Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 20 Preview

By David Hunter

Pordenone – Asiago 190km

The end is nigh.

We are all set for a huge day of cycling. With two cat 1 climbs, the pink jersey is still all to play for.

The Climbs

First up is the monster climb of Monte Grappa. It is 24.15km at 5.3%. The climb starts with 10km at nearly 8%, before a section that will allow some to catch their breath. We then have another difficult section, 3.5km at 8%, before another easier rest period. The climb then kicks up again at the very top. This is a proper climb!

A 25km descent follows, before 13km in the valley. As this section of flat is very short, it encourages riders to attack on Monte Grappa. With the flat section complete, the riders face the last categorised climb of the 100th Giro.

The climb to Foza is 14.05km at 6.7%, which includes a very easy opening 2km. Most of the climb is around the 7% mark and features many hairpins. Once the climb has been crested, we still have 15km remaining.

Finale

Just as well this isn’t a big sprint, there are a number of corners in the last kilometre.

A downhill run towards the finish is great news for any little climber that manages to solo away on the final climb. It will be hard for any group to bring them back.

Tactics

Anyone who claims to know what will happen is a liar! After today’s events, we are again left wondering what might happen. Here is my interpretation…

After a very fast start, an initial move will go around the cat 4 climb, probably containing a few riders from Movistar and Bahrain. The peloton will continue to fly towards Monte Grappa.

Movistar will set a fierce pace on the climb and see if they can drop Dumoulin. If they can, there is no need for Quintana to launch a long range attack. Nairo is still not looking 100%, either he is a little off his best or he has his eyes on the Tour de France. As we all know, it is nearly impossible to win the double, but Quintana seems to riding a clever race. If he can win the pink jersey, and save as much energy as possible, he has a chance of making history.

A 29.3km ITT awaits the riders on Sunday. It is probably that Quintana will lose 1:30 to Dumoulin, I think the Colombian would love a 2 minute advantage going into Sunday. He needs to take another 90 seconds out of Dumoulin in this stage. If he blows on Monte Grappa, it’s all over. If Dumoulin survives, Quintana still has a chance on the final climb, he’ll love all the hairpin bends.

Always lurking are Nibali(43s) and Pinot(53s), two riders that will be confident of taking time in the TT. Neither are as skilled as Dumoulin, but Quintana would still like around 1 minute of an advantage on both. The tactics of Bahrain and FDJ will also be fascinating, if they can eliminate Dumoulin, the podium is in sight. Can they put Nairo under pressure?

In summary, I don’t think we’ll see a big attack from Nairo on Monte Grappa, instead, Movistar will try and grind Dumoulin into the ground. The main action will be on the final climb.

Breakaway Hopes

It all depends on the chaos behind. The top 3 on GC all have a stage win, it will be up to FDJ and Katusha to chase for a stage. Again, I think it’s a good day for the morning move.

Weather

Yet another nice day with very little wind.

Contenders

Nairo Quintana – I’m unsure about his tactics today. Dumoulin was there to be killed off, but Nairo decided to follow wheels instead of attacking. Is he not 100%? Is he saving himself for the Tour? Is it a carefully thought out plan? I really don’t know the answers to these questions. Despite not looking great, Quintana is in the pink jersey and his rivals are chasing him. He needs one big performance to seal pink, that is well within his grasp. I don’t think he has the form to attack early, he’ll wait until the hairpins of Foza. Not being a mountaintop finish is bad news for Nairo, he’ll be worried about the final 15km, but if he gets a big enough gap on the climb, he should be able to hold on until the finishing line.

Vincenzo Nibali – he hasn’t been able to shift Quintana. He has tried a couple of times in the last few stages, but it doesn’t seem that he has enough to gap the Colombian. His current gap to Quintana is 43 seconds, I think the Shark would be confident of taking that against the clock, maybe it’s up to Quintana to try and distance Nibali? He will set his team to work in the hope of dropping Dumoulin, similar to what happened today. They could well achieve that goal, but I can’t see him beating Nairo.

Tom Dumoulin – no chance of winning the stage. It’s all about survival for Dumoulin, something that he’s going to find very difficult.

Thibaut Pinot – he’s benefited from his usual attacking style. Now a genuine threat for the pink jersey, there will be no more freedom. He has the fastest sprint of the GC men, he wins if the top 3 or 4 arrive together.

Mikel Landa – usual suspect number 1.

Pierre Rolland – usual suspect number 2.

Rui Costa – usual suspect number 3.

LL Sanchez – usual suspect number 4.

Jan Hirt – I’ve been hugely impressed by the Czech rider in the last week. He has put in three huge performances and now sits in 14th place overall. He’s still not a threat to the top 10, that should free him up for another day in the break. It would be some story if the CCC rider can claim a grand tour victory.

Prediction Time

I haven’t been looking forward to stage, as much as this, for a very long time.

The writing is on the wall for Dumoulin, no way he can recover after a poor performance today. Expect to see him lose more than 1 minute to the main GC riders.

This should all be about Quintana v Nibali v Pinot. I think that the little Colombian has been playing a clever game and will explode in this stage. He will attack on the final climb and distance his rivals. He knows he doesn’t need to beat Nibali and Pinot by a huge margin, he will carefully plan his move.

All of this action will take place behind a breakaway, which I think goes on to fight out the stage win. You might think he’d be tired, but I don’t! It’s an overdue stage for Rui Costa, on the day that Nairo Quintana seals his second pink jersey.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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17 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 20 Preview

  1. What a gamble David..!! Movistar could be the best defensive team on pro cycling, they love to be in these position, but El Condor seems not to fine. If he’s what they say he is (that litlle colombian), he’s gonna prove you right.

  2. I’m for Dumolin. Think it will be more than deserved. Both Quintana and Niballi didn’t came 100% for this…not even close. Would love to see one of the outsiders grab it.

  3. This analysis seems flawed. To answer one of your questions, Quintana is at his usual level but simply not good enough. It’s the same as every Tour when we ask ourselves for 3 weeks when he’s going to attack Froome. In the end Froome is always the one dropping him, even in the mountains. Depending on Dumoulin’s possible recovery, Quintana might not even make the podium. He will be 0 for 2 in the ‘double’.

  4. Enjoy you take, but question your take on Quintana. He doesn’t have the form to attack. He should at every moment it went up and he did not. His team is clearly the strongest. Save for today , Dumoulin is the strongest. I question his tactics yesterday where he had legs he didn’t use. I see Nibali attacking on the decent of Grappe, wth help up the road and holding on for dear life. Pinot is fun to watch and merits the podium. If TD can take a minute per 10k on Quintana.

  5. how did Jungels recover today but Dumoulin had a bad day? ;)

  6. Just putted some dollars on Pinot for the general win. He’s strong, attacking and the best TT rider after Tom Dumoulin. It will be him or Tom Dumoulin,if he recovered…Of course Nibali will attack in the descend of the Grappa but he will need help for the valley and the final climb. There will be no help….and he will loose all his energy in the valley…..So, even Zakarin can get the podium….

  7. A Quintana win would be a blight on pro cycling given how this race has played out.

  8. unless he somehow wins this stage by minutes, then fair play to him

  9. spanish speakers are very untrustworthy it would seem.

    I bet Dumoulin regrets waiting for Quintana!

  10. but sometimes it comes back to bite you

    look what happened in Manchester for instance

  11. polynesians were in the southern hemisphere for tens of thousands of years and were excellent navigators apparently, according to recent disney film ‘moana’

    but could never find Australia! ;)

  12. why are niggers and arabs being let into europe when they cause so many problems?
    -or- why do the jews hate white people so much?

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