Today’s 40.5km time trial from Radda to Greve shall provide our first true battle of the general classification contenders, taking the riders through Chianti’s rolling terrain and offering a technical challenge ahead of the Giro’s first rest day of 2016’s edition.
Tom Dumoulin may have lost the maglia rosa after Stage 8, but it is easy to imagine that he was instead saving his efforts in anticipation of winning the stage here and in the process take back the leader’s jersey. However, there has been much talk after the disappointment of Friday that he has actually been suffering from fatigue and may now instead struggle to turn in the type of performance we had anticipated from the Dutchman. Regardless, Dumoulin is still the most talented in-form time trialist on Stage 9 and is certain to be leading the pack once again.
Bob Jungels has already showcased his strength at this year’s Giro and will be confident of seizing upon Dumoulin’s potential weakness to secure his first grand tour victory. The terrain is to his liking and it will lean favourably to his technical abilities; he is very much a man to watch here.
Ilnur Zakarin is no stranger to time trials and certainly has the climbing talents to challenge for the win on a stage such as this, but his recent performances have raised some doubts. The Katusha rider will need to negotiate some technical and high power segments on Stage 9, but his recent focus on climbing performances are certain to have diminished his maximum output somewhat. This opening week has shown that Zakarin has the talent to aim for a podium place at the Giro d’Italia and could rather be focusing upon performing in the mountains and limiting his losses here instead.
Alejandro Valverde is an interesting pick for stage honours, the Spaniard is by no means a specialist time trialist, yet this type of rolling terrain could really help him produce a powerful performance. His showings during the opening week have wobbled somewhat, but it now looks as if he is finding his rhythm once again, potentially laying the foundations for a win on Stage 9.
Vincenzo Nibali‘s performance on Stage 8 looks to have quelled his critics concerns for the moment and appears to be a convincing stepping stone to securing him at least a podium place by the end of this tour. The Italian champion has had to invest the time and effort into his time trialling abilities in the last few years, now finding himself more competent than ever, so should definitely be considered for the win on terrain which allows him to call upon his climbing prowess.
Stefan Küng is a real wildcard today, the young Swiss rider is more than proficient in time trials and is extremely unlucky to find himself without a win having looked on course for Stage 1 victory before a crash derailed his chances. There are no question marks over his talent, but the real concern is whether or not he can perform upon this type of lumpy terrain.
Fabian Cancellara is of course Switzerland’s most legendary cyclist and has found his greatest glories when battling against the clock. The Swiss rider was ill ahead of the Giro’s start, but has since recovered, though to what extent exactly is not understood. Though this course does suit him convincingly, it is tough to imagine him winning after a poor build up to this challenge; a challenge where any weakness is exposed and magnified.
Other capable of finding themselves amongst the top ten by the end of the day include Esteban Chaves, Tobias Ludvigsson and Rigoberto Uran.
1st Bob Jungels 2nd Tom Dumoulin 3rd Vincenzo Nibali