What a first week of the Giro this has been. We’ve had thrills, spills (sadly, thanks to some people who need to learn to keep their lenses in the boundaries), blowouts, motorhomes, one of the best Grand Tour stages of recent years and now we finally have the first summit finish of the Giro.
By technical standards, this isn’t the first summit finish of the race after stage 5’s long drag to Abetone, but that was 17.5km at just 5.4% – made difficult by the remarkable day’s racing and the huge pressure that Astana put on the field with Alberto Contador isolated although able to follow the efforts of Fabio Aru up the front.
Today – a long enough day at 186km for a summit finish coming after seven hours in the saddle yesterday – is defined by two climbs, the Forca d’Acero – which is a proper energy sapper that climbs for roughly 30% at an average of 4%, with the first 15 averaging 5.2%, and then rolling roads before the Campitello Matese, a 13km rise at just over 7%.
The climb is an atypical ski road, big, wide, and steady, the kind seen in the Tour De France, and ends with a slight downhill, meaning that having a good sprint will be crucial for winning the stage. With time bonuses available for the first three spots and few opportunities on paper to take time until the marathon time trial on stage 14, one would think that GC teams (Astana in particular, and maybe Sky), would want to drive to the foot of the climb and put their men in the best position, in which case this should be a three man battle between Aru, Porte and Contador. However this is not the ideal terrain to do it – there are many significant ripples across the stage today, and following Contador’s shoulder dislocation, Saxo-Tinkoff are surely going to be as protective as possible of their man, for who today is an acid test of condition. Sky may do something but surely Porte is happy to track the two and make his gains with Stage 14 suiting him best.
There are any amount of potential breakaway contenders if an escape does go – and 21 teams would very much like one – with Javier Acevedo catching the eye at triple figures with Boylesports. A regular stage winner and contender in the USA, he was also ninth in the Tour De Suisse last year and while he’s only 1:49 down, he would hardly be a worry for the main contenders. Stefano Pirazzi is a local who could be shooting at the KOM jersey, Edoardo Zardini is doing the same, and Steven Kruijswijk is a previous top 10 in this race.
0.25 pts each/way w/Boylesports: