonus seconds for win.
    Scenario 3 – Thomas outclimbs Rog and walks away with it.
    Scenario 4 – They see-saw back and forth as energies are pushed to the limit.

    Only one of those four feels exciting and seems like the least likely given these are two older riders who are relatively consistent and we already know Rog’s tactics to play it safe and trust his sprint (which he’s fully entitled to do!).

    Maybe it’s just the consequence of 1vs1 rather than 4vs4 as we had before, and usually in cycling 1vs1 results one of those proving to be the stronger rider early in a GT and cruising from there.

  16. Scenario 5 – both Thomas and Roglic are shown to be past their best and someone comes out of left field to win their first GT.

    • Scenario 6 – both Thomas and Roglic continue to ride so conservatively that precisely nothing happens until the ITT.

      I don’t actually think that’ll happen: I think Roglic will try to take little bits of time at the very end of the mountains stages, which will be about as thrilling.

      Your scenario would be the best.

    • Perhaps the ones you’ve watched, maybe. Maybe most of those are from the radio-controlled racing era? So far the 106th Giro d’Italia’s been pretty dull, but the racers (and their directors) still have 5 days to change it from mostly forgettable into something else. W Il Giro!

        • Yep, the radio-controlled era has not done much to make cycling exciting IMHO, (makes me wonder if an individual race promoter could ban ’em for his event like they do in the World’s or Olympics?) nor has the much older “Mow ’em down in the chrono, defend in the mountains” philosophy so well defined by BigMig among others.
          We were spared that when Evenepoel went home…but only to get this tactical stand-off/racing-not-to-lose bore-fest. But I’m optimistic (or stupidly wishfully thinking/hoping?) the boyz turn things around and start racing tomorrow. Some have gotta figure they need a time advantage BEFORE Saturday’s chrono, no?

    • I get what you mean but I feel you’re not being fair.
      It’s true that in so many TDFs, including some we remember among the best editions, GC stood essentially still and stale until stage 15 or beyond (think 2009 or 2011, both labelled as vintage editions in 21st century), yet – out of the last 20 editions – 2003, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2021 and 2022 were quite lively GC-wise way earlier-on (slightly so in 2004) and even had on a fight of sort, albeit it sometimes turned out to be unbalanced – which is part of the sport, after all. But we *had* GC action, and sooner than the third week. Now you could tell me that 11/20 is actually “most”, but I’d rather call it a draw, even if the weight of appalling editions like 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018 makes them look more frequent or abundant than they probably are.

      And, of course, that wasn’t the norm in most of the other GTs, which you also seem to include, so I think that, no, “most grand tour GC contests” is surely out of place.

      • I don’t think that a static GC necessarily makes for a dull race (though often it does). Someone comes out and makes a statement, and it’s up to others to do something about it. Sometimes they do and the GC changes, sometimes they fall short but their efforts can still make for a good race. This Giro could have been something like that until Evenepoel retired and nobody wanted to take control.

        I had high hopes for this Giro. This race is often a combination of thrilling stages and overly predictable GT (saved by spectacular scenery), a Giro di Freccia Vallone. Going in this year, I thought the TTs and heavy hills and big mountains in weeks 1 and 2 might change that. Evenepoel might have been the favorite coming in, and he duly staked his marker in the first stage, but there was a dark horse (oddly enough, given Catalunya and Tirreno) and several longer shots on teams with multiple options (Ineos, UAE) that could keep the favorites honest. There was too much for one team to control. And there have certainly been thrilling stages (and one borderline disgraceful one — I thought top riders looked forward to hard, heavy, miserable stages as opportunities and it was the organizers who played those kinds of stunts). But now that Evenepoel and TGH are out, and Vine lost too much time in a crash, the race is reverting to form. Maybe, hopefully, they’ll prove me wrong tomorrow and we’ll have a real race on our hands. Or maybe everyone will just wait for the Mur de Lavaredo again.

        • Can’get the point about predictable “GC” (I guess). 2019, 2020 were quite much unpredictable from every POV. 2022 was quite clearly a fight among two, but you couldn’t know until the very end who’d get it. So it wasn’t exactly predictable. And it was a terrible race, by the way – sorry for those who believe in small differences through the whole race as a great emotional feature. On the contrary, 2021 was indeed very predictable, but a very good race all the same. 2018 had several big surprises along the way, so saying it was “predictable” would be a daring call, although a possible favourite ended up winning. 2017 was unpredictable enough, a tight fight among three. In 2016 or 2015 the favourite also won, but, wow, to call those GC competition “predictable” would be just madness, given how hard they had to be fought by the eventual winner – surely both among the best GTs of this century. At the end of the day, your perspective would really apply only in the case of 2021 and maybe 2013 (if you don’t consider that Wiggo was the reigning TDF champion and was there to win, of course), perhaps even 2014. All of them very good races, and, anyway, 70% to 80% of the last decades were actually unpredictable enough.

  17. McNulty rode Stage 15 very cleverly at the end, although I’d say he was a bit lucky too because Frigo nearly took it. When are riders going to learn that when someone catches you from behind, at pace, you have to get up to their pace before they get to you or they’re going to shoot past? (We saw this on Stage 14 too, and there are countless other examples – the most famous probably being van der Poel catching and flying past Alaphillippe and Fuglsang to win Amstel.) With a little better timing, Frigo might have taken that.

    Healy needs to learn how to stand up to sprint, I’d suggest.

      • Expressing opinions on bike racing is pretty much all we do here.
        Also, it’s just physics: if someone is coming from behind you at 10kph faster than you, they will leave you behind unless you speed up before they reach you. So, yes, I’d happily give this advice to pros.

      • You, for example, Larry, have no personal experience of how radios and/or powermeters affect how riders race – just opinions based on years of watching cycling.

        • You are correct but I’d say unlike you a) I’ve raced bicycles (though I was terrible, lacking a competitive motor) and b) watched racing long before the radio-controlled era and also competed at a pro level on two wheels – with a motor.
          But still, I try not to dispense any advice as to HOW to race (other than wishing for race-to-win rather than not-to-lose) as the keyboard DS has always been a laugh for me, especially since his/her comments are always about how it was done wrong…with no way to know what the result may have been if their advice (on how to do it right) had been followed.
          So when your lectures starts with “When are riders going to learn that…” it’s pretty plain you’re talking out of your a__ and really don’t know s–t and so deserve the “Do you really want to go there?” question. If this comment gets me banned, I’m OK with it.

          • Get up to about their speed and get into their slipstream straight away and you’ll use a lot less energy than letting them pass at a speed much faster than you’re going and then having to sprint to catch back up to their tail.
            In life, you don’t have to have done every single thing in order to work it out. Einstein never went at light speed (I think that’s a pretty apt example, comparing myself and Einstein).

    • The stage 14 and Fuglsang/Alaphillippe examples are probably more about fatigue and knowledge of the chasers’ sprinting superiority than tactics, whereas yesterday a case can be made that both Healy and McNulty has interest in not accelerating to match Frigo’s pace in order to have the other one lead the chase which usually makes for a perfect lead out. Of course, the strategy of making others chase in the closing moments of a race fail badly when they choose not to (just ask Edvald Boasson Hagen after missing out on the cobbles stage in last year’s TdF), and with about zero time to judge the situation it is a sort of prisioners’ dilemma.

      • Part of the fun of fandom is having opinions about things we couldn’t possibly do ourselves, no? My two cents, sometimes good tactics fail and look bad, and vice versa, in the heat of the moment its often simply a roll of the dice. Healy did make some mistakes in my view by working too hard throughout the stage but in the final he was on the limit and just doing his best, also McNulty said he benefited from Frigos slipstream anyway.

        • “Part of the fun of fandom is having opinions about things we couldn’t possibly do ourselves, no?” OK, but when the thing goes on with “When are riders going to learn that…” it implies the writer is a sage with experience rather than just another guy with a keyboard and internet connection.

          • Or is just the phraseology they happened to use. Had I known how sensitive you are, Larry, I’d have chosen my words more carefully.

          • Well, what struck a wrong note, so to speak, in my ears was the implied idea that the riders you criticized somehow had never figured out this simple fact of racing on their own or, indeed, that it had never been pointed out to them by a coach or an older team mate.

            Maybe we should ask ourselves – and those of us who have experience of actually racing and who have been in or witnessed similar situations – why the riders choose to ride as if they didn´t know what we spectators know or think we know? Even when they clearly still have the legs to speed up?

            My guess would probably be sthat they know or are pretty sure that if they did speed up, the rider closing in on them would in that case simply sit on their wheel. In other words, it’s a matter of choosing between two less than optimal moves – and in such a situation it is all too human to hope…

          • Tuesday, I see your point, but the riders in front can ensure that there isn’t quite such a difference in speed between themselves and the pursuer.

      • MS, I think you might well be right about yesterday’s stage (might have been different had they been closer to the line), and on Stage 14 they did look totally knackered. But I think in all cases they’d be better off getting up to about the speed of the pursuer, even if they are going to allow them to pass and then try to get on their wheel. It worked out yesterday for McNulty but only just.
        Another top example of the Fuglsang/Alaphillippe situation was Steve Cummings passing Pinot/Bardet on Stage 14 of the 2015 TdF. In both of those cases, the primary mistake, though, was messing around and letting the rider catch in the first place.

  18. Yep, GT fatigue setting in again! Its a lot to ask to find it consistently thrilling and exciting in the era of full race coverage and at the end of the day its THREE WEEKS! Thats a long race, imagine how the riders and staff are feeling at this point…. Neveretheless it looks like the weather for the final week is looking better with the possible exception of tomorrow when some forecasts are saying it might be wet and windy on the Monte Bondone. So the GC contest could in the end come down to two MTFs and an uphill ITT, somewhat like a weeklong Romandie or Trentino but with a long, bleak, controversial and exhausting build up. Sadly I think that is what this Giro will be mainly remembered for, despite in my opinion being a fantastic race at many points in the last two weeks. I suspect Roglic and Thomas will cancel each other out somewhat and it may indeed come down to the TT to decide between them but hopefully we will be treated to the spectacle of some or all of Almeida, Caruso, Kämna, Dunbar, Pinot, Carthy and Rubio lighting it up in the mountains, thats a race I would like to see!

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