Spokenforks collected another correct prediction as a result of the immense sprinting prowess of Fernando Gaviria, demonstrating one of the best sprints we have witnessed in recent history. Regardless, Stage 14 shall certainly not be a day for the sprinters, the day structured to build to an almighty crescendo which may lure the best out of the general classification contenders once again. Starting in Castellania, the course is an incredibly flat affair as it makes its way to the uphill battle atop Oropa, clocking a total of 131km along the way. The short stage should ensure we witness fireworks amongst the big name favourites, while the summit finish could prove a springboard for an outsider to steal the glory and sneak a win from beneath the nose of the maglia rosa hopefuls.
Nairo Quintana was never expected to contest the previous time trial victory, but to lose as much time as he did was a surprise for many. The Movistar rider shall not have expected to be so far off the leader’s jersey at this point of the race, making today’s climatic finish a golden opportunity to begin chipping away at the deficit. The ascent of Blockhaus provided blunt realisation to his rivals, the Colombian already riding in imperious form, despite expectations for him to peak later in the race. This short ascent is not ideal, but with the steeper sections and irregular nature in parts, there is little doubt that he will attempt something in order to gain time here.
Tom Dumoulin will need to keep a close eye on his strongest rival Nairo Quintana, yet this relatively short finale to the day, should mean that the Dutchman does not need to dig too deep in order to keep his healthy advantage. With no other climbs en route to the finale, there is little doubt that Team Sunweb will have everyone at their disposal to protect their captain’s lead. Dumoulin does lack the explosive attack required to match the anticipated moves on this stage, but with such a considerable margin already, it would be of no surprise should he choose to concede time here in order to stay fresh later in the race.
Thibaut Pinot is certainly not renowned for his prowess against the clock, yet many were disappointed in his performance in comparison to recent results, meaning he will have to start attacking days like these as soon as possible to keep his podium chances alive. Though he was easily distanced by Quintana upon the slopes of Blockhaus, today’s shorter ascent could allow the Frenchman to utilise his explosive attacking nature to better effect. If stage honours are of a greater focus on Stage 14, then Pinot will need only to stick close to the front of the pack, seeking to sprint hard for the finish line in an attempt to take the victory.
Vincenzo Nibali has shown a glimpse of the form which previously secured grand tour titles, making it an obvious risk to rule him out of contention on Stage 14. With little to worry about throughout the day, Nibali can focus entirely upon the summit finish, a climb which should see the Italian produce some of his best racing. The ideal situation which he will be hoping to orchestra is one of a late move, keeping pace with the likes of Dumoulin and Quintana, before investing everything in a last gasp effort to take the stage honours late in the day.
Pierre Rolland shall be on the hunt once again for a stage victory, the Frenchman rightly confident in his form at this year’s Giro d’Italia. With such a large part of the day’s racing to be contested upon flat rides, it is not ideal for him to make a success of the breakaway, but he will be a face to watch for if everything comes together in the final kilometres of Stage 14.
Others who will have eyes upon gaining time on the maglia rosa or a stage victory are Ilnur Zakarin, Bauke Mollema, Domenico Pozzovivo, Mikel Landa and Hugh Carthy.
1st Nairo Quintana 2nd Thibaut Pinot 3rd Vincenzo Nibali