By David Hunter
Stage 15 Recap
What a stage! The break didn’t make it. Arredondo attacked from the foot of the climb, but it was far too far out, and he failed. The GC riders attacked each other and the situation was constantly changing. It looked like Pierre Rolland was going to get away but it was Fabio Aru that blasted the field. He was given too much freedom and when Quintana eventually attacked, the Italian was gone. He claimed a brilliant stage win, with Duarte in 2nd and Quintana in 3rd. Quintana made a little bit of time up on Uran, and Uran made time on Evans and Pozzovivo. Pierre Rolland continues to impress, and now a lot will be expected of Aru.
Stage 16 Ponte Di Legno – Val Martello 139km
As it stands the race goes ahead as planned but any snow overnight will see the stage changed.
The stage was cancelled last year and all cycling fans hope it gets the go ahead, as it looks brilliant!
It might only be 139km but with hardly any flat kilometres, this stage promises to be an epic.
To begin with we have the Gavia. It’s 16.5km at 8%, how’s that for a wake-up call!
Then the mighty Stelvio, at 2758 metres high, it is the highest point of the 2014 Giro. This means that it’s the Cima Coppi and all the Italians want to be first over. It’s 21.7km at 6.9%, an absolute monster of a climb.
The final climb is Val Martello. It’s 22.35km at 6.4%.
The most difficult part of the climb is the final 1.5km. It is ridiculously steep, before levelling out at the very end of the climb.
With 72 KOM points on offer for the first two climbs, it is an important day in the battle for the blue jersey. If you want to win the jersey then you must make the break. This should mean we see Arredondo, Wellens, Monsalve and maybe Pirazzi in the break. The Cima Coppi also means we should see a large number of Italians in the morning break. There are some brilliant climbers, far down on GC, that will want to be in the break: Scarponi, Roche, Moreno, Niemiec, Sicard, Bongiorno and Rosa.
Some of these riders have been unfortunate in the race, but some are out of form. Have some riders been planning their whole Giro around this stage?
With the break expected to be over 20 riders, there is every chance it could stay away but the shortness of the stage means that if the peloton want to win the stage, they will be able to control the lead of the break. It all depends on who is in the break and the tactics of Movistar. OPQS will be more than happy to see the bonus seconds available at the end of the stage, disappear.
Quintana now sits 2:40 behind Uran, as we begin the final week. We have 4 mountaintop finishes and mountain ITT, so there will be plenty of opportunities available for him to take time back. The form of the Colombian looks to be building and he is now free from his illness.
Uran did an incredible time in the ITT, looked beaten on stage 14, before regaining form on stage 15.
Evans is now looking like a spent force and will continue to slide down the GC.
Pozzovivo was brilliant on stage 14, but struggled on stage 15. He has picked up a cold and will find it hard to compete with the top riders, if this is true.
Rolland, Aru, Majka and Kelderman all continue to impress but there are concerns about when their “bad day” will come.
In terms of the GC battle, I see Quintana taking more time on Uran. He has been happy so far to attack late and take 30 seconds or so. As his form grows, watch for him to attack further out. Uran should be able to follow, but he’ll be isolated and in danger of seriously blowing, under the constant pressure from Nairo.
If the break stays away then the KOM boys will burn themselves out, so I think Niemiec looks an obvious pick. I also have a hunch, that Diego Rosa will be targeting this stage. So I expect him to be in the mix.
If the peloton bring them back, then it has to be time for Quintana!
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