Tag Archive for ‘Giro d’Italia 2014’
Mezgec’s sprint was timed to perfection in what was a real free-for-all of a finish. And isn’t that Giant jersey livery just so effective? – there was no doubt about which kind of bike had just won as Big Luka crossed the line.
Nacer Bouhanni (F des J & France) didn’t seem his usual desperate self, he said later he was too concerned about crossing the line upright and preserving his red points jersey; Tyler Farrar (Garmin & USA) simply isn’t as rapid as he once was and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek & Italy) must be wondering what he has to do to get a win – four second places.
That final horrible grind up the mountain didn’t affect the GC much at all but Michael Rogers’ (Tinkoff & Australia) ride was wonderful to watch. It looked very much like he had the better of fellow breakaway survivor Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani & Italy) anyway, but we were denied their duel going any further by the moron who gave the man in green a push.
Already sitting close on the wheel, Bongiorno touched Rogers back tyre and had to unclip to avoid a crash – his rhythm and concentration broken the Italian couldn’t get back on terms with Rogers and it was left to the 34 year-old former Junior Points Race World Champion from New South Wales to take his most spectacular victory in the grand manner, alone, arms high in the air.
Il Giro d’Italia 2014 – Stage 19; Bassano del Grappa – Cima Grappa (ITT), 26.8 km. Nairo Quintana Excels (0)
Today, the race started at 123 metres above sea level and finished at 1,712 metres above sea level – that’s an elevation of 1,589 metres. The climbing part of the race went on for some 12.5 miles with Quintana’s average speed – but with four/five miles of flat road in there which the ‘Bigs’ were covering at around 27 mph – an average 16.5 miles per hour.
Last finisher was Jeffry Johan Corredor (Colombia & Colombia) @ 18:00 minutes. Enough said, I think?
Is it me or is Quintana just TOO pink; he looks like something from Toy Story gone feral – but when you can climb like he can then you can get away with pretty much anything, I guess? It looks like the Giro is won; even if he has an off day in the mountain test or Zoncolan it’s unlikely the little chap will concede 1:41 to Uran and even less likely he’ll drop 3:29 to Rolland & Co.
It’s been a great race and even though it’s now pretty much certain that the small gentleman from Tunja on the Pan American Highway in Colombia will win and Uran will be second, the battle for the third spot on the podium – and just maybe the second one, too – rages on.
The other day we had the score down as 2:0 in the Bardiani v. Sky match – well, it’s now 3:0 as the versatile Stefano Pirazzi demonstrated the desire, desperation and grinta you need to be a Giro stage winner.
As well as being a former Tirreno and Giro King of the Mountains, he’s been a medallist in the Italian TT Championships. This is his fifth full pro season – initially with Colnago and remaining with the team as it morphed into Bardiani.
Il Giro d’Italia 2014 – Stage 16; Ponte di Legno – Val Martello/Martelltal, 139 km. Snow on the Stelvio (0)
Stage 16 will enter legend – Quintana’s long distance attack to take pink was straight out of the top drawer. There is a big ‘but,’ however; the confusion created by the Giro organisation with their much debated radio announcement to the teams regarding the dangerous descent of the Stelvio Pass.
Many teams interpreted the communication as an instruction to neutralise the descent but Messrs. Hesjedal (Garmin), Rolland (Europcar) and Quintana did not and rode hard to an advantage approaching two minutes by the time the valley floor was reached – never to be seen again.
I first heard of Fabio Aru (Astana & Italy) when he won the 2011 Giro della Val d’Aosta U23 stage race in Italy from US rider Joe Dombrowski – who’s now professional with Sky. Aosta along with the Tour de l’Avenir and the U23 Worlds are the big shop windows for the professional talent scouts. Aru had been fourth in Aosta the year previous and would win it again in 2012.
In 2011 he was also fourth in the Baby Giro and second in the Italian U23 Road Race Championship as well as a whole raft of wins and placings in Italian U23 races. Dombrowski gained revenge on Aru however in the 2012 Baby Giro relegating the Sardinian to second spot. Disappointed or not at the loss, Aru rode stagiaire with Astana at the end of the season; the transition was seamless as he took a second on a stage of the Tour of Colorado and a top 20 spot in Giro dell’Emilia.
There can only be one winner and that was Enrico; but there were other men who were outstanding on the day.
Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R & Italy) is looking more dangerous by the day, his team is committed and strong and he looks the least stressed of the ‘Bigs’ – and that mountain time trial must have a big red ring around it on his programme.
There are two ways to look at this stage. If you’re the best and the rest know that then you just have to get on with it – I can remember HTC setting Bert Grabsch to work with 100 K to go in a Tour stage to keep the break in check so as to set up Cav for the sprint some two-and-half hours later.
Maintaining control of breakaways comes with the territory if you’re a big sprinter’s team. Remember GB in the Copenhagen Worlds – it’s called commitment. But on the other hand, as Stephen Roche is prone to say; ‘if you’re not in it, you can’t win it.’
Time tests, love them or hate them – but this one was a cracker. I had Evans down as winner after it became apparent that Adriano Malori was ‘just getting round’ after his crash the day before. I had it in my mind that Ulissi might do something but thought his stage 11 crash would put a lid on his ambitions. Far from it and Lampre’s new star lead for a large part of the afternoon until Uran jarred all of our eyes open – including Ulissi’s as he sat in the ‘hot seat.’
Mick Rogers, a ride-and-a-half – especially given the Giro is only his second race back from the ‘clebuterol carry on.’ He must have looked after himself really well during his hiatus.
If you count the 2000 season when he was a stagier with Mapei, this is his 15th pro season, he was with Mapei ’01 and ’03; QuickStep ’03, ‘04 and ’05; T-Mobile ’06 and ’07; the various incarnations of High Road/Columbia/HTC ’08, ’09 and 10; Sky ’11 and ’12 and Saxo/Tinkoff last year and this.
Bouhanni is impressive; he was on the limit to get over the little rise on the run in – where Sky did a lot of damage to a lot of people, unfortunately including their own sprinter, Ben Swift who just scraped in to the top ten – but the wiry French fast man was right where he had to be for the finale.
Boring this Giro is not – Pieter Weening won ORICA-GreenEDGE’s third stage of the race in a two-up sprint against Davide Malacarne (Team Europcar) both having survived from the break of the day. It took an hour of savage racing before a big break of 14 was finally allowed to go – once the correct recipe passed the test of the ‘Bigs’ dipping their finger in the mixing bowl. But there were just two left come the mountain top tactical finish where Weening was too strong for Malacarne – I did enjoy the high altitude track stand…
Sean Kelly had expected Malacarne to win – but on days like this one when there’s little fuel left in the tank it’s often raw strength and grinta which tip the scales. Weening wanted it more and continued GreenEDGE’s wonderful run of form. Whether it’s the Ardennes, Switzerland, Ireland, Italy or even California – they’re winning.
Diego Ulissi (Lampre & Italy); if the broader world of cycling didn’t really know who he was before this Giro – they do now. His first win on Stage Five wasn’t a surprise if you were aware of his terrific end to last season – Milano-Torino, the Coppa Sabatini and the Giro dell’Emilia.
Three Italian semi-classics – all very desirable and hard fought – ‘tough and hilly’ is right up his street. But Saturday was different, the real deal, first and second cat. montagnes; and just look at who he beat – Evans, Uran, Quintana, Pozzovivo… As Kris said, it restores your faith in bike racing.
‘Desperate’ is defined as; ‘having a great need or desire for something.’ It was Vik who used the word when describing Bouhanni’s win in Bari in that ‘semi-neutralised’ slippery Stage Four.
Bouhanni had to change a wheel with 13 K to go and rain slick roads or not, the Frenchman and his domestiques rode like madmen to get him where he had to be. The man was desperate to win. He was the same today; F des J put the most savagery into the chasing down of the five escapees – for a long time I thought they’d stay clear. But F des J more than any other team wanted them back – and Bouhanni didn’t disappoint.