There’s one stage between a huge mountaintop finish and a critical time trial, and it leads into a rest day. So it’ll be gentle stage with a chance for the GC boys to sit back, right? Well, the Giro didn’t get the memo.
What’s It About?
There’s nothing on the slate for Sunday that will match Il Zonko, but that’s too much to hope for. There is, though, climbing a-plenty, with three cat 2 climbs and a cat 3, to say nothing of an uphill finish. The three climbs crammed into the last 40km will make taking a day off impossible for anyone with aspirations of glory in Rome.
You know, if these cyclists ever looked at these maps, they could save themselves a lot of trouble. There’s a much quicker way from Tolmezzo to Sappada.
The route they’ve chosen is very rarely flat, though none of the climbs are especially challenging. Will’s invaluable preview tells us that the toughest, on ranking, is Passo di Sant’Antonio, which is the 12th toughest of the Giro. What will hurt is the accumulation of climbing, the back-loading of the climbs into the end of the stage and, of course, the residual impact of Saturday in the riders’ legs.
Here are the Three Crosses Pass (or possibly the Extremely Crotchy Pass, which is something I’ve seen done in pubs) and St Anthony’s Pass, the first pair of cat 2 climbs:
Not easy, but nothing especially unusual in there. The latter is tougher than the former, and has less time to recover after it, so I’d expect it to prove a more effective springboard. The third cat two is the Costalissoio (I’m looking forward to hearing Carlton say that repeatedly) which is being used in the Giro for the first time. It is a different beast, shorter and steeper, and the first 2.5km at more than 10% will doubtless cause separation. Not a scientific or informed view, but from looking at the stage profile as an armchair fan, I’m expecting this to be a fun climb.
The finish in Sappada isn’t quite a true mountaintop finish, but the profile tells a story of a tough finale – the final 2km are flat enough but leading into that there is a lengthy enough section at over 6% where additional separation could happen. We have to assume that the field will be pretty broken up before that so you could see some tired and isolated riders suffering.
Did You Know?
This stage will see the riders heading through Cortina d’Ampezza, site of the 1956 Winter Olympics and one of the hubs of the Dolomites. As you’d expect, this is a town that’s seen plenty of Giri, and it was the finish for one of the key stages of the 2012 Giro. Looking at the profile, you can see just how many big climbs are scattered around this region, and how much harder the 2018 stage could have been.
2012’s race, of course, was a battle between the all-rounder having the race of his life (Hesjedal) and the climber-with-a-TT-deficiency (Rodriguez). Without an obvious favourite (Contador, Nibali et al were absent) this had been a wide-open race and the consensus was that Rodriguez, leading the GC by thirty seconds and with a time trial to come, needed to extend his lead.
That didn’t happen, and Hesjedal hung on with the elite group that contested the stage. Although Rodriguez won the stage, he’d lose the overall by 16 seconds, because he couldn’t carve out a larger gap in the mountains. Yates is no slouch on a chrono bike, but with Dumoulin lurking, will he be thinking similar thoughts to J-Rod this year?
- 1 Joaquim Rodríguez (ESP) Team Katusha 5h 24’ 42”
- Ivan Basso (ITA) Liquigas–Cannondale s.t.
- Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) Garmin–Barracuda s.t.
- Rigoberto Urán (COL) Team Sky s.t.
- Michele Scarponi (ITA) Lampre–ISD s.t.
- Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) Colnago–CSF Bardiani + 2”
- Beñat Intxausti (ESP) Movistar Team + 1’ 22”
- Daniel Moreno (ESP) Team Katusha + 1’ 22”
- Thomas De Gendt (BEL) Vacansoleil–DCM + 1’ 22”
- Johann Tschopp (SUI) BMC Racing Team + 1’ 22”
One of the riders from that top ten will be on the start-line this time around; Domenico Pozzovivo. Does that mean anything? No. I just thought you might be interested, that’s all.
Whom Does the Stage Favor?
This is one of those stages that is defined by its place in the race. The good news is, there’s a rest day coming up and riders may feel they can empty the tank. The bad news is, the rest day is followed by a critical time trial. The worse news is what happened on Saturday. We can’t know what is going on in anyone’s legs after the climb of Zoncolan, and the easiest answer to this question is simple; this stage tilts towards whoever wakes up feeling good. I just don’t know who that’ll be.
I do think there will be a break up the road, and I think that, with plenty of KoM points available, we’ll be seeing some familiar names in the group. Masnada, Ciccone and Berhane are all likely. Chaves? Well, stranger things have happened, though I think he’ll be likely to stick with his team leader. There are a few break specialists and guys on teams looking for some glory who are worth watching, too. Woods, de Marchi, maybe a veteran like Gesink, those sort of names. It’s going to be a big mountain stage break. You know the drill.
The bigs will doubtless be fighting for time and I can see the break’s advantage being whittled down, but I think they will stay clear. Within the group of contenders, it is likely to be the same names as we’ve seen in the preceding stages. There aren’t the sort of slopes to suit Yates’ late bursts, and he might be happy to sit in and live to fight another day - although that hasn’t been his style so far. Expect the likes of Lopez and Pozzovivo to try and take some time from Doom and Pinot ahead of the TT. I can’t see the gaps being huge, unless someone has a jours sans and is dropped early.
AmyBC’s Wine of the Day
Wine: Keber Collio
From the importer: Edi Keber, viticulturalist of Zegla in the area of Collio, a few meters from Brda, Slovenia, is one of the mavericks of this territory. The excellent quality of his wines runs parallel with the volcanic character of this farmer, dedicated to forging new ideas for the development and valorisation of his land. In the vineyard, the farm covers ten hectares of vineyards, all in Zegla, that thrive on the cold north bora winds and the breeze from the Adriatic Sea, all the while benefitting from ideal southern exposure.
Pick to Win
Someone who can climb, who might be in the break, and who could just about get away towards the end. That lowers it down to about 50% of the field. Let’s throw a name out from left field. Niklas Eg. Why not? He’ll start his rise to household-name status sometime soon, and I think it just might be here.