Giro d´Italia 2021 – Stage 16 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Giro d´Italia 2021 – Stage 16 Preview

By David Hunter

Sacile > Cortina d’Ampezzo 212.7km

A huge day of climbing.

We are in the Dolomites and the riders must tackle four big mountains, climbing an enormous 5292m. This is the Queen stage of the Giro, the hardest in this year’s edition, possibly one of the most difficult days we’ll see in many a year.

Weather

Someone has angered the weather Gods. Yet again there will be lots of rain, making the descents dangerous. It’s also going to be very cold, which means the rain is likely to turn to snow on the mountains. Some forecasts are even suggesting high winds. Given the length, difficulty and weather conditions this is going to be a hellish day in the saddle.

Key Points

La Crosetta is the first climb of the day, and it comes after just 10km of racing. It is 13.5km at 6.8% and this is where we’ll see the break establish. It’s the first time we’ve had a climb like this right at the start of the stage, it means that you need to be a good climber to get up the road. After this we have a long section in the valley, where we’ll see if the GC group want to chase the break.

Passo Fedaia is a horrible climb, 8.3km at 9.4%, but the final 5km barely drops below 10%. Huge damage can be done here if anyone wants to put the hurt on. The descent isn’t too bad, the road surface is good, and we don’t have too many corners, but in the wet it will obviously be tricky.

Passo Pordoi is 11.3km at 6.4%, which means it’s the easiest climb of the day, but it takes place at high altitude and it’s the Cima Coppi, the highest point in the whole Giro. The altitude will make it seem much harder than the numbers suggest.

The descent isn’t nice, especially as the road will be wet. Some will look to attack and take big risks here.

Passo Giau is a hugely demanding 9.8km at 8.9%, it’s bloody hard. It’s tough all the way, no resting points for the riders. The crest comes with 17km to go.

The descent to the finishing line is fast and has quite a few twists and turns. Fingers crossed everyone makes it down safely.

KOM Battle

This is a huge day in the fight for the blue jersey. Each of the cat 1 climbs gets you 40 points, with 50 points at the top of the Cima Coppi. That means we have 170 points on offer, the current leader of the jersey is Bouchard, and he has 96 points. This category is still wide open, but who wants to waste vital energy sprinting at the top of each mountain? Doing this seriously reduces your chances of winning the stage.

Tactics

The mountains, the rain, the descents, this Giro is still wide open. It’s a real shame we have so much flat between the first and second climbs, that kills off the hope of a GC rider going on the attack early, but I live in hope. Ineos are in control of the pink jersey, but even they will struggle to control a stage like this. The problem they have is a lack of domestiques. Sivakov abandoning the race left them with just seven riders, Moscon crashing the other day will also have an impact, he didn’t last very long on the Zoncolan. That leaves the team with Puccio, Ganna, Narváez and Castroviejo. They need Puccio and Ganna after the first climb, so they won’t be looking to push the pace early in the stage, which is great news for the breakaway.

The riders I’ve mentioned are all good climbers, but if the pace is high, they won’t survive Passo Pordoi. Which leaves just Martínez to help Bernal. This isn’t a bad position to be in, Ineos are the only squad with two riders in the top 10, but how will they approach the final climb? Some teams need to be bold and not wait for the final climb, but it’s easy for me to sit in my seat and say that. If you are sitting in the top 10, would you risk it all and attack on the Passo Pordoi? It could result in a big win, but it could also fail and see you fall out of the top 10. Someone like Bardet is the best option for this move, I doubt he cares much about a top 10 finish given what he’s already achieved in his career.

So, what’s going to happen? A big break will form on the first climb, but Ineos will be reluctant to allow satellite riders from BikeExchange to be in there. Unfortunately, I don’t see the GC action kicking off until Passo Giau, the other climbs are just a bit too far out for attacks as most riders will not want to use up vital energy earlier in the stage. I still think we’ll get an exciting stage, but maybe not the one I’ve been dreaming of.

DS Cycling Mole

Okay lads today didn’t go according to plan, thanks to that bloody crash. It’s not going to be a great night’s sleep for most of you, but we fight on. This stage is the hardest in the race, I want us to fight. The Zoncolan didn’t work out for us, but we still have Remco sitting 6th on GC. Smokin Jo, you’re still on babysitting duty, stay with The Teacher’s Pet as long as you can. Remco, don’t wait for the others to attack, you go first. Vamos!

Contenders

Pello Bilbao – to win this stage you’ll have to be good at descending in wet conditions, something Bilbao is excellent at. With Caruso still high on GC it’s not certain if he’ll be allowed to go for the break, but that’s how it works in a grand tour. If he does get to ride for the stage win, he’ll be one of the men to beat.

Jan Hirt – the man who normally comes good in the third week.

Dan Martin – it will be interesting to see how the bunch react if he tries to jump in the break. He’s 12th on GC, 7:50 behind Egan Bernal. He’s not a threat to Ineos, but some in the top 10 won’t be happy to let him back into the GC fight. He crashed while descending in the Tour of the Alps, this stage has a lot of tricky downhills, I wonder if he’s still going to be a little cautious.

Davide Formolo – 14th on GC and 9:52 down, that’s enough to get some freedom. The Italian started the race with high hopes, but he’s again not been able to ride consistently well over three weeks. He can still save the race by winning a stage, he must start looking to the breakaways over the next week.

George Bennett – he must be very frustrated. He made two winning breaks but hasn’t been able to finish it off. That will have been tough for him to deal with, but he’ll keep on fighting and trying to get that elusive stage win.

Bauke Mollema – another who keeps knocking at the door. The flat finish isn’t great news for the Dutchman.

Felix Großschartner – with Buchmann having to abandon, the Austrian is now free to chase some glory. The day after Landa crashed out the stage was won by Mäder, it’s funny how these things work out. After winning the final stage of the Tour of the Alps much was expected of Großschartner in this race, but he’s not been seen much. Now with freedom we could see a lot of him in the final week.

Egan Bernal – if it comes back together, he looks unbeatable just now.

Prediction Time

Another stage where we’ll see two races in one. The break will take the stage, and I’ll go with Pello Bilbao. Back in the GC group, it’s clearly going to be a hugely selective day. I don’t see Bernal cracking, he’ll probably put more time into his main rivals. The tough weather conditions could be good for Hugh Carthy, hopefully he’ll end the day on the podium.

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3 thoughts on “Giro d´Italia 2021 – Stage 16 Preview

  1. Don’t make sense Almeida be babysitting to Remco since Remco is going down in GC, is better to only have 1 rider in the top 10 keep losing time or have another one and making 2 in top 10? Tomorrow could be Almeida day of taking the 1st stage win in world tour. I sse him winning with the late descend.

  2. I’d hope to see Nibali on the attack early, though he’ll probably have to protect Ciccone. They could also try something on the descents, but is Ciccone good on that terrain ?
    Bardet is a good pick too, I agree he could and should actually goes on the attack on the 2nd climb for example. He is good on descents as well, and kinda likes tough conditions.
    Anyways great day to expect, I hope they won’t cancel anything and take some risks, and that there won’t be any pressures to go slow into the descents, from Ineos e.g. Liked Nibali move the other day, descents and technicity are parts of the race, nobody forces you to follow the bests.

  3. The weather has not be kind this year to the Giro. Bad weather is not a good advert for all those town that put so much effort in the Giro preparation. I have a proposal for next editions of the Giro . Move it to June. No main rider is attempting the double Giro/Tour any more. It would be so much better to see Italy with the sunshine ( at least for some of time) Especially next year when we hope we will have the crowds ( and the tourists) back after Covid

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