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.


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!


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.


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.


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…



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.


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.


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


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.





Vuelta Stage 14 Preview: Urdatx-Dantxarinea -> Aubisque

Today’s Recap

As I said yesterday, I’m away out all day so there’s a good chance I haven’t been able to catch any of today’s stage. Hopefully it was an exciting one and at least one of the three break candidates made it in!

*Update – Just gone 12 here and none of them in the break, oh well!*

Anyway, what’s in store for the riders the day after the longest stage of the Vuelta? I’m sure the organisers wouldn’t be so cruel as to make it really tough…

The Route

Oh. Wait.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 22.42.27


My legs and lungs hurt just looking at this profile. Three Cat-1s followed by the Especial Aubisque. The organisers are definitely getting their moneys worth out of their jaunt into France.

It’s weird to say but in a stage like this, the first two climbs are almost irrelevant in the outcome of the stage so I’m only going to slightly go over them. The only way they could be decisive is if the break hasn’t formed by then and as we saw on stage 12, if it forms on a climb then it is a very strong group.

Nonetheless, the Col d’Inharpu is 11.5km long with an average gradient of 7.1% (13.75% max), and the Col du Soudet is 24km long, averaging 5.2% with a 15% maximum gradient. A nice first half of the stage and a good warm up for the riders!

The real action will commence with the Col de Marie-Blanque which starts with just under 50km to go.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 22.54.00

A real brute of a climb. It almost lulls the riders into a false sense of security as it starts off relatively easily. With the first 4km or so being only around 5% in gradient. Then it hits the riders, the hardest part is yet to come. The second half of the climb, particularly the final 3kms is incredibly tough. Averaging over 10%! The break will lose its weak riders here and depending on the pace of the GC guys, we may see a few attacks or those on a bad day dropped. Say goodbye to your Vuelta if that’s the case.

Once over the summit they have an 11km descent, before a 10km false flat drag before the final test of the day starts: the Col d’Aubisque.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 23.05.22

I don’t really need to say much, the figures speak for themselves! It doesn’t have incredibly steep ramps in it. Instead, it’s the length coupled with the relatively high average gradient that does the damage. Only the strongest will win here.

How will the stage pan out?

We’ll probably have another fast start to the day as riders look to try and get in the break. I hope for the sake of those struggling that it goes relatively quickly and before the first climb. Otherwise we could have a lot of DNF/OTLs!

The success of the break will depend on who’s in it and what teams are represented. Realistically on the final climb if it comes down to a GC battle, then it’s between Froome and Quintana. Movistar may sneak a rider in the move to defend the team competition and as we saw on stage 11, Sky are becoming more aggressive so might send someone up the road. I almost guess Tinkoff might try something, but Contador doesn’t seem to have the legs.

If neither of those teams are represented and their captains really fancy their chances of taking the win, the break could well be brought back on the Aubisque. On a climb like that, the break would need 4mins+ at the bottom of the final climb for them to feel confident of winning the stage.

There are now plenty of quality riders (climbers) far enough down on GC so that the break can be let go. I make it 60/40 that the break takes the win.

Breakaway Contenders

George Bennett.

tdu15-st4-WATSON_00004039-099-e444 (1)

A rider who has had a very solid, if not quiet Vuelta so far, plodding along in a respectable 18th on GC, almost 8 minutes down (remember this is being wrote a day early, so that may all change today, but I doubt it). His attack on stage 12 was the first real glimpse that we saw of him out the front of the peloton. I was impressed, his form seems to be on the up. One of those riders who Movistar will give a bit more time to, he won’t be too much of a hinderance to the break in that sense. He will be a hinderance if he’s going well though!

Tejay Van Garderen.


The American rider has had a very poor Vuelta so far, with Stage 12 being the first time he finished inside the top 50. On that stage he was part of two of the early moves, showing some good intent. His form slowly seems to be getting better and he’s smart enough to be saving himself for one good crack at a stage, no better stage than the Queen stage to give it a go! If he is back to his best, then he should be a class above the rest of the breakaway. That is the big IF.

Kenny Elissonde.


King Kenny returns to the blog. Another who was attacking on stage 12, he looked very strong on the first passage of the climb outside of Bilbao. However, once the break was caught, he sat up and rolled home. Now sitting over 20 minutes down on GC he poses no threat to the leaders and is most definitely targeting stage wins. Could he get a win on the famous Aubisque to go with the Angliru?!

GC Battle

As I’ve said above, this will more than likely come down to Froome v Quintana. This type of final climb suits the Brit better than some of the steep stuff that we’re used to at the Vuelta as he’s able to climb at a solid rhythm. He’ll hope to put Quintana under pressure with a hard pace. However, Quintana is the best climber here, going on form, and I can’t see Froome dropping him unless he cracks majorly. Instead, I can see the Colombian putting a big marker down and gaining another 30 seconds or so!

The battle behind is equally as interesting. Valverde is clinging on for dear life to that third place. Chaves is being attacking but getting nowhere, same with Contador. Yates seems to be getting stronger. Konig is a great wildcard for Froome and creeping towards the top 4 and possibly the podium. As is Scarponi who’s grinding away and eating up the climbs!


If the break makes it, I’ll go with Bennett.

If we get the GC guys fighting out for the stage, Quintana takes it!


I probably won’t be updating this with odds but my staking structure is below. The preview will only be out when somewhere has priced up (most likely B365), so you’ll have to hunt around for prices.

0.5pt Bennett

0.3pt Elissonde

0.2pt TVG


Hope you all enjoyed the preview?! How do you think the stage will go? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated. 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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 18.09.25
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?

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 18.39.50

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.