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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, May 27, 2016

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

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Giro d'Italia Stage 18 video

Giro d'Italia team reports

Stage 10 winner Ciccone abandons Giro

This unfortunate news release came from Bardiani-CSF:

Giulio Ciccone won’t be at the start of stage 19 of Giro d’Italia. The young talent of Bardiani-CSF, who claimed the win in stage 10 from Campi Bisenzio to Sestola, has to withdraw after that the gastrointestinal problem he suffered since Tuesday intensified.

Team doctor Giampaolo Benini and #GreenTeam management decided for the stop first of all to preserve the health of the rider in light of the difficulties he showed during and after last stages. Ciccone will come back home today and, as soon as possible, he will have medical examinations.

Giulio Ciccione

Giulio Ciccione winning stage 10

Race leader Steven Kruijswijk's LottoNL-Jumbo sent me this update:

After the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia today in Pinerolo, Steven Kruijswijk remains in the pink jersey. The LottoNL-Jumbo’s position was not in danger on the Pramartino, the only categorised climb of the day. Matteo Trentin (Ettix-Quick Step) won the stage ahead of the group of favourites at 13 minutes.

Matteo Trentin

Matteo Trentin wins Giro stage 18

Early in the stage, a leading group of 24 went away with no LottoNL-Jumbo cyclists. The men of Steven Kruijswijk set the pace behind. They covered around 100 kilometres in two hours. "Everything went according to plan today, a large group quickly went away,” said Sports Director Addy Engels. “The jersey was never in danger and Steven is looking forward to the coming days.”

LottoNL-Jumbo rode the whole day in front, but the speed was noted. "It was a high tempo and at one point, there were even riders asking if we could possibly slow down so they could pee,” said Kruijswijk. "I didn’t see much of the peloton because I only had my team-mates around me. I was never outside the first five of the group."

The 24 men were allowed to fight for the stage win. In the final, Italians Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx - Quick Step) and Moreno Moser (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) escaped, but Brambilla’s team-mate Matteo Trentin blew by in the last 200 metres for the win in Pinerolo.

Enrico Battaglin led the peloton on the climb to Pramartino. "Enrico was better than I expected, he kept pushing and no one attacked." "They did nothing,” Kruijswijk said of his rivals. “As long as I’m ahead, I have the mental boost over them. It is important to show no weakness."

They face a tough stage tomorrow that could decide the Giro. "It will go down to the last men,” said Engels. “It’s reassuring that Steven has shown to be the best uphill."

"Tomorrow is better for me than today,” Kruijswijk added. “I showed in the last week that I'm really good on those long climbs. I need to have no fear, it is especially important when they attack."

Here's Tinkoff's Giro news:

It was a second day in a row for Tinkoff in the escape today, as another flat stage brought out the breakaway riders looking for a stage win. While much of the stage was flat, a finishing circuit that took in some testing and energy-sapping climbs at the end of the longest day of the Giro would show who was going to have the legs to contest the win. Today saw Pavel Brutt, in his second break in two days, joined by Jay McCarthy and Ivan Rovny. Ivan looked strong, and on for another result after his second place on stage 10, but after overshooting a corner late on he was left chasing and eventually finished in sixth spot.

Pavel Brutt

Pavel Brutt in 2015

With a similar profile to stage 11, where the innocent-looking stage surprised many with its sting in the tail, there was every chance of a repeat performance today on the Giro d’Italia’s longest day. The 244km stage was flat for the first 170km, but it was after this that the action was doubtless going to take place.

The parcours showed only one categorised climb – the second category Pramartino – but as difficult as this climb was, with its 17% maximum gradient and average gradient of 10.5% over its 4.65km length, it was the final climb of the day that was going to play a huge part in deciding the stage winner – and maybe even impact on the GC standings as well. The ascent to San Maurizio on the Via Principi d’Acaja reached gradients of 20% on a cobblestone road. While the climb was only short, coming at the end of such a long day in the saddle would make it exceptionally difficult – especially as it was part of a finishing circuit the peloton would climb twice.

With a flat start to the day, a breakaway was inevitable, and amongst a group of twenty-four riders were three from Tinkoff – Jay McCarthy, Ivan Rovny and for the second day in a row, Pavel Brutt was part of the escape group. With strength in numbers, this group quickly amassed more than six minutes on the peloton, and growing steadily – by the time 50km of the stage had been covered, the break had more than nine minutes on the peloton.

Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman stated yesterday that being in the break would be important, and was pleased with how his riders responded. "It was a perfect situation for us - 24 in front and we had three guys there which was super. Brutt was up there for the second day after a day full gas yesterday which was really impressive, and Jay was also there which was nice to see and good for him.”

While the profile was flat, the scenery was nothing short of stunning. The break had little time to enjoy the landscape however, with a pace of almost 50km/h in the break, driving the gap for the escapees to more than 11 minutes.

With 40km left to race, and in response to an attack from within the breakaway group, Pavel Brutt went out in front with another of the break’s members. After a few kilometres Pavel went it alone, testing the rest of the escape. While the gap was approaching only twenty seconds, it was clear the Russian rider was easily keeping the breakaway at bay, making the first climb of the Via Principi d’Acaja on his own and with the chasing group having to dig deep.

With the Pramartino to come, and its testing slopes, Pavel was coined by a chase group behind with his teammates, Jay McCarthy and Ivan Rovny, on the climb. The breakaway still had a comfortable advantage of thirteen minutes over the peloton with 20km remaining, when the first big move came from the front on the climb, with two riders pulling clear and got a gap with Ivan Rovny and Jay McCarthy chasing behind.

As the escapees crested the Pramartino, Ivan Rovny went to try and pull them back in as part of a group of four. With the advantage the descent gave them, the gap dropped to sixteen seconds with 5km of the stage to go. With extra leg power over the duo at the front of the race, there was a chance of making the catch, but much would depend on how each group performed on the second pass of the Via Principi d’Acaja.

While the chasers reduced the gap, disaster struck when Ivan ran wide on the ninety-degree cobblestone bend and slid into the barriers. While unhurt, Ivan had lost the momentum he needed to carry on the chase, while his group lost one of their strongest members. In spite of this, Ivan quickly picked up the pace and at the finish claimed sixth place, only seconds after the last of the chasers crossed the line.

On one of the last stages where the terrain suited a move like this, Hoffman was happy that the team took the opportunities today. “They did a good race, but at the end there were a few others that were a bit stronger. Ivan was together with the winner in the downhill but had to unclip in a corner at the base of the final climb. The others got a gap and he couldn't get back. I'm happy because this was one of the last stages for these guys to try something and they were really focused at the start to make sure they got into the move. Ok, we didn't win but we did our best.”

With the breakaway across the line more than thirteen minutes before, it was the GC riders coming to the finish. Sprinting to ensure none of the GC contenders took a second or two on the overall standings, Rafal Majka crossed the line with his rivals, all of them taking the same time.

The Giro has been a strong team effort so far, and today was no different, explained Hoffman. "The guys behind that were with Rafa did a perfect lead out into the climb to keep him in position, and he was never in difficulty so it's a good sign for two days to come - we still have hopes of the podium.”

Tomorrow sees the race return to the mountains for its first day in the Alps. The fearsome Colle Dell’Agnello – the ‘Cima Coppi’ of this year’s Giro d’Italia – dominates the profile, with the road going skywards almost from the start of the stage. The 21.3km climb will be the day’s talking point, with a maximum gradient of 15% and the upper slopes averaging 9.3%. The summit marks the point the race will cross over into France for the remainder of the day, an excursion that starts with a long descent down the French side of the climb, before the first category ascent to the ski resort of Risoul for the uphill finish.

"Tomorrow will be tough,” said Hoffman. “A very long first climb and then the mountain top finish in Risoul, where Rafa won at the Tour two years ago. We are hopeful he can do something and we'll see how the race develops."

Esteban Chaves is still in second place. Here's what his Orica-GreenEdge team posted:

For the second consecutive stage Esteban Chaves and the other race favourites all finished together on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia, with the Colombian remaining in second place for ORICA-GreenEDGE as the race heads back into the mountains.

Esteban Chaves winning Giro stage 14

Esteban Chaves winning Giro stage 14

Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) retains the race leader's pink jersey with Queen stage winner Chaves three minutes down in second place. Stage 18 was won by Matteo Trentin (Etixx-Quickstep) who was part of a winning move made from the day’s early breakaway.

Sport director Matt White wasn’t surprised with how the stage unfolded. “It was always going to be a day for the breakaway,” said White. “But it also had the potential for two races within one. The race for the stage win and the other with the favourites tightly marking each other.”

“With the sharp San Maurizio climb just before the finish there was a chance that splits could form, but in the end we didn’t see it.”

Tomorrow’s stage 19 is a serious mountain stage and includes the ‘Cima Coppi’ – the highest peak of the Giro d’Italia. At 2,744metres the Colle dell’Agnello is one of the highest mountain passes in Europe and traverses the Italian/French Cottian Alps. After the ‘Agnello’ the field will negotiate a tough technical descent before the summit finish in the French ski resort, Risoul.

“We are still in a great position with two massive mountain stages coming up,” explained White. “It’s the ‘Cima Coppi’ tomorrow which is a big, big climb at nearly 2,800metres followed by a difficult finish."

“Esteban (Chaves) is used to training in the mountains at high altitude at home in Columbia so hopefully tomorrow will be familiar territory for him.”

How it happened: The sun shone brightly at the start of stage 18 in Muggio this morning welcoming the riders to a relaxed sign on and a steady roll out through the neutral zone.

The breakaway on yesterday's stage 17 formed after only two kilometres of racing, it was a little later today but 24 riders went clear within the first 40 kilometres and quickly developed a lead of over three minutes.

With 70 kilometres covered the twenty-four leaders had over ten minutes on the main field. The first 170kilometres of today’s stage were pan flat and the peloton were allowing the breakaway group complete freedom.

At the halfway point the twenty-four escapees still had over ten minutes on the field and were maintaining a high average speed of 48kph. Etixx-Quickstep were represented in the breakaway by Gianluca Brambilla and Trentin but it was Daniel Oss (BMC) who was the most active rider at the front of the race.

The leaders had pushed their advantage out to over twelve minutes with 50kilometres to go and the peloton showing no sign of any interest in the chase. All the race favourites were packed in tightly at the front of the bunch surrounded by their respective teammates and content to let LottoNL-Jumbo control the tempo.

Stage 17 winner Roger Kluge (IAM-Cycling) attacked from the breakaway group with 40kilometres left and was followed by Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff). Brutt pushed on alone for a few kilometres and held a ten second lead over Oss group until the first passage of the finish in Pinerolo with 25kilometres to go.

A select group of around nine riders, including Brambilla and Moreno Moser (Cannondale) attacked on the steep, cobbled San Maurizio climb, and split the front of the race apart. Moser and Brambilla developed a gap of 20seconds and pushed on up the second category climb.

The peloton was also splitting apart as sections of the climb reached gradients of 20%. ORICA-GreenEDGE had kept Chaves safe all day long, but now the Colombian along with the other favourites was off the front of the bunch led by race leader Kruijswijk. The group thinned out further on the Pramartino climb as more riders were dropped out the back.

Brambilla and Moser raced on alone and an epic sprint ensued on the second passing of the San Maurizio climb with both riders fighting for the advantage. The chasing Trentin caught the wheel of teammate Brambilla with 500metres to go and launched a sprint that Moser had no response to. Trentin won the stage with the Chaves/Kruijswijk group still eleven minutes behind.

The favourites all finished together meaning no change to the general classification ahead of tomorrow’s stage 19.

Stage 19 sees the race return to the mountains and the ‘Cima Coppi’, the Colle dell’Agnello. Covering 162kilometres from Pinerolo to Risoul the race starts in Italy and finishes in France. The majority of the race is taken up with the climb and the descent of the ‘Agnello’ before another tough climb up to the summit finish in Risoul.

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary