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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Some respite?

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

A molehill compared with what’s to come.

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5th climb – Passo Giau

9.8km.

9.4% average gradient.

14% max gradient

Oh. My. God.

This would be my reaction…

 

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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%!

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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.

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Weather Watch

Sticking with weather.com 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.

Prediction

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.

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Betting

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!

Anyway,

These were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

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