Saturday, May 11, 2013

STAGE 9 Preview 2013 Giro d'Italia


Dowsett, the other British TT master
Mother nature was merciful today, offering the riders a dry course throughout the entire 55km Time Trial to Saltara. The weather would be no excuse for anyone whose GC chances were dashed today. British TT champ Alex Dowsett impressed all with his first Grand Tour stage win. Race favorite Wiggins looked to be under-performing until he pulled out a good finish up the final climb, which hit grades of 13%. Finishing second on the day, Wiggins moved himself well up the overall race standings from 23rd place to 4th. This would be great news to anyone else. To Wiggins fans who expected a superior thrashing of the competition today, the moody Brit’s performance might have left something to be desired. He came in to the stage with a 1:27 deficit to Italian favorite Vincenzo Nibali, and was only able to chop 11 seconds off of that.

Five riders managed to retain top-10 spots today: Nibali, Evans, Gesink, Santambrogio and Hesjedal, which means five others propelled themselves up into that select group. Hesjedal and Santambrogio moved down slightly in the General Classification, but are still threats inside the top-10.
My pick today, Wilco Kelderman, did not win, but his 14th place was good enough to take the white Young Rider's jersey off of Rafal Majka's back.
Here are my winners and losers from the crucial stage 8 ITT:

Big Winner(s):
Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans, Robert Gesink, and Team Sky. 
Nibali demonstrated his excellent form, grabbing the pink jersey, and established the foundation for what looks to be a very promising Giro performance. "The Shark" has shown such impressive form that he must look like the dominant favorite now.

Gesink got one of the most challenging stages behind him and will head into the mountains one second ahead of race favorite Wiggins. Good legs in the Alps could potentially net the Condor a podium spot in Brescia.

Evans showed that he is indeed in very good form and now sits in 2nd place at +:29, the only challenger within a minute of Nibali’s lead. He is still looking to be in peak form for the Tour in July, so we’ll have to wait and see how long his good spring form keeps up in the mountains over the next two weeks.

Finally, Dave Brailsford’s Sky boys may not have put their captain in pink, but their three top riders, Wiggins and Colombians Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran, all climbed in the standings from outside the top 20 to inside the top 10.

Big Loser(s):
Beñat Intxausti and Giampaolo Caruso.
Intxausti, the popular Basque talent, lost the Maglia Rosa and over 3 ½ minutes to his Sicilian foe, Nibali. For someone who has shown some good results against the clock, particularly on hilly courses, today’s performance has to feel like a loss to his Movistar team. I thought he had a good chance of keeping a top-10 spot, at least.
Caruso was never many people’s favorite, but he has been climbing well lately and came in to the TT today only :10 off Intxausti’s lead in 4th place. A less than glowing result today leaves the 32-year old Sicilian in 30th place with a gap of 6:36 to Nibali. In fact his Russian Katusha squad dropped from 1st place to 7th in the Team competition, where their top riders collectively sit 9:40 behind their Kazakh cousins, Team Astana. A stage win could be in his future.
With all the mountains still ahead of them, the peloton know that this race is far from decided, but today’s TT went a long way toward establishing a pecking order.

Stage 9 Profile

STAGE 9 Picks

Another potential breakaway stage tomorrow through the hills of Tuscany.  A pair of legitimate climbs mark the middle of the 170-km stage, and a pair of smaller ones come near the end. The last one is a little cat. 4 that tops out with 10k to go to the finish in Florence. This year’s late-season World Championship race is supposed to cover these roads. The finale is a slight uphill drag of about 1.6 kms at about 3% gradient. Stefano Pirazzi and Giovanni Visconti may be out looking to grab points toward the Mountain Jersey tomorrow. Visconti is also a likely pick for the stage as this area is his local domain. Other locals familiar with these roads include Mauro Santambrogio’s Vini Fantini team. They will surely be looking for success tomorrow as well.
The first rest day follows stage 9 before the peloton tackles the first mountaintop finish stage on Tuesday. The GC contenders will probably hope to let an escape group go, as long as no one threatening the overall times gets clear. Teams like Euskatel, Vini Fantini, Androni Giocattoli and Saxo-Tinkoff will likely try to get riders in the break. Weather will be a factor again with thundershowers expected in the afternoon.


LIKELY PICKS: Giovanni Visconti, Danilo Di Luca
MY PICKI think a break will succeed. "The Killer" Di Luca will have his day.

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