Giro d'Italia (st. 18)
Sergio (19th) leads Movistar Team home, sits now in 13th place after final climbs cause complete reshuffle at GC, with Kelderman (SUN) in pink just ahead of stage winner Hindley (SUN) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (IGD).
/ Today’s route
Thursday’s stage could have been the Queen one in the 2020 Giro. It’s a long (207km), and its climbs are brutal – we’re in for a real ‘tappone’. Campo Carlo Magno (Cat-2) will be tackled right from the start; the Passo Castrin (Cat-1), with its tough, sustained slopes, will follow after 65km; and the final section will be grueling, with the Passo dello Stelvio (2,758m), this year’s ‘Cima Coppi’, and the finish through Torri di Fraele (Cat-1) just before reaching the Laghi di Cancano.
/ Weather report
The weather gods respected the riders for once and didn’t prevent the Giro to tackle such as a prestigious route. 3ºC were expected at the top of the Stelvio, with no precipitation, and a quite pleasant 10-12ºC were forecast at the valleys. Cycling certainly deserved this luck!
/ Keys to the race
- It was one of the final chances for squads like the Movisar Team to chase a stage win, and the Telefónica-backed squad never stop trying from the very start of the race. In the first climb, Campo Carlo Magno, it was Cataldo, Samitier and Rubio into a 20-man group; at the downhill, Dario followed a further selection while Carretero attacked from behind; and after insistent pacing from EF to bring the ten-man move ahead, the Passo Castrin saw a 15-man break ultimately being given green light, with Samitier, Cataldo and Antonio Pedrero from the Movistar Team.
- The three Blues saw their break attempt kept on a short leash by Sunweb, which tried to keep a steady pace in the peloton. At the foot of the Stelvio (-63km), the leaders kept three minutes from their maximum advantage of 4′. The gap would only reduce, even more so since the race exploded within the race contenders: Almeida (DQT) lost contact halfway through the ascent and saw how Hindley (SUN) and Geoghegan Hart (IGD) attacked ahead of Wilco Kelderman (SUN). Pedrero, supported by Cataldo and Samitier, was caught by the race favourites with 9km from the top.
- Samitier ended up as top Movistar Team performer today, after the two final climbs opened brutal gaps: a minute and a half between today’s winner Hindley + Tao with Kelderman, new race leader; nearly five minutes on former Maglia Rosa holder Almeida; and 16’22” against Sergio, 19th over the line. At the GC, which sees now three riders into just 15″, Samitier sits in 13th place, with Pedrero in 16th.
/ Upcoming goals
Stage 19 on Friday will be a rare feature when it comes to modern Grand Tour routes. 258 kilometers, with no categorized climbs, from Morbegno to Asti. Make a break stick until the end will only be possible if no teams are left with an interest on the sprint -and with several fast men still on course, there might always be one to seek for a chance-. And it isn’t a very windy area, either. It is, simply put, a tough on-bike transfer -avoiding an equally as long journey by bus- east to west of the Alps, before Saturday’s mountain showdown.
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto