Tuesday sees the second and longer of the Giro’s two time trials. This sets the table for the last three days in the mountains and will go a long way to clearing up who’ll be in pink on Sunday.
Slightly rolling, but definitely not a climbing time trial, in other words. There’s a few bends – see below for a technical finish – so there will be some advantage in acceleration as well as pure power, but this is a typical grand tour time trial. You won’t see bike changes or anything else to swing this away from the chrono men.
The key statistic is length – at 34.2km, this won’t produce huge gaps, but it is definitely far enough to matter. For comparison, the longest time trials at the grand tours last year were 40km (Giro), 22km (Tour) and 40km (Vuelta). So we’re in the typical range.
There’s rain forecast, though not much wind. That probably plays to the strengths of the specialists, who’ll be more confident manoeuvring their chrono rigs on slippery streets.
Did You Know?
Don’t be fooled by the flat roads – we’re still deep in Trentino here, and surrounded by mountains. The backdrop for all this pain will be spectacularly pretty. For those of you, like me, who always have one eye on the next meal, this is an interesting bit of sort-of-Italy.
That’s not fair – Trentino is deeply Italian, but in the cuisine you can see the Germanic roots that are also present in the languages and dialects of the region. For me, that mostly means great cheese, cured meats, cakes, and of course Schlutzkrapfen. Mmm.. schlutzkrapfen. Don’t be fooled by the less than delicate name – these are properly yummy little parcels of goodness. If you can’t find a restaurant making them, have a go yourself. Thank me later.
Whom Does the Stage Favor?
Well, the time-triallists. Duh. The ITT rainbows are worn by Tom Dumoulin this year. You might have heard, he’s second in the Giro overall and needs to put some time into Simon Yates. How much? I don’t know. Anywhere between 2 and 5 minutes keeps things interesting for the final week. That’s probably about where it will come out, pleasingly.
The other time trial specialist in the top ten is Chris Froome, for whom form is the only question, but I’d expect him to claw back some of the time he lost on Sunday. Lurking just outside the top ten is Rohan Dennis, who can leapfrog some of those ahead of him with a good showing.
There are plenty of engines back in the field, too, who might just pop up and grab the stage win. Among the early starters, keep an eye on Tony Martin, Vasil Kiryenka and last year’s ITT winner Jos van Emden. The breakthrough stars? Max Schachmann and Ryan Mullen have a serious future in this discipline.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though, this is all about the top placings. A quick run-through of the form for the top GC men:
Never had stakes like this so expect overperformance. Not a specialist but won’t embarrass himself. Can stay close to Dumoulin in the overall even if he cedes pink.
Useful comparison: Marseille TT at the 2017 Tour (23km). 32nd, 1.34 back.
Jerusalem ITT: 7th, losing twenty seconds (9.7km).
The best time triallist we’ve seen since the glory days of Cance and Martin. Current world champion, hungry and needs to take time off Yates. The man to beat.
Useful comparison: First TT at the 2017 Giro. Won by 49 seconds from Geraint Thomas over 40km of more rolling terrain than we’ll see this time.
Jerusalem ITT: Won it.
Nine second gap to Pinot won’t be enough but needs to stay close enough to reclaim a podium in the mountains. Diminutive climber is way out of his comfort zone, but isn’t entirely incompetent.
Useful comparison: His best ever GT was the 2014 Giro. In the main TT that year he finished 9th, losing just over 2 minutes to Uran. That was hillier, though.
Jerusalem ITT: A surprising 10th, losing 27 seconds.
Has moved from pure climber to stage racer with a hugely improved time trial in recent years. French national champ in 2016.
Useful comparison: Was competitive in last year’s Giro but was 2.49 back on, and in 19th, in that same ITT. Interestingly, was 25 seconds ahead of Pozzovivo that day. A hillier but longer course than this year’s.
Jerusalem ITT: 16th and 33 seconds back.
Miguel Angel Lopez:
Has shown the occasional spark, such as beating Cancellara in the 2016 Tour de Suisse (a short time-trial, but flat), but is far from specialist and has on occasion lost buckets of time. Looks to have the engine for it but not consistent.
Useful comparison: Not much history of competing in GTs, so we have to look at the 2017 Vuelta. He was 6th before and after the stage 16, 40km ITT there, but lost plenty of time, finishing 22nd and 2.34 back on Froome.
Jerusalem ITT: 61st, 56 seconds back. Not good, but he has clearly improved his form since that snake-bitten first week. Won’t be high on confidence today.
This is his first time competing seriously for the overall in a grand tour, so we don’t know. Has exceeded expectations thus far but neither his results nor his physique inspire confidence for this sort of discipline. We shall see what he can do. Lopez, not the podium, is the target.
Useful comparison: There isn’t much. He was back in 34th and saving his legs in last year’s Vuelta, when he finished 99th, giving up 5.45 to Froome and 3.11 to Lopez. Has yet to be close enough to really give us any useful data.
Jerusalem ITT: 71st and 1.01 back. Not encouraging.
AmyBC’s Wine of the Day
Wine: Weingut Carlotto Lagrein
I really, really liked this wine.
From the importer:
Feruccio Carlotto and his daughter Michela farm a tiny estate of several hectares in the Alto-Adige town of Ora, south of Bolzano. The special of this village is Lagrein, a red grape that is native to the region, and these folks have it down. They chose to produce only one Lagrein Riserva that is aged in large oak casks. The vines are planted in a complex mélange of soil types dominated by igneous porphyry rock and complemented by limestone subsoil and a wide range of alluvial sediments and stones deposited here over millennia. You have never tasted Lagrein with this much finesse. It is a powerhouse of a wine with a very light touch—inky black, loaded with fruit, with a distinctive personality, and silky tannins
Pick to Win
I’m tempted to get cute and go with Vasil Kiryenka, but the bigs just haven’t been giving stages away this year. Unless the weather throws us towards the early starters (and there’s no reason to think it will) then this goes to the best time triallist in the race, and the one who needs it the most. In another unimaginative pick, I’ll take Tom Dumoulin.