2016 Giro d' Italia (Stages 9 onward)
May 14, 2016 10:30 AM - Subscribe

We join the 2016 Giro d'Italia just before a time trial that will come as a blessing to some but a possibly fatal pitfall for others.

What is this thing?
The 2016 Giro d'Italia is an Italian grand tour comprising 21 stages over 24 days. Founded in 1909 and halted only by the world wars, it originally attracted mainly Italian riders but has become one of the most important races on the calendar for riders from all over the world.

Where can I read about it?

Cyclingnews Hub
The Inner Ring Giro Guide (HIGHLY recommended)
Official Giro Site

I'm an American. How do I watch this thing?
It's being aired in the United States on Bein Sports. If you don't have the requisite cable package, Steephill.tv and others recommend using Fubo.tv and you can get a special deal here. Steephill might also have some... other options under Live Coverage.

What's the current situation?
General classification after stage 8:
1 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 33:39:14
2 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:23
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:33
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:36
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:45
6 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:48
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:49
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:00:54
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:03

The race began in the Netherlands, where irritatingly handsome TT specialist Tom Dumoulin seized the pink jersey after a strong prologue performance. After a brief sojourn with german sprinter/mountain Marcel Kittel, Dumoulin held the jersey until today when he was distanced on the white gravel roads to Arezzo. Dumoulin is likely to claw back time tomorrow in the discipline he's best at.

Checking in with the other prerace favorites finds most have done a decent job so far. Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde have looked reasonably sharp, while Mikel Landa has seemed a bit mortal at times, and is likely to suffer tomorrow. Others like RafaƂ Majka, Ilnur Zakarin, Rigoberto Uran and Esteban Chaves have kept up and are still very much in contention. We may still be wondering when the race reaches the Dolomites.

Turning to the sprinters, it's been a shutout performance by the Germans so far. Marcel Kittel has won when the course is flat, Andre Griepel when it's been less so.

When should I tune in?
The Inner Ring has an excellent list of unmissable stages.
posted by selfnoise to Cycling Club (40 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Top ten finishers on stage 9:
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:51:45
2 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling 0:00:10
3 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling 0:00:17
4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:28
5 Anton Vorobyev (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:30
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:45
7 Stefan Kueng (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:00:58
8 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:01:08
9 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:01:16
10 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:01:19

GC Classification after Stage 9:
1 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 34:33:04
2 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:01
3 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:00:32
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:51
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:53
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:55
7 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:58
8 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:18
9 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:01:45
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:51

The stage nine time trial proved to be a wet and treacherous challenge. Few pink jersey contenders distinguished themselves, but a few had disastrous days. Ilnur Zakarin crashed multiple times, including within sight of the finish line, and dropped out of the top ten. Rigoberto Uran also disappeared from the top ten with a disappointing performance. Tom Dumoulin, who had come to the Giro targeting this stage, struggled as well and his path back to pink is likely shut. Mikel Landa, on the other hand, had lost time in the prologue but put together a nice performance here and likely saved his Giro.

Primoz Roglic sat in the hot seat for most of the day and won the stage, the recent convert from ski jumping impressing in both TTs so far this tour. Yesterday's breakaway hero Gianluca Brambilla retains the pink jersey by a single second.

The riders take a rest tomorrow, then reconvene Tuesday for a testing mountain stage.
I will try and least post a times update for each stage, probably not a detailed one though
posted by selfnoise at 8:52 AM on May 15, 2016

OK any idea why there was a rest day after the 3rd stage?
posted by OHenryPacey at 6:18 PM on May 15, 2016

There was an early rest day because the race had to move from the Netherlands (where the first 3 stages were) to southern Italy and the logistics didn't permit a next-day start. The Giro d'Italia has been starting from other countries of late to get some more fans interested and make a little money... it worked well this time as Tom Dumoulin, a Dutchman, did well in the Netherlands and there appeared to be big crowds.

Rumor has the Giro starting in Japan next year... no idea how they're going to manage that.
posted by selfnoise at 6:55 PM on May 15, 2016

Makes sense...TdF used to just call it a transfer day.
Couldn't help but be excited for Brambilla to hold the jersey by a single second.
I can't really say that any of the GC contenders have me excited in any kind of way. Nibali is OK, Valverde is OK, but I'd kinda like to see one of the south american climbers make a splash, or someone just out of the blue like Hejsdal's ride a few years ago.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm hoping we see some fireworks from Esteban Chaves and Zakurin. Both are out of the top ten and both can be explosive climbers. With Nibali's form still in doubt I'd expect to see some attacks from riders with longer odds. We'll see what happens tomorrow!
posted by selfnoise at 1:04 PM on May 16, 2016

Stage 10 winner:
Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF 05:44:32

GC Classification after Stage 10:
1 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 40:19:52
2 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 00:00:26
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:50
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:52
6 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:01:11
7 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 00:01:44
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:01:46
9 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 00:02:08
10 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:02:26

Stage 10 featured a fast start which unexpectedly dropped prerace favorite Mikel Landa. More shocking was that Landa continued to lose time, and eventually threw in the towel, stepping off his bicycle and exiting the race. Landa apparently fell ill during the rest day and couldn't recover. That's cycling!

The remainder of the stage featured an animated and ever-changing breakaway as riders attacked on seemingly every slope. Etixx-Quickstep did an excellent job controlling the GC group and when it became obvious that yesterday's hero Brambilla was not going to hold on to pink he worked successfully to hand it off to his teammate Bob Jungels, who has snuck up with an excellent Giro so far. Andrey Amador also climbed the standings with a late attack. Tom Dumoulin, still suffering from a saddle sore, lost 13 minutes and is now truly out of contention.

A bit of history for Bob Jungels: he is the first rider from Luxembourg to take pink since the great Charly Gaul in 1959.
posted by selfnoise at 8:31 AM on May 17, 2016

I heard an interview with Dumoulin after Stage 9 talking about how he was happy to lose time now. He wasn't feeling great on the steep climbs, and this way he isn't a threat to GC so can go for some stage wins towards the end of the race. I suppose it's back to the original plan for him: the third time trial, and getting some other practice. A shame, because he's an interesting and engaging character via interviews.

I think Jungels' ride has been great so far. Quietly getting along with things, and that TT ride in the rain on Sunday was something else. Looking forward to Amador/Chavez/Kruijswijk/Zakarin mixing it up with the more experienced folk. Amador has Valverde as a backup; that's a pretty handy domestique.

Tomorrow's stage should be interesting too right? Nice and flat. Bets on Griepel taking it again? It's pretty flat, so could suit Ewan or Demarre. Anyone have thoughts about the potential shake down here?
posted by sarcas at 1:27 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think at this point Dumoulin is probably hoping the saddle sore improves; otherwise I'm not sure he's going to make it to the third TT. Also, that TT is straight up the whole way, not sure if it's the kind of climbing Dumoulin is good at but I can't imagine he'd win it in his current condition.

Amador has Valverde as a backup; that's a pretty handy domestique.

Also Movistar seem like they are OK with having GC options, since Valverde has been riding with Quintana for years now. That said, I still tend to think it'll be the other way round in the end.

In terms of stage 11? There's a twisty little hill just before the end, but then what looks like a decent final straight. It should be possible for trains to develop, but Griepel has looked so far beyond the other sprinters in the contest so far that I can't bet against him. Particularly at the end of stage 7, Griepel looked to have made every mistake but still just overpowered them. With Kittel and Viviani both gone there are fewer competitors but it's hard to say who that benefits.

Also apparently there are some steep gradients lurking in that hill and thereabouts, so it's possible to see either a breakaway or one or more sprinters dropped.
posted by selfnoise at 2:18 PM on May 17, 2016

Not sure how well the third time trial is going to suit Dumoulin - it's pretty uphill and the climbers might give him a run for his money, but I guess he can now take it easy for the next week and not have to defend his position. I'm pleased he had a run in the pink jersey but I'm enjoying how unpredictable it's been so far - I am rooting for Chaves, because he's so ridiculously smiley when he's winning, but I suspect it's going to be Nibali or Valverde once we hit some mountains and having a team mountain train comes into play.
posted by penguinliz at 2:20 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stage 11 winner:
Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 04:56:32

GC Classification after Stage 11:
1 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 45:16:20
2 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 00:00:24
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:07
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:01:09
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 00:02:01
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 00:02:25
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:02:43
9 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:02:45
10 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida 00:02:47

**NOTE: I think the race data is incorrect as it had Valverde second. So I've manually adjusted, hopefully the rest is correct

Stage 11 started with another big abandon: Tom Dumoulin stepped off his bicycle in the first feed zone. The Dutch rider has a lot to be proud of despite his abandon: a win and a pink jersey worn in his homeland.

Just before the category 4 Forcella Mostaccin there was a large crash that delayed several of the sprinters, including Ewan and Demare. GC rider Pozzovivo also fell behind, with his team desparately trying to pace him back. It turns out the sprinters needn't have bothered with rushing... our predictions of a bunch sprint radically underestimated the aggression of this GC group.

Once up the hill the peloton was rocked by an endless series of attacks. First Betacur went, then Cunego, then Kruijswijk, and Valverde was forced to drag the other GC riders up. Nibali opened a gap on the descent with some nifty riding. Just as soon as pink jersey Bob Jungels caught him, Andrey Amador attacked, and Jungels rolled right onto his wheel, opening the decisive gap. Diego Ulissi joined them after a kilometer or so, then won the sprint at the end for the stage win, his second of this tour and sixth(!) of his career at this race.

Jungels looked very strong in this stage, but so did everyone. Tomorrow is pan flat, then we reach the Dolomites and things get serious.
posted by selfnoise at 8:03 AM on May 18, 2016

Stage 12 winner:
Andre Greipel (Ger) - Lotto Soudal

No changes in GC Top Ten

This was an opportunity for the riders to take a bit of a breather just before the big climbing. Of course, nature didn't agree and offered some chilly rain as the stage began. A small, desultory breakaway formed and the riders forged on through the weather. Midway word came that the race organizers, nervous about the weather, had partially neutralized the finale. No time bonuses and the last lap neutralized meant that the GC riders could relax and avoid the crash-prone sprinter trains. After the inevitable minor crash, Andre Greipel collected the least surprising win of the Giro so far. The other sprinters in the peloton just have to survive the Dolomites to have a much better chance at a win, as Greipel announced before the start that he was headed home after today. Mission accomplished for him, now presumably off to the TdF training. The red jersey must be feeling a bit forlorn at the moment, since it appears that no one of consequence actually wants it.
posted by selfnoise at 8:29 AM on May 19, 2016

Stage 13 winner:
Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky

GC Classification after Stage 13:
1 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 54:05:50
2 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:00:26
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:41
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:43
5 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 00:01:37
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 00:02:01
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:02:19
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:02:48
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:03:15

The first of three big climbs on the day saw a large breakaway form, suspiciously full of GC rider teammates. It seems everyone had the same idea today; send men up the road to help out later. This powerful breakaway was always going to be chased, but it didn't help matters that Diego Ulissi managed to sneak in. He was less than three minutes down on the maglia rosa at the start of the stage, and Etixx-QuickStep set a high pace to reel him in.

After an idyll in the valley, the real battle began on the Cima Porzus. Ulissi was swallowed and spit out and the rest of the breakway survived only in dribs and drabs. Sky's Mikel Nieve went away from the group with Joe Dombrowski, then dropped Dombrowski and went up the road alone. Back in the GC group, various riders began to wilt under the pressure. Jungels was isolated, his teammates lost in the fast climb. Both he and Amador slid to the back of the group, but survived close enough to regain contact on the subsequent descent. Hitting the last climb of the day, the attacks came again and Jungels was dropped for good. The rest of the GC riders tested one another, putting Amador, Uran, and Zakarin under stress at various points. They set a fast time, but Nieve as it turns out was gone for good, winning the stage for a leaderless Team Sky. Jungels made a brave chasing effort but lost almost a minute and handed the pink jersey over to Andrey Amador.
posted by selfnoise at 8:34 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stage 14 winner:
Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge

GC Classification after Stage 14:
1 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 60:12:43
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:41
3 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:01:32
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:06
5 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 00:03:15
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 00:03:29
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 00:03:53
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:05:01
9 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 00:05:38
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team

Hoo boy. The queen stage saw the fireworks everyone had hoped for. It began with a large breakaway very similar to what we saw yesterday. A smaller group of hard men gradually shelled this breakaway to pieces, however, in search of the stage win. The Passo Giau saw Amador distanced near the top, but otherwise the GC contenders were content to watch one another and it seemed briefly as if there would be a truce prior to tomorrow's big TT.

The Passo Valparola, however, proved this wrong. Halfway up, Nibali decided to take a big pull and see what happened. At first it seemed brilliant, as Valverde's weakness was revealed, the Spanish rider simply unable to respond. Amador was no help as he was in even more trouble. Valverde's group soon sank backwards as Nibali pressed his advantage with Esteban Chaves and Steven Kruijswijk in tow. Suddenly, however, Nibali was put on the back foot as Chaves and Kruijswijk attacked and went up the road. Isolated, Nibali still managed to put damaging time into Valverde but could not catch up to the leading two, who caught the two chasers of stage leader Darwin Atapuma. Over and down the top of the mountain and Nibali remained on his own. At the foot of the last ramp Nibali seemed to have clawed back a few agonizing seconds.

Atapuma, who had put in a huge effort, simply could not keep the leaders at bay in the last two kilometers. In the last two hundred meters, Chaves suddenly found a sprint and took the stage win. Steven Kruijswijk took the maglia rosa. Nibali finished about 30 seconds after, then Zakarin and Majka, and you have to think that anyone behind is probably done in this race. A particularly devastating day for Movistar. Tomorrow is a very tough time trial and now it looks even more crucial than before.
posted by selfnoise at 8:32 AM on May 21, 2016

I finally had time to sit down and watch a stage and that was a corker. I was expecting everyone to sit up a bit more before the time trial, but the commentators suspected Nibali might try something after Scarponi pulled for so long, and then he went and had to watch Kruijswijk and Chaves swoop past. Not that he lost much time, but it wasn't a show of strength. I love Chaves (see above) but I was pretty gutted for Atapuma when he couldn't quite hang on after all that work. Joe Dombrowski had a mechanical near the finish but he was up and riding with the leaders' group for a long long time, pretty impressive.

Also amused to see Arnaud Demare go home, meaning second place in the red jersey competition is Diego Ulissi? I can't get my head around the breakdown of points available on the later stages, but I wonder if he can pick up enough intermediate sprint points on mountain stages to challenge for the lead in that competition.
posted by penguinliz at 12:56 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Ewan is gone as well so there are barely any dedicated sprinters of note left. Might provoke some stronger breakaways in the upcoming flatter stages since who's going to chase them down?

Chavez did superbly and now can look forward to the Alpine stages with slopes that may be more favorable to his climbing style. And then who knows about Kruijswijk? He doesn't have much of a team around him but hasn't suffered for it thus far.

I suppose next week's tactics will depend on the time gaps opened tomorrow. Mountain TTs are always a bit hard to predict...
posted by selfnoise at 1:48 PM on May 21, 2016

Nizzolo won last year and he's still going, and Ryder Hesjedal is out so maybe Trek will take up the challenge, but there's not a lot of the Trek team left to do the work for him.
posted by penguinliz at 3:15 PM on May 21, 2016

Nizzolo looks good for the jersey, I also expect to see Modolo look for stage wins if he's still around next week.
posted by selfnoise at 3:37 PM on May 21, 2016

Stage 15 Winner:
Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo

GC Classification after Stage 15:
1 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 60:41:22
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 0:02:12
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:02:51
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:29
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:04:38
6 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:04:40
7 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:05:27
8 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:07:14
9 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 0:07:37
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:07:55


After 15 stages this edition of the Giro d'Italia now has a definitive leader. Steven Kruijswijk erased any doubts after his ascension into the maglia rosa yesterday with a blazing time trial performance. He put time into his GC opponents that ranged from damaging (Esteban Chaves) to devastating (Vincenzo Nibali, who wasn't helped by a mechanical). Valverde fared better, but has more time to make up, and his primary domestique Amador really isn't looking great right now. Zakarin also had a strong performance, but still lost 45 seconds.

Rest day tomorrow. There is still a long way to go and a LOT of mountains to climb. Kruijswijk's team is weak, and his opponents are the aggressive variety, but it will take a lot to dislodge him.

Who is this Steven Kruijswijk anyway? His highest previous finish on this race was 7th last year, where he looked great in the final week. He also managed a nice 8th place in 2008. Kruijswijk, nicknamed "The Coathanger" for his wide shoulders, is a racer who has often found himself in the upper echelons of races, but has rarely won. We'll see the full measure of him next week.

Can Nibali come back from this? It's not looking great. Chaves is a bit more sprightly on the high climbs and nearly three minutes is a big ask. He has one of the strongest teams, but he was isolated yesterday. Both the Italian and Chaves must hope they can really crack Kruijswijk on one of the high mountain stages.
posted by selfnoise at 8:41 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stage 16 Winner:
Alejandro Valverde (Spa)

GC Classification after Stage 16:
1 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 63:40:10
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 0:03:00
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:23
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:04:43
5 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:04:50
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:05:34
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:06:53
8 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:07:57
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:05
10 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 0:11:03


A short mountain stage with a long but manageable ascent to start with meant that the formula was quite different today. The GC teams decided not to tolerate a breakaway, and so the entire peloton was dragged up the Passo della Mendola at a rapid clip. A series of attacks followed on the pink jersey... if you see a name in the prior day top ten, chances are they had a go. The strategy seemed a bit strange since the gradiant allowed most to be covered easily, but Esteban Chaves suddenly found himself behind and in difficulty. Majka, Uran and Amador also began to trail behind. Race leader Steven Kruijswijk, however, covered all attacks with ease. As they began the descent Chaves' group looked to make up time but the skilled descenders in the yellow jersey group, including Valverde and Nibali, meant that the gap went out, not in.

When the leaders found themselves on the second climb of the day, however, Chaves seemed to find some of his legs again and began to claw his group back. Pressure in the pink jersey group, primarily from Zakarin, proved to be too much for Vincenzo Nibali and he slid back behind, eventually being dropped by the Chaves group as well. The trio of Zakarin, Valverde and Kruijswijk saw their chance and began to work together instead of attacking each other, and the gap to Chaves and Nibali began to grow again.

Over the top and onto the finishing "false flat", and if you were thinking "it's Valverde, of course he's going to win the sprint", you were absolutely correct.

A great day for Valverde, but Kruijswijk managed to put time into his biggest rivals and didn't even have to do all the work. He still has to manage the Alps, but is currently looking unstoppable.
posted by selfnoise at 8:02 AM on May 24, 2016

Stage 17 Winner:
Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling

No changes in GC Classification


Finally a nearly completely uneventful day. Flat stage, small breakaway, and a win for Roger Kluge which I suppose you could classify as either a long sprint or a very short attack. Kluge is out of a job after this season since his team is dissolving, so he's added a really nice resume bullet point at exactly the right time. Three Germans have now won sprints this race, and zero Italians... that's not going to go over well in La Gazzetta.

Tomorrow: an Alps appetizer.
posted by selfnoise at 8:29 AM on May 25, 2016

Attention for the Giro is much appreciated so thanks selfnoise.

As a Dutch cycling fan I'm lost for words due to the superb performance by Kruijswijk so far. Never in my life have I seen a Dutch rider dominate the field this much in a GT and I did watch Joop Zoetemelk win the Tour in 1980.

Kruijswijk isn't a total surprise though. He's made the Giro his sole goal every year for his whole career. He missed two seasons due to a complicated operation. Last year he would have been top 3 at least if he hadn't made a mistake in the first week where he lost 8 minutes in one stage due to not being in the right place at the right time. In the last week he kept up with Contador in amazing fashion. It's all coming to fruition this year.

The only guy I see capable of keeping him from the win is Chaves. The high mountains are his terrain and if Kruijswijk has as much as a mediocre day in one of the last stages all can be lost in a few k's.

I do hope he keeps it together and that this year it'll be for Kruijswijk. He is clearly the strongest rider up till now and (chauvinism aside ;-) does seem to deserve to win it. Chaves' time will come for sure and with Quintana winning the Tour this year, Colombian cycling fans will have enough to cheer about. :-)
posted by Kosmob0t at 2:39 PM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Stage 18 Winner:
Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step

No changes in GC Classification

It was going to be a long day on the roads with a sharp climb at the end, so the peloton decided to take it easy. After a large but non-threatening break formed, they were happily waved far up the road as the main group slowly meandered through the countryside near Milan. Climbing the category 2 Pramartino saw the break whittled down to around six riders, with two familiar faces off the front: Moreno Moser and former maglia rosa Gianluca Brambilla. A small group including Matteo Trentin and Sacha Modolo chased just behind. Trentin caught the leading two with 300 meters to go and it was a sprint between the three Italians, with Trentin pulling ahead to win. Some clever work from Etixx to manage the breakaway and keep a numerical advantage.

Before the peloton crossed the line there were a few small attacks from the GC group, but nothing to write home about. Tomorrow it's back to going straight up and down mountains.
posted by selfnoise at 8:03 AM on May 26, 2016

Oh man, tomorrow is the day of truth. Pure climbing all the way, luckily not too dangerous descends but still super stressful. To translate a Dutch saying directly into English: I'm sweating carrots.
Go Kruijswijk!
posted by Kosmob0t at 2:43 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Haha, you'd have to have pretty big pores to sweat carrots!

I'm pretty excited for the next two days. Sadly I have to work tomorrow morning but I'll still try and follow it.
posted by selfnoise at 7:28 PM on May 26, 2016

Stage 19 Winner:
Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team

GC Classification after Stage 19:
1 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 78:14:20
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:40
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:01:05
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:48
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:03:59
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:07:53
7 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:09:34
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:12:18
9 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 0:13:19
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:14:11

It was over 70km before the first break formed in this highest of Giro stages. 28 riders went clear, but after a half hour or so of hard climbing only 11 remained. From this smaller group attacked Michele Scarponi, attempting a solo run with 63km left. Mr. Scarponi will be important later in our narrative.

Midway up the Colle Dell'Agnello Chaves' team of Orica Greenedge started to set a blistering pace at the fore that felt like an attack. This quickly dropped all but the GC contenders, with Chaves, Kruijswijk and Valverde riding ahead of Majka, Zakarin and Nibali. Near the summit Valverde started to look a bit worse for wear, perhaps suffering once again from the altitude, and he was replaced at the fore by a suddenly spring-footed Nibali.

As the new trio descended the snow-covered mountain Kruijswijk suddenly seemed to run out of road and fell heavily into a snowbank. Nibali and Chaves declined to stop for the race leader, Alberto Contador having killed cycling chivalry years before with The Incident of the Slipped Chain*. Kruijswijk took a new bike, then ANOTHER new bike, and things started to look perilous for the maglia rosa. Meanwhile just up the road, Zakarin took an even worse fall, broke his collarbone, and that was the end of the Giro for him. Given the crash, he actually looks lucky to not be worse off.

Kruijswijk continued to be isolated, losing time not only to Nibali and Chaves but also to other riders like Valverde who passed him on the descent. Finally he was able to hook up with Bob Jungels and some others, but he still began the final ascent several minutes down on the leaders. Up the road, Scarponi was informed that his leader Nibali needed some help and dropped back to pull the two leaders away from Kruijswijk. Midway up, Nibali's decided to test those suddenly-spritely legs and danced away from Chaves, who unexpected struggled to follow.

In the end, it was Nibali with an authoritative win and Chaves slipping on the maglia rosa. But did he back into the Jersey? Can he hold 40 seconds off from Nibali tomorrow? Can Kruijswijk somehow claw time back? Anything can happen, and as we've seen in this Giro so far it definitely will.

And Nibali provides the quote of the Giro so far: "I've won by rage today."

*I'm kidding. For some reason this is always the incident people remember but in truth the idea of waiting for the race leader is more like the Pirate's Code.
posted by selfnoise at 9:10 AM on May 27, 2016

From desciptions, Zakarin had a Road Rage style accident, and he was very lucky to get away with just a broken clavicle.

Kruijswijk seemed to have his judgement clouded by altitude, and his vision by the walls of ice and fog.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:22 AM on May 27, 2016

Kruijswijk seemed to just have a momentarily lapse in concentration, trying to do too much at the start of the descent. He sounded utterly defeated after the stage was over. Cycling is a cruel sport.
posted by selfnoise at 10:41 AM on May 27, 2016

Also, I've heard that apparently he might have been killed if the snowbank hadn't been there... will have to go back and look again tonight. Certainly not where you want to crash. I still remember Jens Voigt's crash in the 2009 TdF and wondering for a moment whether he had survived.
posted by selfnoise at 10:50 AM on May 27, 2016

Well, what can I say. Totally gutted. It was a stupid mistake from Kruijswijk. Maybe next year...
posted by Kosmob0t at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm feeling just like last year's Vuelta where Dumoulin had to do the same sort of chase on his own. He also had no team to speak of which shows again the importance of at least having a decent team in cycling. I hope both of them change to a better team next year.

Anyway, last year after Dumoulin's demise I felt like I didn't want to watch cycling ever. Of course, after some time I was religiously following every race again. I guess this time will be the same though I will again not watch the final of this Giro due to the same feeling of total disappointment. And yes, I know I'm a wimp. :-)

Have fun these final stages folks, it does look like it's going to be a good fight between Nibali and Chaves.
posted by Kosmob0t at 3:11 AM on May 28, 2016

Holy. Shit.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:08 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Stage 20 Winner:
Rein Taaramae (Est) Team Katusha

GC Classification after Stage 20:
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 82:44:31
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:00:52
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:17
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:01:50
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 00:04:37
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:08:31
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:11:47
8 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 00:13:21
9 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 00:14:09
10 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 00:16:20

No detailed update from me today, folks. I'm exhausted and it's too hot here to think. Besides, you should just go watch this stage: what a day of racing!

Vincenzo Nibali found himself in the high altitudes this year, and after this performance you'd have to imagine Italians are ready to make him Prime Minister. Nibali is sometimes cold and sometimes hot, but never boring, and both his weaknesses and finally strengths have animated the race.

Esteban Chaves can find plenty of consolation, of course. He's a young man with a weak team, and both stronger teammates and more experience are likely coming for him. Valverde gets exactly what he wanted coming in, and Kruijswijk... is going to have to make some better memories. At least he knows what he's capable of.

Tomorrow's going to see a parade to Turin, but this race has been the most exciting grand tour I can remember watching. Bravo to all, and chapeau to Nibali.
posted by selfnoise at 10:42 AM on May 28, 2016

The lat three days really put out how important strategy and a good team is.

If Lotto had someone on the break, Kruijswijk could have still finished the stage with the Rosa on. Part of what helped Nibali recover IIRC three minutes in two days and clinch the win yesterday was Scarponi being a trooper and then Kangert dropping from the break to help him for a few kms. Chaves had Rigoberto for a bit, but even he couldn't help him that much then.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:16 AM on May 29, 2016

Stage 21 Winner:
Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin

GC Classification (FINAL):
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 82:44:31
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge 00:00:52
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:17
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:01:50
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team 00:04:37
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:08:31
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:11:47
8 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 00:13:21
9 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 00:14:09
10 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 00:16:20

The end of the Giro and a parade to Turin. If you assumed the drama couldn't possibly end this year, however, you were at least a little bit right.

First to make a mark on this stage was the ever-changing weather, which threw rain and wind at the peloton on what should have been a celebratory finale. Unfortunately, even this procession saw crashes which forced cyclists who had survived the entire three week journey to abandon before the finish line. Lars Bak, Jasha Sutterlin and Johann van Zyl all ended their days headed to the hospital rather than over the finish line.

The race organizers, clearly cognizant of the potential for a truly unfortunate situation, decided to formally neutralize the race's finishing circuits. After news of this reached the riders, the peloton started to resemble a group out for their casual weekend ride as the GC racers and entourages took whatever pace felt best.

Still riding in the front were the sprinter's teams, particularly those of Trek-Segafredo rider Giacomo Nizzolo. Nizzolo wore the red jersey but had perpetually been a runner up and was hoping to finally break the curse. And indeed right at the finish, Nizzolo showed the strongest sprint. Unfortunately, he also swerved quite clearly to the right, covering other sprinter's racing lines, and as a result the race officials awarded the win to second-place finisher Nikias Arndt. Nizzolo, coming up to accept his red jersey afterwards looked amazingly out of sorts for someone receiving an award.

In the end, Vincenzo Nibali was all smiles crossing the line. A grueling, chaotic and topsy-turvy Giro had finally come to an end with the Sicilian on top of the world.
posted by selfnoise at 12:37 PM on May 29, 2016

Nizzolo looked like Giguere up there (context: won the playoff mvp award, lost the finals, got the trophy some 10 minutes after that). But that was the right decision - he had no reason to take that lane so late in the sprint.

In case anyone wants to dig in a bit deeper, Steephill.tv has been posting the official media results PDF, with a lot of information. Three curiosities:
- Daniel Oss spent 557kms on breaks
- FDJ collectively finished over 11 hours after winners Astana. 5 of their riders ended in the bottom 25.
- Katusha alone had almost more fair play points than the rest of the peloton.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:41 PM on May 29, 2016

The lat three days really put out how important strategy and a good team is.

If Lotto had someone on the break, Kruijswijk could have still finished the stage with the Rosa on. Part of what helped Nibali recover IIRC three minutes in two days and clinch the win yesterday was Scarponi being a trooper and then Kangert dropping from the break to help him for a few kms. Chaves had Rigoberto for a bit, but even he couldn't help him that much then.

Yeah, Chaves really suffered for not having a dedicated team, with resources split between him and Caleb Ewan. And then you had a team like Sky, with a bunch of domestiques grasping at straws after their leader departed. Tinkov also brought a climbing-focused team but Majka never really got there.

One of the weird things about cycling as a sport is that every Worldtour team has to attend every race, but of course it's not possible to have a team that's good at everything. So when you have to decide on an approach to a race that may not be your team's 100% goal this season you need to decide just how many resources you'll devote. Some teams like Sky and Astana have the resources to not have to pick and choose; most others will have to make a sacrifice somewhere.
posted by selfnoise at 1:44 PM on May 29, 2016

- Daniel Oss spent 557kms on breaks
- FDJ collectively finished over 11 hours after winners Astana. 5 of their riders ended in the bottom 25.
- Katusha alone had almost more fair play points than the rest of the peloton.

Oss was a beast on the breaks this year. As a rider for BMC, a team that seemed to be targeting stage wins this year, he was of course free to go out and try things every day if he liked.

That said, Atapuma and BMC have to be quite pleased with how high in the GC he ended up.

FDJ is one of those teams that seemed like perhaps they would have preferred to just skip the Giro. Marginal teams straddling the line between Worldtour and Pro Conti seem like they are under more pressure than ever these days. It's funny to think just a few years ago people were worried about teams being forced into relegation. Now the UCI is probably desperate just to fill up the 18 spaces.
posted by selfnoise at 1:51 PM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

FDJ certainly looked a case of the "I'm just here so we don't get fined". I think I only saw one of their riders today - as Nibali crossed the line.

With IAM and Tinkoff signing off, it will be interesting to see who's stepping up in 2017. Riis seems to have a new project (ah, the wonders of not being a dick after being caught with a needle up his buttcheeks) and might bring Contador in the fold, and there's the Bahrain team with Nibali, but other than sucking for the 50-something riders out of top-tier work, I don't think having less World Tour and more local Continental Tour wildcards would do much harm. I'm not at all familiar with budgeting in cycling, but for most of these lower-end teams that get their day on "their" Grand Tour and a few classics and one-week races, I question if there's really any upside to drag those teams everywhere they contractually obligated to take part but not willing to put any effort.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:30 PM on May 29, 2016

Just looking at BMC's lineups for the Dauphin and the Tour de Suisse the disparity in teams is evident. BMC can field two separate teams for nearly simultaneous races, either of which would probably have made a decent Giro team. Other teams in the same 'league' struggle to field one.

Not only that, but rich teams like BMC and Sky (both single sponsor teams dependent on the whims of wealthy magnates) and Astana (slightly shady quasi-governmental funding) remind one of the precarious nature of funding. These are teams that have stability because they don't have to go searching for a new sub-sponsor every two years, but would probably just shutter completely if certain winds changed (as is occasionally rumored with Sky)

I have to say, the upcoming influx of Gulf oil money doesn't really make me feel any better. The Bahrain prince looking to get into the sport (the latest is that he may actually jump as Lampre-Merida's sponsor) has a human rights record that's extremely troubling to put it lightly. There's also a Qatari financed effort supposedly underway.
posted by selfnoise at 9:36 AM on May 30, 2016

Tinkoff was a good example of that. Once Tinkov decided that he was done with cycling, it's curtains for everyone there.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:11 AM on May 30, 2016

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