Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Preview

The tappone we’ve been waiting for, a huge amount of vertical gain in a short space, we’ll see if this is enough to reshape the top three overall and more. There’s always Monte Lussari tomorrow to settle things.

The Legend of Zoldo: the best stage so far? A few early flurries for the breakaway saw Ben Healy try to get away but as soon as they hit the first climb of the day he was going backwards and a group with Thibaut Pinot, Filippo Zana, Warren Barguil and the indefatigable Derek (de) Gee(ndt)  among those away. It was a small group and once clear of the Passo Crosetta they had 80km of lumpy roads across the plateau to stay clear, not easy but the three big teams in Ineos, UAE and Jumbo-Visma didn’t want to chase too hard, and perhaps they couldn’t either. They just had to contain the group with Pinot sitting six minutes down on GC. All day Pinot took max points on the climbs to get back in the blue jersey… except at the finish. When the breakaway hit the final climb to Coi, Pinot pulled away with Zana. The pair came to the finish together and the Frenchman seemed to get “finish line fever”, launching his sprint the moment he came around the last bend to see the finish arch looming and Zana was able to come past for the win. Zana’s not a star in Italy yet but the national champ winning a mountain stage is a big triumph and just the sort of result people were hoping from Giulio Ciccone, only Zana delivers.

Meanwhile we got a second race behind for GC. After Roglič’s wobble on Monte Bondone, he was on the attack this time it and was João Almeida’s turn to lose a few seconds. Almeida wasn’t losing much ground though and at one point on the descent from Coi he looked to be getting back on with help from team mate Jay Vine, only for Vine to crash and slow his leader and he lost 21 seconds at the finish.

Roglič is back in the game but if you want to look into the details, yesterday’s ascent was just his kind of climb with its steep corners. How will he fare today? More certain is that Geraint Thomas is the steadiest so far… or it’s his turn to lose time today?

The Route: 183km within which they’ve managed to get 5,400m of vertical gain. It’s a gradual ride uphill from the start to Arraba, gradually harder as the race approaches the foot of the Passo Pordoi, before a right turn and the Campolongo instead. From here on it’s non-stop Alpine action, a Dolomite derby, there’s no valley sections in between. The Valparola’s nothing fierce compared to what’s coming.

The Giau is a hard climb with 10km at almost 10% and passing the 2,000m barrier. If it’s not the theatre of attacks, it’ll sap many riders and see some dropped.

The Finish: three is the magic number as the final climb is really three separate climbs.

  • First the Passo Tre Croci or Three Crosses Pass. This is a big regular road where the sections tip up to 8-9% at times meaning riders are on their own, the benefits of sheltering on a wheel are gone
  • The short but steep Col Sant’Angelo which is followed by a false flat and brief descent
  • The final climb to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Three Peaks of Laveredo. The final four kilometres average 12% but reach 18% at several points and rated by Eddy Merckx as one of the hardest climbs he ever did. It’s well surfaced, a wide road but exposed
  • It’s also the revised Cima Coppi. As a finish line summit finish it’s 50 points already though.

The Contenders: Once you get to the third week of a grand tour those riders making moves one day can often repeat them. So Filippo Zana (Jayco-Al Ula) comes to mind, he’s no threat overall.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) has got even less room to go clear as he’s now seventh overall. Indeed we might see his team at work today because they won’t want to see Ben Healy (EF Education-Easypost) go clear given there’s 166 points available if a rider can cross all the passes first today, or just 98 points for the first three passes.

Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) will see his contract up soon and his team are said to be interested in Benoît Cosnefroy, a win here would boost his leverage.

Two regular tips but Jeferson Cepeda (EF) has gone quiet since his third place in Crans Montana and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain) has done even less but it’s their last chance.

Otherwise Geraint Thomas (Ineos) is consistent but can he win a stage? Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was back in the action yesterday, can he repeat on these long climbs at altitude? Probably and we’ll see if João Almeida (UAE) can turn things around.

Roglič, Barguil, Zana
Thomas, Buitrago, Almeida, Fortunato, Rubio, Konrad

Weather: sunny but cooler for the second half, 16°C in the valleys and clouds could build up and rain.

TV: KM0 is at 11.50, the Passo Giau starts around 3.30pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

88 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Preview”

  1. I wonder if we’ll see Matthew Riccitello in the break today. He came in 29th yesterday, at 8:34 with Luis León Sanchez, Laurens Huys and Eduardo Zambanini, maybe other options for the break. I’ll be cheering for Lorenzo Fortunato too, and Patrick Konrad.

  2. Thomas looked incredibly comfortable yesterday so he would be my favourite for a win if it’s the GC boys. The fight for the break will be brutal.

  3. From the first day I have thought Geraint Thomas has looked good, he has not seemed to be under any stress for the past two days, unless something untoward happens I am not sure how either of the other two make up the time. He and his team seem to have thought through the whole approach, he was seen warming down on his TT bike yesterday clearly with Saturday in mind.

    Not sure what Primoz Roglic was up to yesterday, he was riding towards the back, seemingly not quite there before eventually Sepp Kuss (who was back to Tour form) set him up for an attack which succeeded in dropping Joao Almeida but he couldnt quite finish off and Sepp Kuss rode back to the front at one point. Some sort of big bluff? If so seems rather pointless and energy wasting.

    I think the break again today, the GC teams dont appear to have the strength to control the race and are focused on each other. Perhaps JV might be interested in setting up Primoz Roglic for the time bonuses but not sure the maximum of 13 seconds (and that assumes G gets none) is worth the effort. I wonder if Thibaut Pinot will pay for his efforts and struggle today.

    • Jc- it’s more that the GC teams don’t need to control the break.
      As for Roglic, Robbie McEwan made the point that he attacked but it didn’t have the power of a normal Roglic attack – Thomas had no trouble bridging and later, as you say, Kuss pedalled back up. It doesn’t sound like a rider on top form and Almeida’s ‘weakness’ is still the very high mountains (inverted commas because he’s close to the beat and closing the gap).

    • Jc- it’s more that the GC teams don’t need to control the break.
      As for Roglic, Robbie McEwan made the point that he attacked but it didn’t have the power of a normal Roglic attack – Thomas had no trouble bridging and later, as you say, Kuss pedalled back up. It doesn’t sound like a rider on top form and Almeida’s ‘weakness’ is still the very high mountains (inverted commas because he’s close to the beat and closing the gap).

  4. :..he looked to be getting back on with help from team mate Jay Vine, only for Vine to crash and slow his leader and he lost 21 seconds at the finish.” I was saying to my wife just before this that he should get in-front of Vine to avoid the “king of Zwift (or Strava, Whoosh, Whoop, or whatever it is)” screwing up the descent. If he ends up just a few seconds behind Mr. G on GC in Rome he’ll have nobody but himself to blame.
    Meanwhile, whining about Saturday’s chrono route seems to have gone silent. Did they give in to the DS’ demands somehow or just tell ’em to STFU and live with it?

  5. Getting nervous now!! Thomas does look comfortable I think – looks to me like he could do more but he’s saving energy (a concept that seems nuts on climbs like these, but…). I hope he can stay the course today, pretty confident he will. Be super to see him win at 37!! Wow! Really impressed with Zana, and seems like a lovely guy to boot! Pinot, Pinot, Pinoot- he just seems to burn all his matches before the crunch?! They suck you in these GT’s don’t they – 3 weeks of stress watching it!! What it must be like doing it…. 🤣🤦‍♂️

  6. Looks like Geraint just has to keep things in control and match Primoz, the time gap gives some margin and remianing stages including TT show little difference between them. Keeping calm and letting others do the work should be the tactic for Ineos given their depleted team.

    • One thing in Roglic’s favour is he has got the best climbing super domestique at the Giro. The problem is how to use Kuss to win the pink jersey because it doesn’t look like Roglic can do it on his own. JV and UAE will have noted how Ineos’ domestiques disappeared from the front quite early yesterday.

  7. Thomas to win in pink I think today, though that last climb look’s a brute so who knows what will happen. I’d like to see Pinot go nuts and force himself away in search of mountain points and get a big enough gap to blow the GC race behind to bits. But that might be wishful thinking.

  8. A largely passive first two GC weeks coupled with the loss of Evenepoel and TGH at least gives a close and uncertain GC position for the final two stages (I exclude Sunday’s promenade). This reader’s (probably wrong) GC prediction:
    1 Thomas,, 2 Roglic, 3 Almeida, and a nostalgic sprint win for Cavendish in Rome and, if so, Thomas has saved Ratcliffe’s expensive season on two wheels.

    Thanks – as usual – to IR for enriching our three week stay in Italy

      • What made this seem worse for me, was whilst Zanna was receiving the sticky bottle, Pronskiy was in the process of being dropped, which made the acceleration from the team car seem even more severe.

        • Cycling still needs to apply its rules. And consistently. DQ Zana’s results from that stage, and riders and teams would soon stop doing it. A fine? Totally worth it.

  9. In descriptive terms what Roglic did yesterday (dropping one of his two rivals and gaining +/- 20 seconds, but failing to drop the other) must surely have been very similar to what Thomas did on Tuesday? Nevertheless, on Tuesday Thomas’ was praised here and elsewhere as a physically superior genius who only lost the sprint against Almeida because he and his team was too tactically clever to ease up in the final km to really contest it. Yesterday Roglic was seen as bluffing, energy wasting and without the power of a normal Roglic attack. I too think Thomas looks incredibly strong and confident and that this Giro is his to lose (after all, he is in pink), but I have to say I am a bit puzzled by the tendency in this comment section and on other English-speaking sites to read only positives into Thomas’ performances and mostly “negatives” (if only minor ones) into Roglic’s and to some extent Almeida’s (who many places was described as second-best on Tuesday after making the decisive move and winning the stage in a fair sprint).

    • Just to be clear, by “here” I refer to the comment section and not to inrng’s always brilliant analyses, and my intention is only curiosity.

      • I don’t bother with audience stats but I suspect as this blog’s in English that there are lots of British supporters; if it was in Portuguese then it would be Almeida Central here and if in Slovenian then Roglič would be all the rage in the comments etc.

        • Certainly makes sense that there is a degree of national bias and I guess Thomas is extra popular with many British people as he comes across also beyond language barriers as a very likable person and, in lack of better expressions, cool guy.

    • I feel this stems from the general feeling (so not actually quantifiable!) that Thomas is at the peak of his powers and performing at his top level, whereas the Roglic seems to be struggling when compared to his usual dynamic self. Also the fact that Thomas has the race lead, so riding defensively is largely expected from him.

      That said, I found Roglic’s performance yesterday outstanding – seemingly out-of-sorts, but came out swinging and tried to make moves (which stuck apart from not being able to distance Thomas). Does he accept the 30sec gap at the end of today and hope to overturn that on super-steep-Saturday? You’d like to think he’s capable if he can recover enough

      • Yeah, I think you’re rightly capturing this general feeling among many fans and press people. Not to argue against such a thing as a general feeling but still, on the point about Thomas I would say, as I believe Thomas said himself after the TT, that he tends to be underestimated and all but forgotten about and it should not really be such a surprise that he is at peak level in a race he’s made his main goal. It must be comfortable, however, for a TdF winner and podium finisher to escape the expectations facing others with a similar palmarès. His ability to retain the very likable personality and persona of an underdog through enormous amounts of success really stands out as something unique.

        For Roglic, as well, I would suggest that “inconsistency” in grand tours is nothing new (if one can use the word inconsistency when the variation is usually within the range of being best or perhaps fourth or fifth among the GC guys) but of course this time he lacks those trademark stage wins on punchy finishes. If that has been a matter of form or just course design, however, I guess we’ll never know.

    • I would say it is the other way around, including in the comments here and more generally (have you ever watched the Lanterne Rouge podcast?). There is a tendency to play up the achievements of Tadej Pogacer, Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic etc and write off G as some relic of the Team Sky era still plodding around the circuit. Which is pretty unfair, as Cycling News pointed out today since G has been able to ride for himself in GTs (ie not as Chris Froome’s super domestique) in 2017 he has either crashed out (generally in very unlucky circumstances ) or finished on the podium of the Tour. That is pretty impressive. As he has shown here he is still one of the best TT riders around and has the experience to be able to ride within himself to keep enough back for final big stages like today. To keep fit enough to be able to be at the front of GTs after a long career shows immense dedication and determination, not sure how many of the younger riders around at the moment will still be fighting for Giro wins in 12 years time.

      I have never been completely convinced by Primoz Roglic, I know there are the three successive Vuelta wins but there was the final TT at the Tour (a route not dissimilar to tomorrow) and also the loss to Richard Carapaz a few years back at the Giro, lots of crashes too. I always get the feeling something is going to go wrong.

      Again with Joao Almeida I remain to be convinced he will win a GT, his habit of dropping back and then managing to (almost) catch up on big climbs is not convincing. Even on Monte Badone I felt he didnt fully grasp his opportunity, G seemed to have something in reserve and knew it was better to keep something in the tank for another day.

      • Yes, you’re right, I also think that it is usually the other way around, and I just made similar points about the usual underestimation of Thomas in a different post. Actually, I am only talking about my impression from the last couple of days, since Tuesday to be precise.

      • Well, I appreciate Thomas a lot and I’d have preferred him rather than Froome to be “the chosen one” from scratch (of course there were lots of factors at play like actual numbers, attitude, disposition etc.), but there’s no denying he’s a Team Sky relic, clearly one of their mutants although built on a more evident pre-existing base of physical talent. Now they got their prep right again across the team, so here we are. He isn’t even close to Pogacar or Remco, while, yes, he might belong to Roglic’s category – under the right conditions. Roglic also crashes a lot, yet he has won a huge deal of races, of different kind and in different manners, staying at a very high level through different seasons, even when his team wasn’t, sometimes winning and sometimes losing but always being up there against very top rivals at the top of their game. This whole description rarely fits Thomas. That said, yes, I feel too that the Welsh – as he himself says – has been underestimated more often than not, and I feel that’s not very fair when compared to other riders of similar characteristics and potential like, say, Dumoulin.

        • Thomas tends to perform in the Tour, Roglic Vuelta. They won similar amounts of GT prep races.

          Have Roglic won any (semi-)classics? Thomas had beaten no less than Sagan at E3 and once been considered a realistic Flanders contender. He was mixing up with the sprinters in his early days on the road.

          Not sure how that makes Roglic more versatile.

          • Roglic has won Liege against an extremely high quality field.

            My first memory of Thomas is when he did the lead out for EBH’s first stage win in the 2011 Tour, the one were Wiggins crashed and Sky didn’t compete for the GC. He was a very different rider back then, and has gone through a remarkable transition. At some points during that transition, I guess, he has been more versatile than at others.

          • Ahem, Roglic won a Monument. I guess you must be joking, as Roglic won also Emilia (twice), MiTo, Tre Valli, runner-up at the Flèche and two Lombardia top-10s.

            Same for one-week racing, Rogla is probably among the best ever in the specialty, he won *nine* times the GC in the Big 7, and he won ’em all at least one barring Suisse, which in itself is a very notable feat. Thomas doesn’t have half of that, and with the typical Sky’s keen eye for the lesser ones, Romandie or Dauphiné, where the rest really goes as a prep while they go full gas because, well, for them it works, unlike most mortals.
            (Including everything, good or bad, big or small, Rogla won 18 GCs and was 32 times in the top 5, G won 11 and was top 5 24 times).

            Moreover, and even more important, G’s career on the road (he had his pistard golden age too!), like Armstrong’s, is quite clearly divided in two pretty much separated periods, whose chacracteristics are nearly impossible to mix up. Until 2015, Thomas never had *any* GC top-10 (not speaking of podia or being a contender…) in *any* stage race that implied climbing.
            After 2015, he wasn’t able to get anymore *any* top-10 in *any* one-day road race

          • Thomas may have been riding the track while Roglic was ski jumping but Roglic has won a Monument, the Olympic TT and as many TdF stages as Thomas. Hardly less versatile although seemingly less longevity given their respective ages now.

      • What about the 2021 tour when he came 41st?

        Thomas has finished the tour on the podium every time except the times he hasn’t?

        • Yeah, and at Skineos the whole “when he wasn’t working for Froomey” point is rather moot. Unlike Lance’s teams, in GTs they’ve been able and willing to put an helper up there in the top-10 at the very least, whenever it was possible, which means more often than not, I think.
          And that “post 2017” clause, too… why not having a go at the Vuelta 2015 or the 2014 TDF? Because if you don’t programme it, you don’t even make a top-20 or what?

          Up to a certain point, I can “buy” the show the team puts up on the road (when they do), leaving questions aside, but less so the propaganda.

    • It also depends on expectations, as Lee says, and terrain, that is, yesterday was seen as favourable to Roglic’s qualities, so not being able to take further advantage of that was seen as a negative, and a further clue about his lack of top form, whatever the reasons. OTOH, the tappone trentino and the Bondone could be seen as a stress test for Thomas, a lot of altitude gain, serious gradients, irregular final climb. Looking in absolute control there was obviously a big up.
      Roglic tried an attack, which failed. We could look at the half-full glass, i.e., not being dropped or countered after that, but as such it wasn’t a good sign, just as *not trying again* before the very finish. Thomas on the contrary showed he was able to sort out by himself a potentially complicated situation, looking as if he was easily closing on Almeida when required, just how and when he decided to. It sure gives a better impression.
      That said, Thomas could suddenly crack all the same, and Roglic really looks like he’s slowly improving.
      Gradients should also favour the likes of Roglic and Almeida, but top form can make for that and more.

      • I guess the essence of why I remain puzzled (even though I appreciate the points about expectations and terrain) is the description of Roglic’s attack as failed, and that of the half-full glass not containing the fact that he put time into Almeida. I am aware that Almeida looked to be on his way back before Vine’s crash but Roglic still succeeded in opening up the gap that put Almeida in a difficult position, ultimately amounting to 21 seconds. I would not talk about failure in such a situation but degrees of success and perhaps call the attack “partly successful” or something like that.

        • A lot of good points above, but as Inner Ring said, the main reason that English-speaking media and commenters are pro-Thomas is down to nationalism. (Incomprehensible to me as it’s a meaningless accident of geography regarding arbitrary borders, but there you go.) I think it’s heightened by the constant mentioning of how unlucky he has been with crashes (some have been; some haven’t), and that, rarely for a top athlete, he doesn’t seem to be an ego-maniac.

          • Two major outlets, Lantern Rouge and Horner’s butterfly effects are talking him down. So I don’t quite see the language/nationality bias.

          • Language here as a prop for nationality, and LR aren’t anglo though they might be partly saxons 😛

            The nationality bias is quite strong in cycling, as always, and it’s a pity. Worse I’ve probably seen is the way Latin American riders are treated by Spanish media. If they win, their success is “ours”, so they’re followed with closer attention by commentators and even rooted for, obviously if there’s no “Spain’s Spanish speaker” available to support. Even if the Spaniard has euskera as his mother tongue, he’ll always be better, but Latin Americans are fine as spare parts. But then you notice a further difference. A Spanish rider won’t ever ever ever be criticised on Spanish media. He always gave it all, made the best it was possible, probably was also unlucky. Not the Latin American! If things don’t go so well, all the critical insight of the pundits surfaces immediately and now they can explain why the athlete is to blame for not winning. A second-line Spaniard getting dropped from the back of the group is always “trying to hold on” or even “managing himself”, if he’s dropped for good the usual policy is silence and let it go unnoticed, whereas as soon as a Latin American rider slips back, even still in the group, it becomes a point of conversation usually in pessimistic and slightly sadic terms… “uuh look, he’s suffering, I believe he’ll soon crack”. Lots of excuses are typically available for Spaniards, none for Latin Americans (like, for example, Buitrago having worked a lot fro Caruso a given day before falling back). There’s always a lot of humour to display and have a smile or a chuckle re: Latin American riders, not at all for Spanish ones. You laugh with the latter, if anything, not of them as with the former. Riders’ height is a valid subject when speaking of Latin American riders, not in the case of Spaniards.

          • It’s quite a stretch to define the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Channel as a ‘meaningless accident of geography’, but you do you.

          • MellowVelo, Wales being a part of the UK, and thus being a largely Anglo country, is down to an arbitrary border.
            North America being largely Anglo is down to colonisation.

        • I think you’re mixing up several separate aspects, i.e., whether a rider is to be appreciated (from a sporting POV) for the way he rides, *and* what’s his conditions and options to get what he strives for. Almeida was left behind by Kuss’ work, then Roglic couldn’t really finish it off. Visually, Kuss was also actually back. So you see there a good team play by Jumbo Visma but a suboptimal performance by the leader. What Roglic did really well was avoiding to lose further time and keep the pace with Thomas to make that two-against-one on Almeida more effective. Roglic is probably to be appreciated for keeping things tight with what’s nearly surely mediocre physical shape, but athletically he was subpar, which doesn’t bode well for his Giro bide despite leaving Almeida a little behind.

          • That said, especially in this Giro, setting up an attempt of attack is already a success as such. At least, you test rivals who may suffer from otherwise unnoticeable moments of weakness – which is what happened with Almeida.

        • I do think it’s mostly because people perceive Roglič as having a higher overall level than Thomas. So when they perform equally, it’s perceived as relatively good for Thomas (he’s up at Roglič’s level) and relatively poor for Roglič (he’s down at Thomas’s).

          And in the case of English language media, perfectly understandable ‘nationalism’ is no doubt part of it too. Or, rather, the greater affinity with somebody who shares similar references, has been more familiar through availability to local media, and who is available to interview in a shared first language.

          Even if referring to him as Anglo-Saxon is as weird as describing Flanders as part of the Francophonie.

    • I have the feeling that Roglic was not that good yesterday, his attack was no vintage of his.
      So, I think Thomas is riding too conservatively. Yesterday was probably an opportunity to put more time into Roglic. As a result gaps are still low, and going with such a small bonus into the time trial leaves you exposed to a bad day or a mechanical,…

      • I agree. If you can take time, you pretty much always should try to do. People talk about saving energy, but if you take time, that’s a good use of your energy – and you have to use the energy somewhere in order to take time.

  10. Thanks to inrng and everyone here for the reflections and opinion. I’m a big fan of this blog – it’s a rare corner of quality commentary. Long may it continue.

    Im also a big fan of Geraint Thomas- mainly for nationalistic reasons – and sitting here under the mountains in North Wales I was genuinely tempted to make him my GC prediction at the start of the race – but in the absence of any evidence of winning form weighed against the form of his rivals (including a sharp looking TGH) and factoring in his age I thought it best not to embarrass myself and wrote it off as a private joke – a nostalgia for the Welsh glories of 2018.

    Fair play to him, he’s looking solid – as he might say – and I’m daring to believe again. It’s an impressive feat getting this far into the Giro looking so composed in such a stressful race and he doesn’t look like being cracked. I suppose I should have added experience to my weighing up at the start and he has certainly been due some good luck – long may it continue.

    Pink bar tape for me on Sunday if he pulls it off!

    ⛰ 🚴🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Cymru am byth. G i’r enill.

    • Would love to know what the Welsh quote at the end of your comment means? Seriously, I would. When I was (quite) young the Welsh language always seemed, if I’m honest, vaguely threatening, but as I have heard more and more interpretations, typically of place names, it’s actually fascinating, frankly very warm (emotionally), and I find it really quite endearing. I also love the idea that learning a foreign language is an act of friednship, so all power to Thomas (woukd love him to win) and I look forward to the English of your Welsh! 🤣

      • @marknorfolk – thank you for your warm reply.

        Cymraeg / Welsh is an old tongue and has a strong connection with its environment, perhaps a link to a time when our society was less discordant.

        There’s a mountain at the top of the valley here called Pen yr Olau Wen (Head of of the White Lights), across from that is a rocky outcrop called Castell y Gwynt (Castle of the Wind) – you just don’t get names like that in English. There’s poetry and nature in the language here and it’s very much alive – the majority of people in this valley speak it as there first language. I’m a second language learner.

        The bike riding round here is lush. Not quite the alps but we have some decent climbs on reservoir access roads where you get the last 3 or 4 kms on tarmac off the public highway, no traffic apart from the odd walker or sheep and you finish half way up a mountain.

        The quote is as @anonymous says.

        Thanks for taking an interest.

        W il Giro

        • Thank you! – for all of that! Brilliant!! I shall now have to look up W il Giro! 🤣👍
          PS: never visited Wales either so now firmly added to my (short) ‘to go to’ list.

  11. All praise for any rider who goes in the break today. Especially if it’s another which takes 20minutes full effort to establish.
    This is the first stage with real altitude, and repeatedly, so forget what we think we know and settle in.
    Hoping the weather doesn’t force a repeat of any ‘neutralised’ descents with trips to the team cars for winter gear. (…Did Quintana just not notice, that time? )

  12. G is looking rock solid for the win atm. All I think for UAE or JV is that they pile on the pressure early on and try to isolate him.

  13. Thaomas has 30 seconds nearly on Roglic. Thomas can just follow and I think Roglic needs to gain about 20 seconds and then hope he can do something on the MTF.

  14. I don’t have a clue what will happen today but there will surely be GC and breakaway fireworks which is very exciting! So often GTs are sewn up by this stage so this last week has really redeemed the agony of the first two. A couple of things that are confusing me, one is the Combative prize, is it a combination prize like the old TDF combination jersey or is it something else? I can see on the RCS website that it has been awarded to a different rider every day, is there an overrall prize given at the end of the race? Should be Derek Gee’s surely, he’s been extraordinary this race. secondly the KOM, how is it possible that Gaviria and Fortunato have negative points?

    • Not much archive: barring the Giro, the rest of GTs hasn’t too much love to share for high altitude (despite the occasional high uphill finish). Which is a pity because weather would make it easier for them.
      However, G looks quite solid in his GC-man years from this POV, too, Almeida and Roglic very very slightly less so, but none is, say, a Valverde.

    • If he’s in the same form and race tactics will make it possible without wearing out the team from the beginning, I think that G will try to go for the finish line photo…

      • Of course, that wouldn’t make of him any Contador ^___^, and, yes, finger crossed for an epic road stage. The Giro owes us at least one, and this is the last shot. Even 2022 had Torino and 2012 had the Stelvio. We’ve now had some four pretty good stages involving GC action of sort (plus, two *very good* ITTs, but they belong a different category in terms of enjoying the racing), but what would make for a great Paris-Nice or Tirreno is still below what I’d expect for even a C-grade Giro.

  15. In addition to the top 3 GC battle the battle for those between 4 – 10 on GC can be close. Any of those positions can be totally lost or gained today as the gaps on such a hard stage are small enough to reverse.
    I know nothing about Andreas Leknessund but get the feeling he is outdoing expectations. You can definitely tell when he is struggling because he starts to make Yan Ulrich look like a spinner of the pedals. I will be really interested to see if he can hold on once again.
    As much as the top 3 look superior the time gaps outside the TT are fairly small at this point. Even these past few stages the time gaps were not that big for the top 10 or so. Arensmen was 6th of the GC group and only lost 44 seconds despite working a bit on the front before the decisive climbs.

  16. What a GC race we have! Didn’t foresee this at all. Not that we saw much of the last bit of it as the director inexplicably showed 40-50 seconds of Barguil trundling to the line for third, then Gee coming in for fourth, and then the sprint for fifth. Does no-one tell them what matters in a bike race? What do people want to see, the GC race or the also-rans for the stage?

    (While I’m on this, we often hear commentators telling us that we don’t see the suffering of the sprinters et al. on the mountain stages. Surely, you could have one extra camera bike and have it hanging back with them, giving us occasional shots?)

    Nobody knows how to lose a race like Pinot. Last time, it was multiple attacks, this time it was no attacks and wait for the flat finish. Both times, it was obvious – *at the time* (yes, I do tell them how to ride) – that he should go for one big attack with about 1-2km to go.

    • Wait, what? Everyone (but me and I guess you) just loves the scenes provided by EMG(?) and their ace director, no? Way, way better than the terrible RAI stuff we used to get, they all claim. I wonder even about the supposedly horrible Italian (forget about guys like Marconi) technology that caused the loss of picture in inclement weather. I wonder if the EMG director is just more clever, switching to an image that’s not a static finish-line scene like RAI so often did when their connections (or whatever) went down?
      And then there’s the on-scene talent – my vote is a 10 for Voight and 0 for the rest of ’em. These people might have some impressive palmares on the bike, but they’re dull, dull, dull on TV. That includes Gilbert – great rider, not-very-good TV presenter IMHO.

      • I guess you dont watch the English language GCN coverage. Jens Voight has been a breath of fresh air, a non native English speaker, somewhat less “lads” banter. Adam Blyth much better on the bike than in the studio where as jens is better in the studio.

        • Jens is terrible. Never seen someone so full of himself and his career 10 years on still. Never gives credit to his years of doping either.

        • 10 for Voight! 0 for the rest.
          Cd-I separate riders I liked from TV commentators who I think do a good job. I loved Gibert as a rider, but he stinks on TV IMHO. Hated Wiggo on the bike but loved him on the moto. Never much liked Contador as a rider and don’t much like him on TV either.

    • IMO, losing races to bad luck or bad judgment throughout his final season fits much better within the story of Pinot’s career than would any big, impressive win. In that sense, I think his Giro has been wonderful.

  17. I really hope for a G victory today. Should at least win one stage when taking the GC.
    I’m not British, but G are likeable and stylish on the bike. He have also won a classic (E3) and thats a big plus in my book.

  18. Pretty much no matter what happens in the last 30 kms, final fireworks or not, I think this is the very first Giro this century to be this much lacking in terms of middle to long range GC action.
    And probably much further, back, too.

    …it could even be the first ever!

    Wow. Always great when we watch history being made.

      • The dullness of the Giro continues. Were it not for Healy and Gee there would be no entertainment at all. We could have spared of all the stages and just done the TTs. Terrible race

        • After just having had the worst Giro in 30 years or so, there’s a very serious contender 12 months later…
          It’s like when we thought Pogacar was impossible to beat for years to come after 2021, then he promptly lost 2022!

  19. I’d never heard of Gee before this giro, fittingly will finish second in both points and mountain jerseys.
    Will hopefully have a great feature especially in difficult conditions for and the last week.
    He’s national tt champ so was presumably going easy during the first two.
    Wonder when he’ll get a proper leadership role and try GC too?

  20. Lacking? Where do you start? A very forgettable edition for sure. A winner (I assume) who (so far) never won a stage and never seemed to make much of an effort to win…somehow rides into Rome in pink.
    OTOH – hero of the Giro= Derrick Gee! Israel should can Froome and split his ridiculous salary between Gee and Frigo – they earned it in this Giro.

      • Gee & G’s Giro until now!
        Gee has four 2nd places in 4 very different stages (and a 4th place, too), plus he’s 2nd again *both* in the general classifications for points (ciclamino) and KOMs (blue).
        He’ll get supercombattivo I guess if they still award that, but, hey, What. A. Race. Make a special jersey for him!
        Asked about his fav dream’d race he promptly said “Roubaix”, which he raced for the first time some six weeks ago crossing the line as the very last rider (135) before the broom wagon (Tarling and a couple of others were allowed to finish but ere eventually OTL) – half an hour or so behind MvdP. TOP! ^____^

      • No matter how much it is (and of course nobody would expect Froome to admit the real figure, would they? That would be like Donald Trump saying something that was true) it’s more than he’s worth unless it’s “rent-a-friend” rather than bike racing.
        I’ll add Frigo and Gee to my “Hate the team/owner, like the rider” category, which with the sponsors and owners in the sport these days is pretty big!

  21. The Ardennes races and il Lombardia are considered FT contender races. The Belgium cobble races and PR are a quite different kettle of tea.

    Before Pog came sweeping up everything, the best a GT rider had achieved in Flanders in recent years are Valverde’s 8th place in 2019. Thomas on the other hand had top 10 finishes in both Flanders and PR.

    That said, the one point against Thomas is that he when he achieved those top 10s, he wasn’t a GT contender.

    • Yeah, of course, but then you’d better say “cobbled races” rather than “(semi-)Classics” as you wrote. And it’s not like every GT contender as such performs well in those races, that is, non-cobbled-Classics (which isn’t even a concept as such, for now, and luckily so – hilly Classics or côtes Classics is what comes closer). I think there’s no need to list the famous examples of the last 30 years or so, albeit we certainly had some athletes who could win both GTs and Classics, yet several GT greats never came close to the one-day palmarés of Roglic.

      I, for one, would have loved Thomas to grab a Ronde, he could make it.

      • “I would have loved for G to grab a Ronde” – Me too.

        I think 2016 was the year he missed it – not withstanding Sagan was on fire so probably unbeatable – but G was of the standard. He was thwarted by Kwiatowski going up the road so G couldn’t chase – it looked to me like a payback for Sagan letting Kwiatowski win E3 that year, but that is a scurrilous rumour and should be treated with caution because I’m biased.

    • By the way, I think that G has some pure 3-weeks qualities which Roglic never showed at the very top level (which makes his victories even more “deserved”, as in “hard-fought”, in a sense), i. e., consistency and third-week fondo. Roglic focussed all his Giro prep on these skills, but its record is of coming more or less short from those POVs, whereas the contrary tends to be true for Thomas.

      • Nibali was certainly a great as evidenced by winning all three GCs and three Monuments, but I’d argue no more versatile than Thomas or Roglic. Stronger palmares though, in spite of his relative TT weakness compared with them.

        Reality bit hard when Nibali was discarded like an empty gel wrapper and without a single turn by Terpstra entering the finale of de Ronde in 2018… admittedly just one race, and Nibali at least asked the question, which is more than can be said for almost all his GC contemporaries and immediate predecessors.

      • Easy, when you look up “What is Mr. G not?” there’s a photo of Nibali. IMHO G (assuming he rides into Rome tomorrow in pink) joins my “Most Boring Person to Win the Giro” list, maybe just behind Ivan Basso and around Tom Dumoulin, Denis Menchov or BigMig. ZZZzzzzzz.

  22. Noting that the race is not yet/quite over, with a challenging TT and a nonsense 700km transfer to come, Thomas can only beat the other racers who start and survive this Giro. If so it’s his name in the record books.

    I still hope his eventual retirement helps mark the end of an era of GC specialisation in which racers prepare solely for them through occasional one-week races and altitude camps, seldom starting Ardennes classics, much less anything with cobbles, crosswinds and rain. That’s more a Tour de France problem than a rider problem, that race is too big for everything else’s good (other than the global profile of pro racing), but seeing racers such as Alaphilippe and especially Pogacar contend across the almost the spectrum of the season has been so much better for the sport, according to my opinion.

    I’ll note too that Thomas didn’t start as a GC specialist, only that he has become one in the Sky/Ineos environment/factory. Unlike Wiggins I doubt he’ll return to Roubaix to mark the end of his career, when that time comes…

  23. Poor Derek Gee… he’s been trying al Giro to get a INRNG RING at the bottom of the previews and still hasn’t been able to get one. Maybe tomorrow Mr. Inrng?
    He’s been amazing so far in the Giro!

    • As the host always says, “rings are for the win”…and well, he’s been right…
      (As a Canadian I can report that Gee has broken through the near-total indifference to pro cycling in the newspapers here. There was a brief article about him in the Globe and Mail…)

      Can he TT?

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