Giro d’Italia Stage 18 Preview

The first of two days in the Dolomites. If this was a music festival, today would see the band playing their new heartfelt acoustic tunes to an expectant audience who really want tomorrow’s Dolomite greatest hits, the stadium rock tracks like the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Postcard from Caorle: Ciao, we fled the mountains to get some sea and sunshine. It was pizzoccheri weather earlier but by the time we got to the Caorle it was gelato time. We were stood by the barriers with 400m to go and saw Alberto Dainese overtaken by others but it turned out he was more patient and came around everyone for an Italian win. After the finish we saw the maglia rosa Thomas Geraint doing his warm-down on his time trial bike because he’s thinking about Saturday’s stage. Wish you were here…

The Route: 161km and 3,700m of vertical gain. There’s 25km across the Veneto plains before the race collides with the Alps. The first climb is the Passo Crosetta is 11km at 7% but with a softer start and finish most of the ascent is over 8%, a selective start. The bump on the profile to Pieve d’Alpago is a drag on a wide road.

The Forcella Cibiana has a steep start out of the valley and then a hard second half but all on a regular road up to the pass.

The Finish: there are three parts to the climb, first the main valley road through Forno di Zoldo and Dont, with the previous descent done this place allows teams to get into position, riders to eat and drink. The second part is the hardest, a right turn into a narrow backroad with 3.4km at over 10% to the village of Coi. There’s a descent out of the village, still on the same small road but with nothing wild. The third part sees the race route back on the main road again and there’s a series of hairpin bends before the slope eases in the final kilometre.

The Contenders: breakaway or GC riders? Jumbo-Visma rode down the breakaway on Tuesday, this time they might hold back so have more numbers for later. Ineos don’t have so many riders to pull all day. UAE? They could put on a show on of strength here but equally seem happy to let a rider or two of their own go in the breakaway although now’s the time to have Formolo, McNulty and Vine beside Almeida.

Breakaway picks are Jefferson Cepeda and Ben Healy (EF Education-Easypost). Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) might be a popular pick but he’s still not far down on GC to get much room, plus his form’s in question, he was dropped from the GC group on Monte Bondone and note he was also ejected on the climb into Bergamo so he’s perhaps less sparkling than in the second week. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain) came into the Giro in top form but hasn’t had results to show although now we’re on terrain to suit. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) might find today’s shorter climbs suit more than tomorrow’s Tre Cime finish. Ilan Van Wilder (Soudal-Quickstep) is riding well, to the point he might forsake the breakaway so he can test himself against the GC group. Carlos Verona (Movistar) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) fit the bill – a lot of the field doesn’t – but they don’t look scintillating right now.

Among the GC contenders, João Almeida (UAE) has a stage already and today’s finish features a finish that levels out before the line. Geraint Thomas (Ineos) should be close and all eyes are on Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) if only to see how he gets on. Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-Al Ula) is riding high but how to beat the three names cited ahead of him?

Almeida, Thomas
Roglič, Cepeda, Healy, Buitrago, Verona, Van Wilder

Weather: sunshine and clouds, typically 21°C in between the climbs but an outside chance of rain if the clouds build up.

TV: KM0 is at 12.30mp the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

27 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 18 Preview”

  1. I suspect this is a stage for the break. There must be doubts over Primoz Roglic so perhaps Jumbo will want to hide in the bunch for as long as possible. Ineos are on an energy saving mission and will be happy to pass on leading the chase once initial policing duties are done. Maybe UAE will try to set up Joao Almeida for another win though perhaps he would be better to bide his time. All seems to point to another win for the break with the GC fight behind. Ben Healy is going to run out of energy at some point though the blue jersey would be a significant achievement in his first GT but not sure he needs to hang on for the win for that. Otherwise it is the usual completely random cast.

    Afternoon showers are very common in the Dolomites, though the forecast does not seem to suggest the sort of Wagnerian storms that occur regularly in Summer more a little welcome refreshment for the riders.

    • Maybe Ineos will make it hard to test Roglic. If he’s struggling still, there’s time to be gained.
      Mollema for the win (working on the law of averages now)!!

  2. If I was in Almeida’s position I would be putting my team to work today and trying to set this up for another stage win to get more time bonuses and try and put the pressure on Thomas and eliminate Roglic. The Forno Di Zoldo 5.8km at 9.7% would be the time to go as the draft benefit would be minimal and I can see it really splitting up on this section if the first part of the stage is raced hard.

  3. I’m hoping Almeida again shows his new-found attacking verve, Thomas decides to go for it full-on and that Roglic’s form has improved.

  4. Thank you for the report and beautiful postcard from Caorle. Hope to see you in Rome despite the long transfer. I will be having Cacio e Pepe regardless what the weather is. Let’s hope it isn’t rain..

  5. Again thanks for a delightful review/preview – a trio over the finishing line almost together but chapeau to Dainese for pipping the charging Milan (again starting from well back).
    If Roglic’s up to it, a day that would seemingly suit him. If UAE can isolate Thomas then there might be fireworks, but Friday’s stage will be in the back of everyone’s mind. Dunbar’s progress has been a pleasant surprise and hopefully he can continue the good form until Sunday.
    With a few decent climbers in the breakaway I’d expect them to claim the win.

    • “With a few decent climbers in the breakaway I’d expect them to claim the win.”

      I’d expect Ineos would be happy with the breakaway scooping up the bonus seconds knowing Thomas is unlikely to beat Almeida or Roglic in a 2/3-up sprint finish.

  6. I like the design of the route. Short climbs with some steep parts, but a less steep finish. Very propicious to attacks with >10k or even in the Cibiana. This said not sure we have many Kontadors among the GC contenders…

  7. Van Wilder and Serry must be having a great time on the Soudal Quickstep tourbus, with all their soigneur and mechanical needs met, a team car EACH and first choice on their favourite flavour gels. Massive meals and a room each too.
    Guess they feel obliged to get in the break.

      • I don’t know how this works in other countries, but in Belgium when you get hired for 3 weeks they have to pay you for 3 weeks, even if there is no work to do left after 1 or 2 weeks… (Of course they can have you sign a new 1-day contract every day, but then you can leave whenever you want too, and I doubt a team wants to risk that.)

        It’s possible they send some vehicle(s) or employee(s) home when they are no longer needed, but they would still have to pay their salaries (and I’m pretty sure Patrick would never take away an employee’s expected income even if he could legally do so—he knows too well how that feels like).

    • I read in the flemish press that they feel very grateful to the team for that and very motivated to still do something in this Giro. And as a matter of fact they’re both in a great shape, so who knows. Van Wilder is up for a good GC.

  8. I don’t usually care who wins races, but I do have a bit of a soft spot for Thomas when it comes to the Giro. Contrary to what British TV pundits incessantly tell us, a lot of his crashes haven’t been down to bad luck but bad riding (speedbump), but that didn’t seem to be the case with the two Giri he crashed out of while seemingly having a good chance of winning.

  9. Almeida keeps getting praise for his pacing strategy but seeing his performance the other day makes me wonder. He will never really know, will he, if following attacks like Roglic’s would in fact be better. These things cannot be tested in training or labs but only be experienced in racing. Maybe Almeida is not super clever like the media narrative goes, but simply not as though mentally as the very top GC riders?

    Obviously, the next two days might offer an answer and make me look like a fool for asking.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Leknessund who follows until he cracks. Likewise, he is yet to learn if pacing like Almeida would be beneficial.

  10. Well that made tomorrow interesting!
    Thomas is incredible right now. What would Roglic have done minus two crashes and 5 stitches and plus a cup of coffee, which Kuss said he missed this morning?

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