Giro Stage 20: Guillestre – Saint’Anna di Vinadio

*I apologise in advance if this preview seems more rushed than normal. I’m very hungover and also have to pack as I’m moving out of my flat tomorrow*

Today’s Recap

My oh my, what an exciting stage!

A real shame for Kruijswijk who loses the Maglia Rosa lead after falling on the descent over the Colle Dell’Agnello. Apparently he’s a bit bashed up, sore ribs etc but will carry on tomorrow. If he’s as sore as he says then he’ll be looking behind, protecting his podium spot, rather than ahead of him.

Unfortunately, Zakarin had to abandon after a bad crash on the same descent. It’s a suspected broken collarbone, nothing too serious. It says a lot for the strength of these guys that a broken collarbone is regarded as a minor injury.

Back at the business end of the race, Nibali dropped Chaves on the final climb and rode away to a superb solo win, destroying the field and setting up a very exciting final day tomorrow. A lot of people will argue that it was bad etiquette that Nibali pushed on after Kruijswijk’s fall. However, in my opinion he was perfectly fine to do so. It was Kruijswijk’s own fault that he crashed, it wasn’t a mechanical or someone else bringing him down. That’s just the unfortunate side of bike racing.


Chaves a.k.a the Smiling Assassin (very apt after today, going in for the kill after Kruijswijk’s misfortunes) moves into the leaders jersey ahead of Nibali. Leaving the GC looking like this going into the final proper day.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 18.03.32

The Route

All guns blazing from the start, and a very tough day to finish the GC battle with. At only 134km long, it’s going to be fast and furious. Some riders will be very concerned about time limits.


The climbing action starts straight away with the Col de Vars. 18.2km long at an average gradient of 6%, max gradients of 13%. I hope the riders have eaten their Weetabix in the morning!


Next on the menu is the famous Col de la Bonette. At 22.2km long with an average gradient of 6.7% (max 10%) it’s a proper Alpine climb and energy sapper. One that Vincenzo Nibali will love.


The final Cat-1 climb of the day comes with just under 30km, the Colle Della Lombarda. Another brute of a climb at 19.8km in length and an average gradient of 7.6% (max of 12%), we’re bound to see splits here, especially if there has been no action on the previous climbs.


Once over the summit, the riders face a fast descent, before a final kicker up to the line.


It may well be that the winner of this stage wins the Giro.

Who are the stage contenders?

The last mountain stage of a Grand Tour often lends itself to a breakaway win, but there is no chance that is happening tomorrow. With the profile climbing from Km 0, all hell is going to break loose, with Astana trying their best to put Chaves into difficulty.

I can’t see who would be given freedom. Those 10 bonus seconds on the line could be the difference between the top 2 on the podium.

Chaves has looked so strong going uphill this race, but faltered a little today. He was made to do a lot of the work by Nibali and others throughout the race. Maybe that took it out of him at the end? He won’t go down without a fight tomorrow.

Whereas Nibali has remarkably came back from the doldrums and now looks the strongest in the race. Is he strong enough to put the required time into the Colombian?

As for the others, I don’t think Kruijswijk will recover for tomorrow unfortunately, and Valverde and Majka can’t match the top 2.

If we somehow do get a break, look to those who’ve been active so far. Potentially Ulissi and Nieve again, with the young American Dombrowski being a strong break candidate as well.


As I’ve expressed above, I can’t see past a GC winner for this stage. Going off of recent form (i.e. today) I can’t see past Nibali. The Shark will smell blood and take back-to-back stage wins!


The big question remains, will he take the GC too?! I can’t call it, it’s going to very close!


Keep your money in your pocket and just enjoy the race!


Again, apologies for the shorter preview. I don’t really have much to say for this stage, and as expressed above, I’m not feeling too jolly/need to pack. I should be back with a more flowery and wordy preview on Saturday night. Although that will be late as Saturday evening will be family time, so I probably won’t have it out until 11pm GMT. Hope you all enjoyed today’s stage, we should be in for more of the same tomorrow! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.





Giro Stage 18: Muggiò – Pinerolo

Today’s Recap

Nailed on sprint they said?!

Roger Kluge had a different idea, escaping excellently within the final kilometre to steal the win from the sprinters. He followed after Pozzato attacked just before him. I have to say, the rider from Willier did a great job on the front once Pozzato attacked. He kind of veered across the road and blocked the sprint trains into the final corner. This disorganised them and Modolo and Nizzolo were left without any team-mates. Katusha attempted to bring it back but it was too late. Kluge had caught and dropped Pozzato. He even had enough time to free-wheel and celebrate at the end!


A day before leaving from Muggiò the two main Italian sprinters get mugged off. Not as poetic as The Snail winning a day after National Escargot Day but it will do!

I have to say, I was surprised at the size of the breakaway, I thought that it would have been larger. Was disappointed Lampre weren’t gutsy and tried to get someone in it, but from very early on it was clear that both they and Trek were happy to duke it out for the sprint/stage win.

Lampre leave the stage empty-handed in that sense, but also in the Maglia Rossa competition as Nizzolo won (behind the break) both the Int Sprints and then finished 2nd on the stage, increasing his points lead even more ahead of Ulissi. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nizzolo try to go in the break tomorrow to secure some more points.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 17.54.40
Maglia Rossa classification after today’s stage

The Route

The longest stage of the race in the final week of a Grand Tour, before the two tough mountain stages. The Giro organisers are cruel!


A very flat opening to the stage. This is one to tune into for the last 50km.

Although the fight to get in the break will be incredible and no doubt we’ll see a very fast opening to the race.

The race really kicks off with the climb up Pramartino (4.7km long, 10.6% average gradient, a crazy 17% max). This will decimate whoever is up front from the break away and I can imagine we’ll only see a group of 3 at most left cresting this climb together. Behind we could well possibly see some GC fireworks but with two big days ahead, and with Kruijswijk looking so strong, I don’t think so.

So after this it appears like a nice easy run in to the finish, or so I thought! The profile is once again deceptive (classically Italian) and in the final 3km there is a big old wall.

Final 3km run in
Aforementioned big old wall.

At 500m in length and averaging 13.2% in gradient, with a section topping out at 20%, this will decimate what’s left of the break. And it will be every man for themselves and only the strongest will crest it at the front. Once over, they’ll have a steep descent before a section of flat and the run in to the line.

Weather Watch

Looks set to be another nice day out on the bike for the riders, with very little chance of rain.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 18.18.41
Forecast for Pinerolo

How will the stage pan out?

Break. 100%.

If Valverde hadn’t won the stage the other day, then this possibly could have been held together for a GC battle royale, but they’ll instead keep their powder dry for Friday and Saturday.

As I said above, the fight to get in the break won’t be easy because a lot of the teams will want to be represented. Furthermore, we’ll inevitably see a good mix of riders make the break due to the terrain we start in. The strong rouleurs are more likely to make the break because of the flat start, in comparison to the punchier climbers who could actually win the stage.

Break Contenders

Much like in earlier previews, look to those who are attacking and far down on GC. There are lots of them! Again, like other previews I’m just going to select a few riders who could give it a go and look at them in-depth. This time, I’m going to go for 4 riders!

First up is;

Michele Scarponi. In what is potentially his last season in the professional peloton (he’s out of contract at the end of the year), he might well be let off the reigns here. Arguably one of the riders of the race so far, he’s been incredibly strong in support of Nibali. However, his leader has faltered and Astana may look to the Italian veteran to get them something out of the race. He’s far enough down on GC and is definitely climbing well enough to get rid of his breakaway companions on the climbs. He’ll be a serious threat if he makes the break. If not him, Astana might turn to Kangert.


Francesco Bongiorno could be another breakaway contender. He finished 3rd on a stage at the Giro back in 2014, up the famous Monte Zoncalon (Stage 20). Last year he managed to finish 2nd on Stage 18, will he continue his progression this year and finish on the top step? He hasn’t really done anything of note this Giro, or season in fact. But he is always one who will give it a go on the tough climbs.

Bongiorno’s hair resembling the nature of the final climb

Alexander Foliforov. Already a stage winner here, the young and talented Russian promised  that we’ll see more from him this race. Could tomorrow be that day? A stage like this very much resembles a cronoescalata, with only two short climbs to negotiate. It looks like an ideal stage for him to motor away on the steep ramps of the two climbs, just like he did in the time trial. If he has the same form as he did that day, no one will see him again until the finish line!

Will we see this man on the podium again?

The final rider is another who’s also already won a stage this Giro: Giulio Ciccone. Another Bardiani rider, they’re sure to have numbers in the break. Ciccone as was proven on Stage 10 is an incredibly talented climber and not a bad descender. Two key attributes if you want to win this stage. If he’s recovering well from the build of fatigue, then he will be a real danger-man if he gets in the break.

All of these riders of course will require some luck to get into the break of the day, as per usual. It’ll be interesting to see the mix of riders we get up the road. I expect Ulissi probably to give it a go, as this stage looks very good for him and Nizzolo will try to follow him to take the sprint points at the TVs.


I’m sure we get a break win tomorrow, with Ulissi being the obvious candidate. However, as you may have gathered by now, I don’t like going for the clear favourite so instead I’m going to go with the old Italian veteran, Scarponi. I hope Astana (and the peloton) let him go up the road and with Frankie cheering him on from him, he’ll steal the win!


Maybe he’ll be nicknamed “Il pirata” afterwards, all he’ll need is an eyepatch!


Another day for smallish stakes. 0.25pt WIN on those I’ve mentioned.

*At the time of writing, only PaddyPower have prices up so the blog will be based off of them. Like usual, shop around later and you might get a better price!*

Scarponi @66/1

Foliforov @66/1

Bongiorno @90/1

Ciccone @90/1


Hope you enjoyed this preview, hopefully one of the guys above makes it into the break. Otherwise, it will be a very dull stage. Make sure you tune in for those final 50km, they’re at least going to be exciting. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth






Giro Stage 17: Molveno – Cassano d’Adda

Today’s Route

Well, the idea of a breakaway succeeding was quickly thrown out the window and we got some more GC fireworks on today’s stage. It looked for a while that Chaves was going to be the major loser, with the race splitting massively on the first climb and the young Colombian being left in the second group on the road. However, it ended up being Nibali who was the main loser as those in the front group rode away from him, and Chaves who came up from behind, dropped him too. Up ahead, Valverde took a good win, meaning he now has stage victories in all of the Grand Tours. Kruijswijk was second and Zakarin 3rd.


Annoyingly all three of the riders I mentioned in the preview were up the road at some point. Boswell was apparently in a big move at the start of the day that was brought back by Nippo. (Here’s a link to an interview with him post stage.)

Kudus escaped briefly along with Pirazzi and one other rider I can’t remember just at the bottom of the first climb of the day. They were quickly brought to heel as well.

And of course Dombrowski had made it into the elite group of 10 who had escaped up the road. Then he lost contact with the group on the flat. Some people are speculating that it was team orders, but it looked to me as if he’d taken a big turn at the front swung over and nobody came through. At this point there was a slight gap between the first five in the group and the second five. After Dombrowski had swung off to the side of the road I think he was caught napping and the remaining four powered away to catch up with those in-front. However, that’s all speculation/my opinion, so I guess we’ll have to wait for a press release from Cannondale to see exactly what happened.

Anyway, onto tomorrow’s stage!

The Route

Bit lumpy then very flat!


Nothing much to discuss here, with only one cat-4 climb on the route and that shouldn’t cause the peloton any difficulty. Cunego will be looking forward to a day where he can have a rest and not try to get in the breakaway.

The actual finish isn’t that difficult either. The organisers have been kind to the peloton/sprinters here.


So a nailed-on sprint then?

Well you’d assume so. Both Modolo and Nizzolo haven’t won a stage yet and will be keen to get one in the bag before the final stage in Turin. Their main rivals have all went away, leaving them as easily the fastest sprinters here. There are some other teams with second-rate sprint options but they don’t compare to the two Italians.

A two-horse race then.


Team Tactics

If there were more top-tier sprinters here then it’s a sprint day guaranteed. However, with there only being the two, other teams aren’t going to work to help bring the break back. In fact, the best move for them is to get a rider in the break, so that they can save themselves for the finale.

Lampre only have 8 riders, but they won’t use up Ulissi or Ferrari for the chase. Minus Modolo, they only have 5 left and they’re not exactly the strongest rouleurs in the World, they’re much more suited to hilly routes. Plus, we’ve seen Lampre cock-up a situation like this before (Final stage at the Giro last year).

Giro d'Italia 2015

Trek only have 6 riders, but again they won’t use up Alafaci (who I assume will be doing lead-out duties with BVP gone). Leaving them 4 riders to commit to a chase. They have stronger riders on the flat but will be shouldered with more of the work due to Lampre’s incompetences and the fact Nizzolo is the faster of the two.

Other teams are supposedly targeting the sprints, Dimension Data and Giant Alpecin namely. But as I said above, I don’t see them contributing to a chase when they’re really fighting for third place. Unless of course they miss the break of the day and get made to work on the front.

The real interesting team tactic for me though is how Lampre are approaching the Maglia Rossa competition.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 18.51.05
Current top 10 of the Maglia Rossa

After today’s stage, Ulissi has moved within striking distance of Nizzolo. Modolo really seems out of the picture and would need to win tomorrow and in Turin, hoping that Nizzolo does terribly in both sprints. I get the impression that all of Lampre’s eggs are in Ulissi’s basket. Ulissi I can envisage going on to win the stage into Pinerolo which would gain him some more points but with the points being weighted towards the sprint stages, he would need Nizzolo not to score any tomorrow. (Or very few).

Now, Ulissi could go in the break and try to take the 40 points on offer at the intermediate sprints, but that would be foolish. Doing so would mean Trek definitely would chase the break down, resulting in a sprint of some sort at the end and more points for Nizzolo. What Lampre really need to do is get someone in the BOTD and not chase, hoping that the likes of DD and Giant get someone in there too. Leaving all the onus on Trek to do the work. It’s a risky tactic, but after a tough, all guns blazing day like today, then it might just come off. The only thing with this approach is that Modolo has to be on side 100% and I think he will be. Sacrificing his own personal ambitions for the good of the team. Sprinters aren’t all that selfish, are they?

What does this all mean?

On a day where most will say sprint, I’m going to be my usual bold self and say a break makes it. (Because hey, it’s definitely worked so far this Giro…! 😂 😂 😂).

As said above, there will be too many teams that don’t want Modolo and Nizzolo dragged to the line as their rider will be sprinting for third. They’ll have a much better chance of the win from the break. Plus, with Lampre (and Ulissi’s) eyes fixed firmly on the Maglia Rossa they won’t want to gift Nizzolo 50 or 40 points.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 19.24.54


If it’s hard enough predicting who’ll get in a break on a mountain stage, it’s nigh on impossible picking someone on a flat day with any confidence. The wild-card teams will feature, along with those who don’t have a stage yet. The IAM boys will be keen to get in the break to show their worth to new employers. Any Italian will fancy their chances. The list is endless. Well, once you go through all the riders I suppose it ends, but I digress…

I’m going to choose my rider, purely for the poetic nature of it all.

On National Escargot Day, Van Zyl never managed to get in the break. Like all snails, he’s a bit slow to the party and will make the break a day late, taking a most unlikely, but memorable victory.


Let’s just hope he’s not feeling sluggish after today…



I can’t really advise bets for a stage like this. It should really be a no bet day, unless you want to back some breakaway candidates. I’ll probably have a look at the exchanges and see if I can get some riders at 500 or 600/1 + for fun.

But for a bit of blog fun, we’ll go with the man who’s (100%, no doubt about it, positively) going to win the stage.

0.1pt on Van Zyl @200/1 PP.


Hope you enjoyed the racing today, because we could be in for a bit of a snooze fest tomorrow. As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Giro stage 16: Bressanone – Brixen Andalo

Rest-day Recap

Well, lets start of with stage 15 and a very unexpected winner: Alexander Foliforov. I did not see that coming! Although from early on, it looked like his time was a good one and we saw GC rider after GC rider fail to beat it. Kruijswijk came agonisingly close, losing out by under a second.


Our man Chaves finished in 6th, not good enough for a winner, but good enough to move him up to 2nd on GC. Nibali seemed to be struggling and also had mechanical problems, costing him even more time, dropping him down to 3rd on GC.

I’m not going to slander or accuse Foliforov here, I’ll let the young man enjoy his win and if something gets revealed later then…


The TT leaves the GC in a position I don’t think many expected going into the final week. Kruijswijk first with a healthy lead over Chaves and Nibali. It will be interesting to see how his LottoJumbo team manages. They don’t have the star riders that Astana or Movistar have, with Roglic and Battaglin as his two main support riders. So I fear that Kruijswijk could become isolated quite quickly in some of the stages. However, he’s been in that situation all Giro and coped okay until now, but it is a different task having to do all the chasing by yourself!

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 13.30.59
Top 20 on GC after the TT

The final week, especially the latter stages, should be very exciting as everyone has to try to gain back time, therefore we should see some attacking riding. Some co-operation between those behind to isolate Krujswijk will no doubt happen.

Before we get to that point, let’s talk about tomorrow’s stage.

The Route

After the rest-day the riders will be greeted with a stage profile that they’ll look at with trepidation. At only 132km long and categorised as 3-star in difficulty it doesn’t, on paper at least, appear too bad.

Stage Profile


However, it will no doubt be a very fast day as a lot of the riders will want to get in the break because that seems the most likely outcome for a stage winner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the break finally get away after the 50km mark. That is of course unless everyone is tired from the past few days and a group gets away early. LottoJumbo would love that!

Furthermore, as I said after the last rest-day, the riders won’t know how their bodies will react. Landa was the major casualty of a rest-day bug that he picked up!

Anyway, onto the actual route itself.

The first climb, Passo della Mendola is 14.8km long averaging 6.6% with a 10% max ramp.


This climb isn’t too tough for the riders, but if the GC guys decide to try to isolate Kruijswijk early then we could be in for some major rider implosions. However, I think we’ll more than likely see our BOTD build up a substantial lead here.

After Mendelpass we get a long, slightly lumpy, descent before reaching the penultimate climb of the day: Fai della Paganella.


Another Cat-2, but this one is a lot more testy. Officially, it is 10.2km long averaging 7.4%, with a max ramp of 15%. However, the average gradient is a bit skewed because of a false flat section that we have for around 1.5km. Therefore, the average gradient on the first part of the climb is closer to 8%. That steep ramp at the end could be a launchpad for some late attacks.

Once over the climb we have a fast descent before the final kick up to the line.


“The final 10 km are clearly divided into two halves: first a fast-running descent (4 km) on wide roads with sharp downhill gradients, then a mild climb (6 km), growing steeper, up to 2 km from the finish. Next comes a false-flat uphill drag. The finish line lies on an 80-m long and 7.0-m wide asphalt home stretch, running gently uphill.” (Road Book extract)

If there is a group of riders together by this point, expect attacks on the final climb. Unless of course if someone is confident of their sprinting ability then they’ll sit in and follow the moves.

How will the stage pan out?

As I’ve said above, I think this stage lends itself to a breakaway. Well, I’m 90% sure it does. The reason for this is that the climbs aren’t too tough for the GC guys to make any differences so I think they’ll keep their powder-dry for later stages.

However, there is a small chance that they go full-gas to isolate Kruijswijk, but I don’t see it. Or, the likes of Movistar and Lampre try to keep the race together in the hope that Valverde and Ulissi can sprint for the win, with a finish that looks to suit them.

Who are the breakaway contenders?

As said in earlier previews, the contenders have to be strong climbers if they want to win. Furthermore, they can’t be too close on GC. We now get into the stage of the race where riders and teams get very protective of their top 10 on GC. With the way the GC is set up, there is a big gap between 12th place (Uran – 8’19 behind) and 13th place (Visconti – 16’31), so it is unlikely we’ll see the likes of Dimension Data chasing if Visconti or Pirazzi get away. However, if the gap to the break gets too high then they’ll have to!

Like before, I’m not going to list all of the options for a break as I could be here for a long time! Instead, I’m going to highlight 3 riders who might give it a go.

  • Joe Dombrowski. –  Uran’s lieutenant could be given the freedom to go in the break here, with the stage not set to be a GC battle and with Uran going in the wrong direction in terms of the classification. Dombrowski seems to be riding into the race very well and put in a good performance in the TT, finishing 8th. He was one of the fastest up the Passo Giau according to Strava on stage 14, so is clearly going well. Furthermore, he is known to be one of the biggest engines in the peloton in terms of numbers and watts that he can put out. That’s why Team Sky signed him up back in 2013. However, he didn’t fit into their style of riding so has ended up at the more quirky Cannondale, where he slowly seems to be finding his feet. If he makes the break then he’s a very dangerous candidate.


  • Ian Boswell. – Another American who could go well in tomorrow’s stage. I’ve highlighted him for the break in a preview earlier in the race but he didn’t manage to get into the break that day. Like Dombrowski, he put in a solid TT, finishing 15th overall so he has some form. He’s not been active at all with his highest finishing position on a stage (aside from the TT) being 44th on stage 4. Saving energy for later in the race? I think the TT was a test of his form and he’ll be happy with the result he achieved and will be confident going into this week. Finishing 3rd in a Vuelta stage from a breakaway last year (behind Landa and Aru), highlights that he has the abilities to go well here.


And finally, my favourite of the three picks (purely for its reasoning)…

  • Merhawi Kudus. – The young Eritrean has been touted for great things in the future by his team Dimension Data. He finished 6th on the Green Mountain back at the start of the season and in 2014 he came 2nd on GC at the Tour of Langkawi beating a certain Esteban Chaves (4th) and Steven Kruijswijk (7th). Clearly, he is a very talented cyclist. Like those listed above, he’s failed to excite anyone at this Giro sitting 44th on GC, over an hour down on Kruijswijk. Saving energy maybe? What for, you say?

Well, do you remember what happened on Mandela Day at the Tour last year?…

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 14.44.06

Could his soft-pedalling at the Giro all be a ruse, so that he can make it in the break tomorrow? I hope so and no doubt the Eritrean cycling fans would love that too!

Special mention must go to Johan Van Zyl or “The Snail” as he’s otherwise known. The 24th of May is also National Escargot Day so he, as a breakaway expert, might find himself in the break. Although I fear that the climbs will be too tough for him to hold on and take a win.


As I said above, I think tomorrow is a breakaway day!

We’ll see a hotly contested battle from the majority of the peloton to try to get into the move that stays away. This involves a certain element of luck,but persistence also pays off.

After dissuading myself from backing Dumoulin at the start of the Giro because everything would be “too Disney”, I’m making a complete U-turn on that principle (mainly because I’m in a good mood) and we’ll get our Eritrean winner on Eritrean Independence day. Merhawi Kudus takes the stage, and everyone lives happily ever after…



A day not to get overly involved with, pick a few breakaway lottery selections for fun. I’m just going for the 3 I’ve mentioned above.

Dombrowski 0.3pts @66/1 with PP. I’d take the 50 available at Coral. (He is also available at 40s on the Betfair Exchange – that’s as low as I’d go)

Boswell 0.3pts @100/1 with PP. I’d take the 50-66/1 available with others.

Kudus 0.1pts @150/1 with PP or 125/1 with B365. This price was only available when I tweeted it out, but I’m including it because I tweeted it out. I would still put a little stake on him at 66/1 you can get with Betfair Sportsbook.

You might find that these guys will be priced more favourable on the BF Exchange so keep your eyes peeled.

I’ll probably tweet something out in-play if none of the above make it into the break. After all, in-play is King.


Hope you enjoyed this preview. It was a bit more long-winded this time but that’s because I felt I had more to say. Again, any RTs, Likes, or general discussion Twitter would be great. I hope we get an entertaining stage tomorrow! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Giro stage 15: Castelrotto – Alpe di Siusi

Today’s Recap

Well, that turned out to be an incredibly exciting stage in the end! For long periods of time I thought it was going to be another defensive race from the favourites and it looked like it was going to be a bore-fest. That was until we hit the brutal Passo Giau. Astana took over from Movistar and set a blistering tempo, shelling riders out the back. Amador lost contact but regained it on the descent.

On the next (and final) climb once Scarponi had finished his job, Nibali attacked. The GC favourites followed, apart from Amador and Valverde who were both dropped. A couple of counter-attacks later saw Kruijswijk, Nibali and Chaves clear. They worked well for a bit, but Kruijswijk soon attacked again and only Chaves could follow. Those two powered away on the climb (although Nibali did well to stay close-ish), and caught up with 2nd and 3rd on the road at the summit. A frantic descent and flat chase saw them catch lone escapee Atapuma in the final 3km. Preidler took up the sprint from far out, but Chaves (and Kruijswijk) came round him in the final 150m to take the win. The smiling assassin strikes again.


Nibali put in a great descent and effort on the flat to only lose 37 seconds on the stage, the rest of the GC guys were at least 2mins 30secs down. So it leaves the GC looking like this going into a crucial stage tomorrow:

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 17.59.39

The Route

Three words every cycling fan loves to here and I’m sure three words that the majority of cyclists despise: Mountain Time Trial.

A mountain TT returns to the Giro after a years absence, last featuring in the race back in 2014, when Quintana won the climb, and probably the Strava to boot, up to Cima Grappa.

The organisers have been kinder this year, as it’s not as tough as Cima Grappa, but it is still a grippy test for the riders.

Whole route profile
The climb proper – after the intermediate time check

“The stage is an uphill individual time trial. After a first false-flat drag (1,800 m), the route climbs steadily over the next 9 km, with an average 8.3% gradient. The road is wide and well paved. Straight stretches alternate with hairpins having a high bend radius. Split time is taken at km 4.4.” (Road book extract)

As you can see, the climb starts off relatively mundanely until we reach the intermediate check point. Hereafter, it averages 8.6% for 6.4km. Not the most difficult climb, but it will be a challenge after today’s GC fireworks!

Weather Watch

A sunny glorious day, everyone should get the same conditions.

The only concern might be the wind, but it appears that it’s coming from the same direction and the speed doesn’t change much throughout the afternoon.

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Who are the stage contenders?

One thing to consider is if anyone will actually use a TT bike. It was worth it back in 2014 because there was a longer flat section before the climb started, so the riders changed bikes after the first time checkpoint (before the start of the climb). Considering there is only 1.8km of false flat here, I doubt we’ll see anyone use one. Therefore, this eliminates the advantage that some riders would have had by riding better TT machines.

I wouldScreen Shot 2016-05-21 at 18.38.10 not be surprised to see the top 3 on GC be the top 3 on the stage tomorrow. It looks like the bookies think the same, with Paddy Power pricing them up as follows (image on the left). I can’t fault their logic either. I’m struggling really to think who will challenge the top 3.

Majka maybe? He was the one closest to following them on the final climb and he can put in a solid TT.

Zakarin? Was flying in the rolling TT, but has looked out of sorts since his crash during it. He was with Majka today.

Uran was following with Zakarin but then went pop too. Nothing convinces me he’ll challenge here.

Valverde and Amador? I wouldn’t dare go near them after their implosion today.

Jungels? This TT is a different kettle of fish to the one he went to so well in, earlier in this race. If this was a one-week race he could maybe compete. But he finished 6mins+ down today, so I think he’s burnt out a bit.

Henao did an okay performance back in 2014, finishing 8th on that stage. A top 5 would be a good result.

Of the non-GC guys who could go best? Nieve and Roglic on paper probably look the best. Nieve has looked very solid on the climbs. He finished 3’52 down today, offering his support to Sebastian Henao and his efforts for the Youth Jersey.

Roglic: 2nd in the first TT, 1st in the 2nd TT, can he do a repeat performance here? He was going well on the steep climbs earlier in the year and has obviously proved during this race that he can TT. Only concern is that he went down the other day and hasn’t seemed as strong since.


The other big concern with backing non-GC guys on a day like this is that they might not give it 100%, and just take it as another “rest-day”. Well, as much of a rest as an uphill 10km effort is!

Therefore I say we get the 1-2-3 on GC as 1-2-3 on the podium tomorrow. I’m just struggling to decide what order.

Chaves is the weakest normal TTer, but as I’ve said earlier, this is no normal TT. In fact, up until today he looked the best on the climbs. I’m sure he’ll cope just fine tomorrow!

Kruijswijk has now joined him at the top of the pile. He looked very strong when dropping Nibali, but Chaves came across to him relatively easily. Kruijswijk is the better guy on the flat, so he might gain a few seconds there over Chaves. It will be close.

And then there’s the Shark. He went pop on the final climb, but limited the time-gap fairly well and used his descending skills to close the gap. He brought it back even more on the flat, but I think that’s because the two ahead of him stopped working that well with each other. That work on the flat shows that he’s still relatively strong. But on reflection, his attacks from yesterday might have been those of panic, because he’s not as good as he should be.


As I missed out on him today and he seems to be the best climber in the race, I say the Smiling Assassin makes it 2 from 2 tomorrow, with Kruijswijk 2nd and Nibali 3rd. Simples.



With there being some room for error, if you can find Chaves at 4/1 or higher, then back him EW. As you should be able to get your stake back when he at least podiums.

I’ve backed him 5pts EW at 9/2 but that price has gone now. So my official blog bet is 5pts at 4/1 EW (as I’m sure someone will make him that price). If he’s not that price, then a 2.5pt straight up bet will suffice, because there is no value backing him EW under 4/1.

*I’ll update this (and my Twitter later) if I find somewhere that he is over 4/1)*

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Hope you all enjoyed today’s stage and this preview! As usual, any feedback or discussion would be great. Get a few beers in for tomorrow, sit-back, and relax, watching the riders giving it their all in the Race of Truth. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Giro stage 14: Alpago – Corvara (Alta Badia)

Today’s Recap

As expected the stage started off at a terrific pace and a massive break eventually got away. The gap stayed pretty so-so after the first two climbs, but Nieve managed to get away on the penultimate climb and held off to the finish. Taking a win that goes some way to salvaging Sky’s Giro. No luck with our picks, although Moser and Busato did make the break at least.


Behind, we got a bit of GC action but nothing wild. Some probing attacks by Nibali and Chaves were enough to drop Jungels. Amador was also dropped too, but he descended like a stone to catch up with the rest of the GC favourites and he’ll wear the Maglia Rosa tomorrow.

The Route

If the riders struggled today, they’re going to be in a whole world of hurt tomorrow! The first 5-star rated stage of the race, and it has 6 categorised climbs.

Stage Profile

The organisers like making the most difficult stages on the weekends, so that a greater audience can watch them live and they’ve certainly done that for tomorrow. An innocuous start to the day, but it’s almost as if the first ascent up to Passo Pordoi is 80km long. The road just keeps on rising!

I’m not going to go into the climbs that much, you can see for yourself below the gradients etc.

First Climb – Passo Pordoi. (9.3km long, 6.9% avg, 9% max)

Tough opening to the day, but a manageable average gradient. If anyone is dropped here, and a few guys probably will, then they’ll struggle to make the time limit at the end.

2nd climb – Passo Sella (6.6km long, 8% avg, 12% max)

Short but not so sweet. A relatively stinging gradient but manageable for the GC favourites. This is also the Montagna Pantani. It’ll be a special climb for the Italians then.

3rd climb – Passo Gardena. (6.8km, 4.4% avg, 9% max)

Some respite?

4th climb – Passo Campolongo (6km, 6.8% avg, 13% max)

A molehill compared with what’s to come.

5th climb – Passo Giau


9.4% average gradient.

14% max gradient

Oh. My. God.

This would be my reaction…


6th climb – Passo Valparola (11.6km, 6.8% avg, 14% max).

This looks fairly easy after the monster climb that the riders will have just went over. With tired legs, it will be far from that.

Once the riders crest the final categorised climb they have a long, fast descent before a kick up to the finish line. The riders would hope that’d be an easy affair too, but nope, RCS were obviously feeling particularly cruel with this stage. The reason for this is that we have a short wall at 5kms to go to the finish line. It’s only 360m long but it max’s out at 19%!

Muro del Gatto

The wall is aptly named “Muro del Gatto” or the “Wall of the Cat” in English. The riders will need a spring in their step to get up here after a tough day, and we might see a few Oscar’s handed out for the pain faces that they’ll make.

The rest of the run in isn’t too testing, but still climbs gradually up-hill.



Weather Watch

Sticking with after their good showing for today’s stage, they forecast that tomorrow will most likely be dry again.

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Forecast for Arabba

I’ve chose Arabba as the town to get the forecast of because it is fairly central to the route that the riders take. As you can see above, there is a chance of showers later on in the day but it looks like the riders will avoid this. Apart from that, it looks like a cool day in the saddle with a low humidity. The riders should be pleased with this because it will be tough enough anyway!

How will the stage pan out?

The same question has to be asked every day from now until the end of the Giro: break or no break? I managed to successfully predict that today was a breakaway day, although not choose a successful rider. There is a chance that tomorrow will be another break day, with tired teams from today and with maybe some GC riders wanting to conserve energy for the mountain TT on Sunday.

However, I think tomorrow will be a big GC day. Some riders looked strong today and they’ll want to put those who were struggling under even more pressure tomorrow.

Who are the contenders then?

For that, you have to look at who was coping well on the climbs today and putting in attacks or following the moves relatively comfortably.

The strongest out of the GC guys for me were Nibali, Valverde, Majka and Chaves. This was evident after Nibali’s second attack. (Which you can watch here).

Both Nibali and Chaves put in moves to test the water, but were reeled back in/I don’t think they went 100%, maybe 90% though. Majka and Valverde looked relatively comfortable closing the gaps to them.

Kruijsiwk didn’t look as convincing as he had done earlier on in the race, losing the wheels of those in-front. Zakarin also lost contact on the final climb, but made it back on just before the crest, as the pace had slowed at the front. I don’t think anyone else is good enough to win, outside the 6 mentioned, especially the first 4. Yes, Pozzovivo and Uran both managed to hold on longer than Zakarin, but I just can’t see a situation where they win.

Also, Amador will lose the pink tomorrow.


I think we see GC fireworks tomorrow and some big time gaps. Annoyingly not as big it was a mountain-top finish, but reasonable enough.

Therefore, it comes down to Nibali, Valverde, Chaves and Majka for the win tomorrow I think.

Nibali put in the most attacks today: was that a show of strength, or were they done because he’s fearful of Valverde and co? I think it was the former.

I’m not a fan of Valverde’s negative riding and he even lost to Nibali in a sprint today, which is not a good sign for him. A great one for the Shark though.

Majka got involved in the finish as well which shows that he has good legs. He’s a danger-man in this Giro, because like I said in the Maglia Rosa preview, he has the ability to keep digging in, in the final week of a Grand Tour. His endurance and powers of recovery are incredible.

Chaves has always been there or thereabouts at the pointy end of this Giro, waiting for a moment to strike. Could that be tomorrow?

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Unfortunately I don’t think so.

I think Nibali’s show of strength today was a sign of things to come, and he’ll pick up his first Giro win of this year, tomorrow.

Astana will revert back to their 2015 Giro tactics and set a crazy mad pace all day, trying to eliminate support riders from the other teams. Nibali seems to have the best domestiques in the shape of Fuglsang and Scarponi. He’ll manage to gap the rest of the group on the final climb and romp away from them on the descent, taking a solo victory.

Chaves and Majka will follow in behind, rounding out the podium.




As much as I’ve harked on about not backing GC riders pre-stage in Grand Tours, well, tomorrow is the exception.

I’m willing to back Nibali quite heavily. 1.5pt WIN @ 6/1 (PP)

Chaves 0.25pts EW @ 12/1 (PP)

Majka 0.25pts EW @ 14/1 (PP)

Again, hunt around later when more prices are out. I’m just putting this up now so I can have a relaxed evening!


I see Eurosport are broadcasting the stage in its entirety (pretty much) tomorrow, so we should hopefully get to witness a classic unfold before us.

Congrats if you made it this far through again, enjoy watching the race wherever you are!


These were My Two Spokes Worth.


Giro stage 13: Palmanova – Cividale del Fruili

Today’s Recap

Rain, but not at the right time for us. The riders got soaked early on in the stage but it was dry at the finish. However, the organisers still decided to neutralise the final lap in terms of GC. All of this combined made it a lot less chaotic and the fastest sprinter in the race won: Greipel. It was too easy for him. Although a lot can be said for his team, Lotto Soudal did an excellent job controlling the last 20km for him.


Modolo was in an okay position but just lost the wheel in the final turn. It looked as if he got a bit of a bump. Disappointing from him, particularly as Ferrari did a good job. Oh well.

As @cyclingmole pointed out on Twitter, the Italians will definitely look forward to the final week. Now that Greipel (and possibly Demare and Ewan) is going home.

With the sprint stages over for the foreseeable future, the GC boys come out to play tomorrow.

The Route

After today’s pan-flat stage, we’re back to the grippy stuff with the first 4-star rated road stage of the Giro (with the only other being the TT in Chianti).

Stage Profile

“This is a very challenging mountain stage. The route takes in 4 categorised climbs in a row, with just a few stretches to let the bunch catch their breath. The first 45 km run on apparently flat ground, and are followed by three typical pre-Alpine climbs, marked by narrow roadway, high gradients and endless turns, both while climbing and while descending.” (Road book extract)

The final two climbs look incredibly tough.

Penultimate climb

Averaging 8.9% for just over 7.5kms, this is a brute! If anyone looks to be struggling here, the other GC contenders will put the hammer down. Expect something from Movistar or Astana to try to isolate Jungels.

A tricky descent leads into the final climb, a Cat 2 ascent up to Valle.


This climb isn’t any easier gradient wise, it’s just shorter. 8.5% for 5km this time round.

After that it’s a descent and a flat run into the finish line.

“The last 5 km are deceptively flat and actually run downhill all the way to Cividale del Friuli. The route features a few twists and turns over the last 1,000 m; the home straight (approx. 400 m in length) is on 7-m wide asphalt road.” (Road Book)

Weather Watch

With my weather predictions being about as good as my stage predictions, I’ve decided to change who I’m getting my info from. Surely has to be right?!

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Forecast for the finish town of Cividale del Fruili

As you can see, it looks to be a mixed back with the possibility of showers. Although, at less than 30% then they don’t seem too likely!

*Awaits downpour tomorrow*

How will the race pan out?

With most stages like this, much will depend on the focus from the GC teams. If they decide to go all out then it’ll be a day for them and the current top 10 of the race. If not, then a break will win like we saw in stage 10.

I think we’ll get a breakaway victory tomorrow. The reason I suggest this is that with an even tougher stage the following day (Stage 14 – rated 5 star) some of the GC teams will not want to go too deep. Furthermore, I haven’t been wholly convinced by the squads of Astana and Movistar. The former rode very aggressively last year, but haven’t been as bullish in this years edition. Have they been waiting for this stage? I’m not so sure.

Breakaway Contenders

Like I’ve said in previous stage previews, to be successful in the break the rider has to be a good climber and no threat on GC.

The flat start to the day will ensure that it will be a fast first 50km, as everyone attempts to get in the break. Therefore, it also helps if the rider is relatively strong on the flat.

We’ll no doubt see the regular contenders giving it a go: Wellens, De Marchi, Cunego etc. Along with riders from the other pro-continental/Italian teams.

Like last time, I’m going to highlight three riders who could give it a go:

  1. Primoz Roglic – The Slovenian has already won a stage which is a clear indication of some decent form (although the conditions benefited him). A strong climber (5th on GC in Algarve), he’s clearly recovered from his crash. If he gets away, he will be tough to beat. The only concern for him getting away is that there is a good chance that he’ll have to work in support of Kruijswijk.
  2. Matteo Busato – He’s been incredibly good at the start of the season but hasn’t shown that much here. Might not be the best of climbers, but in a breakaway it’s sometimes just the strongest who wins and he’ll be hard to beat. If he can keep up with the rest of the breakaway, he’ll definitely fancy himself in a sprint.
  3. Moreno Moser – Another attacking rider who seems to be on good form at the moment. With Uran not going so well, Moser could be given some freedom. He’ll want to improve on his 3rd place into Arezzo.


As I said above I think a breakaway wins. From those three highlighted above I think Moser will continue the good family name and get his maiden Grand Tour win!

Gara ciclistica "Strade Bianche"

There is a chance we get a GC showdown. If so, look to the strongest on the final climb yesterday; Nibali, Chaves and Valverde.


Another day to choose your breakaway lottery tickets and hope for the best!

I’m going to suggest:

0.3pt Roglic @200/1 (PP)

0.3pt Busato @250/1 (365)

0.4pt Moser @200/1 (365)

Look out for other bookmakers as they might price more generously. I’ll probably have a few selections on the BF Exchange as well, because you can normally get better odds there.

Will go in-play if it’s going to be more of a GC day.

Hope you enjoyed the preview, we should be in for a much more exciting stage than today’s offering! Any feedback/discussion on Twitter would be great as usual. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.




Giro stage 12: Noale – Bibione

Today’s Recap

Definitely not as easy a day as some thought. A big crash and the only categorised climb ripped the race apart, with only GC contenders left at the front over the summit.

Amador attacked, Jungels countered. Then some stalling behind saw more riders rejoin. Ulissi drove clear of the group behind up the final climb, catching Amador and Jungels. The latter drove the group, trying to get as much time over the rest of the GC favourites behind. Ulissi sprinted for another fantastic win, his second of the race.


*I apologise in advance if this is shorter and more blunt than normal, I’m terribly hungover*

The Route

Flat. Very, very flat.


This is one of those stages where if you miss the first 180km, don’t be too concerned!

The most interesting part of this stage will be the circuit that they cover in the finishing town of Bibione.

The finishing circuit

It’s a very technical closing circuit, with lots of 90-degree turns that will kill the momentum of the riders. Positioning will be crucial in the final lap. But so will bravery, because if the riders are willing to take risks through the corners then they can save a lot of energy/drop those behind. This is particularly true if the person behind isn’t as confident and loses the wheel.

Weather Watch

Another reason why the risk-takers of the peloton will more than likely be rewarded is due to the weather forecast. Like much of this Giro, we’ve been given some chance of rain at the finish line. However, it seems various outlets are confident of this, which makes it seem more likely! *Fingers Crossed*

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Forecast for Bibione

The rain will make the closing circuit even more difficult for the riders, with more precarious corners etc.

Some of the riders will not like the look of this.

Who are the stage contenders?

Let’s start with the only sprinter left in this race who’s won a stage: Greipel. The fastest and most powerful rider left (after Kittel’s withdrawal) on paper he should be the favourite. However, as the cliché goes, nothing is ever won on paper. I don’t think Greipel will win tomorrow. Mainly due to the inclement weather conditions as Greipel goes missing when the conditions get tricky. I said something similar for the Stage 7 preview. We didn’t get the rain that time round, I’m more confident  we’ll get it this time. Greipel won’t podium.


Nizzolo was second that day and has to be considered here. He won the bunch sprint today, so is clearly going well. I’m just not convinced by his lead-out.

Demare probably has the longest lead-out left. They didn’t get it right on Stage 7 and a few of them went down/are unknown quantities after today’s crash so I’d avoid him. I also question if he would want to risk a severe injury, considering this is the Giro and not the Tour. Therefore…


Someone who will take risks tomorrow is Modolo. Again, like the Stage 7 preview, Modolo has all the credentials to go well here. He’s an excellent bike handler so will be able to manage the sharp turns perfectly. Furthermore, in Ferrari, he has an exceptional lead-out man for this type of sprint. Modolo has to start as joint-favourite at least for this (with Nizzolo) in my opinion.

Who else can compete?

Ewan looks the most suitable candidate. His criterium based background will hold him in good stead for tomorrow. Being young as well, he’s not as afraid and has a larger incline to take risks.

I guess the likes of Hofland, Trentin and maybe Ruffoni, Arndt and Belleti could get involved.

Leigh Howard also might fancy a go at it (after his impromptu fishing trip today). He won a crit-style race at the Clasica de Almeria earlier in the year.


Modolo wins. The master of the tricky finale.

Ferrari will once again give him an excellent lead-out and he’ll get the first Italian sprint win at this year’s Giro.


Ewan and Nizzolo will round out the podium (in that order).


Pretty simple stage betting wise. There is no way that the break will succeed as it’s the sprinters final chance before we get to stage 17 (maybe) or the final stage into Torino.

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When I tweeted it out he was available at 10/1. He’s now priced at 9/1 with Betway, but is lower elsewhere. I’d say he’s value down to 5/1.


Hope you enjoyed today’s racing as we’re more than likely in for a snooze-fest tomorrow! I plan on being productive and writing the bulk of my preview tomorrow during the race, so it will just be a case of waiting on odds, so it should be out a lot earlier! Apologies again for the shorter length, I’m hungover and there’s not really that much to say. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Giro stage 10: Campi Bisenzio – Sestola

Rest-day Recap

A rain affected ITT meant that those who went out first had the advantage for the stage. Roglic (2nd on Stage 1) managed to win, with Brandle and Stake Laengen rounding off the podium. Unfortunately for us, neither Oss nor Quinziato gave it a nudge and by the time Boaro started, the heavens had opened.


In terms of the GC contenders, the biggest gainer has to be Landa. He only lost 7 seconds to Nibali and actually gained time on Valverde. This was particularly surprising, considering most people (myself included) thought he’d lose at least 1:30 minutes. I was also pleasantly surprised with the Smiling Assasin’s (Chaves) time loss. He’s one of my favourite riders, so it’s good to see him not so far back! It leaves us with a nicely poised GC going into the second and third weeks.

Special mention has to go to the two Etixx boys; Jungels and Brambilla. The former put in a storming ride during less than pleasant conditions, finishing a very credible 6th place. You’d have to assume if the weather was the same for everyone then he’d have won the TT. It looked for a while that he was going into the Maglia Rosa. That was until the aforementioned Brambilla put in an equally brave ride, with a daredevil descent to hold onto the jersey by one second.

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GC after stage 9

Litte side note here.

As much as I’m not a fan of Zakarin’s past, I did feel sorry for him after Sunday. He looked to be absolutely gunning it but then the mechanicals and crashes took him out of it. A real shame, he’d have been up there in the top 3 on GC just now. At least it means we’ll get some attacking riding from him later in the race!

Anyway, onto stage 10.

The Route

A tough, tough day in the saddle! Up and down all day, with a summit finish. The riders won’t be looking forward to it, especially as some of them won’t respond well to being back in the saddle after the rest day.


Three cat-3 and one cat-1 climbs makes this the hardest stage of the Giro so far. At 219km it’s not exactly a short stage either!

The Cat-1 climb up to Pian del Falco can be split into three parts.


After a tough opening; 4.5km averaging 6.9%, we get an easier section of 7km averaging 1.8%, with an incredibly difficult finale, 4km at 8.9% with 13% ramps thrown in for good measure! Will we see some GC fireworks here?

“The final kilometres comprise a fast and technical descent that leads from the KOM summit to Fanano. The descent can be divided into two quite steep parts: the first one runs on large roads, with just a few bends, and leads into a second one where the road is narrower at points, and which twists and turns all the way up into urban Fanano. Next on the route is the final 7-km climb, with gradients of 5-6%, on a wide yet winding road that leads into the final 100-m long, uphill home straight, on 6.5-m wide asphalt road.” (Road book extract) 

The final climb itself isn’t the most testing in the World, not peaking anymore than 6%. The gradients are fairly consistent too so the riders can get into a nice rhythm.


The real question is how many of them will be left to set a nice tempo?

Weather Watch

It looks like we’re set for another day of “will it, won’t it?” in terms of the rain. Some weather sites are suggesting that it won’t rain on the riders at the finish tomorrow, but the main consensus is that we’re in for another grim day.

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Weather forecast at the finish town (Sestola)

With the rainfall predicted near the finish line, it will make that fast and technical descent off of the Cat-1 even more difficult, and it will reward those riders willing to take risks.

Break or no break?

Normally I’d say this stage is 100% a breakaway day. However, with the GC margins being so small after the TT, we might see some teams try to control the break. Hoping that their GC challenger could snap up some bonus seconds on the line. Astana or Movistar are the two teams most likely to do this.

Therefore, I make it 70/30 that the break makes it.

Breakaway Contenders

Let’s look at who could get in the break first of all.

Like I said in one of the previous posts, to increase the likelihood of a successful break then it needs to have a few components: Italians, those far down on GC and riders from some GC teams. I’m sure I mentioned those things in the preview where Brambilla went on to win, throwing out the idea of those who are more than 10 minutes down on GC. However, that was a once off and normal service should be resumed here.

Davide Malacarne (Astana) was in the break the last time the stage finished in Sestola (in 2014). He fits all three of the categories so could be a potential rider to get away. It all depends on Astana’s tactics and if they want to go all mountain-train crazy like last year. Where they absolutely decimated the peloton. I think they’ll pass the buck to other teams and try to get a satellite rider in the break, in-case it looks as if it’s going to be brought back. Agnoli could also be a good candidate for them.

Malacarne (then riding for Europcar) finishing second in 2014

Movistar will no doubt try something similar too with Herrada or Betancur being the most likely options. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get Visconti in the break so that Etixx have to chase.

Apart from those two teams, expect the usual suspects: someone from your Italian ProConti teams, Wellens, De Marchi, Cunego, a Lampre rider etc.

It’s really hard to narrow down and decide who will give it a go. Another few names I’d like to throw around are:

  1. Matteo Busato – He’s been climbing well this year so far and packs a good up-hill sprint. Made it over with the first group on stage 4 (showing that form), but now is 19 minutes down. He should be given some leeway.
  2. Ian Boswell – Was in a tough breakaway at the Vuelta last year, held on for third on that stage behind Landa and Aru. 30 minutes down this race, if he gets the nod from Sky then he could go well.
  3. Georg Preidler – With TomDum not seeming his best and saying that he wants to lose time so that he can go stage hunting later in the race. It frees up someone in the Giant team to go on the attack. Preidler seems the best fit for tomorrow’s stage.


What if we get a GC battle royale?

Hopefully we’ll get lots of attacking if that’s the case. Riders further down GC will be given more freedom as Valverde/Nibali/Landa etc all mark each other.

I expect Zakarin, Chaves and Firsanov to try something.

All of this of course depends if: A) They make it over the Cat-1 in contact with the leaders and B) make it down the descent in contact.

With the type of finish that it is, Valverde is the rightful favourite. I would not be surprised though if they tried the old 1-2 and Amador actually attacked up the road. The same can be said for Nibali and Fuglsang.


As you can probably tell, I’m once again struggling with this stage. So for an outright prediction them I’m going to have to go with the two situations again. From a GC group, I think Chaves will be able to get away on the final climb and take another Grand Tour stage win.


However, as mentioned above, I think there’s a good chance that the break will make it. For that, my lucky ticket will be Matteo Busato. The Italian climbed expetionally well at Trentino and has continued the form here. With a fast up-hill sprint, if he hangs on to his fellow escapees wheels then he should pip them to the line.

***Also, it’s Sonny Colbrelli’s birthday tomorrow. So I’m hoping to see him involved at some point. It will take a lot of luck for him to win a stage like this!***


From a betting perspective, this stage is definitely a breakaway lottery selection. Followed by in-play on GC candidates tomorrow.

Backing some of those mentioned above.

0.1pt Malacarne @ 300/1 (PP)

0.1pt Agnoli @ 300/1 (PP)

0.2pt Boswell @ 200/1 (Boyles or PP).

0.3pt Busato @ 125/1 (Various)

0.3pt Preidler @ 80/1 (PP or Lads)

If you want to, then go EW. But for a breakaway stage like this, in my opinion it’s better to spread your options and just go for outright. If they look like they could win then you can always Lay your bet on the Betfair Exchange in-play.

I’ll be able to watch tomorrow’s stage fully so I’ll be making some in-play recommendations over on my Twitter @JamieHaughey.

Congrats if you made it this far, hopefully tomorrow’s stage will live up to expectations! Enjoy it wherever you’re watching it from! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.






Giro stage 9: Chianti – Chianti

Today’s Recap

Don’t really know, didn’t get to watch it (as I said yesterday).

Have seen the final 14km but that’s it.

Looks like Tom Dum blew up and the other GC guys capitalised. BOTD involved some dangerous riders, and Brambilla went on to take the win and the Maglia Rosa, great result for him! Seems I’d backed him for the wrong stage!


Anyway, onto tomorrow’s TT.

The Route

An undulating test with no proper flat sections, the riders travel from Radda in Chianti to Greve in Chianti. The locals seem to love reminding everyone where they’re from. Oh by the way, if you don’t know, we’re in Chianti tomorrow, don’t know if you will have noticed. Heard they make some nice wine.


“This individual time trial is very wavy and winding: undulating and slightly uphill all the way to Castellina in Chianti (split time 1), undulating and mainly downhill up to Madonna di Pietracupa (split time 2). Here, the roadway narrows for about 4 km. Next on the route are two climbs; the second one is steeper and leads to Panzano in Chianti (split time 3). Here begins the final descent leading into the finish.” (Road book extract)

The descent to the finish.

The road book is actually pretty rubbish for this stage in my opinion, no gradients for any of the climbs etc. So I’ve made my own interactive route profile that you can view on Strava here.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 22.46.55

That first ramp up from 0.7km to 5.4km averages about 2.66% gradient. There are some steepish 7-8% ramps. However, it’s not the worst start to the day, but some riders will already not be enjoying their ride at this point.

We then get a bumpy descent before the next incline from 10km to 13.7km. This section only averages 2.48%, but we do get sharper inclines here, with a 500m section averaging 11%. Another rolling descent follows before the penultimate climb.

This short climb (2.2km long) averages 3.5%. This does include a 500m section of descending, so the actual slopes themselves will be steeper.

The Giro organisers have been cruel and left the toughest of the climbs until the end, in terms of length and average gradient. Although in saying that, it is only 4.9km long at 4.2%. So it’s not the toughest climb in the world, but will still sting the legs. Some of the strong TTers will fancy their chances to power up it.

Weather Watch

It didn’t rain today, so I think i might have to sack off my weatherman (i.e. I’m changing my site!).

Looks like we’ll get rain at some point tomorrow, but I’m not sure as to when.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 23.05.24
Forecast for Radda (The Start)

The probability of rain stays roughly the same all day, but I’d assume we’re more likely to get it when the thunderstorms are forecast. But as we’ve seen the past few days, the weather hasn’t been that predictable.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 23.05.35
Weather in Greve (The Finish)

Much the same can be said for the finish town of Greve, with roughly a 50% chance of rain all day. We’re likely to see rainfall at some-point, it’s just a case of when? If it’s later than predicted then it will affect the GC riders!

A list of the start time’s can be found here.

Who are the contenders?

Before today’s stage, Tom Dumoulin was odds on favourite for this stage. Amazingly enough he’s still the favourite with most bookmakers. Even if he has recovered, he’s not worth the risk.


Cancellara is second favourite with the bookmakers. He has been riding about at the back, saving himself for tomorrow maybe? But like Dumoulin, not worth the risk. Think the course is too testing for him anyway. (See above picture). Kung and Jungels are also fancied by the bookies. Not me.

With tomorrow being a key day in GC, everyone will be going full gas. Those of the GC favourites with previous form in TTs of this length are: Nibali (TDF 2014, Giro and Vuelta 2013), Uran (2014 Vuelta & Giro), Valverde (2015, 2014, 2013 Vuelta). That’s about it really. Zakarin has done well in shorter TTs (like at Romandie) but I think this is too much.

This is the Giro, not the Vuelta, so that’s Valverde ruled out. And it’s 2016, not 2014, so that’s Uran ruled out. Just leaving Nibali. Simple.

Non-GC Contenders 

As you may have gathered reading my previews, I do like a long shot, so I’m going to suggest three who could go well tomorrow.

First rule to remember is that the TT is in Italy, therefore you back Italian riders. Got it?

Manuele Boaro – He’s riding as a support rider for Majka but is a very strong TTer and has been given the green light to go all out on this one. I think he’ll do just that. Solid climber he should be able to cope with the gradients relatively well. He starts at 14’49 local time, just after TV coverage starts. I’m sure he’ll want to deliver!

Manuel Quinziato – The Italian veteran hasn’t done much at the Giro so far. His best result so far was 54th at the opening TT. However, listening to yesterday’s CyclingPodcast update, Max Sciandri (BMC Directuer Sportif) has said that his riders have been saving themselves for specific stages. He didn’t mention this as a target for Quinziato, but he has the characteristics to put in a good time. The race route also goes past Sciandri’s house, so he’ll want some of his riders to go well. He starts at 13’52 local time.

Daniel Oss – Another BMC rider who could go well here. A strong classics man, he’s also done absolutely nothing this race so far, coming 20th on stage 2. Crucially Oss starts nice and early, at 13’24 local time and he should be finished before the TV coverage starts. Which could give him a nice little advantage, after all we are in Italy… (I’ll leave that one for you to figure out). The only downside of his early start could be if we get that forecasted thunderstorm!


I think Nibali wins. This TT is tailor-made for someone of his ability. Rolling hills and fast descents. If it rains for everyone, then he should win it comfortably!


Out of the three long-shots I mentioned above, I think Boaro will be the one that runs him closest.


I tweeted out my selections earlier but didn’t give any points advice;

Nibali @ 25/1 (PaddyPower) 1.6pts EW

Boaro @ 200/1 (PaddyPower) 0.25pts EW

Quinziato @ 500/1 (PaddyPower) 0.2pts EW – Although he’s now into 300/1, still value.

Oss @ 500/1 (PaddyPower) 0.2pts EW


Hope you enjoyed the preview, any feedback (positive or negative), likes or shares would be much appreciated. Should be an interesting race tomorrow, i do love a rolling TT! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.