Giro Stage 14: Ten Takeaways From an Explosive Circuit Race in Torino
Breaking down and taking stock of where the Giro stands after a hugely explosive day of racing in the Northern Italian city
A long way from his stage 9 disappointment on Blockhaus, Simon Yates exploded away from a select group of GC contenders in the final kilometers of a brutal circuit overlooking the Northern Italian city of Torino to get his second stage win at this Giro d’Italia. Jai Hindley, capitalizing on the hugely impressive work from his Bora-Hansgrohe team that detonated the stage, finished second while Richard Carapaz, the new overall race leader, came in third.
Trek’s Juan Pedro López finally cracked and relinquished his Maglia Rosa, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, since the young Spanish rider was one of the only riders to finish within a few minutes of the GC leaders and was still in the top ten overall by the end of the explosive day of racing.
While the short and extremely fast stage seemed to unleash chaos on the peloton, by the time the dust settled, eight top GC riders finished within a minute of each other and we still have five riders at the top of the standings within a minute of Carapaz. In short, this Giro, at least amongst the top favorites, is still anyone’s for the taking.
Stage Top 3
Simon Yates +0
Jai Hindley +15
Richard Carapaz +15
GC Stage Time Gaps (including time bonuses)
Jai Hindley +0
Richard Carapaz +1
Vincenzo Nibali +7
Domenico Pozzovivo +20
João Almeida +31
Mikel Landa +43
Pello Bilbao +43
Emanuel Buchmann +1’02
GC Top Ten:
1) Richard Carapaz +0
2) Jai Hindley +7
3) João Almeida +30
4) Mikel Landa +59
5) Domenico Pozzovivo +1’01
6) Pello Bilbao +1’52
7) Emanuel Buchmann +1’58
8) Vincenzo Nibali +2’58
9) Juan Pedro López 4’40
10) Alejandro Valverde +9’06
77.8km: After a hard start meant the breakaway didn’t get clear until around 100km to go, Bora gets to the front with nearly their entire team in the GC group and increases the pace (despite having a rider in the breakaway, which is a surefire way to tell stuff is about to get serious). After a tricky descent leads into a climb, they absolutely blow up the group and rapidly start reeling in the break.
68km: When they hit the first pass of the hardest climb of the day, the Superga, they catch the breakaway and we can see the lead group is already extremely small. João Almeida was poorly positioned when Bora went to the front and missed this group. What is shocking is that despite having a rider in the breakaway, Alessandro Covi, UAE didn’t have him drop back to pace Almeida on the flats.
67.2km: Almeida, with Martin on his wheel, puts down an enormous amount of power on the Superga to get back within striking distance of the front group.
65.3km: After a long and costly pursuit, Almeida finally catches back on. Bora has three riders in this group, Pozzovivo has an Intermarché teammate, while Carapaz is completely isolated.
31.8km: After a 30km-long pull from Wilco Kelderman, Jai Hindley attacks the elite front group, which contains nearly every serious GC contender. He splits it up, and we can see Carapaz is right on his wheel.
28.6km: The front Hindley/Carapaz/Nibali group is eventually reeled in by the rest before Richard Carapaz unleashes an incredibly well-timed and violent (maybe too violent) attack.
28.2km: Carapaz immediately gets a gap and keeps the pressure on the pedals while refuels, but this is an extremely long way to go solo in a stage race and perhaps should have attempted to get clear with Hindley and work together to put time into the others.
24km: Meanwhile, in the chase group, we can see Almeida struggling to keep up on the tight downhill corners. This was an issue all day through the technical course and we can see that he is descending on the hoods, not in the drops like the others, which increases his center of gravity and makes it incredibly difficult to get through corners as quickly.
14.6km: Carapaz’s gap hovers around 25-seconds until Nibali makes a hard accretion that only Hindley can follow on the final climb. The gap immediately comes down to 15-seconds.
13.8km: Hindley then drops Nibali and quickly makes contact with Carapaz at the front.
13.2km: Coming over the top, Nibali and Yates join the other two.
4.6km: This effort by Yates to re-attached proves key when he attacks on the final small ramp before the finish. Carapaz initially responds, but once Yates is able to pull out a gap, none of the chasing three are willing to put themselves at risk of a counter-attack by going too deep by pulling Yates back.
Finish: Yates stays away to win his second stage at this Giro while Hindley beats Carapaz for 2nd place and the 6-second time bonus. Nibali comes in 4th on the same time while Pozzovivo, who dropped Almeida on the final descent finishes 28-second back with Almeida 39-seconds back. Landa comes in with his teammate Bilbao at 51-seconds back, meaning despite the non-stop action, every major GC contender finished within a minute of the winner.
1) Simon Yates knew he could leverage his low GC position to his advantage in the final few kilometers
After tumbling out of the GC on stage 9 and continuing to lose time all week, Yates knew that if he could get over the final climb with the leaders, he would be able to ride away for the win due to none of the GC favorites wishing to leave themselves exposed to an attack while pulling him back.
This is easier said than done, and the fact that he was not only able to make the highly selective front group, but knew not to chase early breaks and sit tight until Bora made their move shows both an excellent physical condition and ability to read a race.
The fact that Yates has now pivoted into a turbocharged stage hunter means that he will likely get yet another win before this race is done since he is on a completely different talent level than other breakaway specialists and won’t be marked due to being high up in the overall.
2) Richard Carapaz looked confident and strong throughout the difficult stage but his in-stage tactics raised questions
While he never looked under pressure, at times, it appeared like he was riding a one-day race, not a stage race getting ready to enter its hardest section. This is odd since, at the end of the day, the name of the game in grand tours is saving energy and only expending more energy than your rivals when absolutely necessary.
Going solo with 30-kilometers remaining was impressive and the attack was well-timed, but it failed to net him any major time and used precious energy that will be needed in the third week.
A wiser move could have been a softer attack that pulled Hindley with him and allowed them to work together to distance Almeida and Landa even further.
3) Outside of Carapaz, Ineos has been poor this week and now they are about to inherit the pace-making
Carapaz, as we’ve seen multiple times in this second week, was once again isolated while his rivals all had teammates present.
Even more surprising was just how early he was isolated today and how poor Richie Porte, who is supposed to be a key lieutenant, was.
And just as they appear to be running on fumes, Ineos now has taken control of the leader’s jersey and will be expected to set pace throughout the remaining difficult stages.
This could come into play in the third week, but will only matter if a rider like Nibali, Hindley, Landa, or Almeida can be stronger than him.
4) UAE’s GC tactics left something to be desired
Almeida was poorly positioned which caused him to miss the initial split in the GC group.
This was despite Bora going to the front, which was obviously setting up a massive attack since it otherwise wouldn’t have made sense for them to pace back a breakaway where they had a rider present.
And after Almeida missed the initial move, the team screwed up by not having Covi shadow Bora’s Giovanni Aleotti when he dropped back to help his Bora team pace in the GC group.
This would have given Almeida valuable help pacing back to the GC group before the Superga climb. Instead, he had to use massive amounts of energy to reel them in by himself on the actual climb, which put him in a hole for the rest of the day and could also make him lose time again tomorrow.
5) Almeida’s weaknesses were exposed by Bora’s attack and the Torino course
Bora’s decision to attack on a descent, along with the nature of the fast and technical course, showed just how poor Almeida is at navigating fast and tight downhill corners.
After the massive effort to pace back on, he was gapped on nearly every corner in the lead group and used a massive amount of energy to pace back.
What was more shocking was how he was descending on the hoods instead of in the drops, which put him in a much slower position.
6) However, things could have been worse
Out of the main GC favorites, Almeida and Landa took a time hit, but all things considered, both got off easy on a day that could have ended their GC campaigns.
If Almeida hadn’t pulled himself back to the front group back on the first pass of the Superga, his GC race would have been over, and Landa did well to limit his loss to Carapaz to just over half a minute despite being dropped a long way from the finish line.
And from here on out, the parcours start to favor the bigger engines like Carapaz and Landa.
7) Bora blowing up the stage was impressive, but will they be happy with the end results?
The way the Bora team blew the race up was ridiculously impressive and at times during their team-led attack made this look more like an amateur race than a grand tour.
But will they be happy with the returns from their effort? At the end of the day, their efforts netted Hindley a second over Carapaz, 20 over Pozzovivo, 31 of Almeida, and 43 over Landa, while Buchmann lost time to all five.
These aren’t bad time gains, but they came at the expense of his team using a massive amount of energy the day before a brutal high mountain stage.
8) Despite being a city circuit with no alpine climbs, today was one of the most explosive and difficult days of grand tour racing we’ve seen in a long time
While today’s stage isn’t nearly as tough on paper as the mountain stages to come, it showed that a race is only as hard as the riders make it, and will likely go down as one of the most difficult stages of this Giro.
It also showed the merits of shorter stages with shorter climbs since both incentivize attacking and allow teams to blow the race up without potentially missing the time cut.
They also prioritize bike handling and racecraft more and can punish riders like Almeida who aren’t confident through fast downhill corners.
9) This Giro is still wide open
Even after a non-stop day of attacking and action, eight GC riders finished within a minute of each other and we have five riders within 61-seconds of the lead.
In short, any one of these riders can still win this Giro and it will all come down to how they handle the brutal mountain stages and explosive time trial still remaining.
10) For yet another day we have had extremely intense racing, which will catch up to the peloton in the third week
While this week hasn’t seen significant time gaps among the GC favorites, the day after day of tough racing means that the teams of the GC riders, as well as a favorite or two, could find it difficult to keep pace a long way from the finish once we hit the high mountains.
Stage 15 Preview
Tomorrow’s stage is the first of a three-day block of racing in the high mountains and will present a challenge to a peloton that is depleted after a day of such intense racing today. This means we should expect a steady tempo from Carapaz’s Ineos team while a breakaway gets a massive gap and contests the stage amongst themselves.
Predictions: Get full rider predictions via OŪTCOMES, my stage preview podcast (learn how to bundle a WEDŪ season pass membership with a BTP premium subscription)