Stage 9: Chianti Classico stage, 40.5 km Timetrial
Here in bizarro world, the Giro is the race that offers the timetrial miles. Go figure.
What's It About?
The stage name "Chianti Classico Stage" should give you some hint as to who may be helping sponsor this stage. We are in the heart of Tuscany and the heart of Chianti winemaking which we no doubt will witness from the helicopter shots. Tuscany at this point is nearly a British tourist colony but it is so for a good reason This is the region that half our myths of Italian country life stem from after all. Indeed much of what we associate with Italy at all comes from Tuscany, Leonardo da Vinci for starters and along with him all the artists who enjoyed the patronage of the Medici family during the renaissance. There is no doubt this will be a timetrial worth watching even if the racing is deadly dull (it won't be) and with little or no timing info given on screen (highly likely).
The timetrial takes place only a stone's throw northwest of the Strade Bianche area but this doesn't mean we will see the timerialists subjected to any gravel roads. The hilly bit is very recognizable though. This will not be an easy TT by any means and not necessarily one that will benefit the heaviest specialists. Had Tony Martin been here I'm not entirely sure he would have been the top favorite. Both Tom Dumoulin and Fabian Cancellara feel like they should be more at home on these roads.
Not much flat in this but word is it is not hilly enough to create a dilemma between using TT or road bikes. 40 kms of this is going to be a challenge though for sure.
Riders to Watch
For starters lets establish that the stagewin should be a fight between Cancellara and Dumoulin, I can't imagine anyone else having any say here. If we hadn't seen Dumoulin falter today I would have said he had the edge over a still recovering Spartacus but now who knows. Fabian had the advantage of taking it easy on stage 8 and he took full advantage, coming in 18 minutes down. This feels like an evenly matched duel at this point.
More importantly this will be a decisive GC stage. Not counting Dumoulin the field here is stacked with decent but not top notch timetrialers and a few more questionable ones who will have to really pull off something extraordinary not to lose too much time to factor in the race.
On the list of competent TTers who are looking good at this point we find Valverde, Nibali, Zakarin, Uran, Kruijswijk and Fuglsang. These guys are probably all looking to tomorrow with some confidence. Who will do well is hard to pinpoint but Zakarin and Valverde certainly look more likely to take a bit of time on the others than they look to lose. Valverde is a bit irregular in his TTs but on this form and a podium at stake he should do well. Zakarin is more untested at this level but if there is any discernible pattern it is that he tends to struggle a bit more as the TTs get longer so maybe 40 km is on the outer limits of what he is comfortable at?
Nibali rarely falls through totally but also rarely impresses in TTs. A good guess is that he will be middle of the field, this is not the day he is going to win the Giro on in any event. I doubt we will count him among the losers when the day is over though.
For losers we might look at the other list. Landa, Chaves, Pozzovivo, Formolo and Hesjedal are all questionable TTers at times. Pozzovivo's flashes of brilliance aside these guys will all be on damage control duty tomorrow. Most eyes will of course be on Landa and on how much time he will lose. Presumably his new Sky team will have seen the Giro parcourse and done what they can to prepare him for tomorrow but how much good will it have done? On the other hand he "only" lost 4 minutes on the long TT at last years Giro. If he improves slightly on that I'm sure they will be all smiles in the Sky camp. Like Nibali, there will be other days for Landa to make up time if he can limit his losses
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Today's culinary suggestions from the region from AmyBC. You can check out her blog at Winebookgirl.
Wine: Monteraponi 13 Chianti Deep red in color. Violets and cherries on the nose. More delicate and structured than I expected. Smooth and very easy to drink. Fuller and richer as it opens up. On day two, showed more fruit, but still very balanced with enough acid to provide balance.
Food: Char-grilled meat they said on the Giro site. So we have beef tenderloin wrapped in pancetta. Because Thistle Meats had it at the market.
Pick to Win:
Fabian Cancellara. Missed his chance at pink but I doubt he misses his chance to walk away from the race with a win. Dumoulin fights valiantly but has to succumb to Cancellara's superior power on the descents.