Giro Rest Day Notes

A welcome rest day in the Giro for many riders after the hardest stage although spending it at altitude can make it a little less restful.

UAE look a rider short by the final climb. However the team was pulling so hard during the stage, especially in the valley to the start of the Foscagno pass yesterday that only Majka was needed for the final move… and of course Pogačar can finish the job, they just have to get him with range and he can move but it can mean no margin for error like a mechanical or a bike change… but he’s minutes up no so that’s covered. UAE’s Tour team will offer a lot more support which close down this small weakness come July.

Riders can follow Pogačar’s attacks, it’s what comes after that is impossible. An acceleration can create a gap but the onslaught of power makes the moves impossible to follow, once he’s made the jump he can sustain an effort at a rate that others cannot. Yet we’re also seeing the others racing each other, if Pogačar moves the best of the rest are watching each other. The positions behind are ossifying, the time gaps on Sunday morning were widened by the finish. There is still a duel between Dani Martinez and Geraint Thomas and Ben O’Connor is close for the podium too and it’ll be interesting to watch the dynamics here.

He didn’t win but Nairo Quintana could have won the stage yesterday had the breakaway cooperated better. Sure, “if this then that” but what’s notable that riders are openly saying they were in the breakaway but the move sabotaged its chances because of a lack of cohesion; we had this yesterday but also on the stage to the Prati di Tivo. With Pogačar grabbing so much, teams ought to have an added incentive.

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Romain Bardet’s attack saw him gain a few seconds but leaves him in a difficult place. Too high on GC to be allowed in the breakaway, too far from the podium to get a memorable result. But he’s not shopping in a gift store and picking which reward he’d like, it’s where he is. DSM will also not turn the points from a high GC finish; remember the UCI publishes weekly updates but the Giro results, from Stage 1 to 21 are only computed once the race is done.

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To points of a different sort and there’s a battle for the blue jersey. Tadej Pogačar leads the competition on 172 points, almost 100 points ahead of Simon Geschke but of course Geschke carries the blue jersey. Only we’re seeing Geschke going up the road to collect points and and Lilian Calmejane doing the same. In Calmejane’s own words wearing the jersey “by procuration” is valuable, it brings publicity to teams. How much value we can debate, pro cycling is the sport where sponsors pay to have teams branded in their image yet success comes when, in this case, swapping the Cofidis jersey for one reading Banco Mediolanum. Either way it shows riders are scrapping for the crumbs that fall from Tadej Pogačar’s table. Tuesday and Wednesday’s stages are for the breakaway and could see the mountains jersey become a direct contest.

At the back and Vadim Pronskiy did not start Stage 15 and Clément Davy did not finish the stage. All the rest made it within the time cut. These are set at the discretion of the organiser and the Giro seems generous compared to the Tour de France. Stage 15’s time cut yesterday worked out at 18%; the Tour rulebook would have stipulated 13% which, everything else being equal, would have culled four riders.

Talking of exits, few sprinters have bailed because of the mountains. Phil Bauhaus did not start Stage 15 but that’s it. With two sprint stages left there’s an incentive for many to stay, Jonathan Milan is in the points lead, Kaden Groves still hunting a stage and so on. Tim Merlier’s done the Giro and Tour before but never got over the Alps so he of all has an extra challenge.

Watching the Italian TV news bulletin last night the sports news came late – this isn’t Flanders where the death of the Iranian president might come second to Evenepoel – and RAI’s Telegiornale led with the tennis ATP Rome doubles before a 90 second report from the Giro, most of which was about fans picnicking roadside on the Mortirolo, complete with some seemingly obligatory newsreel footage of Marco Pantani… before ten seconds on Pogačar winning.

Looking wider and Pogačar is being portrayed as a rider apart. It’s notable how the contest is less with rivals on the road but comparisons are made with greats of the past. Take La Gazzetta, whose front page proclaims “Pogačar alla Coppi”.

Forecasting the winners is proving easy so far but the weather? The race has an official sponsor in 3B, an Italian weather website that has a deal with RCS for its newspapers and with La7, the TV channel owned by race organiser boss Urbano Cairo. It’s normally – ok, anecdotally – the best outlet for weather in Italy but still surprisingly prone to announcing sunshine only for it to rain and vice versa.

All eyes are on tomorrow’s weather forecast with snow expected at the top of the Stelvio and if the Giro won’t reach the 2,757m pass, it turns off just a couple of hundred metres below to take the Umbrail. However it’s more a story of grim discomfort, than alarm and snow ploughs. Snow here means a light dusting that may not settle higher up. It’ll just be very wet and cold but this could still be sufficient for a third revision. There’s also a yellow weather warning (red is worse) for later in the week.

20 thoughts on “Giro Rest Day Notes”

  1. The breakaway conundrum – so many think that the only way to get a stage win or a jersey is to go in the break, causes so many to do that, that another breakaway is needed to drop all the hangers on. As nobody wants to pull someone else to a win, nobody pulls. Also no one is good enough to drop others and the it goes around and around. Shame really, as firstly no one gains from trying to get in the break, and UAE can ride tempo 2, 3 minutes back safe in the knowledge there’s nothing (or nobody) to worry about.
    Glad to see Quintana back (sans Tramadol) to a good form – would Pogacar had made more friends by riding with him to the finish? Apparently Quintana is not Mr. Popular in the peloton so maybe not.

    Even so, we’ve not had the break get 8, 10, 12 minutes lead this Giro, which also is something to think about.

    UAE did a USPS or Sky train classic ride in the mountains – keep the break near, ride a good tempo, ramp up the speed on the last climb, then launch the star rider. The others fight for minor placings. Pogacar of course is no Froome or Armstrong – they didn’t win one day classics, but the M.O. is the same. It works, so they do it, but it’s not “must-watch-TV” when you’ve seen it done again and again, no matter how well it’s done (or if you’ve tufts of hair protruding from your helmet, or an Incredible Hulk sticker on your bike).
    How are the Giro’s TV audience numbers this year, I wonder. Maybe someone can enlighten us on it?

      • Yesterday (Sunday) was 2.2M with a 19% share. The general average is still hindered by the stage which was broadcast with no commentary due to the strike. Over 21 stages it will make a modest difference for the average, but for now its impact is still noticeable. However, I’d say that the Pogi factor partly made for the (general) absence of Italian GC big stars and the lack of competition for the top spot.

    • This wasn’t the general Sky tactic at all. Rather, more often than not they rode a mediocre pace uphill and let a break get the stage, even bullying whomever wasn’t agreeing with the plan. Then the spin started usually in the last few kms for a short intense effort. Just have a look at how many (or, better said, how few) GT stage wins’s got Froome compared to other strong GC riders. And some of those wins didn’t even arrive that way.

      • I agree that it doesn’t feel similar to Sky at all. Pogacar goes from much further out. The only thing Froome did to compare would be that stage over the Finestre in the 2018 Giro, which seemingly blew him out! Although I watched a lot I thankfully can’t recall too many of Armstrong’s wins!

  2. Thanks INRNG.
    Some pertinent points. Pagacar is certainly a level above the opposition. That leaves some to draw comparisons with the 1990s cohort. I think that is unfair. Pagacar shows the effort on his face and in his breathing, even if his pedaling action is faultless. As someone has already pointed out, his nearest challenger, Thomas is 38 and although he has a large engine, has never been seen as a rapid attacker despite his track background. Quintana is another who has seen his best years behind him. In conclusion, Pogacar and his team are impressive, but the competition is a little weak.
    Italian TV news coverage might not be the best, but the number and variety of roadside supporters and the bunting and balloons say the event is very popular. Sponsorship does and can colour the MSM coverage!

    • Users can “flag” people who may not have ridden the route/segments on Strava, eg someone does a ride, puts their bike in a car and drives home with the bike compute still on, or someone turns on Strava by accident when on a motorbike etc. Often it’s someone annoyed that “their” King of the Mountains title on a segment has been beaten by someone else, they flag thinking the rider must be on an e-bike, in a car etc.

    • Flagging is the system in Strava that allows another user to flag your ride as “suspicious.”

      Its handy to clear local KOMs of those folks who forget to turn off their Garmin before driving home from the trail park for example. Some use it to troll other users.

  3. Let Pog win all the remaining stages. Majka alluded to them wanting more…that’s fine. I feel like people are losing focus of the GC battle that’s shaping up behind. Can Martinez hold his spot? Will Tiberi crack? Can O’connor make the podium? This is quality stuff. Even if it doesn’t get the camera’s attention it’s the reason I’m still enjoying this race.

    The racing happens once Pog is off and gone!

    • I’m not losing focus of the GC battle that’s shaping up behind, at all. The only problem is, there is no battle they just ride their old man Fondo way until Rome

  4. The paragraph about the time cut sent me to look up who the 4 riders were who would have been elliminated under a tighter time cut. I was expecting it to be 4 sprinter types but the penultimate finisher was Andrea Piccolo, who I thought was a reasonably good climber. Has anyone seen any explanation for why he was so near the back yesterday? Has he had a crash recently?

    • I should have listened to the latest Watts Occurring podcast before posting the above question, as that has answered it for me. It sounds like Piccolo did way too much attempted attacking at the start of the stage so presumably was knackered later on.

  5. Does anyone know what Calmejane was going on about during the last stage? It was entertaining to watch but I’ve no idea what it was all about!

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