Giro d'Italia 2018

Giro d’Italia 2018 – Stage 9 Preview

Course:

Totalling 225km, Stage 9 is the first serious day of racing we can expect to see amongst the general classification riders, given that it finishes atop Gran Sasso d’Italia at the end of the stage. Having left Pesco Sannita earlier on, it is nearly 100km before the peloton reach the first of the day’s three categorised climbs, though it almost immediately then sends them back down to the valley floor. From here they face nearly 50km of constantly rising terrain, anticipated to thin the ranks of the peloton gradually, until the big names are left to fight amongst themselves en route to the summit finish.

Giro d'Italia 2018

Contenders:

Domenico Pozzovivo suits this day particularly well, and given his stunning form in 2018, it is difficult for him to not catch the eye of those seeking to predict the day’s winner. He should feel assured of matching his rivals all the way to the summit finish, though it is his explosive turn of pace at the end of such a day which is likely to secure him the win. Long since styled a nearly man by many, this is an opportunity for the diminutive rider to finally shake that monkey from his back.

Thibaut Pinot appeared ready once again for fireworks amongst the maglia rosa contenders yesterday, but ended the day with having kept his powder dry ahead of today’s rigours. The Frenchman will like the look of this long ascent towards the day’s summit finish, well suited to his talents for sustaining a strong tempo right to the top, before then breaking out for the win with his trademark sprinting capabilities.

Esteban Chaves looked to be the best climber on Mount Etna, even though he had spent nearly the entire day within the stage’s breakaway, justly rewarded for his prowess by his team leader Simon Yates. Stage 9 would normally prove a particularly appealing prospect yet again, however the team dynamic has now changed since taking the leader’s jersey and the Colombian could be kept on a tight leash for the benefit of his British counterpart.

Simon Yates may well have gained even more time upon the Mount Etna finish, had he had the confidence to attack earlier, a tendency for hesitation which has been documented several times throughout his career so far. Regardless, the team and himself will be wanting to defend the pink jersey ahead of the rest day, though his current form suggests he may even be able to extend his lead. With such a strong array of riders at his disposal, it seems unlikely he shall become isolated late in the day, instead he should be confident of finding himself in a position to seize a tighter grip on the general classification.

Miguel Angel Lopez will be aware of the need to make up time as soon as possible, therefore could be tempted into action if the opportunity to do so becomes apparent. Almost unmatchable on his day, it is still not quite clear how great his condition is right now, though no rival will feel certain of being able to match the Colombian’s best on close to his favoured terrain.

Others to consider are George BennettDavide FormoloBen O’ConnorGiulio Ciccone and Fabio Aru.

Outcome:

1st Thibaut Pinot 2nd Domenico Pozzovivo 3rd Simon Yates

 

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Le Tour de France 2017

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 9 Preview

Course:

Those wishing to sustain a serious campaign upon the general classification will need to ignite their ambitions with serious determination on Stage 9’s gruelling course. Starting in Nantua, the day begins immediately uphill and completes two categorised climbs within the first 11km of racing. A total of 181.5km will be traversed en route to Chambéry and a brutal trio of HC climbs will provide the first true insight as to who is struggling to find their best in the mountains this year.

First of the three major ascents to be ridden is the HC Col de la Biche, a 10.5km long climb which sustains a draining 9% average gradient, though features steeper sections along the way. The subsequent descent offers no true recovery opportunity, leading immediately to the base of the HC Grand Colombier, a historic feature of Le Tour de France for many years, the riders will be familiar with its average gradient of 9.9% and total 8.5km distance. A rapid descent then places the bunch back down into the valley, taking in the day’s intermediate sprint and the Category 4 Côte de Jongieux, before the showdown on the day’s concluding climb.

Mont du Chat is a particularly brutal HC challenge, lasting for 8.7km and tasking the peloton with ascending a mind numbing average gradient of 10.3%; ramps of 15% are also present on the way to the summit. There is no chance of hiding poor form on Stage 9 after such attritional climbing, as even the descent from the final climb of the day is an equalling gruelling affair, with tight hairpin bends being negotiated through dense tree lines. The frontrunners at the end of it all will have approximately 14km to stay at the head of affairs in order to contest the win in Chambéry at the end of the day.


Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage 9 Preview

Contenders:

Romain Bardet knows that he will have to make these outrageously tough days in the mountains count for something early on at this year’s Tour de France, as having to close any substantial lead which Chris Froome may establish heading into the first rest day will be the start of a huge challenge. There is a feeling amongst the riders that Froome is perhaps not as strong as expected in this opening week, hoping instead to peak for the final run of Pyrenean stages instead. This should be an opportunity too great to resist if true and Romain Bardet is the best equipped rider to take advantage of it. He enjoys these steep climbs, but most crucially, is not afraid of descending at eye watering speeds in pursuit of victory. If he attacks over the top of the Mont du Chat, then he could end up soloing all the way to victory in Chambéry.

Dan Martin will expect to be one of the fastest riders present in an elite group which forms as a result of the day’s final climb. Without the eternal thorn in the Irishman’s side at the race now (Alejandro Valverde), he can focus on saving himself for the final run into the finish line, where a strong sprinting performance from him is unlikely to be matched by those who have also made the cut. However, that in itself is the greatest issue for Martin, as an explosive race may jettison him before the final ascent due to the ferocity of the general classification battle.

Fabio Aru cannot be ignored on a stage like today’s, the reigning Italian road race champion having a real penchant for these horrendously steep climbs and could choose to combine them with his aggressive style of racing in order to put immense pressure on the likes of Chris Froome and Richie Porte. He seems the one most likely to not stick to the generally agreed race plan amongst the major names, potentially going on the offensive earlier than many anticipate to see who is most interested in following.

Thibaut Pinot should prove an enthusiastic presence on Stage 9, as the Frenchman will need a strong showing if he is to have a realistic chance of obtaining the polka dot jersey or a stage win at this year’s race. Having arrived off the back of a tough Giro d’Italia, his form has perhaps dipped, though Pinot has never raced particularly strongly in the opening uphill stages of Le Tour de France in recent years. If he does not prove to be overly fatigued, then this should arrive at the ideal time for him to stretch his legs and push on for a jersey and stage double.

Rigoberto Uran has the turn of pace required to win from a small group after the strains and stresses of Stage 9, but needs to be on his toes in order to ensure he manages to join the race winning move. Surprisingly quiet during yesterday’s infinite exchanges and skirmishes to shape the breakaway, Uran has perhaps chosen to keep his powder dry especially for today instead. He is no longer the climber which once delivered him podium placings at the Giro d’Italia, though is capable of producing his best when a chance like this appears on his radar. The tactic for Uran shall be to join the right move, conserve as much energy as possible and look to regroup over the Mont du Chat and finish his rivals off in a sprint to the line.

Chris Froome needs to put down a marker soon, as rumblings persist that he is not quite on his best form right now. There shall be no need for him to be the aggressor today, allowing him to challenge his rivals to light the race up if the wish to take the maillot jaune from upon his shoulders. However, we have seen previously that he likes to prove a point at the earliest opportunity possible, meaning it would come as no surprise to see him attack on the final climb in order to contend for the stage win.

Richie Porte and BMC are almost anxious at the prospect of not being able to land a blow on Chris Froome already, despite there being very few opportunities to achieve precisely that in the opening week. Perhaps not as strong as expected entering the race, Porte has the credentials to challenge for the win and cause a stir amongst the general classification, but needs to ride clever to achieve this. A great time trial rider, he should know how to pace his efforts through the day’s major climbs, before once again calling upon these talents to solo his way to victory in the final 14km of flat terrain.

Others worth considering are Pierre RollandPrimoz RoglicJarlinson Pantano  and Louis Meintjes.

Outcome:

1st Romain Bardet 2nd Fabio Aru 3rd Chris Froome

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-9-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Giro d’Italia – Stage 9 Preview

Though the previous day did not quite deliver the level of fighting expected from the general classification favourites, Fabio Aru was first to have a dig in the final kilometres; finding Alberto Contador, Richie Porte and Rigoberto Uran too strong to drop. Based on the insights gathered thus far there is little to separate the contenders, some might just be trying to stay as fresh as possible before dealing their damage against the clock on Stage 14. Regardless of the lack of definitive action amongst the favourites, Spokenforks’ pick Beñat Inxausti was a worthy winner on Stage 8, having kept his powder dry as part of the break before attacking and dropping his companions late on. The peloton’s next challenge is a 215km trek across rolling terrain, a course which is bound to prove too much for some riders come the finish at San Giorgio del Sannio.

Course:

Many of the teams will have their eye caught by the possibility of stealing an unexpected win on Stage 9’s race from Benevento to San Giorgio del Sannio, a stage which is likely to shine favourably upon those who ply their trade as escape merchants. Lacking much in the way of flat roads and stretching itself across 215km, the day will be a draining affair for many who will instead seek a quiet life as part of the peloton for the most part. Despite a sawtooth profile, the day only possess three recognised climbs from start to finish, the first of which comes after nearly 100km have been racked up. Monte Termino is a Category 2 ascent which averages 4.2% for the majority of its 20.9km entirety, but does include a short lived ramp of 9% after the halfway point. Once tackled, the riders shall descend onwards through Montella before finding themselves once again at the foot of a major climb; on this occasion the Category 1 Colle Molella. This climb is shorter lived than the preceding ascent, but packs more into its short gradient of 9.5km, averaging a 6.3% gradient which swings aggressively between 10% – 12% for two kilometres nearer the summit.

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-9-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Whoever is leading at this point will then begin dropping back down in altitude rapidly, forming a roller coaster ride which takes the bunch through several small town as they head towards the base of the day’s final climb; beginning less than 20km from San Giorgio del Sannio. The climb up Passo Serra is likely to prove decisive for whatever type of group hits it first, given its short 3.6km distance packing in an average of 8% and a maximum gradient of 13% during its midsection. Just over 10km will remain once they have hauled themselves over this last climb, subsequently descending before striking a 2km long hill (4.9%) with 5km separating them from victory. The finale could make for an intriguing backdrop to the battle emerging from a possible lead group, any such contest will be fought upon a 600m 3% gradient up to the finishing line.

 

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-9-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Giro-d'Italia-Stage-9-Spokenforks-Preview-2015

Contenders:

Given the likelihood of the winner in San Giorgio del Sannio emerging from a strong breakaway, the possibilities of who will form its constituent parts are broad. Many of those who helped to form the breakaway on Stage 4’s ride to La Spezia are bound to fancy their chances here as well; as are those who have missed out on the break so far. Many will point to Giovanni Visconti has a man who is certain to find himself aboard the day’s key move, the Spaniard has already performed in similar moves so far and was unlucky of Stage 4. Sitting only 1′ 16″ on the general classification makes the chances of him securing the maglia rosa for his team very high if a move containing him makes it all the way to the line.

A man who rode alongside Visconti on day four was Yonathan Monsalve of the Southeast team; causing a stir with his impressive performance. Such a successful day in the breakaway will have no doubt raised the expectation of him repeating the same en route to San Giorgio del Sannio and there is little to suggest he cannot execute a repeat performance.

Though unlikely, should a bigger group manage to stick together and contest the finish without having disintegrated upon the final ascent, Fabio Felline would surely dominant a sprint. During this season he has demonstrated an huge step up in terms of climbing ability, managing to stick with the mountain men at the Criterium International, Pais Vasco and Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia. Stage 9 appears too long and testing for the Italian sprinter, but this Giro d’Italia has proven far from predictable during its unexpectedly hectic first week.

These early stages have been attritional, in both terrain and distance, but one rider who seems to favour these conditions is BMC’s Philippe Gilbert. Misfortune has been haunting him currently, so Stage 9 could come as an opportunity to remedy this situation for the Belgian, with a strong win coming on the finishing drag to the line. On the assumption that he will be able to stick the pace over the steady Monte Termino, it would leave him well placed as part of a breakaway to survive the shorter Colle Molella and onto the rolling terrain which has suited him so well in the past. The finish in particular is what makes Gilbert such a contender for the day, the drag to the line will be reminiscent of the Ardennes for the former world champion.

Rinaldo Nocentini and Carlos Betancur offer AG2R La Mondiale options in the wake of the disappointing departure of Domenico Pozzovivo after his nasty crash. Nocentini has had a surprisingly quiet 2015 so far, a shock given his hectic race schedule since the season kicked off in January. Though his chances of winning this stage are limited, he will be interested in contributing to the day’s breakaway on a stage where TV coverage shall be good for sponsors in the break. The Colombian Betancur is certainly capable of winning Stage 9, but his efforts in the previous day’s break is likely to deter him from attempting much the same so soon again.

Edoardo Zardini is not that far back in the hunt for the mountains jersey and is certain to see this stage as a great chance to be part of a break which tackles all categorised climbs first. He will need a dominant performance to take maximum points on a day where the break is likely to be large in participants, but the motivation of the jersey will lure the Bardiani CSF rider into the decisive move.

CCC Sprandi Polkowice could turn to Maciej Paterski in their search for glory at this year’s opening grand tour. The Polish rider has had a great season already and his win at the Volta a Catalunya on Stage 1 proved he can stay the course under pressure from better climbers and ultimately take the victory. If he does find himself aboard the crucial breakaway, Paterski will be a serious contender in any group which is allowed to stay out front all day.

Somehow clinging onto second place under the charge of Fabio Aru, Alberto Contador and Richie Porte was an impressive achievement from Sylvain Chavanel on Stage 5. The Frenchman is evidently in good form and will happily contribute to a break which he believes to have the potential of staying clear all day. If late on in the day it becomes apparent that Chavanel’s group will indeed reach the finish first, he will need to drop others and arrive solo as he does not suit the finish as well as others likely to comprise his group.

The assumption that this stage can only be decided by a breakaway could prove costly for some, especially with how Stage 5 played out still fresh in the mind. Given the terrain and distance, a general classification skirmish could erupt once again in the wake of a break and Fabio Aru is the favourite to benefit most if the opportunity arises. He appeared somewhat edgy today when attacking the likes of Contador and Porte, all too aware that he needs to find time before the time trial which is bound to be the scene of a significant time loss for the Italian. The finale includes a drag which Aru could exploit with his faster turn of speed and gain a handful of seconds over his rivals at the death.

Outcome:

It is almost a case of pulling names out of a hat in terms of picking a winner for Stage 9 of this year’s Giro d’Italia, a variety of riders suit the course, all with a diverse range of motives. Philippe Gilbert and Fabio Felline will be favourites to take a sprint from a small group if present, but they will both need an impressive performance to be there come the finale. A breakaway which gradually diminishes throughout the day seems more likely and Maciej Paterski could prove a dangerous man in such a situation; able to stick the pace and finish strongly. As mentioned, if the day ignites an unexpected battle amongst the general classification contenders, then Fabio Aru is likely to come out strongest on this course.

Sprint: Philippe Gilbert

Breakaway: Maciej Paterski

Outsider: Fabio Aru