Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 14 Preview; Castellania -> Oropa

Today’s Recap

A day where all the action was in the final few kilometres and that once again saw Gaviria win the sprint. He didn’t have it all his own way this time though, as he had to come from 20m back, delivering a truly impressive turn of speed to pip Bennett before the line.

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Stuyven came home in a very respectable third place.

As for Ewan, I thought he had the win in the bag with roughly 300m to go. Richeze was giving him the perfect lead-out but the Aussie rider seemed to hesitate and got boxed in by both Richeze and the Bora lead-out rider (I’m assuming Selig). It looks to me as he’s lost some confidence over the past week as the Ewan we saw at the start of the year would have squeezed his way out of that one or committed to going around the other side.

With the chances for the sprints over for the rest of the race, most will now leave this evening, with our attention focussing on the stage hunters and GC riders for the rest of the race.

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for them tomorrow.

The Route

The third stage in a row that is all about the closing 20km. Not exactly prime viewing for a Saturday afternoon!

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Thankfully it’s the shortest stage of the race so it shouldn’t be too long until we get to the main event of the day which is the climb to Oropa.

The road actually rises for around 15km before the climb properly starts once the peloton passes through the town of Biella.

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11.75km long averaging 6.2%, it is a fairly tough climb but it is the second half that is the most difficult. After the opening 5km, the gradient barely dips below 7% for the rest of the climb, although there are a few false flats and shallower sections involved.

With these steep ramps near the top, you would expect the climb to suit a more diminutive rider/mountain goat who can manage a more explosive kick on the tougher stuff. However, with the easy run in to the climb, everyone should arrive fresh and I wouldn’t expect the gaps to be too big at the end of the day.

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The climb was last used in the 2014 edition and that saw a break stay away after a much harder run in to the foot slopes. Quintana managed to take a few seconds over his GC rivals but the gaps were not massive. Will we see something similar this year or will Movistar close down any breakaway in the hope to set up Quintana to take some bonus seconds?

How will the stage pan out?

It is one of those 50/50 days where it could go to either the break or the GC guys.

In favour of the GC guys, it is a short stage with a lot of flat which should in theory make it easy for them to control.

However, a lot of the riders will know Quintana will fancy it so I’m not sure if their teams will want to assist with any work to help chase down the breakaway.

I imagine Sunweb will be quite happy to ride it defensively and let the break get up the road to take the stage win. Dumoulin himself said in his post-race interview that tomorrow will be a relatively easy day with a 20-minute climb at the end. He sounds confident in his abilities to follow everyone else and to be honest, I am too.

Originally I was 100% behind this being a definite GC day, but the more I think about it (which is never a good thing) the more I am leaning towards the break staying away. It all depends on the number of riders to make the break and the teams represented, but also on Movistar’s attitude. They tried something on stage 11 but that didn’t really work out for them so they might keep their powder dry for later in the race and just hope to tire Sunweb out by allowing them to control the pace.

So with that being said, it’s time to play everyone’s favourite game…

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Candidates

The issue now is that for a rider to win then they need to be a good climber, but to get into the break they also need to be strong on the flat as well. A good slice of luck is important too! Nonetheless, I shall throw a few names into the proverbial hat. With the stage starting in the Coppi’s hometown I’m sure the Italians will want to feature in the move…

Valerio Conti – Bitterly disappointed to have crashed when in with a chance of the win on stage 8, he’s bound to have another go over the next week or so. He looked great on the climbs that day, although a little too lively at times, but with it being only one big effort so to say he should be in with a chance.

Manuel Senni – The Italian was struggling at the start of the race but he seems to have recovered from that. With Van Garderen struggling, BMC will be attacking for the rest of the race and the young Italian climber might salvage something for the American outfit.

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Michael Woods – After Cannondale overcame their World Tour drought in California, they could well go on to pick up another win here. The Canadian is far enough down on GC not to be a threat and the steep gradients look great for him. He also has the possibility of maybe contending for the stage from the bunch as well if he’s given freedom that way.

Vasil Kiryienka – Sky are most definitely chasing stages now so I’ll be very surprised not to see them in the move tomorrow. Kiryienka is a strong enough on the flat to make the move but he will need to attack solo before the steep parts of the climb if he wants to have a chance of winning.

No #Wongshot from me today as I don’t have enough time!

If it comes down to the GC contenders, it is hard to see past Quintana.

Prediction

I’ll go for a surprise breakaway victory and Woods to continue Cannondale’s World Tour dominance…

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Betting

As I’m not convinced either way how it will play out tomorrow then I’ll have a few small punts on the breakers;

(All with Bet365)

0.75pt WIN Woods @ 80/1

0.6pt WIN Conti @ 80/1

0.4pt WIN Kiryienka @ 150/1 

0.25pt WIN Senni @ 300/1

Quintana at 2/1 is a great price if you think it is a definite GC day but because of the nagging doubt in my head, I can’t be backing that!

Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will a break make it or will Quintana be victorious? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

 

 

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 13 Preview; Reggio Emilia -> Tortona

Today’s Recap

Gaviria won his third stage and made it look remarkably easy!

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However, he owes Richeze several beers. The Argentinian lead-out man was simply sublime and dropped Gaviria off with 75m to go, even managing to finish 5th himself!

Mareczko followed Gaviria’s slipstream to finish second, with Bennett coming home third.

Will we see a similar top three tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

Another pan-flat stage that you can tune into for the last 20km.

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I was hoping to look at the forecast for some wind to liven up the day but alas, there is nothing of note! There is a good chance of rain/thunderstorms though which could make the run in interesting…

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As for the finish itself it is fairly technical with a few roundabouts in the closing 5kms or so. There is a relatively sharp turn at 450m to go which is actually around another roundabout. Similarly to what we have witnessed on some previous stages, the road narrows from two-wide lanes into one just before the roundabout.

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Due to how narrow it is, the sprint trains will be desperate to lead into the turn. If you come out of it with two lead-out guys in front of your sprinter, with the lead rider pealing off just after the turn, it will be very hard for anyone to come around your sprinter!

This consequently could make the end of the stage dangerous if there is a big race to that final turn, we might see a few crashes as the road narrows. Especially with it being the last sprint stage, I’m sure there will be some riders willing to take more risks. Hopefully that’s not the case though!

Contenders

A definite sprint stage but can anyone beat today’s winner?

Gaviria – He’s been exceptional so far this Giro and with Richeze as his last man, tomorrow looks like another day that they can jump in the last 500m and win. If they repeat today’s performance he is the man to beat!

How can the others beat him though?

I think it is possible to out-gun the Quick Step on the run in to the finish tomorrow, but the teams will need to get their timing perfectly. We say today that Bora took up the pace just a bit too early, with Selig tiring at just the wrong time for Bennett. If a team takes it up fully after the roundabout before the 2km sign, then it will be hard for others to come round them.

Who can do this?

Well Bennett‘s Bora team look the best equipped to do that. They were fantastic today but as I’ve mentioned, just ran out of steam too early. From what I’ve witnessed the past few sprint stages, they have the best traditional lead-out. But as a relatively new outfit and with some young guys, then they’re still learning and lacking experience. Their DS will be crucial in telling them when to go full gas tomorrow. Bennett has the speed to challenge if in the right place and he could nab his first Grand Tour win tomorrow.

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Orica are the other team with the fire power to control the front of the race. Ewan was lightning at the start of the Giro but didn’t get a stage win, however, he got that monkey off his back on Stage 7. He went missing today but according to their press release, he hit another rider and his brake pad bent, meaning it was impossible to sprint. The Aussie loves a technical finish and he won’t be afraid to take any risks in the closing kilometres. He just needs to get the rub of the green again!

I was disappointed with Greipel today and his Lotto train seemed poor as well, maybe he’ll allow Hofland to sprint tomorrow?

Modolo at least showed in the top 10 again after recovering from allergies in the first week. UAE have a solid lead-out but they’ve failed to deliver anyone properly this Giro, can they get it right this time around?

As for Mareczko, he’ll need to follow the fastest rider again and hope that’s good enough for another podium.

Prediction

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?

Orica have the best lead-out for this type of finish and after being massively disappointed today Ewan will bounce back and take the win tomorrow. He is incredibly fast and if gets the chance to showcase his form that he had at the start of the race, then he will no doubt be up there.

You better run, you better take cover.

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Betting

2pts WIN Ewan @ 9/2 with Bet365

 

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will tomorrow? Will Gaviria make it 4, or will someone else triumph? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 12 Preview; Forlì -> Reggio Emilia

Today’s Recap

An exciting stage that saw a very fast start to the day!

However, things did eventually calm down and a large breakaway group established itself. We did have two attackers ahead of them though, in the form of Landa and Fraile, but they were eventually brought to heel on the lower slopes of the last climb.

A lot of to-ing and fro-ing then occurred towards the top of the summit, on the descent and the run to the line but we were treated to a reduced sprint from the breakaway riders.

After being in front for most of the day taking KOM points, Fraile still had enough left in the tank for a very impressive sprint, beating Costa and Rolland into the lower podium placings.

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Behind, there were a few probing GC attacks but nothing too serious. Although Thomas and Kruijswijk did lose almost 50 seconds to the rest of the contenders.

It was slightly disappointing not to see more GC action, especially after the crazy start to the stage, nonetheless, it was a good day’s worth of racing. Will we see a good day of racing tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

Longest stage of the race and another “transitional” day.

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A fairly innocuous stage with two categorised climbs that come too far out from the finish to be of any danger GC wise. 110km of shallow descending/flat from the final peak do offer a chance for the sprint teams to get organised and chase down the breakaway.

The run in is pan-flat and not overly technical.

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There are a few sweeping turns in the closing 2kms but nothing too serious as the road is quite wide. Unless of course the organisers decide to put some barriers in place!

How will the stage pan out?

You would expect it to be a sprint. There are still a reasonable amount of teams left with fast-men and with most probably leaving the race after Stage 13, they’ll want to make the most of the opportunities they have left.

The good news for sprinters is the distance from the last climb to the line, there is plenty of opportunity for their team-mates to close the gap. It all depends on how many riders and what teams, make the breakaway.

This is the Giro after all and when you consider how tough today was, a few riders might want an extra rest day tomorrow. It would be useful to know how the sprinters and their teams have recovered but I guess we’ll not find out until we start the stage!

So on a day where it should be a sprint, there is an ever so slight chance that we get a breakaway but even then it’s only a 10% (at most) chance I would say.

Sprinters

Looks to be a 4-horse race.

Gaviria – Already has two stage wins to his name and was electric when nearly beating Ewan to the line on Stage 7. The flatter finish isn’t ideal for him but he will be full of confidence. In Richeze he has a great lead-out rider who will deliver him perfectly. Will it be enough to take a third win?

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Ewan – Finally got his stage win but the young Aussie was one of the last riders to finish today, struggling on the tough climbs. He is the rider I fear today may have taken the most out of and with a long stage tomorrow, his sprint might just be lacking at the end of it.

Greipel – Almost a definite for leaving in a few days time the German will be hoping to go home with more than the one win he has so far. His lead-out hasn’t clicked yet on the technical finishes, but with tomorrow’s stage being more straight-forward they can possibly get it right?!

Bennett – The nearly man so far, with two podium places to his name. After being placed under the Haughey curse (and being ill) he has seemed to re-find his sprinting legs and is now on the mend. Grand Tours aren’t exactly the best way to recover but I’m sure all of his competitors will be too. With a strong lead-out, he has another good shot at a podium.

Aside from those 4 it will be tough for others to win but I’m sure Stuyven, Modolo (if he sprints) and Sbaragli will all be up there vying for a possible podium or better.

Maybe even Mareczko can repay his team-mates after being dragged over the final climbs!

Prediction

A dull day that is all about the last 5km and I’ll go for the most experienced sprinter to take the win after conserving energy today. Greipel to seal victory!

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Unless of course the sprinters and their teams can’t be arsed and we get a breakaway stay away.

Betting

No bet.

Tempted to throw a few pennies on some 1000/1 escapees on the exchanges later but that’s that.

Thanks again for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Sorry that this preview is shorter than normal, there’s just nothing extra to say, a pretty dull stage. The same can be said for the following day as well! Maybe we can get a large breakaway that gets a lot of time to make it an exciting watch?! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 11 Preview; Firenze -> Bagno di Romagna

Today’s Recap

Wow!

I wrote Dumoulin off, thinking that with his improved climbing and poor recent TTs he might struggle a bit more here. I guess that was me just over thinking things and being even more eccentric than normal and in hindsight, I don’t really know why I did it!? I’m blaming being tired from work…

Nonetheless, it was a phenomenal performance from the Dutchman, he absolutely crushed the competition today!

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Only Thomas and Jungels could get within a minute of him.

It leaves Dumoulin with a commanding 2’23 lead over his nearest competitor, Quintana, on GC. Will that mean fireworks for the rest of the race?

Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

A demanding stage with 4 categorised climbs over only 161km.

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Once the flag drops the riders have 15km of flat before they start climbing the Passo Della Consuma: 16.7km at 5.8%. Not the toughest start to a stage but not exactly easy, there are some steeper ramps involved within the climb itself.

Over the summit, the riders will the be descending or climbing for the rest of the day!

Next on the menu is the Cat-2 Passo Della Calla. Another long climb at 17.6km (if you take it from the TV where the road starts to rise), averaging 4.8%. Again, the first few kilometres lessen the average gradient and the final 2/3rds of the ascent is closer to a 6% gradient.

A long descent follows before the penultimate climb of the day, the Passo del Carnaio.

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11.5km long and averaging only 4.5% in gradient, it again doesn’t appear too difficult on paper. However, irregular climbs seem to be popular in this part of Italy and this one is no different, featuring 4km at 8.2%. Will any team try to split the race up on these steeper sections?

A sharp descent follows before the long climb of Monte Fumailo.

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A 23km long drag that averaging 3.7%, that gets steeper towards the top. The last 3kms before the summit clock in at 8.6%, with a peak gradient of 12% at the very last. A perfect launchpad before the descent that follows?

Aside from another short rise in the road half-way down the descent, the road falls all the way until 2.5km to go.

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Those final few kilometres are false flat all the way to the finish, but will we see a solo rider come to the line or will a small group contest the win?

How will the stage pan out?

Before today’s TT if I had to say what would happen then I’d say that it is a breakaway stage, no surprises there then!

However, with the massive gap Dumoulin already has, and with the prospect of him gaining another minute and a half on Quintana and co in the final time trial, meaning he has a theoretical 4 minute buffer, surely teams can’t wait until the last week? If they do leave it until those stages there is a chance they might run out of time and Dumoulin won’t crack. Plus, who knows what is going to happen with the weather and we might get an alteration to a stage etc!

Losing Kelderman is huge for Dumoulin and he will have to rely heavily on Haga and Ten Dam now. Are they good enough to control the peloton on a relatively tough day? I’m not so sure.

Some of the teams will need to go crazy on the opening climb of the day to try and isolate Dumoulin as much as possible, and continue on from there for the rest of the stage. If they do, then there is a chance that he could be left on his own on the final climb.

I wonder if there will be a few Directeur Sportifs on the phone to each other this evening?

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Contenders

I’m going to go with the assumption that we do get some aggressive riding from the outset and that there are only really GC guys left at the end of the stage. I’m also not going to name everyone as we could be here a while otherwise! So I’ll just throw a few names into the proverbial hat.

Geraint Thomas – I just can’t leave the Welshman out after his performance today, he was exceptional. Bouncing back from the horrible crash on Stage 9, he looked in fine form and now sits just outside the top 10 on GC. In a post stage interview he still put off the idea of him finishing on the podium, instead insisting on just attempting to win a stage. However, I think that was more to deflect attention away from himself and I’m sure those at Sky will still believe on him ending in the top 3. He should be able to cope with the climbs tomorrow given how good he has looked all season and is far enough down to not be immediately marked by those at the top of the order.

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Adam Yates – Another rider who was taken out on Stage 9, he produced a fairly good time trial today by his standards. The form is clearly there and like Thomas he could benefit from not being an immediate threat for the overall. In the past we have seen Orica try audacious tactics in Grand Tours and I’m hoping they try something again tomorrow. A fearless descender he has the ability to attack over the top and hold on to the finish. Furthermore, he’s not exactly slow for a GC rider so could feature in a very reduced sprint to the line!

Rui Costa – I’m progressively making my way down the GC standings here, with the Portuguese rider finding himself over 8 minutes behind Dumoulin. Supposedly he was never here for GC anyway, but his position will now give him more freedom. An attacking rider who likes to target a stage, tomorrow’s finish reminds me a lot of the stage into Gap he won at the Tour in 2013. Will we see a repeat of that performance?

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The #Wongshot

After many requests, the Wongshot returns for tomorrow’s stage. As it is a fairly unpredictable stage and anything could really happen, it is an ideal day to give it another go. Clement won’t be included in the list today, because you only get “Wongshot” after all…

So today’s rider is…

Dylan Teuns.

Not a bad breakaway candidate if things go that way tomorrow. With Van Garderen struggling on the overall and it looking as if he’ll only go backwards, BMC will now probably turn their attention to chasing stages. Teuns is a solid climber, his third place at Fleche is testament to that, and if he makes the right move he has ever chance. A punchy rider, he could win a small group sprint to the line from the break!

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Prediction

GC teams to go wild in an attempt to isolate Dumoulin, but it will be hard to drop him. Nonetheless, it will create opportunities for someone to attack and I think Yates will prosper out of the situation. Let’s just hope no inflatable Flamme Rouge sign gets in the road again!

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Betting

1pt WIN on;

Yates @ 33/1

Thomas @ 33/1 

Both with Bet365 and I’d take 25/1 lowest.

 

Thanks as always for reading and as usual any feedback is greatly appreciated. How do you think the stage will pan out tomorrow? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 10 Preview; Foligno -> Montefalco

Rest-Day Recap

Quintana won the stage on Blockhaus after a very impressive display, but almost equally impressive were Pinot and Dumoulin who only shipped 24 seconds to him on the day. I’m sure the Colombian won’t be as pleased with that outcome as he is in the picture below!

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As for the motorbike incident that has been a talking point for the last day here are, erm, My Two Spokes Worth.

The bike should obviously have never been pulled over in that place, heck, even if it was pulled over further ahead to give the riders time to adjust, considering it was pulled up roughly 100m after a bend. It seems to be far too regular occurrence in cycling nowadays but as Brian Smith said on Eurosport, organisers and governing bodies can’t keep saying, “something needs to be done”, they need to actually take action. I’m sure the motorbike driver will be well aware of the outcome and will no doubt feel pretty shit but this whole trial by social media isn’t going to help anything.

As for those saying Movistar should have waited: the race was on and they had been pulling for the past 30km. It wasn’t as if they suddenly came to the front when it happened to take advantage. If a majority of the field had come to grief then they might have stopped, but I see no issue with what they did. Should we see sprint trains stop as they approach the end of the race due to crashes caused by barriers that protrude onto the road?

Thankfully none of the riders were seriously injured, although Kelderman and Rosa were unfortunately DNFs because of it. Nonetheless, I’m sure it won’t be the last we’ll see of Thomas, Yates and company this race as they’ll possibly animate later stages.

Right, now that’s out the road, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

A rolling 39.8km TT, but certainly not the most difficult in terms of climbing.

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As is TT tradition, I’ve made the route on Strava that you can view here, for those of you that prefer a more interactive profile.

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Interestingly, the organisers have tweaked the route ever so slightly since it was originally announced; making the first climb easier and removing a tricky second climb.

The riders will start with over 12km of flat as they leave Foligno before tackling the first climb on the route. Averaging 3.2% for 5.2kms, it should be a seated effort for most of the riders. However, it does go up in sections and there are some ramps of 6-7% so the change of gradient might catch a few riders out.

From there, the riders will continue along a plateau before another small kick up (900m at 4%) before a quick descent. The road then undulates for the following 10km with a few shallow rises but nothing too severe, before the riders start the drag to the line.

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According to the official profile it is a 5.75km rise averaging 2.17%, whereas my Strava profile indicates that it’s 4.8km long at 3%. Not a massive discrepancy but nonetheless there is a slight difference. Either way, it is a climb for the strongmen of the peloton who are able to put a lot of power down in the shallower gradients, especially when you consider it will be into a headwind!

The weather in Foligno has been a talking point today with there being severe thunderstorms…

However, it is supposed to be dry tomorrow and we should get even conditions for most of the riders. Will the roads have cleared up by then?

Contenders

With this type of course being suited to a more powerful rider, I think a few of the GC contenders (pure climbers), could lose a lot of time. Will that be to anyone else who’s in contention for the title though?

Well, Tom Dumoulin starts as the bookmakers favourite and it is understandable why. He looked exceptionally strong on Blockhaus and is clearly flying on the climbs right now. Will that translate to a good TT though? I’m not so sure. He’s been struggling recently with his time trial, and hasn’t looked great in them since his silver medal at the Olympics last year. Having lost a lot of weight to stay closer to the best on the climbs I think he might struggle on the flatter parcours tomorrow, which is reassuring actually! I am looking forward to seeing him in action though, he does look effortless on a TT bike.

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Bob Jungels will hope to recover some of the time he lost on Blockhaus tomorrow with a good performance. At last year’s Giro, he was comfortably the best GC rider in the atrocious conditions in Chianti, putting over a minute into Dumoulin. This type of route suits him very well as one of the more “heavy-set” GC riders. Exceptionally strong on the flat, windy stage 3 into Cagliari, I think he’ll podium tomorrow.

Vasil Kiryienka loves a long TT although he hasn’t really been able to show his strength since winning the World Championships in 2015. With Team Sky’s GC hopes looking less likely, I think they’ll give Kiryienka the nod to go full gas. He’ll eat up the flat and the climbs. Plus, his experience will be very valuable so that he paces himself well and doesn’t blow up on the final drag to the line.

Thibaut Pinot is a solid TTer and he will hope to take time over his GC rivals on this course, especially Quintana. He was up there on a similar style of course in Andalucia at the start of the year, although that stage was a 3rd of the distance. That is where my issue lies with him, he’s unproven over longer TTs. He won’t lose much time I don’t think, but he certainly won’t gain any over the likes of Jungels etc.

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Geraint Thomas will be hoping to bounce back with a good time tomorrow. One of the reasons I had backed him pre-race for the podium is because of the amount of TT kilometres in the race. This type of strong-mans course should suit him well, but will he suffer the same issues with weight that Dumoulin might?

Other GC names to throw into the hat are Amador and Zakarin who can both pull off a good TT on their day.

Away from the GC guys watch out for Lotto Jumbo pairing of Campenaerts and Van Emden, who will no doubt be going full gas to give Kruijswijk the best possible reference times. The same can be said for blog favourite Ludvigsson!

Prediction

Bold as ever, but I genuinely don’t think Dumoulin wins. He’s struggled in TTs since losing weight and I think there are riders here better equipped for this type of course, Jungels to name one.

However, I’m not going for him, instead I think Kiryienka will be let off the leash to have a proper go tomorrow.

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It would be a great way for Sky to bounce back after what happened on Stage 9. The Belarusian is a brute of a rider and he’ll eat up any terrain that is in front of him. He is truly exceptional on the longer individual efforts!

Betting

Now the question is whether to play it “safe” and take him EW or just go for win only. Playing it safe means doubling the stake and doubling the potential loss if he just doesn’t bother trying at all. So from that perspective, I think I’ll just take him straight up with what I would put on as an EW bet but just put that stake on outright.

3pts WIN Kiryienka at 8/1 with Coral (would take down 7/1 available elsewhere)

Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will there be large time gaps between the GC riders? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 9 Preview; Montenero di Bisaccia -> Blockhaus

Today’s Recap

The break just managed to hold on and Izagirre took his first World Tour win after a battle between his fellow escapees saw Conti crash in the closing kilometre. Visconti got close to finish second, with Luis Leon Sanchez coming home in third.

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Will the breakaway riders have their fun tomorrow, or will the GC riders come out to play properly? Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

A slightly hilly but mainly flat start to the day. The stage is all about the final climb and the approach to it.

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The road starts rising at 25.9km to go and if you take it from that point, then it averages a shade under 6% for the duration; that’s tough!

However, the “official” start of the climb is with 13.6km left.

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Averaging close to 8.4% it is a killer of a climb. Even more so when you consider that for 8.5km it averages 9.4%! You would expect the middle section to be the more decisive part of the climb as it features the steepest ramps of the day at 14%. The closing kilometre does level out a bit so if we get a couple of riders come in together then there is a chance of an uphill sprint.

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Unlike on Etna, it looks as if we will get a West/South-West wind tomorrow which means that it will be a tail or cross tail for most of the climb. Hopefully this will make for some attacking riding!

How will the stage pan out?

It’s really hard to tell and if anyone confidently tells you how it will pan out, they’re lying.

With there being a rest day on Monday followed by the TT on Tuesday, you would expect that the GC guys will go crazy, knowing that their team won’t have to put in any extra work until Wednesday.

Yet, we’ve already witnessed a lack of willingness to chase from the bunch.

They should have been able to claw back Polanc on Etna but there was a lot of stop-starting and I fear we might see the same tomorrow. Not to the same extent, but they might let the break drift up the road before going crazy behind. Therefore we could well see a race on two fronts.

Breakaway Candidates

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To win the rider will obviously have to be a good climber, but with the rolling terrain at the start it might be hard for some of the really light guys to make it.

Nonetheless, I’ll throw a few names into the mix, nothing extensive.

Cristian Rodriguez – I’ll give the Wilier rider another chance on a stage that should suit him more. He was climbing with the best on Etna and as he is no threat for the overall he could be given the leeway in the break.

Matvey Mamykin – Katusha were obviously annoyed to have missed the break today and I’m sure they won’t make the same mistake again. The young Russian is surprisingly good at finding himself in the right move, but he’s failed to take advantage yet. Can he turn it around tomorrow? A big win is on the horizon for him.

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Kenny Elissonde – It would be very unlike Sky to send someone up the road on a stage like this at the Tour, but it is the Giro so they might have a change of plan? With someone up the road, they can play the “we’re not going to chase” card, conserving energy behind. Elissonde is sprightly enough to win from a break, but he’s way down on GC so he is no concern for the other teams.

Natnael Berhane – Dimension Data have been ever-present in breakaways throughout the Giro, only missing out on a few stages. Berhane has been relatively anonymous so far but he wasn’t too far off the GC guys on Etna. Maybe he’s been saving himself for this stage?

GC Riders

The GC battle is hard to figure out, there’s been a lot of poker playing going on so far.

I’m still unsure whether they’ll chase hard behind to set up the stage win. Nonetheless, if for stage glory or not, you would have to expect the weaker TT riders to have a go to try to gain some time before they inevitably lose it again.

Yates is one that springs to mind, he’s been looking good so far. Will Quintana turn on the afterburners and just blitz everyone? What about the Sky 1-2? Landa made a probing dig today, will we see a similar situation, with Thomas sitting in behind ready to counter. FDJ did a lot of pace making in the closing part of today’s stage so they must confident in Pinot’s current form.

Of course, anyone else from the list of favourites could go well, or they could crumble. It really is an open day of racing. I’m just hoping that makes it exciting and open, not a dull and defensive day in the saddle.

Prediction

As you can probably gather by now, I’m not really sure what to make of this stage! I’ll go for a race on two fronts, with the breakaway holding out for the win after getting an insurmountable lead.

Berhane to seize the day!

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Betting

Another day I don’t want to get overly involved with so small 0.25pts WIN punts on each of the break candidates;

(All with B365)

Elissonde @ 250/1

Rodriguez @ 200/1

Mamykin @ 300/1

Berhane @ 250/1

 

Apologies this is a bit shorter than usual, there’s not much to talk about Route-wise and I’m in a rush to get this finished. Normal service shall resume for the TT! Who do you think will win tomorrow, will it be the break or a GC rider? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 8 Preview; Molfetta -> Peschici

Today’s Recap

Dull day, great finish.

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We ended up with a three-up sprint almost, with Ewan finally getting his stage win, beating Gaviria and Bennett in the process.

Nothing much else to talk about as the day was a typically dull transition stage. Hopefully things are slightly more exciting tomorrow. Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.

The Route

A medium mountain stage with all of the climbing packed into the second half of the day.

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With almost 80km of flat roads, the fight for the breakaway could be pretty intense. Well, it normally would, but this Giro has been different in that regard so who knows. The route does hug the coast-line for all of that opening 80km but early forecasts show the wind to be a little benign so it is unlikely that we’ll see some echelons. How disappointing!

The Cat 2 climb of Monte Sant’Angelo is 9.5km long, averaging just over 6%. It’s not overly tough and comes too far from the finish to cause any hassle.  Likewise, the following Cat 4 ascent of Coppa Santa Tecla is still too far from the end of the stage to be an issue for both the bunch and the break.

It looks as if it will be a stage that will come down to the final 15km.

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We don’t get much information about the uncategorised climbs before the descent and rise to the finish, which you can see above, so you know the drill…

Strava profile, viewable here.

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If you take the rise as a whole, then it is roughly 5 km at 3.9%. Not bad, but it can be split into 1.9km at 6.3% and 2.4km at 4.7%, with a little bit of descent in between. The steepest ramps of the second section come at the start of the climb, so a lightweight rider might want to attack there before it flattens out down to 2-3% before the top.

We then have our fast descent and climb to the line.

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It is important to note how technical the climb is itself with a sharp hairpin at around 300m to go and it still even twists and turns from there.

Who will be raising their arms aloft as they cross the finish line first?

How will the stage pan out?

It should be a break. There might be a few teams who will fancy controlling it and setting up a certain rider but that will be very hard to do.

I’m sure most of the teams will want it to be a break, especially with the tough finish of Blockhaus coming the following day, they’ll want to conserve as much energy as possible.

So it’s that time again where we play…

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Candidates

It’s even more difficult to successfully pick someone for the break tomorrow because the opening half of the stage, where the break will be formed, is completely different to what they’ll face at the end of the day. When has that ever stopped me before though?!

There seems to be a recurring theme at this Giro so far where teams with GC contenders have been a bit wary about getting guys up the road, with the only exception being Trek and BMC on Stage 6. Will this pattern continue as the main contenders look towards stage 9? Quite possibly, so I’ll be considering riders from teams without a GC contender, or one that can at least mount a reasonable top 5 charge.

Cristián Rodríguez.

The young Wilier rider has impressed me a lot during this race so far. He was up with the GC contenders on Etna until a very untimely mechanical saw him drop out of that group. Nonetheless, he got himself going again, limiting the damage to one minute. He lost a lot of time on the echelons of stage 3, so he is no immediate threat on GC. Clearly in great form, he would have a great chance if he makes the move.

Davide Villella.

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After Cannondale made a mess of Stage 6, I’m sure they won’t make the same mistake tomorrow. Looking at their squad, Villella looks like an ideal candidate for this type of strong man’s finish. A former winner of the Baby Il Lombardia, he finished 5th there in the full edition last season. Packing a solid uphill kick, his fellow breakees will not want to bring him to the line.

Matej Mohoric.

The former U23 World Champion is slowly finding his feet at World Tour level and with UAE active in attacks so far, they’ll no doubt try to send someone up the road tomorrow. A coming of age performance is on the cards!

Now for something a bit different…

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that on the preview for today’s stage (6) that I received a very constructive comment from a Mr Wong.

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So I thought I’d take this feedback on board with a brand new segment for breakaway days or stages that are in the balance…

Wong’s Wildcard/ The Wongshot

Basically, I’ve copied the startlist and created a list on random.org and well, erm, randomised it for a rider. I’ll then create a possible scenario where and how said rider might win. Tomorrow’s guy is…

Stef Clement.

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Although the Dutch rider is on domestique duty for Kruijswijk, his team leader gives him the nod to chase stage honours. As a strong all-rounder, Clement makes the break with ease but also follows well on the hills as some of the other escapees put in probing attacks. Coming into the closing 15km, Clement knows that his form isn’t that great and he’s not explosive enough to beat the other guys on the final climb, so he decides to attack on a pan-flat section with 17km left. With some hesitation behind, the gap quickly grows to 30 seconds as everyone else looks around. They eventually get organised but it’s too late, and the Dutchman holds on to take a great win!

Prediction

Breakaway stays away and I’ll for an impressive young Spaniard to have the required kick on the final climb to steal stage honours. Rodríguez to win!

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In before Clement wins…

Betting

Small punts on breakaway guys(all Bet 365);

Rodriguez 0.3pt WIN @ 300/1

Mohoric 0.4pt WIN @ 80/1 

Villella is too short at 40/1 for a breakaway pick so instead I’m backing…

Grosschartner 0.3pt WIN @ 200/1

 

Also, I would like to point out now that the blog has gained a bit more traction during the Giro that I don’t see myself as a proper tipster or anything like that. It was never the intention when starting this whole thing up. It’s more a case that I enjoy writing the previews and trying to deconstruct how the race might plan out, often with an extravagant twist. I see them more as a guide to the following day’s racing more than anything else. My very original posts had no “pts” etc advised on them, just a general idea of who I was backing. However, people requested that I do so and I eventually just added them in at the end of each preview.

I don’t charge for the previews, you’re not forced to back anyone I do. I just put a few bets on to have someone to back for the day and make the sport even more enjoyable to watch! Don’t wager anything more than you can afford to lose.

Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.