Mikel Nieve should probably have found himself racing for more than mere stage wins
Apparently there’s an area called the Julian Alps and that’s where the Giro was today. They should knock on Julian’s door more often. He’s fun.
The stage win
Mikel Nieve adopted the increasingly common ‘strongest man in the day’s break’ approach to win this particular stage. It was some rare good news for Team Sky, who have been either shit or shitting so far this Giro.
Like team-mate and fellow Mikel, Landa, Nieve is a Basque. He is also one of many riders at Sky who could quite legitimately be leading a team in his own right. He has five top ten finishes in Grand Tours, which, like Landa’s cycling shorts, is not to be sniffed at.
Despite this, he is nowhere on the general classification in this race. He is 40th overall, 44 minutes behind the race leader. This is because of how the team uses its backup riders, instructing them to conserve energy and throwing all of its eggs in one basket. When that basket craps itself and abandons the race, the strategy suddenly looks misguided. Stage wins are all they can now get from this Giro. At least they’ve got one, I suppose.
The general classification
Race leader Bob Jungels was dropped by the favourites on the final climb and so was second-placed Andrey Amador. If you know one thing about Vincenzo Nibali, it’s that he’s pretty handy going downhill. Despite this, the group led by the Italian was caught by Amador on the subsequent descent.
The Costa Rican dropped like Mr Blobby on ice and this earned him the race lead because Jungels had fallen even further behind and never regained contact. He lost a minute on the day and drops to second.
Nibali vaulted over Alejandro Valverde and Steven Kruijswijk into third overall after sprinting for the four bonus seconds on offer for third on the day.
Multiple stage winnner, Diego Ulissi, who had just about been clinging to the top ten, finally dropped out after losing four minutes. Turns out he doesn’t like mountains.
The Dolomites. Please ensure you make some sort of comment about ‘pain in the Dolomites’ to someone, making it sound like a euphemism for taking a blow to the nuts.
Lots of climbing and serious altitude mean this is one of the big days. Passo Giau is the toughest climb – 9.8km at 9.4% and the day finishes with ‘the Wall of the Cat,’ a 1km climb with a couple of hundred metres that push 20%.
The intriguing local delicacies include small mountain snails, something translated as ‘fried funnel cakes’ and, I quote, ‘typical local beans’. Those Italians with their exotic cuisine, eh?