Friday, May 17, 2013

STAGE 14 Preview 2013 Giro D'Italia

Now there's a happy Manxman
Mark Cavendish held up four fingers when he crossed the stage 13 finish line today, one for each stage he has won. He posted back-to-back wins yesterday and today, but you can bet your life savings that he won’t make it three.

*[You can see my entire recap of today’s and every day’s stage by clicking on the relevant link to the right. Previews for each stage are there too. After a few days the pages can be found under "Blog Archives"]*

Nibali: mentally prepared for the Alps

The stage started without ex-protagonists Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) who were both ailing and losing time. Matty Breschel has withdrawn from the race following stage 13 as well.

Friday the race moved west across northern Italy. Saturday's Stage 14 takes the riders through the Piedmont region, northwest into the Alps. It finishes on top of the 1908-meter high Jafferau climb in Bardonecchia, right by the French border. On the way the riders will have to make the very long haul up to Sestriere—which itself is 2035 meters high.

Stage 14 Profile
This “easy side” of the Sestriere is a category 2 climb that summits with 43 kms to go. It averages under 4%, but it goes on and on and can drain a lot of energy before the finish climb in Bardonecchia. The peloton will have effectively been climbing for 60 kms by the time they hit the KOM line at the top of the famous Olympic ski village. The measured climb is taped at 17.53 kms, climbing 685 vertical meters, for an average of 3.9%. The main climb is really just over 9 kms long averaging closer to 5.5%, then finishes with a short sprint to the KOM line.

The climb to the finish
After a 21 km descent to Oulx the riders will start climbing again, and after 160kms in the saddle they’ll begin the steep ascent to Bardonecchia. The Jafferau climb to Bardonecchia is 7 kms averaging 9%, but mostly over 10%, and with a maximum close to 15%. The last couple kms average over 10%, so no pretenders will win tomorrow.

Several riders will look for a way to chip away at Nibali’s lead. I think the top GC guys will probably wait until the last couple of kilometers before trying anything serious though. They will need energy for stage 15’s climbing bonanza to the Galibier.


LIKELY PICKS: One of the pure climbers like Domenico Pozzovivo or Darwin Atapuma. Michele Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali are also good picks.

DARK-HORSE PICK: Egoi Martinez (Euskatel). If the Basque climber is not stuck chaperoning his team leader Sammy Sanchez up the climbs, he is one of the few experienced veterans out there who could have a chance of winning from a break on a stage that the GC contenders will be gunning for. He is far enough back on GC (at over eighteen minutes down) that he could be allowed to ride away. Whether anyone will be able to stay away is another matter.

MY PICK: Carlos Betancur (Ag2R). The 23-year old is one of several Colombian mountain goats who have a good shot at this stage. He posted good results in some of the Classics this year (3rd at Fleche Wallone and 4th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege), he had two top-5 mountaintop finishes at the Tour of the Basque Country in April, and he finished 2nd on top of the Altopiano climb on stage 10 just a few days ago.


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