14 May 2013

Giro d'Italia Stage 10 Cordenons - Altopiano del Montasio

After Sunday's stage some riders, especially Bradley Wiggins, will be glad that today's stage finishes on the summit of Altopiano del Montasio and doesn't include a descent, just in case it rains again. Indeed the man himself has said he "descended lie a bit of a girl" apologises to all my female readers and to the many female road racers who would have descended better than Bradley, but those are his choice of words. However, the rain on Sunday saw Wiggins with most of his team having to chase back over a minute lost of a wet descent once again. Noticeable in their absence in that pursuit were Uran and Henao who are also in the top 10 overall.

The only member of the top ten who didn't finish in the main group behind Maxim Belkov (KAT) was the man with number 1 on his back, Ryder Hesjedal. He lost over a minute despite his Garmin team mates only a few kms before the climb of the Fiesole, where he became detached riding on the front to control the race for him.

Yesterday was a rest day but today sees the race enter the high mountains for the first time. Today we see two first category climbs one after the other as the climax of 167 km of racing. So today is another day you can expect to see a further GC shake up as first the Passo Cason di Lanza rises to 1555m the highest point of the day before the final climb to 1519m.

Vincenzo Nibali may try once again to distance himself from some of this rivals on the descent of Passo Cason di Lanza but when they all get to the bottom there is still 21.7km of climbing to be done to the finish.

The first climb isn't a continuous climb and actually has a section of  descending part of the way up to give a little rest bite to the riders, that is if the start of the slopes to get them there have been survived. Some will have been shedded on the very steep first slopes. However, after just over 6km of the km there is 2km of relief. Before another 6km of ascent which as one point reaches 16%, but it is pretty much rough going all the way to the top, before the descent into the valley below.

In is that descent that Nibali along with Cadel Evans (BMC) and others will probably want to test Bradley Wiggins. Descending has been the English riders achilles heel thus far on this tour, so with 28km  of pretty steep descending through hairpins to negotiate they will be putting the hammer down no doubt, wet or dry, to see just what the Sky leader can do.

If Bradley can drop well with the rest of them hopefully all of the GC contenders will reach the bottom of the Altopiano. It is not as full-on a climb as Passo Cason as far as gradient goes but it is a long drag, almost 22km of climbing. But with a number of steeper sections followed by less steep sections it is open to a climbers attack. Just above Sella Nevea with about 3km to go is the steepest part of today's route, reaching up to 20% gradient. If one of the GC is feeling strong at that point they may well try and attack to see what is in the legs of his rivals. If someone can get away there they are only likely to stay away until the end, providing they haven't gone too far into the red in the effort.

At the line I don't expect to see much more than a maximum of twenty riders in a group (even if a little elongated). This climb isn't a total killer, but someone could turn it into one with an attack at the right point. So it may be considerably less than that.

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