Giro d’Italia 2015 – Stage 14 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Giro d’Italia 2015 – Stage 14 Preview

By David Hunter

Treviso – Valdobbiadene 59.4km

giro14

I’ll start with the weather report….rain and lots of it! This is not what the GC riders wanted to hear. This stage is hugely important to the overall standings and the wet weather is going to increase the difficulty, considerably. There are plenty of corners and we are bound to get crashes, in these conditions. Throughout the afternoon, the wind is to change direction from the SW to the NE. A quite bizarre turn of events. This could have an impact on the race.

As you can see, the opening 30km is nice and flat and the road is straight and wide. Get it in the biggest gear possible and grind!

giro14a

The opening climb is really 3km at 5%, if you remove the start and end. It has a maximum slope of 9% and after 30km of riding fast, this will hurt.

giro14b

After 50km of a TT, everything is starting to hurt. Imagine being faced with this! Ignore the 12.2%, that’s wrong, this climb is 6km at 5%. The length, not steepness, of the climb is going to slow a lot of riders down. You need to carefully manage your effort, and save some for the final 10km.

giro14c

The race ends with a steep descent, this will be fun in the rain, before 400m at 5%. Even this short uphill section, will require a big push. There are a couple of tight corners, before the climb, so the riders won’t be able to take any speed into the climb.

The last time the Giro had a TT over 50km, was back in 2013. The top 10 from that day was:-

Dowsett, Wiggins, Kangert, Nibali, Clement, Durbridge, Evans, Boaro, Henao and Scarponi.

This is a day for the specialists, but also GC riders in good form. Here are the contenders for the win and the top 10:-

Gretsch, Aru, Cataldo, Kangert, LL Sanchez, Dillier, Caruso, Uran, Roux, Chavanel, Ulissi, Van Den Broeck, Izagirre, Durbridge, Hepburn, Ludvigsson, Zakarin, Porte, Konig, Kiriyenka, Siutsou, Contador, Kreuziger and Vandewalle.

That’s a long list and a mix of GC riders and TT specialists. Riding over such a long distance is unique and really requires amazing form, and/or experience.

Vasil Kiriyenka is an amazing rider. The selfless work he does is astonishing, but he rarely gets the chance to shine. A long TT is his cup of tea. He has finished 4th in the World Championships ITT, in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, the race was 57.9km long. In the Worlds, he struggles to break the dominance of the big 3(Martin, Wiggins and Cancellara), but none of them are here. Sky will want reference times, to help Porte, so Kiri will be instructed to go “full gas.” He has an excellent chance of the podium and the win.

Of the other specialists, Sylvain Chavanel, knows what it takes to win a long TT. He regularly wins his national TT championship, over 40km long, and is a regular contender for Chrono des Nations(over 50km long). IAM delivered a strong performance in the TTT and Chava will be hopeful for this stage. The rain won’t bother him, as he’s a brilliant bike handler.

Speaking of rain, a certain Ilner Zakarin seems to like those conditions. Remember, that he would have beaten Tony Martin in the Romandie TT, if he hadn’t needed a bike change. Given his form, the Russian has to be a favourite for this race, as much as I hate to admit.

Turbo Durbo was 6th in 2013. His TT form has not been very strong recently and it’s a massive ask to turn it around in the middle of a grand tour. A top 10 should be a target, maybe even top 5, but that will be hard.

Tanel Kangert was 3rd in 2013 and was looking very strong, on Thursday. Recent form cannot be overlooked and the Estonian has a wonderful chance here. He is riding for the strongest team, Astana, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them place 4 riders in the top 10. They have Aru, Cataldo, Kangert and Sanchez, who are all capable of big rides. Cataldo is a solid TT rider but also seems to be in the form of his life. I didn’t think I would ever see him compete for the top 5 in a Grand Tour, but there you go!

The GC battle is going to be fascinating. Contador is hitting form, Aru seems to be fading and Porte is Mr Steady. The TT should suit the Aussie and he has to make time on the others, he’s now 5 minutes down. I think he starts the race as the favourite, but I don’t think he’ll take massive time on Contador, who is now starting to show signs of being at his best. Porte will hope to take 1 minute but that might be pushing it a bit.

Contador had a couple of poor years, on his TT bike. He struggled with his position and had to constantly push himself forward, on the saddle. 2014 was a good year on his TT bike: 2nd in Pais Vasco and 4th in the Vuelta. He would hope to finish in top 5 of this stage, thus limiting his losses to Porte.

Back in 2013, Aru was 23rd in the long TT. Since then he has worked hard on his position and has started to improve. He was 16th in the 2014 Barolo TT and 21st in the Vuelta TT. These results are still a long way from the standard of Porte and Contador, but this season he has started to hit new heights. I wonder if that will translate into a top 5 TT result? I would normally say no, but you cannot underestimate Aru and Astana.

The 2014 Barolo TT is quite similar to this one, in profile at least. Rigoberto Uran won that by a massive 1:17. He should be the favourite for this stage but his form is not good. To win a long TT you need to be at 100% and I don’t think he is. Such a shame as he would have been targeting this stage, since the route launch. Hopefully, the Colombian, can rediscover some form and put in a big ride. It would make the final week more exciting.

Diego Ulissi was 2nd in Barolo. That was a massive shock, but he was busted not long afterwards. A similar performance would be staggering, I don’t see him contending.

Ion Izagirre looks the best bet from Movistar. He is a strong TT rider but I think he would settle for a top 10 here. They will hope that Visconti and Amador can limit their loses and remain in the top 10.

With Aru now in pink, he’ll have the time checks of all the other riders. This is a bonus for him, but you still have to be strong enough to match them. Will riding in pink give him some extra power?

Prediction Time

I would love to see Vasil Kiriyenka take the win and I think he has a great chance. The weather conditions will play a big part, especially if we get dry roads at some point. Porte looks the best of the GC riders but I have a horrible feeling that Zakarin or Astana will win. However, I’ll stay loyal to the Beast of Belarus and pick Kiri as the winner.

David Hunter

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