After the debacle that was stage 9, the organisers will be hoping for an incident free time trial in stage 10. Whilst it’s a mostly uphill route, it’s not steep enough nor short enough for the incumbent pink jersey, Quintana, to out perform his rivals. Tom Dumoulin, 30 seconds or so back, will have earmarked this stage months ago to put some damage into his competitors and this could be where he takes the jersey for at least the next week, especially after his more than capable climb up Blockhaus.
39.8km of mostly undulating road, with two climbs to negotiate, they’ll be plenty of other riders who will be gunning for a good time, though they will have to measure their effort well to ensure they have enough in the legs and lungs for the final uphill 5kms. Rohan Dennis would’ve been a good shout for a podium on this stage, but alas, he is no longer in the Giro. Geraint Thomas too, would’ve been a contender, but little is known how injured he is after his crash on Sunday. Perhaps his Sky teammate and former TT world champion Vasil Kiryienka will be going for the stage win, but he may be instructed to save his strength for later stages. Perhapts it’ll be Thibaut Pinot’s time to wear the pink. His time trialling skills have improved and he’s 2 seconds ahead of Dumoulin. Whoever wins, expect the top ten leaderboard to look very different on Tuesday night.
Mmmm. Stage 11. A 160km stage taking in four consecutive categorised climbs without a flat bit of road in between. It doesn’t end on a summit though, and finishes after what could be a fast and furious descent of Mount Fumaiolo. Could that be a chance for Nibali to use his descending skills to gain some time back? Pinot is known for his slow descents, and Quintana has only approved slightly over the years so it could be a section of the race the Italian will target.
If stage 9 had played out normally we would’ve said this stage has breakaway written all over it, with the GC guys more than happy to let those brave riders battle out the KOM points and the stage win, whilst finishing all together. However, Team Sky and Orica Scott have huge time gaps to make up. Admittedly they may be too big to even try something special, but we’ve seen attempts before from teams that have really lit up the race. If Sky, Orica or BMC get men in the break for the first or second climb, then Thomas, Yates or Van Garderen could try and bridge up to them before the final climb to claw back some time, especially as stages 12 and 13 offer no chance for those kinds of gains. Movistar (even if Quintana isn’t in pink at this point) will have to be very alert for attacks, which means this stage could start at a very very fast pace to stop breakaways forming.
Stage 12, whilst still including two modest climbs, will come as a welcome relief to the peloton, not least the sprinters who will finally get another chance for a stage win. Given it’s 229km length, we think this stage will be raced pretty slowly, with a breakaway given a large buffer before being reeled in once the climbs have been done with. Given the final 119km are either going downhill or are flat the sprinters teams will have plenty of time to gobble up the breakaway and form their lead out trains. Bennet, Gaviria, Ewan or Greipel for the win here — bet you didn’t see those predictions coming.
167km of flatness. Another stage for the sprinters, another stage where GC time can’t be made up, which will be frustrating for the likes of Sky, OricaScott, and BMC. We’re going to go out on a limb here and say whoever wins stage 12 will win here today as well.
Now this could be a fun stage to watch. Super short (for a professional bike race, not for a ride we would do) at 131km and ending with a 11km (28km depending on where you think it starts) climb up to Oropa, they’ll be no chance for a breakaway and no time for anyone to relax. Given their GC plans may have gone out the window, we think Thomas or Yates will go for a stage win to get something from this year’s Giro.
The final climb’s gradient peaks at 13% and has an average of 9% so it doesn’t quite hit the steeper gradients that Quintana copes with so well, and so the other GC riders might be in with a chance. However, Movistar’s imperious display up Blockhaus will still be fresh in everyone’s minds and they’ll be wary of another dominant team display. Let’s hope for a real attacking climb on this stage.
Sharing a considerable number of kilometres with the Tour of Lombardy, stage 15 will be very familiar to any rider who has raced that monument in the past. After 149kms of flat, the riders face a 10km climb (average of 7.5%) up the Miragolo San Salvatore before a short descent then back up the stage’s last climb, a short sharp 6km climb (average 5%) up to Selvino. From there we have a long descent before the gruelling final 6km, which copies Lombardy’s finish exactly. A 7.9% climb up the picturesque cobbled streets before a tight, winding descent to the finish. If Adam Yates is able to get a gap on this stage then we can see him taking the win but it might be one for the breakaway. Who knows, maybe Cannondale-Drapac will get that elusive win with Michael Woods!