Giro d'Italia Stage 13 Preview
Cycling paid back one of the most loyal domestiques in the peloton today. It was a great day of racing, a big breakaway with 25 riders involved got a massive gap that reached 15 minutes at it's top, involved were no real GC contenders but there was a rider clearly stood out, Jan Polanc got a big gap over the GC riders and took the maglia rosa off his teammate's shoulders. But the star of the day was Cesare Benedetti, he was dropped in both the main climb and the final hill, but always made it back with some company, and in a tactical magic shot he was able to outsprint Damiano Caruso and Eddie Dunbar, his first pro win and a great reward for a rider that is known for working all day pulling the peloton for his sprinter-filled team.
Mikel Landa and Miguel Angel Lopez were able to attack the GC group in the climb to Montoso, and with help of teammates in the breakaway they managed to pull clear 28 seconds of their main rivals. A group had been selected, there were gaps made but most of the main riders arrived together.
Positive: UAE lost the lead with Conti but regained with Polanc, with a 4-minute gap to second placed, Polanc has a brilliant shot to fight for the Top10 with such a gap going into the first finish. Landa and Lopez were the riders that had have big expectations that had the most time lost until now, it isn't minutes but it's a nice buffer they cut from the others, and a big motivation for the days that follow as they looked the sharpest. Pavel Sivakov and Tanel Kangert, and to a point Esteban Chaves looked really good and kept the same time as the main riders.
Negative: Formolo and Jungels lost some time, didn't look horrible but a 2:30 minute loss will hinder them in the fight for the Top10, and Pello Bilbao had an off day, loosing 10 minutes and dropping out of contention.
Stage 13 will bring the race's first summit finish of the race. From Pinerolo the race will set towards the Alps and a brutal stage will be the first chance for the first serious blows to be delt between the GC riders on their terrain. The Colle del Lys will make the begining of the stage hard, but it is once they get to Pian del Lupo that the real dificulties come, with 9.4Km at 8.7% only in the categorized part it will be making it a brutal ascent, yet far from the finish.
The summit finish will come in Lago Serru just below the Colle del Nivolet, the total distance of the ascent is 34Km with 4.8% average gradient but the climb has different sections in itself with some resting periods in the middle of it, but the hardest section is the one that will take the riders to the finish line with 6Km at almost 9%, that after a long drag up to that point it will surely make big gaps and create majour drama between the contenders surely.
It will be 3 degrees only in the finale, a very cold run into Lago Serru. Most of the stage won't be that cold obviously, so it's classic Giro conditions. Above all the riders need to be careful after the stage not to get sick, the minimal hindering of performance can be very costly.
First of all, how will the peloton act tomorrow? With the true mountains in and not many riders who have freedom to go to the breakaway with a small gap to the lead, It's expected Emirates won't put on the pace, specially as they will want to take the climbs as easy as they can. Jumbo-Visma will be the other defensive team, not that Roglic will struggle in the climbs, but collectively they didn't look at their best today, and they will want to keep Roglic as protected as possible, but on the other hand there will be teams looking to disrupt that. Mitchelton looked very strong, Chaves and Hamilton able to keep up with the favourites group and together they can be crucial for the Brit's strategy. Astana are down to a single GC contender but with the big depth and no pressure to be selfish of the other riders, it's all in for Lopez and all the strategies will revolve around him, also Landa and Carapaz are a very dangerous duo, they should save themselves for the last part of the climb though, and Bahrain is also looking strong overall.
Still, as it's the first summit finish and the first day of a big sequence of mountains, it's very unlikely to see crazy attacks from far by the favourites. Today there was the test, tomorrow the gaps will be present but in the final 7Km of the final climb. Miguel Angel Lopez and Mikel Landa were the ones that managed to win time on the climb today so they are the first to be mentioned, pure climbers they should enjoy the almost 5000 meters of ascent in the stage, they will feel confortable and both have a good team to support and play strategically.
Simon Yates hasn't shown his cards yet though, with Hamilton and Chaves in the group he always resignated, kept his powder dry. He's looking at Roglic but the Slovenian did the same, he was focusing on Yates not the others. These two looked to stay the freshest today, not that it will make much of a difference for tomorrow but they should be the strongest climbers for tomorrow, although the lack of support of Roglic will certainly come as a disadvantage. Mitchelton look very strong but it isn't a stage as good as some others to attack from distance, so they will likely push the final for Yates to make a move. Nibali is the other big gun in the fight, I still stand he should remain defensive, if he's confident he will certainly have a dig and he will also have good support.
Richard Carapaz, Rafal Majka and Ilnur Zakarin looked good today, confirmed their good form, and as climbers they will also enjoy such finale. Bauke Mollema seemed a bit shaky today but he finished in the front group, Pavel Sivakov and Tanel Kangert were the biggest surprises in the group, to consider them as favourites for the stage is a bit too much, but they are looking in very good form and can very well repeat today's performance.
With such a weird GC race so far, some riders that aren't so far can play the breakaway, Davide Formolo and Bob Jungels are covered, although they didn't look as strong today and may benefit of some team's unwillingness to work, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Mattia Cattaneo and Tony Gallopin can also benefit from the situation, those will have much less pressure to perform in the GC and will be allowed more freedom.
Riders like Giulio Ciccone and Gianluca Brambilla are to be expected in the break as Trek look to be on top of the situation and have a lot of points in display tomorrow, Fausto Masnada and some Astana riders (I'd say Hirt and Izagirre) could also have the stage in their hands if the situation favours.
⭐ Carapaz, Zakarin, Ciccone, Majka, Chaves
I think Simon Yates is the right call for tomorrow, his team looked the strongest today and he's been riding very conservatively so far. The finish resembles Gran Sasso d'Italia which he won tomorrow, and his form seems good enough to land it.
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