The slide of Cadel Evans

Sadly, I’m not talking about a cool plastic chute affixed to the side of his houseboat. Cadel’s on the wane. Slowly, but perceptibly, he’s on the way out – in this race and from cycling.

But first, stage 17, which I didn’t report on yesterday.

King of the nutcases takes a proper win

I’ve written about Stefano Pirazzi before. He’s something of a poor man’s Thomas Voeckler, in that he’s great to watch, but most of the peloton think he’s a twat. He attacks and he attacks and then, when he’s in the break, he attacks again. He’s a huge irritant. He’s magic.

Yesterday, he took a proper win. It wasn’t just some masochistic mountain point accumulation exercise. He got into a huge break, which contained 20 riders, and then bested them all.

And back to Evans

In my Giro preview, I predicted a strong showing from Cadel with him ultimately falling short. That seems about the size of it. As a Tour de France winner, he was defined by his complete refusal to know when he was beaten, so it’s both apt and admirable that he appears to be going out in the same way.

There are no hiding places in a Grand Tour. Cadel made all the right moves in the first week. He looked narrow-eyed and determined. He raced for seconds where he could. He took the maglia rosa. But this is the Giro of the newcomers, and the longer the race goes on, the more the youngsters seem likely to flood past him.

It’s one of those scrabbly falls you see in B-movies, where a major character is slipping inch-by-inch into the abyss. Each mountain stage, things get slightly worse. It’s all over, but still Cadel claws at the earth, struggling for purchase.

On stage 18, he was dropped with about 5km to go. It was inevitable. He lost a minute-odd and slipped from third to ninth. You can see it as sad if you want, but I actually think these failing performances add to his reputation. It’s one thing to never consider yourself beaten and then vindicate that view. It’s quite another to try and ride the same way when you really are beaten.

The Colombians

Julian Arredondo of Colombia won the stage after being in another sizeable break. Fabio Duarte of Colombia came second. Nairo Quintana of Colombia later finished alongside Rigoberto Uran of Colombia to ensure they remained first and second in the general classification.

The non-Colombians

Pierre Rolland’s third now. He’s a full two seconds ahead of both Fabio Aru AND Rafal Majka with Domenico Pozzovivo a further 21 seconds back.

Stage 19

Cronoscalata! Who’s the fastest up a 27km 8% slope? Let’s find out by setting the riders off at one-minute intervals and timing each of them. There could, potentially, be some monstrous time gaps on this one. Here’s the painfully straightforward stage profile.