Giro d’Italia Stage 17 Preview

A trip out of the mountains to the sea. The profile screams a sprint stage but the mix of riders left could change all of this.

The Bondone reveal: a big breakaway with Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Jack Haig, 13th and 17th on GC, plus Ben Healy who took a lead in the mountains competition but he’d pay for his sprints by the final climb. Jumbo-Visma were the most active all day including setting the pace at the foot of Monte Bondone, the final climb of the day. But once Rohan Dennis was done there was nobody else to pick up the pace.

UAE took over and their train set up João Almeida for an attack. Once his acceleration was over he was only a few metres clear and wasn’t pulling away. But that’s what he often does, only usually a few metres behind, this time he was dangling off the front. He wasn’t taking time but this put pressure on the chasers, Sepp Kuss tried to limit the damage the effort would soon cause Roglič to crack, a fissure more than a shattering.

With Almeida a few lengths clear Geraint Thomas floated across and the pair slowly pulled out time on Roglič, inscrutable as he span a low gear but perceivably losing time. Almeida won the stage after a two-up sprint with Geraint Thomas, with the Welshman taking the maglia rosa and the pair finishing 25 seconds ahead of the surprise duo of Primož Roglič and Eddie Dunbar. Surprise as in Roglič had been dropped on the climb, and because Dunbar was fourth on the day, and up to fifth overall.

Andreas Leknessund and Bruno Armirail have been more than clothes horses in this Giro, but still they’ve been storing the maglia rosa on their shoulders while it’s been destined for others, and their time was always going to be up come the third week. Sure enough they fell down the GC and we’ve now got an obvious trio for the podium.

Thomas leads with 18 seconds on Almeida and 29 seconds on Roglič, slender margins given a time bonus or two can change plenty and Monte Lussari can overturn everything. These seem to be our podium candidates given Damiano Caruso is fourth overall at 2m50s. The current podium order looks the most plausible. Thomas leads although he’s down to four team mates with Sivakov out if he wants to defend. Almeida seems confident and energetic but how to get ahead? Roglič isn’t done yet but did look a level below, saying he’s still sore from his crash last week, will the fatigue keep adding up… or is today going to be just the tonic?

The Route: 197km out of the mountains to the Adriatic seaside.

The Finish: flat but with some corners in town. The section of road with the 2km banner is narrow.

The Contenders: a sprint? The profile screams one but it’s the third week of the race where many are tired but some riders are keen, almost desperate, as it’s today or nothing if they know a summit finish is out of reach. Also there are fewer sprinters left in the race so less chasing power, more so since some teams with sprinters have other ambitions as well, riders deployed to chase today might be worth more tomorrow and beyond for their GC ambitions, think UAE and Bahrain.

If a sprint is the base case, the hard part is picking a winner as there’s no hierarchy to the sprints, nobody looks superior especially as Kaden Groves and Mads Pedersen have left the race. Pascal Ackermann (UAE) has won and remains in the race. Mark Cavendish (Astana) is still here and has been looking quicker each sprint. Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) feels more of a random pick sometimes. Jonathan Milan (Bahrain) has the brute force but has he got the deft skills? DSM have two sprinters but Alberto Dainese is probably quicker for a dragstrip finish.

Breakaway picks are Laurenz Rex (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Easypost) and Nico Denz (Bora-hansgrohe).

Milan, Ackermann, Cavendish
Gaviria, Dainese, Denz, Bettiol, Rex

Weather: rain and showers are likely early in the stage during the mountain valley section, then 22°C and sunny once out onto the Po plains and the coast.

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

45 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 17 Preview”

  1. Barring disasters I think Thomas will win. The way he crossed to Almeida, and I think he held back to ride with Almeida amd certarefused to just drag him along – looked to me like he could have gone, especially on the steep parts. I think Roglic was ‘saved’ by the flatter top part of the climb yesterday. But a long way to go still…

    • I agree that Thomas looked the strongest from the moment he attacked but Almeida had already made his attack with Thomas sitting in the wheels, so for the last climb as a whole I would say that they were more or less equal (as the result shows). Also, Almeida won the sprint which suggests that he would have been capable to follow an acceleration or two if Thomas tried.

      • Almeida was dangling off the front (rather than back for a change) for over a km. Then Thomas bridged and the gap went out. From 4km to 2km, it was mostly Thomas out front. So I guess you can conclude that Thomas is the stronger if the two. It’s not like Thomas got much drafting for the extra Km he stayed in the wheel. He just has a better sense of where to attack.

        • I think it is a stretch to say that one can conclude that the rider coming in second was stronger than the one coming in first. Everything happening from Thomas’ attack and onward – except the sprint – surely indicated to me as well that Thomas was the stronger of the two, but again that cannot be seen independently of what happened before his attack.

          • Exactly, there was no incentive to attack Almeida when he could convince him to work with him instead.

            After the initial attack G expected Jumbo to close the gap, when it was clear that Kuss couldnt do it without dropping roglic he knew he could bridge over on his own. From that point onwards it was about putting as much time into roglic as possible and it made sense to convince almeida to work with him.

            G beat roglic in the second TT quite convincingly and on form you would expect that in the final TT, it makes sense to build a buffer to cover a a disaster (like leaving your gillet on) so no harm in working together, G will smash almeida in the TT, that is without a doubt.

            its geraints Griro to lose, just a big shame Tao isnt still there as he was riding very very well.

          • For me, anything could happen between the big 3. They’re all fairly equal in the TT, and could all fade or improve as the week goes on.

    • Thomas is fairly smart tactically but also can be ruthless with his tactics. And i mean that in a good way. He will try and spend his energy wisely only when it suits him. No wasted efforts just for the moment. Can be a bit boring but is a very valid tactic.
      He doesn’t have the old sky train of old at his disposal so at the end will need to do things well.

  2. Anyone remember the feeling two and a half weeks ago? A coronation of King Remco. The race for GC over before stage 2. Grand Tours, always a twist and a story on every stage. Brilliant. Go G.

  3. In times gone by this stage would have Mark Cavendish written all over it but can his team pull back the break and does he still have a sprint? He seems to be riding well but getting to the finish and winning a sprint at the end are two different things. Would be great to see him win again.

    We got some GC “action” at last though it wasnt a classic. Primoz Roglic has not looked quite at the top level from the start and the crashes seem to have hindered too. Whilst Joao Almeida impressed, too often in the past he has pulled away only to fade away, here he kept going and pulled off a win. Geraint Thomas has been underestimated for years, for some reason he is seen as deeply unfashionable yet he elbowed aside Chris Froome to win the Tour (winning in Yellow on Alpe d’Huez in the process), was unlucky not to be able to retain his title and came back last year to take a very creditable podium behind the whirlwind up front. He is older than GT winners have been for a long time but the key to this race is endurance and he has clearly turned himself by years of effort into a top endurance athlete perhaps that will count for more here than some nominal watts / kg figures from training runs. I too make him favourite though the final section of the TT looms large.

    • With so much of the competition in this race gone and the higher level of sprint talent likely to contest the Tour, this is probably Cavendish’s best chance to have one last big win.

  4. Primoz’s form was quite a surprise for me. Not sure how much of a gap he would have had if it wasn’t for Sep Kuus dragging him along. As much as I sympathise with young Almeida, if all goes according to the plan (no accidents etc.) G is a winner for me.

  5. Just re-read yesterday’s comments. It’s a reminder why we all love this sport and what a great blog our wonderful host provides.
    From now on we can all watch the racing in the certain knowledge we know a lot about procycling and nothing much about what’s going to happen in these last few stages.

    I will venture that if it does come to a bunch finish today there will be a pile-up in that maze of streets so let’s hope a break goes the distance.
    And was Roglic just bluffing the whole time since his early crash?

  6. I usually suffer from grand tour fatigue so the dullness of the first two weeks did not really bother me. Waiting for something to happen gives me the energy to stay fresh for the final week, and yesterday I eagerly watched more or less the whole thing. What excites me this year is how similar the top three GC riders are. Good time trialists and diesel engine climbers with a punch. Similar but of course not identical, and I now wonder whether it was the (tiny) differences in skills or mere physical shape that made the difference yesterday. After all, Roglic is normally the punchier one and the two remaining summit finishes seems more suited to him if he’s feeling good. The time trial is hard to predict. Most of all a test of their grand tour fatigue, I suspect?

  7. “What excites me this year is how similar the top three GC riders are.”
    Yet one is 24, another 33 and the guy currently in-the-lead is 36 while the guy just behind those three is 35. Maybe too soon to retire the white jersey in favor of a gray one?
    Who has the strongest team now? My guess is UAE.

    • But cycling is all about the young guns now (have you watched the Lanterne Rouge podcasts, I am sure they will have you spitting out your Aperol Spritz or its Sicilian equivalent!). In all sport experience plays an important role, yes 22 year olds are quicker whether riding a bike or kicking a ball but having the experience of winning (and losing) is a big part too. Not sure about UAE, yes they had numbers but did not last very long once they were forced to take on leading the group, though was surprised the Ineos two dropped back so quickly.

      • I didn’t see the interview but from the quoted comments Arensman seemed to be saying that they weren’t allowed to catch back-up but could have done.

        • That would make sense, there is a feeling at Ineos that Richard Carapaz lost last year because of the energy expended in his fruitless attack in Turin and was thus unable to respond when Jai Hindley attacked on the final climb (seems odd to me as the Turin stage was more than a week before). I get the feeling that they are trying to make as little effort as possible so getting Thymen Arensman and Laurens de Plus to soft pedal a bit would fit in with that.

      • I’ve tried to listen to a few podcasts but I keep whacking the FF button…it’s like “get to the freakin’ point!” as they yammer on as if being paid by the syllable. My wife jokes those things (and forums like this) are nothing more than drunks yammering on at a bar, most of whom know nothing, but yammer-on just the same. At least here we can scroll down/scan/speed read rather than listen to someone drone on via podcast.
        Not so sure experience is worth much in the daze a DS (assuming he/she is someone with experience) can bark instructions all day via the earpiece. The joke is the best young rider jersey should be retired in favor of one for old guys. My suggestion is a gray one for over-35 riders. How many times have we seen the GC leader also eligible to wear white vs old guys who’d wear gray along with yellow, pink or red?

          • My wife is always right. That’s how we managed to celebrate 33 years together a few months ago. There’s a saying about husbands….”Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?” The ones who enjoy the latter quickly learn that the spouse is right pretty much all of the time. The other thing is when I wonder WTF people do X or think Y when it makes zero sense to me, causes harm, etc. “People are stupid!” is the universal reply and in those 33+ years it’s explained it all pretty well…to the point I no longer ask 🙂

  8. Lennard Kämna said on the rest day that he thought Almeida was the strongest rider. Yesterday’s stage seems to back that up as Thomas followed but could not drop Almeida.
    Jens Voigt said that Pasqualon at Bahrain said to him that he thought 60 to 80% of the peloton were sick. That would explain the lackluster GC guys and desire to shorten stages. Roglic has seemed labored since the first stage and obviously a crash, the bad weather and having half of his team not fully prepared will not help. Kuss was a godsend yesterday.
    Team wise, who is the strongest? Jumbo seem to be in a bit of disarray, Ineos have lost two but the others have not really been tested but appear the strongest, and UAE seem not to be all at 100%.

  9. Any idea why Green Project-Bardiani were so active for the KOM points yesterday? Doesn’t seem like either of their riders has much hope in the mountains classification… do they just dislike Ben Healy for some reason? Or maybe they’re big Pinot fans and are punishing Vaughters?

  10. On Lussari, it will be interesting to see if even on extreme gradients the weight of… weight can be denied completely. Same for the steep uphill finishes tomorrow and on Tre Cime.

    But unlike a stage, in the ITT there won’t be any collective dynamics of drafting, attacking, distancing or whatever.

    Almeida is the same sort of metronome rider as G. is, and he surely knows how to pace himself. It’s not by pure chance that even in a totally flat ITT he was the only other rider barring the notable exception of Remco to make a top 10 weighing less than 65 kg, just as in the flattish opening one, where the very short uphill section even allowed him to grab a podium. Almeida and Evenepoel notwithstanding, the average reported weight of the top ten was 70 kg in Ortona and 68 kg in Cesena. You’d expect such an outlier performance implying significant wattage to be more than confirmed on extreme gradients. That said, fondo will obviously factor in impressively, but both Almeida and Thomas should be solid from that POV.

    Of course, everything can happen all the same, a bad day or any simple mistake.

  11. The Giro is starting kind of slowly in terms of GC, but I have hope for some fireworks, or at least some memorable storylines in the final week. It’s a shame Remco was lost to non-racing-ralated issues, but at least the GC battle is still close.

    When a grand tour is not full of excitement, I become even more grateful for this blog and for the Eurosport commentators where I am. I find myself skipping my beloved Premier League and rewinding the “boring” Giro to watch in full instead.

  12. I’ve criticised this Giro until now from a sporting POV (I still doubt it will achieve proper Giro greatness as a whole, but let’see), just as I had appreciated his route, and just as I did the reverse in other years when I felt like so.
    That said, of course, GTs are great precisely because it’s not all about the “mere” sporting side. Classics would be that much better, if it was just about that. But GTs tend to be each a whole narrative universe, all the drama and polemiche are part of it, the subplots, the disappointment, even. I’m thinking of what Franco Moretti called “opera mondo”, or the famous passage by Bolaño comparing short novels and torrential ones:
    Cycling in general tends to be on the side of the latter, a sport of complexity, chaos, imperfection, passing chances… but within cycling, Classics can become the perfectly written exemplary tale, whatever the result, GTs are often an epic mess…
    …although the cycling competitions closer to the concept of “great masters sparring” are probably the one-week stage races 😉

  13. In the typo category: “.. inscrutable as he span a low gear.” Or is SPAN something in original English vs American English where I’ve never seen or read it? I understand a “vast span” or “spanning the globe.. but as a past-tense verb for spin it seems kind of odd.

    • Familiar enough to me, along the lines of ‘swam’, ‘sang’ or ‘rang’ as irregular past tenses.

      Also the phrase “when Adam delved and Eve span, who then was the gentleman”?

      • Sorry, never heard or read SPAN used in that way before in 60+ years. But I’ve never heard of the phrase “when Adam delved and Eve span, who then was the gentleman”? in all those years either, so what do I know? Must be one of those things like “shipped time”?
        Today a guy wins who was puking his guts out on Sunday…amazing! Here’s to hoping for some fireworks tomorrow. W Il Giro!

        • It’s really simple. The past tense of spin is spun and the past tense of sing is sang. They are different. That’s why those verbs are called irregular. They are what they are.

          • Correct modern English usage is spun. Span is the original anglo-saxon Germanic root word, and in modern German this survives as Spann. So it seems Larry is at the cutting edge and perhaps Inrng has German heritage, or else it’s a typo…

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