• Rúben Silva

Giro d'Italia Stage 14 Preview

The Giro truly blew up today! Ilnur Zakarin was part of a huge breakaway that settled early in the stage, Bauke Mollema and Trek pushed the gears all day long mostly in front putting big pressure in the peloton. It was full-gas all day long, Astana attacked the Pian del Luppo climb, but the leaders kept their powder dry for the final climb. Landa attacked early in the final climb and a trmemendous support from his teammates up front allowed him to have big gains today, Simon Yates cracked bigtime, Roglic and Nibali were attacked by Majka and Carapaz who also won time on them, and Jan Polanc had a super ride and kept the pink jersey, all this with Lopez having a mechanical in the final climb and also loosing time. While all of this was happening, Zakarin attacked the front group of Mollema and Mikel Nieve, he solloed away and kept his own until the finish, where he won an epic stage, moved up the GC in a dominant fashion and enters the fight for the win.

Positive: The riders that made the dangerous breakaway, Zakarin and Mollema (Trek in general were superb) were the big winners of the day. But what to say of Movistar, Landa and Carapaz were 1st and 2nd from the ones that weren't in front all day long, they both won around 1:30 minutes to Roglic and Nibali, it was a super day for them and they will surely take big confidence from it. Majka, Sivakov, Madouas and especially Polanc had great days aswell, all of them performing at their absolute best in what was a beastly day.

Negative: Nibali wasn't bad, but he didn't win time on Roglic and lost to several of his riders, Lopez had bad luck once again in crucial times, Yates had a particularly bad day, his fight for the win seems finished but he will surely try to turn his race around in the next few days if he feels better. Bob Jungels and Esteban Chaves also lost a lot of time and are out of the fight for the top places.

Today in Piemonte, tomorrow in Aosta. Stage 14 will be the first of three queen stages if we can call them that. The route between Saint-Vicent and Courmayeur is brutal to say the least. In only 131 kilometers there's the climb to Verrayes (6.7Km at 7.9%), Verrogne (14.3Km at 7%), Truc D'Arbe (7.7Km at 7.4%), La Salle (2Km at 7.8%) and finally the brutal ascent to the Colle San Carlo with 10.5Km at 9.8%., that summits with 25Km remaining in the stage.

There isn't much to contest in relation to the stage's dificulty, the climbs are steep and long, packed in a very short distance and will come after a tough day's racing. If it wasn't enough for the day there will still be the drag up to Courmayeur, a 3Km long climb at 6% that will lead to a false-flat to the line, which will feel like the hardest of climbs at that point of the stage.

The Weather

There's no wind tomorrow, the cold will be present as today but as we seen the riders didn't notice it much. There's a chance of slight rain in the final section of the stage, but even if so it won't be heavy so it shouldn't cause much of an issue.

The Favourites

There was so much going on today. I think it would be more sensible to mention who can blow up tomorrow and who can thrive. On the low side, Bauke Mollema? I don't know, I may be fully wrong but looking at Mollema riding in the mountains never gives me a safe feeling, I always think he's about to crack, he pulled off a great strategy but the whole Trek team will feel it, and Ciccone will be focusing more on the KOM classification than Mollema.

Simon Yates, he will go deep tomorrow, and I think Mitchelton will attack hard tomorrow, they have the team for it and in such a day Yates has to do good to remain in the overall fight. His hope is to recover, but agressive racing suits him and if he recovers his best feelings he can definetely gain back some time.

On the brighter side let's take Zakarin and the Movistar riders. Landa and Carapaz were sublime, and the whole team rode perfectly today, Carretero and Amador were vital in Landa's time gain, and Carapaz counter-attacked Majka and also gained big time on Roglic and Nibali. Zakarin is lacking the team, in fact he was alone in the break today, but he didn't ride over himself, he climbed like almost no-one, it shows team isn't mandatory to perform well, he is right behind Roglic in the overall so he will be riding more conservatively, but in such a stage it's easy to create gaps and if he has the same legs as today he is a big favourite.

Roglic and Nibali matched themselves, but surprisingly they couldn't match their rivals. They looked to be marking each other, Nibali rode psychologically, putting the pressure on the Slovenian but couldn't distance him. Both are looking good but not great, but it may have just been the mind games keeping them from their best.

Next up some jokers, it's been a long time since we've seen Rafal Majka ride so well, Formolo also looked better today and they managed to get in a great stage. And Miguel Angel Lopez, he looked so good yesterday, he gave the same looks today but then his mechanical on the climb ruined his stage. Not only the extra effort but he lost the motivation and was riding to recover instead of doing the best he could, he looked to crack a bit in the end. Astana is still looking ridiculously strong, Hirt and Bilbao were with him well today and Izagirre helped him limit his losses, tomorrow is a climbing filled day where the team's depth can prove vital and the Colombian might finally have his big saying in the Giro. Also EF with a good trio, Hugh Carthy seemed to struggle today but didn't blow up, Kangert and Dombrowski both looked very good today.

Prediction Time

MA.Lopez, Landa, Carapaz

Zakarin, Roglic, Nibali

S.Yates, Majka, Sivakov, Mollema, Ciccone

Richard Carapaz has been flying, despite his amazing race so far I feel he's still riding a bit under the radar, not being covered by both Roglic and Yates, Movistar today rode tactically perfect and having Landa in the team will open a land of possibilities for the duo. Carapaz can totally benefit from an agressive race like today, and he should do so before all the attention is on him.

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