Giovanni Visconti corners the market on memorable stage wins
The perfect denouement to a bike race is when you don’t know whether the peloton is going to catch the break or not. It’s the perfect underdog scenario with a ravenous pack moving more quickly and perhaps a lone rider as quarry, fighting valiantly in the face of an ever-diminishing time gap.
In this analogy, the underdog is a rabbit; a rabbit who has spent much of the day disguised as a dog within the main pack, only revealing his true nature on a sharp climb late in the day. He then passes several other rabbits, who are then assimilated into the pack and once again become dogs.
I might have provided too much detail there.
Yesterday, Giovanni Visconti revealed his rabbit nature with a strong ride on the final climb. He then rode about 18km with just 20 seconds on the peloton. The time gap was rarely much more that this and rarely less. It was a fragile advantage and it seemed like it could end at any moment. But it never did.
Visconti was helped by a narrow, winding descent, disorganisation among the dogs behind and by plain lack of information (Ramunas Navardauskas thought he’d won when he took second place). This win can be added to the one he took in similar circumstances but on entirely different terrain atop the Galibier. (Well, almost atop. They shortened the stage by a few kilometres because of snow.)
If ‘uphill time trial’ isn’t a particularly catchy label, try cronoscalata. We’ll see changes in the general classification after today’s cronoscalata, but Vincenzo Nibali has all the qualities you’d expect of an accomplished cronoscalatist, so don’t expect him to lose the race lead.