Week two of this year’s Giro has shown us all what a tough race the Tour of Italy is. With a tough parcours facing the riders, mixed with some exceptionally inclement racing conditions, the peloton has thinned as general classification riders have fallen victim to illness. As the riders take a break in the ski resort of Valloire in France, with the Italian’s surely distraught at the quality of their cappuccinos, we look back at this tough second week to analyse the key moments.
Stage 10: As predicted the second week came out of corner with fists flying. The first mountain finish of the race, up the super steep Altopiano del Montasio saw Team Sky start their fight back, Uran Uran winning the stage and jumping up to third place on the general classification. Wiggins continued to show that he was dogged with less than perfect form, losing more time on the other GC riders. Nibali continued to hold the leaders jersey gaining a few seconds on his closest rival Evans, who was showing his old Grand Tour form. Biggest loser of this stage was defending champion Hesjedal who lost a massive 20 minutes.
Stage 11: Another mountaintop finish, but nothing along the same lines of the previous stage. Being a medium mountain and coming after the GC fireworks of the pervious stage the breakaway was allowed to make it to the finish. A large group broke free after an aggressive couple of hours of racing. Garmin Sharp made up for their previous losses, with the end of their leader’s chances (Hesjedal) the day before. Young Navardauskus won the stage, with a strong, string of attacks on the final climb. Having held the Maglia Rosa in last year’s race it was another great Giro for the Lithuanian. There were no changes on GC as the leaders rolled in together.
Stage 12: Was a mixed day for those supporting the Brits. Top sprinter Cavendish notched up his 100th career win in the raining stage. Riding in torrential rain for the full day, with cool temperatures took its toll on Wiggins. He lost contention on a descent and then proceeded to lose close to 3 minutes on the peloton at the finish. This marked the end of Wiggins’ GC race. Team Sky later told the cycling world that Wiggins’ had been suffering, as have much of the peloton, with poor health. The cooler conditions exasperating Wiggins’ symptoms and causing him to get dropped. It was left that he would consult his team Doctors about his health and whether he would continue the race. A sad day, but a sign of how tough this year’s Giro has been.
Stage 13: Another flat stage and another win for the Manx man Cavendish. This was Cav’s fourth stage victory in the 2013 Giro, a great result for him. Stage 13 also saw two of the big favourites drop out of the race. Both Wiggins and Hesjedal did not start the stage. Both suffering with poor health and deciding that their tired bodies needed to rest. As with many riders in the peloton, the continually changing weather conditions; hot and dry, to cold and wet, had eaten into their limited reserves. A massive blow for Team Sky, but with Uran Uran in third place on GC they still have cards to play.
Stage 14: And after two days on the flat, the course steered back to the mountains. This stage was one of the major showdown stages of the race, with the brutal mountain top finish to Bardonecchia. The day’s route was planned to take the riders up to the ski station of Sestriere, and then onto the finish climb which was 7km at 9%. But the forecast snow that had been much discussed at the start of this week arrived. Sestriere was a no go, with the route being changed to stay low but still finish in Bardonecchia. The cold weather and steep climb had a massive affect on GC. Italian rider Santambrogio proved that his move from a team rider at BMC to leader of Vini Fantini was a great move. He jumped to 1 second off of third place on the GC. Nibali rode like a classy race leader, giving Santambrogio the stage win, whilst taking a few seconds bonus on his rivals who were dropped. Evans and Uran Uran struggled on this stage, losing 33 and 30 seconds respectively. Major loser of today was Gesink, who fell apart in the cold and could have seen the end of his GC fight.
Stage 15: – Another mighty mountain stage. As with the previous stage snow had affected the parcours. The mighty Col de Galibier was snowed in, so the finied moved from its summit to the Marco Pantani memorial lower down its slopes. This was the first time that the iconic Galibier has featured in the Giro and it did not disappoint. Under falling snow Visconti continued Movistar’s great run in this year’s race with his solo victory. Leaving his breakaway companions on the slopes of the Col de Telegraphe he gave his all for this victory. Behind the GC contenders lit it up in the final kilometres of the race. Bentancur and Majka attacking for the young rider’s white jersey, whilst behind race leader Nibali tried a couple of attacks, but Evans and Uran Uran responded to his tests.
So with the final week on the horizon, this year’s Giro continues to test the racers. Nibali is still sitting comfortably in the Maglia Rosa whilst his rivals slowly fall to the side. The leadership is the Italian’s to lose at the moment, but then who knows, with the inclement weather hitting this year’s race it is still all to play for!
Author: Phil Gale